TV Time: Castle 7.11

Source: spoilertv.com

Source: spoilertv.com

Title Castle, P.I.

Two-Sentence Summary As Beckett attempts to readjust to life at the precinct without Castle after he was banned from helping the NYPD, she begins to investigate the murder of a teacher at an elite NYC preschool. The complicated case gets even more complicated when Castle, now a licensed private investigator, tries to solve it, too.

Favorite Lines
Castle: Did I tell you I got pepper-sprayed today?
Alexis: You say that like it’s a good thing.
Castle: Yeah.

My Thoughts Although no TV fan enjoys a hiatus, sometimes they can be the best thing for a show. Castle’s last episode, “Bad Santa,” left me feeling depressed and blindsided by its big cliffhanger ending, but it appears that some time away from the precinct has done both Rick Castle and me some good. Having some distance from the bombshell ending of “Bad Santa” and some time to process what things could be like for Castle as a private investigator allowed me to approach “Castle, P.I” with an open mind. And the result was an hour of TV-watching that made me even happier than I’d imagined it would.

It’s tough for shows to stay fresh in their seventh season, and I think we can all admit that many of the procedural aspects of Castle were starting to feel stale. However, making Castle a private investigator breathed new life into the crime-solving part of this show, and it even added a nice little spark to the romantic part, too. The time in between “Bad Santa” and “Castle, P.I.” allowed the latter to have a light tone even after the former had such a heavy ending. Airing them only a week apart might have felt too jarring in terms of their vastly different tones when it came to Castle’s dismissal from the precinct. However, airing them a month apart made it seem less jarring and more of an example of the kind of tonal shifts only Castle can pull off so fluidly.

In my recap of “Bad Santa,” I mentioned that the case in that episode—which was neither emotionally compelling nor nerdy in nature—was downright boring. Imagine my surprise when I found myself thoroughly enjoying the case in “Castle, P.I.,” which was also without a fun theme or an emotional component tied to one of our protagonists. Instead, it was the pure thrill of good-old-fashioned crime solving that did it for me this week (and did it for Castle and Beckett, too—but more on that later). I really liked watching the different ways Castle and Beckett used their various skills and resources to take steps closer to solving the case. By putting the focus on the actual detective work, this episode reminded me of what made Castle so special even when it was a very young show: It features two main characters who approach the world in very different ways but whose different approaches are perfect complements for each other.

Kate Beckett is a great detective; we’re reminded of that all the time. But what I really liked about “Castle, P.I.” was that it reminded us that Castle is a great detective in his own way, too. Rick Castle is intelligent, charming, connected, and gifted with a way of thinking outside the box that drew Beckett to him from the day they met. In this episode, he put all of those things to good use in his investigation. Sometimes this show has a habit of dumbing Castle down for the sake of creating a comedic moment, but I loved that this episode instead chose to show just how good he could actually be as a private investigator—not just because of what he’s learned from Beckett but also because of the skills he had long before they met.

“Castle, P.I.” was simply a fun episode, and I think that was because it felt fresh and exciting, while still keeping these characters recognizable in their new situations. It also allowed some of the show’s most entertaining relationships (including its central one) to have some great moments in the spotlight, bolstered by the new energy that seemed to radiate through the entire cast.

The episode started with a very light moment at home for Castle, Beckett, and Martha. What stood out to me in that scene was how effortlessly Beckett fits into life at the loft now that she and Castle have been married for a while. Watching her and Martha exchange a sweet little greeting was wonderful because it reminded me that Martha is exactly the kind of woman Beckett needs in her life—a mother figure, but one who would never try to replace the memory of Beckett’s own mother. It’s little moments like that which keep me invested in every relationship on the show—not just Castle and Beckett’s. The same could be said of Castle and Alexis eating takeout while talking about his day; it reminded me of the show’s early days in the best way.

Castle’s interactions with everyone in the precinct were perhaps my favorite parts of the episode, because they mixed the early-Castle vibe I felt in that scene with Alexis with the comfortable ease that’s developed over seven years with these characters and actors. Watching all of these characters navigate around Castle—sometimes working with him, sometimes competing against him, and always having a snarky comment for him—was wonderful. It was an especially nice touch to have him interact with Perlmutter in this episode. While I missed Lanie (and wished there could have been some follow-up on her breakup with Esposito), Perlmutter and Castle’s antagonistic relationship was the ideal fit for “Castle, P.I.” His comment about a woman as astute as Beckett marrying Castle was a highlight in an episode full of great zingers.

