Castle: I Can’t Quit You

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Castle & Beckett in the season finale. photo copyright ABC

I have a love/hate relationship with Castle, the television show.

Love because I’ve grown to adore Nathan Fillion in the lead role. There hasn’t been such a wonderfully goofy male lead in a mystery since Pierce Brosnan in Remington Steele. The writing has improved since the show’s first season and the banter among the mystery writer Rick Castle, his partner, New York City police detective Kate Beckett and the show’s supporting characters from Castle’s home and the police precinct are often stellar. Stania Katic has grown into the role as Beckett and I love the way she projects a warm competence. And, naturally, the romantic banter between Castle and Beckett makes the show.

At its best the show is incredibly fun, such as the zombie murder tale, “Undead Again,” that aired on April 30th, or last year’s steampunk-oriented episode.

But the show is far from perfect.

Sometimes the mystery plots are just awful. There are episodes where it seems like the writers got two-thirds of the way through the script and decided they better pick a murderer instead of various clues leading to a logical conclusion.The police procedure stuff is all wrong, too. This isn’t normally that much of a problem, as this is television, not real life, but sometimes the police stuff is so staggeringly off that it throws me out of the story. Like the coroner announcing at the beginning of Monday’s episode, “Always,” that the bruises on a corpse’s shoulders are from carrying something that weighed 30 pounds. Oh, c’mon. That’s just silly.

The worse problem, however, is the way the relationship between the leads has been written this season. [Editor’s note: some spoilers ahead.]It’s been one long and annoying tease from last season’s declaration by Castle that he loves Beckett as she lies near death from a gunshot wound.

The writers play the old “oh, right Beckett doesn’t remember” card for a while, until it’s revealed that she does but won’t tell Castle. And then Castle finds out she does remember and acts like a passive-aggressive idiot about it. That I almost buy, given his emotional age is often that of a child. But these are narrative tricks designed to keep the viewer guessing. They don’t seem to naturally flow from character.

The biggest obstacle to the romantic hook-up, though, isn’t a secret Beckett’s been keeping. It’s one that Castle has been keeping from her, that he has a lead on who shot her but hasn’t told her because some mysterious guy says keeping her off the investigation will save Beckett’s life. And Castle thinks this is the way to go, listen to mysterious guy who’ll protect Beckett instead of telling his partner that the conspiracy is still going on and she might be killed at any time.

The episode on Monday revealed all those secrets.I should be happy because it also took the next step in the relationship but the way it was done drives me crazy. Castle seemed to think Beckett should be understanding about keeping this big secret about her near-assassination and her mother’s murder and when she accused him of betrayal and decided to keep investigating, he walked away.

I think what the writers were going for is showing how obsessed Beckett was about catching the man who nearly killed her and how that kept them apart. But they seemed to not feel that Castle deserved some blame for treating Beckett like a child, as he does with his daughter, Alexis. (The show also seems to think Beckett is completely incompetent too, given how Castle solves all the cases but that’s a side issue at this point.)

So, in the end, Beckett apologizes to Castle for being upset and has to practically grovel before he kisses her back. Katic plays the scene incredibly well. It’s the writing that bothers me. At no point is it acknowledged by Castle or the show that he treated Beckett badly as well. A mutual apology would have worked just as well and put the partnership, romantic and otherwise, on an even footing.

The romance writer in me is banging her head against the television remote.

And thus ends the season finale. Will I be back for the next season? I will for a little while, in hopes that this particular issue is somehow resolved and settled. It’s not too late to fix.

But I’m bummed because the big emotional moment that I’ve looked forward to for several seasons just didn’t work.

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