TV Time: Castle 6.01

Title Valkyrie

Two-Sentence Summary After accepting Castle’s marriage proposal and beginning her new life in Washington, Beckett faces the challenges of learning the ropes of a new job, adjusting to a new partner, and living without her fiancé. Her new life gets even more complicated when Castle begins poking his nose in one of her new cases, a robbery that turns out to be much more than it originally appeared and could have deadly consequences for Castle.

Favorite Line “Kate, I’m not proposing to you to keep you here or because I’m afraid I’m gonna lose you. I’m proposing because I can’t imagine my life without you. If that means when things get difficult we have to figure them out, then I’m willing to figure them out—assuming you’re willing to figure them out with me.” (Castle)

My Thoughts If there’s one lesson Castle has taught me over the years it’s that confidence is incredibly attractive. As much as Castle and Beckett have proved that time and again over five (and now six) seasons, the show as a whole also operates with an air of confidence—in its actors, its characters, and the story it wants to tell. “Valkyrie” was a season premiere that could be described as many things: entertaining, emotional, suspenseful, funny, warm, dramatic, and even frustrating (a cliffhanger already?!). However, I think the best word to describe it is confident. The relationship between Castle and Beckett, the pacing of the episode, and the cliffhanger of an ending all felt as if they were coming from a place of confidence—both within the show’s universe and within the very real universe of the network TV business.

I loved that show picked up right where last season’s finale left off because it allowed the frustration some audience members (myself included) felt about Castle’s proposal to be addressed right away. The way the somber tone of the proposal melted into the excitement, humor, and warmth of their reactions to it speaks to the show’s ability to shift tones naturally and realistically. There was something so sweet about Nathan Fillion’s delivery of Castle’s confession that his proposal was the most serious thing he’s ever done. Castle has grown from a man “incapable of taking anything seriously” (Beckett’s description of him in the pilot) to this man, who is so serious about his commitment to Beckett that he’s in untested waters, even for a man who’s been married twice before. The character growth shown in that one line is incredible and felt so rewarding for those of us who’ve watched Castle develop and become a better man by being in the presence of a woman who takes so many things seriously.

The fact that the writers could turn the strange tone of the proposal into a moment of comedy proves that they understand both their characters and their audience. They knew what kind of reactions we all had to that proposal, and it was nice to see them echoed in Beckett’s reaction. It was also nice to see what could have been a cheesy or dramatic moment kept perfectly in-character with Beckett’s inability to answer right away and the banter that followed. It’s nice when a proposal scene is kept from being generic by adding little touches of unique character continuity, and one of the best things about this couple has always been their quick banter.

Fillion and Stana Katic were simply wonderful in that proposal scene. I loved the brief moment when we could feel Beckett’s fear that taking the job would make Castle take back the proposal, but what I loved even more was how quickly that fear was put to rest. Castle’s speech about the reason he proposed was filled with such genuine respect and adoration for Beckett, whose dedication to her work is what drew him to her in the first place. It wasn’t an overbearingly sweet moment; it was honest and reflected the very mature belief that marriage takes work but is ultimately worth the effort when you’re working with the right person. And that sense of genuine commitment was all Beckett needed to see to tell Castle that she wanted to marry him—all of him. By using both his real name and his pen name, Beckett showed that she knows and loves every part of him. You can’t separate Richard Edgar Castle from Richard Alexander Rogers, and Beckett loves both of those sides of him—the side he shares with the world and the side he shares with only those he loves the most. Both of their smiles when she accepts say so much—she’s so sure of this love and of their future, and he’s so happy that he’s able to give her that assurance.

That sense of certainty permeated their interactions throughout the rest of the episode. After the two-month time jump, we saw a couple who might be frustrated with their separation are confident in their relationship. It’s a side to them we’ve never really seen before. Last season was all about the honeymoon stage and the exploration of the ups and downs of a new relationship. This episode presented something different, a kind of mature stability that comes from knowing that both people in the relationship are fully committed to spending their lives together. It’s a good look on both of these characters because it’s something completely new for them both. Beckett has never been engaged; Castle has never been this serious about a relationship. They’re jumping in together, just like Beckett always wanted.

