TV Time: Castle 5.19

Title The Lives of Others

Two-Sentence Summary After Castle injures his knee during a ski trip with Beckett, he’s confined to his loft while the rest of the 12th precinct crew investigates the murder of an IRS agent. However, Castle’s boredom is soon abated with the help of a pair of binoculars and a possible murder across the street, which may or may not have the makings of the best birthday ever for the mystery novelist.

Favorite Lines
Castle: How many murders do you think we’ve solved since we met?
Beckett: I don’t know…Maybe a hundred or so?
Castle: A hundred? Here’s to a hundred more.

My Thoughts When looking at my list of favorite Castle episodes, it became clear to me that my tastes tend to favor the more dramatic fare this show offers up from time to time. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t also love Castle when it’s being fun and funny. I simply like a little substance with my silliness, and that’s the reason I completely adored “The Lives of Others.” It was the perfect way to celebrate 100 episodes of Castle by celebrating what this show does better than any other: effortlessly weaving a web of mystery, comedy, and romance with the help of sharp writing and great performances.

As some of you know, I’m a big fan of Castle’s “genre episodes” (“Heroes and Villains,” “Undead Again,” “The Final Frontier,” etc.), so, of course, I was already predisposed to love this little Alfred Hitchcock tribute. Throughout the episode, I found myself smiling at the nods to Rear Window (especially Stana Katic in that stunning Grace-Kelly-esque dress). Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller did a fantastic job writing an episode that was a beautiful homage to a classic mystery story while twisting it in a way that was uniquely Castle in its quirky setup and romantic payoff.

Like most of the 99 episodes that came before it, “The Lives of Others” benefitted heavily from Nathan Fillion’s charisma. Ultimately, this episode was a love letter to Richard Castle, and it worked because it reminded us over and over again of why this character is deserving of not one but 100 love letters. Fillion got to show so many facets of Castle’s personality in this episode: his adorable-yet-annoying childishness (whining about when Beckett was going to bring him dinner); his playful sense of fun (The whole bit with the toy helicopter was some hilarious work from Fillion.); and his determination to find the true story behind everything (I loved that his inability to give up on this murder harkened back to his inability to give up on the murder in the pilot.).

One of the things I love most about Castle is the way these characters have grown over 100 episodes while still retaining a true sense of who they were in the pilot. It’s only because we—and the characters—know Castle so well that we’re able to appreciate the twist in this episode for the true joy that it was. Castle is the kind of man who would love nothing more than a murder to solve for his birthday. (In fact, he specifically told Beckett that on Valentine’s Day, which I thought was a cute little thing to bring back.) And Beckett is the kind of woman who understands him enough to get him exactly what he wants. I love when you can feel the sense of history between two characters, and never have I felt that as strongly as I felt it between Castle and Beckett in this episode.

One of my favorite lines in the episode was when Castle told Beckett that no one had ever done anything like that for him before. I think that said so much about their relationship. Castle is the stereotypical “man who has everything,” but Beckett got him the kind of thoughtful, heartfelt gift only she could give and only he would appreciate. Castle was always the “big gesture” guy, but Beckett knew it was her turn to do something big for him. So she went past the style and got to the substance of who Castle is and what brought them together in the first place—and that’s his imagination, creativity, and passion for stories (and murder, too, if you want to get to the real source of what brought them together). For as much as we tend to think of Castle as Beckett’s first foray into real, lasting love, I think it’s important to note that Beckett is also Castle’s first foray into a kind of relationship where he’s loved for exactly who he is, where he’s with a woman who knows him to be so much more than the persona he projects to the world—and who isn’t afraid to show him that she understands him on such an intimate level.

There were so many little details in this episode that spoke to the strength of Castle and Beckett’s relationship. I’ve really felt that the last handful of episodes have done a much better job than the handful before of making this relationship feel believable and real, but this episode blew even the best of those out of the water. Throughout the episode, you never forgot that these two characters are in a fun, sexy, and very stable relationship. Their interactions were laced with small but significant moments of intimacy that made the relationship feel more tangible and honest than perhaps ever before.

Beyond anything else, Castle and Beckett’s interactions in this episode just made me feel good. From the way she used their typical skeptic/believer dichotomy to give him the best birthday ever to his adorable (and completely in-character) admission that she was the only birthday present he wanted to unwrap, these two characters showed just how far they’ve come together and how bright their future looks if they keep being written like this.

