Title The Squab and the Quail
Two-Sentence Summary As Beckett begins to wonder where her relationship with Castle is heading, a murder investigation introduces her to Erik Vaughn, an attractive and charming billionaire. When she’s assigned to protect him until the suspect is caught, Castle is driven by jealousy to solve the case as fast as possible.
Castle: You know how I get when I’m gaming. I’m like Gretzky.
Beckett: Well at least Gretzky knew how to score.
My Thoughts I had a bad feeling about this episode going into it, and I’m sad to say that my suspicions were confirmed: I did not enjoy most of this episode. I feel like I’m in the minority when I say this, but I have never really enjoyed “jealousy-themed” Castle episodes. The only one I can think of that I liked was “Nikki Heat,” and that was because Beckett was jealous of Natalie Rhodes taking over her whole life—not just her relationship with Castle (and it was just a very well-executed episode in general). I tend to get annoyed with both Castle and Beckett in these kinds of episodes, and this was no exception. Everything felt a little too heavy-handed to me, but at the same time the big issues were left unaddressed, which left me feeling frustrated when all was said and done.
Sometimes an episode goes off the rails at the very beginning and has trouble righting itself after that, and I think that’s what happened in “The Squab and the Quail.” I have never been so uncomfortable watching an episode of Castle as I was watching Beckett try to seduce Castle away from his video games. Before I go on, let’s get one thing straight: I find Stana Katic (and Kate Beckett as a character) to be one of the sexiest people of any gender on TV right now, and I think she can play seduction like no one else. But I found myself cringing watching her wiggle around and speak in a faux-breathy voice as Castle ignored her. I understand that some people probably found it funny, but to me it just seemed out of character for Beckett to be awkwardly and a little too desperately seducing a man who seemed to have no interest in sleeping with her at that moment—even if said man is her boyfriend.
And that brings me to my other issue with that scene: How is Castle that disinterested in Beckett that she has to resort to such ridiculous antics to get his attention? I’m sure some of that scene is realistic; Castle likes playing video games, so it makes sense that he would want to finish his game. But then why invite Beckett over (when we know from previous episodes that they don’t see each other every night)? I found it hard to rectify that man with the man who pined for Beckett for the last four years. This relationship issue seemed to come out of the blue, but it does seem to come from the same place as Castle’s “walls” that the show was supposed to be addressing. But are we really supposed to believe that Rick Castle, the man who was so open about his feelings for Beckett previously, is now starting to hold back because things are getting too serious? Are we really supposed to believe that after less than a year together he’s already losing interest in her, or are we supposed to believe that Beckett is just being insecure? I honestly don’t know…And I’m not sure I like either option.
I guess my issue with the opening scene is indicative of my issue with the episode as a whole: It felt off for the characters and the relationship we’ve seen play out so far. It felt manufactured to create relationship angst just in time for finale season. And it seemed unsure of whether it was supposed to be a serious commentary on their relationship or comedic relief.
The parts of the episode that I knew were being played for comedy worked really well. I loved Lanie in this episode and have missed Tamala Jones so much. Her impersonation of Vaughn was hilarious and perfectly true to her character. Ryan and Esposito were also great in this episode. I love their dynamic with Castle when Beckett isn’t around (and even when she is), especially when they’re baiting him. Caffeinated Castle was also a treat, and Nathan Fillion played it wonderfully. And Katic’s face when Gates ordered Beckett to stay with Vaughn was absolutely priceless. (She really is the queen of facial expressions.)
Another thing I liked about this episode was Vaughn himself. (By the way, anybody else thinking of Alias and the beautiful Michael Vartan right now?) Ioan Gruffudd is almost impossibly charming, and that definitely worked to his advantage here. I’ve been in love with him since he was a lifeboat captain in Titanic. Heck, I was even charmed by him in 102 Dalmatians. The casting people did a great job on this one; he was believably threatening for Castle’s ego, and he had palpable chemistry with Katic.
However, the character trope Vaughn represents is one of my least favorite ones: The outsider who tells characters about themselves and their relationships. If Castle and Beckett were going to talk about where their relationship was headed, I wanted it to come from a more organic place than a man putting ideas in Beckett’s head and using Castle’s own words to describe Beckett. (I’m very protective of “extraordinary” as a word reserved only for Castle to say about Beckett, but I did like that Castle acknowledged that she is still as extraordinary to him as ever.) And while Gruffudd and Katic had strong chemistry, I didn’t like how quickly Vaughn was able to get Beckett to open up about her past. I suppose I could take it as Beckett finally being at peace with her past enough to share it, but it made me sad to think of how precious that information was to Castle as he learned it in tiny pieces and how much more easily Beckett revealed important parts of herself to Vaughn.
I especially didn’t like Beckett telling Vaughn that her relationship with Castle was complicated. That was a word she could have used even last season, but this season it shouldn’t be a question that causes angst; it should be something Beckett feels secure about—as secure as we viewers felt until last night’s episode. This relationship has been built on four years of friendship, partnership, and emotional intimacy. For Beckett to be wondering about its strength after being with Castle for months made me question what kind of foundation it was really built on. And maybe my fears could have been alleviated if they would have talked about their relationship like adults, but apparently they’re resorting to their old ways of skirting around issues rather than tackling them head-on like they did early this season.
I honestly liked the last scene of the episode a lot until the very end of it. I was happy that Castle acknowledged that he needed to romance Beckett a little bit, and I thought the massage idea was both sweet and sexy enough to be exactly what she needed to be reminded that he cares about her and wants her. Beckett’s question took me out of the moment, and Castle’s response took me even further out of it. It set up plenty of relationship drama for the season finale (which I’m actually hoping doesn’t end in a proposal like this episode seemed to hint. There are a lot of relationship beats to hit first, in my opinion.), but I would rather watch Castle and Beckett face outside drama together as the season ends instead of facing more internal drama and insecurities.
I’m excited for next week’s episode because it seems much happier relationship-wise than this one, but I’ll admit to being nervous about how their relationship is going to be handled in the lead-up to the finale. Last season’s “secrets” arc was one of my least favorite arcs the show has ever had, so I’m sad to say I’m a little jaded about the drama that seems to be ratcheted up just in time for May sweeps. I was hoping that the idea of Castle’s “walls” would be a way for Beckett to get to know him as deeply as he got to know her, and I’m still hoping that will prove to be true. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I have every faith that this show will get the big moments right; it’s just the lead-up to those big moments that sometimes makes me nervous.