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ABC’s “Castle” Review

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Sarah Whitten

 After four years of will-they-won’t-they, Castle fans finally got their answer in May during the much anticipated season four finale. On September 24th, Castle returned for its fifth season on the ABC network and picked up right where it left off: the morning after. Entitled “After the Storm”, the first episode of the new season opens with Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) in bed alone, although not for long. Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) enters through the doorway carrying two mugs of coffee and sporting nothing but Castle’s button-down.

The pair finally communicates with each other honestly and openly for the first time since the series began, but not without their typical Castle-Beckett banter. Richard Castle begins, “You were right, I had no idea.” A little nod to season one episode one in which Castle suggests that “debriefing” each other would have been great and Beckett replies, “You have no idea.” However, the conversation shifts momentarily when he asks, “So, you’re on board with this right? It’s not some… ‘Oh I quit my job, I almost died and I’m in crisis- thing’?” Beckett assures him that she is on board but, pauses, seeming to remember that she had, in fact, quit her job only the night before uttering, “But I did just quit my job…”However, in classic Andrew Marlow fashion, this moment is turned on its head when Beckett adds, “and I do have the day off.” All while unbuttoning her shirt and smiling coyly at Castle.

Naturally, of course, just before Castle and Beckett are about to kiss for the first time this season, Martha Rodgers (Susan Sullivan), Castle’s mother arrives home. Calling out to her son that she is home, Castle panics and, after tossing Beckett off his bed, tells her to hide in the closet. The two share a brief moment of tension here, as Beckett resents being told to hide, but, disgruntled, she agrees. As it turns out, Martha isn’t the only member of the Castle family that has arrived home since Castle and Beckett’s sleepover. Alexis (Molly Quinn), Castle’s teenage daughter, was picked up by her grandmother after drinking too much at a high school graduation party. So while Richard caters to his family, Beckett attempts to sneak out of his apartment unseen. This leads to a hilariously choreographed scene in which Castle tries to keep the attention of his mother and daughter so that Beckett can slip out the front door.

There is no doubt that Castle has gotten back to its roots in this episode. The days of flirtatious bickering are certainly back. Beckett makes sure to tease Castle when a fellow Detective arrives at her doorstep saying, “I hid in your closet. Why won’t you hide in mine?”

This episode had a lot of people thinking, “Moonlighting curse… what Moonlighting curse?” In recent years, writer and creator Andrew Marlowe, has gotten a lot of flak from fans and critics alike who worried that Castle and Beckett’s relationship would fall into the same mold as Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) and David (Bruce Willis) from a 1980s series called Moonlighting. In this series the two protagonists consummate their relationship in the third season however, their relationship only lasts for three episodes before disintegrating. Maddie leaves David to return home; it’s revealed that she is pregnant with twins, and there are over ten episodes in which the two characters are apart. The ratings declined and the show was cancelled around the fifth season.

However, Marlowe’s creative storytelling and the inherent chemistry between Katic and Fillion has so far disproved any inclination that Castle will head in the same direction. The couple remains fiery despite admitting their feelings and their troubles don’t look to be ending anytime soon. For the time being the pair has agreed to keep their relationship a secret from the NYPD and their co-workers.

Castle and Beckett are among a collection of current television romances; rivaling against Brennan and Booth from Bones and Tony and Ziva from NCIS. While Bones jumped the gun, bringing the pair together because of a one-night-stand pregnancy during season six, NCIS has yet to bring its will-they-won’t-they pair together even after seven seasons. Castle seems to have struck a balance between these two extremes and hopefully they will stick to it. Marlowe has proven to be a level-headed writer; taking his time to develop characters and plots.

Beckett is reinstated onto the force after an entire episode of rogue police work. Her mother’s murder is finally cracked open and major plot questions are answered. The man that shot Beckett back in the season three finale, Cole Maddox (Tahmoh Penikett), is brought to justice in a karmic sort of way about half-way through the episode. Kate, with the help of Castle, Detective Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever), and Detective Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas), pieces together a file that exposes the man who ordered her mother’s murder.

Since season one Castle fans have been given hints about the complex web of conspiracy surrounding Johanna Beckett’s murder. Only now are we privy to the master plan of Andrew Marlowe. The perpetrator is Senator William Bracken (Jack Coleman), a man who was involved with the late Captain Montgomery’s crew and their gangster kidnapping scheme. He used the money he earned ransoming mobsters to fund his political aspirations and has since been eliminating any one who threatened to expose him. Beckett faces off against Bracken towards the end of the episode; asserting herself as a force to be reckoned with. She leaves Senator Bracken with some food for thought and the potential for a nasty scar across his face.

Season five of Castle definitely has a different tone than its preceding seasons. Season four was fundamentally dark, dealing mostly with the aftermath of Kate Beckett’s near death at the end of season three. The change in tone is not only revealed in story but, in lighting and costuming. The dark blue hues of season four are replaced with warm oranges and yellows in season five. Kate Beckett has literally let her hair down; her tight ponytails from last season seem to have disappeared for the time being. Her locks have a definite brightness to them this season as opposed to their staunch dark brown last year.