TV Time: Castle 7.02

Title Montreal

Two-Sentence Summary As Castle and Beckett attempt to return to a normal life after his disappearance, they investigate the murder of a toy company CEO who went undercover to prove his toys were being used to smuggle drugs. However, things are still far from normal for Castle, who is given some disturbing new clues about his disappearance and memory loss.

Favorite Line “It’s Canada. How risky could it be? And need I remind you, I’m a grown man. I don’t need to ask your permission. That being said—please?” (Castle)

My Thoughts After last week’s question-filled season premiere, I was concerned that Castle would want to take the focus off show’s newest overarching mystery and instead return to its typical procedural format, with just a few mentions here and there of what had happened before the inevitable sweeps week episode that pushes it to the forefront again. Thankfully, “Montreal” proved that my worries were unfounded, at least for this week. There was none of the tonal whiplash that Castle can sometimes have after “important” episodes, and I think a lot of that came from the way this show directly addressed the concept of being unable to return to normalcy after the events of “Driven.”

Was I particularly interested in the case of the week? No, but I don’t think I was supposed to be. This could become a problem if a divide between Castle and his mystery and Beckett and her job continues, but, for this episode at least, the case worked more as a symbol of normalcy than an actual case. It allowed for moments where Castle could be his playful self (the Big moment on the piano), and it allowed Castle a chance to offer his theories again after everyone voiced that they missed them. But it ultimately was a case that felt much less important than the larger mystery surrounding Castle, and it was supposed to. It represented a life that Castle wanted to embrace without hesitation before discovering that the questions about what happened to him won’t let him simply focus on trying to have a normal life. In the same way, we as viewers can’t just focus on the “normal” cases while we know there’s still a more important mystery out there.

It’s even harder to focus on anything but the mystery surrounding Castle’s lost two months when it’s allowing the actors to do such great work. Last week was Stana Katic’s turn to shine, and she had plenty of wonderful moments in “Montreal,” too. But this episode belonged to Nathan Fillion. When he’s given good dramatic material to work with, he tugs at my heartstrings like no other actor on television.

I knew from the start that Fillion’s talent for nuance was going to be put on display in this episode. The interview scene was perfect—you could feel the tension and frustration in Castle, but he never lost his cool. Fillion has such a gift for never overplaying emotions, and that was used perfectly in this scene to show that Castle might have felt completely ambushed and angry, but he had to hold it together because he had a job to do and a persona to project. That scene was a nice way to remind us that Castle is a celebrity, so his disappearance would have been noticed. The dichotomy between Castle as the affable, cool celebrity writer and the real man underneath the façade is always interesting, and I thought Fillion did a great job showing Castle working to keep it together when the annoyance was seeping out of his pores.

I’m really enjoying the irony of a mystery writer who always offers up the craziest theories about cases having literally no idea what happened in his own life for two months. It’s a mystery that not only can’t he solve—he’s the reason he can’t solve it. I think the revelation that Castle wiped his own memory was supposed to be a big surprise, but, once again, Alias got there first. (I’m continuing to hope that Castle’s alias during his disappearance was Julian Thorne just so I know for sure that all these nods to Alias aren’t coincidental.)

What I’ve come to learn not just in watching Castle but in watching almost every show is that plot points don’t often shock me anymore, but the reactions characters have to those twists and within those plots still have the ability to surprise and impress me. (And every once in a while, there’s a twist that still knocks me off my feet, which is always fun when it happens.)

For example, I had a feeling those memory cards were going to contain video messages from Castle to his loved ones. However, the emotional impact of what was on the memory card was the important part—not trying to decipher the mystery of what was on it. And the emotional impact of Beckett watching Castle’s “last words” to her—and watching Castle watch Beckett at the same time—was astounding.

There’s just something special about a well-timed “Always” on this show, especially one delivered by Fillion. It never fails to reduce me to tears. And the emotion of that moment was heighted by Fillion’s face as Castle watched Beckett process his words. There was genuine concern there for her and also for himself, which I think is because Beckett is the one he can let his guard down in front of and show just how lost he feels about what happened to him. He can’t do that with Martha and Alexis.

