Title Law and Boarder
Two-Sentence Summary The murder of an extreme sports athlete leads Castle and Beckett to a cold case and a cover-up concerning the death of a young boy. As the investigation goes on, Ryan and Esposito fight over who should be Castle’s best man, and Castle and Beckett squabble over her beating him in Scrabble.
Beckett: I think catching killers is pretty extreme. And then there’s marrying you.
Castle: Ah yes, I admit I am extreme—extremely handsome.
Beckett: With a high degree of difficulty.
My Thoughts This was another fun, relatively light episode of Castle, following a pattern this show seems to have of calms before the storm that occurs around each season’s finale. While this episode’s case wasn’t terribly interesting, it continued some important thematic trends leading to what looks like another showdown with Bracken next week. And for the first time in a while, I found myself thoroughly entertained by this episode’s wedding subplot, mainly because it incorporated more characters than just Castle and Beckett.
Let’s start with this episode’s case to get the most boring part out of the way. Sometimes Castle hits unique cases like this one out of the park, but this one fell flat for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t care about extreme sports, or maybe it’s because I called who the killer would be the first time we saw him. (He just seemed too smug, and the killer is usually introduced early on—but never as the first suspect.) There seemed to be too many twists for me to wrap my head around: jealous competitors, the Albanian mob, and the brutal death of a child. Part of me is relieved that the end of the season is upon us because that means the cases will actually carry meaning again. This case seemed like one that’s reached for when you’re running out of ideas, but maybe I’m just not that into skateboards and motocross.
The good thing about the case, however, was the way it built on the parallels that have been accumulating this season and even further back about Beckett and Bracken. This was another case that ultimately ended up being about an old murder and a desire for justice. I still feel like this showdown between Beckett and Bracken will be their last (No spoilers in the comments if you know any other details, please!), and the way this murder was ultimately unraveled did nothing to deter me from that line of thinking.
In a much less subtle way, this season has also been building to another big moment: Castle and Beckett’s wedding. I was thrilled that this episode finally brought Ryan, Esposito, and Lanie into the wedding planning. It had started to feel too separate from the rest of the show, so this was a nice way to include the rest of the cast in the subplot, too. I was smiling like crazy when Beckett revealed that Lanie is going to be her maid of honor. I have always felt that this friendship has so much potential, but it’s often pushed aside in favor of Beckett and the men in her life. The warmth between those two women as they hugged and discussed dresses was palpable. It was the most real their friendship has felt all season, and I’m so happy Lanie will be the one by Beckett’s side on her big day.
The other half of this wedding party plot belonged to the comedic performances turned in by Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever. Watching those two snipe at each other is always enjoyable, and their actions in this episode were no exception. I found Dever especially hilarious, with Ryan’s awkward coffee time with Castle a true episode highlight. I’m not sure characters get more endearing than Kevin Ryan, and so much of that comes from Dever’s performance.
In the end, all of Esposito and Ryan’s efforts were for naught. My sister predicted Alexis being the best (wo)man, and I was so happy she was right. As Castle said, she is the most important person in his life, along with Beckett. For as much as I would have felt Castle choosing both detectives as co-best men was earned, his decision to bestow that honor on his daughter was even more earned. Alexis’s acceptance of Castle and Beckett’s relationship has been a huge part of her character development this season (which is why her fist bump with Beckett was extra adorable in this episode), so for Castle not only to ask her but for her to accept means a lot for their father-daughter relationship after a rocky start to this season. Plus, Alexis was literally there at the very beginning of Castle and Beckett’s journey together, and she’s the only character who can say that.
As their wedding gets closer and closer (I really hope it’s actually going to happen in the finale because that would be cruel to make us wait), I loved that this episode gave us some really fun moments between Castle and Beckett. The Scrabble story was funny and fluffy, and it led to some nice moments of banter. I totally related to Castle in his frustration. I also get irrationally mad when someone is better than me at something that’s supposed to be my thing, my territory.
I did like that the show had Castle and Beckett teasing each other about the connection between the murder and their own bickering. I was worried it was going to turn into some heavy-handed lesson about competitiveness, but all it did was give them more things to banter about. After six seasons, I love that this show can still zig when I think it’s going to zag.
If Castle could have gotten past his competitiveness, I think he would have found Beckett’s Scrabble victories more of a turn-on than a turn-off. I was kind of disappointed that the man who was so aroused by her use of “veritable” back in the day didn’t find it equally alluring when she used “quixotic,” but being a sore loser seems to fit with everything we know about the man-child side of Rick Castle. All was forgiven, though, in the small moment when we were treated to Castle watching Beckett in interrogation. This was a great episode for the fierce detective side of Kate Beckett (complete with the greatest high ponytail on Earth and a bevy of beautiful coats—I’ll just forget about the tie/blazer/severe bun combination). And it was lovely to watch Castle appear to fall in love with her all over again the way he did the first time, as a strong detective who never backs down—as someone who is the very definition of extraordinary. Nathan Fillion did such a subtly beautiful job of showing that Castle is as in awe of Beckett now as he was when she walked away from him after their first time working together all those years ago.
The episode concluded with a fun nod to the show’s past poker games, a tradition that has been sorely missed in recent seasons. It was a nice way to showcase both the heat and the playfulness in this relationship. I love that Castle and Beckett clearly have fun together; they make each other happy. And we all know how I feel about television shows not being afraid to feature happy, successful, long-term relationships. (If you don’t know, I feel very positively about that.) These characters worked hard to get to a place of unguarded, genuine happiness with each other. For those of us who’ve been with them every step of the way, this little final scene was like a lovely pre-wedding gift.
