Castle Episode 5×24, Season Finale, WATERSHED Review: The Magic of Marlowe

[Blog note: I’ve captured this post in the event it disappears from the web. The title link below takes you to the original page. I plan to refer to it in a later post about my favourite series and actor… This is an extraordinarily prescient review and not at all representative of the usual entertainment fluff typically designed to drive click-traffic.]

Castle Episode 5×24, Season Finale, WATERSHED Review: The Magic of Marlowe

by Joy D’Angelo, May 14, 2013

A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it, or drains off of it, goes into the same place. (From: The Environmental Protection Agency)  It also means “a turning point.”  The Castle season finale reflects metaphorically the first and literally the second.   This was a quieter than usual, but still intense, Castle  finale.   The entire cast is all in for this wrap of season five, and we get a whole bunch of loose ends tied up…and unraveled.   It’s both exciting and maddening, since we’ll have to wait for Castle season six in September to continue the story.  (It’s already been renewed – THANK YOU, ABC!)  There’s so much to discuss, so I’m dispensing with the chit-chat – let’s dive right in!


As usual, I’m giving you the SPOILER WARNING.  If you haven’t seen the Castle season 5 finale and don’t want to be spoiled, well, you shouldn’t have clicked on something called “Recap/Review” – but accidents happen.  I would suggest going to watch the episode now, because it really is epic!  Also, stay off of social media for the next couple of days –   people are going to be buzzing about this for a while.  Watch the finale, and any other episodes you might have missed this season – then come back so we can discuss what happened in “Watershed.”

There’s a Mark Twain quote that (paraphrasing) says, “If you ever have to swallow seven frogs – swallow the biggest one first.” So, I’m going to tackle the biggest issue on everyone’s mind as this episode had many fans on edge right on up to the end – when Castle proposed to Beckett.  You heard me – he proposed!  We’ll have to wait until the fall to see the answer, but the answer is clearly a yes.

How can I say that?  The same way I knew Castle was going to ask in the first place – it’s in the story.  Andrew Marlowe is writing about how a relationship develops and moves forward.  He’s not looking for a reason to break up.  Furthermore, all the evidence is in the episode itself – starting with  Beckett’s first encounter with her possible new job.

The setting is cold and austere, very un-Beckett.  She’s dressed to fit in, hair up and tightly drawn back, a white buttoned all the way up shirt,  blue, buttoned closed jacket.  The real kicker though is Deputy Attorney General Anthony Freedman”s (Kyle Secor) complaint about the attorney general.   “He’s got his first grandchild, now he wants to show me pictures.”   There is no way Kate Beckett could be happy working in that kind of environment.  There’s also the odd caveat he makes about the opportunity being presented:   “…opportunities like this come along once, maybe twice, in a lifetime.”   Who says that – once, maybe twice, in a lifetime?  It’s a blatant message that Beckett will have another shot at a similar job before this series ends.  I know, we don’t want to think about that.  Moving on!

Another set of clues are in her conversation with her dad, Jim.  Since it’s always great to see Jim Beckett (Scott Paulin), here’s  a clip from that scene.

There are several things to take note of:  Kate doesn’t think it’s possible to have both the job and Castle.  She agrees with Castle that the job won’t give them any time together.  Her mother would be proud, her dad is proud, and it’s her dream job – on paper.  I’ve already gone over the realities of the job that would make it unappealing to Beckett.  She’s afraid that if she turns it down – because of Castle and his ultimative (remember he’s told her if she takes the job they’re over) – she’ll resent him, which will end up destroying the relationship.  The biggest issue though is the last one – she doesn’t know if this is “real.”

It’s not that she doesn’t think the love is real – but what if they’re just in love with being in love, what if it’s only the chemistry?  Her dad goes on to point out that whenever relationships have hit this place before Kate has ended them because she was afraid.  Does he mean Kate’s been afraid of commitment?   I don’t think so.  I think he means afraid of being hurt.  On that, he’s correct.  Kate basically tells best friend and medical examiner Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones) that what she’s afraid of  is rejection.  Does she use those exact words?  No.  What she told Lanie was that the job would force her and Castle to talk about the future.  Lanie says that could be a good thing, and Kate replies, “but what if it isn’t?   In other words, what if she finds out  he doesn’t want to get married, and hadn’t been thinking in those terms.  Her fears are similar to those of Castle, but I’ll get into that when going over his stuff.

Now, I’m sure there are going to be fans out there going, “She should have know he wants forever!”  For those fans, I’d have to question if you’ve ever been in a serious relationship before.  For most people, there are several relationships where the two people do love each other, but don’t end up as marriage and forever.  Being in love and being committed in the moment aren’t the same as wanting a commitment to the long haul.  Women in particular seem more aware of this possibility and we worry about it more.

