Review: Castle 8.02

Summary: Kate gives us her side of the story this week, and also learns that the conspiracy she’s dealing with goes far higher than the AG’s office. Meanwhile, Castle, Alexis, Hayley, and the boys come to the same conclusion in their own investigation.

Best Scene: Castle leads the precinct in congratulating his wife on her first day as Captain, and Beckett shares some lovely words about what it means to be their leader.

Best/Worst Line: “I love you. I always will. Please forgive me.”

My Review: O.k. guys, I’m going to give you fair warning: there is a 100% chance this is going to devolve into a rant about poor storytelling. I know it’s going to happen eventually, so I’m going to try really hard to focus on the good parts of the episode before I get into what I didn’t like (similar to what I did for the season 6 finale which, in retrospect, seems like a fantastic episode).

It wasn’t a surprise at all, but I loved how badass Kate was here. She’s done a lot of crazy things in her life, but stitching herself up with vodka as an anesthetic kind of takes the cake. I also enjoyed her dynamic with Vikram; the way she put him at ease was really sweet, as was her conviction that she could trust him. As mentioned above, her words to the precinct crew were lovely, and I especially liked her homage to the Captains that came before her. I also liked Kate’s resolve at doing right by her friends at the AG’s office. Even if I don’t like the consequences of it, it does speak to her sense of morality, which has always been one of her best traits.

I also liked the way the supporting cast came together in this episode. It was great to see Alexis and Hayley made a part of the team so easily, and it was especially nice to see Alexis treated as an equal, despite Castle’s reservations. Also nice? Alexis declaring that Kate “is family”, something I hope she keeps in mind after hearing about what happened at the end of the episode…

I was glad that Kate brought up Castle’s disappearance in their conversation at his office, because it was completely relevant to her situation in this episode, and that bit of continuity was nice. Though to be honest, I kind of feel bad that Castle gets so much flack for that, since he can’t defend himself against something he largely doesn’t remember.

Other things I enjoyed: Castle saving everyone with his desk gun (had a feeling that might come back into play), and Castle’s stepmom. I actually liked her quite a bit more than Castle’s dad; she had a nice dynamic with Kate, warm but no nonsense, and her advice at the end was great, even if I do wish Kate had interpreted it differently. She also just felt like more of a real person than Castle’s caricature of a spy dad, and I would really love to see her meet Castle, Martha, and Alexis.

On to things I have mixed feelings about…As much as I enjoyed Alexis in this episode, she became a tech god mighty quickly, no? And are we really supposed to believe that Hayley wouldn’t have noticed the mirror behind the computer, what with her many years of detective experience? Small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but still things that made me suspend my disbelief.

Bracken’s death was obviously a huge shocker and I think it was a very effective way to raise the stakes in this episode. As soon as both Kate and Rick learned that he had been killed, it was very much a “whomever’s behind this really means business” moment, given how untouchable Bracken has always been. So looking at this hour alone, it was a great twist. However looking to the future, I’m disappointed that we won’t see any more of Bracken’s twisted but fascinating dynamic with Kate. I’m also sad for Kate herself; if she had wanted Bracken dead she would have done it herself. What she wanted was to bring him to justice, to make him rot in prison for the rest of his life because of what he did to her mother. So the fact that he got killed two years in, death an escape he didn’t deserve? That has to sting quite a bit.

Lastly, I hate, hate, hate that what Kate did caused Castle to utter this heartbreaker of a line: “He told me you’d never be happy just being my wife. Please do not tell me that son of a bitch knew you better than I did”, but even I have to admit what a painfully good piece of writing it was.

And now what I didn’t like…One, the conspiracy. Waaay too complicated and unnecessary. Bracken didn’t need a shadowy partner; he was plenty powerful enough on his own to do what he did, and I don’t buy that Kate and Co. didn’t come across any information about this guy in their many investigations. Ultimately, this feels like a blatant plot device, the writers realizing that they brought the Bracken and 3XK/She XK storylines to an end and that Castle’s disappearance didn’t go quite the way they planned, so their solution was to bring in a nonsensical big bad to fuel what will probably be the last season. I’m also bummed about this development because I think it takes away from the power of “Veritas”, and it seems, erases the closure Kate’s gotten since then.

As for what Kate did with this new information, from a plot perspective her reasoning simply doesn’t make sense. Like I said, I love that she wants to avenge the deaths of her old co-workers. I’m sure she feels an enormous amount of guilt for opening the can of worms that got them killed, and I totally understand needing to do it herself rather than rely on Castle’s stepmother to do the job. What I don’t believe is that she needed to leave Castle to get this done. Her logic is that if she pursues this investigation then her loved ones will be in danger, right? Does she think that moving out of the loft will erase her relationships with them? That whomever is in charge won’t be smart enough to figure out that she still loves Castle, Martha, Alexis, the boys, etc? I can see going to a different city, severing ties completely, but staying in town and continuing to be in their orbit in no way lessens the threat to herself or her family and friends.

Along with that, I know some fans are of the mind that the term “out of character” doesn’t exist, that if it’s canon then it’s clearly in-character. I disagree. Writers make mistakes, sometimes they’re too tempted by the allure of a flashy story to stop and think about what the character they’ve created would actually do, a character who, by the way, in this very episode said “I sure as hell am not going to let someone chase me away from the life I’ve worked so hard to create.” Basically, I get the sense the writers were searching for an arc for Kate (and her relationship with Castle) this season, one they think will be new and different, but for me feels like a complete retread of season 4. You simply cannot erase years of character development, of Kate Beckett slowly but surely realizing that her own happiness is worth far more than any vendetta, just because it will give your show a “fun” jolt in its 8th year, which unfortunately, is exactly what happened here.

One positive note to end on? I just realized that Lanie’s reaction to all of this is going to be spectacular, and I kind of can’t wait for her to give Kate Beckett the lecture of a lifetime.

I’m almost afraid to ask, but what are your feelings on this episode? Hit up the comments and let me know!

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