Two-Sentence Summary After a troubled young celebrity is believed to have been murdered, the team at the 12th precinct discovers that the dead body actually belonged to her body double. As they’re dealing with the twists in this murder investigation, Castle and Beckett discover that the press is starting rumors about him rekindling his romance with Gina (his ex-wife and publisher) and Alexis comes to a disheartening realization about her relationship with Pi.
Favorite Quote “There’s no one I’d rather share a headline with. But just in the interest of accuracy, does it say we’re getting married in space?” (Castle)
My Thoughts “Limelight” had all the makings of a traditional, midseason “filler” episode of Castle: the celebrity-centric case, the possibility for jealousy between Castle and Beckett, and a side plot devoted to Alexis and her romantic life. However, this episode took each of those common Castle tropes and revamped them just enough to show how much these characters and this show have grown over the years. Because of that, what could have been a boring hour of television turned into an hour that revealed character growth, allowed the audience to become emotionally invested in the case of the week, and actually moved the storylines along for multiple characters in concrete ways.
I love when a Castle case not only keeps me guessing but keeps me emotionally engaged. I thought Alexandra Chando did an excellent job balancing the snark and softness in Mandy Sutton. She made me laugh, but she also made me just want to give this young woman a hug. I had a feeling from the start that her mother was going to be behind the murder, but that didn’t make the journey any less interesting. In fact, it made me even more eager to unwrap each layer of the case to see what would drive her mother to commit murder. The fact that it was all because she wanted to keep Mandy from finding personal stability and happiness (in order to keep her in the spotlight) made their final scene together all the more painful. I like when Castle causes me to look at the world around me a little differently, and this episode certainly made me even more skeptical of all of those “momagers” in Hollywood.
My favorite thing about this episode’s case was the way it moved Alexis’s storyline forward and into better and brighter territory. I thought Chando and Molly Quinn played off each other really well; the scene where Alexis is ranting to Mandy while the latter is emptying the hotel mini bar’s contents into her mouth was one of my favorites in the episode. Both young women felt trapped—Mandy by her fame and Alexis by her relationship. Both were victims of situations that progressed too quickly, but, unlike Mandy, Alexis realized she still had the power to get out.
Mandy found freedom in love and was kept from it by a parent who wanted fame more than she wanted her daughter’s happiness. Alexis rediscovered, through Castle’s decision to write a letter of recommendation for Pi, that she has a father who wants nothing more than his daughter’s happiness. Unlike Mandy, her trap wasn’t set by her parent; it was set by her own decisions. A relationship wasn’t Alexis’s key to freedom; it was the key she used to lock herself into a life she then wanted to escape from.
I loved what “Limelight” said about relationships: The good ones are the ones that make you your best self—the ones that make you feel free to be better than who you were before. Mandy found that with Zach, and I loved that Alexis understood how important it was for Mandy to get that back. Alexis helped Mandy reunite with the man who helped her become her best self. Alexis also made the decision to leave a relationship that she felt was keeping her from being her best self. It may have taken her longer to realize it than I’ve liked as a viewer, but I ultimately liked the way Alexis’s decision to leave Pi was handled. For most of this season, we watched their relationship bring out less than flattering sides of Alexis’s character, so the moment when she finally saw that it was time to move on felt earned.
This episode ended with two young women freeing themselves up to new possibilities, and I loved that the message of this episode was that holding on to love and letting it go can both be freeing depending on the situation. Alexis found freedom in walking away from a living situation and relationship that she felt trapped in. And Mandy found the freedom to be the person she wanted to be in reuniting with the one man who helped her find her best self.
The theme of being trapped versus being free was also reflected in Castle and Beckett’s relationship in this episode. Beckett’s desire for privacy ultimately made her free trapped, having to read and respond to reports about Castle romancing Gina just because she didn’t want the press prying into her personal life. But, like Alexis, she chose to free herself in the end by making their engagement public knowledge.
My favorite thing about Castle and Beckett’s side plot in this episode was the way it reflected the overarching theme of Season Six: confidence. In previous seasons, a report about Castle and Gina rekindling their romance would have been cause for an entire episode (or more) of doubt, jealousy, and angst. However, none of those things ever reared their ugly heads in “Limelight,” and that was so refreshing. Instead, those Page Six reports were a source of comedy rather than drama, both for the characters and for the audience.
