Episode 22: Still
By: Carlos Uribe
Castle is a show about a mystery writer who helps his lover solve crimes.
When ABC announced that it was going to switch “Still” with “The Squab and the Quill” there was a small group of fans that expressed annoyance. I understand their concerns as I value continuity. This episode was supposed to air first so it's understandable why they would be frustrated. I can state that I actually think the decision was a good one for a couple of reasons. The first is that with the picture of the bomb and the threat that Beckett was literally standing on, I would have turned off my television set as the Boston Marathon bombing was still very fresh on my mind. The uncertainty that my city was safe wouldn't have made it possible for me to enjoy this episode. This is different from Revolution with the nuclear bomb threat. The nuclear bomb was sensitive but there were no newspapers opening the episode with an actual bomb going off. It was an implied threat that was more abstract. I might not have enjoyed that episode if it had aired the day off the bombing but a week later? Fine. It's different for Castle where the newspaper at the beginning made the bombing in the show feel a lot more real. It's been a few weeks and while I haven't forgotten about the bombings it is possible for me to watch this episode and enjoy it. The second reason is because it actually fits better. There is nothing established this episode that was necessary for the “Squab and the Quill” and it fits their relationship arc better. It would have been odd to have gone from this episode to one where Castle was barely paying attention to his girlfriend. It makes much more sense for this one to come after Castle learned not to take his girlfriend for granted. This might not have been the intended order by Andrew Marlowe but I think that the switch helped the series rather than hurt it. I do hope that the DVD honors the air date rather than the intended order.
So “Still” is this show's version of a clip show. Only it decides to break form by presenting life-and-death stakes and snippets rather than clips. A clip show is a true and tried type of an episode where the majority of it is actually made up of the “best-of” moments from previous episodes. It's a cheat for the producers as it allows them to spread the budget for this episode towards others as it requires less production time. It allows the writers to catch up if they're behind on scripts and allows for some relief on the production of other episodes. The clip show might be a way to deliver fan-favorite moments but it's ultimately been used as a behind-the-scenes buffer. This new age of television has seen the gradual decline of clips shows. They still exist but they have become a lot less common. This is partly because audiences are more savvy and they generally don't appreciate clip shows. There's nothing more disappointing for a fan to watch a show they love only to find out that they're not getting a full new episode but rather parts from ones they've already watched. This might have worked before home video when this was the only way, other than repeats, to live old moments but they have gradually lost that saving grace. So the clip show is a dying kind of an episode-whether for good or for bad. Community recently made fun of them with a fake clip show episode (where the clips were fake) and now Castle presents what could be their modern version of them. Clip shows used to be filler episodes with the original bits being weak as not a lot of effort went into them-the meat was the actual clips. You could skip them without having missed a beat.
I wouldn't recommend skipping “Still” as it's not completely a filler episode. The whole set-up of the episode is that Beckett steps on an activated bomb. If she moves then it goes off. Castle sticks by her side to be her “bomb buddy” to help her get through this ordeal. The two get into an argument over who liked the other first. This is what leads to the snippets. Clips always come in montages but “Still” presents them in rapid-fire mode. They are small little moments as none of them are long enough to act as a Youtube video. As the episode moves on, it's an exploration to all the little moments that the episode put in to show that they like each other. It ends where Beckett is by herself and all she can do is think of the one man that she loves-Castle. It covers their whole relationship and in the end it reveals what this episode was all about: an exploration of their love. Most clip shows just show the best moments in the show but in Castle they all served a purpose. It's fanservice that celebrates their relationship in an entertaining manner. In the end, Castle and Beckett are able to disarm the bomb as they come up with the story of the bomber. The two are safe and they rush out of the building to kiss. Only their boss shows up so they can't but then Victoria Gates reveals she knows they're a couple. She just has to be able to maintain plausible deniability so they have to act professionally in a relationship. Which is a pretty big development as it sort-of removes the annoying workplace obstacle that never really worked.
The episode of “Still” is a pretty good one as it celebrates Caskett while showing that Gates knows about them. In this way, the episode is able to transcend from being just a filler episode to being something more. I never believed for a second that Beckett was going to die but the bomb did serve as an effective story frame for the “clips” shown. It's definably an inventive clip show and one new shows should learn from. A clip show episode that shows moments from the past while still having it's own identity.
Castle interrupts one of his montages to note how Kate has changed her hair over the seasons. Honestly, best moment of the episode for me.
Beckett calling her dad was a nice touch.
I'd like to note that while I did enjoy this episode there was still a part of me who felt uncomfortable watching it. Like it was still hitting me too close to home at moments.