Summary: A homicide in the woods triggers Rick’s memory of a traumatic event from his childhood. Meanwhile, Beckett learns of an unexpected opportunity.
Best Scene: Beckett defends the choices she’s made over the last several years, including arresting Bracken and working with Castle.
Best Line: “I don’t cross the line. I put myself on it.”
My Review: This was an unusual finale for Castle in that it had the smallest cliffhanger the show’s ever done, with Beckett’s potential Senate campaign the only line left in the air (and even that seems like a foregone conclusion, considering the events of “Time Will Tell”). Though the resolution in this episode meant that there were no lives in the balance, marriage proposals, or thank god, brides staring at burning cars, I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than previous finales. I also appreciated how well this would have functioned as a series finale. That end scene in particular made a lovely bookend to the scene in the pilot where Castle and Beckett first meet.
Rick’s memory of the homicide he witnessed as a kid provided a jumping off point for one of the creepiest cases of the season. It was a tight, enthralling investigation, especially because of Castle’s connection to it. Nathan Fillion in particular did a great job of upping the stakes; his face when he heard the true murderer’s voice was downright chilling. The barn sequence where he caught the killer was excellent as well (it felt like a scene from a horror movie, which definitely fit the tone of the episode), and Beckett handing him the gun under the door was a nice touch. I also liked the poetry in Castle being the one to pull the trigger. The masked man has been his demon for many years, so it felt appropriate that he was the one to finally put that monster to bed. And, after a season of some unfortunately iffy cases, I was glad to see the writers end with such a solid one.
My only real issue with this murder triggering Rick’s memory was the timing of it. Having just explored Castle’s disappearance a few episodes ago, the scenes of Rick trying to convince Beckett and the boys that he knew who the killer was felt a bit like deja vu, making it hard to believe that Beckett would doubt Castle (even for the brief moment that she did) when she swallowed a far more ludicrous tale only a few episodes before. I don’t have a problem with her very humanly doubting his memory for a moment, my issue is that it seemed odd in comparison to her certainty in “Sleeper”.
Aside from that though, I loved the support that Beckett and Castle gave each other here, as they each faced completely different challenges. Beckett apologizing to Castle by finding the killer’s farmland was great, a very tangible vote of confidence. Likewise, Castle reassuring Beckett that she could run for the Senate if she wanted to was a wonderful moment, and a lovely echo of the words that her mom once spoke to her. And in both scenes, their lines about backing each other’s plays totally summed up their relationship and the confidence that they have in one another’s choices.
The scene where Beckett learns of the potential for that Senate run is going down as one of my favorite moments for her, right up there with arresting Bracken last season. I had a feeling that the questions hurled at her were part of a test, but that didn’t lessen the impact and importance of the way she defended herself. My favorite thing about that speech was that it was such a full-circle moment for her. In the pilot, we were introduced to a young woman who believed that love was a weakness, who thought that Rick Castle was obnoxious and had nothing to offer as a partner, who was embarrassed to be chosen as his muse. So how perfect that, seven years later, she defended Castle as both her husband and her partner, and said that not only was she unashamed of being his inspiration, she was proud. And subtly I think, she pointed out that being in love with him hasn’t made her less of a cop; it’s made her a better (and infinitely happier) one.
I also loved her assertion that she’s a good detective because she doesn’t cross the line but puts herself on it, especially since it explained exactly why she’s had so many brushes with death. She knows she is the last line of defense between a killer and his or her next victim, and she is more than willing to bear that cross, regardless of what it means for her, because that is how seriously she takes her job. It’s also why she could say with confidence that she’s served the families of her case victims well: with compassion, justice, and like she said, the utmost respect for the law. It’s clear to me that she’s going for that Senate seat, not because of “Time Will Tell”, but because she knows what those men told her was right. She has the strength, confidence, and morality to do the job well.
Even though she was featured most prominently, Kate wasn’t the only one that dealt with choice in this hour, as Alexis talked to Castle about her fear of not knowing what she wanted to do with her life (and really, I have never related to Alexis more than I did in that moment). Not only was it nice to see it confirmed on-screen that Alexis hasn’t made any major career decisions yet, it also provided a lovely father-daughter moment, where Castle reassured her that she’ll figure it out, and that every choice she’s made that looks like a dead-end is just another stop on the way to her future. The scene also provided a nice parallel to Castle and Kate’s prior to his award ceremony, where Castle questioned if that horrifying day in the woods was the only reason he became a mystery writer, and Kate reassured him that they are who they are despite days like that, and despite the people who bring that darkness into their lives.
Similar to Kate’s speech, Castle’s was another full-circle moment from the pilot, and I loved that their two very different speeches showed the differences in their chosen careers. Kate’s was a gritty defense, given as she was backed into a corner, while Castle’s was a grand thank you, delivered to a crowd of family, friends, and admirers. However, though those are the places they started the series (Kate in a dirty precinct, Castle in front of a million flashbulbs), each has crossed over and found comfort in the other’s world.
That’s why I loved Castle’s speech so much; it paid homage to the way that Beckett and the boys, Captain Gates, Lanie, even Tory, let him into their world and gave him the extended family he never had. Of course he paid tribute to his mother and daughter, his family from the beginning, his “red-headed pillars of unconditional love”, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t his words to Kate that made me the most emotional. It was perfect that he pointed out that, in the same way that he has made her a better cop, she has made him a better writer. There was also something really sweet about his turning of the phrase “I had no idea”, mainly a bit of sexual innuendo in the past, into a thing that applied to their whole relationship. Finally, I loved that his “always” was such a declaration here, a public display of his love for her and the life that they share.
In the last moments of the episode, it was great to see that, just as the whole group supported Castle that night, they also supported Beckett, making it clear that they would do whatever they could to help her get elected. Alexis’s promise was especially sweet, and could lead to some great bonding moments between the two next season, if Kate decides to go for it. I also liked that the writers made a point to include the whole cast of characters in that final scene. Like I said, this would have made an excellent series finale, though I’m obviously glad that it wasn’t. Season 8 speculation starts now!