The first scene with Beckett reading the initial report set the tone for the rest of the episode. She teased Castle about it rather than letting it affect her. For a woman who once watched Castle walk away on Gina’s arm just as she was about to tell him she cared for him, that’s a huge show of character growth and relationship stability. Even Ryan and Esposito—who also watched that heartbreaking scene play out all those years ago—were able to joke with Beckett about it. Those scenes showed the little brothers/big sister dynamic between the detectives so well, and they reinforced the idea that Castle and Beckett are so solid as a couple that the idea of him being with anyone but her is a joke (to everyone but Beckett’s Facebook-loving Aunt Theresa).
Ultimately, though, Beckett’s professional desire to find the truth bled into her personal life as well. If a story is going to be told about the man Beckett loves, then she wants it to be a true story—and that’s very true to her character. Castle is famous (just how famous is up for debate—especially with Ryan and Esposito), and, although his fame isn’t brought up often on the show, it’s still a defining part of who he is. And Beckett—notoriously guarded, private Beckett—had to accept that part of him just as he’s accepted every part of who she is. By calling to report the engagement herself, she found a balance between putting part of her life in the public eye and doing so on her own terms.
Loving Castle has freed Beckett in so many ways, and that final image of them embracing in the precinct was a great way to show the most important thing he’s given her: The freedom to be happy, especially in the precinct—a place where she didn’t have any fun “until he came around” (in the words of the late Captain Roy Montgomery).
The fact that they can laugh about rumors like the one about Castle and Gina and celebrate the announcement of their engagement in a place that once saw Beckett come to the (incorrect) conclusion that she’d lost him to Gina forever speaks to just how much Castle and Beckett have grown together throughout the show’s run. That’s a pretty nice feeling to get at the end of an episode that could have simply been filler.
Lovely review, as always, Katie!
I know I’ve probably written this in comments from earlier in the season, but I was initially annoyed with Alexis’s most recent storyline. The more I watched it play out, though, the more I realized how true to real life her actions have been. Perhaps that’s because I can see some of my less-than-stellar young adult decisions in there. It’s interesting to see how the end of her relationship with Pi contrasts to the one with Ashley. Pi obviously liked (loved) Alexis a lot and, for all we know, was there for her (maybe a little too much?). It was the exact opposite with Ashley. Yet, the resolution was the same. I hope the character of Alexis finds the person who strikes a balance between the two and makes her happy.
The scene with Mandy and Alexis where they are getting into the elevator cracked me up. It was shades of the early partnership between Castle and Beckett – complete with a Beckett-esque eyeroll. HA!
On the Caskett front, I’m so glad Beckett took the initiative to finally announce their engagement. We already knew where Castle stood, but it was Beckett who needed to come to terms with being on Page Six. I also love that she did it without his knowledge. It’s her way (as with his birthday murder mystery) of giving him the grand things he loves. And I may have just awww’ed out loud after writing that sentence.
“I hope the character of Alexis finds the person who strikes a balance between the two and makes her happy.” Me too. I really love Alexis, and I think the differences between her relationship with Pi and her relationship with Ashley are very interesting for the reasons you pointed out. I’m excited for her to develop as a character outside of a romantic relationship so that when another one rolls around, but I also hope she eventually finds someone to make her happy in the way her father has found happiness.
“It’s her way (as with his birthday murder mystery) of giving him the grand things he loves. And I may have just awww’ed out loud after writing that sentence.” – I definitely just awww’ed too—the things these characters do to us! 😉
I loved your take on the scene at Mandy and Alexis mirroring early Castle and Beckett. That apple has not fallen too far from the tree indeed. I hadn’t thought of it when I watched but it is dead on and made me laugh loudly in a rewatch.
