Castle: The Greater Good

“The woman with her is Elizabeth Weston, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District. She also happens to be my sister.”

Captain Victoria Gates is not one of the most beloved characters in the Castle universe. She came in to fill Montgomery's shoes and her tactics and demeanor put off everyone. Including the fans, who howled for her to go.

One of the problems has always been that we know almost nothing about Gates. We know she has a family; we know she watches reality television; we know she like dolls. Other than that, she is just the boss, and a demanding one at that. Over time, she has mellowed, gaining the respect of those who work for her and the viewers. Some backstory was long overdue. Too bad it was so clich├ęd and too quickly resolved.

The sisters fell out sixteen years ago because each was doing her job. Elizabeth wanted Victoria to look the other way; Victoria followed the law to the letter. Elizabeth lost her chance at a big case; Victoria has wondered through the years whether she made the right decision. Although it should have been explored further, Victoria has softened through the years. More than once, we have seen her bend the rules to ensure a case is solved or that her team is cared for. The most obvious example is the fact that she allows Caskett to continue to work together.

The case that brought the sisters back together should have been a fascinating look at the greater good. A working class kid is set up to bring down one of the wealthiest men on Wall Street. It could have been an exploration of class structure and the economic divide, especially in New York City where the middle class has all but disappeared. The problem was the almost stereotypical use of the suspects and the social class from which they came.

Interestingly, the murderer was solidly middle class, but caught up in a web of her own making. In her mind, ruining one life by framing an innocent man is all right if that frame brings down the guilty man, capable of ruining thousands of lives. What is not addressed, and should have been, is that bringing down Berman would have been a huge get and would have certainly helped Goldmark’s career. How much of her motivation was truly for the greater good and how much was for her own good? We’ll never know.

What we do know is that the means she used to frame Peter, the stop-and-frisk, is real and it is bad news. Since 9/11, the NYPD has the power to stop anyone on the street, without probable cause, to question and search them. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority (statistics vary depending on which report you read) of people stopped are black or Hispanic. Planting drugs so that cops can make their arrest quotas has become so commonplace that there is a name for it — flaking. Peter, with his juvenile arrests, would have been seen as a godsend for someone trying to exploit this system.

Peter Cordero has worked hard and pulled himself up from the working class. Hector Nunez, his best friend from back in the day and still a member of that class, has the most honor we see in this episode. We learn that he kept his friend from the gang back in the day; he helps his friend, no questions asked although it has been years since they have been in touch; his alibi is that he was visiting his mother in the nursing home. Even Peter, we learn at the end, was too good to be true. Yes, he extorted money from his boss, but he was going to use that money to rebuild his home town. It is the working class guys who genuinely understand the greater good. Law enforcement and Wall Street do not.

Jamie Berman, Gordon Gecko with another name, is a member of the 1%. He is so wealthy that he can give one of his employees $25 million without blinking an eye. He is the true villain here, and he gets away with it. He doesn’t need to. By not telling the NYPD that he knew Cordero had dropped off his wire that night and by lying to them on several occasions, he has obstructed a federal case for which he can serve some real time. Federal law takes things like that seriously and Elizabeth should know that.

But, if he were arrested, it would make what Goldmark did a success on one level. She brought down the bad guy and the writers just couldn’t let that happen. They needed the Hallmark reconciliation between the sisters that felt silly and, after sixteen years, a bit too pat.

Can you tell I was disappointed in this one? Two out of four bags of money dumped on the table.

Tidbits:

— Every episode now has a B-plot that is about Caskett getting ready for their wedding. This week’s was about who was going to be invited on the big day. The final scene, while I love all things Caskett, even made me cringe. OTT cheese.

— I have not yet seen The Wolf of Wall Street, which is why I can’t comment on whether this episode referenced it in any way. Please comment if it did so.

— Alexis was missing again and Martha only showed up briefly. I miss Martha.

— Interesting that the sisters were named Victoria and Elizabeth. I wonder if their parents had a thing for powerful English queens.

— I knew that Goldmark was the killer from the moment she took the photo of the body and made the phone call. Some continuity issues arose from the crime scene as well. The fact that the apartment was trashed was never addressed and, as Goldmark knew that Peter was no longer wearing his wire, why did she undo his shirt?

Soundbites:

Beckett: “Castle, I love you, but I will not marry you on a ride or up in space or on a slide.”
Castle: “I bet Dr. Seuss got married somewhere fun.”

Beckett: “I’m not SEC. I’m NYPD. Homicide.”

Castle: “A subtle chill? More like a polar vortex.”

Castle: “Hairy’s my middle name. That sounded a lot better in my head.”

Peter: "I came to the U.S. believing in the American dream. So, I worked hard and tried to be honest in a corrupt world, working for corrupt and greedy people, because I still believed. But when you, the U.S. Government, plants drugs on me, threatens to destroy my future, all because you need someone to testify, how am I supposed to still believe? I did everything I could to play by the rules, but no one else does."

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen.

3 comments:

morticiachair said...

ChrisB, thanks for another great review! I have been reading them for months but have never commented up to now.

I cringed as well with the final Caskett scene, I really thought they both wrote Ryan & Esposito but alas no...

Regarding the continuity issues, Beckett tells Goldmark that she took the wire to make it look like Cordero was murdered because of that wire. I'm guessing that was the reason the apartment was trashed as well.

ChrisB said...

Thank you for commenting, morticiachair. I'm so glad you agree with me on the final scene. I literally said "yuck" out loud to the television screen.

I think you're right about the continuity issues, but it seemed like overkill (pardon the pun) to me. Especially since the wire led directly to Goldmark being found out.

sunbunny said...

Ugh. The whole "You" scene was just like…really? Really? So cheesy.