TV Time: Castle 6.22

PENNY JOHNSON JERALD, STANA KATIC, NATHAN FILLION, TAMALA JONES

Title Veritas

Two-Sentence Summary When Beckett is framed for the murder of Vulcan Simmons, she knows the final showdown with Senator Bracken is looming. With her career and her life on the line, she finds assistance in her quest to finally bring Bracken to justice from two unlikely sources: her mother and Captain Montgomery.

Favorite Line “It’s over.” (Beckett)

My Thoughts It’s over. With two simple words, the world of Castle changed forever. For months now, I’ve been writing about how I wanted to see the end of the Bracken storyline and the culmination of the Johanna Beckett arc this season. It felt like it was time; it would give Beckett closure before marrying Castle; and the combination of that arc ending and the wedding would lead the show into a new era. I wanted it, but I don’t think I even knew how much I wanted it until I watched it happen last night. And the crazy thing is, as I watched Beckett put the man who murdered her mother in handcuffs, I wasn’t thinking about how good this was for the plot or for the show in general. I was thinking of how good this was for Kate Beckett. I wanted this moment for her. And what a moment it was.

I often write about how much I like emotional moments and character development that feel earned. It certainly doesn’t get more earned than this moment. For over six seasons, we watched Kate Beckett continue to come to terms with her mother’s murder. We saw what that murder did to her; we saw the damage firsthand. We were shown rather than just told about how it affected her to such a degree that it consumed her. We went down the rabbit hole with her every time she battled the pain of first not knowing who the killer was and then knowing but not being able to bring him to justice. We saw the scars her mother’s death left behind, and then we saw the new scars that formed as Beckett herself almost died because of that same man. We saw her battle PTSD because of this; we saw her work every day to overcome the demons brought on by both her mother’s death and her shooting. For six years, we were in the emotional trenches right alongside this character, so when the moment finally came for her to arrest the man who caused her so much pain, we completely understood how much this meant to this character.

I’m sure “Veritas” was an episode that could be enjoyed by casual Castle fans, but, really, this was an episode for the diehards. This was for those of us who first fell in love with Kate Beckett when she told Castle why she wore her mother’s ring and her father’s watch. This was for those of us who cried with her when she had to shoot Dick Coonan and lose another lead in her mom’s case. This was for those of us who sat with open mouths and broken hearts after she was shot. And this was for those of us who cried again when she finally decided that her own life and her own happiness was worth more than vengeance.

Kate Beckett is the one who honors the victims, and to see her finally able to honor her mother by getting justice for her was the most cathartic moment this show has ever produced. It was a moment of emotional payoff six years in the making, and that’s what made it so good. The Johanna Beckett arc was a dramatic thread that wove itself through every season of Castle, and it produced my favorite episodes this show has ever aired. It was an arc that took a character who could have just been a love interest and turned her into one of the most compelling women on television. And it was an arc that always meant big moments for the love story that has driven this show forward. I’m interested to see what Castle will be without this arc (although we still have 3XK) because, like the character of Kate Beckett, the show has a new freedom it didn’t have with its dramatic storytelling before Bracken was put into the back of that police car.

As an episode, “Veritas” was a compelling thriller from the start, complete with fantastic action sequences, expert direction, and appropriately stark cinematography. But where “Veritas” excelled wasn’t as a standalone thriller but as a final chapter of an intricate story. It took everything that made all of the other Johanna Beckett episodes so wonderful and added an additional level of importance to all of it because we knew—just as Beckett knew—that this was the “now or never” moment.

I was so happy to see Gates finally included in the immediate family that knew all of the details of the case, including Captain Montgomery’s role in it. This was another excellent episode for Gates as a character. To see her go toe-to-toe with Internal Affairs, which represented who she used to be, to defend Beckett was a phenomenal moment of growth. And to see Esposito and Ryan telling her the story of the case was a lovely nod to the fact that they were the ones whose negative opinion of Gates initially influenced our own back in Season Four’s “Rise.” Look at how far they’ve all come.

That last sentence could be the tagline for this whole episode. It was especially true of Beckett. The opening was such a great way to subvert our expectations when it comes to Beckett. I couldn’t have been the only one who worried that she was out following people without Castle knowing because he was on a book tour. But almost right away, the show reminded us that this Beckett is different from who she once was; she’s a woman with a partner in everything now. I loved that this wasn’t a secret she was keeping from him; this was a lead they were chasing together because that’s what partners do.

