Castle: The Human Factor and Watershed

E: You may have noticed that we skipped last week’s penultimate episode of Castle, season 4.  Sorry about that, folks!  But because last week’s episode kicked into a gear the whole “where is this relationship headed” dilemma set in motion by The Squab and the Quail, I figure it’d be a good idea to must a little chatter about that in with our normal sized recap (and potentially king-sized grumbling fit) of this week’s season finale.

M: It may be without C, however, as she is dealing with the end of the school year craziness. And my big sis neglected to mention that we missed the episode before that as well, but we have a legit excuse for that one… because the episode centered around a bomb threat, they didn’t air it here in Boston. Because, you know, we’re not “strong” enough to watch a TV show involving a bomb.

E: Idiots.  But hey, at least it was just a clip show.  They probably did us a favor.

M: But I digress, let’s get back to Castle and Beckett.

E: Sigh.  I guess.  I hate it when shows pull this kind of crap.

M: You and me both!

E: Let me restrain myself momentarily and sum up The Human Factor, in which an impoverished internet whistle-blower gets blown up in his car.  The feds are drawn in to the case – at first, everyone thinks it’s a bomb, which seems to be their bailiwick, but the government gets even more entangled when our team figures out that it was a missile dropped by a drone, and might have been fired by the Army.

M: And they played heavily on one of my all-time least favorite plot devices, the “battle over jurisdiction”. I only know a few law enforcement officials, but from what I know from them, and as was evidenced in watching the work done after the Marathon bombing, the animosity and in-fighting over who gets the case and sharing information is just utter crap. Knock it off, Hollywood, we’re not as dumb as you think we are.

E: Yes, but it seems that in a lot of cases, Hollywood IS as dumb as we think. The plot itself – and particularly the jurisdictional bickering – wasn’t much more than an excuse to get Beckett some federal attention – and no, that’s not a pun for anything.  They wake up to the fact that she’s great, and ask her to interview for a job in DC.

M: And by “they”, E means Carlos Bernard, aka 24‘s Tony Almeida.

E: Whatever.

M: You’re whatever-ing Tony Almeida? Wow, this finale really put you in a bad mood, didn’t it?

E: And a show I didn’t watch is supposed to help that mood?  No.  On the other hand, Beckett is enthralled – God knows why, because the feds we meet are grim and kind of awful.

M: Oh, I can completely understand her wanting to go after it. It’s a plumb job, working  mostly independently, reporting directly to the Attorney General of the United States, working on the biggest, most important cases (presumably like the Marathon bombing). Basically being, to quote Men In Black, “the best of the best of the best, SIR!”  That has Beckett written all over it.

E: What, because solving homicides is so unimportant?  And there’s no way to rise in the ranks in the NYPD?  It just seems like a fundamentally different line of work to me.

M: I think rising in the ranks in the NYPD is the fundamentally different line of work. There’s no more detective work then, it’s managing people, and the higher up you go, politicians. The (I think completely fictitious) AG’s job is solving homicides and other detective work, hence the same, but on a bigger stage. Of course, NYC-detective-for-life-for-personal-reasons also has Beckett written all over it, so I could have seen her embracing either decision… the way they played it in The Human Factor, at least.

E: Indeed. And because that’s the way they’ve been playing something else lately, she doesn’t know where her relationship with Castle is headed, so she decides to go after the job – without telling him.

M: So utterly ridiculous on so many levels. However, having him be mad at her not for interviewing, but for hiding it from him was right. He was right to be pissed, and Martha was full of crap to defend her.

E: I agree, even though my personal response wouldn’t have been to fly off the handle.  I can understand her being hesitant to tell him if she thought it meant essentially breaking up with him over a job, but woman up, girlfriend. First off, the whole “I don’t know if he’s serious about us” thing is ridiculous.  He’s been in love with her for how many years?  Also, I’m sorry, but there is ample evidence that Rick Castle is the marrying kind.  Fear of commitment is not his issue.

M: Yes, that’s the first strike. Second, just a few episodes ago she was renting a vacant apartment, paying actors and using NYPD resources to play an elaborate birthday prank on him. And that was because he got hurt on their ski vacation together. I don’t think she was wondering about where their relationship was going then. Third, and most ridiculous in the scenario of the DC job, is her thinking that would break them up. HE’S INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY! He’s a writer, and can live anywhere he wants.

E: Damn straight!  Now, okay, he wouldn’t be able to solve cases with her.  But he has a pretty great day job, and it’s one he can do anywhere.  Surely he can find other sources of inspiration for his work; it’s not like D.C. is  a boring town. Alexis is in college, so it wouldn’t be a question of uprooting her.  Martha could stay in his apartment.  Of all the possible scenarios in which you’d ask a significant other to move for you, this has to be the easiest.

