Castle: Target

Castle: “Gates will see.”
Beckett: “I don’t care.”

Castle is many things. It is a procedural; it is comic; it is romantic; it is occasionally highly dramatic. What it is not is an in-depth character study. What we know about these characters, we have learned by watching them interact with each other over the past five years. In this, the first of the traditional February two-parter, the writers chose to change all that.

From the beginning of the episode, we see a different side of Castle. The scene with Martha and the scene with Beckett where he is telling them that he is letting Alexis go were fun to watch. I believe that there is part of this man who truly believes he is doing just that; but, of course, he will always be the overprotective father. The writing in the scene with Beckett was very tight. Castle tells her that he has stopped checking Alexis’s blog, yet the blog is a crucial part of the puzzle later. He also says that he has stopped asking to meet the boyfriend. Max has been very much a part of the background -- foreshadowing?

From the moment that he discovers that Alexis has been kidnapped as well, we see sides of Castle that we have never seen before. The fear and the worry are palpable and, for once, he is unable to resort to his quippy alter ego. He cries; he harangues everyone for information; he very nearly threatens Beckett.

All this emotion comes to a head during the scene at the van. It was hard to watch. Castle, for the first time ever, completely loses control. He nearly pushes Beckett to the ground; he shouts at Lanie and he comes close to collapse when he sees the blood. In the past, Castle has had to deal with Beckett, Martha and even himself being threatened. It is only when Alexis is in danger that he loses it.

We also see a truly dark and scary side, one that has been teased (consider all his interactions with 3XK), but one we have only seen glimpses of. The scene with Stevens is chilling as both Castle’s voice and his eyes go dead. His calm is frightening. We have to watch as this man who writes about torturers for a living becomes one. There is a moment at the very end of the scene where Castle closes his eyes. When he opens them again, they are black and the look on his face is determined. He is crossing a line. He knows it; he doesn’t care.

We have seen Beckett break the rules before, but not like this. She is no fool; she knew what she was doing when she walked out of the room. The look on her face when she hears Stevens scream, however, is revealing. I’m not sure she believed that Castle would go that far and the knowledge does not sit well with her. Later, when she asks Castle about Stevens and listens to him lie to her, she can’t even meet his eyes. She knows that she is one of the few that Castle loves and there is something about what he will do that frightens her.

Because of her mother’s death, Beckett has never allowed herself to love -- until now. What we already know is that this woman trusts her instincts and she follows them. These two character traits collide in this episode and it was incredibly moving. Beckett instinctively knows exactly how to interact with Castle and chooses to do so much more as his girlfriend than as his partner. It is the right choice and it is what he needs. From talking to Harris where Beckett allows him to take the lead, to hugging Castle and holding his hands, to not lying to him over the phone we watch the complete reversal of what we have seen so often before. This time, Beckett is taking care of Castle and she is doing it beautifully. She is also, for the first time, putting her relationship ahead of her job.

There is now no doubt in my mind that Gates knows about Caskett. She sees Beckett take Castle’s hands and a look of frustration crosses her face. Eventually, she will need to address this issue, and I got the distinct impression that she does not want to. Gates was wonderful in this episode, unlike anything we have seen in the past. Gates is usually so dismissive of Castle, but here she is supportive without being cloying. The look on her face as she watches him walk out the precinct as she tells Beckett to do whatever she needs to get him back “his little girl” moved me. She gives him the news about the empty farmhouse straight; she respects him enough to treat him as one of their own.

The boys and Lanie are the ones who don’t get much character development in this episode. They are, however, all affected by the kidnapping in their own ways. Keep in mind that Lanie and Alexis worked together for the better part of a year, so I am sure that Lanie is frantic. But, the only hint we get of this is when she gives the news to Castle that the blood in the van does not belong to Alexis by referring to his “baby.” Ryan admits that he is “wrecked.” Esposito does what he always does when he’s scared and worried, he cowboys up.

Martha has been wonderfully supportive in the past, but she takes it to a level I didn’t think she was capable of. Although she must be as devastated as Castle, she holds herself together managing to give her son the support and the hope that he needs. At the same time, she is able to respond to his attempt at humor without belittling him or commenting on the fact that this is how Castle behaves when life gets tough. The only time we see her even remotely crack is after she sends Castle to Greenpoint, when her son is not there to witness it.

Alexis is all grown up and is she ever her father’s daughter. From the beginning, she has been the mature member of the family, the voice of reason, the aura of calm. What we have never seen, and a lot of this is down to the way her father treats her, is this young woman have to take care of herself or have to handle a difficult (impossible?) situation. Here, she takes charge and uses what her father has taught her to try to escape. Unlike Sara, she is not crying in the bathroom; she is doing whatever it takes to get her friend and herself out of this mess.

There were some things about this episode that were forced. In the traffic cam footage where our team identifies Sara, she has escaped from the van. This is out of character for the young woman we see later. Was she going to let Alexis stay in the van without her? Castle knows Alexis’s blood type without having to look it up (I don’t even know my own). The bobby pins were a bit convenient and the Skype product placement was in our face, but I am willing to move beyond these quibbles.

I am truly looking forward to the second part of this episode, because I am convinced that whatever is going on and the reason that Henson was tortured has something to do with both girls, not just Sara. Why would the kidnappers bother to transport them both to Paris if they only wanted one? We know that James Brolin has been hired to play Castle’s father. Will he turn up next week or will the writers wait until the 100th which is four episodes out from next week?

Fantastic first half. Three and half out of four gasps at seeing the Eiffel Tower.

Tidbits:

-- This is one of those shows that is constantly overlooked by the Emmys. I know that I am a huge Nathan Fillion fan, but my God, he knocked it out of the park this week. If he doesn’t get a nod this year, karma is going to come around and bite someone.