But Beckett was there for him in his confusion and concern because this was what she needed—this reassurance that she wasn’t wrong to trust her heart instead of her head. We know she believed him, but we also know how hard it was for her to let go of the part of her that follows the facts in order to believe that he really didn’t leave on his own. Beckett is a skeptic, a woman who craves evidence. And here was the biggest piece of evidence she could have hoped for—her fiancé telling her it wasn’t his choice to leave her and that he loves her. Always.

Katic played Beckett’s relief so perfectly. It was like she could finally use both her head and her heart again without feeling like using one was betraying the other, and she could allow herself to focus not on believing Castle but on reassuring him because she finally had reassurance for herself. When she gently touched his face, that small gesture of soothing affection said so much. They’ll face whatever happened to him together. They might be unsure of everything else, but the one thing they can be sure of is the fact that they’ll always love each other through whatever obstacles come their way.

I have a feeling they’re going to need the certainty of their love more than ever because Castle’s whole world is a sea of unknowns right now. I want to know who this fake Henry Jenkins is and what he has to do with Castle’s disappearance. I want to know how he knows things about Castle that no one—not even Beckett—knows. I want to know what made Castle become a mystery writer. What happened to him when he was 11 that’s haunted him for his whole life? (The mention of what made him a mystery writer only furthered my belief that 3XK is behind this, since from their first meeting he wanted to know why Castle is obsessed with death.)

Part of me wants to know these answers for myself, but part of me just wants to know them so Castle will stop hurting. Fillion played that confrontation scene with the fake Henry Jenkins (Does he have a real name?) perfectly. I felt his exhaustion, his desperation for answers, and his horror at having revealed something so personal (and, it seems, so dark) to this man who he doesn’t remember at all. These mysteries matter to us as viewers, but, more importantly, they matter to these characters. I may want the answers, but Fillion made me feel like Castle wants them even more than I do. And that’s all I want when I watch mysteries unfold on TV.

An actor’s conviction can go a long way towards making me buy into stories I wouldn’t normally support. That’s especially true for Castle and Beckett postponing their wedding for (at least) a month. I will be the first to say that after last season’s finale, I thought this new mystery was a contrived way to keep them from getting married. However, both Fillion and Katic have me not just accepting but genuinely believing that neither character is in a place where they can get married right now. But they also have me believing that they’ll get there.

The bedroom scene that closed the episode was a lovely parallel to last week’s, which showed us how Castle and Beckett are slowly healing and finding their way back to each other. There’s no distance or tears anymore; they’re laying in bed together. But they’re still not ready to get married. Castle’s attempt to rush it and Beckett’s immediate refusal was done very well. It highlighted the fact that these two characters are adults who have gone through too much together to use marriage as a tool for finding a kind of normalcy they may never have again. Instead, they need to work on living with and loving within the lives they have now instead of trying to pretend the disappearance didn’t happen. And that will take time. Castle will never be able to pretend his disappearance didn’t happen—one look at his face at the conclusion of the episode showed he can’t just let it go (nor should he). And he can’t use marriage as a way to undo what’s been done. Instead, I’m eager to see him work through these new demons with Beckett by his side. Of course I’m still eager to see a wedding, too, but I can be patient—at least for another month.

12 thoughts on “TV Time: Castle 7.02

  1. That interview at the start made me frustrated for Castle. We know he’s telling the truth, but no one else seems to believe him. At least now Beckett has some proof.

    I remember Castle saying things in the past about how he wanted to be a writer because of the Casino Royal book his father had given him, but now it seems like that’s not actually the real reason? Could he have just used that incident as a better example to share instead of the real one, which seems so horrifying that he’s refused to tell anyone? I wonder what could have happened to scare him that much? Did he witness a murder that has remained unsolved for years, just like Beckett’s mother’s murder? Or a really disturbing and twisted murder, which is why he’s so interested in all the strange cases he and Beckett sometimes come across? So many questions.

