Title Smells Like Teen Spirit
Two-Sentence Summary When the mysterious death of a prep school student is linked to a girl with supposed telekinetic powers, Castle and Beckett uncover a web of high-school bullying, high-stakes burglary, and murder. Meanwhile, Castle and Beckett reminisce about their high school experiences as they struggle to find a first-dance song for their wedding.
Favorite Line “Everything I’ve ever done, every choice I’ve ever made, every terrible and wonderful thing that has ever happened to me—it’s all led me to right here, this moment with you.” (Castle)
My Thoughts Castle always knows how to wrap up an episode. Sometimes it’s with a great moment between Castle and his daughter or his mother (or both). Sometimes it’s with a cliffhanger that leaves you breathless. Sometimes it’s with a scene that reinforces the familial feeling within the 12th precinct. And sometimes it’s with a beautiful new step in the journey Castle and Beckett have been on since their first final scene together in the show’s pilot episode.
What I’m trying to say is Castle knows how to end things on a high note. And the ending to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” may have been the highest note the show has hit in a season that is consistently nailing both the biggest and smallest moments on Castle and Beckett’s road to their wedding day. It was another bold, confident move in a season that has been defined by its confidence, and it was one of my favorite Castle/Beckett closing scenes since the Season-Four finale that inspired it.
But before we talk about those perfect final minutes of the episode, let’s talk about the rest of the episode that came before it. I found myself initially intrigued by the case and all of its Carrie references (with bonus X-Men references to make my nerdy heart happy). Any case that lends itself to outrageous Castle theories (and Beckett eye-rolls) is going to be a fun case for me to watch. However, I do think it became unnecessarily convoluted once the burglary plot began to unfold. I started doing eye-rolls of my own once German bonds became an important part of the plot.
The best part of the case was the fact that it took Castle back to his old high school. That allowed for plenty of humor (see Beckett’s reaction to Castle getting in trouble with his old principal), but it also allowed for yet another layer of the “Castle onion” to get peeled back. Remember when the show tried to make us believe that it would be hard for Beckett to see the things that make Castle who he is? Now, it’s just something that happens little by little in every episode. We’ve learned so much about Beckett’s past that Castle’s is now finally starting to see its own time in the spotlight, and it’s happening so naturally that it never feels like heaps of exposition. It’s just two engaged people sharing stories about who they were before they knew each other—and finding out along the way that they really are made for each other.
Castle didn’t go to his prom because he did something rash without thinking about the consequences. He didn’t choose not to go to his prom, but his cavalier behavior kept him from going. And Beckett made the active choice to avoid her prom, ultimately regretting it later. Both of them reached the same conclusion—not attending their senior proms—but the reasons behind how they got there speak so much to who these two are as characters.
The reasons Castle and Beckett missed their proms really beautifully reflected the reasons they missed a lot of time together. At the beginning of their working relationship, Beckett wasn’t sure if she could take Castle seriously. And then when she was ready to take a chance with him at the end of Season Two, he reconnected with Gina, unknowingly keeping himself from a relationship with Beckett by his own impulsive choice to get back together with his ex. And Beckett herself actively chose to walk away from happiness on so many occasions until she decided she was going to regret it so much more than she regrets not going to her prom.
That’s why Castle and Beckett’s toast to the things they missed and those they didn’t resonated so strongly with me. Because they both missed out on important things, but ultimately, they didn’t miss out on the most important experience in their lives—falling in love with each other. And it’s especially moving because it was Beckett who toasted to the things they didn’t miss. This is a woman who struggled for so long with accepting happiness for herself and moving on from grief and regret that were suffocating in their intensity. And now she has finally reached a place where she can say she didn’t miss out on this chance to be happy. And for a character who missed out on a decade of happiness to be able to smile at the man she loves and say she didn’t miss this opportunity to love and be loved is such a genuine sign of character growth.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” also continued the trend of making sure the audience doesn’t miss out on any step in Castle and Beckett’s wedding planning. I love that Castle is doing such a great job of weaving little bits of wedding talk into each episode because it adds a nice dose of joyful realism to the show. It feels like the writers know how long the fans have waited for these characters to get married, and they want to make sure the fans don’t miss any important detail. As one of those aforementioned fans, that makes my emotional investment feel appreciated by the people running the show. It’s also another blow to the idea of the “Moonlighting Curse.” Castle not only stayed exciting and fresh after getting its characters together, it’s stayed engaging, surprising, and fun while bringing up even the most mundane details of wedding planning. Because no detail is actually mundane when it’s for a wedding that has been fought for, when it’s celebrating happiness that has been earned.