Great review, Katie! I loved that you pointed out how it went way beyond filler. I definitely went into it expecting that, and was pleasantly surprised by how much movement there was, especially on the Alexis front. For the most part, I’ve been kinda bummed with what they’ve done with her character this season. Not necessarily just with dating Pi, but more the way that she treated other people (and the out-of-character way Castle treated her) when she was with him. That being said, I think the way they wrapped that story line redeemed it a little, at least for me. It felt very true to the Alexis that we know and love and that she would make the right choice for her and not just stick with what was easier. It felt like the kind of mature, grounded decision Season 3 or 4 Alexis would have made, which I loved.
Castle and Beckett! Loved them in this ep. The opening and closing scenes were super cute, and I loved that Beckett was the one who announced the engagement. As happy as I am about the Castle and Beckett engagement itself, my favorite thing about this season has actually been seeing how unabashedly happy and in love Beckett is because of it. Girl smiles all the time now and I love it!! This is a character who has EARNED a little happiness, and seeing her so joyous this season has been so, so fun to watch. After struggling for a long time with just letting herself be happy, it felt kind of perfect that she was the one who ultimately shared that happiness with the world.
Thank you, Becca! I completely agree that this episode helped so much to redeem Alexis’s arc for this season so far in my eyes. She felt like the Alexis I’ve come to know and love again.
“This is a character who has EARNED a little happiness, and seeing her so joyous this season has been so, so fun to watch.” You said it perfectly. We’ve been present for every step of Beckett’s journey towards accepting not only love but also happiness. We’ve rooted for her to find real joy ever since we first learned about the loss she’s lived with. That’s what makes this season especially so wonderful—the character development on this show is so rich and the actors have made us feel so much for these characters that this season of confidence, stability, and joy feels so earned.
Must say I almost got a tear reading your review to see how Kate has come so far. We have cheered for her to ‘better than she was’ and thankfully she is that person now, of course with Castle’s help. I love Beckett so much and she is brought to life so vibrantly each week by Ms. Stana Katic. She is amazing!
She really has come so far. And, in the words of Richard Castle, she is even more “extraordinary” than ever.
After two heavy hitting emotional episodes I was prepared to be bored at worst and mildly amused at best. What I was pleasantly surprised to find is that the energy, confidence and enthusiasm we’ve seen in our leads this season is shinning through from the great team behind the scenes. You are so right that the classic tropes of the show that take hold in the doldrums of late Winter were turned on their ear and in a fun way that kept me intrigued. I wasn’t as invested as you in the storyline of the murder, perhaps it was because I didn’t care for the woman playing the mother. But like you, the scenes between Alexis and Mandy were wonderfully fresh and gave us a much needed window into Alexis that we could never get via the usual suspects of the Castle universe. It was like watching Alexis go to confession, in a way that was very similar to when she first believes she’s in love – running at 100 miles an hour arguing both sides of the debate going on in her head. It was a nice touch back to the character we’ve seen, slightly more mature but still the same person trying to apply logic to a situation where logic doesn’t play a role. She can no longer use her father as a punching bag because he is trying in earnest and is forced to see what is really in front of her. A life that jumped the gun. Alexis has always been impulsive, she gets it in spades from her parents. What has counterbalanced it was an ability to be thorough in her decision making. Lindsay mentioned the parallel between Pi and Ashley and I think it is a good one. The end of her relationship with Ashley was big, emotional and heightened in drama. Such is the way of romance when you are in high school. This was different. As a young adult one of the discoveries you make is that love/relationships don’t usually end over big, demonstrative acts. They end because you outgrow the person or because you discover you are heading in different directions. There’s not fault, no blame and no villains. It’s murky and grey which is the challenge we see Alexis grapple with in her verbal explosion over Mandy. I liked it because it allowed us to see Alexis honestly process her relationship which opened her up to what she needed to do.
You wrote: “Unlike Mandy, her trap wasn’t set by her parent; it was set by her own decisions. A relationship wasn’t Alexis’s key to freedom; it was the key she used to lock herself into a life she then wanted to escape from.” I don’t think Alexis’ trap was a product of her decisions, it was a product of her stubbornness. A refusal to get out of her own way. We all make choices that go sideways. The definition of maturity is the ability to adapt, accept and move on. Alexis holding onto something because she made the decision is the source of her unhappiness. Moving on requires her to take responsibility for her choice to move quickly/impulsively and perhaps to spite her father. That’s a lot of reconciliation. I think the conclusion to this arc was interesting because as you pointed out Alexis’ relationship with Pi brought out the worst in her, not the best. I also think kids test their parents. The test boundaries and they test the truth of our unconditional love as parents. We watched Alexis do that through this relationship with her father. Yes she took it too far, but this episode shows her realization that the only person standing in her way is her. Castle isn’t the obstacle anymore. It was a nice way to bring this secondary story to a satisfying conclusion.
