Title The Human Factor
Two-Sentence Summary When the man behind a website famous for leaking government information is killed by a drone, the team at the 12th precinct must work with Jared Stack, an operative put on the case by the attorney general. Beckett’s tenacity and intelligence earn her Stack’s respect as well as a chance at a job in Washington.
Favorite Line “That theory is highly improbable. And coming from me, that’s saying something.” (Castle)
My Thoughts “The Human Factor” was much better than I was expecting it to be. It came on the heels of “Still,” one of the best episodes of the season and was originally supposed to follow, “The Squab and the Quail,” which was one of the worst. I was worried that it was going to bring Castle and Beckett back to an angst-filled place in their relationship before the finale, but I am so happy to say that my worries were all for naught. Instead, we saw them as flirty, fun, and united as ever. I’m happy that the obstacles coming their way in the finale are external ones, and they’re believable ones. After so many seasons of seeing how good Beckett is at her job, it felt right to see her offered a chance at something bigger. This episode did exactly what it was supposed to do—it made me excited for the finale while standing on its own as a solid episode with a very strong case at its center.
This was probably one of the most interesting cases Castle has come up with this season. I found myself drawn to the more “procedural-ish” (I love inventing words!) aspects of this episode even more than I was drawn to Castle and Beckett’s interactions, and that only happens with the most compelling cases. I think what made this case stand out were the guest actors. From the son’s palpable anger over his father’s abandonment (and its reflection of Castle’s own abandonment issues) to Stack’s journey to respect Beckett and her abilities, these characters felt like real people with real emotions and believable motivations for their actions.
The case itself also raised some interesting questions about national security, the use of drones on American soil (and abroad), and morality in general. I love when this quirky little show gets serious because it does it in a natural way. There’s never a “very special episode” feel to it (except maybe when it comes to the Johanna Beckett case); it’s merely a matter of reflecting reality: Sometimes life is funny and light, but sometimes it’s serious and makes you think about things much bigger and more complex than your world usually is. I’m not always a fan of episodes where the 12th precinct deals with federal agencies (Season Four’s two-parter was not a favorite of mine), but the conflict in this episode felt real and understandable from both sides.
I think the real reason I loved the case so much—more than its complexity or its great guest actors—was because it allowed Kate Beckett to shine. Beckett is extraordinary for so many reasons, but it should never be forgotten that one of the first things Castle (and, by extension, the audience) came to love about her was just how good she was at her job. When I watch other characters come to admire Beckett’s skills as a detective, I feel like a proud mother. Beckett is my favorite character on TV for so many reasons, but one of the first things that stood out about her was that she was allowed to be exceptional at what’s typically known as a masculine job, and those exceptional skills were what attracted Castle to her as much as her looks.
Interrogation scenes featuring just Beckett alone with a suspect are some of my favorite Castle scenes because Stana Katic owns the interrogation room set with a presence unlike anyone else on TV. As Stack said in this episode, silence is a powerful thing, and she uses that power to her full advantage. The way the tension builds in those interrogation scenes just through Katic’s body language and tone of voice puts me on the edge of my seat every time. She doesn’t have to be loud or overtly threatening to be intimidating, and I love that. Watching interrogation scenes like the ones with Stack and the victim’s partner in this episode reminded me that I would never want to face Kate Beckett in an environment like that.
While Beckett is truly a force to be reckoned with on the job, I loved how that aspect of her personality was balanced by some wonderful playfulness and banter with Castle throughout the episode. Yes, she’s a woman who excels at making hardened criminals break and breaking cases wide open with ferocious tenacity, but she’s also a woman who plays “Rise of the Machines”-style pranks on her boyfriend in the middle of the night. That was one of my favorite moments of the episode because it showcased the easy, effortless comedic chemistry between Katic and Nathan Fillion. These two can be incredibly passionate together, but they can also be incredibly playful, and that playful side is so much fun to watch. It came out again through some fantastic banter and snarky one-liners, which reflected a major theme of this episode: These characters are still the same people in so many ways from Season One. Beckett is still the tough cop who’s great at her job and gets annoyed when Castle gets ridiculous. And Castle is still the overgrown little kid spouting crazy theories just to get a reaction from the pretty girl he’s working with. The differences between their Season One selves and their Season Five selves is the fact that they’ve grown together—the eye rolls and the name-calling are laced with love now. (Anybody else get a kick out of Katic’s perfect delivery of “Pervert!” when Castle was using his tank to spy on her?)
