Title The Final Frontier
Two-Sentence Summary After a fangirl is murdered at a sci-fi convention, Beckett’s own nerdy past is revealed through her love for the short-lived TV series Nebula 9. As fans and the cast of the show alike appear connected to the murder, Beckett and Castle explore a world of D-list actors, alien costumes, and real laser blasters.
Favorite Lines “You’re right, okay? It was a stupid show. It was cheesy and melodramatic. I mean, a handful of academy cadets on a training mission and suddenly the earth is destroyed and they’re all that’s left of humanity? I completely understand why you hated it, but, Castle, I also understand why people loved it. It was about leaving home for the first time, about searching for your identity and making a difference. I loved dressing up like Lieutenant Chloe. She didn’t care what anybody thought about her, and I kinda did at that time. I mean, she was a scientist and a warrior, and that was all in spite of the way that she looked. It was like I could be anything, and I didn’t have to choose. So don’t make fun, okay?” (Beckett)
My Thoughts I run a blog called Nerdy Girl Notes. One of my latest posts was essentially a love letter to a science-fiction character. My Facebook photo albums are filled with pictures of me dressed up as fictional characters, waiting in line for midnight releases of movies or unleashing my fangirl tendencies on Halloween. This was a Castle episode about fandom in all of its convention-going, costume-wearing, life-changing glory.
Did I like it?
What do you think?
I could talk about a lot of different things in this episode. I could talk about how much I loved Perlmutter being back because I love his sass (“Non-detective Castle”). I could talk about the small bits of overt relationship development we got for Castle and Beckett (the talk about possible babies in the future and Castle’s legitimate concern about the laser keeping him from having a biological family with Beckett). I could talk about the parallels to the pilot episode and how they showed the development in Castle and Beckett’s relationship (Beckett asking Castle to sign her chest; Castle now being able to run home to Beckett after she whispers something suggestive in his ear). I could talk about my slight frustration over the fact that it’s like we’re purposely being kept from seeing Castle and Beckett kiss in most episodes. (It’s getting a little old, but maybe I’m just greedy.)
Instead, I’m going to talk about how this episode—and Castle as a show in general—deals with fandom in a way that is really refreshing and exciting for all of us nerds out there to see.
Castle is a show that is run by, written by, and starring a huge variety of nerdy human beings. It’s tackled cases involving vampires, soap opera fandoms and shippers, alien abductions, superheroes, and zombies. And what I love most about each of these episodes is that there’s never any condescension in terms of the writers making a mockery of nerds or having a laugh at a fandom’s expense. In each case, either Castle or Beckett (or both) is shown to have a connection to or passion for whatever nerdy topic is being pushed to the forefront. In the case of “The Final Frontier,” even Ryan and Esposito were shown to have some nerdy tastes. (Ryan favors The Lord of the Rings, while Esposito is more of a Blade Runner kind of sci-fi guy.)
Some of the best parts of this episode were the nonstop references to a variety of sci-fi shows and movies. My personal favorite had to be Nathan Fillion’s spot-on William Shatner-as-Captain-Kirk impression. And you can’t have a sci-fi episode of Castle without a reference to Firefly, or in this case, an entire plot devoted to a Firefly-like show. From “Shiny!” and the mention of “that Joss Whedon show” to “Captain Max” (aka Mal) and the connection I hope was intentional between sound-alikes Lieutenant Chloe (Beckett’s fictional hero) and Corporal Zoe (the hero for many female Firefly fans, myself included), I was so happy that I watched Firefly for the first time this summer and was able to pick up on so many little nods to such a proud part of Fillion’s past.
While it would have been easy to make this episode all about Castle’s penchant for sci-fi given Fillion’s presence at cons and his well-known connections to the genre, my favorite thing about this episode was that they had Beckett be the bigger fangirl (or at least the more unashamed, vocal one). There were so many great Beckett moments in this episode beyond just her love for Nebula 9, too. I loved that she stood up for Alexis wearing her revealing costume and called Castle out on his double standard concerning which women get to wear skimpy costumes and which don’t (which is understandable for him as a dad even if I don’t agree with him). It bodes well for a good relationship between Beckett and Alexis, with the former treating the latter like the young woman she is rather than a little girl. And it proves once again that Kate Beckett is a female character who has a healthy attitude towards sexuality and a woman’s ownership of it.
Watching this episode, I was struck by the care that Stana Katic took to show exactly how important Nebula 9 was to Beckett and how disappointed she was that Castle didn’t love it, too. Katic did a great job with her facial expressions in this episode, ranging from giddy fangirl glee to disappointment to real, heartfelt attachment.
The speech Beckett gave to Castle about Nebula 9 (see my Favorite Lines for a reminder) was one of my favorite monologues ever given by a character on Castle. There was so much heart and love in both the lines and Katic’s delivery that it made me feel honored to be a fan of a show that looks so highly upon fans in general. To have a character as strong and admirable as Kate Beckett admit to having such an intense emotional connection to a television program in a way that was played straight and not for laughs is something that few—if any—other shows would do. The fact that normally-stoic, skeptical Beckett was once (and still is) a costume-clad, fangirl-tears-crying, emotionally-attached nerd only makes me love her more because it makes her real.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it until my dying day (heck, why not just make it my epitaph): We’re all nerds about something. We all have TV shows, movies, comics, books, or even sports teams that made us better people simply by being a fan. Beckett’s speech about Nebula 9 being there for her when she needed it was such an accurate description of why we get attached to whatever fandoms we find ourselves attached to; they give us what we’re looking for so desperately in a real world that refuses to give it to us—be it a sense of home, a feeling of belonging, a good role model, or any of the infinite number of other reasons we become fans.
Beckett’s love for Lieutenant Chloe made me emotional because I’ve felt that; I know exactly what she was talking about, and looking at Katic you could tell that she believed every word of what she was speaking, too. In a world where real-life female role models aren’t always easy to come by, we nerdy girls cling to the ones we find in the media and draw strength from their strength, confidence from their confidence, and belief in our own potential from theirs. Beckett had Chloe; I had Sydney Bristow and Hermione Granger. And now I have Kate Beckett.
The way Beckett talked about Chloe was the way many young women—myself included—who watch Castle feel about Beckett. We know Castle isn’t always a perfect show, but it’s a show that gives us a character to inspire us to be the best women we can be.
Castle’s reaction to Beckett’s speech was also really beautiful. It was like watching him fall in love with her all over again, seeing him so taken by this open and honest look at who Beckett is as a person. She’s not being cute or trying to tease him with mental images of herself in costume; she genuinely wants him to know how much this show meant to her and to stop making fun of something that was so important to her. And just by watching Fillion’s face as she opens up, you know that Castle understands her, respects her, and loves her all the more for caring about something so much and choosing to share that with him.
I know I didn’t really talk about the last scene in the episode, and that’s because I’m not sure how I felt about it. I thought it was nice to see them having fun together like a real couple, but I wished that it would have ended with the mask coming off and something a little deeper than the silliness we were left with. But I was ultimately okay with the silliness because this episode kept me laughing and smiling from beginning to end, even when it was also getting to me on a surprisingly emotional level.