Castle Rises: The Season 4 Premiere

At the funeral of Roy Montgomery, Kate Beckett is shot and Castle confesses his love.
Last season’s cliffhanger
Last spring, when I wrote about the Season 3 finale of Castle, I spoke of Kate Beckett’s heart and how it is her journey that has the most traction in this series, that, from a certain point of view, the show about a writer who tags along with New York City detectives is really about a daughter who lost her mother in a murder. Little did we know that it would be Beckett’s literal heart that stopped because of a sniper’s bullet.

For those of y’all who might’ve forgotten how last season ended—as if!—Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) had her life torn asunder. She lost her commanding officer, Roy Montgomery (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) as he gave his life to save hers. At Captain Montgomery’s memorial service, standing by her side as she spoke the eulogy, was Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion). He looked on with somber fortitude at the burden he saw Beckett carry, and saw the flash of a sniper’s scope mere seconds before a bullet tore through her body. He was too late to protect her. Castle cradled the wounded, bleeding Beckett and, fearing she’ll die without knowing the truth, professed his love for her.

The gang’s all here and worried: Lanie, Esposito, Alexis, Castle, Ryan, and Martha

Viewers were left with only one real question. No, it wasn’t “Would Beckett die?” C’mon. That was never in doubt. The question I’m talking about is this: Did she hear him say those words? Judging from the way Katic played the scene—with Beckett’s eyes glazing over—you just didn’t know.

The premiere last night, “Rise,” started where all good premieres start: minutes after the finale. I always wonder: do they film these scenes at the same time as the finale and just pray no one leaks images on the internet? Nonetheless, even though we know Beckett will survive, good editing tricks give us pause. Beckett’s gurney blasts through the door, her best friend and medical examiner, Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones), atop her, administering CPR. In what would prove the first of many great lines of the episode, Parish doesn’t move when the ER doctors tell her to get out of the way. “That’s my friend,” she cries. “Then let us save her life,” replies the doctor.

Naturally, all the cast members show up in the hallways, somehow bathed in the somber blue that coated the final scenes of last season. Detectives Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever), Beckett’s partners, are distraught, but angry. Castle’s daughter, Alexis (Molly Quinn) and mother, Martha (Susan Sullivan), are there, too. But it is Castle himself that carries this scene. Of all the attributes Fillion brings to a role, wearing his emotions on his sleeves is among my favorites. It’s rare to wonder where a Fillion character comes from because he lets you know, whether with an eye glance, a quirky smile, or grim frown. From a guy who is ruggedly handsome, the anguish, pain, and guilt on his face in the ER hallways was agony. In the most crucial moment of Castle’s life, something clicks. “This is my fault,” he says, realizing that his digging into the murder of Beckett’s mother way back in season 1 unearthed clues that propelled Beckett to this ER room. The doctors, including Kate’s boyfriend, Josh (Victor Webster), can’t seem to stop the bleeding. The thing is, Castle’s bleeding with Beckett. His heart is torn apart and the woman he loves is dying.

When you see the episode in full, and you see what Castle does at the end, you might start wondering if the entire series has changed. In the Twitter traffic last night, someone mentioned creator Andrew Marlowe’s reference to “moving the island,” a line from the ABC TV show, “Lost.” That is, just when you think you know everything, everything changes. It’ll be fun to watch the character progression.

The kiss, long before Castle admits his feelings for Beckett
Beckett may not remember Castle’s declaration, but viewers won’t forget this kiss.
Beckett lives and, after a few days, calls for Castle. For him, he wonders if she remembers his love profession and what it might mean for their relationship. With an armful of flowers, he walks into the hospital, checks his hair in a window—this is Richard Castle after all—and walks into Beckett’s room…to see her boyfriend, Josh. Awkward. Josh leaves, and we get the crux of the entire episode. “I don’t remember anything,” Beckett says, leaving an opening for Castle. “You don’t remember . . .” he says, pausing, at a loss for words—should he restate his love? What might she mean?—“. . . the gun shot?” Moment lost! “Some things are better not remembered,” she says. With his smirky smile back in place, Castle quips, “We’ll talk tomorrow.” Beckett slaps him down hard: “Mind if we don’t? I’ll call you.”

And, just like that, four months elapses. Beckett’s back in the precinct, Ryan and Esposito are scared of the new captain, and Castle’s nowhere to be found. Beckett hasn’t called our favorite writer, either. Enter Captain Victoria Gates, AKA “Iron Gates,” late of Internal Affairs, played by Penny Johnson Jerald. Now, I’m a fan of the TV show 24 and got to know Jerald for three seasons as Sherry Palmer. Man, was that character a self-motivated double-crosser, and Jerald was brilliant in her capacity for making viewers loathe Palmer. When I read that Jerald was stepping in as the new captain, I couldn’t wait to see the sparks fly. Jerald didn’t disappoint. Ryan and Esposito scurry like school children around her, fearing that she’ll bust them down to traffic. Beckett gets her introduction to Gates when the captain refuses to allow Beckett to carry her weapon without recertification. Beckett’s incredulous, but has little choice.

