Just when I think this show has well and truly jumped the shark, we get another episode that reminds me of why I fell in love with it in the first place. And, for the second time in as many episodes, I cried.
Because I avoid spoilers like the plague, I was as surprised as Castle was when Anderson Cross walked into the lobby and turned out to be Castle’s dad. While the story itself was a good spy thriller, what elevated this episode to one of the best was watching three of our group interact with this enigma of a man.
Like her son, Martha doesn’t often show us what she is feeling. Thinking, yes. But, feeling is something she tends to hide, revealing herself infrequently and then, usually only to her son. As soon as she sees Cross, however, her face reveals quite a bit. They may have only had one night, but it was certainly special. Both of them remember it, and both of them clearly still harbor feelings towards each other.
Of course, part of this is the fact that their one night stand resulted in a son. Although the show has never addressed it, I have always found it interesting that Martha chose to keep the baby. Alone, trying to make it as an actress, the simple solution is clear. Yet, Martha didn’t make the simple choice.
Having watched her interact with Cross, I think I understand better. Martha loved this man and has wondered for forty years if he were the one who got away. Was there part of her, all those years ago, who was hoping he would accept fatherhood and be with her? Or, did he promise her that he would return and she had the baby with that promise still hanging out there? We get a hint that may be the case when she quite pointedly says to him that his “promises don’t mean very much.” It doesn’t matter now, but I would love for the show to further explore Martha’s choice someday.
Beckett, as the newcomer to this group, tends to take the view of the audience. Because neither she nor we are emotionally invested in the man, we can step back and wonder what his game is and whether we can trust him. Beckett wants outside corroboration for everything Cross says and, even when what he is saying is proved, Beckett still harbors a healthy skepticism.
Which is a good thing because Castle simply can’t. Of course he can’t. As he says himself, he only discovered the man existed a year ago and he desperately wants some kind of relationship with his father. He doesn’t want to believe that his father is a killer, even when he witnesses Cross commit murder. Like a small child, Castle wants his dad to be his dad.
Because of the choices he has made, however, Cross will never be able to be that. “You know what I do. You know who I am. I let my guard down, people die.” He’s not kidding and he tells and shows Castle continually that he is not and never can be just a dad.
Cross continues to hurt and disappoint his son, but I believe that a great deal of it is deliberate. Never is this more clear than the aftermath of the hug. Cross allows Castle to believe that the hug was only to plant the tracking device. While that was certainly part of the plan, the hug is real.
Cross and Castle are, finally, not all that different. Castle would do anything to protect those he loves, as will Cross. Although I take a lot of what he says with a grain of salt, I do believe that Cross would move the earth to protect Castle, Martha and now Beckett. Cross is a pretty dark guy, but we have certainly seen a dark side of Castle as well.
At the end of the episode, Cross has blown into their lives and done all three of them good. Martha has her closure; Castle realizes that he has his family and re-evaluates his priorities to ensure that the wedding happens; Beckett supports her man and doesn’t tell Esposito and Ryan the truth.
They may all be moving on and wondering if they will see Cross again (I certainly hope we do!), but the final shot broke my heart. Cross has told us throughout the episode that he is the outsider and, at the end, we see that he really is. Looking up at the window that frames Martha and Castle, the wistfulness on his face brought tears to my eyes.
An outstanding episode, one of the best in quite a while. Four out of four home based surgeries.
-- We first met Castle’s dad back in “Hunt” last season. He was Jackson Hunt then and Anderson Cross now, neither of which, I am guessing, is his true name. I find it interesting that both father and son have names they have created.
-- The Cyclone at Coney Island is one of the scariest roller coasters I have ever been on. The thing creaks and groans as you hurtle through space.
-- September in New York really is a magic time. Guess we’re going to wait until next season for the wedding.
-- Alex Cross is one of James Patterson’s better known heroes. You may recall that Castle used to play poker with Patterson.
Martha: “A little unsolicited advice?”
Castle: “Do you give another kind?”
Cross: “You’re getting emotional and now’s not that time.”
Castle: “Really? ‘Cause it’s been about forty years. When would be a good time?”
Cross: “Well, I may not be good at it, but I am still your father. Now, keep your mouth shut and let’s try not to get us both killed.”
Castle: “I keep making the mistake of thinking he’s family, but he’s not. You are.”
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.