TV Time: Castle 5.01

Episode Title After the Storm

Two-Sentence Summary As Castle and Beckett begin a romantic relationship four years in the making, they have bigger things to deal with than just keeping the change in their partnership a secret. The estranged duo of Ryan and Esposito help them finally track down the man who orchestrated the murders of Beckett’s mother, Captain Montgomery, and many others, but when Beckett finally confronts this senator with presidential aspirations, she chooses to seek justice instead of vengeance, deciding to take back control over her own life and shifting the balance of power in her favor.

Favorite Line To represent the expert blending of comedy and drama in this episode, I have two favorites.

Comedic: “Just act normal – if that’s even possible for you.” (Beckett)

Dramatic: “I’m done being afraid. It’s your turn now.” (Beckett)

My Thoughts In the last few years of my media-consuming life, I’ve tried really hard to keep from labeling things I’ve just watched/read/experienced my “favorite.” With that being said, this was my favorite episode of Castle to date. I’ve been religiously watching this show (and re-watching it during hiatuses) since the pilot episode in 2009, and I can honestly say that I don’t think there has ever been a better example of what Castle is as a show when it’s firing on all cylinders than “After the Storm.”

When Castle is at its best, it mixes comedy, drama, and romance in a way that no other show on TV can do as successfully. The best Castle episodes are the ones that make you laugh out loud one minute and wipe away a tear the next minute. This episode did all of those things, and it added an element of suspense that rivaled anything I used to see during my days of watching Alias and other action-driven TV shows.

The major question people had going into this season was: Could Castle break the dreaded (and ridiculous, if you ask me) Moonlighting Curse? I think by the first commercial break that question was answered with a definitive yes. Those opening scenes took everything that makes Castle and Beckett such a dynamic pairing (their smart banter, their humor, and the indescribably potent chemistry between Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic) and turned it up to 11.

The dynamic between Castle and Beckett at the start of this episode was filled with the sparks and sharp dialogue that made the show so enjoyable in its first two seasons. But as the episode went on, we got to see that there is now another layer to their relationship that we finally get to explore. We’ve seen the spark, we saw the heat, and now we get to see the warmth.

The way Fillion and Katic played this subtle change in their interactions was brilliant. From the way they stood just a little closer to each other than they’ve ever stood before to the looks shared between them when no one else was watching, they proved that waiting this long to get these two characters together was the right decision; it allowed them to get so comfortable in their roles and in their interactions with each other that their body language added a layer of intimacy to their scenes that no dialogue (however well-written) could ever express properly.

Individually, these two actors both gave incredible performances in this episode. In my opinion, Fillion was at his best in last season’s finale, and he kept up that same level of brilliance in this episode. Slapstick comedy, charming banter, and understatedly heartbreaking drama—this man really can do it all. There is a moment when Castle reveals to Beckett why he’s “grasping at straws” in an attempt to keep her safe that just about reduced me to tears over how much depth he’s given to Castle over the years.

Katic was especially strong in the small moments that might get lost in the shuffle. When the rest of the team is discussing the search for her mother’s killer, you can almost see Beckett struggling not to lose herself in the case again. Katic played Beckett’s sense of This was supposed to be over with a quiet poignancy that was surprisingly affecting.

My favorite scene in the episode came right before the suspenseful final act. Once the man who had been keeping Beckett safe from Senator Bracken dies, Beckett is left with the chilling realization that she could be killed at any moment. When Castle offers to take her away to “someplace safe,” she turns into his chest and lets him hold her. Though she tells him she’s not safe anywhere, the meaning of this scene is clear: This is the only place she feels safe now. For so many years, Beckett has had to stay strong on her own. But now she has Castle; she’s not alone. For her to show that kind of vulnerability is a huge step in the development of Kate Beckett as a character; it was honestly something I was not expecting to see so soon into this season (color me pleasantly surprised). In a scene with very little dialogue, so much happened for these two characters. It was a quiet moment, but it spoke to the way this relationship has the potential to make these characters – and this show as a whole – more beautiful than they ever could have been if they had been kept apart any longer.

The final 10 minutes of the episode were the most nerve-wracking I’ve ever sat through while watching Castle. The writers did a brilliant job of playing with what we thought we knew about Beckett, forcing us to ask ourselves (just like Castle, Ryan, and Esposito had to ask themselves) if she would actually kill Bracken. The scene of Beckett trying to get to the senator, while we flashed through scenes from the past showing everything that had led up to that moment, was absolutely chilling.

But instead of killing him, Beckett shows how much she has grown since the show started. She’s no longer hell-bent on getting revenge; she wants justice, and she wants to honor her mom by living a life she would have been proud of. The confrontation between Beckett and Bracken was some of Katic’s best work as an actress on Castle. There was so much controlled power in every line, every movement, and every breath.

