Title After Hours
Two-Sentence Summary After a disastrous first meeting between their parents, Castle and Beckett’s frustration with each other is heightened while protecting a witness to the murder of a priest. Stranded without guns, wallets, and phones, they find themselves caught in a deadly game of hide-and-seek with the Irish mob.
Favorite Line “Catholic school is like combat. Unless you’ve been there, you don’t know.” (Ryan)
My Thoughts I found myself pleasantly surprised by this episode. Going into it, I had very low expectations. I was just biding my time until the Christmas episode airs (December 3), and I thought this would be a cheesy filler episode, stuffed with TV “meet the parents” clichés. Sure, it had some of the cringe-inducing awkwardness I was worried about, but ultimately this was another strong episode in what is turning out to be a standout season for this show. It had fun twists, great banter, strong performances from the supporting cast, and an unexpected amount of genuine emotion running throughout.
I was glad to get the disastrous dinner party out of the way as soon as possible. I’m not a big fan of watching situations turn sour for the sake of comedy, but I liked that this conflict came from what felt like real differences rather than manufactured ones. While it became something a little over-the-top by the end of the scene, I liked that there was a believability to what was going on because after five seasons we’ve gotten to know all of these characters and have an idea of how they’ll react when paired in new combinations. It’s nice to see character continuity extended to even the supporting cast.
Speaking of supporting casts, how fantastic are Susan Sullivan and Scott Paulin? I loved watching them bond over their children being in danger. They seamlessly moved from tension to understanding to warmth in a way that only top-notch actors can do. When she gets the chance to go for the gusto, Sullivan can rip my heart out like no one else on Castle. She only gives us brief glimpses behind Martha’s theatrical façade, and the fact that her dramatic skills are dished out sparingly makes them all the more powerful when we see them. The moment where she quietly, honestly shares her fears about Castle’s safety with Jim was beautiful, as was the reveal that both Castle and Beckett have told their parents they feel safest with each other. There was something genuinely heartwarming about that scene, something that has stayed with me for the more than 12 hours since the episode aired.
The rest of the supporting cast was on their game as well. Ryan’s latent Catholic-school-boy fears were both hilarious and relatable (to someone who went through 13 years of Catholic schooling herself), and I’ll admit to freaking out when I saw that General Beckman from Chuck was the nun. I’m also starting to like Gates more and more. Her interrogation scene was strong, and I like that the writers seem to have found a balance between showing her as a consummate professional and showing how much she cares about the members of her team. She’s not Captain Montgomery (R.I.P. Roy), but I’m starting to finally believe that can be a good thing. It’s nice to have another confident, competent woman in the precinct.
The case itself had some plot holes (Why didn’t Castle just use the “emergency call” feature on the phone?), but I can overlook those almost 100% of the time when I’m emotionally engaged in the episode, which I most certainly was with “After Hours.” I was so busy enjoying Castle and Beckett’s dynamic that I didn’t even see the twist coming.
The thing that most impressed me in this episode was the thing that has most impressed me all season: Castle and Beckett’s relationship feels real. The things they fight about feel real, the things they worry about feel real, and the way they interact with each other feels real. There’s nothing boring about them. In fact, getting them together has only made them more interesting because now they can openly talk about things that lived in subtext for four seasons.
They can share their insecurities and reassure each other in real conversations now. They can fight about things that people in real relationships fight about, but they can do it with an intelligence and flair for banter that most real couples could only dream of having. Their dialogue was so sharp in this episode, and Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic played the tension between them just right. It was there, but it wasn’t overpowering or overdramatic. The beauty of this fictional relationship is the fact that these fights can be comedic because you know that the writers respect the fans and the journey of these characters enough not to destroy their relationship over something like what happened in this episode. We can enjoy the tension and the comedy because the writers and actors have created characters whose relationship is built on a good foundation and not one that we fear could crumble with each little issue that creeps up.
For as much as I enjoyed the bickering (“Now she wants to take the subway!”), I really loved the way Castle and Beckett’s relationship problems became so small when the situation grew more serious. You could feel their concern for each other in a very visceral way, which is something Fillion and Katic excel at. And once concern was replaced by relief, you could feel that perhaps even more strongly.
I loved how Castle’s knowledge of Beckett and their relationship was what solved the case and saved them. It was a nice callback to Martha knowing Castle well enough to know that “I love you” meant that something was wrong in Season 3’s “3XK.” Their relationship adds another level to every aspect of the show, and now we’re seeing that the intimacy between them can even give them new angles with which to solve cases and work through the life-or-death scenarios Castle does so often.
My favorite moment was—without a doubt—the hug between Castle and Beckett after they find each other safe and sound. Once again, music director Robert Duncan’s use of Castle and Beckett’s “I Just Want You” theme was perfect, adding to the emotion of the moment in a very subtly affecting way. I love that Beckett doesn’t care that there are people around or even that her hands are still taped together; all that matters is getting to Castle. And even with her hands tied (and perhaps because of that), Katic and Fillion managed to make that simple action feel so much more powerful than it would seem on paper. They fit together incredibly well and interact with natural chemistry that speaks to both the instantaneous spark they’ve had since the pilot and the deeper warmth only time can bring about. From the way Castle picks Beckett up as she runs at him to the sincerity in Fillion’s delivery of Castle’s “Never, never” reply to Beckett’s “I thought I lost you,” this moment was a shining example of the fact that these two actors are brining something so real and believable to these characters and this love story this season, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.
“After Hours” was a great parallel to last season’s “Cops and Robbers” (one of my all-time favorites). It’s nice to see Beckett finally able to show her concern and relief as she wants to show it, without anything stopping her. The writers are doing a great job this season of harkening back to past episodes and showing the audience how Castle and Beckett’s romantic relationship builds upon and adds to what they used to have. Castle and Beckett aren’t holding anything back anymore, and I think the same can be said for Castle as a show.