Well, seems the song has finally gone from a slow and mournful dirge to a fast, frenetic, bass-thumping rock tune. That’s right – Castle and Beckett totally did it. I speak for myself when I say that I was pleasantly surprised and quite happy with the way the show handled the Season 4 finale – “Always“.
How far would you be willing to go for the sake of partnership? Do you do what’s best for them, even if it’s not what they want? Would you walk away to protect yourself from pain you’ve already endured for years? How about ending an obsession in order to save the person who’s had your back through thick and thin? All of these decisions were made in an hour of Castle that ended differently from any of its other season finales.
I’d voiced some predictions, both in my head and out loud – but I’m relieved almost none of my guesses came true. The case was unremarkable except for the fact that it ends up being a connection to Kate’s shooting and her mother’s murder. She doesn’t jump in head-first until she latches on to evidence that tenuously leads her towards her oft-time obsession.
Of course, Rick knows the entire time that if it does end up pulling Kate back in, she will never be safe from the men who want to see her dead. He tries in vain to steer them away from investigating deeper, and when that fails he pleads with Kate directly to stop digging. It’s not the first time he’s gone to her, asking her to step back – to stay safe. But it is the first time he’s gone in armed with the knowledge given to him by the infamous Mr. Smith.
The conversation / argument between Castle and Beckett is an amazing piece of writing and acting. When people think of Nathan Fillion as Castle, they think of a care-free man-child – full of creative theories, showing his affection towards Kate Beckett in teases and innuendo. But thinking back to his work in Firefly and Waitress reminds us that his range is larger than it seems. This scene showcases that range.
Unlike a similar fight they had about the same time last season, Rick walks out of his own volition. You can almost see him making a promise that this time things will have to be different. He’ll have to finally let go so he won’t have to see Beckett’s self-destruction. As we see later in the episode, Kate probably thinks that when he walks out this time, it still won’t be forever.
I really don’t take sides here, but I was happy to see him make a fist. To not only cut ties to her, but to the 12th precinct. I think it’s what they both needed to do in order to make it through the events that follow. In Rick’s case, it wasn’t a trial. He committed to his daughter’s graduation, even when he got a call from the bullpen. His priorities were clear and not clouded by his love for Kate.
Unfortunately, Castle’s absence make things very difficult for Detective Ryan. His partners go off-grid into a dangerous situation. While it’s a familiar theme, it hardly ever ends well without intervention. After weighing his options and several failed attempts to talk them out of it, he ends up in front of Captain Gates. Not exactly a popular course of action, but it saves the lives of his co-workers and friends.
He arrives at the scene, Gates in tow, just in time to pull Kate up from her precarious position – dangling Vertigo-style off the edge of a building. Her brain hears (what I assume is) Ryan’s voice calling to her as Rick’s – which leads to her epiphany that her life is nothing without him. The vendetta she’s carried for over ten years fades away and she can see what’s most important to her. An epiphany Rick had a year earlier, but one she wasn’t ready to face until she came to grips with her own demons.
Scattered throughout the episode are scene transitions, montages, and various other devices that are meant to draw attention to the dichotomies and mirrors which are present in the story. Before the tallies are made, the episode’s threads lead to Alexis’ graduation speech. Her voice carries over the images of the players all ‘moving on’ towards their personal truths. The writers end her speech with the word “Always”, which has special meaning for the show.
When Kate is called in front of Captain Gates (along with co-hort Esposito), she is put on suspension and ordered to hand over her badge and gun. In that moment, she makes a decision to move on – tendering her resignation instead. We watch her clean out her desk and say goodbye – whether temporary or permanent, and see Esposito coldly dismiss Kevin because Ryan did what was right, but what went against the code in which they operate.
Kate takes her time, getting her thoughts in order – weighing the options on what she should do next. She ends up at the swingset where she and Rick sat while discussing her ‘wall’ and how she needed to put the past behind her in order to be the person she needed to be. We see her agonizing over the path upon which her life has taken over the months between then and now while a pouring rainstorm drenches her.
Rick paces the loft while talking to his daughter on his cell phone – telling her he’ll be fine on his own while she and Martha are away. When it rings soon thereafter, he declines the call that comes from his former partner. He takes one last look at his makeshift murder board and on a note of finality, deletes the file containing the clues he’s kept from Kate since receiving the fateful call from Mr. Smith.
He hears a knock at his door, finding a bedraggled but determined Beckett standing on the other side. Resolute, he demands to know what she wants – but she stuns him by rushing in and confessing that she wants him. He’s clearly stunned by her kiss and heartfelt apology – and he’s strong enough to pull back in order to find out what brought her to finally give in to her feelings for him.
Once he determines she means it and is ready to take that leap – he returns the intensity of her emotions. She puts his hand to her scar in a very tender moment between the two, perhaps signifying the incident that both shattered them and brought them together. Kate takes his left hand in hers (a callback to their link left-hand to left-hand in Cuffed?) and pulls him towards the start of a new beginning.
The final showdown occurs between the assassin that nearly killed Beckett on the rooftop and the ever-ominous Mr. Smith. Maddox (Assassin and representative of ‘The Dragon’) confronts the older man – telling him that they never had a ‘deal’, they had blackmail – which would be terminated after Smith hands over the evidence. Maddox reveals that the situation will end with the death of Kate Beckett – and the hour is over.
In the end, the real bad guy gets away, a couple comes together and a partnership is in tatters. This season finale breaks the mold set by the last three season-enders – where Castle is parted from the others for the three months the show is on hiatus. Andrew Marlowe, the series’ creator and co-writer of this episode, has stated that we will get to see their relationships progress. The fall premiere (the odds are ever in it’s favor of a return) will pick up where we leave off this spring.
So, I’ll be back here in the fall. Ready to recap and review a new season of Castle. Keep your eyes open for renewal news and breaking info over the summer – then new episode coverage once the show returns.