I’ll admit that I was a little worried about how Castle would continue to show the characters in the precinct (namely, Esposito and Ryan) interacting with Castle now that he’s no longer supposed to be there. It turns out I shouldn’t have worried because this episode provided some of the best moments between them—especially between Ryan and Castle—in a long time. It was adorably fitting that Ryan would become “conspiracy theory man” in Castle’s absence, and I loved that one of the most enduring things in my TV-watching life is the way the 12th precinct always splits between Esposito and Beckett on the side of the skeptics and Ryan and Castle on the side of the believers. Castle’s look of total pride that Ryan carried the “C” (conspiracy) card in his absence was one of the best moments in the whole episode, especially when it was followed by them “feeding the birds”—a nice little nod to their friendship and the show’s early days.

Ultimately, though, the relationship that benefitted the most from Beckett and Castle being separated at work turned out to be the one between Beckett and Castle. It was so much fun to watch them try to balance being competitors with their natural instinct towards being partners. It made for moments of tension that were both hilarious (No one plays exasperated like Stana Katic.) and surprisingly sexy. Even the most stable relationships need a little change, and this change in their professional relationship made their personal relationship feel like something at once totally new and brilliantly tied to the beginnings of their partnership.

It’s amazing that Katic and Nathan Fillion can still make “theory building” scenes crackle with chemistry after seven seasons, but it’s the truth. And this episode used that unique ability of theirs perfectly. Even when they’re not working together; they can’t help but be drawn to each other as partners in building theory because that’s always been such a huge turn-on for them. And this episode made the connection between theory building and sex more explicit than ever, with plenty of perfect innuendos about Castle’s creativity, the things Castle shared with Beckett, and Beckett being on top of things when it comes to Castle. Their banter was the best it’s been all season, and if Castle being a private investigator means more of this kind of playfulness in their relationship, then I can handle some more time spent on this new dynamic.

One of my favorite things about Castle and Beckett’s relationship in this episode was how genuinely proud of her husband Beckett was. We’ve often seen Castle sing Beckett’s praises in terms of her detective skills, but it was really nice to see Beckett sing her husband’s praises, too. And the way she showed her pride—with the gift of a magnifying glass and Sherlock Holmes hat—felt like a page out of Castle’s playbook in the best possible way. Castle has always been attracted to Beckett’s skill at her job, so I liked seeing Beckett being attracted to Castle for his detective skills, too (and also for the way he looks in a Sherlock Holmes hat).

“Castle, P.I.” was such a strong way for Castle to return from its winter hiatus. It took a storyline I’d been skeptical about and made me a believer. Castle and Ryan would be proud.

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13 thoughts on “TV Time: Castle 7.11

  1. I agree with your comments and your reviews. This is like one big breath of fresh air all wrapped up in one episode. I had doubts about how the show was going to approach Castle’s being kicked out of the precinct. I also felt the “Bad Santa” was a little bit boring – nothing much was going on except minor cute moments in between. I also felt the case was weak despite the fact they went with the classic “Romeo and Juliet” route. After having watched this episode, I let out a big hearty laugh, reminding me of the classic Castle days before Castle and Beckett got together. It was so much like Double Down in some ways, but what made me love the episode even more was the fact we got to explore a little more about Caskett’s married life outside of work. This episode was so much like one big scandalous affair role play, and that they are cheating on the precinct. And I am still amazed with Stana and Nathan’s ability to create the chemistry. Still in awe.

    Couple of points though.

    – Does anyone feel Gate was little bit out of character in this episode?
    – I am really confused with Esposito’s attitude towards Castle. People have been sending mixed signals about their reactions towards Esposito so I am in the grey area, although I do love seeing the bromance aspects of him.
    – Alexis. Really missed Alexis.
    – Theory Foreplay leading to “something very creative” is perfect.

    Overall, it was a great episode. So my rating based on my own opinions and views would be 4/5 since there were couple of minor flaws in terms of character writing in this episode.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

      I think I would probably give this episode a 4/5, too (maybe a 4.5 if I’m feeling generous, which I am today). It definitely felt like a breath of fresh air, especially after “Bad Santa.” However, I also agree with you that Gates was perhaps a little more like her “Season 4” self than I was expecting her to be. I’m not sure if it was out of character, but it was unexpected—and not in a way I enjoyed.