Such a fun show and I loved the Lanie and Kate hug.I wish there was more ‘girly” scenes with those two. I really wanted the boys to both be the Best Men, but I can understand why Castle chose Alexis.
Thanks for the comment! And I agree that there should always be more scene with Lanie and Beckett having “girl time;” I love when they show us how close they are instead of forgetting about their relationship.
I have two prevailing thoughts about this episode. 1) The brilliance that is Lanie 2) the joy that this show’s cutaway shots give me and 3) How much I enjoy Stana and Nathan as scene partners. Much like the backlash of a favorite Sunday night show, I am a little surprised at the expectation level that people had for last night as well. I was thinking back on past seasons about the ‘filler’ episodes and there is something I realized that each season has their batch of less than memorable episodes.
That said I completely agree with your zig zag comment. The show still finds ways to pivot into a space that was unexpected. For me however this episode was a joy because of Lanie. Her response to the boys silliness was so perfectly paced, especially when she congratulates herself in the absence of getting it from Ryan and Espo. Her dress down dismissal of their proposed solution to the best man problem was equally satisfying. I did find it interesting that we got a little dig and the ‘on again, off again’ state that is Lanie and Espo. If there is one thing I would have liked this season it would have been something that gave us better understanding of Lanie and Espo, especially given the raised stakes of Disciple and coming off the emotional high of Under Fire.
I agree that the story lagged and seemed a bit like everything and the kitchen sink. However I have found that ever since season 4 the back 6-8 episodes struggle with the balance of fun and gravitas in the the episodes that don’t tie back to origin stories or the thematic arcs like Bracken Castle’s father and 3XK. I think it has a lot to do with character change and were these folks have landed. The growth isn’t significant anymore and for a fandom that wanted these two happy I never cease to be amazed by the claims that them being happy isn’t enough. But I digress. I do hope, assuming a season 7 is happening, that they use these final two episodes to perhaps lay the groundwork for another arc. Because like you I think the Bracken one needs to come to a head. I would like a concept/idea that would allow some new thread for the upcoming year.
None of this is unique to Castle. Most shows by a 5th/6th season start to show their age in their plotting. However, where Castle hasn’t lost a step is the actors and what they bring to the show week in and week out. The absurdity of the Ryan and Espo campaign was so much fun to watch unfold, not just because of Dever and Huertas but because they actually did a roll reversal for the vying. I felt like Ryan was acting more like Espo with the bravado confidence he showed in the hallway telling Espo, “if you don’t get it, I can’t explain it to you”. Any other season I feel like that line would have belonged to Espo. And then their were Espo’s side glances and reaction shots. The look he shot Ryan when the bacon brownie brigade got delayed was hysterical. And rivaled only by the entire concept and execution of Ryan bringing Castle coffee. I am laughing just thinking about it, especially given the importance of coffee in the canon of this show.
This leaves Stana and Nathan. I love how you so aptly pointed out the little moments of Fillion watching Beckett in interrogation with joy, pride and love. It was a nice recall to earlier seasons when you would see Castle talking to Montgomery about her abilities and capacity to navigate the emotions of a case. It really was a nice nod to what led Castle to call her extraordinary. I have often said, Fillion’s expressions and reaction shots are a priceless commodity on this show. I so deeply appreciate that six seasons in this is as strong as ever, whether it was when he was being ganged up on for losing by the women in his life or his ultimate skepticism around Ryan and Espo’s crazy antics. And that ‘bra’ smack back pride to Beckett. I appreciate how present this cast is in their scenes, especially given the knowledge of how many angles they shoot for each scene. That is what made the scrabble interludes work for me. It was a great way to get the banter back into our leads. It was a space for them to play in and off each other with no other purpose than to reinforce the knowing intimacy of these two individuals and how far they have come together. It was fun to be reminded of how each of them threw a poker game to preserve the other’s pride.
So it was a toss away case for sure, but that was the point. It was a nice way to reinforce and remind us of this family as we head into two episodes we know will test them.
This comment is such a great example of why I love talking about Castle with you. We both see the show in such a similar way and can understand why some parts of it may not be as fresh as they once were, but we can also both appreciate the fact that the performances are as fresh as ever.
Even before this episode aired, I had a feeling this case wouldn’t be one of my favorites because, like you, I’ve noticed the same pattern of less-than-memorable cases in the back half of seasons ever since Season Four. I think that helped me keep my expectations tempered, and I don’t understand why some people thought this episode would be something to have heightened expectations for (and this is coming from the queen of heightened expectations in most situations). Sometimes the Castle fandom confuses me with its inability to be satisfied anymore. As we said in our discussions about Once Upon a Time this week, it’s so much more fun to sit back and enjoy the ride—especially with a show (hopefully) entering its seventh season next year.
The performances by the entire ensemble made this episode work for me, and, like you, I loved everything Lanie did in this episode. You said you would have loved more explanation of Lanie and Esposito’s relationship this season, and I agree; I would also have just loved more Lanie in general.
It never ceases to amaze me that this cast still brings their A-game to episodes like this one after so many years. It’s a tribute to their chemistry and their talent that they allow me to always find myself thoroughly entertained when I turn on my TV on Monday nights.
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