    You forgot to mention Esposito and Lanie! I love how they’re back together. I had a feeling they would get closer again after that freaky 3XK episode last season. That scene with Gates at the beginning was priceless too.

    • I’m happy you brought up Esposito and Lanie! I didn’t have time today while I was writing to bring it up (had to squeeze review-writing into my lunch hour), but it made me so happy. I absolutely love them together.

      All of those theories as to why Castle became a mystery writer sound like plausible ones to me. I think Casino Royale was the book that inspired him just to become a writer in general (but I could be wrong), so I’ve always wondered why he was drawn to complex and twisted murder mysteries, especially after 3XK brought it up in Season Three.

  2. Maybe I am getting old, maybe I am getting soft in my TV viewing standards, but I really am loving the start to season 7 of Castle and a lot of that has to do with the man whose name is in the title. But before I get to all my Fillion feelings a few stand out moments that made my night. I adored that they reestablished Esplanie for viewers without missing a beat. As a fan of 24, that Art of War kiss on Captain Gates was a piece of Penny Johnson Jerald brilliance. I could (and have) watch it over and over and never cease to giggle. And then we got our Lanie/Kate moment. The soundboard of reason for Kate. The person who is only invested in her friend’s happiness. I love this cadence in the Castle lore. When Kate is stuck she reaches for Lanie whether it was about expressing her feelings for him, determining if their relationship was serious enough when faced with the prospect of her moving to DC and her finding her place within the dynamic that is Castle and Alexis. The show has so smartly relied on this friendship that has always been based in candor (like when Lanie told her a little lipstick wouldn’t hurt) and evolved it to one as invested as Esposito and Ryan with half the screen time. It’s a credit to Tamala and Stana for making the viewers feel like we are just dropping into a friendship that has depth and longevity without seeing it on a regular basis.

    There has been much naysaying about this new mythology and the plot set up. That it feels sudden and forced. What I have come to realize is that it isn’t necessary forced, it is simply known. Beckett’s mythology was laid out over the process of the audience getting to know the characters and being introduced to the show itself. The writers and production had the luxury of an unknowing audience. Seven years later we have interviews, an entire history and investment along with spoilers and feeds that give us insight to what’s coming around the corner. It makes it nearly impossible to surprise an audience. The best that you can do I feel is be authentic to your characters and let the story feed their continued evolution and understanding. That is where I think Castle delivered last night. You mentioned that the case was not particularly memorable and I think landing in season 7 it will continue to be challenging to come up with intriguing cases week after week both because that isn’t why we watch and because six years of treading that territory leaves little new to discover in those settings. All the more reason why establishing how the new mythology impacts Castle and Beckett is as, if not more important than the answers to that mystery.

    I am happy we got an established past and mystery of Castle’s own making. With questions I am curious about and answers I look forward to uncovering. But for me that wasn’t the point of Montreal. Montreal gave me as a viewer so much more. It gave me Nathan Fillion at his strongest. I adore his affable and laughable ability to build humor into Castle in places that are above and beyond the page. However, it is his small, unspoken moments that I eat up like candy. I rewatched that video reveal numerous times. Not for the exquisite use of the ‘always’ cadence, but for his reaction shots as Beckett watched. His desperate need for Beckett and he to be on the same page and knowing up until this point they haven’t been. Understanding his fear that not knowing what happened fed into her uncertainty and that is part of what drives him to find out what led to those confession videos. At the same time that he is at his peak of concern we watch relief wash over Beckett as you so perfectly said when finally her heart and head could come together around the man she loves. But even before that I loved how Fillion built to the emotional visit to Montreal on his own. Just as Beckett was lost in Driven, Castle was out of step throughout this episode. He wanted desperately to fall back into his life from before the kidnapping realizing through peoples disbelief that he can not ‘fake it until he makes it’. Probably for the first time in his life he can’t get by on his charm. This is precisely the beginning of what I had hoped we were pivoting towards in season 7. A role reversal of sorts between Beckett and Castle. For the last six years we watched Castle serve as the voice in Beckett’s head. The light that guided her out of the darkness that held her prisoner around her mother’s murder. Rick understands that without the answers Beckett will always remain trapped. Castle is now in the place of the unknown that has impacted his life in a way that is altering all he has built. Beckett recognizes the parallel of being lost and grasping for a lifeline back to certainty. So for the first time in their relationship she is in a position to serve as that anchor for Rick. She can’t solve his mystery, at least not yet. She can only help ground him to the fact that what’s most important to him is not lost. And much like how Rick grounded her in season 4’s Rise, Kate gives him enough for now to move on and begin to find their way.