The end of this episode was all about celebrating the journey these two characters have been on together. It began with Castle asking Beckett to go to the dance with him. Her hand in his symbolized all the ways this relationship has allowed them to grow from people who missed out on things to people who choose to seize happiness together.
And then the music started.
“In My Veins” is a special song for Castle fans. Some songs are played on a show without anyone taking notice, and then other songs go on to become legendary moments in a show’s history. “In My Veins” is a perfect example of the latter. It was the song playing when Beckett decided to choose love and happiness with Castle over self-destructive vengeance. It was the song that led into the most important moment in the show’s history—Beckett showing up at Castle’s door and saying four little words that changed everything: “I just want you.”
And now it’s the song that will be playing right after Castle and Beckett each say the two little words that will once again take their relationship to new heights: “I do.” To choose “In My Veins” as Castle and Beckett’s wedding song was such a beautiful gesture of continuity and thoughtfulness. A wedding song should mean something to the couple; it should cause them and those present for their first dance to reflect on their journey together. For a television wedding, having the song hold special meaning for the audience as well just makes the whole thing even more special. It’s a sign that the creators and writers want to really honor the fans as this wedding draws closer, and that’s something that makes me feel proud to call myself a fan of this show.
With their song playing in the background, Castle beautifully summed up their journey together by stating what they both know to be true: All of the mistakes they’ve made and all of the good moments have led them to the place they are at now—a place of love and contentment and happiness—so they shouldn’t have any regrets. We as fans have watched so many of those mistakes and wonderful things play out over the course of six seasons, and we know that Castle’s words are true. They needed everything to happen as it did for these characters to grow into characters who could believably be committed to each other and happy with one another forever. That quote was a reminder of Castle’s mission statement: This show is, first and foremost, a love story.
As a love story, this episode ended the only way it could: With two couples whose stories mirrored each other. When Jordan walked up to Lucas and hugged him, it reminded me a lot of Beckett showing up at Castle’s door at the end of “Always.” Both women felt alone, but extreme circumstances caused them to finally accept that they each had someone who truly cared about them and wanted to keep them from getting hurt. Beckett and Castle were looking at a version of their story playing out in front of their own eyes, and I think that’s why Jordan and Lucas’s story produced such a strong emotional reaction for me.
Finishing strong has always been a hallmark of Castle episodes, and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” continued that tradition. The ending of this episode took me by surprise, but, ultimately, there was no other way it could have ended than with two people dancing to the song that has always been theirs.
Everything is dark.
It’s more than you can take,
but you catch a glimpse of sunlight
shining, shining down on your face…
I have so much love for this episode! Totally agree with everything you said, especially about the high school couple mirroring Castle and Beckett a couple years ago. It was a lovely parallel, and the perfect example of how much thought the Castle writing team puts into even the smallest moments. And yes, the song! So, so sweet and an awesome gift to fans. Also, can we just talk about some of the lines in this episode? So many good ones! I loved Beckett’s “Looks like they’re playing it now” in the opening scene, “To the things we missed. And those we didn’t” and obviously, “Everything has led me right here, to this moment, with you.” Another fantastic episode in what has been a pretty fantastic season. 🙂
Thanks for the comment Becca! And I especially have to thank you for pointing out all of the great lines in this episode. There were some really funny moments of dialogue and also some very romantic ones, which is a tough balance to strike but one Castle is so good at achieving.
Wow what a review and what an episode. When I heard the song playing as they walked into the hall my heart skipped a beat and I thought, ‘Yes perfect’ let this be their song.
