Never Take Advice from a Potential Mass Murderer: J on the Dos and Don’ts of Castle 4×16 “Linchpin”

The plot thickens in "Linchpin"

Like last week, this review is mostly going to focus on characters and relationships because to be honest I wasn’t particularly interested in the whole double-agent, CIA, massive conspiracy, WWIII plot line.  Of course, that’s kind of the norm for me when I watch Castle; I’m much more invested in Rick and Kate’s romance than in any of the cases that they solve.  There were definitely some moments I liked in this week’s conclusion to the two-parter, but on the whole I don’t think either “Pandora” or “Linchpin” will break any records for favourite Castle episode.

My main criticism (I’ll get it out of the way now, and then move on to the fun stuff) is that the episode itself was, well, a little bit boring.  As far as Castle’s two-part cliff-hangers go, I didn’t like this year’s installment nearly as much as the ones that preceded it.  The stakes just didn’t seem as high (or I wasn’t made to feel they were as high), and I know that’s really weird to say given that World War Three was the potential outcome of this episode.  I guess what I mean is that a stronger impression is made when the characters’ lives are more directly involved in the case…like the crazy guy murdering people in the name of Nikki Heat, stalking Beckett, and blowing up her apartment in season 2.  Even last year’s two-parter felt more personal (though on a much larger scale), perhaps because Castle and Beckett were locked together in a freezer and then faced with a dirty bomb about to blow up in their faces.  But mainly I think those episodes worked really well because it was all up to Castle and Beckett to solve the case and save everyone.  Here, there were too many double-agents and shifting allegiances to keep track of; Castle and Beckett could barely do anything but observe and get carried along by the CIA.  If they have absolutely no clue what’s going on (which they didn’t until the very end of “Linchpin”), then neither do we, and I think that’s what diluted the episode’s overall impact.

Okay, on to other things.  The opening scene was really tense, a great way to get viewers on the edge of their seat right away.  In fact, that was the only really nerve-wracking part of the episode for me.  I couldn’t help thinking of Titanic as Castle and Beckett struggled to get out of a sinking car quickly filling with water.  There are several questions I still have about that scene though: How did Castle actually shoot Beckett out of her seatbelt?  Wouldn’t he have shot her in the gut?  I mean, that takes some pretty good aim, especially when you’re trapped in a sinking car and submerged in really cold water (it is New York in February, after all).  And then once Castle managed to free Beckett and shoot open the window, how did they make it up to the surface?  It seemed quite deep.  But I suppose these questions are better left unasked; the suspension of disbelief is key in Castle and “Linchpin” is no exception.

Esposito was consistently awesome this episode, especially in the dialogue by the docks.  He desperately wants to know what Castle and Beckett are up to and then gets offended when they don’t tell him, saying he used to “eat classified for breakfast”.  But he can’t conceal his teddy bear-ish heart of gold as he adds, “I’m glad you’re okay”.  It was one of the better comedic moments of the episode, followed by another funny exchange in the morgue.  Castle and Beckett are heatedly discussing Castle’s history with Sophia, and when it comes out that they slept together, Beckett exclaims with irritation, “sleep with whoever you want, the more the merrier!” (and Stana Katic’s delivery was just the right combination of peeved, jealous, and goofy).  Of course, Alexis, interning with Lanie, is right behind them and when she makes her presence known both Castle and Beckett’s uncomfortable reactions are priceless.

Jennifer Beals as Sophia Turner in "Linchpin"

The issue of Castle and Sophia sleeping together comes up again at the CIA headquarters, in a much more serious discussion between Beckett and Sophia.  Not sure yet that Sophia was a bad guy, we were all quite excited at the prospect of some girl talk.  As the conversation progressed, however, we saw it taking an unfortunate turn, leading to exactly what we didn’t want to hear.  By the end of the scene when Sophia says that she and Castle shouldn’t have slept together in order to maintain that sexual tension, I was pretty convinced she was speaking for the Castle writers, giving us their excuse for why Castle and Beckett haven’t gotten together yet.  Luckily, Sophia turned out to be a crazy person so Beckett is now able to dismiss her warning…and hopefully that means she’ll seriously think about doing the opposite of what Sophia said.  Never take advice from a potential mass murderer, Beckett!

In fact, at our viewing party, most of the episode was spent discussing how great it would be if there was surprise Castle/Beckett sex at the end of “Linchpin”.  We came up with a whole elaborate plan about how they filmed it secretly and nobody knew about it.  But, in our imaginings, it wouldn’t come about because Castle and Beckett were in a compromised position or because they were scared or relieved; it would have to be after the fear and relief, when they were just themselves, still obviously in love with each other.  And I think that’s the linchpin of their relationship, the one that flies in the face of everything Sophia said.  The tension is not all they have!  Castle and Beckett are completely in love, and have been building their relationship for the past four years (Sophia and Rick only knew each other a few months).  They are intimate with each other even though they haven’t slept together, and that intimacy is based on more than just sexual tension.  They’re both already aware of the other’s irritants, vulnerabilities, and strengths, so those petty problems that drove Sophia and Castle crazy don’t apply to Castle and Beckett in the same way.

Don’t worry, Castle creators, having them take the next step won’t diffuse the tension, it will just add more dimensions to an already interesting relationship.  So basically, I think it’s time now for Rick and Kate to act on their love…we’ve waited long enough, but more importantly, so have they.

Other things:

  • Of course I loved the nudge at the end, but as I said above, I want more!
  • Did Beckett have tears in her eyes in their last talk in the precinct, when Castle says Clara Strike is more like Beckett than Sophia?
  • I’m not really a fan of introducing yet another elaborate back story/mythology about Castle’s father, especially given the unsolved convoluted mess that is Beckett’s mom’s case.

Share your thoughts on “Linchpin” below!  Was it a satisfying cliff-hanger conclusion?  Did the writers strike the right balance between tension and resolution?  What did you think of the character Sophia Turner?  Did you see her as evil from the start, or was it a shock that she turned out to be the criminal mastermind?

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One thought on “Never Take Advice from a Potential Mass Murderer: J on the Dos and Don’ts of Castle 4×16 “Linchpin”

  1. I don’t think anyone actually reads these comments anymore, but just in case… Castle wouldn’t have shot at the webbing on the seat belt to free Beckett. He’d probably have actually shot at the seat belt anchor on the floor for the short end of the seat belt. Or failing that if he did shoot at the webbing, he would also have shot down there by the floor where there was no danger to Beckett. We could see there was ample space down there for him to have done that.

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