That’s what made Beckett’s confrontation with Vulcan Simmons so hard to watch; she was going it alone again. But I’ll admit that it made the scene more powerful to have it just be a faceoff between Beckett and the man who tortured her. Stana Katic can be downright terrifying when she wants to be, and there was a moment when I honestly wondered if she had it in her to kill him (even though I knew she didn’t). I’m sad to lose Vulcan Simmons as a character because he is a powerful screen presence, but it felt right for his death to be the catalyst for the rest of the episode’s breakneck action.

“Veritas” wasn’t an episode for the faint of heart. Its suspense and heightened drama came not from overacting but from subtle, realistic touches that highlighted just how dire this situation was for Beckett. I keep coming back to Lanie’s tangible panic when she called Beckett to tell her the bullets came from her gun. Tamala Jones always makes the most of her small amounts of screen time, but this was a new level of brilliance. Her shaking hand as she held that paper made my own hands start to shake. When an actor can make fear that visceral, it’s a truly transcendent moment.

Nathan Fillion also conveyed so much with just his body as he sat on the swings that have symbolized so many new beginnings for this couple and contemplated the latest turn in their story. The slope of his shoulders and the way he hung his head made physical the weight of so many years spent watching the woman he loves be tormented by this man.

And then there was Stana Katic. First of all, how epic was her takedown of those men in her hotel room? (Answer: EPIC.) When she spit the pill out, I actually started cheering from my couch. It’s been a long time since we’ve watched Beckett kick ass like she did in this scene, and it was a reminder of just how much fun it can be to watch her work her magic.

Katic has always excelled in dramatic episodes, but this one was special. It didn’t call for a big breakdown moment or a poignant monologue. Instead, “Veritas” was also about Katic’s growth as an actress over these last six seasons. And she’s grown into a woman who can speak volumes with just her eyes, and that ability to move audiences effortlessly was why “Veritas” was so emotionally compelling.

I was brought to tears when Beckett and Castle kissed in the precinct when Beckett thought she was going to go to jail for Simmons’s murder. There was something special about that kiss. As much as I love all Castle/Beckett kisses, they do sometimes feel a little paint-by-the-numbers, but this one felt completely spontaneous and unexpected. It was a way for them to express a multitude of complicated emotions, and I was especially moved by Castle initiating it. Castle has stood by her through all of the ups and downs of this case, and that kiss was his way of showing that nothing was going to move him from her side. For so long, Beckett pushed him away because she thought she wasn’t worthy of love until she found her mother’s killer. But this episode showed her finding the strength to finally go after her mother’s killer with Castle by her side, loving her through it all.

I found Castle’s role in actually helping to find the cassette tape a little unnecessary. (It was a little too convenient that he could figure out a code that Beckett never thought to look for over the last decade). Then again, I was actually left unimpressed with most of the cassette-related plot stuff. I suppose no conclusion was going to live up to six years’ worth of hype from a plot level. The fact that the key to putting Bracken away was sitting on Beckett’s desk all along made me roll my eyes a little bit, but all was forgiven because of the surprise we were given that was connected to that cassette.

Okay, let’s get this question out of the way: Who cried when Montgomery showed up in the flashbacks? I loved that character so much, so to see him again made me transition from emotional to emotional wreck. That flashback to Montgomery’s first meeting with young Officer Beckett was perfect. It was a treat for fans who’ve been watching from the start, and it was important to the plot as well. It was the ideal way to bring this story to its conclusion by harkening back to its beginnings, and it really was (at the risk of sounding cliché) everything I never knew I always wanted.

With enough evidence finally in her hands, Beckett could do what we’ve all wanted her to do since Season One’s “A Chill Goes Through Her Veins”: Put her mother’s killer behind bars. It certainly helps that this killer is played by a man who is so easy to hate (and such a good actor since he appears to be quite nice when not in character): Jack Coleman. His particular brand of smooth, charismatic cruelty is the perfect match for this kind of villain. And he is an excellent scene partner for Katic.

