Two-Sentence Summary When Castle and Beckett search the apartment of an alleged bomber, Beckett accidentally triggers a bomb under the floorboards, forcing her to stay completely still or risk setting it off. To keep her spirits up, Castle begins to playfully argue with her over who fell for whom first.
Beckett: Rick—I love you.
Castle: I love you too.
My Thoughts A day later, I’m still unable to wipe the smile off my face from that episode. While I was deeply disappointed in last week’s angst-fest of an episode, “Still” reminded me of all the reasons I fell in love with Castle as a show and with the Castle/Beckett relationship. For as bad as “The Squab and the Quail” was, I have to admit that this is a great time to be a Castle fan. Only a few weeks ago we were treated to the fabulous “The Lives of Others,” and “Still” felt like a continuation of the celebratory and slightly nostalgic feeling brought about by that 100th episode. For being an episode thrown together at the last minute and shifted around in its airing order (for incredibly valid reasons), “Still” was an emotional highpoint in a season filled with emotional highpoints, a crowd-pleaser in every way.
Before I get to all the reasons to praise this episode, I do want to acknowledge its place in the “Caskett chronology.” I know it was originally supposed to air before “The Squab and the Quail,” but it fits so much better as a follow-up to what happened in that episode (what happens next week notwithstanding since I’m really trying to avoid spoilers for the finale lead-up beyond what I saw last night in the promo). I’m not sure if “Still” was re-edited to reflect that episode, but had the episodes aired in their original order, “The Squab and the Quail” would have made even less sense. In “Still,” we see Castle firmly entrenched in “best boyfriend ever” territory, so I can’t imagine how Beckett could doubt his investment in the relationship when it was proven once again that he was willing to die with her. I don’t think relationship commitment gets anymore serious than that.
So in my head, this episode will always follow the events of “The Squab and the Quail” because that’s what makes sense. We saw Castle reminded not to take this extraordinary woman for granted, and we saw Beckett question his commitment to their relationship—both of those storylines finding resolution in Castle’s actions (and Beckett’s) in this episode. I’ve never seen either character more committed to each other, and this episode moved their relationship forward in more than a few important ways (Beckett’s “I love you,” Gates revealing that she knows about them, etc.). I’m hoping next week’s episode derives any angst from outside forces rather than internal ones because this episode was far too reassuring just to have them move backwards again.
The first clue that “Still” serves as a better follow-up than lead-up to “The Squab and the Quail” came in the first moments of the episode when we see Castle being a truly thoughtful, doting boyfriend to Beckett, bringing her coffee and the newspaper in bed. (Anybody else cry into their pillow in that moment because Rick Castle isn’t a real man? Just me?) That scene was such a simple moment of domesticity, but it spoke volumes to me about how much Castle genuinely loves and treasures this relationship—his face as he watched her sleep said all that and more. I loved their playful dialogue after Beckett woke up because it was fun, easy, and comfortable—the way their relationship should feel after watching it play out this season. And I loved the physical intimacy between them, too—Beckett on Castle’s lap and the extra kiss both felt so natural and so real, which is all I ever want to see from their scenes.
Once Beckett stepped on the bomb, the sweet simplicity of that morning scene disappeared and was replaced by a very realistic tension. I liked the sense of urgency that permeated every scene in this episode. The case itself might not have been that important, but it gave me one good “Oh my God!” moment when the suspect killed himself with the pen. I haven’t felt that kind of shock while watching Castle in a long time. I also have to give credit to the guest actors playing both the young lawyer and the head of the bomb squad; both were fantastic in their sense of helplessness as the episode went on and the situation grew more and more serious.
The tension outside the apartment was balanced by some of the best Castle/Beckett interaction this season. Putting Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic in a room and letting them show the full range of both of their impressive acting skillsets was a smart move. Both actors are so good at conveying emotion with just the slightest change in expression or the subtlest shift in tone of voice, and they put it to good use here. Their playful banter (“I can’t help it if you get off by putting things in my mouth!”) kept the episode from dissolving into melodrama and kept what could have been a brutally tense episode relatively fun.
What I loved most about Castle distracting Beckett with the talk of who fell for whom first was that Beckett once again relied on Castle’s words to help her through a difficult time. Even before they met, Castle’s ability to tell a compelling story kept Beckett going when other people would have collapsed under the weight of personal tragedy. His words gave her strength after her mother died, they gave her strength when she was being hunted, and they gave her strength once again to face a horrible situation. Only this time it was different because the story Castle was telling was theirs and Beckett joined in the storytelling too—as his equal, as his partner.
