From the first moments of this week’s episode “Knockdown”, I felt like I was watching a different show, reminiscent to the highly personal tone in last season’s “Sucker Punch” which also dealt with the murder of Beckett’s mother. Although the drastic change in tone might be confusing for an occasional or first time viewer for us loyal Castle fans it was a brilliant change of pace creating an entirely different atmosphere that still maintained everything that makes the show work.
From the cold open the show had a heavy feel to it, colours didn’t pop and smiles didn’t crack as easily on a typical Monday with Castle. Even Castle’s rushed wardrobe choices reflected the differences to come in this week’s story as he ran out the door without a second thought. Beckett came to him with serious news, he left without changing, instead of dressing sharp he was dressed in a t-shirt with an unbuttoned checkered top. It was one of those times that witty quips were replaced with genuine care, dropping everything he had at home to dash out because she needed him.
[Aside: as a Firefly fans H & I saw the serious Mal face come out a lot on Castle this week. We admire Nathan Fillion’s ability to take it from silly, hammy and ridiculous to very serious, protective and no nonsense.]
This episode was huge for relationship building between Beckett and Castle and I’m not only talking about the much anticipated kiss (which turned out to be some serious makeouts!!!). Castle’s face after which was pretty much the only laugh all night. He has been trying to get her to share with him since they’ve met, she has wanted to, and tried, but has always held back for a variety of reasons. This episode we saw her drop her guard down for Castle, she let him into all sorts of parts of her life that she needed to share and he has been dying to be a part of. The moment where she showed him her personal an investigation of her mother’s murder was more poignant to me than the kiss.
This episode was (appropriately) starved for the usual comic relief we would normally find at every turn. The functions of many of the supporting characters were turned on their heads and it worked beautifully. Any time it felt like we’d get close to a break we were denied. This worked perfectly for maintaining the tone of the episode, this change of tone played with our expectations. It was a risk; and the willingness of the show to take these risks and trust its audience makes it continuously worth watching.
As the tension of the episode continued to mount Martha, Castle’s mother who is funny, witty and gives sly advice has a scene alone with her son. We expect her appearance on screen to be a fun distraction from the heavy events of the shooting moments earlier, instead of providing us with the comedic break that she usually does, she sat down and had a serious discussion with her son. She is worried for his safety after he has been shot at, he has continued to put himself in danger despite his successful career as a writer. This is a turning point both for this episode and for Castle himself. The stakes have continued to be raised and he is finally admitting out loud why he’s not backing down. It’s not just curiosity or the desire to be annoying for attention. He cares about her, he also has become addicted to the thrill of being a (fake) detective, he has become good at solving real crimes, and is enjoying being a crime fighter, but really, it’s mostly about the girl.
The role of Ryan and Esposito also took on another angle this week. We know they must be highly capable detectives to have gotten to where they are, also, the race between team Beckett & Castle and Ryan & Esposito in season 2’s “The Double Down” has shown us their capability. This week they were thrown into the leading role on the case and excelled as they found their mark. They were strong, tough, and serious and maintained this through their capture as they refused to fold in a seemingly impossible situation. It was a compelling way to view these two who are usually there for a laugh, and insight into other character’s relationship. This season we are watching them both grow as more fully developed characters with a larger place in the story.
H, I’ll leave the discussion of the police conspiracy story to you, I know how much you enjoy some good corruption on TV. I’d also love to hear more of your thoughts on the stone cold Kate Beckett we saw at the end. I look forward to the rest of your thoughts on “Knockdown”.