For as serious as this episode was, it was also a lot of fun. Castle’s theories are always great, but what I love most about them are the reactions the rest of the team has to them. I laugh every time I see Ryan nod along with him while Esposito rolls his eyes. The dynamic between all four characters has never been better than it has been this season. Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas have been fantastic even in their smallest moments. With each perfectly in-character background reaction, they’ve built a rapport and a sense of realistic camaraderie that make this show special. They are without a doubt a family, and they’re a family I hope doesn’t get broken up by a job offer in Washington.
While I loved Beckett finally getting professional recognition for her extraordinary skills, I find myself hoping she doesn’t get the job or decides not to take it. Yes, she deserves it, but I think she would miss the direct contact with the victims’ families. From the beginning, we’ve seen that her ability to relate to them has been one of her best traits as a detective, and I can’t help but feel like she would miss that personal connection if she took this job with the government. Plus, from a purely selfish standpoint, I would miss seeing her interact with Ryan and Esposito on a constant basis.
Notice how my reasons for not wanting Beckett to take the job have nothing to do with her relationship with Castle. I know “The Squab and the Quail” was supposed to make us question the commitment each of them have to the relationship, but I never doubted that commitment for a second in this episode. I honestly think “The Squab and the Quail” doesn’t fit in at all with their interactions in this episode. It feels as if that episode was the one thrown in at the last minute instead of “Still.”
I think Beckett didn’t tell Castle yet about the potential job because she wasn’t even sure herself what she wants. And something that will always be true of Beckett is that she keeps things close to the vest—even though she loves Castle, she’s not getting a total personality transplant. (Thank God!) I’m intrigued to see where this new twist takes their relationship next week, but I’m even more intrigued to see where it takes Beckett as a character. Her growth has always fascinated and inspired me, and this is another chance for a big moment of character development. It’s the kind of character-driven cliffhanger good finales are made of, and I’m more excited than ever for next week to see how it’s going to be resolved.
Just a little note for anyone wanting to comment on this review: I know a lot of people (myself included) are trying to stay as spoiler-free as possible for “Watershed,” so if you could either refrain from posting any spoilers in your comments or put a warning about spoilers before writing any, I would greatly appreciate it!
Great review. Good for you for staying spoiler free. I wish I had that much discipline.
I did like his episode and am relieved it wasn’t revving up angst and tension. (I still loathe Squab too). I don’t know how far they are really going to take this job offer with Kate but it would be nice for her to decide that while this is a great opportunity, it’s not what she is looking for anymore. If anything her life with Castle has shown how fulfilling a personal life can be, and I hope that is the direction they take with the finale. With the exception of Squab, all the recent episodes of Caskett show them in a healthy and well balanced relationship. It would seem weird to work so hard to get there only to tear it down.
Thanks for the comment! I’m usually terrible about staying away from spoilers, but I’ve found lately that the more surprised I am by the shows I watch, the more I find myself genuinely enjoying them. I know a few things about the finale, but I’m really looking forward to being surprised!
Same here! I have seen the promo and that is all …. Last week promo contained the last scene of the episode and I didn’t like that so I hope next week promo hasn’t revealed everything yet …
Good review for last night’s, I love your pick for the favorite line!
I found myself with mix feelings about whether Becket should decide to go to D.C, it does seem great for the evolution of her character to take this job but obviously it would be challenging for her and Castle and we would lose/miss her interaction with all the other characters of the show, definitely agree on that..
Let’s see how Marlowe handle this!
I’m also torn about Beckett taking the job. One of my favorite parts of Castle is Beckett’s character evolution and taking the job would definitely continue that. But on the other hand, this is also a woman who doesn’t stick with relationships, so staying in NY to be with Castle would show some evolution as well. Can’t wait to see what happens!
The thing I love about this conflict is that it’s a real conflict, one that people face all the time in the real world. And it’s one with good arguments on both sides; I think I’m just as torn as you are about it. On one hand, I would love to see Beckett have that kind of forward momentum as a character; this is a huge point of growth for her. But on the other hand, I don’t want to split up any of the team from the 12th precinct, and I love the fact that Beckett was finally able to have a healthy balance between her personal and professional lives. I’m just looking forward to sitting back next Monday and seeing what happens!