    Fillion’s baffled fear and indignation in Montreal along with the horror that comes to his face when confronted with the mention of Hollander’s Woods gave us 6 years of Rick Castle rolled into a moment of reaction shots. Every one of them broke my heart. His absolute bewilderment was breathtaking. Watching Castle when he confronts the unknown so greatly paralleled Kate’s confrontation of Rick in ‘Always’ when she is barreling towards avenging her mother’s death. Only to discover that Rick made a deliberate choice to forget in order to get back to those he loves most. I found Kate’s silence and reaction when they are back in the loft interesting. Like she was making a decision to not allow Rick to travel the path that she did with her mother. We watch Alexis and Martha’s theories of why serve as an excuse in their need to believe in him. It’s a great contrast of the women who rely on him to Kate’s response as his partner in all things. Kate I believe in that moment chooses to put her faith fully in Castle. She decides finding the answer isn’t nearly as important as accepting Castle’s decision. When she tells him, “As much as we want to know the answers if you decided that, then there had to be a reason.” The fact that Kate can accept not knowing the reason and trusting that Rick made it in their best interest was one of the strongest displays of the relationship we’ve seen. It filled my heart because while they are looking for solid ground, they are grounded as a couple. That final moment was so stark to last week. We watched Kate collapse into Rick in relief as opposed to this episode where she settles in with a look of contentment that they’ve turned a corner and are finally on their way back. What we discover in Castle’s final glimpse is a man who is far from that contentment because he accepts that unearthing what happened will be necessary.

    • I just want to echo what Heather said: This is a fabulous comment filled with the kind of love, insight, and appreciation that I always hope to cultivate through this site. Bravo, friend. 🙂

      I made a conscious decision a couple of seasons ago to unfollow some people and stop reading comments on Castle articles because the negativity was really getting to me (and I hadn’t created this space for positive discussion yet). Because of that, I didn’t know so many people were opposed to this new mythology, and that disappoints me. Was I disappointed with the finale? I think we all know I was. But is that almost all gone now that I can see just how good this new development is for the show? YES. We as fans need this to keep the show interesting, and how can you dislike something that is bringing such wonderful performances out of its cast?

      I have nothing to say but emphatic nodding and smiling when it comes to your thoughts on Fillion as an actor and Castle as a character. You said it all brilliantly.

      Instead, I want to talk about Lanie and Beckett because time constraints as I was writing kept me from including their lovely little moment in my review. There’s something so genuine and open about their friendship. As you said, it’s a testament to Stana and Tamala that we’ve seen so little of it and yet every time we do, it feels like we’re watching two people who have shared a million moments we haven’t been privy to, and that’s fine with me. I love that Lanie is who Beckett seeks out when she needs honesty and the kind of warm but grounded advice only a best friend can give. There’s something about Lanie’s candor that reminds me so much of my own best friend, and it brings me joy whenever this friendship gets a moment in the spotlight.

  3. I love that the time jump let this show let Lanie and Esposito get together and have it revealed to us at the same time Castle learned about it. I love seeing them together and Lanie changing Esposito’s ringtone cracked me up. And can we have more of Jon Huertas speaking Spanish?

    I am so happy that we got a Lanie and Kate conversation that didn’t have anything to do with work. First of all, I love that you knew it would make me happy. Second, I love these scenes when we get them because I love how open Beckett is. She can be honest with Lanie without worrying that Lanie will judge her for not being about to shake that last bit of doubt. She needs that friend who will love her and support her and just listen to her. Beckett didn’t need advice and she didn’t need sympathy – she just needed someone to talk to about her fears. I like Beckett having that in her life because a friend like that is equally as important as the closeness from a romantic partner and I like shows that demonstrate that.

