Things happened. Big things. Things that are meaningful and irrevocable and wonderful. So let’s jump right in as I try, like so many fans out there, to make sense of my Castle/Beckett feelings.
We begin with Beckett clinging to the edge of a building, calling out for Castle as she loses her grip. Just as all hope seems lost, we cut to three days earlier. Oh, season finales. After discovering what appears to be a gang-related murder in an alley, Beckett, Castle, and the boys soon discover a link to Montgomery’s home and the files he was trying to keep hidden. Drama, stolen glances, and intensity ensue, highlighting how much Castle, Ryan, and Esposito love Beckett in their own ways. Each of them will do pretty much anything to support Beckett and keep her safe, and we see this play out throughout the episode. Of course, Castle is keeping a secret about the files and the case, and we all know that it’s only a matter of time until it comes out.
However, until then, I loved watching the trust and caring between the four main characters. Castle feels he has to stop Kate from investigating the case, but he still makes it clear that he’s there for her. When he tells her that she’s not alone and she takes his hand in the precinct, my heart did all kinds of flitter-flutters. They hold hands in public! This is major progression, people (especially not knowing what’s to come in the episode). I got the feeling that Esposito totally saw them surreptitiously letting go of each other’s hands; he sends a little knowing smile in Beckett’s direction as he and Ryan enter the scene.
The tension of the episode continues to build as they discover more about the case. Beckett goes Fallon-scary on Marisol in interrogation, threatening that she’ll go to jail, her kid will end up in foster care and probably dead on the street before he’s twenty. This was a clever, if chilling throwback to “Setup” and “Countdown” when Agent Fallon terrifies another mother with the threat of foster care for her child. At the time Beckett is horrified that he would use such tactics, but because we’ve followed Beckett for all these years we see how she herself gets to that point when the case is personal. In “Always” Castle is the one who is horrified, and tells Beckett to back off. In fact, he does this a lot until the confrontational moment of truth in Beckett’s apartment.
This was my second-favourite scene in the episode (you know what number one is!) and in my opinion the best-acted. It’s actually hard to sum up because pretty much every moment is significant. Unlike when Castle comes to her apartment in last season’s finale, this time Beckett welcomes Castle into her home with a trust and openness that we have rarely seen before. Her utter faith in Castle isn’t shaken until he begins to reveal the cover-up, the deal to keep her safe, and his involvement in preventing her from pursuing the case. The hurt on both their faces when he admits he is a part of the deal is surprisingly moving, given that we as audience members knew this was going to come out sooner or later. Stana Katic does a great job showing Beckett’s betrayal and loss (her voice wavering will hit you where it hurts), and Nathan Fillion reveals welcome nuances as Castle determinedly and pretty much unflinchingly declares his love for Kate to her face. The tears in his eyes, the exasperation and earnestness in his voice, it all adds up to a heartbreaking performance.
I can understand both sides of their argument. I’m with Beckett in that neither Castle nor anyone else should have the right to make decisions on her behalf. Plus he lied to her, and though that lie may have kept her alive, she should have the personal agency to decide how to lead her own life. On the other hand, Castle’s actions did keep her safe for a year after the shooting. He couldn’t stand to see her put her life in danger for the simple reason that he loves her. A case of doing the wrong things for the right reasons, maybe?
There’s also a great parallel to a scene in the season opener “Rise” in which Beckett lists all the people in the case who are gone. She mentions some of the same people in “Always”, including Dick Coonan and Hal Lockwood, but this time she’s using their deaths as an argument to keep pursuing the case. In “Rise” it was about Beckett dealing with loss, and the death of everyone associated with the case was a weakness. In “Always” it is a strength. She’s still alive and kicking while many of her adversaries are dead, and she takes this almost as a rallying cry. It’s a powerful throwback that shows how much Beckett has changed over the course of the season. She’s hardened, determined, reckless, and downright scary.
This leads to Castle giving up and leaving Beckett to her own devices. She ends up on a roof facing off against Helo, oops I mean the military-trained killer who shot her. We were all very excited that Battlestar Galactica’s Tahmoh Penikett was going to be in this episode, even if he was playing the bad guy. Because we love him so much, it was hard to completely buy him as the steely killer he was portraying. Nevertheless, his confrontation with Beckett was pretty intense and leads to her hanging onto the edge of a building, pleading for help and realizing once and for all that Castle is what she really wants.
I think it’s kind of poetic that, as Beckett clings to a wall for dear life, she finally lets go of that wall she built up inside. Well done, show. It’s a moment of revelation that actually makes sense. She’s almost disappointed to see Ryan (who just saved her life) because she wants Castle so badly.
And I’m going to say here and now that I am not mad at Ryan in any way – he just saved her life! Ryan and Espo both love Beckett like brothers and have her back…it’s just that Ryan had to go behind her back in order to have her back. Ryan and Esposito’s scenes together are always dynamic and authentic, especially when they’re serious or fighting. Their last moment together was very upsetting because they’re usually such a great cooperative unit. The immediate family has broken up, it seems, and I look forward to seeing how they reunite next season. Beckett resigning is a big deal, and there’s a great shot of her alone in the precinct elevator, just taking breaths. It’s as if she can’t believe what she just did and what she’s about to do. And you all know what that is!
So now on to the moment we’ve all been awaiting for the past four years: THE KISS! I’ll try to assemble my thoughts coherently beyond my initial reaction (“They’re kissing! And touching! And kissing!”) but it won’t be easy. The kiss was hot (very much so!), but it was also tender, loving, passionate, and communicative. It was more than just a titillating make-out session, it had real emotional resonance. Which actually made it hotter. The dialogue in the scene was great: him asking her what happened and her describing the realization that she cares more about him than chasing the case. That’s huge for Beckett! There are tears (again, amazing job, Stana!) and reaching, hesitant kisses and then they’re all over each other! Castle’s kissing her mouth and face and body and it is beautiful. I can’t believe it actually happened, to be honest. And not to diminish the import and emotion of Beckett guiding Castle’s hand to her scar, but when he unbuttoned her shirt we all shouted out “BOOBS!” loudly and repeatedly. But back to the serious, pulse-quickening romance. After the disrobing/scar fondling they share a kiss that is soft and sensual and trusting, and then they walk, hand in hand, toward the bedroom. For sexy times! Cue the screaming and reminding ourselves to breathe.
But really this turn of events was all according to plan. Beckett had already surprised Castle by accepting an invitation to his house for a movie date on the night of Alexis’s graduation. And we all know they probably would have ended up consummating their relationship anyway, so the way I see it they’re right on track. It actually worked out exactly as they planned it, albeit with a near-death experience, life-changing revelation, and a big ol’ fight along the way.
Other things I loved:
- The cinematography and editing were really cool this episode: the fade from Castle’s murder board to Beckett’s; the montage of Beckett in front of her homemade murder board reliving all the worst moments of her case, shooting, and the aftermath; the aerial shots of the rooftop fight.
- Beckett visiting her mom’s grave was a nice touch and very sad. Stana looks beautiful even when she cries…well, pretty much all the time, really.
- Martha’s jacket at Alexis’s graduation is the best thing ever!
- Castle: “The most worthwhile things in life are often the most difficult. For example…” (Beckett calls) “…wow, that really is a smartphone.”
There’s so much I didn’t cover, so I hope we can have a lively discussion! What did you think of Alexis’s role in this episode? How about Gates? Where do you stand on the Ryan/Esposito debate? And was the Castle/Beckett hook-up everything you hoped for? How do you think things will be patched up next season?