Ultimately, this episode wasn’t written to move the plot forward by leaps and bounds, turn the story in a new direction, or do any other “big” thing shows often use their 100th episode to achieve. It was meant to simply be an hour that made the audience smile, and that’s exactly what it did. We got to see Alexis play detective with her dad (and we were reminded of what a great team Fillion and Molly Quinn are). We got to see Martha call Beckett “Katherine” (a nice nod to their growing familiarity since she’s always called her son “Richard”). We got to see Ryan and Esposito pretend to be Charlie’s Angels. We got to see a cute little cameo from Marlowe and Miller (another nod to Hitchcock and his famous cameos, perhaps?). And we got to see Castle and Beckett, having fun together and solving murders (both real and fake), which is exactly how I’d hoped their relationship would end up after I watched the pilot all those years ago.

“The Lives of Others” gave us Castle’s best birthday yet, and it also gave us one of the best Castle episodes yet. If the show continues to operate with this much charm, heart, and character continuity, then, like Castle said, “Here’s to a hundred more.”

 

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40 thoughts on “TV Time: Castle 5.19

  1. Good review but what about Stana Katic who was brilliant in this episode? Why didn’t you even write a single line about her performance. Nathan Fillion is great but Stana’s awesome too. Need I remind you without her there would be no Caskett.

    • Thank you so much for the comment because you’re very right about Stana Katic being consistently awesome. I would never mean to purposely overlook her (she’s honestly one of the best things about the show every week for me). Her work in this episode was great, and I definitely understand that without her wonderful performances there would be no Caskett—whenever I compliment the Castle/Beckett dynamic, I hope people know that I’m complimenting her great work as much as I am Nathan’s and the writers’ work.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Not mentioning Stana’s performance is big mistake. An update to this review is a must.

      • Do you realize how pathetic you make Stana and her fans look? How petty and immature? I am a huge fan of Stana, but I don’t need her name-checked in every article, review or interview to know how essential she is to the show or know that a review values her as such. Grow up and stop embarrassing yourselves and us.

        • I think you may have over-reacted here, Emma. I don’t think that one random comment or opinion makes Stana or anyone else look pathetic, petty or immature. A little perspective would be nice.

          • this is not one random comment, even here. but actually it happens all the time, people jumping on each other for not mentioning one of the leads, esp. Stana. lots of fans are tired of this, you’re lucky if you never encountered this BS before, I envy you.

  2. I agree with you almost completely about this episode and congratulae you for getting a tweet from Terri M. My one complaint,if you can call it is that you seem to suggest the 99 previous episodes as well as this one are what they are because of Nathan Fillion’s “charisma” Now I love Nathan and like him I am Canadian…Yay!! But all of the cast make the show what it is and really without the tremendous performance of Katic as Beckett the show would not have lasted. Seems strange that you downplay her role so much. Nice to know you like her dress!! yes and that is sarcasim!!

    • Thanks for the comment! I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to think that I only think these episodes are what they are because of Nathan Fillion. I only meant to say that his charm made the character of Castle so likable and without that charm, I do think the show would be less than what it is now—because Castle is such a huge part of the show. I do believe it to be an ensemble show, and, of course, I believe that Katic is another person this show could never be as good without. I guess my feelings on this episode were that it felt more Castle-centric than Beckett-centric, so I tended to focus on him more in this review. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t think Katic was also worthy of high praise. Her warmth was palpable throughout the episode, and her smile truly lights up the screen.

      • This is an excellent and well constructed article in praise of ‘Castle’, the show in general and how it has grown to where we were on Monday night at its 100th episode. I feel it a little unkind of fans to call you out over your apparent lack of praise or mention directly, of Stana Katic. Your article embraced the whole ‘Caskett’ relationship and how it has grown and you needs no defence. Not that I think Stana isn’t worthy of praise, she most certainly is but you were writing of the overall impact and development of the show and its eponymous lead. which I presume was your intention.
        The show after all is called ‘Castle’.and your article reflects that.
        I am from the UK and pick up the episodes on iTunes and absolutely love how it has developed..The 100th episode was just brilliant, so wonderfully written and acted and had a very domestic feel to it which was refreshing and a pleasure to watch.

        Congratulations on a well written article. It is a great tribute to the show we all love.

        • Thank you so much for the kind words, and I love seeing Castle fans from other countries enjoying my reviews! My intention with this post was to show the development of the Castle/Beckett relationship and to praise it for what it’s become from episode 1 to episode 100, and I really appreciate the fact that you understood that. While Kate Beckett is my favorite character on TV, this episode was definitely focused more on Castle (which seems fitting given the fact that the show is named after him), and I wanted my review to reflect that.

        • I agree with you CarlagUK. I think that this episode was a really nice arc to show us how far not only their relationship has come but how far Castle’s character has come. We have had 2 deliberate seasons focused on getting the the vulnerable and emotionally available core of Beckett (beautifully nuanced by Katic). This season in small (the bucket list) and large (Alexis kidnapping) ways we have seen Marlowe and co. provide depth to Castle’s character from the surface of what we know in his passion, love and loyalty. It’s slowly giving us a more realized man who is also willing to be vulnerable and is worthy of the relationship they have worked towards.