It’s not that men don’t worry about those things also.  In Castle’s case his fear is, has always been, that he isn’t worthy of Kate.  Thank God for Mom, Martha Rogers (Susan Sullivan).

I do find it ironic that over-the-top Martha is the voice of reason in these things.  She pulls no punches, reminding him – and us – that he refused to tell Kate how he felt for three years and took another year to act on it.  It’s great having that outside view of things brought in instead of just Castle’s or Beckett’s.  In  ”Always” Castle makes that huge speech about how he’s been there for Kate the last  four years and  bringing her coffee just to make her smile – which is true.   However, it really wasn’t fair to assign all the blame to Beckett about how long everything between them was taking.   As Martha said, Castle didn’t say anything about his feelings to Beckett for three years. (She was bleeding out in his arms at the time.)  Instead, Castle just waited for her to “notice him.   Between both of their issues, it’s a wonder they got together at all!

Last year Martha was also more subtle in trying to guide Castle.   She tells him that he was trying to punish Beckett rather that confront the issue, and that the two couldn’t go on the way they were.  That conversation ended up with Castle agreeing with her – and saying he was going to end the relationship.   If you recall, he tells Martha he’s about to go on his “last case” with Kate.  This year it’s Beckett saying it – another reason to realize it will all end well.  Castle’s “last case” ended up with them talking and working things out.  This year Martha makes things very clear, she thinks Castle is afraid the relationship can’t really work – that’s why he’s always ready to run at the first sign of trouble, rather than confront an issue.  Subtext, if that’s not the case, then go for the whole thing!

The reason Martha  thinks Castle’s afraid it won’t work is because Beckett doesn’t tell him everything right away.  She’s too independent (and she’s a Scorpio besides!) and he can’t accept that.  She explains that it’s not about keeping secrets from him – it’s just the way she is. Loving someone means being able to accept all of who a person is.   For example, Castle is like a “9-year-old on a sugar rush,”believes in things like Bigfoot and plays with remote-control helicopters.  That’s not going to change, and Beckett has come to love and accept that part of Castle.  Beckett needs to think and process things out until she’s ready to talk about them – that’s who she is – love it or leave it.

There are other reasons for Castle’s fears also.   In season four’s “47 Seconds”  he assumes Beckett has been stringing him along, because why else wouldn’t she tell him that she’d heard what he said?   He  concludes  that Beckett isn’t  attracted to him, and it was dumb of him to think he’d be good enough for her.  That’s a major self-esteem issue!   This season, we learned from Castle’s “Jordan” story that the issue is even deeper.  He’s afraid if anyone, including her, knows the real him, that person would stop liking (and loving) him.  So, yes, like Kate, he’s afraid of rejection.  However, Kate’s fear is more generalized.  As our guy in “The Squab & The Quail” pointed out, it’s not complicated for a man to know what to do if they meet a woman like Kate, meaning  that Castle should have already made his intentions clear. It’s unfair, but the fact is that, in American culture, it’s the guy who’s expected to ask for a permanent commitment, because it’s viewed as he’s the one giving up his “freedom.”   Women who talk about marriage and commitment are very often portrayed as being “a nag.”  With Castle not wanting to talk about the future, Kate is left wondering if he actually wants one with her.

All of these things lead up to the meeting at the swings.  Kate had left her dad prepared to accept the job and let the chips fall where they may – only something happened on the way to having the discussion with Castle.  She had one last interrogation to do.

How many years of your life are you going to sacrifice for someone else’s future?”

That’s the critical line and question for Beckett.  She became a cop to help the families of murder victims not have to live with the pain of not knowing why their loved ones died.  This new job would mean dealing with corporate cover-ups, terrorist plots, and more, with her potentially being able to save thousands of lives, at the expense of her own.  She did that when she became a cop, and if not for Castle she’d still be in that mode.  As she walks through the precinct, her home, she makes up her mind to not take the job and risk things with Castle.  It’s why she can smile at the guys when she says she has something to tell them, but she has to tell someone else first.  If you have any doubts about that, just look at how relaxed and smiling she is when she sees him.   This is not a woman walking to go break someone’s heart.

Do you see what I mean? She apologies for keeping secrets, just like she apologized for not listening to him in “Always.” She’s reaching out to him, trying to comfort him and let him know she’s not leaving him, but he won’t let her talk – which turns out to be a good thing.

