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.
I loved this episode. I’ve always enjoyed seeing Castle be child-like and playful and have always wanted to see him interact with kids. This episode gave me all that and more. Castle fit in and gained the kids’ trust so effortlessly, it was wonderful to watch. I like how you mentioned that Beckett now embraces this side of him. I think it honestly makes her love him even more. His relationship with Alexis was one of the first things in early episodes that pleasantly surprised her about him. On another note, Nathan Fillion couldn’t have been more adorable during all of his scenes, particularly in the princess scene with Emily (who was also the cutest).
Emily was the cutest. That princess scene was too adorable and will put a smile on my face all week.
While I don’t watch ‘Castle’, that photo attached to the review makes me think these writers have to be Tosh.0 fans. Google “Phillies Fan Web Redemption” and you will see what I am talking about. The little girls name is even Emily. Its actually one of my all time fav Tosh bits.
I love that you found something else that you love in the picture of a show you don’t watch. And now I have something to watch later 😉
I am with you Heather, this felt like a filler episode for sure but one that gave us some really fun things to distract. This entire episode was about the classroom scenes for me. For several reasons and I was OK with the case taking a back seat and that I wasn’t invested in it. Cases aren’t what makes me look forward to Monday’s at 10PM.
Nathan Fillion was a joy to watch. Of course his ego and childlike approach to life was a perfect fit. But for me the money of the episode was found in his seeking the approval of the 2nd grade teacher by turning on his charm only to earn it through his actions when she realizes through his interactions that he is as protective of their innocence as she is. There are few things I love more on TV than a Fillion reaction shot. He did not disappoint here. Each of his interactions with the kids gave us that moment of when he went from child at heart investigative Castle to concerned parent Rick. It’s quick and fleeting, but it’s like a default muscle that works like a reflex.
I was also struck by the the parallel of Castle having the kids write stories and his moment with Mrs. Ruiz explaining the importance of the story. It recalls back to the series premiere when he reads Beckett for the first time as they go through letters. Castle is ALWAYS about the story. It is his wheelhouse and the prism from which everything travels through.
Like you I also really enjoyed the peek inside what his relationship with Alexis might have looked like when she was a child. I thought Alexis’ overzealous behavior was in keeping with who she is and who we’ve seen. Alexis does nothing half way, not in school, not in internships not ever. When her emotions overwhelm her she goes into uber control mode. While Castle has been many things one of Alexis’ great fears has always been losing him. We’ve watched that play out over the duration of the series when she worries about his work with Beckett. When she confronts him at the beginning of season 4 after Beckett’s shooting. Alexis may be pragmatic standing next to her father, but she is still his child and he is still the great constant and source of security in her life. To lose him for several months and not have any real resolution as to why leaves open the possibility of it happen again. Alexis knows there is nothing she can pragmatically do to change it, so she spoils and hovers over him. It’s similar to how she responded to her Stanford rejection and Castle once he got over his ego of being pampered could see he needed to simply allow his daughter to be the child because it would be the only way she will get past those fears.
Best of the rest:
– Emily’s confrontation of Kate was hilarious. One part jealousy and yet one part voice of a fandom wink and nod.
– I am with you seeing Kate fully integrated into the Loft and a part of Castle’s family does a body good. It is an extension of the security of this relationship that they’ve built.
– I love that Kate doesn’t hesitate calling Rick out on what’s going on with Alexis. She’s established her place in their family and no longer needs to tread lightly, because she respects that relationship between father and daughter.
– Thank you, thank you thank you for pointing out Castle’s resourcefulness. I am very happy to see it return in earnest this season. I am all for Castle being the guy they pull the rug out from under, but he’s also got a wide intellect and savvy to think on his feet. It’s one of his chief assets and I like that we are seeing more of it again.
– “If you don’t hydrate, they’ll eat you alive.”
Everything you said about Alexis is just perfect. I had seen some complaints about her behavior and I’m glad you agree with me that it was fully in character.
This was such a fun episode and as you mentioned on Twitter, I would not be at all opposed to seeing Mrs. Ruiz again. Or those kids because Nathan Fillion is great with them.
Since Heather did such a lovely job of summing up what I loved most about this episode (namely Nathan Fillion + children), I want to take a moment to talk about the perfection of Mrs. Ruiz. In an episode where I didn’t care about the case (far too convoluted and ultimately impersonal for my liking), I cared about those kids, and I cared about her. As someone who teaches little kids for only an hour once a week, I’m always in awe of teachers and their unique combination of toughness and warmth. The moment when she first talked to Castle about protecting her kids, I got emotional. I feel that way about my students at the dance studio, and I don’t see them nearly as much as a schoolteacher would see her kids. It was a lovely moment of surprising gravitas, and I think she was my favorite guest actor/side character we’ve seen so far this season.
I think Nathan Fillion would agree with you. I know I do! She’s a wonderful actor and simply terrific here.
Mrs. Ruiz was a great side character. I’m always impressed with teachers who work with little kids because I would not know what to do with them and they are always so calm and in control.
Also I like when your dance teacher side comes out. You can tell how much you care about all of your kids.
The whole episode worked for me. I thought of how lucky Alexis was to have a Dad like Castle, considering her deadbeat mom. Nathan was excellent with his charm and love for children himself. Beckett truly loves that side of her husband to be.
Alexis was very lucky to have Castle as a father. Above all, he wanted to make sure she was loved and safe and I think that’s a great goal for any parent. Their closeness as she’s grown up is a testament to the great job he did with her and I am so happy that he’s found Beckett who really loves his relationship with his daughter.
Hear hear to all of the above! I loved the lightness and playfulness of this episode, despite the heaviness of the case. I’m so over all those people who want to have full on Caskett scenes every week and earth shattering drama. I love Caskett too but the thing I love about this series is the light and shade of it. And the focus on the characterisation. The writers cleverly sprinkled more clues about Castle’s character even in this episode. I think Nathan Fillion seems a lot more relaxed this season, like he’s actually enjoying what he’s doing – as opposed to last season where I sometimes got the vibe he’d rather be elsewhere. I guess as the focus is back on his character it gives him more of an opportunity to shine and not just be the sidekick. Having said that I love love love Beckett and Stana and hope she continues to play the strong role she always has. There was a relaxed feeling about this episode that I really enjoyed. People who whinge about individual episodes need to look at the season and series as a whole and see how each episode is part of the entire puzzle. I am in awe of Andrew Marlowe and the writers of this amazing show. Long may it be on our screens 🙂
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