I should have known that a show as genre-bending as Castle (it is a “romantic dramadey procedural,” after all) wouldn’t have a traditional clip show. Instead, it worked those clips seamlessly into the action, painting a picture of a relationship that has grown and developed and shaped both characters like no other relationship I’ve ever seen on TV. It’s a relationship that has so many beautiful facets, and each facet got its time in the spotlight in “Still”—from the comedy of Castle’s theories to the sex appeal of Beckett’s outfits. With each clip we saw, I was reminded of all the reasons I fell in love with watching these two characters fall in love. It was a real gift for fans who’ve been with the show since the beginning to reflect back on all five seasons of memories and relive the show’s finest moments.
For me, some of those finest moments have been the dramatic ones, so the best montage was the one we saw about Beckett’s journey through every painful experience to become the person she is in this episode. Using Captain Montgomery’s “We speak for the dead” monologue was perfect and gave me chills from the start, and by the end of that montage I was in tears. Kate Beckett’s character development is one of the most impressive things about Castle, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t trust anyone who thinks this show is nothing more than a quirky take on the procedural genre.
That montage wasn’t the only thing that put tears in my eyes in this episode. Beckett’s phone call to her father was heartbreakingly beautiful. Katic played that scene perfectly, from the tension in her jaw to the tightness in her voice as she tried to keep her emotions from overwhelming her. I also wanted to cry over basically everything Castle did in this episode because he was incredible. Fillion has a masterful way of straddling the line between calmness and panicked intensity, and he proved that once again in “Still.” The mere fact that Castle was willing to die alongside Beckett just because he couldn’t stand the thought of her dying alone was almost too beautiful to handle.
When Beckett sent Castle away near the end of the episode, I’ll admit I knew what was coming. (Damn you, spoilers.) But that didn’t make her first “I love you” any less powerful. While the beginning of that scene came off as slightly clichéd (“It’s time to say goodbye.”), Katic and Fillion both made up for it with those final words. Katic’s delivery was perfect—from her use of Castle’s first name to show the seriousness of what she was about to say to her very real tears. You could feel Beckett’s need to have him know she loves him. She’s been in this same situation so many times before, and she failed to tell him so many times before. But she wasn’t missing her chance this time. For five seasons we’ve watched this character struggle to open herself up to love, so that moment was as triumphant as it was tragic.
Speaking of tragic, Fillion’s performance in that same scene broke my heart into tiny little pieces. The way his voice broke when he said he wished “so many things” conveyed a sense of regret so palpable it was breathtaking. It was just another brilliant example of the way bringing Castle and Beckett together this season heightened so many aspects of the show. Now that Castle knows what he’d be losing without her, it makes any life-and-death scenario all the more painful. His “I love you, too” was also gut-wrenching because of his little smile as he said it. In such a tragic moment, he can smile because he knows she loves him, and she knows he loves her. There’s a sense of peace I got from that moment that was incredibly touching, as if telling Beckett he loves her is the easiest thing for Castle to do now.
Fillion and Katic were also excellent in the scene where Castle comes back. His return with coffee for both of them was such a great nod to the show’s symbolic use of coffee as a means for them to show each other comfort and affection when words and larger actions weren’t available to them. Their chemistry was so strong and genuine throughout this episode, and it was at its best when the bomb was finally disarmed:
I loved everything about this scene: Ryan’s overwhelming emotions, Esposito’s intensity, Beckett’s caution before collapsing into Castle’s arms, and Castle’s face. Seriously, Fillion’s face was a thing of beauty. You could honestly feel his relief in that moment.
The conclusion to the episode was all kinds of wonderful as well. I was so happy to have Gates reveal herself as a huge supporter of their relationship, because at this point how could she not be? And Castle’s “Always” was said with just the right tone to make me genuinely believe he would always choose to be by her side in that kind of scenario without a second thought. Fillion made Castle’s love for Beckett feel as if it was ingrained into his being at this point; it’s second-nature for him to put her above even his own life. And the wonderful montage of their kisses to the gorgeous “I Just Want You” score by Robert Duncan was the perfect way to finish a truly extraordinary episode.