Episode 24: Watershed
The Season Finale
By: Carlos Uribe
Castle is a show about a mystery writer who helps his lover solve crimes.
The weekly case in the season finale began with a lot of promise. The victim was an honor Harvard student who was renting at a low-rent apartment and pretending to be a prostitute. This creates so many questions and possibilities that I was genuinely excited about where the case could go. Since this was the finale, I thought for sure that the writers were going to do something with the case unless they wanted it to be overshadowed by other elements of the episode. This is probably why I was so disappointed when this wasn't the case. It turns out that the girl was only leading a secret life because she was hacking into a law firm that she blamed for the death of her best friend. The death was officially listed as an accident but she never believed the true story. She was right because a politician had killed her and gotten his law firm to cover it up. My problem with this is two-fold. The first is that the whole “character solving the murder of best friend” felt repetitive. This is basically what had happened in the Big Foot case and I'm sure that the series has done other similar cases. It's a matter of going back to the same well a little too soon. This marks the case as unimaginative and unoriginal. This is the season finale! The case should have at least stood out but instead it was just too similar to one we had just a few episodes ago. It is so disappointing to have such a promising set-up only to have Castle go down an all-too familiar path. The second problem is that the show decided to avoid having a finale revolving around the Bracken case. I understand why the writers did this. They want to stretch the plot out as long as possible and they're didn't want him to quickly overwhelm the rest of the episode. If he had appeared in the finale then it's arguable that they couldn't have had that cliff-hanger ending or the whole workplace dilemma because the case for Bracken would have taken over everything. It's a fear that makes sense but I think bringing up him should have been the right move. I don't want to write Castle but it would have made sense to somehow connect him with the politician that killed that girl. It didn't have to be big but anything to have made this case more memorable. There's a lot of talk about how this might be Beckett's “last case” but it's hard to believe this is true. If it was, how disappointing how vanilla it turned out to be. If it wasn't, the season finale just spent so much time on an easily forgettable and even derivative weekly case. I could be wrong but I think Bracken somehow having a small (or large) connection would have made the case stick out more and be relevant to the Castle mythos.
The good news is that there's more to this episode than just the weekly case. The first is that we find out that Ryan is going to be a dad. I do like when Castle develops his personal life in the background. The supporting detectives might not make for good characters to base an entire episode around but they do act as nice way to fill the Castle world. I might not like the Ryan or Esposito episodes but I do like it when their plots are slowly developed over time. The second major plot development deals with Beckett's decision to interview for the job. She's pessimistic about her chances but she flies to the capitol to go for it. She gets a good recommendation from her boss and she actually does get the opportunity. She doesn't say yes because there is a major obstacle to her going. Accepting this job would mean that she never gets to see Castle. He would be in New York City and he wouldn't be able to shadow her investigations anymore. Their relationship has been nice but it really hasn't been defined by them. She's not even sure that they would have a future together if she stayed. They have been in the honeymoon phase of their relationship and this job might be what takes them out of it. It might be enough to kill their relationship. It's a strong fear to have and it becomes stronger when Castle learns that Beckett had gone to this job interview without telling him. There's a good scene when he finds out and he wonders which is true: did Beckett not think about how the job would affect their relationship or did she did think but decided not to tell Castle? The audience knows the answer to this question as it's the latter. Castle is disappointed by this and he largely disappears from the weekly case. I approve of this move because it was the right choice for the character to make but it was a double-edged sword. At this point, the weekly case had become rather vanilla and forgettable. What happens to a weak case when you take out Castle? At the very least, it becomes boring to the point of insufferable. The show should have compensated somehow but it didn't.
Their relationship is in limbo at this point. The two aren't working the case together. Beckett goes to her dad to get some advice but all he can tell her is follow her heart. It's a nice piece of advice to hear but it's ultimately frustrating. Beckett wants this job opportunity because she's ambitious. She wants to be on the national scene, investigating cases that make a difference. The one aspect tying her job down as mere homicide detective is gone as she knows who killed her mother. She might actually be able to bring him to justice by working for the federal government. There are so many reasons for her to take the job but she would lose Castle. There was just a few episodes back where she just had a flashback of their relationship together and she loves him. There is no doubt that she wants to be with him. This is why she's so afraid of losing him. As for Castle? He goes to his mom for some advice only she doesn't tell him what he wants to hear. She doesn't think that the two have a future together because she kept this a secret and she's an ambitious woman. You would think that with all of this that their relationship would come crumbling down to an end. The two haven't defined how serious it is, Beckett wants a job, and Martha plants doubt in Castle's mind about their relationship. So what does Castle do? This is the third thing that happens: he proposes to her at the swings. He's in love with her and he wants to marry her no matter what she chooses. The episode ends before we can get her answer in pretty effective cliff-hanger. It's one that makes me want to tune in to the sixth season but there's a few problems. The first is that while I want to know the answer, I'm not dying to know. This is an ending that's aimed primarily at the shippers so it's going to be a long summer for them. For the regular Castle viewers where their relationship is only a secondary or tertiary reason why we watch the show? It's nowhere near that compelling. I wouldn't be surprised if I go into the sixth season without really remembering the cliff-hanger.
Watershed is a disappointing episode of Castle. The weekly case is forgettable, weak, and repetitive. Once Castle stops helping out, it becomes boring. The federal job dilemma was better handled because of the way it dealt with the relationship drama. I'm not sure if Beckett with accept the job although I can guess it's only going to be temporary if she does. This show needs her to work with the New York City police department for it to work unless it's planning a momentous status quo change. The relationship drama was mostly good and it helped to turn what would have been a weak Castle episode into one that's passable. The cliff-hanger moment was a strong beat to end on but it's ultimately not the best one. I like Castle and I'll definably watch how this cliff-hanger is resolved. I just won't be holding my breath.
See you next season, Castle fans.