In numerous other posts we’ve all commented on the many faces of Nathan Fillion. His shear look of terror as he walked into the principals office brought back many painful memories of been in similar circumstances. No words, just the facial expression made me feel how uncomfortable the moment was for him.
Thank you so much for the comment, Mark! My heart definitely skipped a beat, too, when the song started. I almost couldn’t believe it because it was just so perfect.
Spot on assessment. You are so right about this show’s strengths it knows how to book end an episode better than nearly any show I’ve seen. One of the great joys of Castle is that connection of seeing how a particular episode brings our core characters to a new self-discovery or offers the viewers a better/deeper understanding of who these people we’ve been watching for 6 years are. I think it is why I can safely say after two episodes that the Creasey’s understanding of Rick and Kate are insightful, deeply touching and shrouded in a wonderful combination of homage to the story arc that has been built over the last 5 years and a grounded reality to a couple we as viewers would know in our lives. There is a terrific sense of ‘ordinary’ that we have in Rick and Kate in spite of the heightened/extraordinary world they are often surrounded by, case in point the supernatural avenue of this case. What I think suffers however is that with the rich focus on our characters, the plot story has suffered in their hands. Both episodes they’ve written this season has been mired in convoluted plot exposition and one too many red herrings. While I don’t require my Castle murders to be deeply surprising I do like them to not get bogged down in a manner that I know longer care about the resolution of the crime. That’s what happened both with this episode and Diamonds are Forever. It’s unfortunate because like Number One Fan, I think they had a real opportunity to give us a parallel story to Castle and Beckett’s beyond the final scene at the dance. But because we had so many dead ends to the case to unfold those pieces were lost. It’s a shame for me because it makes their episodes like an Oreo cookie for me. I love the cookie, but could live without the filling.
Two quick nods – 1) To Nathan and Stana’s nuances. Goodness how I enjoy the ease and knowledge these two share as scene partners. It’s an obvious trust that brings out all the intricacies of two people who know each other so deeply that they share each other’s thoughts. Nathan always gives great reaction shots – but the lingering shots particularly of Stana’s this episode as Kate learns a little more shading to the events that shaped the man she loves makes for such a wonderful pool to swim in as a fan. Nathan’s ability to play into Rick’s sheepishness of that scolded child but yet have the wisdom that his inner child is what opens him to the possibility of life and fate that has opened a path to not only his happiness, but Kate’s never gets old for me. 2) What a gem of direction did we get from Kevin Hooks. I loved his scene framing, especially for the prom sequence, but just in general the shot choices he made were interesting and fun and gave a fresh look at some common scene spaces for Castle that I really just enjoyed.
However there is no denying the beauty of the closing of this episode. Everything about it spoke to what I love about this show. The very real place from which their love story is founded upon and how these are two people with a very deep history of experiences together and apart that have earned them this confidant happiness and even more so an appreciation of that happiness. I loved the juxtaposition of having them land on their song at a prom. Everything about prom is fantasy. It’s a built up, made up reality that is like looking through rose colored glasses. The idea that Kate and Rick both missed this seminal moment as a teenager (as you pointed out in ways so very true to their characters) for me just emphasized the flawed beauty of this relationship. There isn’t anything false between them, theirs is a relationship that highlights and compliments all the components of who they are and does so with eyes wide open. Their song wouldn’t be that of a whimsical moment like they both intimated in the opening scene, but one that is rooted in gravity with a lyric that speaks to their journey. That is why for me “In Your Veins” is perfect. Yes of course it ties us back to the pivotal Always and it is a beautiful nod to the fandom. But it is also perfectly Castle. It is a song about the story, their story and as we all know the story is this duo’s secret ingredient.
I love everything about this comment. Your thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the Creasey writing team mirror my own—I love their handling of the Castle/Beckett relationship, but their actual procedural elements don’t work nearly as well as their character-driven material. However, I’ll take an episode with great character moments over one with a strong case if I had to pick (but, of course, the best Castle episodes have both).
I also completely agree that “In My Veins” is the perfect wedding song for these characters beyond just what it means to the fans. It’s a grown-up love song about the journey two people go on together. It’s a song about imperfect people who love imperfectly but completely, and that’s their story.
