There was a lot at stake for Castle’s season 4 premiere. The show has always had a pretty healthy mix of light and dark, and usually the dark episodes offer enough comedic relief so that the overall tone of the show is on track. Last season raised the stakes for Castle’s dark side. Kate Beckett has always carried the demons of her mother’s unsolved murder with her, but last season the investigation turned alarmingly real, dangerous and heartbreaking. This sets different expectations for this season: to handle this darkness and incorporate it into the ongoing story–because how can you not–but also to remain a comedy at heart.
I love the dark Castle as much as the comedy and I’m thrilled to see how this season will incorporate these new challenges. If “Rise” was any indicator of where the season is headed I can’t wait for next week, and the next week (and so on). In a recent interview with Daniel Fienberg on Hitfix, Nathan Fillion talks about the balance between lighthearted comedy and the darker stuff. He spent time with real NYC Homicide cops and says “They’re not brooding, haunted people, tortured by their job and murder. They are very funny. They’re very funny, very relaxed, very light-hearted. It’s just that all of their stories start with, ‘So this guy gets killed…’”. Castle seems to take this truth to heart in their depiction of the fictional precinct and it works beautifully.
Beyond the shifting tone, Castle is going into a 4th season continuing to deal with the yet-to-be consummated relationship between the two leads. I want to applaud the writers for dealing with this with such care. The Castle-Beckett relationship has always been in a state of progression, moving closer through the good and the bad. There have been set-backs, and this is true of any relationship, but not artificial roadblocks.
You can have all the chemistry you want, but the timing is key. Something we discussed at our viewing of Castle was the on screen honesty that occurs between the characters. We love that the characters are open with one another as best they can and actually discuss feelings and events. They don’t unrealistically withhold everyday occurrences and major events that are clearly important to other people (LOST) and they don’t overdo it with the over-the-top feelings monologues (Dawson’s Creek). They communicate like people do.
I do believe that Beckett and Castle belong together romantically, but I wouldn’t have been satisfied as a viewer if they were just thrown together at the beginning of this season. The reason we love this show is because the characters have been so fully fleshed out and always treated with respect.
Beckett went through a trauma, being betrayed by her mentor, watching him die for her, and then taking a bullet herself all for chasing after her mother’s murderer. It’s a lot for a person to handle. It makes sense that seeing Castle who had become so intrinsically linked to the investigation would be difficult as she recovered. It also make sense that he’s hurt she didn’t want to see him, but we also know that he’s a huge pushover when it comes to Beckett so no way he’s going to put up much of a fuss, especially when she reveals Dr. Motorcycle Boy is out of the picture.
What was fantastic about tonight was the honesty between Beckett and Castle. They discussed how they felt. Someone still dealing with the trauma of her shooting and the surrounding events is not in the place to be in a relationship. Instead of being strange and cagey, Beckett tells Castle upfront that the feelings for him are there, but she’s not in a place yet where she can be in the kind of relationship they both deserve. She wants him in her life, and she wants to let him help her get to the point where they can be together romantically.
In fact, the honesty between the characters was almost jarring, mostly because Beckett isn’t always much of a sharer. But here’s another step forward for the pair. It was partially the shooting, and that she remembers everything, including Castle telling her “I love you.”
Being shot, almost dying and the loss and betrayal surrounding the events didn’t change Beckett but it affected her. She heard Castle’s words and she needs to deal with those feelings–and she is. She is the same Beckett, she pretends to be fine, comes back to work early and gets her gun back as soon as she can. It’s when she’s actually in a situation where she needs to use it she falters.
This isn’t any ridiculous two step back kind of dance Castle and Beckett are playing. She shares with him her grief and her fears, in a beautiful scene where she absolutely breaks down. The two of them keep getting closer, they need one another. Spoken clearly by exec producer Andrew Marlowe in a recent interview: they are in a relationship; it’s just complicated at the moment. I know J will discuss this scene further in her review so I’m going to leave it at that.
With these new revelations about the path of their relationship, there is a new roadblock that was carefully set up last season. Castle has been contacted by an old friend of Montgomery’s, the man who received the envelope containing the evidence leading to solving the murder of Beckett’s mother. The catch is, keeping that envelope under wraps is what is supposed to guarantee the safety of Beckett and Montgomery’s family.
Castle is put into a very difficult position. The woman he loves can’t be with him until she solves this murder; he has also just been told that she will be killed if she pursues it any further. He loves her and wants to be with her, but mostly he wants her to be alive. I’ve just commended Castle for the honesty between the characters, but the fact is that we all keep secrets. He’s keeping this secret for a good reason, he saw her die in that ambulance and he never wants to be there again. Obviously it’s going to come out. The questions are when and how.
It hurts to see this setback of Castle having to withhold from Beckett so quickly after seeing them together again. But without it the show would be treading over the same ground and get boring, which is worse. Watching him try to convince Beckett that it would be enough to solve other people’s cases each week was tough, but he was right. At least it’s enough for now.
Let’s not forget about Castle’s family. The dynamic between Martha and Castle and Castle and Alexis is amazing. Alexis is upset with her father for putting himself in danger, he’s a writer! Writers don’t usually need bulletproof vests. She says he’s being childish putting himself in danger like that, he counters that he needs to fix the mess he made. He’s growing up, he pushed Beckett into this case and now he needs to do everything he can to make it right. At least he promises not to grow up too much, it’s Castle we’re talking about afterall.
Other bits I loved:
- Ryan & Esposito together again bro–they are amazing
- Ryan reading all the gossip rags with Beckett not around to keep him in line
- Martha always being the most amazing and crazy mom, getting in the middle of the fight between Castle & Dr. Motorcycle boy to protect her son
- Castle fixing his hair before heading in to see Beckett in the hospital
- Worst CSI Folks Ever! Did they really not check under the bed the first time they swept the room for evidence? Sort of laughable but I’ll let it slide because there wasn’t really a whole lot of room in this hour for a complicated case
- I love the new dynamic caused by Captain Victoria “Iron” Gates and how everyone is terrified of her. Not sure about the “sir” thing yet. It seems a bit overkill because Peggy Johnson Jerald plays the character so well I don’t know that the extra bit is necessary in understanding who she is, but maybe it is, and maybe it’ll grow on me.
- Castle wearing plaid to his book signing, he usually opts for his fancy wardrobe for events such as those, but the blue in the shirt brings out his eyes
- Castle’s guilt is heartbreaking; I can’t say how thrilled I am that he doesn’t have to brood alone, thank goodness for Martha!
I’m going to hand it over to J as she discusses some of the finer points of the feelings scenes and the breakdown. I’m sure she’ll have a lot to say about “Rise” so stay tuned.
Next week Beckett, Castle & co track down and murderous comic book writer. See ya then – S