This may be my favourite episode of season 4 so far. We all knew “Cops and Robbers” was going to be a high-stakes episode, but it exceeded my expectations – not really in terms of intensity (although it certainly was intense) but in terms of the way the story was told, the way the characters behaved, and the way the actors brought so much life to it even with the subtlest gestures.
I suppose one way of putting it is that the central characters, especially Castle, Martha, and Beckett, are forced to act according to the very core of their being – the situation strips away their outward displays, quibbles, and assumed personas, and we really see the fundamental essence of their characters come out. This essence might be one that the characters themselves are surprised by, or one that they knew of all along, but the danger and emotion involved in the hostage situation reveals who they truly are.
We see this first when Castle and Beckett are chatting on the phone: their flirtatious conversation jolts into seriousness when Beckett realizes Castle isn’t imagining that the bank is being robbed. And this conversation was also the first of many times that I noted how beautiful Stana Katic is. Ryan and Espo (if Kate can call him that, so can I!) jump into action as soon as they realize Castle is in danger, proving once again how much the entire family at the 12th precinct cares about each other. Beckett threatens Trapper John which turns out to be the wrong move; she is chastised by the hostage negotiator and told not to get involved. And we all know that’s not something Beckett is particularly good at. However, she is even more bewildered and pretty much looks like she’s going to throw up when she’s told she has to negotiate with Trapper John…and I don’t blame her! Kate knows that Castle’s safety depends on her acting against all her instincts as a homicide detective.
Castle is frightened, but demonstrates both his own ingenuity and his utter reliance on Beckett when he’s held hostage in the bank. He actually almost solves the entire case using the information and resources at hand, and somehow manages to relay his findings to Beckett. His inquisitive writer’s imagination, tendency to meddle, and investigative skills can get him into trouble (like when Trapper John almost shoots him), but they also help to crack the case wide open and save many lives in this episode. You can see a flash of pride on Beckett’s face when she realizes Castle is sending her a message in Morse code – of course he would use his quirky skill set to help out in whatever way he can. And the fact that he uses Martha’s bracelet to communicate makes it so much better!
Martha herself is fantastic in this episode (when is she not?). Susan Sullivan brings such a fun flamboyant quality to the character, but always maintains Martha’s humanity and believability. She is the first one to ask the pregnant hostage how far along she is, for example. Displaying real fear for both herself and her son, she needs to be physically restrained when Trapper John holds his gun to Castle’s throat. And yet we also see the over-the-top side of Martha, even in tense situations. During a really sweet conversation where the bank manager reveals he is a fan of her acting, Martha, true to her diva-like nature, responds, “If I have to die, I’m glad I’m going with someone who knows my work”. Classic Martha Rodgers.
Alexis, on the other hand, seems a bit unstable in terms of character. I feel like she’s lost some of her childish charm in recent episodes, possibly since she started dating Ashley. I want the old Alexis back – the one who played laser tag and gave her father words of wisdom. While I was very happy to see an Alexis-Beckett scene, I didn’t really like the idea of her and Beckett at odds. I can understand Alexis resenting Beckett on almost every other occasion in which Castle is put in harm’s way, but this time Beckett had absolutely nothing to do with it. Castle and Martha would have been at that bank anyway, and if he hadn’t known Beckett and been on the phone with her, the whole situation would probably be a lot worse. I know Alexis is understandably upset about Castle and Martha being held hostage, but threatening Beckett by saying “they better” be alright is unfair…even given the extenuating circumstances.
The tension in “Cops and Robbers” is ratcheted up when Beckett goes into the bank dressed as a paramedic to remove the epileptic hostage/criminal mastermind. As soon as she enters, she locks eyes with Castle and the look they share is filled with fear, love, desire, and desperation. Crouching beside Castle, she tells the patient that he’ll be okay and that she’ll get him out of there, but her glance tells us she’s speaking only to Rick. And then she clasps his hand!!!! We all let out simultaneous shouts and melted a little further into the couch at that point! The emotion between them is definitely palpable and it’s this more than anything else that raises the intensity level of the hostage situation. Beckett’s last look to Castle as she wheels out the patient reveals just what is at stake and both are reluctant to break the gaze, knowing it might be the last time they ever see each other.
The terror we see in Beckett when the bomb goes off mirrors Castle’s reaction to seeing Beckett’s apartment blow up in “Tick Tick Tick” (2×17). There’s a beautiful semi-slowmo shot as Beckett opens the door of the van and takes in the wreckage of the bank, followed by a zoom-in on her shocked, horrified face. Well done, director and cinematographer! This shattering moment is followed by a completely wonderful reunion when Beckett finds Castle (and the other hostages) in the bank vault. I’m not sure if I can articulate this, but THE LOOKS! She touched his lapel! The love in their eyes! It’s clear that in such a vulnerable situation, and without inhibitions, this is what’s truly important to them. Needless to say I loved this moment and will be re-watching it numerous times. All us of just wanted to smush their faces together as we were watching this scene…is that normal? Martha very cutely interrupts their eye-love and I noticed that Beckett registers Castle’s look of “thanks for ruining the moment, mother” before she attends to Martha’s handcuffs.
Much as I was miffed with Alexis, the scene when she reunites with her father and grandmother was actually very poignant. And I suppose she redeems herself by giving Beckett a look of appreciation and apology. Beckett herself acknowledges this and lets them have their family moment, happy for them but perhaps also wishing she could be part of that embrace. But then she’s invited over for dinner and everything is golden! We basically had smiles plastered to our faces throughout the entire scene. Martha gives Beckett a giant twirl-hug and calls her “darling” and “you great beautiful creature” (pretty accurate), Alexis breaks up with Ashley (about time, good for her!), and Castle reveals that he keeps score of life-saving (of course he would!). So, in essence, they’re all one big happy family. Or they will be soon.
Other things I liked:
- Beckett never once contradicts the assumption that Castle is her boyfriend – it’s actually Castle who corrects Trapper John by saying she’s not his girlfriend
- When Beckett threatens to put a bullet through Trapper John’s skull she means it. She will literally destroy anybody who messes with her man, and her wrath is scary
- Esposito calls Ryan “Castle Junior”
- The bank manager gives Martha his number – hee hee!
We here at The Viewing Party really had fun with a Castle-themed Halloween party (or was it a Halloween-themed Castle party?)… Did you do something fun on Castleween? How do you think the dynamics might change in the Castle household now that (a) Alexis has broken up with Ashley and (b) Kate is becoming more and more a part of the family? What were your thoughts on the episode? Please share them!