Castle and Beckett’s confidence in their relationship was shown to us more than it was told to us, and that speaks to the confidence the writers have in their actors. Fillion and Katic were playful, honest, sweet, and downright sexy throughout the episode. They allowed us to feel their longing in a subtle way, and showed us their joy in reuniting without any subtlety at all (and I mean that as the highest compliment). My favorite moment in the whole episode was when Castle woke up to find Beckett working at the breakfast table and playfully kissed her neck. It felt so normal and natural—so full of the easy warmth that has grown with this relationship. It’s those little moments that show off Fillion and Katic’s chemistry so well, a chemistry that has deepened and matured to reflect the way Castle and Beckett’s relationship has deepened.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Castle is the way this show allows its characters to grow but not completely change. That was shown beautifully in “Valkyrie” in the shot of Beckett’s necklace, which now holds both her mother’s ring and her engagement ring from Castle. Castle is a show that is surprisingly good at continuity, and this little nod to just how far Beckett has come was gorgeous, and it was so effective because it didn’t need dialogue. Beckett’s necklace with both rings is a symbol of the decision she made back in Season Four to honor her mother’s memory while not letting her death consume her anymore; it’s a symbol of the balance she’s found between honoring her mother and living a life her mother would have been proud of. It’s a symbol of the love she lost and the love she found, and she wears it right over her heart. She also wears it right over her scar—the scar that will also always be associated with both her mother and Castle as well as her journey towards accepting love even after being “damaged.” To anyone who thinks that Castle is pure fluff, I present this incredible moment of subtle symbolism as Exhibit A that you are dead wrong.

For as much as I could talk about Castle and Beckett forever (the coffee, the hand-holding, the wine, the “babe”…), there were a lot of other things that happened in this episode, too. I missed Ryan and Esposito but loved the little bits of them we got. I thought Lisa Edelstein is a fantastic addition to the cast as Beckett’s new partner (more girl power on this show always makes me happy). I thought Alexis’s new boyfriend was hilarious (even though I’m kind of feeling like Alexis is losing some of her unique qualities and drifting into more “cliché collegiate daughter” territory). And I thought the episode’s pacing was great, as it moved from romance to comedy to suspense with fluidity.

It all comes back to confidence. The storytelling in this episode felt confident and sure of its ability to entertain. It never felt like it was trying too hard, and it made the most of its actors’ skills. The banter felt fresh but still classically “Caskett.” The sense of longing for the days of solving crimes together was felt from Castle, Beckett, and the audience in a believable way (which means we know the D.C. story arc isn’t long for this show). And the way Beckett kept digging into the case (and the way Castle kept getting in trouble for investigating on his own) harkened all the way back to the pilot.

Even the cliffhanger ending felt like it came from a place of creative confidence. Castle doesn’t do random cliffhangers; it has stuck to a pretty exclusive formula of one two-parter per season and one cliffhanger in the season finale. Now, though, the formula has changed. Next week’s episode is going to pick up where this one breathlessly left off, with Beckett racing for the antidote needed to save Castle’s life. Ending this episode on a cliffhanger was a great way to get new viewers who tuned in for the premiere to come back next week. It also showed long-time viewers that this show can still surprise us. It was a great way to get people to keep talking about Castle in a week when it could have gotten lost in the shuffle of so many season premieres.

It was a smart move. It was a confident move. And it was a move that has me excited not only for next week but for the rest of the season as well.


27 thoughts on “TV Time: Castle 6.01

  1. So very happy to see your reviews for Castle are back!! And I really don’t have much of anything to add to this…you’ve summed it up perfectly.

    But I will say this: I was never bothered by the tone of the proposal in the finale. Somehow, I just KNEW they were playing it that way to keep us on edge over it all summer (and let’s face it…we were all on edge, some people to the point of being furious about it). I think they went for neutral so the theories would fly over the hiatus, and fly they did. I adored how they handled it’s resolution. And I always say: I would rather watch a season finale that makes me scream in frustration than one that makes me say “Meh.” The former I’ll tune into when the show begins again; the latter I’ll think twice about.

    Also, knowing you’re an Alias fan, can we have Beckett go on a crazy clandestine mission to find the antidote to save Castle’s life, a la Sydney and Vaughn in “The Counteragent?” How epic would that be?!

    • Thank you so much for the comment—and it feels so good to be talking about Castle again!

      “And I always say: I would rather watch a season finale that makes me scream in frustration than one that makes me say “Meh.” The former I’ll tune into when the show begins again; the latter I’ll think twice about.” – I actually think that’s a really good way to approach season finales. If it makes you want to find out what happens, then it’s done its job.

      And YES for some “Counteragent”-like action from Beckett in next week’s episode! When the cliffhanger was revealed last night, I got irrationally excited because that episode is one of my favorite Alias episodes of all time, and there’s an episode of Chuck with a similar plot that I love. So I have high hopes for next week!