Katic has never been better than she was in the scene where Beckett arrested Bracken—not in “Knockout” or “Kill Shot” or even “Always.” This was something new. This was controlled emotional power, a wave of feelings kept just behind those beautiful features. Beckett was both a grieving daughter and a successful detective in this moment, and that balance was achieved with real dexterity. I have never been more impressed with Katic than I was when Beckett told Bracken it was over and read the charges against him with a steady voice but tears in her eyes. That kind of control is truly masterful. And it allowed me to get lost in the character instead of the performance.

I have never been more proud of a fictional character than I am of Kate Beckett after this episode. Her journey has been such an inspiring journey to watch, and to see her finally get the justice she fought so long for was truly cathartic. What made it even better was that Castle was there to hold her when it was done. After all of the ways this case came between them and tested their partnership over the years, it was incredibly moving to see her in his arms after it was finally over.

Katic and Fillion were both beautiful in that final moment. The way she closed her eyes and smiled as she leaned into him spoke of Beckett feeling truly safe and at peace for the first time in over a decade. And she was able to share those feelings with the one person who helped her feel safe and at peace even when this storm was still circling around her. It was like watching someone finally be able to breathe again after a lifetime of carrying an impossible weight on their chest. And Castle’s smile as he held her was the smile of a man who knew exactly what this meant to her because he’s been her partner, her confidant, and her shoulder to lean on as she battled this for as long as he’s known her. But now she’s finally free—they’re finally free—and they can start their life together without the fear and uncertainty Bracken brought into their lives.

This episode needed to happen before next week’s big wedding extravaganza (It’s finally happening!). It gave these characters closure and allowed one arc to end as another is about to start. And it highlighted the importance of their partnership right before celebrating it in the most formal way possible.

In Season Two’s “Sucker Punch,” Beckett told Castle she wanted him to be around when she finally caught her mom’s killer. In “Veritas,” she finally did it, and he wasn’t just around; he was there to hold her when it was all over. We’ve come so far with these characters, and “Veritas” was the perfect way to honor the dramatic journey they’ve taken before celebrating the romantic journey in next week’s season finale.

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24 thoughts on “TV Time: Castle 6.22

  1. You’re making me cry again and I love it.

    She did it. After 6 seasons and more years before that, Beckett finally got justice for her mother and for herself. It’s an arc that has given us so many great episodes but more than that, it’s been a way to see how far Kate Beckett has come since the pilot. She’s finally free of this case that has haunted her for so long and you could see the burden being lifted as she arrested Bracken. I was proud of her when she stopped letting this case define who she was and I was even more proud when she finally got to close it.

    I love that by the end, the whole precinct family was involved. Captain Gates has come a long way from her introduction. Her fierce defense of Beckett to Internal Affairs was amazing to watch, as was her being filled in on the whole case history by Ryan and Esposito.

    I can’t end this without praising Jack Coleman. He is so good at playing someone so corrupt yet so good at convincing others that he’s doing things for some greater good. He and Stana have incredibly chemistry together and they play off of each other so well that I would be sorry to see him go if I weren’t thrilled that Beckett finally has some closure.

    • I had to take a break from writing this because I was making myself cry. More than anyone else here probably does, you know how much Beckett’s arc has meant to me personally, so all I could do last night was sit on my couch after it was all done and cry because she finally did it. She could finally put all of that pain in the past once and for all, and I have never been more proud of a fictional character.

      And I echo all your thoughts about Jack Coleman. Between his work on Castle and Scandal this season, it’s been a great year to be a fan of his work.

  2. I have too many feels to find the proper words, so I’m just going to give this review two thumbs up. 🙂

  3. Katie, I so agree that Veritas had special meaning for long term fans. All the call backs were just great and I applaud both the writers and the actors, especially Stana. Seeing the relief in Beckett’s eyes could only be brought true by the wonderful portrayal of Beckett by Stana. Her acting talents have always amazed me, but Season 6 has been stellar on her part. Keeping Ruben Santiago Hudson’s return a surprise was super great. He and Stana had that great scene together and it was so integral to the Johanna Beckett murder being solved. Just awesome use of Montgomery/Ruben. I must say that I had tears during that last scene and they were all for Beckett being released from the walls and rabbit holes that have consumed her. I have never loved a fictional character as much as Kate Beckett. Oh, so many layers….and now some of them are gone.

    • Thank you so much for the comment! I was also so happy they kept Montgomery’s return a surprise. It wouldn’t have had such an amazing impact if I’d been spoiled about it.