M: Exactly! Hell, even if he had to stay in New York, there are shuttles back and forth to DC all day every day. I just did a 2 minute search on one airline and came up with 18 flights for tomorrow from NY to DC. So stupid.

E: Yes.  Now, as we start Watershed, with a Carrie-style blood shower (completely ridiculous considering there was one body in that massive water tank, and no, the pun does not improve my temper) we find that Beckett’s giving Castle some alone time to work on his book.  Which is to say, she’s in D.C., interviewing for a job she suddenly desperately wants – having taken one of those flights you just mentioned.

M: Agreed on the blood in the shower, disagree on the “suddenly”. Wait, no. You’ll have to excuse the non-English major, as I at first didn’t realize the suddenly was referring to the desperation, not her wanting the job in general. I agree that the “desperately wanting” (good Better Than Ezra song, btw) came across as out of nowhere, especially the way they played it in Human Factor. Anyway, let’s keep going.

E: Let me dispose of the (decent enough) case quick, because let’s face it – who can pay attention? The body in the water tank turns out to be a beautiful young Harvard computer studies major hiding out in a seedy motel, pretending to be a prostitute (she even brings her own moaning soundtrack for the neighbors who never noticed there weren’t any clients to be seen) so she could hack into the database of a law firm.

M: As a computer studies-type major, and now professional, let me just say that there were sooo many things wrong with that part of the plotline, and leave it at that. Next.

E: Turns out her best friend was the Mary Jo Kopechne of a would-be Teddy Kennedy, killed when the aspiring (and presumably drunk) politician crashed his car; the law firm staged the crash so it looked like the BFF was driving alone, so hacker girl decides to use her mad skillz to track down those responsible. Unfortunately the pains she took to remain anonymous prevented her family (and anyone else) from protecting her, so she’ll have to be content with justice and a prison term for the Kennedy-esque rich boy instead of a long and rewarding life.

M: We’ve told you this before, you should never use the phrase “mad skillz,” you should never pretend to have street cred, and you should never pluralize anything with a z. Please just stop, you’re embarrassing us all. Let’s forget that happened again, and move on to the big ending scene to Watershed.

E: Will do. When Castle started grumbling to Beckett about how he had to reevaluate their relationship, I turned to Mr. E and said “he’s either breaking up with her or proposing.”

M: Really, it took you that long? Literally, I said weeks ago “the season finale is going to be him proposing”. Poorly manufactured drama aside, where else was this season heading? Big “I told you so” for me on this one!

E: Who did you tell exactly?  Because I don’t think it was me or the internet.

M: Ok, well, I told Mrs M.

E: Whatever. As for where the season was headed, I guess. For what it’s worth I think it was not only the least romantic proposal ever, but a truly terrible idea.

M: I don’t think it was terribly romantic, and it’s never a good idea to make a huge life decision while in the middle of a fight (especially your first real fight), but I don’t think it’s a terrible idea at all. If they hadn’t been manufacturing the whole “we don’t know where this is going” b.s. for the last month, then it would have been a bad idea. However, where they have been playing that up, he was answering it as honestly as he could, and I think it was the right gesture.

E: What?  The b.s. was all in Kate’s head!  I don’t think it made the proposal more logical; the logical response would have been an honest conversation.  I’m not saying them getting married is the worst idea ever (although the timing is terrible) – more that he needed to preface it with something like “I would follow you anywhere” or something.  And, you know, they needed to talk about marriage, about whether she stays or goes – you don’t just have a fight with someone, sound gloomy, and then drop down on one knee!  Awful.

M: Ok, maybe you need to re-watch the scene. He prefaced the proposal with “Whatever happens, whatever you decide,” so he covered that part. As for sounding gloomy, that was all about the writers trying to make it look like they were going to break up, which of course was crap and easy to spot as such. So yeah, crummy proposal, but not as bad execution as you’re making it out to be.

E: See, I think he needed to say he would move with her; I thought he made it sound like the options were go and break up, or stay and marry me.  Not cool.

M: See, I took it exactly the opposite way, as a “stay or go, marry me”. The dour tone definitely threw it off, though.

E: I’d be very interested in hearing what our readers and fellow fans thought, then, and if they were as dissatisfied with something that ought to have been wonderful as we were. In general, I hate these “will Commander Riker get promoted off the Enterprise?” dilemmas.  They’ve made her want this job so badly I’m going to be upset when she doesn’t take it; how will it feel like she’s not settling, like she’s deliberately forgoing the natural next step in her life (which she could have done with him) just so we can keep the show just as it is?  But conversely, that’s part of why I love The Good Wife…

M: *cut to our readers gasping in shock and surprise*

E: Har har. Anyway, it’s because several of the main characters are leaving the law firm to start their own firm!  It’s a complete reset of the series, I have no idea how they’re going to manage all the characters, but I freaking LOVE that they’re bold enough to do it.