  2. Hi,
    indeed, it is nice to have those Castle reviews back and I like your explanation on the reason why the proposal was so tense, for sure we would have had less to talk about during the summer -even though cliffhangers before the hiatus are “the worst”, it leaves you more excited than an happy ending season.
    I loved the GIFs you found, they were showing all my favorite moments of the episode
    Definitely thought the same as Megan, next episode will remind me of Alias with Sydney doing everything to save Vaughn…
    Let´s the fun begin, Castle is back 🙂

  3. Great post! You really nailed what worked so well in this episode. I am finding that these big important episodes I have to watch twice….prob bc I cannot resist spoilers and the first viewing I always have to reconcile expectations and pre conceptions w reality. On my second viewing, I really, really liked it. So much depth packed into so little time! I am so glad to hear your thoughts on season 6….what an endless hiatus!! Ps. Are we allowed to speculate on the next episode? I have a thought i would be interested in discussing but i cant remember your policy. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the nice words! And as for speculation, I’m all for it as long as nothing too major is spoiled and any spoilers are given with warning. 🙂

      • Fab! Ok,here’s the thought that I have. SPECULATION ONLY…I don’t know anything for sure, these are just my thoughts, but in case folks don’t want to speculate, stop reading now. I also am behind in reading comments so apologies if this has already been brought up. So in the preview for next week, Kate mentions the Secretary of State (I think, but maybe Sec of Defense) is hiding something. sounds like they may need some big guns. Remember in Recoil how Bracken said he owed Beckett now? At the time, I couldn’t think of any plausible reason why Beckett would cash that chip in, but now….I don’t know, but to save Castle, that may be the one thing that would make her pick up the phone?

        • I think that theory would be super interesting to watch play out. I have a feeling Bracken is going to work his way into this DC arc at some point (it’s just too convenient for him to be a Senator and have her in DC now), and this would be a cool way to make that happen.

          • Yeah, plus I think the long term repercussions could continue to impact their relationship, making for some very interesting conversations.

            • I do know from interviews with Stana Katic that they believe Bracken is coming back this season, but there has been no word as to when so I suspect it won’t necessarily be tied into next week’s plot. But what I love about Castle is their ability to have plot lines connect. So it will be interesting to see how they do it, when they do it. Perhaps they can tie it back to my keen desire to have Agent McCord and Jordan Shaw make a reappearance later this season.

              • Yeah, I hear you. Not sure they would waste Jack Coleman on the second episode, but on the other hand I can’t imagine any reason more compelling to use that favor than to save Castle. And Kate doing so would certainly put to rest the question of whether she loves him enough (not that I ever felt that, but I know that was a hot argument over the hiatus for a lot of fans.). Whatever happens, i find jack Coleman so deliciously skeevy that I would be happy with multiple appearances this year!

  4. Your favorite line was my favorite line! That was such a great promise for him to make, and a necessary one, too, after how seriously he approached the proposal itself. I really liked this episode–hot makeout sessions (IN THE BATHROOM OMG), fun quips from Nathan Fillion, and lots of cute couply moments to show us how well they know each other (“yeah well you did” was classic. Loved her little head movements/ face/ tone of voice/ existence).

    I did miss the good old-fashoined 12th Precinct whiteboard, and I couldn’t totally figure out what sort of tone they were trying to strike with the feds’ fancy smart board. Sometimes the tech guy’s lines were so absurd that it felt like they were making a gentle parody of tech-heavy crimesolving shows, which would fit with Beckett’s whiteboard love, but sometimes it was played straight. That does work with the whole “new environment, fish out of water” thing, but still, I guess I wish they’d been a little clearer on their POV there.

    But still. Fun times! Good story! I think I was a nervous wreck from about 10:54 onward, because this plot was so clearly not going to wrap up neatly in an hour. I’m not totally sure I see the logic behind going with such a big cliffhanger so early in the game–this feels like Sweeps week stuff!–but it’s ballsy and I like that. And anyway, we all know he’ll survive, so the suspense is more for the characters than ourselves.

    I LOVE WHEN THIS SHOW REMINDS ME OF ALIAS. I want some serious Syd-Vaughn-“Counteragent” action. Paging Julian Sark, please.

    • I totally understand what you’re saying about the smart board stuff. On so many of these shows, I feel like they tech speak is so ridiculous that I actually start tuning it out, which I think is what I did here.

      “Ballsy” is the perfect way to describe this cliffhanger. It felt very “go big or go home,” and I always support that attitude. It changed up the format of the show in a cool way, and I like that it took my preconceived expectations for this episode and shattered them.