      I’ve been thinking about it a lot today, and I think I share your sentiment that I’ve never loved a character like I love Beckett. Her journey was so inspiring to me to watch, and it was all handled so well. But I’m not sure any of her incredible layers are gone now just because she arrested Bracken. It might give her closure, but she’ll always carry those scars. It’s part of what I love so much about who Beckett has become. She’s not afraid to acknowledge that her past has impacted her and given her more layers, but she’s able to live with all of it now.

  4. Oh Castle, it does know how to exceed expectations. As part of the diehard crew, I went into this week with a heightened sense of anticipation. I knew Smith was back from a last minute sneak peek but they did such a great job of hiding the fact that Montgomery was going to be a part of this episode. I didn’t see it coming and the moment it arrived I audibly gasped for air. It was classic Castle and yet it took me completely by surprise.

    I could not begin to analyze Beckett better than you which is probably why I just nodded along with everything you wrote. For me though, bringing Rob Bowman into an episode means I am going to get all the little moments. The tiny pieces that six years of adoring this show and the lore they have built around these characters make so deeply rich. And lets just face it, no one gets a performance out of Stana Katic like Rob Bowman. Talk about a man and his muse. These two just make magic happen and I think it is rooted in a deep respect that Bowman has always given to Beckett’s fearlessness. That courage isn’t just about her pain, it is about conviction. The conviction she learned from her mother. We see that play out several times over throughout the episode when her dogged determination isn’t merely about anger/revenge, but about justice and clarity.

    I love that the clarity Beckett has around her mother’s murder has come through trusting Castle. It closes the door on the swing moment prior to the proposal last year when Castle tells her – ‘you don’t let people in, it’s who you are’. What I love about who Beckett has become is that she retains her edge with the confidence that she doesn’t have to move forward alone. It is why the cadence of her not pursuing the lead in the van is so important. We watched what Beckett of season 4 did with a lead and it got her tossed off a building. Too much has happened for her to pursue that course of action again. It’s the little notes like that which show us the difference. She trusts Ryan and Esposito until she is up against a wall and even then she backs away from Vulcan Simmons when pressed in the moment and holds nothing back from Castle. Meeting at the swings was a great piece of symbolism. Not simply because it is their spot, but because it is the place where time and again we have watched these two characters affirm their commitment to one another – as partners in all things.

    But again for me it was all the little moments. Lanie destroyed me. That long angle shot to give us the complete physical panic of the moment and her character was such a smart choice. So often a moment like that would focus on the close up, but to physically watch Lanie unravel as she tried to help her friend was heartbreaking. The physicality of the episode was everywhere, from the fight sequences, to the proximity of Beckett and Bracken in the motel to as you so astutely pointed out the silhouette of Fillion on the swings.

    Then there was the 12th – LT offering the guys the time they needed to exchange information and standing watch. The comfort and ease that they spoke in front of him. We often think about the Castle family as the core four, but that moment with LT reminded us that it is actually the entirety of the 12th that makes this group a family. It was a great set up for the show to solidify that Gates too was a part of that intimate family.

    And as good and welcome a surprise as Montgomery was my favorite moment in the episode was when Gates goes to Ryan and Esposito for the truth. She goes not to find answers, but to find a way to protect Beckett. And just like Gates’ posited in the beginning of season 4 “After the Storm” we have arrived at the day where she has earned the loyalty that these characters gave Roy Montgomery. I love that Ryan looks back to Esposito for the decision in that moment because that was the lesson learned from “Always”, they have each other’s back no matter what. It’s what makes the payoff of Esposito being the one to tell Gates all the more relevant and weighty. Yes, Gates is a member of this family. The trust is implicit and it spoke to the core thematic of this episode.

    Another thing that I loved about this episode is that when Beckett arrests Bracken she does so alone. Castle isn’t beside her like he’s been on so many cases for the arrest. It’s right because her mother’s justice is a journey she began alone and it is fitting that the moment is hers alone. The closure is hers and Castle, because of who he has become knows and understands that he doesn’t need to be there. He doesn’t need to be a part of that moment because it isn’t about him. She’s let him in, they have a life to look forward to together and this moment is hers to close the past so they can move forward together.

    Veritas was about the truth — the truth of Joanna Beckett’s murder, the truth about the family that Castle has built around the 12th, the truth about the honest partnership she and Castle share and the truth about Kate Beckett’s pursuit of justice for the victim always.

