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.
-- 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!
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?”
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. Anymore than I’d ever forgive myself.”