Title Need To Know
Two-Sentence Summary Castle rejoins the 12th precinct for a murder investigation involving the death of a TV actor who was famous for playing a nerd in a cheesy high school comedy. However, when the case becomes deeper than just a murder investigation, Beckett and Agent McCord show up in New York to take over the case, which leads to more than a little competition and a serious conflict for Beckett.
Favorite Line “Castle, your whole relationship is built on the foundation of your boundary pushing.” (Ryan)
My Thoughts With the conclusion of this episode, the “Beckett in Washington” arc ended as abruptly as it began. Back when Beckett first got the job offer, I remember feeling confused as to why she would take it, knowing what we do about her desire to honor the victims over following any sort of directive from a superior. It’s nice to know that I was right in my initial assessment of Beckett’s chief conflict with this job, but I’m still left feeling like it was more of a “good for the show” decision than a “good for the character” decision. It didn’t reveal much that we didn’t know already about Katherine Houghton Beckett (and I wish we had more scenes between Beckett and McCord), but it was nice to see the show try something new even in its “middle age” and do so in a way that was true to what we know about Beckett.
The reason I think this arc didn’t reveal much about Beckett that we didn’t already know is because we already know that Beckett prioritizes getting justice for victims over bureaucracy and protocol. While this isn’t earthshattering information, it did provide for some strong moments of internal conflict for this character, and I liked seeing her ultimately stay true to who she is: the one who honors the victims. When Beckett gave Castle the USB drive and when she leaked the name to the press, I felt incredible pride for this woman who refused to give up on her principles.
While I felt proud of Beckett for staying true to herself and doing what she believed was the right thing to do, I was also pleased to see that her actions actually had consequences. I was surprised to see Beckett get fired rather than quit in a later episode, but, in the real world, doing what she did would have led to a firing. As much as I love Kate Beckett, she can be quite the loose canon when she thinks she’s in the right and her superiors are in the wrong, and that’s not a good fit for a job in Washington.
And with that, Beckett is back in New York where she belongs, fighting for justice and honoring the victims. It was interesting to see her on the outside looking in when she joined McCord at the 12th precinct. The place that was once Beckett’s home was suddenly foreign soil, including her old desk (what a fantastic running sight gag that was). This episode did a great job of showing rather than telling us that this was where Beckett belonged—from the way she went back to standing in front of the murder board to the way Gates so passionately defended her team’s belief in fighting for the victim—so when Beckett handed over that flash drive, it felt less like a fiancée doing something for her romantic partner and more like a detective doing something for the team she wishes she was still playing for.
That team was the reason this episode was so strong. How great was it to be back in New York with Ryan and Esposito again? (Answer: GREAT) I love when Castle and The Boys (that sounds like a band name) get to interact for more than just a token scene or two because Nathan Fillion, Seamus Dever, and Jon Huertas have such excellent chemistry. From the first moment when Esposito ignored Castle’s call as Castle watched on TV to the countless quips about Ryan’s love for 2 Cool for School, this episode proved to me that this show would be lacking something special without the presence of Huertas and Dever. It was just so great to have the boys back together, and their race to solve the case independent of Beckett and McCord felt like the excellent Season Two episode “The Double Down.”
Following the intense drama of last week’s episode, it was nice to have some fun this week, even as Beckett was wrestling with some real internal conflicts. This episode made me laugh more than any Castle episode has since sometime in the middle of Season Five. The entire 2 Cool for School plot was a fantastic wink to those of us who grew up watching Saved By the Bell, and I found it perfect that Ryan would be the one to adore the show despite its guilty-pleasure reputation. (Ryan wearing the show’s hat was the best sight gag of the entire episode.) The return of Perlmutter gave us one of my favorite lines of the episode: “Mr. Castle, you’re back, but not by popular demand.” I laughed (and applauded the continuity) when it was revealed that the big Nikki Heat movie was a direct-to-DVD release. And if you didn’t at least crack a smile when Esposito was getting paranoid about sharing his coffee with the feds, then you have no sense of humor (or at least the wrong sense of humor to be watching this show).
I always say Castle is unique because it can balance so many genres so well, and this episode was a great example of that. It had elements of a family comedy (with Alexis and Pi), workplace comedy, procedural drama, character-driven drama, and romance. That last genre was incorporated seamlessly into this episode in a way that made me smile. While the first two episodes of the season were very overtly about “Caskett,” this one showed that this relationship has woven itself into a natural part of the fabric of the show in a way that even last season’s best episodes couldn’t quite figure out.
“Need To Know” proved that the Castle/Beckett relationship doesn’t require a lot of heavy-handed material to show its strength; all it needs is little moments for Fillion and Stana Katic to show off their chemistry. After six seasons, their comedic timing is better than ever, and it showed in moments like Castle trying to bribe her with a fancy latte and trying to read her nods as code. But what impressed me the most was the easy warmth that existed between them in every one of their scenes together. The “face-time” scene in bed somehow managed to be incredibly adorable without being obnoxiously adorable, mainly because it felt like these characters have more than earned a few moments of kissing phone screens and smiling like smitten teenagers.
The final scene between Castle and Beckett in the loft was everything I had been hoping for last season. It was a moment of simple intimacy, a moment that felt natural for two engaged people who had just had a long day of solving a murder case. It’s a nice visual reminder of just how intertwined these two have become, and Fillion and Katic excel at the little nonverbal details that make this relationship feel real. And when Castle showed Beckett the key to their apartment in Washington, I was as ecstatic as she was. (Seriously, Katic’s radiant smile was contagious.) This was a logical step for their relationship, but just because it was logical, that doesn’t make it any less romantic (which Beckett proved to Castle with one heck of a kiss).
While the warmth of that last scene was quickly destroyed by McCord’s revelation, it made me more excited than ever to watch these characters interact every week. Relationship stability looks great on them, and it’s a great look for the show as well. It’ll be interesting to see how Beckett handles her firing because she may have already been thinking the job wasn’t right for her, but she was let go before she had the chance to leave—and that makes a huge difference. And while this arc may be over, there are still plenty of stories to be told, and I’m ready for the whole 12th Precinct Family to get back together.