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.