Katic allows us to see Beckett’s pain in perhaps the most heartbreaking line in the episode:

My mother was stabbed in an alley because of you. She bled to death alone in a pile of garbage, so save me your campaign speeches about the great things.

But Katic shows us that Beckett has moved beyond blinding pain. She knows that killing Bracken might satisfy her need to avenge her mother, but it would either put her in jail or in a body bag herself—and it would most certainly put those she loves in danger. So she chooses to live, making a deal with Bracken for her safety and the safety of the people she cares about.

This deal proves that all of Season 4 wasn’t a waste of time. Beckett went through hell in order to grow as a person enough to make the decision she made in this episode. But she didn’t leave without making an impression of a very physical kind on the man who held so much power over her life for more than a decade. When she pistol-whipped Bracken, you could almost feel the release of so much pain as well as the empowerment of a woman finally taking her life back to live on her own terms. She has enough scars from this man; it’s time for him to have one from her, too.

The resolution to this overarching storyline was done very intelligently. It left the door open for it to return again someday, but now it’s not hanging over the show anymore. And it created a moment of spectacular development for a character that is already one of the most complex, interesting, and powerful women on network television.

When Season 4 ended in May, Fillion expressed his belief that the first four seasons had simply been one long beginning, and the show was about to truly get going now that Castle and Beckett had gotten together. After watching this episode, I think he is 100% correct. There is a new energy to the show now that Castle and Beckett have become a couple and no longer have the conspiracy surrounding Beckett’s mother breathing down their necks. The new level of intimacy between them made everything better: It heightened the drama, added sparks to the comedy, and raised the stakes for every suspenseful twist.

If this episode is a sign of what’s to come, then I think this is going to be a hugely successful year for my favorite show on television.

 

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10 thoughts on “TV Time: Castle 5.01

  1. This was the perfect example of what a premiere should be. It addressed the story lines from the finale and set up the direction for the new season.

    The Beckett and Castle scenes were everything I wanted them to be. Beckett was so hesitant and vulnerable during the morning-after scene and I loved seeing that side of her. They were both so happy and flirty and I cannot wait to see them grow as a couple.

    Beckett took such a huge personal step with her mother’s case and I am so proud of her. I loved how disappointed she was when she told Castle that all of it was supposed to be over. She was ready to put it behind her as much as she could and embrace her new life with Castle. She’s happy and didn’t want to lose that happiness. Then she chose to walk away from Senator Bracken at the end and move forward with her life. It’s not done, but it’s enough for now. She had more answers now, even if she doesn’t have justice yet.

    Stana’s acting was fantastic in this episode. She expressed so many emotions and did them all so well. Acting wise, that final scene with Bracken was some of her best work. I love Jack Coleman as an actor so much and he works so beautifully with Stana. I want to say that I want to see more of them together because of the intensity of their scene together, but I would rather just have Beckett safe and happy away from him for the time being.

    • This really was a perfect blueprint for a successful premiere. The tandem of “Always” and “After the Storm” might be my favorite finale/premiere pair of any show I’ve ever watched. They both did exactly what they were supposed to do to seamlessly move the show in a new direction while still keeping the things we all love.

      I’m so happy you singled out Jack Coleman because I was going to, but then my post got too long. 😉 I thought he was phenomenal. When he told Beckett they were on the same team, it made my skin crawl. As much as I want Beckett to stay safe, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for their next confrontation because the tension in this one was incredible.

  2. Great recap! I don’t have a lot to add except that I totally agree, about this being the best episode of Castle to date. It was amazing. The writing was spot on, and they plotted everything carefully so that show has a place to go from here. So great. I went to my mom’s to watch it with her (I turned her into a Castle watcher over the summer!) and we were on the edge of our seats for the last ten minutes.

    • Thanks for the comment, my dear! I love hearing that people’s moms are Castle watchers because my mom watches it with my sister and I too (and she LOVED this episode)! Those last 10 minutes were so suspenseful and tense. The pacing in this episode was absolutely brilliant.

  3. Basically, I agree with everything you said! This episode was so perfect, I can’t handle myself right now. I am so proud of Beckett, and Stana Katic’s delivery in that whole sequence was brilliant. (Plus, the editing team did a fantastic job with the flashbacks of all the people who had died because of Bracken.) I love the new dynamic and energy, and I am going to enjoy seeing all the new situations that arise from Castle and Beckett’s new relationship. The opening sequence with Beckett trying to escape the apartment, etc, had me laughing so hard at my television screen and I had a giddy smile on my face at their adorableness. Pure perfection.

    This season is now set up to be my favorite season yet, and I can’t wait! Our show only gets better and better as time goes by 🙂

    • When the episode ended, all I could do was stare at my TV and start tearing up because I was so happy at how well the writers and actors handled the transition. It was just beautiful. I feel like Stana and Nathan have been waiting to play these sides to these characters for so long, and it’s so nice to see how natural their chemistry continues to be even with the huge change in the relationship between Castle and Beckett.

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