So here’s how you know you’re watching a well paced, interesting episode of Castle, you can’t believe that the hour has gone by because Carlos Bernard is in a room offering Beckett a job. I will just simply co-sign on the all that is good and solid about our Caskett relationship is on full display in this episode. I think we can safely say their emotions are unquestionable, their logistics, not so much. I think your take on Beckett is an interesting one and it made me think about the last arch of episodes (even Squab) coming out of the two part Alexis kidnapping. Since then we have almost unilaterally been watching Castle and Beckett’s relationship through Beckett’s eyes. Think about it, aside from Martha’s interjection in Squab about commitment all of Castle’s relationship moments have been in reaction to a Beckett catalyst. I think this is purposeful and I suspect this is part of what is going to come to a head next week. Please note all my theories and conjecture here are Castlesque in nature – they are wildly implausible – and they have no spoiler info to back them up.
With that I think conflict of emotion was at play throughout the episode. Working in no particular order I will start with Esposito. I think the openess of Castle and Beckett’s relationship (how far we’ve come from, what are you doing going through my stuff) in the precint has left Javi a bit of odd man out. The slight of her taking Castle over him to the military base paired with the short-tempered response to Castle when he playfully answers Beckett’s phone in the car was one of those great, filling out of the scene/story moments that Marlowe and crew do. While Castle and Beckett are the epicenter of this universe, the ripple effect of all the characters in this universe are impacted. Javi has always been Beckett’s confidant and their relationship is kindred. Before Castle no one knew her like Javi. We’ve seen shades of it over the course of the seasons starting from when Javi hands Castle Joanna Beckett’s case file with more than an idle threat should it get back to her to his unquestioning willingness to go into the fire with her (at his own personal and professional peril) in Always. It’s Javi who pulls her out of PTSD. So I really liked the nod to ‘the changing of the guard’ if you will coming out of Still when we watched Castle stand beside her in that critical moment. Javi’s unstated jealousy felt like the right note going into Watershed.
Now for the set up to next week. We are handed several moments that set the table for what I continue to believe is a pivot moment in the relationship not between Beckett and Castle, but in the way they define themselves as individuals and how they move forward together. There is the obvious conflict that rears it’s head for Castle for the first time since Target/Hunt in his interrogation of our murderer and drawing the parallels to his own father, who chose the life Beckett is offered at the end of the episode over him. Beckett’s decision to not broach the subject with Castle just yet is classic knee jerk response to her not having another person to consider when she’s made most of her critical life decisions. This is supported by Castle’s words about life’s decisions being personal – the Human Effect. I think we head into next week with an interesting pebble dropped in the water. One that impacts how our favorite character’s define themselves and what anchors them to their identities. Because I obviously have a addiction problem (thank you TNT) I happened to watch Knockout last night. The scene when Castle tries to convince Beckett to walk away and she’s turns on him telling him he doesn’t know her and he counters with ‘you’ve been chasing this thing so long you don’t know who you are without it’. I think that sentence and sentiment is coming home to roost next week, for both Beckett and Castle.
NOW I AM GOING TO PROVIDE AN OPINION ABOUT LAST NIGHT’S PREVIEW FOR WATERSHED (NOT SPOILER BASED, BUT AN OBSERVATION ABOUT IT’S CONTENT) IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE TRAILER CLICK AWAY NOW.
OK – I think the trailer scene when Castle tells Beckett “if you do this we can’t be together” isn’t about their relationship AT. ALL. It’s about the fact that he will no longer be able to shadow her and work with her on cases. If I am right, that sets up an entirely different emotional question for Rick Castle. Who is he without Nikki Heat?
I LOVE what you said about how we’ve only seen the relationship through Beckett’s eyes for the back half of the season. It’s something I’ve been thinking about too and wondering what the reasoning behind it is. These last few episodes have really given us no insight into how Castle feels about the state of their relationship. Hopefully that’s something that will be made clear in the finale.
I had the same thought watching the promo. I don’t think he was talking about their relationship. just that they won’t be able to work together anymore. I’m trying not to read too much into the promo, because we all know ABC has a habit of splicing things together to amp up the drama factor.
I think the reason is because most of last season we watched their relationship play out through Castle’s point of view. His heart to heart’s with Alexis about waiting and it being worth it. His betrayal when he found out she had remembered everything. His renewed hope when he realized her staying quiet wasn’t about him but finding a path towards him. We saw the raw emotions that Beckett didn’t see when it comes to his love and commitment to her especially with his scenes with Martha and watched it play out with pure exasperation when Beckett questions his loyalty in Always and he finally walks away. I think Castle’s ego and assumptions don’t lend to the possibility that Kate not being there and this job offer is a watershed for both of them – Who is Beckett beyond the 12th and who is Rick Castle now that she is no longer hiding in the shadow of her mother’s murder and completely available to him. In Marlowe I trust.