          Thanks all for the thoughtful conversation. It’s great to share these ideas and admiration.

  3. A great review with which I concur almost completely. The only reservation I would make is that I would have said, “I welcome the *return* of the character I loved in the pilot.” I adore Castle, but I feel that in the last two seasons he has become a bit stuffy. However, this lighthearted episode showcases Castle’s emotional agility in the best way. His reaction at the party is one of Fillion’s best scenes.

    • Thanks for commenting! I also completely agree that the reaction Fillion gave at the party was one of his best moments. The range of emotions he believably went through in such a short span of time was absolutely fantastic.

  4. This is a great love letter summary that gets to the heart of what has made the show more interesting over the five years. The creators have done a really wonderful job of slow burning the Castle/Beckett romance over the first few seasons without ever given the viewers any doubt that these two people belong together and would eventually get there. So for me it was so terrific to see in this 100th episode the emotional intimacy these two characters have built towards. I’ve said it elsewhere, but for me that throwaway moment when Kate kisses her hand and places it on his leg before heading out the door was such a great little moment and this episode was peppared with them. The idea that the man who started the series bemoaning the predictability in his life of excess and whose grand gestures have played out over the course of the seasons (in particular when he started the scholarship in Beckett’s mother’s name) could be so visibly humbled by a similar gesture in return was so gratifying to watch as a fan. The show has built a family around it’s supporting cast and love affair that as a viewer I have become so wonderfully invested in and I look forward to the rest of the journey that Marlowe and co. take us on in the future. Kudos all around.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful (and truthful) comment. I love what you said about the idea of Castle being a man who went from being bored with his life to being surprised by a grand gesture from the woman who saved him from that life of boredom in the pilot. It was a truly beautiful thing to watch, especially in the context of these two beautiful characters and their journey together.

  5. Very good episode that put a smile on my face, and very good review that brought the smile back))). While reading I was remembering all the great things about this show, guess I need a rewatch. Don’t pay attention to “sarcasims”, sometimes fandoms are not very nice places to be and fans act more like sports teams, or like military divisions even. Write whatever you feel like.

  6. Loved your review and if there is any better writing and acting on TV I won’t believe it. Nathan is fantastic, but I truly think Stana’s portrayal of Beckett is as good as it gets and that “sticking out her tongue” scene makes me LOL every time I see it. Castle is the best show I have ever watched and it is nice to know that Andrew, Terri and the other writers really have a sense of where to go with the characters. While I like the comedy part of Castle, I will admit that I like the more serious stuff, especially when it comes to the great romance that Rick and Kate have.

    • Count me as someone else who adored the “sticking out her tongue” scene. I love seeing the playful side of Beckett come out more and more. 😀

  7. What a wonderful review! Perfectly said! I spent your entire review nodding and agreeing with you.

    Not all of us are childish in our demands that you mention Stana. I’m a huge fan of hers but have the maturity to realize you mentioned her plenty. I’m embarrassed you had to read those comments.

    Thank you so much for a wonderful review.

  8. I’ve read a lot of reviews about this episode, but yours is by far my favorite. Thank you! I, too, was struck by Martha referring to Beckett as Katherine. There is no doubt in my mind Martha looks at Kate like a daughter (in-law) now. A true testament to how close they’ve become. You also hit the nail on the head when you mentioned Castle is in the first romantic relationship with someone who loves HIM (all of him). He obviously still has some insecurities that the writers will address as they continue to peel the layers of the Castle onion; however, I’m looking forward to watching his walls finally fall … just as we watched Beckett’s. Looking forward to reading more of your reviews!

    • Thank you! I love the relationship between Beckett and Martha (especially considering Beckett’s lack of a mother figure in her adult life), and I can’t wait to see even more of it. Like you, I also can’t wait to see Beckett peel off more layers to the Castle onion as well. It’s such a great way to give their relationship an even greater sense of equality and introduce us to new sides to this character we all love so well.

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  10. I agree with pretty much all of your thoughts, as usual! The helicopter bit was especially one of my favorite parts of the episode because it not only was a source of continuity for the show – I forget which episodes, but we’ve seen him play with the helicopter before – but it was hilarious as well. I also really agree with you that it was a joy to watch Castle and Beckett have those little moments of intimacy that is part of being a couple throughout this episode. It was nice in that their relationship felt like a major part of the episode without it being any sort of dramatic fight or revelation or it being the central focus of the episode or anything. I also really liked that we had Alexis back for some father-daughter scenes, as I love seeing the two of them together.