      • Interesting about Gates. I felt like she was protecting the team. I think it was a really big deal what caused Castle to get kicked from the precinct. I think that Gates knows people are watching and that perhaps Kate’s job was on the line too. Or that she believes it could be on the line given their marriage. So I took her going back to more of an S4 “iron” Gates was a defensive move to protect the team she has grown to respect and care for, including Castle.

    • Oh and with regards to Espo, I have a feeling about that too, especially in light of his break up with Lanie. Espo sports that machismo that is common in Latin men. But I think when it comes to Castle, while Javi loves him and would take a bullet for him, there is a part of him that is jealous of the ‘charmed’ life Castle has lived. Javi comes from a very cynical world and set of life experiences. It’s what connects him and Kate. Castle is the mirrored opposite of that and I think as Kate came out of that darker space, her need for Javi has dissipated because she is living more in Castle’s light. Javi is happy for them, loves them both and doesn’t begrudge them (or Kate) that change. But it is something he doesn’t have in his own life and so I think the behavior we see is more passive aggressive digs between guys. I started to note Javi’s tonal shift right around the last couple of episodes before the proposal – when it was clear that Castle and Beckett were in for the long haul. I think the shift has remained since.

  2. I had so much fun watching this episode. I was concerned with the future direction of the show now that Castle isn’t at the precinct and this episode went a long way toward dismissing those concerns.

    First things first – that Beckett and Martha scene was everything. I love that Martha calls Beckett “babe” because it’s such a Martha thing to do but the whole short moment showed the kind of relationship with Castle’s family that I’ve always wanted for Beckett. She just fits, like she’s been there all along.

    Between this show and The Mindy Project, I’m in love with this season’s depictions of women in committed relationships having fun sex and thoroughly enjoying themselves. I feel like there are so many stereotypes surrounding what the right/normal kind of sex there should be once you’ve been in a relationship for a while and I love that Kate Beckett is clearly not agreeing with any of that. She’s having fun with her husband’s creativity and his detective’s hat and it shows in that big beautiful smile on her face.

    • You’re totally right—Martha calling Beckett “babe” is perfect for her. It reminds me of her calling Castle “kiddo.” 🙂

      I also love everything you said in your last paragraph. I love when shows allow their female characters to actually enjoy sex in their long-term relationships and to show that committed relationships don’t have to be boring on any level, including in the bedroom. The Mindy Project is doing such a great job of that, and so is Castle. (I also have to put in a little plug for The Americans and their use of a certain numerical position in the S2 premiere to show that both Philip and Elizabeth are clearly both getting pleasure from their sex life, even as a married couple with two kids.) It’s nice to see female characters enjoying their sexuality and having fun in the bedroom without a big deal being made of it. (I also could read your thoughts on this all day, by the way, if you ever want to write more about it. 😉 )

  3. Like you, I really was worried about Castle and how the show goes on. But I was as well thoroughly surprised by this episode. I really liked it.

    I especially liked seeing that Castle is a really great investigator on his own. I mean I knew that he is very good with Beckett, Ryan and Espo at the Precinct, but he was nearly every time on the same level as the others. He has a great mind and great thoughts when it comes to murder. And I think he surprised everyone with his skills. I mean they knew he had good thoughts and theories, but I do not think that they really believed in him really getting to a solution and finding the killer. His way of working was wonderful.
    And I really like that he has his own office. 😉

    But like you said, this episode was wonderful for Castle and Beckett’s relationship. They just could not resist building theories. It was great to see. And Martha and Beckett have such a wonderful relationship. I love seeing them. And Beckett having a mother figure in her life.

    All in all this episode was a wonderful reminder of why I fell in love with this show in the beginning. I had so much fun watching it.
    When the “feeding the birds” part of Ryan and Castle came, I nearly jumped off the couch, I did not realize how much I missed this. I am actually doing this with my father and sister all the time since we saw it on Castle. And so seeing it back on the show was truly amazing!

    I am really looking forward to the next episodes. If the following episodes are even nearly as great as this one I cannot wait to see them! Castle is at its best in those episodes where just everything fits.

    • Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm with us! This comment made me smile because it echoed the happiness I felt while watching this episode. I’m glad I’m not the only one who absolutely adored the “feeding the birds” moment. 😀

  4. So after a long week I thought I’d go back and revisit the episode before commenting, because there was so much I really liked about it. And to my giddy joy I discovered new things I’d missed at the first pass.