Completely agree with your review Katie. As I was watching I realized (and even tweeted about) that despite absolutely loving the Caskett facet of this show, there is nothing better than badass Beckett. As a career female myself it is great to watch her completely rock at her job and have men stand in awe of her abilities. It was great that she finally got some further recognition and opportunity at another job. It was becoming a little unrealistic that she hadn’t after 5 years. I didn’t mind her not telling Castle at the end because I’m not sure she knew at that point how she felt about the job offer so why tear in to that with Castle yet.
I do think a major foreshadowing moment occurred as mentioned above when Castle talked to the son about his father fighting for his cause and abandoning the people he loves. (See below for why)
Also, I still hold firm that Royce’s letter to her about job vs heart could also be a foreshadowing moment factoring it to her decision.
Just excited about the finale and not nervous at all!
What follows are my OPINIONS on the finale and have no spoiler base to them at all, all I have and will see are the promo that followed the episode.
I think that this sentence will play in to how Castle will initially feel about the Beckett job. He has constantly said she has been hunting for her mom’s killer with no regard for how it affects anyone else, putting her job above everything else. While I by no means think this is why she is considering the job, I think Castle will at first, especially with his history with Kera and Meredith. Should be interesting and hopefully leads to a revelation from him to Beckett about this. I also think Castle saying the “relationship is over” is in relation to them solving crimes and their partnership working together, as he loves it just as much as her.
It also became clear that the Caskett relationship is very strong and that this little bump in the road is a natural issue that many couples face. Someone gets a job offer in a different state – do they take it and do the long distance thing? Does the other person go with them? Do they not take the job because they are satisfied with their current job and relationship and city? I think it will be a great storyline and whether she takes the job or not I feel that the relationship will progress in some form after the discussion.
Thanks so much! Your thoughts about “badass Beckett” mirror my own—I’m also very much a “career woman” at this stage in my life, so it’s always been inspiring to see Beckett just go about her business and be disarmingly good at her job. I also agree that it was almost unrealistic to see her go without that kind of professional recognition for almost five years. The woman’s earned it!
I love foreshadowing with a passion, so I think you’re right about Royce’s letter. I just can’t wait to see what’s coming next week. Season finale time is the best!
One thing that stood out for me was that Stack asked Kate where her “heart” lies. Haven’t Kate’s near death experiences (as well as almost losing Rick in the “After Hours” and “Probable Cause” episodes) taught her where her heart lies? I am really hoping that Royce’s letter is a foreshadowing of how Kate will handle this.
In Marlowe We Trust, right?
Kate has wanted to have this type of love all of her life but never allowed her self too. If she chose to leave Castle, she would regret it forever.
Badass Beckett – it’s a lifestyle choice. We should have bumber stickers. Regarding Castle – I think you hit on something interesting. Castle described Kiera to Beckett as ‘the one that got away’ I think that as Beckett considers this job offer, Castle’s miss with Kiera may come back into play. Good grief is it the 13th yet?
As usual, I love everything you said here. I especially found myself nodding along at your interpretation of the relationship being shown through Beckett’s eyes in this latest stretch of episodes—because that’s exactly how I see it, too. We needed to get into her head to set up her decision, and this was a great way to do that. I also love your take on Esposito’s reaction to Castle becoming Beckett’s go-to guy in every aspect of her life. It would have to be jarring for him to go from being her shoulder to lean on in a lot of ways to watching Castle take over that job. And I can only imagine it’s harder when it’s not certain what his relationship status with Lanie is. Are they still just being casual? Because if that’s true, it would have to hurt for him to be the one who wants more and to see Beckett and Castle (along with Jenny and Ryan) having that stability he longs for in his own life.
And as for your thoughts on the promo (SPOILER AHEAD)….
I totally agree. I don’t think it’s about their romantic relationship at all. I just need this week to go by faster!
Confession – I have always believed that Beckett and Esposito had ‘something’ happen in their past that made them close. Nothing that would ever play out on screen but a bit of a back story that makes their friendship have depth. He’s also the one who filled the void for her left by Montgomery’s death. There was a veil of protection around that special piece of their relationship when everyone was trying to keep Gates in the dark. It played the family dynamic shift in a way I really liked, just as it did last week with Gates coming into the fold.
Maybe Kate will think about taking the job, maybe even leave for the interview. Kate will realize for the first time in her life she has exactly what she wants…a man who loves her for who she is.