Castle Review: “Rise” (Season Four Premiere)

C: Tonight was what one might call a “Mr. Hyde episode” of Castle. Most people I know who watch this show enjoy it for the witty banter, the gargantuan charm of the actors, the rapport between the characters, and the outrageous worlds they dive into when investigating murders (steampunk, soap operas, spycations…). And then every now and then, an episode comes along where every one of those things disappears.

E: Heh. Hyde episodes. Let’s make it a thing. I do hate it when Castle doesn’t actually feel like Castle. To have fewer jokes makes sense, but I don’t get why they feel like they can’t have any in a “serious” episode.

M: It’s like it tries to be a different show entirely when they do “heavy” episodes, like the ones dealing with the overarching plot.  Like you, I don’t know why they can’t keep the spirit of the show the same.

E: It wasn’t too bad as an episode of ER, though.

M: I don’t know about that. I thought that the beginning of the episode was appropriately tense, up until they part where they had her flatline and cut to the title and commercials.  Look, the audience knows that Beckett’s not going to die, so you’re wasting the suspense of the commercial break on something that no one believes.

C: The only suspense was how they were going to explain her “death.” By saying they got her heart going again, as it turns out. Well played, show…

M: Played, at least…

C: Nonetheless, I agree with M that this episode started off at an appropriately heavy level, given that a central and beloved character had been shot. I wouldn’t have wanted them to brush that – or its emotional aftermath – lightly aside.

E: Have you ever seen the episode where Booth fakes his death on Bones?  Brennan is furious at him, and he’s nonchalant.  It’s funny, and it works.  That’s another show I watch for the interplay of the characters.  They can do serious episodes without losing their identity; I wish the Castle writers would look into that.  I won’t say I hated every serious thing they attempted, though.  The conversation on the swing?  Loved it. She can say all she wants that she doesn’t remember being shot, but he knew, I’m sure he did.

M: I’m not so sure.  They have written him to be rather unobservant of hints like that.

E: Come on, Beckett looked directly at Castle when she said that she can’t have the relationship she wants without breaking down the wall. Message received.

M: Okay, yes, that I agree with, but I think that the “I broke up with the dude from Mutant X” part of the conversation was what got him there.

C: Since they didn’t bother to develop Josh as a character I was happy enough to see him go, but the “emotional wall” thing seemed like sheer desperation on the part of the writers to delay the romantic climax another season. Well… let me break that down a little. I think this show actually has one of the more realistic Chronically Delayed Romances on TV, because Castle is such a very bad relationship bet when we first meet him that you can’t help but support Beckett’s choice to keep him at arm’s length.

E: Oh so true.  We would not be cool with you dating someone like that, even if he did look like Nathan Fillion.

C: Thanks, sis. He’s too old for me anyway… but I digress. Over the past three seasons Castle’s really grown up a bit, so that even though he’s still immature in some ways you do feel he’s emotionally grounded at the root of it – less likely to run away from problems, and less likely to simply drive Beckett nuts. The problem is that, with this being a Hyde episode, he’s not acting like the reckless, shifty, thrice-divorced goofball we know, but like Mr. Rugged Hero with Intense Emotions. So what might be a believable emotional decision from her – “Hey, I can’t deal with a potentially taxing relationship circus while someone’s trying to kill me” instead comes off as the more contrived industry standard: “I’m a woman, so I can’t have a relationship and a consuming life goal at the same time.”

E: Funny, but it didn’t come off that way to me at all.

M: Or to me.  To me it was more “We don’t want to ruin the show the way Moonlighting did.”

C: But I’m not talking about the writers’ own motivation, I’m talking about the motivations they ascribed to the characters.

E: To me it was the idea of Beckett realizing that Castle isn’t the only one who needs to grow up – I thought that was kind of nice.  But then again, those kind of emotional walls come down because you work on taking them down, not because a monumental event magically frees you.  So, okay, yeah.

C: It comes down to the same thing.

