TV Time: Castle 7.17

This week’s Castle post is brought to you by one of my favorite fellow Kate Beckett fans, Heather

Source: tvfanatic.com

Source: tvfanatic.com

Title Hong Kong Hustle

Two Sentence Summary At the news of a friend’s promotion, Beckett questions whether she is doing enough to have the life and position she wants at work. A murder that brings the very talented Hong Kong Chief Inspector Zhang together with the NYPD furthers those feelings of failure, until Beckett realizes that her balance now might not look like she’d once imagined it would.

Favorite Line “You cannot leave behind what is always at your side” (Castle)

My Thoughts There are some characters who I just love a little more than all others and feel incredibly protective over. Kate Beckett is one of those characters. She has proven herself to be strong (both physically and mentally), she’s incredibly good at her job, and I honestly can’t think of a character who has looked better in love than she does. She’s also extremely driven and competitive and is therefore prone to moments of doubts and insecurity that make me want to wrap her up in a hug and tell her how amazing I find her.

The case in this episode wasn’t bad. It was a little overly complicated again, and I’m not sure the human trafficking element was entirely necessary. However, this episode was really all about Kate Beckett and who she thinks she should be and what that means for her future. This episode was the perfect example of the way a procedural (which is inherently plot-based) can pull off a character-driven episode if that character has a strong enough foundation.

Beckett is used to being the best. There is no doubt in her mind that she’s a good detective, and that point has been reinforced to her throughout her entire career. She’s also someone who had a plan for her life, as we saw in “The Time of Our Lives”. Her professional goal has been to make captain, but it was a goal that was placed purely in the future as something that would happen eventually without her taking active steps toward it. She never had to doubt that she would one day earn the title because she knew she was skilled and of her value to the NYPD. But even with that knowledge, Beckett isn’t free from comparisons and the insecurities they bring with them.

When one of her peers makes captain, Beckett can’t help but wonder why it isn’t her and how she managed to get so far off track from this goal. She’s happy for her friend and recognizes his skill at the job, but it ignites this little flame inside her that makes her question if she really is as good as she’s always thought and been led to believe. That flame is further fueled when she meets Chief Inspector Zhang, who, on the surface, truly does have it all. She looks like she’s achieved every one of Beckett’s dreams—both professionally and personally.

Of course, as people who have been exposed to any type of fiction, we know that this mythical goal of “having it all” and excelling in every aspect of your life to equal degrees doesn’t exist. We can’t maintain balance in our lives at all times; some things will inevitably take priority and our focus at different points in our lives. Sometimes it will be our job, sometimes it will be family, and sometimes it will be our hobbies or passions. It doesn’t make us failures; it just makes us human. So we knew that at some point, the perfect image of Zhang would be shattered and a flaw or vulnerability would be exposed. It was no surprise that her life wasn’t the idealized success that Beckett had built up in her head. She has succeeded to an extraordinary degree in her professional life, but it has been at the expense of her personal one. It cost her her marriage and a close relationship with her children. She’s chosen her priorities, and, though she regrets the fact that she isn’t the mother she should be, it’s not enough to stop her from continuing on her current path.

Zhang never had a revelation about the importance of family, and she didn’t suddenly rush home to her children and vow to do better. And I’m glad. That wouldn’t have been realistic for her. Her career and accomplishments come first, for better or worse. It may not have been happy or even entirely comfortable to watch, but it was authentic and consistent. It was also never demonized, which I appreciated. It was accepted as a facet of the character—accepting her means accepting all sides of her, and Beckett was happy to do so.

Beckett, on the other hand, realized that her own priorities may not be the same as they used to be. She ended the episode on a little more of an uncertain note, knowing that she wants something different and bigger and planning for that future, but not knowing what that future looks like or how she will get there. What she does know is that she wants Castle by her side through it all.

Beckett was never Zhang. She was only defined by her work as it related to her unresolved feelings about her mother’s murder. Her dedication to pursuing justice and being the best detective she could be had more to do with wanting others to have what she didn’t for so long, rather than a desire for accolades or recognition. Those have been side effects of her internal motivation rather than the cause for her motivation. This case and her interactions with Zhang made her think about what she wants now at this stage of her life. It’s a different life than the one she imagined with her plans of being a police captain, so she’s considering that her goals may need to change and that’s alright.

No matter what happens and what Beckett decides to do, she’s determined not to lose what is most important to her, and right now, that’s her life with Castle. He pointed out that she could never leave him behind so long as he’s right there with her (in his most quotable, authorly way), and it managed to sum up the heart of their partnership. As a result, the line delighted me nearly as much as it did Beckett.

