Castle Back With A Bang

Posted on September 21, 2011

0


Castle Season 4 Promo

So I was looking through here the other day and I realised that the last review I wrote for ABC’s clever little crime series Castle was way back when Season 1 was showing at ‘Stupid O’Clock in the morning’ over here.

 

I must admit, having caught up on the previous three series and loving them, I’ve waited with baited breath for the return of our favourite duo, Castle and Beckett. So, I’m going to attempt to keep a series blog for the duration of Season 4. Reviews might be a day or two late, such is my unfortunate geography and resorting to using some very good American friends to give me my fix but the reviews will come. And hopefully, along the way, I might convince some non-viewers to give this cracking little series a go.


After the cliff-hanger ending of season 3, the opener for season 4 was always going to be a packed affair. With the ending of the last season, there was maybe a slight fear that Castle was about to get a whole lot darker and a lot less fun as previous commentators have complained.

Personally, I’ve never had a problem with the darker episodes of the show. Yes, I’ve laughed aloud at some episodes, been reduced to tears laughing on some occasions, the Temptation Lane episode, which I re-watched only recently comes to mind.

On the other hand, I’ve watched in awe at the emotion and weight that episodes like Sucker Punch (2×13), Knockdown (3×13), and Knockout, the season 3 finale exhibited and I feel that this extra bite of emotion and seriousness only makes the show stronger. If it’s just fun and slappy-happy then there’s nothing to invest in except for, of course, the Beckett-Castle relationship and I feel that that aspect of the show is explored best in this episodes, where you see that Richard Castle will do just about anything to help Beckett.

We see it in ‘Rise’ too, even if Castle is a little reluctant and a little too hurt to step back into that world again at the start. The reason that he’s still following Beckett around is pretty clear though when, after hearing that Josh is out of the picture, he follows her into the playground. It is, for want of a better phrase, all about her for him.

In terms of plot and story, the episode jumps around a bit. Opening with an excellent and beautifully tense hospital scene. Josh and Jim Beckett make brief appearances, both important though. Josh highlights Castle’s culpability; Jim Beckett’s highlights the seriousness of the situation and the futility of fighting while his daughter lies dying.

Josh gets written out a little too easily I think. I don’t think the writers could have written him out of the episode completely because his attacking Castle was too important in terms of the emotional power. Similarly, that and the later interaction in Beckett’s hospital room justify Castle’s remark about Josh later on. But it just seemed a bit too easy to get rid of him. Maybe we’ll discover later in the season through her therapy sessions with Michael Dorn’s character exactly what happened.

That’s another thing, I think these therapy scenes have the potential to be really, seriously good. There’s no doubt in my mind that after those revelatory last three words from Beckett that Castle’s name will pop up in those sessions quite often.

The new Captain, Gates, is interesting though I can’t say we’ve seen enough of her yet to judge too much. I get the impression she knows exactly what the gang are up to and is just waiting for her chance to shut it down fully. Beckett’s outburst at the Fire Chief might hang her in that regard.

Our mysterious ‘Mr Smith’ is intriguing. I would have liked to see a bit more of the phone conversation, particularly the part about Beckett’s safety. I felt the action jumped too suddenly from a phone conversation to Castle telling Martha what the man had said. And the old screenwriting rule applies there: show, don’t tell. (Well, ok, technically telling it either way but it’s proactive dialogue and information coming at us fresh rather than in a rehashed way from Castle)

 

In a sense, the episode was all about the last line though, wasn’t it? Or rather, the last few scenes. The part where Castle talks Beckett through her square off with our weekly murder was brilliant, pure brilliant and it served to highlight both how fragile Beckett is at the moment and how much she depends on Castle when she’s like that. Her breakdown scene with Castle was another sign of this new vulnerability and willingness to let it show in front of him.

The cast, as always, are excellent. Nathan Fillion slips easily from disheartened in the hospital to his usual quick-witted, charming self later on and to the wonderfully supportive and caring tones he takes on for Beckett alone. Stana Katic is also brilliant and she handles the newfound vulnerability of the role superbly. Queen of the ‘pause and drop a bombshell moment.’

I have to make a special mention for Molly Quinn as Alexis too. The ending scene between her and Fillion is wonderful and reminds me very much of the very final scene of Lie to Me in which another strong daughter character sees through her father’s mask. Alexis’ asking if Beckett makes Castle happy is akin to Emily asking Cal Lightman if he loves Gillian Foster. It seems to be that admission from Castle that makes Alexis understand why he has to do what he’s doing.

The idea of Castle continuing to investigate Beckett’s mother’s case is intriguing. As has been said in many reviews already, each character is harbouring a big secret that, if found out, will signify a huge betrayal to the other character. With Kate, her secret is perhaps a little more self-preserving. She’s scared of being close to anyone and that seems to have only heightened since her shooting. She gave Castle the lifeline early in the episode: solve the case and I can be me again.

That puts Castle’s secret into such a murky territory that it’s hard to even put it in context. By working on her case alone, he’s hoping to free her from her torments, to allow her to live her life again, he’s surely hoping that it will be with him. But the secrecy of it, if found out, will cause yet another huge rift between the two.

Not to mention the kind of danger that Castle is likely putting himself and his family in by continuing the investigation. It’s hard to know whether it shows his love for and devotion to Kate or his blinkered idea of nobility that he can’t seem to see the wrong in putting his own family in danger for the sake of her safety.

There’s going to be some serious moral dilemmas in this series I think and not all of them will be directly Beckett-Castle related. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something happen to Martha or Alexis that causes Castle to rethink the entire thing. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them, more likely Alexis, revealing her dad’s secret to Beckett.

One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be intriguing and it’s certainly going to have the fans talking.

Castle is back and boy was that four-month-wait worth it.

Caskett Watch:

Lots of moments in this episode. The hospital scenes for some good old fashioned angst. Outside the book signing for Castle’s near use of the word ‘love’ again. The breakdown in his apartment, his talking her through the stand-off, his watching her in the precinct at the end. The best scene, in terms of how Castle and Beckett interact and how they understand each other is the scene in the station when Castle tries to deter Beckett from chasing up the case so relentlessly. Beautifully realised.

There was lots of good stuff but my favourite line was probably one reminiscent of old-school Caskett, the fun, quirky side to them.

BECKETT: Showing her up with the mayor? You might as well have beaten a beehive with a bat!

Bro-mancing the Stone:

Ryan and Esposito continue to be as charming as ever. I enjoyed their little, ‘the water cooler is broken’ moment but their best part had to be the epic uniform patrol in the hospital, barking orders down the phones and taking charge in the absence of their boss.

Line of the Episode:

Again, a lot of good contenders here. But there was really only one winner, wasn’t there? The line that turned the whole episode on its head.

BECKETT: I remember everything.