    Now it’s time to move on to all my sinking feelings about next week!

    • You sure do know how to hit the nail on the head and also hit me with a whole new wave of feelings after the first one finally subsided. I had high expectations for this episode, and I still can’t believe they were not only met but exceeded.

      What you said about Stana Katic and Rob Bowman could not be more true. He always brings out the best in her. And he capitalizes on all the little details that only someone with his intimate knowledge of this show could understand. He was the only one who could have directed this episode.

      I’m thrilled that you brought up LT because I loved how he was used in this episode. It reminded me that Beckett has such a huge support system, and the precinct really is her home.

      “I love that Ryan looks back to Esposito for the decision in that moment because that was the lesson learned from “Always”, they have each other’s back no matter what. It’s what makes the payoff of Esposito being the one to tell Gates all the more relevant and weighty. Yes, Gates is a member of this family. The trust is implicit and it spoke to the core thematic of this episode.” – I could not have said it better, so I’m not even going to attempt to. Just YES, to all of it.

      I was also very happy that Beckett went in to arrest Bracken alone. This was her final battle to fight, her last hill to climb. And some things you just have to do alone. Castle’s respect for that was a sign of true understanding and real growth. But of course he was right outside to give her the support she needed when all was said and done. Because it might have been her final battle, but he’s the one she can come home to when it’s all over.

  5. I agree completely with your review. It actually would have been even better had they used a two parter and been able to slow it down a bit by why complain..I am glad you mentioned LT because that did stand out for me also. We have seen him every now and then through the years and it just seemed so natural that he too was part of the “family” who would watch Beckett’s back when called on. Can’t say enough about Stana Katic, what a performance! She has become one of the finest actresses I have seen in a long time . Over the years she goes from one jaw dropping performance to another with little seeming effort.

    But lets remember there is still 3xk & Dr. Nieman to contend with. And of course just to throw a curve, Bracken has only been arrested,not convicted yet!!LOL. although I don,t imagine they will go there again but who knows? this is Castle after all!

    • Thank you for the comment! And the presence of 3XK is the reason I’m glad this looks to be the end of the Bracken arc (although I don’t think the trial will go off without at least one more episode devoted to it). 3XK is a completely compelling arc now in its own right, so I’m looking forward to seeing that story get its own time in the spotlight—even if it does terrify me!

  6. Hey there. I’ve just caught up with the last three episodes and must say what a journey. That 70’s Show I voted as the worst episode in six seasons and had me wondering if Castle had jumped the shark. Law and Boarder was a little better, but I was still worried. Veritas though restored my faith, and reading your review I must say amazing. The standout moment for me was Lanie’s scene telling Beckett about the bullet. Such powerful imaginary, the quiver in her voice reminded me of Lanie telling Beckett about the stab wounds. She knew this was a game changer, but she had to tell. I must admit I had doubts, and in a fleeting moment began to question would Beckett really cross the line. The episode could easily have been a two parter. I would have given up That 70’s show for an extended roller coaster ride this episode gave. It would have been an interesting twist if Castle had reached out to his Father for help, and I could see when Beckett was in the hotel room this would be an ideal time. However Beckett kicking butt reminded me that here is one powerful woman, someone who has been described as hell unleashed. When Beckett takes out the crooks and fires three or four shots into each of them when they are down, the rage on her face was frightening.

    So many great moments and throwbacks to previous episodes.

    • Hi Mark—I’m so happy to see you around here again! I can see where both That 70s Show and Law and Boarder could leave you feeling discouraged, but I’m glad this episode helped restore your faith.

      Your analysis of Lanie’s big moment was spot-on. I didn’t even make the connection between Lanie telling Beckett about the stab wounds in “Sucker Punch” and her telling Beckett about the gun in this episode. Both were delivered with such sincerity, and both were presented with just the right amount of gravitas to make my own heart speed up and my own hands shake.

  7. Two other minor points:

    1) I was watching with my daughter yesterday and there is a moment when they are questioning Castle at the precinct and they do a cutaway to Gates. Penny Johnson Jerald has this fabulous look of muted pride in Castle’s defense of Beckett. Clearly showing where her loyalty lies.

    2) Someone else said it on twitter but it bears repeating “So the elephant in the room for the last 6 years was literally inside the elephants in the room.” This show. I can’t.

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