    (Also, as a sidenote, I loved that as the episode went on we had more and more pairs of binoculars pop up out of nowhere as at one point I think Castle, Beckett, and Alexis seemed to be looking out of the window with them all at once! Made me laugh :))

    My main problem with this episode was the conflict between my own reaction and Castle’s reaction. To be honest, I think that yes, a pretend murder was a perfect gift for Castle, especially since he was bored and stuck in the house. But my own reaction to that was that if someone had pulled that prank on me, I would have probably been pissed off and upset. To make me feel like I was going crazy would have been a bit annoying, but I think mostly I would have been extremely upset that my significant other let me think that they were likely dead or dying for the ten minutes (or however much time) it took Ryan and Esposito to get over to the apartment building and break down the door. Putting me through that much intense worry and panic would not have been something I would have appreciated at all.

    Disregarding my reaction though, I think that, considering that Castle loved it, it was a perfect gift for him and a really lovely thing for Beckett to do. I can’t wait to see more milestones in their relationship and see how they keep surprising each other ❤

    • I’m so happy you mentioned the multiplying binoculars because that was one of the things that made me laugh the hardest in this episode. All of the Castle/Alexis stuff was absolute gold.

      I’m with you on the fake murder present, too. I love how in-character it was for Castle to love it (and how perfect it was for Beckett to give him that gift), but I would have hated it. But I hate surprises in general, which I suppose is why I’m much more like Beckett than Castle. I like surprising other people (who like surprises), but I hate being surprised. While Castle went through a whole range of emotions after finding out the truth (the first of which seemed to be justifiable anger), I probably would have only worked through the negative emotions he felt.

  11. Hi, I’m so impressed that you got referenced by Terri Edda. I have also been reading your articles everytime a new episode of Castle (and New Girl) is out and it is great to be able to put some words on my feelings after each episode, you do that perfectly!
    Great job, keep on!! I am only reading but I might start commenting as well 😉

    • Thank you so much for the comment, and I’m so happy you enjoy what I’m writing here (and the fact that you like both Castle and New Girl just proves that you have fabulous taste!). You should definitely comment whenever the mood strikes you—I love hearing what other people think about the shows I love so much!

  12. I finally get the chance to comment after being out of town for most of the day yesterday! I’ve already told you this, but I really love this review and I’m still thrilled that Terri liked it.

    This episode perfectly showed why Castle and Beckett are my second favorite relationship on TV right now. For 100 episodes, they have grown both individually and together into an incredible partnership. I loved how physically affectionate they were in this episode and I loved the look on Castle’s face when he sees Beckett in the black dress. They have come such a long way since the pilot and there is an openness there now on both of their parts that wasn’t there in the beginning. Castle has demonstrated time and time again that he deeply cares about Beckett and understands who she is. This episode (and most of the episodes that have aired in 2013) have really demonstrated to the audience and to Castle that Beckett returns those feelings and loves Castle for who he is. A fake murder was the perfect present for Castle. It was a gift that would have made Leslie Knope proud, which has become my new metric for judging gift giving. For the first time, Castle has someone who loves him the way that Beckett does and you could tell that he felt that was the best present of all.

    • Thanks, Heather! I loved everything you had to say about Castle and Beckett growing individually as well as together—because you know that’s something I really value in relationships, both real and fictional. The openness between them has been such a beautiful thing to watch develop over the course of this season.

      “For the first time, Castle has someone who loves him the way that Beckett does and you could tell that he felt that was the best present of all.”

      This is so true…Now I’m getting all emotional again. 😉

  13. KATIE look at you getting retweeted on the big stage!! So cool! I loved this episode–the helicopter scene was totally a standout for me. Hilarious. Anyone who says they wouldn’t watch an entire hour of Nathan Fillion flying toy helicopters is kidding themselves.

    I really felt like all the best elements of the show were in this episode–romance, banter, suspense, classic movie allusions, fancy parties, and lots of love. The fact that Beckett went to such great lengths to entertain Castle was perfect, and it definitely illustrated how well she knows him! And of course, he also got some quality time with Alexis. I love their relationship.

    This was such a solid way to celebrate a huge milestone for Castle!

    • Thanks, Kelly! 😀 I really feel like this episode did combine all of the elements that make this show so unique and wonderful, and it did so in a way that told a good story, too.

      “Anyone who says they wouldn’t watch an entire hour of Nathan Fillion flying toy helicopters is kidding themselves.”

      This is the truth!

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  15. I think Castle is one of the TV Series that has the best mix between caracter and comedy.
    Stana is wonderfool always !

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