We find out at the same time as Beckett that Gates kicked Castle out of the squad room, but the writer found a potential new clue: a financial angle that might yield results to the conspiracy. Gates has closed the case and Ryan and Esposito can’t go any farther. Beckett is faced with only one choice: seek help from Castle. This she does and, after a brief little quarrel about not calling for four months, the two have their first genuine moment of the episode. Beckett opens up to Castle, letting him know that she built up a wall inside herself after her mother’s murder. “I won’t be able to have the kind of relationship that I want until the wall comes down. And that can’t happen until I put this thing to rest.” It’s a truly honest moment and Katic plays it perfectly, showing enough vulnerability to make us and Castle understand Beckett a little bit better, but still keeping things inside. This scene is also the pivot point of the episode, where it turns from the all-downer-all-the-time aspect to a somewhat typical murder-of-the-week story.

Kate Beckett returns to work
Kate Beckett back at work
The current case, frankly, served only as a way to get “the team” back together again. It was a rather routine case with an interesting twist ending. Beckett, in her first case back, had to face a question: would she have the edge to draw on a suspect. In the first instance, she failed. The haunted look in her eyes said it all. Turn her attention back to her mother’s murder case, however, and you have a whole different ballgame. She does a verbal beat down to Rod Halston, the arson investigator who she thinks falsified a report of a warehouse fire years ago, the very warehouse that contained crucial leads she needs to continue the search for the man who put the hit on Mrs. Beckett.

Slowly, but surely, the murder case of Mrs. Beckett seeps into Castle’s pores, so much so that his daughter, Alexis, lashes out at him. “You’re a writer, Dad, not a cop. It’s time to grow up and stop pretending.” He also gets a call from Mr. Mystery Man, the person to whom Captain Montgomery mailed the evidence last season. Mystery Man gives Castle an ultimatum: get Beckett to stand down or else. No one else can get to Beckett the way Castle can, and it’s in this, another tender moment between the two, that Castle succeeds. He implores her to realize that she’s not “fine,” that she needs to take a breather. “We’ll find them [the ones in the conspiracy],” he tells her, “just not now.” “If I don’t do this, I don’t know who I am,” she replies. And here, in a nice touch from the Nikki Heat novels—very meta—Castle reminds her that she honors the victims of the homicides she investigates, that she’s the one with empathy for the victims because she, too, is one. That’s who Kate Beckett is. It informs her being, and it is grounded with Castle. Just like Captain Montgomery said last year to her, “You weren’t having any fun until Castle arrived.”

Dichotomies are fun in TV shows. After that previous touching scene, we get another, this time with Castle and Alexis. He apologizes to her, and she calls him on his feelings for Beckett.

“Does she make you happy?” Alexis asks.

“She does.”

“Is it enough?”

“For now, yes.”

That tender moment is crushed, however, as we see Castle go into his studio and pull up his own murder board with Beckett at the epicenter. Castle once accused Beckett of crawling up into her mother’s murder case and never emerging. I fear Castle’s about to do the same thing. It’ll be his secret for this season. The thing is, Beckett has one, too.

In the last scene, she’s talking with the police shrink, played by Michael Dorn (of Star Trek: The Next Generation). In a moment eerily similar to one played out in Star Trek after Captain Picard is rescued from his assimilation with the Borg, the psychiatrist asks Beckett how much she remembers. “Everything,” she replies.

Katic is simply brilliant in this scene. She plays Beckett broken, wounded, raw, and, for the first time that we’ve seen, without that wall inside her. When she utters that one word, with all it’s meanings, it leaves you breathless.

And then the promo for next week jars you back to reality. We all tune in to Castle for the fun, light, witty repartee between the two leads, the wonderful chemistry of the entire cast, and intricate murder-of-the-week stories. That is this show’s bread-and-butter and Marlowe and company won’t forget it. But it’s the rare program of this nature that can deliver such high drama and genuine emotional resonance as the twofer that was the finale and premiere. Castle is that wonderful show that is more than the sum of its parts. I’ll enjoy each and every episode—and the new Nikki Heat novel out today as well as the new Derek Storm graphic novel—as I have for three years. But I find myself looking forward to sweeps months when they will likely break out new, serious episodes. This cast and this writing team have delivered these types of episodes throughout the years, and they just get better and better.


Scott D. Parker is a professional writer who discusses books, music, and history on his own blog, and is a regular columnist for Do Some Damage.

Comments

  1. ScottDParker

    For some additional insight, there’s an interview with creator/writer Andrew Marlowe over at EW.com:
    http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/09/20/castle-season-4-premiere-scoop/

  2. Megan Frampton

    Oh, gosh, all that emotion! Why is it that poor timing and missed connections always rip our hearts out? “Genuine emotional resonance”–yup. Thanks for the post.

