Castle: Always

“There are some people who are so much a part of us, they’ll be with us no matter what. They are our solid ground, our north star and the small clear voices in our hearts that will be with us… Always.”

For a show that has consistently ended its seasons on a high note, this one was, in a word, amazing. Neatly tying together several threads from not only the past season, but the past four seasons and finally, finally, finally giving all us shippers The Moment – all I can say is, WOW!

The case revolved around Johanna Beckett’s murder and Beckett’s shooting, something that the writers have given short shrift to this year. Very little changed in regards to either. So, for now, Mr. Smith is still calling the shots (or at least as far as our team knows), the Dragon is still out there and Helo, I mean Tahmoh Penikett, is the new Big Bad. At least Beckett now knows who shot her. Unfortunately, this bit of mythology is beginning to sink under its own weight (a Rob Bowman weakness) and, sooner or later, this arc needs to be wrapped up or at least moved forward just a tad.

This episode had very little in terms of action, mystery and special effects. But, what a way to start a show. Using a cliffhanger (roofhanger?) at the beginning was a great nod to the television genre and to the fans. And, although Beckett was in danger, it made me smile.

This show was all about character. I found it especially interesting that as things got more and more tense, each of the characters began to refer to each other using their first names – Javi, Kate, Kevin. This happens so rarely that it is a clear signal about where the show is going.

Esposito and Ryan were, as usual, on different sides, but the show took it to a whole new level this week. Esposito is blindly loyal to Beckett, willing to follow her anywhere and to follow her lead wherever it may go. Ryan – not so much. He wants the people he cares about to be safe, even if it means going against what Beckett has said to him. Don’t forget – Ryan knows about the secret and Esposito does not and so better understands the consequences of moving forward. But Ryan, who is loyal in own way, backed Castle and did not tell Esposito the truth. By making the decision to tell Gates on his own, Ryan did get his friends suspended, but he saved Beckett’s life. My heart broke for him at the end when Esposito walked away from him. Isn’t it interesting that this year ended with a rift, albeit a different couple, as all the other seasons have.

I was fully expecting a long conversation between Martha and her son, but not this time. Martha seems to have come around to the fact that Castle is going to do whatever he has to do to protect Beckett and has accepted it. Although she smiles when she tells her son that she knows what he has to do, as she turns away she looks close to tears. Although she does not want to, she is letting her son go – a wonderful parallel to Castle letting Alexis go as she graduates from high school.

Alexis’ graduation speech was lovely. Yes, there was a faint aroma of cheddar, but still. It tied in beautifully with what was happening with her father and I thought the song (Andrew Belle’s “In my Veins”) was an inspired choice. Her speech ended with the word ‘always’. Not only the title of this episode, long time fans will get the reference. It is what Castle says to Beckett whenever he can’t say that he loves her. The cuts between the speech and Beckett packing up her desk, looking longingly at Castle’s chair, going back to the swings from the first episode of this season was a beautiful juxtaposition. Alexis is saying goodbye; Beckett is finding a way to say hello.

The sea change in this episode is to our favorite couple. In the beginning of the show, we saw them make a date and we saw Beckett grab Castle’s hand. Truth be told, these two moments were about as much as we’ve gotten all year, so I would have been happy with them. But wait, there’s more.

The scene in Beckett’s apartment is a direct parallel to the one in last year’s season finale. But, all the subtext and veiled comments are gone. Castle comes right out and tells Beckett what he has been doing all year and that he loves her. Beckett is understandably furious and confused and reacts accordingly – reminding him that it is her life and that she decides what happens with it (a direct reference to last year) and that she can’t talk about being in love when he has just betrayed her. Castle’s reaction is among the best work that Nathan Fillion has done on this show. Tears just below the surface, he responds equally frustrated and confused. But, in the end he realizes that she is not going to change and decides to end the relationship rather than watch her die. What was so great about this scene was not just the writing and the acting (which were both superb), but that it felt real. Both Castle and Beckett have been dealing with the secrets and the potential ramifications of them for a year. Of course there is going to be anger, confusion and hurt. A too quick forgiveness, on either of their parts, would have seemed forced and too clean. But, what a change in their relationship. This may be the most honest conversation they have ever had and it moved me to tears.

As if that weren’t enough to keep the fans going for the summer, Marlowe and Co. gave us The Moment. And what a moment it was. Beckett comes through the door and throws herself onto Castle, who is a bit taken aback. Telling him that she didn’t care that Maddox got away and that all she could think about was him sealed the deal. Although the kisses and the throwing against the door were HOT, what moved me was Castle touching her scar (an obvious parallel to her emotional scars) and the holding of the hands. I was cheering like a crazy person.

And so, the curtain comes down on season four. Overall, I give the season a solid B+. It had a couple of truly awful episodes, mostly good and some excellent. It went out on the best of the year.

Five out of four north stars.

Tidbits:

-- Although she was only on the screen for a short time, it was great to see Lanie again.

-- Gates was back, but briefly. Her role seemed simply to suspend Beckett and Esposito.

-- The writers have never been able to figure out what Montgomery’s family looked like. At his funeral, there was no son and two daughters. In this week’s family portrait, there was a son and only one daughter. Castle refers to “Evan and the girls,” implying daughter number two. This kind of continuity should be the easy stuff.

