Maybe the weather is always sunny in California (at least when Castle and Beckett are there), but this episode was a definite mix of light and dark. “To Love and Die in L.A.” had a different feel from most other episodes, and yet it was an excellent example of the characteristic Castle combination of comedy and gravity. There is so much to say about this episode, and much as I would enjoy composing a novel-length review, I’ve decided to limit myself to some of the major Castle and Beckett developments (and there were many!).
One of the first significant things I noticed was a line from Beckett after she demands to see Royce’s dead body. Castle tentatively asks her if she really wants to remember him like that, and Beckett responds, “Castle, if it was me lying there, would you just walk away?” This was delivered and received almost as a throwaway line, but I think it shows that deep down Beckett understands Castle’s feelings for her, even if she hasn’t consciously identified or accepted them. In equating herself with Royce, she’s also implicitly saying that Castle feels about her the way she felt about Mike Royce…namely, in love. But no one seemed to notice what an important statement that was! I think at the very least it demonstrates how much closer Castle and Beckett are now, even compared to the beginning of season 3.
S and I were just discussing how much the characters have grown and developed since the pilot episode, and I think nothing exemplifies this more than the amazing conversation Castle and Beckett have in their hotel room. I say amazing not only because it is completely swoon-worthy and chock-full of sexual tension, but also because of the honest way it deals with the characters’ changing emotions and relationship. [Disclaimer, it is taking all my willpower not to squee, giggle, or flail while writing about this scene, so if some slight traces of gushiness make their way into this review, consider yourself warned.] We can probably all agree that Castle’s little speech to Beckett and the accompanying “I love you, please sleep with me” glances were enough to make anyone other than Kate Beckett melt right then and there. And she almost does! After Castle throws in a comment about her hotness, she replies, “you’re not so bad yourself, Castle”. This is the first time she has outright admitted (to Castle or to herself) that she finds him attractive and all I can say is: about time, honey! It’s what we viewers have been saying all along!
Still, that line prompts one of the longest and most lingering looks that we’ve seen on the show so far. Even after three seasons, Nathan and Stana maintain such intensely communicative silence with their unflinching eye contact. The attraction between them in this moment is palpable; I don’t know how they do it, but their chemistry has increased to the point where the sparks are almost visible! Even though I was pretty sure they weren’t going to kiss, I was also pretty sure they were just because they were both so obviously on the same page. If you watch that scene again, you can see the precise moment of change in Beckett’s face when she puts up a barrier, breaking the eye contact and saying goodnight. When Castle calls her back by her first name, it signals an important progression for him as well: he obviously really wants it to be a moment of truth and is willing to try breaking through her barrier. But Beckett won’t let him, and we can see the fear, nerves, and almost-uncontrolled emotion as she says goodnight and closes the door.
Despite how telling the conversation is, for me Beckett’s reaction behind the closed door, more than anything else, cemented the fact that she now knows exactly how she feels about Castle. It’s a moment of self-discovery that is really huge for her, especially given how wary she is about a romantic relationship with Castle. I definitely did not think she was going to follow through and open the door again (way to go, Kate!) but I was also kind of glad Castle wasn’t there. The whole case with Royce and the trip to L.A. meant high emotions and lots of built-up tension, and I wouldn’t want either Castle or Beckett to be seen as taking advantage of the other because of that. Beckett’s reaction after discovering that Castle’s door had just closed was a great combination of disappointment, relief, confusion, and a questioning of her own motives. She seemed to be saying to herself, “What was I actually going to do if Castle had been there?”
And now of course I must talk about the end of the episode (since this review has once again turned into a Castle-Beckett romance-a-thon). Before the very important plane scene when the end of Royce’s letter is revealed, Beckett looks around the hotel room and Castle asks her, “So how close did you come?” There is a short pause before he completes the question: “…with Ganz”. It might just be my crazy Castle imagination going into overdrive, but I think there’s a millisecond where the real question in Beckett’s mind seems to be, “How close did I come to starting something with you?” Did anyone else think that she was thinking that, or am I way off base?
Then comes the final scene on the plane, in which Royce’s letter basically tells Beckett to go for it with Castle. This letter, along with the hotel scene, is really a revelation for Beckett. And I just have to say, I loved Castle’s adorably peaceful slumber as Beckett stares lovingly at him…and who wouldn’t? It looked like such a cozy scene, as if Beckett could just snuggle up with Castle and fall asleep. He looked sweet, oddly alluring, and totally fall-in-lovable, and now Kate knows it! Castle has been there for a while in terms of his feelings for Beckett (think “it’s not about the books anymore” in “Knockdown”). Beckett has been getting there in recent episodes, especially with the “one-writer girl” and “always” comments from “The Dead Pool” (read our reviews here and here). I think that “To Love and Die in L.A.” really makes it clear that he knows how he feels, she knows how she feels, and they both seem to know that the other knows. And, um, is Doctor Motorcycle Boy even in the picture?
Some other favourite moments:
- When the LAPD bust Castle and Beckett breaking into Violet’s house, they have an accidental embrace as they frantically scramble to get out.
- I loved that when Beckett was yelling at Castle for messing up her poolside rendezvous with Ganz, she was mostly upset that her attempts to distract him from Castle’s covert operations made her look like a rookie: “He called me green!” I guess Beckett has her pride, even in front of criminals.
- Castle’s reaction to Beckett in a bathing suit was priceless. That woman knows how to turn a few heads!
- Both Castle and Beckett dressed up as Gene Simmons for Halloween
There’s so much more to say! What were your favourite moments? What did you think of the guys playing Raley and Ochoa (Ryan and Esposito’s counterparts in Nikki Heat)? What were the funniest moments of the episode? Also (and this was something I wasn’t sure about), do you think Beckett had read the entire letter from Royce before she went to L.A., or was that final scene on the plane the first time she read the part about her and Castle?