In every well-told story, there is a setup and a payoff; a conflict or obstacle that is presented in order to push the characters past their limits and, in turn, deliver a powerful conclusion. If done well, it can have a lasting impact on the audience, drawing us in by capturing our emotions and leaving us with a conclusion that we will not soon forget.
When it comes to network television, the Castle team are truly masters of the craft of storytelling. So, it was not surprising to see that Monday’s second-to-last episode of this stellar fifth season was the ultimate setup to next week’s surely stunning and emotional season finale. Penned by brilliant longtime Castle writer, David Amann, “The Human Factor” took the audience through one of the most intriguing and intense cases of the entire season, as Castle and Beckett struggled to do their job while a secret government agency continuously prevented them from having access to the usual evidence they would need to solve their case. But Beckett’s fevered determination and tenacity managed to earn them a chance to work alongside the agency’s best and, ultimately, garnered her the attention of the agent in charge and his top-secret government cohorts as well.
Having already bested both the FBI and the CIA on more than one occasion over the past four seasons, it seemed to be merely a matter of time before one of these agencies would come knocking on Beckett’s door. But in true Castle fashion, timing is the key, pushing Beckett to have to face deciding between her career and her relationship, all in the midst of her conflicting emotions over where, exactly, that relationship is headed. It seems that the seasoned detective will be forced to decide where her true future lies during next week’s highly-anticipated season finale.
Monday’s episode was very case-heavy, but it never failed to keep the intensity, suspense, and intrigue that a truly great Castle case must possess to keep us distracted from the lack of personal storylines that most fans crave on a weekly basis. In fact, while there were only a few key scenes between Castle and Beckett, the case-related storytelling was extremely captivating and also incredibly compelling. It also allowed for the audience to see not only Castle and Beckett doing their usual routine as television’s greatest on-screen couple and crime-solving partners, but also displayed Beckett at her own professional best, something that ultimately earned her some much-deserved recognition in her career.
Beckett outsmarting, arresting, and then going toe-to-toe in the interrogation room with Agent Stack reminded us both of how exceptional she is at her job as well as how fantastic Stana Katic is in this role. Having a highly intelligent, skilled, sassy, sarcastic, strong and stoic female character on television, especially one who can still possess femininity, vulnerability, and believability, is such an inspiring thing. In today’s television landscape, there is truly no better female character who fits that mold than Kate Beckett. A great deal of credit must go to Katic for her deeply layered, emotional and captivating portrayal of this also very well-written character, and this was quite obvious in Monday’s episode.
There were some interesting storytelling elements at play when it came to Castle and Beckett and the state of their relationship throughout the hour as well. First were the scenes of them clearly comfortable and thoroughly enjoying their relationship, including a scene in the opening that had Castle using his remote-controlled toy tank to spy on a half-naked Beckett as she got ready for work in the bedroom. With all of the trademarks of their suggestive banter and playfulness, it was a great start to the episode for the dynamic duo. And twice throughout the episode, Castle answered Beckett’s phone himself, a sure sign that their relationship is now comfortably out in the open at the 12th precinct.
Later on, Beckett had some fun at Castle’s expense, using his remote-controlled toys to stir him from his slumber and convincing him that the machines were coming alive to attack them. Castle hilariously grabbed a baseball bat and whacked away at the toys while Beckett gave herself away, unable to stifle her laughter any longer. Again, the two were sweet, playful and very relaxed.
But despite these entertaining and hilarious scenes of a playful couple seemingly in a solid state in their relationship, there was plenty of symbolism at play to remind us that they are not entirely on the same page at this point. In fact, the costume department seemed to be hard at work, using some fantastically subtle old tricks to demonstrate the couple’s contradicting colours through their clothes (blue versus purple, dark versus light). This has long been a way for the Castle team to subtly let us know that there is something amiss between these two, and it was something that was not overlooked in tonight’s episode by any means.
In the end, Agent Stack pulled Beckett aside after they closed their case, asking her the question that would surely set the stage for next week’s climactic season finale: What does she want for her future? After complimenting her work and her exceptional abilities in her job, Stack offered her an opportunity with his secret agency, working for the Attorney General himself to solve the most challenging and skill-testing cases imaginable. This would be the greatest opportunity for Beckett to take the next step in her career and truly make a difference in the world.
Beckett’s hesitation, though, and her ultimately opting to keep this job offer a secret from Castle was enough to signal that she is certainly debating where her future truly lies. The reality is, of course, that we know what her decision will prove to be in the end. After all, the heart wants what the heart wants.
What did you think of Monday’s episode? Were you engaged by the intriguing case? What do you think Beckett will decide to do with her job offer? How do you think Castle will react to the news? Visit TV Guide Canada’s Twitter and Facebook pages to comment!
The Castle finale airs Monday, May 13 at 10 p.m. ET on CTV/ABC.