      “I LOVE WHEN THIS SHOW REMINDS ME OF ALIAS.” YOU AND ME BOTH, KELLY. YOU AND ME BOTH. Guess who’s probably watching that Alias episode sometime this week? 😉

  5. Not surprisingly you and I walked away with the same lasting impression last night. Confidence was the theme of the night. It just made the show feel like a cool breeze of fall blowing into the house that Marlowe built. You and I only differ on one point. I loved the proposal at the end of last season. I liked getting the sober Richard Castle in that moment which made the payoff that much better for me last night. We get to see it’s not just Beckett who has grown, but our playboy has done some growing up. With that brief scene at the top of the show we get it, he’s all in. It was epic in its simplicity and tonally right on point for all that we’ve come to love about this show.

    My other immediate thoughts
    – Am I alone in thinking there needs to be an episode on the back end of the season that brings not only Edelstein back as Agent McCord but our old friend Dana Delany as Jordan Shaw?
    – Oh Castle creators and crew and your continuity how I love you so. Favorite moment was those two rings on her necklace. It was at once sentimental, appropriate and unbelievably moving.
    – I love that after an exasperated deadpan from Fillion at his new foil Pi Castle sought out support from the boys. The 12th is Castle’s family now too and it isn’t contingent on Beckett. I thought the writers used this scene well to give us a bit of ‘comfort food’, character advancement with a dash of plot advancement. It was nostalgically fresh.

    Most of all I appreciate how easily our leads have leaned into this new phase of Beckett and Castle’s relationship. Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic grounded our favorite couple in a way that was so satisfying to watch. It exuded a shift that was honest and mature in a manner we haven’t seen while maintaining the irreverence of their characters’ individual personalities. To top it off they accomplished it while making space for who they’ve become as a couple. We see it in the closing scene, but even more we see it in all the small transitions they share throughout the episode. There’s a confidence our couple has found and after that period of uncertainty in season 5 boy do they wear it well.

    “After the Storm” set a really high bar for season premieres last year. I was so pleased to see “Valkyrie” come out of the gate for season 6 unabashed and touching upon all the things I loved most about Castle. It truly was a homage to all the special ingredients that make this show a joy to watch. The chemistry of our leads, the new characters seamlessly introduced while the writers still managed to offer a jam packed hour of storytelling. You are so right about the pacing it was tight, steady and packed with entertainment.

    For me, Valkyrie embodied the pacing of season 3, and possessed the great wit of Season 1 while emanating the joy of early season 5.

    • I like how that proposal reaction scene was written in a way that was able to resonate with people like you who loved it and people like me who were less than enthusiastic about it. Watching it in the full context last night made me appreciate the serious tone so much more because it really did show huge growth for Castle and allowed Beckett to see that growth.

      Also, a big YES to putting agents McCord and Shaw together at some point. I need the trifecta of the two of them and Beckett on my TV screen together at some point. So many wonderful women.

      I completely agree with everything you said about Fillion and Katic. There was this real sense of contentment between them that we hadn’t seen before, and it looked beautiful on both of them.

  6. As if my long-winded response needed another point — I did want to touch on Alexis. I have a theory both behind Pi and her character. I think Marlowe is holding trump card on this for later in the season and that the ever grounded Alexis is going to have a reckoning of her own. We haven’t seen the residual effects of the kidnapping nor the real impact of the engagement on her and their relationship. I think for the girl who had no “wild child” phase, we are going to get some navigation within Alexis’ relationship with her dad and that Pi is the match that is going to light the fuse. Or at least that is my wishful thinking.

    • I could always read more points from you! I’m hoping you’re right about Pi and Alexis because I want more of a look into her mindset after everything that’s happened in her life lately. She’s been in the middle of so much, and I feel like a lot of that has yet to really be explored.

  7. So happy both Castle and your reviews are back! I totally agree with your thoughts and I love what you said about the show having confidence, so true! Castle is that rare show that knew exactly what it was right from the pilot: a charming mix of romance, comedy, and mystery. And all of those elements were in full force last night.

    • Thanks for your kind words—it feels good to be back to writing and talking about Castle with all my fellow fans! What you said about Castle knowing exactly what it was from the pilot is one of the things I’ve always loved most about this show. Its a very self-aware show, and I’m so happy that is a trait that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

  8. I’m so glad Castle is back because that means so are your reviews. 🙂 And I totally agree with everything you wrote above! Especially this part: “The character growth shown in that one line is incredible and felt so rewarding for those of us who’ve watched Castle develop and become a better man by being in the presence of a woman who takes so many things seriously.”

    I love the Castle character so much and seeing how far he’s come in five seasons (even if I’d like a *bit* more 😉 ) is wonderful!

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