M: Now, was it just me, or did it really felt like they didn’t need the case this week?  It seemed so extraneous to what was really going on it the episode that it was a waste of time, and they could have advanced Beckett’s plot just as easily without it.  Especially since they didn’t make them act all light and funny like they usually are.  Remember people, murder is funny.

C: Hm… It’s ironic that what bothered me most about this series to begin with – the disrespect inherent in making a gleeful joke out of murder- is aligned with what I’m missing in an episode like this. But really, I love the idea of them trying to deal with the serious side of what they do occasionally; if only they’d do it in such a way that their personalities feel consistent! Castle does achieve that, but in the heavier moments of light episodes, not the all-serious ones.

E: It comes down to this; if we wanted to be depressed, we’d be watching another show.  I do think this week’s case – the socialite ostensibly killed by her rocker boyfriend in a locked room – was a sop to people like us who are frustrated with the Hyde episodes.   That and a way to deal with Beckett’s PTSD, that is.

C: I think it was a good idea to have a secondary plot; this just wasn’t a very good one.

M: Exactly!

C: I don’t even feel proud about having called the murderer the moment they showed his face – because he was the only possibility they gave us! Way to take the mystery out of “mystery,” guys.

M: I have to admit, I forgot there was a band mate, so didn’t think they’d even introduced a potential murderer, since we knew it couldn’t be the boyfriend.  Very weak on their part.

E: On the other hand, as ever, I liked Castle’s final conversation with Alexis, and how it mirrored his conversation with Beckett.  Even if it was totally anvilicious.

M: Anvilicious?  Show off.

C: How is using a made-up Internet word showing off?

M: Well, when you don’t know it’s made up and spell checker seems to think it’s real, it looks pretentiously obscure.  Either way, bad on you, sis!  That aside, I really liked the part where Alexis got mad at Castle for going back to the precinct, and for putting himself in harm’s way.  Those are the kind of moments that make these Mr. Hyde episodes still good.

C: Yeah, I did like that bit. Except she’d say that in a regular episode, too… and we would get to laugh sometimes!

E: So true.  In general, though, this was a good set up to the season.  They have a bossy, no-nonsense new boss.

M: Oh, I’m so not a fan of former First Lady Palmer being their new boss.  Yes, she plays the hyper-motivated/successful/conniving powerful type very well.  But I don’t like the dynamic that it adds to the precinct.  We’ll see if they can play it more for comedy in future episodes, or if they eventually have her come around, but right now it’s too cliche, and a cliche that I really could care less for.

E:  Great point – can they make Ms. Disapproving funny?  Having the Wonder Twins hide from her might not be enough.  Anyway.  Beckett and Castle love each other (and they sort of acknowledged it but not really) but can’t be together until she puts together the missing pieces of her mother’s murder, and she can’t investigate or she’ll get killed again.

M: Oh, but Castle can, and is going to on his own!  I got excited when they showed one of the all time top “that guy” actors, Geoff Pierson (Dexter, Unhappily Ever After, a million and one other things), get the packet from Captain Montgomery, then call Castle.

C: I was maddened that we didn’t get to see their conversation, though! If anyone is the point-of-view character on this show, it’s Castle. They can’t give him information we don’t have!!

E: Yeah.  Is not cool.

M: Perhaps, but Castle having his own secret investigation board, that’s just awesome!

C: Grumblymumbly. Unnecessary, out-of-character secrets smack too much of plot contrivance to me. As did Castle’s feelings of guilt over having “put Kate in this situation.” And he did this – how? By telling her about a thousand times to back away from the case?

M: Yeah, that, and Mutant X guy attacking him for it being his fault really bugged me.  Castle, as they showed in the “previously on Castle” scenes, tried to stop her from looking into it.  It is precisely NOT his fault.

E: True fact. I’ll just be a lot happier when we get back to Dr. Jekyll.  It’d be intolerable to have Grown Up Castle all of the time.

M: So say we all!

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