In contrast to Kate, Castle is miserable.  He is 100% percent convinced Beckett will turn him down.  However, he’s come to the conclusion that Kate Beckett – with all that implies – is who he wants to spend forever with, and she should know that.  She should know that if she decides she wants the job in D.C. – but agrees to marry him – being in D.C. won’t matter.  The truth is, with Castle’s money and the type of job he has, living in D.C. can be worked out and dealing with the crazy hours can be worked out.  They’ve both seen this with Agent Jordan Shaw (Dana Delany)  – the federal agent who’s married and had a kid – in season two.  I am hoping we get to see agent Shaw again in season six. She’d be a great recurring role!

Castle’s willingness to marry her whether she takes the job in D.C. or not, shuts the door on any last tiny fear Kate may have had. She had been concerned that if she turned down the job for Castle she would eventually come to resent it.  Now, that will never happen, because Castle wants that future with her whether she takes the job or not.  Most importantly, he wants to marry her!  Her fears that he didn’t want that have been completely wiped away!   ll of these things are why I’m 100% sure that Kate’s answer in season six will be yes.   Are their going to be other issues to that marriage?  Of course!  What relationship doesn’t?  That’s one of the overriding messages of Castle – relationships don’t magically come to together – they take work.   However, they also don’t end at the slightest sign of trouble, which television would have us believe is the case. (I wonder if anyone has ever done a study looking at the American divorce rate and the trend of television breakups – just sayin’.)

I did say that the proposal was the big frog – there are some other things that deserve to be looked at.  The first these is the vision of Andrew Marlowe.  While this finale is a departure from the physical intensity of the last couple of finales, given the number of action-packed episodes this season, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Even more than missing high-octane action, the finale is also different in terms of content.  Although  Kate’s interrogation of the killer is pivotal to the Caskett story, the case itself really doesn’t tie into the characters’ emotional lives at all.  This has actually never happened.  There’s no way it’s a coincidence.

For starters, Detective Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) is shown to be concerned about Beckett throughout the episode.   He’s known her long enough to see that something is going on.  It has nothing to to with the case – like it was in season 4′s “Kill Shot” – it’s just about his relationship with Beckett.  As he and Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever) are looking for the missing laptop, they aren’t talking about the case.  Instead, Esposito is asking Ryan if he’s noticed anything different with Beckett.  When Ryan suggests Beckett could be pregnant, Esposito freaks – until Ryan uses it to tell him the news that his wife Jenny (Juliana Dever) is pregnant. Esposito is then happy, and thrilled for his friend.  Oh look, he found the laptop!  That’s the end of the scene.

We also get Captain Victoria Gates (Penny Johnson Gerald) calling Beckett into her office to discuss Kate’s job offer.  That’s right, “Kate.”  That one I think floored people almost as much as the proposal!  No, it wasn’t our imagination.  Take a look –  Gates is clearly in Beckett’s corner.

Again, though, this conversation has nothing to do with the dead woman found in the water tower, and she never even asks for an update.  I love how Penny removes her glasses before revealing how excited she is for Kate.  It’s the real Victoria coming out – the one who’s kept a blind eye all season to the fact that Castle and Beckett were together.  The fact that Gates is being supportive of Kate’s possible move – rather than being petty or backstabbing makes this an even stronger moment. So often women are portrayed as being against each other in the workplace.  While the dynamic is certainly different than what she had with the deceased Captain, Roy Montgomery (Ruben Santiago-Hudson), it’s just as centered on seeing Kate Beckett’s brilliance and wanting to help her be the best that she can be.  Do I still think Gates is a Fed who can help Beckett switch arenas? No, that was wishful thinking on my part.  However, I do think that Gates being an open mentor to Beckett will be part of season six – even though she probably still won’t be able to tolerate much of Kate’s fiancée. Eventually, when the time is right, look for Gates to move Beckett forward in her career.

At this point though, Kate’s not all about her career which is not the  Kate Beckett we met in season one – hers was a narrow and lonely world.   She lived for her job as a police detective, because it was the only thing that gave her any solace from her mother’s unsolved murder.  Making sure that no one else had to live with not knowing what happened to their loved ones was a kind of justice that she could seek.  That Beckett would have taken this job in a heartbeat.  In terms of storytelling having Beckett’s emotional world shown to the audience through her work kept her  tethered to the idea of work being the most important thing for her.

That idea really began to change in season four, when she tells Castle she has walls to take down if she really wants to have a romantic relationship.  She takes herself back to therapy and eventually makes the breakthrough of telling her shrink that she “wants to be more” than what she is, which up until then has been a homicide detective.   She stays in therapy to work through her PTSD issues from her shooting, and from the residual trauma of losing her mother.

Later in season four we get to see Beckett over at Castle’s house for no other reason but to see Martha put on her one woman show.  It’s a big deal because this isn’t a burger after work, or because her apartment – or a bank – got blown up.  It’s really a completely separate, social outing.  She’s come around to not keeping her relationship with Castle connected to the job.  Then, at the end of season four’s finale, Beckett shows up at Castle’s loft, after sitting in the rain contemplating the events of her day, to tell him she just wants him.