Now just a final note about the bookend conversation about Beckett’s privacy vs. Castle’s public life. I loved all the observations you noted, especially the ease and complete lack of angst over the page six piece. After 4 years of tension/obstacles I truly appreciate the writers not defaulting to tension for the sake of tension with Beckett and Castle’s relationship. Finding the humor in those moments is so much more fun to watch these two play. I thought Beckett ultimately announcing their engagement spoke to the promise they made at the beginning of the season. When they got engaged it was in a space that Castle accepted and loved her for all that she was, including pursuing the DC job. He lived up to his word and his promise and it was nice to see her reciprocate it. By embracing Castle’s public persona is a part of who she is marrying and leaning into it shows her willingness to walk the talk that theirs is a partnership that thrives in middle where the best parts of who they are thrive.
“It was like watching Alexis go to confession, in a way that was very similar to when she first believes she’s in love – running at 100 miles an hour arguing both sides of the debate going on in her head. It was a nice touch back to the character we’ve seen, slightly more mature but still the same person trying to apply logic to a situation where logic doesn’t play a role.” – That is such a great parallel to draw and one I hadn’t thought of until right now. It felt very similar to her attempt to logically define being in love—the attempt to logically define the end of her relationship. This is one of the many reasons I’m glad to have you around, noticing the little things like this. 😉
I love what you said about Alexis’s stubbornness and refusal to get out of her own way because not only is it true; it’s a great point of comparison between her, her father, and Beckett. All three of them are often defined by their stubbornness, especially when it comes to making decisions in their personal lives. For Castle and Beckett, stubbornness caused them to lose valuable time spent together, and I’m happy Alexis got out of her own way much more quickly than the adults around her. But perhaps that’s because she has a lot less emotional baggage in her way than most adults do.
Finally, you said, “Finding the humor in those moments is so much more fun to watch these two play.” I could not agree more. I may love when Castle shifts gears into drama, but I’ve never liked it when the show (or really any show) overplays angst. At its core, this show is a quirky procedural with a romantic heart—not a melodrama. I love that this season seems to be about removing the internal angst once and for all, and it’s been a true pleasure to watch.
Another great review.
Two things stood out for me. The Alexis rant whilst in Mandy’s hotel room. The rant where all the worlds problems pale into insignificance, then the quiet pause and realisation that in the grand scheme of things you aren’t really so hardly done by. Alexis’ acknowledgement that she wanted to blame Castle for her woes but couldn’t because he was going out of his way to accommodate her decisions was the wake up moment when she finally realised that everything was because of decisions she had made, they were wrong and she had to swallow her pride and admit that she’d made a mistake. But hey isn’t this what been young is all about. Testing boundaries, making decisions and then living by the consequences. I loved the comment that she hoped he won the grant because it meant he would have to spend time away.
The second thing that stood out for me was the casual way and apparent ease with which both Ryan and Esposito teased Beckett about Castle hooking up with his ex wife. Can you imagine them having the courage to tease Beckett about anything in Season 1? How the family has grown.
I also smiled when Castle quipped at the end that the announcement of the engagement did not mention the wedding would take place in space. Another example of continuity that felt so organic.
I do though want to see more Castle/Alexis/Beckett/Martha interactions. When those 4 get together there will be nothing but mischief.
Thanks, Mark! I love what you said about Alexis’s rant because it reminded me of (more than) a few of those I’ve had in my own life. It was funny but also honest, and I thought Molly Quinn played that scene so well.
“Can you imagine them having the courage to tease Beckett about anything in Season 1?” Never, and that’s what I love about this show. These characters have all grown separately and together, and that growth has made the show as a whole even more fun and funny than it was when it began.
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