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Castle: A Death in the Family

“Most people come up against a wall, they give up. Not you. You don’t let go. You don’t back down. That’s what makes you extraordinary.”

The title of this episode is excellent, because the show is all about Castle’s families -- personal and professional.

Castle’s relationship with his mother is fascinating. Living together appears to have brought them closer than when we first met Martha in the pilot. She seems to be a little less mad and he seems to have a lot more time for her. She offers unwanted advice, but what mother doesn’t. What’s so good about Martha is that her advice is spot on and some part of Castle knows that it is, even if he won’t admit it. The scene at the end where Martha tells Castle that he must tell Beckett what he has learned about her mother is the most serious scene we have ever seen between the two of them. Martha is telling Castle the hard truth and he is, to his credit, listening.

I realized in this episode how lucky Alexis is that Martha is now such a big part of her life. Meredith is God knows where and the girl needs a woman in her life -- not to mention someone saving her dates from severed heads. The conversation that Martha and Castle have about being a woman is fantastic and so, so true. Ask any woman -- she will be able to tell you in seconds the thing she hates most about herself. One of the things I love so much about Richard Castle is that he not only listens to what Martha is saying, he hears it and takes it on board. It makes him a better son, father and friend.

We finally get to see Alexis act like a kid. I remember (vaguely) being that age and getting all giddy when the boy I had a crush on asked me to a dance. But, the “old soul” is never far from the surface. The scene where she comes home from the dance is just lovely. Castle is realizing that his little girl is now a young woman, but at the same moment, Alexis promises to stay his little girl forever. Alexis really understands her dad.

Professionally, the team has come together as a family as well. The three boys now treat each other like brothers. They tease each other constantly and they offer each other advice (less good than Martha’s!). Isn’t it interesting that when Beckett gets obsessive, the boys send Castle in to talk to her. The dynamics have shifted. Castle is now Beckett’s partner.

They are partners in a very real sense. To track down the killer, each talks to people from their lives that can help. Castle talks to the mob; Beckett talks to the feds. They come at the problem from very different angles, but by working together they get the killer in the end.

There is a wonderful scene at the hospital after Sorenson is shot in which Beckett, typically, is blaming herself for what happened. Castle is wonderful with her and knows just how to take care of her. He doesn’t touch her; he doesn’t quote platitudes. He just tells her that she made the right call with the information she had and he tells her what he feels about her. And later, Beckett does the same, but not to him, to Montgomery. One hopes that they are moving toward each other.

But, this is the episode in which Caskett have their first really serious conflict. The scene where Beckett tells Castle to leave her mother’s case alone is wonderfully done. Beckett is deadly serious and crystal clear. “Like a recovering alcoholic [having a] drink” leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination, but it is too late -- and Castle knows it. Although he apologizes for bringing it up, the look on his face telegraphs to us that the proverbial has hit the fan. And hasn’t it. We now know that Beckett’s mother was murdered and Castle has to tell her. The season ends with Beckett literally stepping back away from Castle. Ouch.

The first season has come to an end, and what a ride it was. From two strangers to two families. I give the first season an A.


-- According to the audio commentary, this case was based on something that actually happened in Manhattan. Yuck!

-- Jacey Goldberg is just scary. And, her alibi surgery I just don’t want to think about. Shiver…

-- Sorenson and Castle are still at it, even though Castle has clearly won.

-- Great callback to "Nanny McDead" when Castle tells Mario to not leave town.

-- The real Maggie Dowd works for a hospital in Seattle. Seriously?


Castle: “It’s about your mother’s case. Have you ever thought about re-opening it?”
Beckett: “What are you doing?”
Castle: “Nothing. I just thought if we worked together...”
Beckett: “No!” ... “Castle, you touch my mom’s case and you and I are done. Do you understand?”
Castle, completely taken aback: “OK.” Long pause, while he realizes that he is in deep. Hoping to save something, “Why don’t you want to investigate it?”
Beckett, with tears in her eyes: “The same reason a recovering alcoholic doesn’t drink.”

Castle: “Sorry. I didn’t know.” [He should have listened to his mother!]
Beckett: “Yeah, well, now you do.”

Castle: “Wait. Are you being sincere or quoting The Elephant Man?”
Beckett smirks while Esposito and Ryan snicker.
Castle, while looking at the boys: “Oh, saucy.”

Esposito: “Hell, he didn’t even have any porn on his computer.”
Ryan: “That’s weird.”
Esposito: “Yeah, I know.”

Beckett: “You have your sources; I have mine.”
Castle: “Oh, it’s not your ex-boyfriend, is it? Mr. FBI? Tall, brooding and judgmental?”
Beckett, thinking she’s got the upper hand: “Why, yes, in fact, it is. Is that a problem?”
Castle, proving her wrong: “No, not for me. But, then again, I’m not the one he’s trying to get back together with.”

Castle: “My little girl! She’s all grown up.”
Martha: “Yeah. Well, at least one of you is.”

Sorenson: “Watch it, Kate. He likes 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.


  1. Good season finale, even with the first major conflict between Castle and Beckett hangs there between them at the hospital. Still better than S2 or S3 finales, but of course not as good as S4 finale. :)

    And I agree, the plastic surgeon addict is pretty scary. Though she did lead to some funny scenes such as Beckett's conversation with Captain Montgomery about the alibi surgery or the outtake that's on the DVD set when Castle screams upon seeing her photo. :)

    And the finale begins the Joanna Beckett murder conspiracy storyline and my feeling as to part of the reason why Castle opened up the case without telling Beckett was he thought if he could help her solve it, it would be his way of saying thanks to her for allowing him to be her partner. I also think another reason why he did it is his subconscious need to touch everything, even things he should know better to leave alone.

  2. ChrisB, thanks again for circling around and discussing the early episodes. I'm enjoying revisiting the series (again).

    You mentioned that it would be nice to see more evidence of Backett as super-Castle-fan. I'm hoping the writers could find ways to flashback to before: why Beckett doesn't have a partner, when Ryan & Esposito started hero-worshiping Beckett, how Lanie became friends, when Martha first moved in... Would be a fun to see how much has changed.


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