    I am in agreement that Bad Santa landed a bit flat, because it was so abrupt and ending. I think I have just accepted that cliffhangers are not this show’s strong suit. Given how much it does well, it is an easy overlook for me. For me, Castle P.I. was delivering on the promise of season 6’s season finale. Back last Spring I really believed they were setting up a role reversal of sorts for Beckett and Castle. With Kate’s mission around her mom resolved we needed a new focus for this duo, especially after a season spent solidifying the strength of this couple’s commitment to one another. That meant focusing in on Castle certainly, but it also meant focusing in on how Kate sees him and looking at it and their relationship through her eyes. She’s content so the timing is perfect for Castle to be restless professionally. Especially because after a half dozen Nikki Heat novels it would feel right that he would be looking for what’s next, because it is closing in on the same number of novels as when he decided to kill of Derrick Storm.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that the show would sacrifice Castle’s savvy in recent years for the laugh. It ebbs and flows with how much it bothers me. So in the honeymoon episode it worked really well, in Ninja last year it just didn’t. I felt like this episode did such a terrific job of all it. It recalled for us Castle’s vast knowledge and ingenuity from two decades of doing research for novels. It was a return of sorts to the Castle of Season 1-3 when ‘he knew a guy’ but with a maturity and humility he’s gained from working with Kate and 12th – to respect the victim and understand unraveling a murder is more than solving a puzzle.

    I marvel at Katic and Fillion’s ability to take the show’s own tropes and with a wink and a nod make them fresh, funny and sexy. The entire apartment sequence was masterful in my mind. From the wine pour to Kate in Castle’s shirt. It was trademark Castle at it’s best, it was self deprecating and it was as much funny as it was sweet. We adore these two and seeing their adoration of one another is just joy for me on Monday nights. The use of our cast was also on point. How can you not love the competitiveness of Ryan and Espo while at the same time Ryan trying to pick up the slack that would be filled by Castle. Their interaction over the coffee cup was a series of expressions that make me adore these three so much. I think your characterization of it was spot on. For me the goldmine was at the ME’s between Perlmutter and Castle. Bringing him into this episode allowed them to harvest great comedy from the longest running joke of the show. That Castle is so comfortable to just walk in and take the information he needs and invoke the chase around with Perlmutter while mining him for information was a gas! All the little touches, from the back and forth phone call between Beckett and Castle with Alexis on one side and the boys on the other. They found really great ways to keep the team together, while keeping them apart. The fact that Castle brought in the key witness to the team was a great touch, because in spite of it all Castle’s desire to win, doesn’t trump his loyalty to this group that has become his family. I love that they even managed to give us a scene at the white board between all of them. That along with the recall to The Blue Butterfly really made this return episode feel like a love letter to the fans.

    However, the truth be told, the entire episode for me can be summed up in the opening two minutes. Martha! I say it all the time, but feel it can not be said enough, Susan Sullivan makes Castle better every time she shows up in a scene. The benefit of watching it again a week later is seeing things I didn’t see before. I was so enraptured by the exchange between Kate and Martha from their deference of respect to one another as the two women who love and understand Rick best to their own grown affection for one another as family. It was so wonderful to watch. But then my happy meter jumped 20 points when in a rewatch I noticed the fact that Kate’s old apartment artwork and sculpture had found their way home to the loft. It was perfection and it once again shows after 7 years the brilliance of Alfred Sole and his team as well as a crew that refuses to sit back on their laurels. My love of Castle is for so many things, but none more than the respect that this great cast and crew bring to their episodes and all the finishing touches they create in the process. They’ve crafted a world with great care and I love that seven years in I am eager to visit it each Monday night.

    • This comment brought me so much joy and has me even more excited for tonight’s episode. I loved every piece of analysis you wrote here, and I’m so happy you pointed out Beckett’s artwork and sculpture in the loft because I definitely missed that! It just shows how dedicated this crew is to telling this story in even the smallest details.

      I also have to agree that Susan Sullivan elevates every scene she’s in. Her presence on this show is such a treasure.

      In addition, your take on this show not doing cliffhangers very well is spot-on. Every show has its flaws and strengths, and no show can be good at everything. For a show that usually balances its varied tones so well, I often find its cliffhangers jarring in terms of their tone in contrast to the episode around it. But it does come back from subpar cliffhangers really well, as this episode once again proved.

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