Okay people, this is more a review of the first six-and-a-half seasons of Castle and not the last season-and-a-half because frankly, it was more a miserably fashioned epitaph to a dying show than the original failed ending to HIMYM. But perhaps everyone who saw any part of the show prior to its twilight years would agree that it was something special. There was no CSI/X-Files seriousness attached with the overall theme of the show, no nihilist and typically doughnut-flavoured, end-of-the-day scene that affects many cop/murder/crime related shows, rather a light-hearted core which was enveloped with an occasionally serious but perennially entertaining crust. Was it stuffed with gruesome, weirdly-murdered/mutilated bodies and people with border-line idiotic motives? Yes, at times. But those moments did absolutely nothing to chip away at the brilliance of the show. If anything, they only highlighted it further.
“There are two kinds of people who sit around all day thinking about killing people…. psychopaths and mystery writers. I’m the kind that pays better.”
You see, the show wasn’t just your regular, run-of-the-mill crime-solving drama series. If it were, there wouldn’t be a romance between a mystery writer and a cop. I mean, love between someone whose job is to think of different ways to kill people and someone whose job is to catch killers? If this were CID, you just know something like that would never happen. But yet it does, and that’s what really pushes the show through some rather plain episodes and some off-screen tussles between the actors. The subtle irony is too good to miss—Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion, who cannot stand each other in reality, participate in what can only be called one of television’s most sizzling, glamorous, topsy-turvy-yet-you’re-glad-that-it-happened couples. From the moment Katic walks into the interrogation room, looking breathtaking in her short, flaming-auburn hair, where Fillion is sitting, what with his gaunt, naive and sociopathic yet genius look, talks to him about his rap sheet (upon being asked why he was nude while stealing a horse, he justifies it by saying—what can I say, it was spring) and Castle says to her “I’d be happy to let you spank me” and the camera turns to a beautiful and wonderfully poker face of Beckett, one could tell that there was a spark of chemistry there.
“Don’t ruin my story with your logic.”
A spark that, over six-and-a-half seasons, blossomed into one of mainstream televisions most watched romances. So instead of being wound around murder and mystery and the curious case of who killed Beckett’s mom, the plot begins to move away from the 12th Precinct and begins to circle itself around the little conversations at the beginning and at the end where Castle and Beckett would talk to the people in their own respective camps about whether they should tell the other that they love them. The awkward moments when one left/came with a date began to become more pronounced as jealousy was carefully hidden, masked under the feigned excitement of tackling and solving the death of another poor New Yorker. As Season 3 reaches its middle-point, one can feel their chemistry escalating, graduating from the level of Sheldon-Amy to that of lovers who would but don’t confess to each other. I know more than a few who have willed, with all their might, at Nathan Fillion in their screens to tell her, or at Katic to finally do away with her indomitable, unbreakable, all impeding exterior and accept it. And then heartbreak, as he tells her and she pushes him away.
“If two people believe in something, really believe, then anything, even the impossible is possible.”
This tussle between their internal desires and their external conditions, between passion and reality, between what they want and what is, goes on to define the best moments of the show. Those periods are what keep the viewers glued to their screens, the will s/he, won’t s/he instances where the viewer secretly, perhaps even soundlessly yells “you idiots!” are what shroud and will immortalise the legacy of the show. The inexplicable cathartic release when she comes to his house at the end of Season 4, drenched in rain and Castle opens the door, gently asks her what she wants and she, with a brief silent whisper, as beautiful as her in its ethereal ubiquity, says you and kisses him, is one that has evoked happiness,love and passion in the heart of everyone who witnesses the scene. The culmination of 5 seasons worth of love, through chasing murderers, tackling hostage situations, clinging to the ceiling to avoid a hungry tiger and an almost successful assassination attempt is the moment where the show peaked and was at its absolute best from that moment until somewhere around the last few episodes of season 7.
Castle is your typical formula show. You watch it for long enough and you will be able to tell just by looking at how many minutes of the show you have sat through whether the person Beckett is wearing down in the interrogation room is the killer. Watch it long enough, and you may even be able to predict the killer at the very beginning of an episode. But it’s seldom that I have treasured it for the plot or how well it fares on the scale of gruesomeness, as per the standards set by Dexter, or even about whether all the murders make any sense. Yes, maybe I am damaging my almost non-existent credibility when it comes to TV shows by saying this—Castle was not about the details, the nitty-gritty of plotline verity, but to me, it was about the moments, the small instances of comedy, laughter, despair, hopelessness, family and happiness. It was the little moments which defined the show for me. Like when Beckett is dangling off the edge of the building, performing parkour reminiscent of Vertical Limit/beginning of Mission Impossible 2, and calling out Castle’s name. When an arm appears as if from nowhere, she grabs it and clambers up and is sadder at the fact that it’s not Castle pulling her up but Ryan, than the fact that moments before, she had almost died. The moment when she is shot and Castle tackles her and looks deep into her dying eyes, begging her with all his strength to not go easy into the good night, telling her that he loves her, pressuring her, as he did the wound, to stay with him. The moment when Castle is on the verge of death, having inhaled a poison and Beckett is torn between finding the antidote and the person responsible and spending what could be the last moments of Castle’s life, by then her fiancee, with him. Those are the moments that mark out Castle as a special show in my book. It’s not just a tale of murder, mystery and the macabre, but a story of people, people who have their baggage, all of them, every character, but overcome it by being inspired by and inspiring in others, new strength and fighting to stay united and to be able to love each other as they are, and to push each other to become the people they want to be.
“Everything I’ve ever done, every choice I’ve ever made, every terrible and wonderful thing that has happened to me, it’s all led me to right here, this moment, with you”
I think I was wrong in calling this a review. Coming to the end of this, it is only appropriate that I call it what I’ve meant for it to be in my head, something that was long due—a tribute. To all those moments when the show has made us laugh, disgusted us with semi-eaten bodies, haunted us with pictures of a woman frozen for 5 years and made us long for the consummation of someone else’s love, I would like you all to raise a glass to honour a beautiful series. It wasn’t just Castle and Beckett who made us laugh, though. It was the weird yet somehow workable and unlikely duo of an Irishman named Ryan and a Latino ex-Marine whose name rhymes with mosquito (Esposito) whose partnership churned out one joke too many at the expense of Castle, the camaraderie of Castle’s mother Martha and his daughter Alexis who kept him sane and in line (usually) and the quirky and typically snappy personality of Lanie who added a different dimension to the show; all of those characters came together in an exemplary manner to give us an exemplary show. Despite all the issues off-screen, and all the murder on it, the show still found time to make us laugh, practice our best poker faces in light of some on Castle’s comments and to show us that love can indeed flourish in the workplace. Even if that workplace is as morbid as the homicide department of NPYD.