M: I agree with you completely! Of course, I’m the guy who, before giving up on Star Trek:Voyager, though that the best thing they could have done to make that show interesting was to kill off Captain Janeway. Not because she wasn’t an interesting (which she wasn’t), but because she was the only thing holding the two faction of the crew together.

E: Game of Thrones.  Boldness pays off sometimes.

M: No HBO, so I don’t know, but I’ll assume you’re agreeing with me, because that happens all the time. 😉

E: Actually, I am.  Don’t faint.

M: For Voyager, it would have been fascinating to see what happened in the aftermath, much like you’re looking forward to what happens on TGW. I know network executives and show runners are afraid of losing audiences who tune in to watch the characters they like, but the success of shows like 24 and Law & Order, that hit the reset button on their casts should be a sign that audiences are perfectly willing to take the leap with the show if it’s good enough.

E: This is not to say that, however, I’m interested in Castle turning into Homeland Security. Because I’m not.

M: The crappy part with Castle is that, despite your questions, she would absolutely take the job in reality. Like Riker would have taken his own command, and all the other officers on every version of Star Trek would have gone on to other ships over the course of their shows or movies. People look to advance in their careers. TV does a lousy job of showing that, but especially the driven kind of people that are main or supporting characters on TV shows would not be the kind to stagnate in the same position for 10 years. I hate when shows/franchises stick their characters into the same positions forever. Hate hate hate!

E: Yes.  Hello, Grey’s Anatomy, I’m looking at  you.  Remember every single character on the first 90210 all deciding to go to college at the same school?  Sigh.  The writers work so hard to convince us that someone is crazy ambitious, talented and smart, but then can’t let them follow those traits logically.

M: Yup, that’s it exactly. But back to the show, and decision, at hand. Beckett is driven, and in real life would not turn down this opportunity, which she so clearly will at the start of next season.

E: You think? I don’t know. I feel like something has to happen to sour her on the idea of D.C..

M: That’s because something should have to happen to sour her on it. It could, but either way at some point before the “fall finale”, she’ll be an NYPD Detective. Without that, the move to DC would mean Castle would become Kate Beckett: Badass Investigator, with Castle tagging along to DC but no longer allowed to play cop, and the complete loss of the Wonder Twins, Lanie, Martha and Alexis. I don’t like it, not because of it being a change, but because of this specific change. The heart of Castle is in his goofy assistance in cases, and the dynamic of the characters. Take that away and I don’t think you have a winning formula. Put them in a private eye business like Moonlighting? Not crazy about it, but it could work. They need to investigate, and theorize, together.

E: Well, exactly.  D.C. was super serious.  When this show works, it’s all about the tone, and I don’t see how they could maintain the tone with Beckett permanently living in Seriousville.

M: We are on the same page. As is always the case… said no one ever when talking about us.

E: Oh, that happens more often than you admit. The paragraphs trip us up, though.  Anyway, my favorite part of the episode, perhaps, is that Castle and Beckett go to their lone parents for advice on this relationship conundrum.

M: Technically, Castle’s parent isn’t his “lone” one. And as I mentioned before, I thought Martha taking Beckett’s side was lousy. He was in the right on this one, he’s been forthcoming and open and if it wasn’t written to drum up drama, Beckett would never doubt his intentions and what he considered their relationship’s direction to be.

E: Oh, agreed, I just meant I liked the parallel of Rick turning to Martha and “Katie” to her Dad.

M: Ok, yeah, I did like that, and Beckett’s dad clearly won the “giving good advice” competition between them. Not that that’s necessarily a surprise.

E: Also, I liked that Gates told Beckett to go for the job, and that Esposito thought Kate’s moody demeanor was the result of pregnancy hormones.

M: I did too, but I didn’t like that Ryan and Jennie being pregnant was such a throw away moment.

E: I can’t believe Ryan hadn’t shared that before!  Ridiculous.

M: Ultimately, I think they chose to go down a lazy, short-sighted, misguided path. It got them where they wanted it to, but it did so without subtlety or grace, wit or skill. Not only that, but it left them with only one truly viable option, which makes what was supposed to seem like a cliff hanger ring hollow. Whether it’s the first episode next season, or if they drag it out for a slightly longer arc, we all know that they’re headed back to solving murders for the 12th Precinct. Right?

E:  Anything else and it won’t be the show we signed up for.

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6 comments on “Castle: The Human Factor and Watershed

  1. thepresidentrix says:

    This is just to report: I am willing to get on board with E’s ironic use of the phrase “mad skills.”

  2. Gina says:

    I also took it as “stay or go, marry me.”

    And I also thought of Kopechne! (Pretty hard not to . . . )

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