For most TV shows, and for many television viewers, that would have been the “happily ever after moment.”  They’ve gotten together and now it’s all… sneaking in hot sex in closets during working hours, until they inevitably break up and start the whole cycle over again, or the show gets canceled.  Instead, Marlowe continues along a more realistic line – dating.  Yes, there’s the excitement of a new relationship, like when she’s getting ready for her first day back at work, but there are also issues, how to handle working with someone you’re dating is a big one.  How much to tell cow-workers and when, are real questions.  Then there’s the first vacation together – in the Hamptons.  Going away with someone you’re dating is a milestone, and it’s giddy and exciting – unless interrupted by a murder.  Still the opening where Beckett planned to go skinny dipping and the ending where she acts out being Nicky Heat are still part of the early relationship vibe.  It also brings up the issue of their different incomes and lifestyles.  As a relationship continues there are issues of trust – like in “Probable Cause,” and meeting each others’ parents, which happened in “After Hours.”

Then there’s the Christmas episode – which has the same pattern that this proposal/engagement this is set up for.  Both of them have valid important reasons for wanting what they want, only to come to the conclusion that the relationship is more important.  There’s the ex-wife issue that works itself out.  Then we see Kate getting more comfortable with Castle’s money and giving him a drawer in her apartment.  When Alexis is kidnapped Kate is there for Martha while he’s gone, and the only reprimand she has for him taking off the way he did is that if something that dangerous comes up again he needs to take her with him.  She doesn’t say he shouldn’t have done it, or that it was crazy.   She’s got total acceptance of him, which shows up in the 100th episode when she throws him a surprise party that indulges all of his favorite passions.

Yet, all of the events I’ve listed  revolve around cases –  just like they have every other season.  It’s only in this season five finale that Marlowe  chooses to focus on the relationships in the Castle world without connecting it to the actual case.  Even in her meeting with  Lanie – where Beckett uses the excuse of the case to come talk to her – when have we ever seen Lanie coming into work?  It’s like the woman lives in the lab.  Again, it breaks through that 12 precinct wall.   Marlowe shows the audience that now, within Kate’s world, there is life outside the precinct and outside of life as a homicide detective.  While Castle has always been shown having a life beyond Kate and the 12th – Beckett hasn’t.  In ushering in the start of a new phase of Beckett’s life – one involving a husband, and possibly at some point children, Marlowe uses this episode to show that work is no longer the center of Beckett’s by making the murder case – which is a solid well done case – absent from the characters’ relationships.  This sets up Kate getting ready to accept Castle’s proposal and moving forward in season six.

As a separate and final point to fans and critics alike, did you notice how Alexis has been dealing with things since her kidnapping was addressed in this episode, as well as how Castle has been effected by being even more over-protective?  How about the fact that Ryan does tell Esposito about Jenny’s pregnancy, only it’s about three months later?  That’s a standard practice for most expecting parents because the first three months are the ones where a miscarriage is more likely to occur.  With only 24 episodes at 43 minutes apiece, it’s impossible to address every story angle in each episode, especially when the show’s focus is Castle and Beckett.  However, Marlowe is a master of continuity.  He never just drops an issue.  If there’s unfinished business, you can be sure it come back up to be addressed. For instance, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about Alexis’s coping issues, and Jenny’s pregnancy next season.

With Castle, Marlowe continues to give viewers the rare television opportunity to watch a relationship – with all of it’s high and low moments –  actually develop.  His success in doing this is worthy of applause, since for decades this idea has been said to lead to the death of a television show.   The last time it was tried would be ABC’s “Lois and Clark” in the 90′s – but the networked balked with going through with it and in it’s third season forced the show and DC comics to delay Lois and Clark from getting married.   Instead, a series of ridiculous plot events occurred, which tanked the show’s popularity, and the show was canceled after season four.  This is a show Marlowe has mentioned when discussing his research leading to the correct conclusion that the so-called, “Moonlighting Curse” was just a myth.  Knowing that to be true, he has shepherded his story through the last five seasons.   At the start of season five Marlowe  told Matt Mitovich over at that the season’s theme was, ” the challenge of being together and what that looks like.”  I would say he definitely succeeded.

So that a wrap for Castle season five!  Congratulations and thank you to the entire Castle cast, crew, and overall team, for a fantastic season! I am so looking forward to season six!  It’s going to be a long summer, but with any luck it will fly by.  You can bet I’ll be keeping an eye out for any Castle news that comes to light and posting it here at Gossip and Gab, so be on the lookout!  Is it September yet?