It is their song because they are in each other’s veins and Always will be. We saw Beckett realize that in the episode Always so it was a great callback to her defining moment to be with Castle forever and how she got there. A truly great Fan moment.
It was a truly great fan moment. Thanks for commenting! 😀
What a perfect review. Your review of this sweeping love story of Castle and Beckett just blew me away. Your written words have to be the most loving, caring, respectful, generous, thoughtful I have read about a fictional couple…..I would say it’s the best I’ve read and I’ve read more than I care to count. I never thought I could fall more in love with Castle (the show) but I just did thanks to your beautiful and tender description of the journey of Kate Beckett and Richard Castle to this moment in the Castle universe.
“True love is the soul’s recognition of its counterpart in another”
I am not a wordsmith and I do not articulate my thoughts very well to text but I do know how certain things make me feel and Castle, for some inexplicable reason, feeds my emotional side like no other TV show has ever done before and reading beautiful words like yours just adds and intensifies it more.
When I heard the first strains of “In My Veins” as Castle took Beckett’s hand I got that “someone just walked over my grave” feeling. What a wonderful homage paid to the ever loyal and devoted fans.
I rarely post replies to articles I read on Castle forums but I felt compelled to comment on your review of 6.15 and to praise your article it so wholeheartedly deserves. It’s a wonderful and moving read.
What Castle means to me other than the usually wonderful things fans say about the show:
As well as the positive, I have read the negative things said about the show, its cast, its writers, its showrunners. I have read the rumours relating to the actors themselves some which make my head spin but the thing that stands out most for me is the way that Castle as unified and brought together people from all walks of life and from all countries around the world including those where English is not their first language; some “speak” to each other, many on a daily basis but have never met face to face; friends have been made and some have even met each other; some have found the courage to open their hearts and speak about things that affect them emotionally and Castle has given hope to some where life hasn’t been kind to them and who did not hold out much hope for their future.
“Unless you love someone, nothing else makes sense”.
I thought of this quote (one of my favourites by e e cummings) after watching “the prom scene” in this episode a “few” times that nothing made sense to Castle until Kate came along and whispered in his ear “you’ve no idea”.
Oh my goodness—thank you so much for these incredibly kind words! I was honestly having not the greatest morning, but your comment just turned my day around for the better. 😀
You may say you’re not a wordsmith, but I think you’re selling yourself short—this comment was articulated beautifully. I was especially moved by your paragraph about what Castle means to you. Like you, I have seen the best and the worst in this fandom, but what strikes me is the way this little-show-that-could has resonated with so many people from so many different walks of life. I have strengthened friendships (and familial relationships) because of Castle, I’ve made some incredible friends online talking about the show, and I’ve grown as a person because of this show in ways too numerous to write here. Castle has changed me for the better, and I am always thrilled to find others who feel the same way.
By the way, you get HUGE brownie points with me for using an e.e. cummings quote. He’s one of my favorite poets!
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I realized I hadn’t gotten a chance to read your review yet when you posted your “Best Thing” post earlier and I’m really glad I didn’t miss out on this review.
I love everything you have to say about Castle and Beckett’s relationship and the way it is grown. You write about them so beautifully and I think of all our shared otps, this is my favorite to hear your thoughts on because they are full of so much care and passion.
I love the openness between Castle and Beckett we have seen this season and I especially love the happiness that Stana brings to every one of those moments. My Beckett fangirl is definitely coming out right now but few things on TV have made me quite as happy as watching her transformation throughout these six seasons and seeing her joy and contentment at finding and falling in love with Castle.
Thank you for the kind words, Heather! It makes me smile to hear you say all those nice things about my analysis of Castle and Beckett’s relationship. I’ve followed their journey longer than I have with any of my other favorite TV couples, so I feel such an emotional connection to their relationship. And I genuinely enjoy writing about their journey so much. I’m so happy that comes through in my writing about them.
My Beckett fangirl has been coming out so often this season because her happiness and sense of real peace is something we’ve been able to watch her fight for and truly earn. And Stana has played that journey to happiness with such nuance; it’s impossible not to get swept up in it.