Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I wasn’t able to watch this week’s episode of Castle in time to write about it. Thankfully, the lovely and talented Heather was kind enough to step in and write this week’s review!
Title Child’s Play
Two Sentence Summary Castle goes back to second grade to help track down a potential witness to a crime. Back at home, Alexis struggles with Castle’s disappearance.
Mrs. Ruiz: I didn’t do much to deserve this.
Beckett: Are you kidding? You put up with Castle for two days.
My Thoughts There are weeks when the case on Castle really interests me, and there are weeks where I watch because I love these characters. This week was definitely one of the latter for me. The case itself felt a little bit scattered and never really came together in a way that made me feel much of anything as twists were revealed or the criminal was caught. It was overly convoluted for an hour, with a fake passport ring, the Russian mob, and a war criminal who was felled by marbles (in a very nice move from Castle).
Fortunately for the episode, the character moments were incredibly entertaining to watch. Nathan Fillion is so good at bringing a childlike joy to episodes that allow Castle to believe in the impossible (like last week’s episode), so to surround him with a bunch of actual children was a real treat to watch.
When first introduced to the children, he was rightfully overwhelmed. Young children in such big groups can be a lot to handle, especially when you aren’t used to them. I love that the first part of his plan was to inspire the kids to write. It served a purpose for the case, but it was also likely these students’ first taste of what it feels like to write a story they truly wanted to tell, and they were so excited about it. Everyone has stories they want to tell, and even if they don’t help the police solve a murder, they are still worth telling. The stories I wrote in elementary and middle school may have been terrible, but they were mine and for that, I’m still proud of them.
What struck me the most was how good Castle was with the kids. Yes, he’s great at being playful and having a good time with them, but he’s also very patient and reassuring. It wasn’t his ability to have fun that made those children open up to him. It was his personality and demeanor with the children that encouraged it. They felt safe with him and recognized that he was someone to be trusted. It was a fun chance to get a glimpse of what his life with a young Alexis must have been like and why they are still so close. We’ve always known that he is a good father to an older child and clearly he was to a younger Alexis as well.
Even if the situation wasn’t as serious as Castle thought it was, he taught Jack that being scared doesn’t mean you aren’t brave. He taught Emily that princesses help each other, and he taught her the importance of inner strength. She may not have quite understood what Castle meant by that at the time, but she’ll grow to understand it. Then with Jason and the situation with his sister, it was Castle who learned something. He learned that sometimes the kid who is mean to you has something more to say. It didn’t stop he and Jason from being antagonistic toward each other, but they did ultimately work together.
While Alexis’s mothering attitude toward Castle seemed a little extreme in this episode based on her behavior in the first couple episodes of the season, it was fitting with the case. As I said earlier, Castle is undoubtedly a good father. He loves Alexis very much and has made sure she always feels safe and loved. That said, there’s no denying that there were probably times when Alexis has had to take on a more adult role, especially in Castle’s earlier years. So while she went overboard with the GPS tracker and literally feeding him breakfast, it was something tangible she could do to feel like he was safe, and that’s something I can relate to. Losing her father for two months must have been terrifying. Alexis has always been the one with a plan and answers, and suddenly there were none to be had. She’s searching for control and stability again, just like Castle and Beckett are, and I’m glad we got to see a little more of how she’s coping with everything.
This was Castle’s episode. His role in the investigation took center-stage, and we got those small details about who he is that we would normally get from a meaningful “Beckett case.” Through his interactions with Emily, we learned that Castle was never particularly physically tough. That’s not where his strength is. It comes from knowing who he is and being secure in that person, which is an extremely valuable form of strength. We once again saw how people underestimate Castle’s abilities until they see him in action. On the surface, Castle is all shine and no depth. Once you get to know him, you see that inherent goodness and big heart, and you can’t help but love him. His persona is just as much a protective mechanism as Beckett’s was, and with this new arc, we may finally get to see what’s behind it. As the season progresses, I’m excited to see more of the inner Castle and uncover some of the past he’s hidden in his fun-loving facade.
Finally, while this wasn’t a “Caskett-heavy” episode, the small glimpses of their relationship that we got were lovely. More than almost anything, I love that Beckett is coming to family dinners. She has fully become a part of Castle’s world, just as he’s become a part of hers. We also see such a big progression from their first meeting until now. When she met him, Beckett thought Castle was childish and immature, and he annoyed her. Later on, she admitted she liked him “pulling her pigtails,” recognizing that his behavior can be playful and childish but beginning to embrace that about him. Here, that same dynamic is at play. They both recognize how good Castle would be in this undercover role, not because Beckett is annoyed by that side of him but because she embraces it with the same enthusiasm that Castle does. There was a playful tone to her teasing him, and it reminded me of how satisfying it has been to watch their journey together.