Title The Greater Good
Two-Sentence Summary The team from the 12th precinct investigates the murder of a Wall Street tycoon, and when the U.S. Attorney’s Office gets involved, Captain Gates comes face-to-face with her estranged sister, Elizabeth. When they’re not working the case, Castle and Beckett try to trim their extensive wedding guest list.
Beckett: Ryan, you guys kept your wedding small. What was it, like 100 people?
Ryan: Yeah, that’s all we could afford.
Castle: How did you contain the list?
Ryan: I have a lot of relatives who hate me now.
My Thoughts I’m running low on inspiration today, which kind of feels appropriate for writing about a Castle episode that was far from the show’s most inspired hour. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination; it just wasn’t particularly memorable. Therefore, I’m not bursting with analysis or commentary (which could also be a side-effect of my brain still trying to process what happened on Sunday’s episode of The Good Wife).
I’m hopeful that some of you have thoughts to share so we can get a solid discussion going about “The Greater Good,” and to start you off, here are my five biggest takeaways from this episode.
1.) Sometimes a filler episode is just a filler episode.
“The Greater Good” was the very definition of a Castle filler episode: It was case-heavy, focused on the development of a character besides Castle or Beckett, and had cute but not transformative Castle/Beckett moments. Recently, I’ve been impressed with the way this season’s middle group of episodes have still managed to show character growth and keep me thoroughly entertained, but this one didn’t grab and hold my attention the way other midseason episodes have this year. I’m not a big fan of case-heavy episodes if the case isn’t one with a sense of humor or at least something to make it stand out from traditional procedurals. This was a strange episode to use as the last one before a month-long hiatus (which I know is beyond the show’s control) because it didn’t really leave me clamoring for more.
2.) I can’t believe I used to dislike Victoria Gates.
The months after Captain Montgomery’s death were dark times for all Castle fans, so naturally it was going to be difficult for any of us to immediately embrace his replacement. But now I look back on those first few episodes of Season Four and mentally chastise myself for being so hard on the character of Victoria Gates. This episode reminded me what this character can be at her best, which is a force to be reckoned with. Penny Johnson Jerald was long overdue for an episode that fleshed out Gates’s character. I enjoyed learning more about Gates and her relationship with her sister. It was fun to watch two powerful women of color in positions of authority, and I liked that their interactions didn’t conform to the trope that one sister has to be an overachiever and one an underachiever. They were both ambitious women, and their conflict stemmed from that. Also, Gates’s inability to put the “greater good” ahead of a murder investigation reminded me a lot of Beckett and her priorities. It’s no wonder those two women have become such a good match in the 12th precinct.
3.) The best actors use silence to their advantage.
I had a good laugh at first about Gates keeping a framed photo of her and her sister in a desk drawer (because who would really do that?), but that moment was actually my favorite in the whole episode. Jerald conveyed so much about Gates’s complicated relationship with her sister without having to say anything. On a show where the quiet moments are often the most compelling, Jerald proved that she has the acting chops to command a moment without any dialogue.
4.) Continuity is fun!
While Castle and Beckett were planning their guest list for their wedding, there were several fun references to the show’s past. (Before I get started on those, another bit of continuity I liked was seeing Beckett’s engagement ring again in the loft scenes.) It made me smile to see the references to Castle’s poker buddies, and it made me want to see another poker game someday. Also, I was happy to see that Beckett wanted to invite her high school friend Maddie (“Little Castle babies!” Maddie in case you’ve forgotten her), and I appreciated the nod to Beckett’s Aunt Theresa and her Facebook post about Castle getting back together with his ex-wife. With six seasons of material to reference, it’s always fun to spot little things like these, and it’s a great way for writers to remind fans that they care about the show’s mythology as much as (or hopefully even more than) we do.
5.) All this wedding planning is totally a red herring, right?
I appreciate feeling like we as fans have been a part of every step of Castle and Beckett’s wedding planning, but this episode’s focus on a detail as minute as the guest list made a theory I’ve been holding on to all season seem more plausible than ever: This grandiose wedding they’re planning isn’t going to happen. Something is going to happen to facilitate a much smaller, more intimate ceremony (in the loft or at the park with the swing set they love so much). I thought the planning was cute in this episode, but it felt like it was following a formula from past episodes this season: Start the episode with planning, mention it during the case, and talk about it again over wine before it’s sealed with a kiss. However, I’m not complaining about that last part. Seeing both of them reveal that they just needed each other at the ceremony was adorable (if not totally predictable), and I loved that Castle went in for the kiss first this time. And one final note: Any kiss that highlights Nathan Fillion’s hands is a winner in my book, in case any Castle directors are reading this.