-- We know that Gates is married. Do we know if she has children? My internet search found conflicting answers, so if anyone can remember an episode in which it is mentioned one way or the other, please comment.

-- Similarly, Martha’s marriages. We know that she wasn’t married to Castle’s father (Castle is the result of a one night stand) and we know that her second husband absconded with all her money which is why she lives with Castle. Did we ever hear before that she had a first husband? I would be interested to know when she had been married before as so much has been made of the fact that Castle was raised by nannies.

-- I fully understand that Darby Stanchfield has her hands full in Washington, but one of the things this show does that really bothers me is forget that Alexis has a mother. Did it occur to no one that, perhaps, Meredith should be told that her daughter has been kidnapped?

-- That final shot, with Alexis’s red hair the only color against the dark city, was simply stunning. And yes, it was really shot in Paris. The producers flew some of the cast members over. Not a bad gig if you can get it!

Soundbites:

Castle: “So, the student becomes… the failed student, the dropout. You fed her this? Mother, you are forever forbidden from practicing the art of pancake-do.”

Castle: “Though, by definition, science fiction is not science.”
Esposito: “It has the word in it.”
Castle: “It’s… That’s an excellent point.”

Martha: “I feel it in my heart and my heart is never wrong.”
Castle: “What about your first marriage?”
Martha: “Well…”
Castle: “And, your second.”
Martha: “OK. Fine, fine. Occasionally, my heart is wrong; but, it is not in this case.”

Beckett: “Castle, listen to me…”
Castle: “Don’t. Don’t promise me you’ll find her unless you can do it, because I would never forgive you. Any more than I’d ever forgive myself.”

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.

12 comments:

sunbunny said...

I knew this episode was awesome, but I didn't realize how awesome until I read your FANTASTIC review. Nathan Fillion has such range. It speaks very well of him that during the scene with Stevens, I didn't once go to the 'he's channelling Mal' place.

Alexis trying to escape is so in character. Of course she would try. She is, as you pointed out, her father's daughter. She's not a helpless little girl.

Lanie and Gates' reaction to Alexis's kidnapping really moved me. Lanie was so sympathetic in the van scene. And Gates! As much as she enjoys disliking Castle, he's one of her people and she's going to do what she can for him.

On the blood type thing - my mom knows my blood type, so I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility Castle would know Alexis's.

The Fearless Freak said...

My husband commented on the blood type thing. He agrees with you that seems unlikely a parent would know their child's blood type without looking it up. I don't think it is that far outside the realm of possibility. I know one of my kid's since it is the same as mine. The other I would have to look up but I think a lot of parents know that about their children. Especially, if it is the same or similar to their own.

Billie Doux said...

I absolutely know my son's blood type, and have since he was born. FWIW.

Kathy said...

I will go a step farther--I absolutely believe that Alexis was the target, not Sarah. There are too many things that point to this: the fact that they were following Alexis' blog, the fact that Sarah originally escaped from the van. Also, Alexis was supposed to go to Paris with Meredith, but she got sick with Mono. I think that the kidnappers were planning on grabbing her then.

But I'm looking forward to Castle going Liam Neeson on the kidnappers.

Kat

sunbunny said...

Kat - That would be interesting! Hehe re: Liam Neeson.

ChrisB - I'd totally forgotten about James Brolin! That's great casting.

Anonymous said...

Ah the best episode this season..so tense..loved Castle going postal with the guy in the van. Alexis is so her father's daughter..But why not tell Meredith? Looking forward to part two..
I don't think Gates has mentioned any kids. I could be wrong.
Anna

celticmarc said...

OMG

Such a powerful AND dark eppy. Your review is awesome; not much to add up. So proud of Alexis ! And we now know that Castle has a Mister Hyde....

Matthew L said...

Loved this episode start to finish and if Hunt is as good or better than Target, then this two-parter will be my favorite overtaking Tick, Tick, Tick.../Boom!

ChrisB - I've have been of the opinion that Gates has always known about Caskett. Given her background in IA, I think she is very aware of what is going on, more than the team and Caskett think she is.

It will be interesting when Gates has to address this issue.

Kathy - I agree with you that Alexis is more likely the target than Sarah. I think her kidnapping is tied into Castle's father and that Sophia Turner's revelation made last season will turn out to be true. As most of the time, I don't think the writers throw out details like that willy-nilly without revisiting them at some point.

celticmarc - I think we've already previously seen signs of Castle's dark side as ChrisB pointed out the 3XK interactions. Then there's the incident with Lockwood where he started to beat the crap out of him and I think he might not have stopped if Beckett hadn't walked up at that point. Then there's the incident with Scott Dunn where Castle may have said it in jest and it was considered a funny moment but he planned on shooting Dunn in the head.

For those he truly loves and cares about, his protection instinct will cause him to do anything to protect them from harm. His whole world is focused on the three women in his life - Martha, Alexis, and Kate.

Again, great episode. Bring on the Hunt! :D

TJ said...

We all knew that Nathan Fillion could pull this off. That scene by the van was just brilliant.

It's great that TVLine has Dobrev as the performance of the week. She was superb. But personally, I would have chosen Nathan Fillion. His performance in this episode will always be in my heart.

celticmarc said...

MatthewL

The "disadvantage" of being totally present in the instant moment : I've forgotten about these...

Matthew L said...

celticmarc - true that...:) I sometimes mix up what season an episode is in...;)

Can't wait for the review for Hunt to be posted so I can comment on it as I just finished watching it.

celticmarc said...

Hunt........going to watch this one later on today.....

AH !!!! Voir Paris et puis mourir !! (famous saying)