Finally, one of the things I love most about Beckett’s character and the writing on this show in general, is that the insecurities that Zhang brought out in Beckett didn’t result in Beckett acting in anything less than a professional manner toward Zhang. We didn’t even get the impression that it was merely her own professional attitude holding her back. Yes, Beckett was jealous that Zhang was so accomplished in every way, but it was a jealousy that stems from awe and admiration rather than resentment over her own perceived deficits. This show wasn’t trying to pit these two strong and determined women against each other; both were able to succeed professionally, achieve justice for Graham (and asylum for his girlfriend), and part on genuinely friendly terms. By teaming up and allowing Zhang to expose her true self to Beckett, rather than the facade she showed the rest of the world, these women were able to come together and truly be a team. I don’t see any reason why we would ever see this partnership again, but if we did, I don’t think I’d mind.

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5 thoughts on “TV Time: Castle 7.17

  1. Nice review and insights. Beckett knows what is important and through self growth she will make good career and personal choices and she can thank Mr. Castle for guiding her along the way.

  2. enjoyed your thoughts on this episode. I also like the fact that this show does stay true to life in it’s character developement. This I must say is sometimes not very well liked by a lot of the “fans” who seem to want a fairy tail some times, but this is what life throws at you and you have to decide where you are going to let it take you! I like the Beckett character very much. She is strong, courageous, funny sometimes and has great empathy. But she also has the same character flaws we all do to one extent or another.

  3. This was an interesting episode on many levels. Back in “Number One Fan” (6×04), I wanted the writers to explore the jobless Beckett for a bit longer, and have her questions her life’s priorities. Sure we had insecure Beckett in the past, but this episode highlighted a different side of insecurity. She had dreams, aspirations, and goals she wanted to pursue until all that changed when her mom was murdered. All of her life’s goals, dreams went down into the drain, and had new goals – finding justice for her mom.

    All of her life has been facing obstacles or challenges and finding her way through those things – falling in love with Castle and trying to get her happy end with him, her mom’s murder case, to name a few.

    Cue six years later, she is still the NYPD’s best homicide detective. She is currently married to the love of her life – Richard Castle. Her mother’s case has been solved through the help of her friends at 12th Precinct and of course, Castle. Everything is going well for her.

    I think she is starting to ask the question, “What happens next?”

    What will be the new challenge that Beckett needs to face or focus on? Has her dreams still changed? Has it still remained the same even before her mom was killed? Does she want to start a family?

    All very important questions which I am sure Beckett are trying to tackle. It may be overwhelming at first to even know what are your next priority you have to face, but it may just take some time to even know your priorities. It may be too soon to tell what Beckett’s priorities are, but I think this is what we will be facing in the remaining episodes of season 7.

    All in all, it was a very realistic portrayal of a character who has been a career-oriented person for most of her life, and in a loving relationship with her husband. It was definitely refreshing to see that on television.

  4. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (3/15 – 3/22) | Nerdy Girl Notes

  5. Great review Heather! You summed up the similar thoughts I had much better than I could’ve articulated them, and definitely pointed out something I hadn’t directly noticed.

    At first I was a bit wary of this episode, because the constant comparisons got a bit old – probably because it made me sad when Beckett was feeling inferior due to Zhang’s abilities. I love Beckett a lot, like you do, and I just wanted to hug her and tell her how awesome she is (luckily, Castle did some of that for me :p). I am glad though that it eased off as the episode went on, and it was nice to see Beckett grow a bit and feel sort of more comfortable in her own skin from the realizations she made at the end of the episode. I also think it was a good character arc/plot for Beckett to go through now because it’s a nice way for the show to introduce the transition into whatever Beckett and Castle’s larger goals will be now that Alexis is an adult, Beckett’s mother’s killer has been caught, and they’re happily married.

    I love that you pointed out how Beckett’s envy of Zhang didn’t form into negative resentment! I didn’t consciously notice that when I watched, but now that you’ve pointed it out I definitely see it. Even when they had a bit of competition at the shooting range it was still a friendly one – Beckett was jealous, sure, but it never came out in mean/rude or passive aggressive actions. I love that the show chose to portray it this way when so many other shows probably would’ve gone in the opposite direction for the drama.

    I wouldn’t mind if Zhang showed up again either, because I liked her and I definitely would not be opposed to more Beckett + a female friend/coworker time. We get Lanie every once in a while but usually only in pretty small doses, and no matter how much I love the boys I’d enjoy seeing more screen time for Beckett plus another female character.

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