-- The vincit onmia veritas on Johanna’s gravestone means truth conquers all things. Fitting.

-- Interesting that Meredith couldn’t be bothered to show up at her daughter’s graduation. The writers seem to have forgotten that Alexis even has a mother.

Soundbites:

Beckett: “Now, who is this person? How do I find him?”
Castle: “He’s a… a voice on the phone. He’s a shadow in a parking garage.”
Beckett: “You met with him?”

Beckett: “And how the hell could you do this?”
Castle: “Because I love you. But you already know that, don’t you?”

Castle: “I think you are the most remarkable, maddening, challenging, frustrating person I have ever met.”

Beckett: “Let them come. They sent Coonan, and he is dead. They sent Lockwood, and he is dead. And, I am still here, Castle, and I am ready!”

Ryan: “Where’s Castle?”
Beckett: “He’s off the team.”

Castle: “Beckett, what do you want?”
Beckett: “You.”

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.

9 comments:

Billie Doux said...

It was an excellent episode, with a lot more to it than the last five minutes. I'm pretty sure the show is getting another season, but if for some reason it didn't, this would have been an incredible series finale.

I'm not a shipper at all. I watch the show mostly because I love Nathan Fillion and they write so well for him. The scene where he told Beckett how he really felt was so good that I started crying, too. It had more of an effect on me than the two of them at the end. Although that was beautifully done, too.

I like all of the characters -- I wouldn't watch just for Nathan Fillion -- and the split between Esposito and Ryan got to me, too. It was totally in character. And hey, my father didn't bother to come to my high school graduation, so I wasn't surprised that Alexis's mother did the same thing.

Looking forward to next season. Which we *will* get, I'm sure of it.

Terrific review, Chris.

Josie Kafka said...

I'm so happy you're reviewing Castle for us, Chris. I just caught up on the past few episodes, and I really enjoyed the past one and this one.

Normally, the sad Castle episodes aren't my favorite. But--finally! It's about time those crazy kids got together.

I was also surprised by how little I was annoyed by Alexis's high school drama. She could easily be a horribly annoying character, but I'm so glad she isn't.

CrazyCris said...

BRILLIANT final episode! :o)

But there's no way they're not renewing the series... we would have heard some rumblings to that effect way before now! Don't even scare me by suggesting it! :p

Great review Chris! Alexis's mother not showing didn't even register with me... I was too busy wondering about Beckett and what she was going to do next.

And the break in the bromance? Ouch! I sure hope Javi and Ryan will fix it next season!

Anonymous said...

It's about time is all I can say. My shipper heart is all aglow. Great review.
Anna

Quachett said...

First thing I gotta say is I hate shipping, and I absolutely do. I really liked finally getting Becket and castle together, I do however have to say I would have been fine with another season of them not putting them together, I just hope they will not fall into the Cliche of having them be fine for 3 episodes then break them up for a silly reason then have another couple of awkward episodes then to back to friends again then have some later episode, my be series finale, that they finally admit thier feelings and its happilly ever after. For me I really would appriciate if the relationship just takes place in the background dont make a big fuss about it just let it flow in the background have occassional episodes were it surfaces.

As for the episode as a whole, I gatta say brillient writting and directing, I like were this is going, but im not sure espesito's reaction to Ryan was the correct move, they were walking to their deaths what else could he do, even Espesito has to see that.

celticmarc said...

This was simply the BEST episode, so far, of the entire series. Period.

I was glad to see Tahmoh Penikett, but less to see him as the (very) bad guy. But hy, the best acting are always the bad guys.

Kudos for the director of photography on this : loved the park scene at the end with rain and mist, the empty swing besides Beckett. y
And the veru discreet hand holding at the office was so good and nicely done.

My jaw was opened during most of the ep...

Matthew L said...

Loved the finale. Good to see Helo, oh I mean Agent Ballard, no wait a minute, Cole Maddox back on the screen. :)

The two main conversations in the middle and at the end were very well written.

I'm pretty sure season 5 will be begin with the morning after, but I also hope season 5 will see the resolution of the conspiracy storyline and move onto the identity and mystery of Castle's father.

ChrisB said...

Having finished the first season reviews, I re-watched this episode to see if it is still my favorite. It is.

What jumped out at me this time, and what I wish I had caught when I wrote the review, is Castle's reaction when Beckett comes to his front door in that final scene. For the first time in a long time he calls her "Beckett," not "Kate."

But, what really struck me is how he acts with her. This is his dream come true. The woman he loves is, quite literally, throwing herself at him. Yet, he stops kissing her and pushes her away. He wants to know why she is there, not just accept that she is. Our guy is still, all these years later, looking for the story.

Luckily for those of us who ship these two, he buys the story. Can't wait to see where season five picks up!

Mark said...

Hmm... the point about Castle's hesitation reminds me of the scene from "Say Anything".
Lloyd: "One question: do you need... someone, or do you need me?... Forget it, I don't really care."

Castle knows her well enough to tell that she is in pain, and held himself back long enough to find out if it was more than temporary comfort. (Whether she still feels that way in the morning, has me anticipating the season opener.)