    Nathan Fillion was really great in this episode. The mystery of what happened these past two months is weighing on him and you could see it in every aspect of his performance. The uncertainty and confusion and pain over what he did to Beckett, Alexis and Martha is carried with him in every scene. I am incredibly curious to know what happened when he was 11 and how that relates to what happened during the missing months.

    This is apparently my week to have a million feelings about my empirically-driven, cautious and guarded female characters because even though this episode very much belonged to Castle and Nathan Fillion’s performance, I still have a lot to say about Beckett. I’m glad they showed her lingering doubts. She’s a cop and has to use the evidence to find the truth and the evidence about Castle’s disappearance is so unclear. I like that she told Lanie that she was choosing to believe him. It wasn’t something that came naturally to her and it wasn’t something she could justify but it was a conscious choice because of her love for him. She needs to believe that he wouldn’t just leave her because she can’t doubt in that relationship. It’s done too much for her personally and letting that doubt fester and grow could destroy something she holds so dear. So she chooses to trust and believe in the unknowable.

    Then when she saw the video on the memory card, you could see the inner relief wash over her (points to Stana for her ability to emote so well with her face). She still doesn’t have any physical evidence of what happened but she does have concrete evidence of Castle’s feelings. The word “always” is theirs and theirs alone. It’s more than a promise of feelings and the lasting nature of those feelings. It’s become stronger and more symbolic than that so the use of the word in the video was just what she needed. It was something she can hold on to when those moments of doubt and confusion resurface.

    And all that leads us to the ending. It’s rare to see a scene where Beckett is so open and content and Castle is so conflicted and closed off. The mystery is clearing haunting him and it’s not something he can shake. But Beckett, despite all the confusion, is home. She may wonder and need answers for him, but she doesn’t need them for herself like she once would. She trusts him and their love and can allow herself to have that moment of comfort in his arms. Then when he needed reassurance, she got up so she could look at him and let him take comfort in her and her love for him even as she was turning down the idea of the impromptu wedding. I’m rarely as proud of a fictional character as I am of Beckett and I am just so in love with Stana’s portrayal of her so far this season.

    • THANK YOU HEATHER — for two things. 1) The Always, I love that you wrote it’s more than a promise of feelings. That is so true. It is the commitment, the certainty that their relationship has come to that is rooted in trust.

      2) YES all over again to your take on Beckett. There has been such backlash to her having human emotions and doubts as though it would be out of character. I think you laid it out perfectly. This is a woman driven by the empirical evidence. Trust is a decision that is earned, not merely given, especially for Kate. It is part of her’s and Castle’s yin/yang. He is emotionally open and trusting in a way Kate is not and never has been. She can love and have faith in Castle while still being who she is and raising the questions. It’s what makes her having the safe space to say it to Lanie important and what makes the scene with Martha, Alexis and she confronting Rick’s trip to Montreal powerful. She makes the choice to believe him. She chooses not to make up a reason for the disappearance and accept the decision he made in erasing the memory. It was HUGE and wonderfully played out in the script.

    • Can I just say that I could read your thoughts on Beckett all day? You are having an A++++ week for comments. This was just as insightful and “feels-inducing” as everything you said about Emma in my OUAT post.

      First, you can count me as another person who would like more of Jon Huertas speaking Spanish. I just about died from that little bit of perfection.

      I love what you said about Beckett not needing sympathy or advice; she just needed someone to listen without judgment. That’s what our best friends do for us—they know when we need advice, but they also know when we just need someone to listen to us.

      Everything you said about Beckett was so wonderful that I have very little to add. All I’ll say is that I’m so happy you pointed out how important it is that she said she’s choosing to believe him. It makes her belief all the more powerful because we know it’s not an easy choice for her. But it’s a choice she makes because she also chose to love and trust him as her partner long before this crisis.

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