  3. Louise321

    Thank you, Scott. I just have one question. When Beckett said she had no one, what about her father? Didn’t he appear at the hospital or was that just some kind of TV phantom drifting across my screen? Where did he go after that? I know she spent the months after the hospital “at her father’s cabin” but where is he?

    But yeah, it is the dichotomy that makes Castle well Castle. I liked how his daughter told him not to grow up too much. This is Castle, after all, as you said.

  4. ScottDParker

    That Mr. Beckett showed up in last season’s finale and, to date, we have yet to see a scene with them together, I’m guessing that there’s probably some estrangement between them. Likely, it’s over her mother’s murder. Mr. Beckett implored Castle to protect Kate and get her to stop because he doesn’t want to lose his daughter. She can’t stop because it is the driving force in her life. Thus, some time in the past, there was a big fight and words were yelled and Mr. Beckett gave an ultimatum: stop or don’t return. She didn’t and she didn’t.

    Now, I also think that the months “at her father’s cabin” did not necessarily indicate that dad was there. She got tired of the crickets, but not her dad’s company. So, again, I’m thinking that paternal instincts took over and Mr. Beckett helped Kate, but then offered the cabin without his company.

    It’s all conjecture at this point, and I hope we get a good, juicy episode with Mr. Beckett and Kate.

  5. Heather Waters (redline_)

    Haven’t watched the ep yet (it’s waiting for me patiently on the TiVo at home), but your recap makes me want to get home to watch it ASAP. Can’t wait to see Stana Katic deliver the “Everything” line.

  6. frogprof

    I loved PJJ in 24 as well, but so far I do NOT like her on Castle. Maybe it’s that she’s not Montgomery, maybe it’s that she kicked Castle out of the squadroom [the NOIVE!], but I do not like her, Sam I Am.
    I did, however, like the fact that all of the detectives called her “sir.” That made me giggle.

  7. Laura K. Curtis

    I have to admit, being the paranoid and conspiracy-ridden sort, that my first thought when “Mr. Beckett” showed up at Castle’s door saying he was Kate’s father and he was hoping Castle could get her to back off was “how do we know he’s really her dad? What’s to say he’s not part of the conspiracy?”

  8. ev

    I only had a couple of complaints about the show and they both have to do with the new Capt.

    First, I don’t know of any cop who would close a case where another cop was shot. Especially that quickly.

    Secondly, she isn’t Eve Dallas. Call me Sir or Captain. I wanted to smack her.

    She seems to be the one thing that really ruined the show for me. I think they could have come up with someone better as a replacement, but maybe they will prove me wrong as the season goes one. ‘

    I hope so.

  9. ScottDParker

    redline_ – Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed the show.

    frogprof – The new captain, Iron Gates, certainly causes friction in the squad room. And I am more than confident that Jerold can bring the heat (heh) on Beckett and Castle. Might be good to add a little friction. If you read the interview with Marlowe over at EW.com, he’s all about putting these characters into conflict. It’ll be fun to see an episode where Gates comes to see the value in Castle’s outsider viewpoint.

    LaruaKCurtis – Very good point. We just took it on faith as did Castle. What would be even more interesting is that he really is her dad but also involved in the conspiracy and Mr. Beckett is the “He” they keep mentioning…

    ev – I think the “sir” thing is the writers trying to establish Gates’s no-nonsense approach fast and quick. I see your point about closing the case of a cop shooting. Seems like all the manpower would be focused on finding that shooter…unless the powers that be are involved and shut it down. As a fan of “The X-Files,” I’m in love with giant conspiracies and am looking forward to seeing just how extensive this one is. And who is the person in Washington, DC that Mr. Mystery Man called?

  10. Deborah Lacy

    @ScottDParker – Great recap!

    @LauraKCurtis – Wow. I didn’t even think of that.

    @ev – I totally agree with you. I love Penny Johnson, but thought her character in this episode was annoying and a bit cliche. Maybe I’m still grumpy about losing Montgomery. Don’t know what she had to work with line-wise, but the whole character needs work in my mind.

    I was dissapointed in this episode overall. I loved the last three episodes of last season and was even willing to suspend disbelief when Castle carried Kate away from Montgomery (it would take more than that for him to over power her) But for me, a lot of the elements I love, love, love about this show were not present – humor, romantic tension, and camaraderie…

  11. LauraT

    #7 and #9 – Actually, we’ve met Jim Beckett before; in the season 2 episode “Sucker Punch,” after Kate learns the victim of the week was killed by the same person who murdered her mother, she meets Jim in a diner to seek his advice on what she should do. Given that Kate told Castle her father spiraled into alcoholism for several years after her mother’s murder, I think it’s unlikely he’s at the heart of the conspiracy, though I’m sure it drove a wedge between them.

  12. Laura K. Curtis

    @LauraT –

    Ah, I didn’t remember that. Still I find it odd that Castle just accepted it on faith.

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