Well, it’s over. Um, in reality it was over about a month ago, but I’m really lazy.
Castle has been my longest relationship. (Explanation time: I made a post about my shows as relationships.) I first watched it over two years ago as a thirteen year old. I’d know a little about the show previously because one of my friends was obsessed with it. (I originally assumed it was some stuffy show about guys in powder wigs – word association, Castle with, well, castles, and Beckett with that Beckett guy from Pirates of the Caribbean.) I wasn’t interested until my step mom started watching at nights, and I couldn’t help observing. I think the first episode I ever watched was Famous Last Words. The first one I was REALLY into was Love Me Dead. (I guessed that the call girl was involved, and I was right, and it was exhilarating.) The first one I watched with any seriousness was Valkyrie on Hulu – I’d investigated and found that only S6 was on Hulu, and decided not to start there, but an early morning viewing of The Host (a terrible, boring movie) drove me to watch Castle. And… I loved it. I remember thinking to myself, This is like a movie but more of it! It was the first show I’d watched that I’d really been able to get invested in. I’d watched TV all my life, but Castle was different. It had better romance, better action, and a good amount of comedy. I was sucked in, and watched S6 in about a week. And then I was like, What do I do now? The answer was DVR all the reruns on TNT, and binge Once Upon a Time. (Which started a whole new set of problems.)
Castle was always different, though. I watched from That ’70’s Show to For Better Or Worse as they aired, while watching all the important episodes after school, lying on our leather couch we don’t have anymore with a bowl of Skinny Pop in my hands and a Pomeranian on my lap. And then I saw the FBOW cliffhanger, and immediately had like ten criseses. To this day, a cliffhanger hasn’t affected me like this one. I spent the entire summer, well, traveling, and theorizing about what the S7 premiere would look like. I was full of ideas. I thought about it almost constantly, trying to piece together ideas such as whether the fact that Castle’s phone went to voicemail when Beckett called was something she could use to figure out he wasn’t in the car (I knew he wasn’t dead, of course). I caught up to episodes over the summer. I memorized the date of it’s premiere. I barely slept the night before (I wasn’t allowed to stay up until 10 to watch it). “It’s like Christmas, but with murder!” -an actual quote from me.
Driven was a total freaking disappointment.
I tried to stay positive. I had hope! But S7 really was a disappointment. I watched The Time of our Lives the day after my cat died (Caskett wedding was associated with several emotional events in my life, actually, wow), and was happy… at first. But the further I got into S7, the more I just wasn’t impressed. I was looking for it to be the awesome show I’d spent my entire summer watching, but it just… wasn’t. I watched The Simpsons (not in it’s entirety, it’s freaking long), and then Friends. I got really excited about the two parter, Resurrection and Reckoning, and wasn’t disappointed. (Reckoning, despite its eeriness, is one of my favorites.) I bought all 6 seasons on DVD for my birthday, and started rewatching with my mom. (I had to do a lot of laundry in preparation for my mom’s wedding and my stepdad moving in, so I used to rewatch episodes while I did laundry alone at his house.) I watched HIMYM, and got self righteous about another show. I watched Hollander’s Woods, and really liked it. My mom got married. I wasn’t all that invested in the proposition of S8 until I started getting spoilers. The TVLine blind item about a couple breaking up got me thinking. (Actually, people online arguing about whether Caskett would break up is where I first heard of Mulder and Scully.) I don’t want to talk about me thinking the breakup would be a good thing. (Seriously, don’t read my reviews of the first few episodes of S8, I was kind of crazy.) Castle wasn’t the show it used to be, and I was ready to do anything to get it back. Coincidentally, the breakup, while not a good idea, might have been better if it were handled better, and parts of it were, but I was upset by the fact that Castle didn’t seem upset, and it was just kind of a mess. One thing that wasn’t added back (because it wasn’t there in S7) was the banter of Castle and Beckett. The combination of making Beckett captain and Castle a full-time PI was that the heart of the show was lifted. Another thing that changed was the humor. In a discussion with my dad the other day, I mentioned that there are different types of humor. Castle used to have what I call sophisticated humor – based around one liners and somewhat ridiculous yet plausible situations, and a sufficient mix of emotions that isn’t broken up by jokes. The other type is the kind you might see in Adam Sandler movies. There’s nothing wrong with those movies, but Castle was never that type of show. It was a dramedy, the comedy mixed perfectly with the drama, in a style that was respectful to the darker tone of the show. That was one of the things that changed after S6 – for example, the bit in that episode where Castle is destroying the apartment looking for a suspect (and makes a fat joke, which is ridiculous). It didn’t help that Castle went from mystery writer who was a pretty good CONSULTANT to Beckett, Ryan, and Espo’s capable cop to a skilled PI who at the same time was an idiot (???). There’s a lot of problems with S8, and I began to notice that the show was getting further into the hole dug by S7. I went batcrap crazy for The X Files, and forgot Castle again. The episodes were barely enjoyable anymore, and when they were, that enjoyment was stifled by the next episodes. I still watched, but without much passion. And then I found out they were getting rid of Beckett and Lanie, something I never thought they’d do.
I went a little nuts. Essentially, it was against everything I ever wanted from the show. Caskett – romantically and detective-ly – was the heart of the show. And while Castle was certainly important – his name is the name of the show – Beckett was always the driving force of the show. For six seasons, without Beckett, there was no show – Castle had no reason to be at the 12th without her, and he always came back for her. The show was about the two of them, and I never thought they’d get rid of her. I was livid – I still watched the episodes, but stopped reviewing. And eventually, I just stopped – I still haven’t seen Hell to Pay in it’s entirety. I wasn’t going to be able to see the finale, because I was leaving really early on my class trip the morning after, but I planned to find out whether Beckett died or not the next morning. I hoped and prayed for it to end for the first time in my life. 13-year-old me wouldn’t have recognized me – once upon a time, I’d hoped Castle would go on forever – or at least for a few good seasons. But the prospect of the show without Beckett terrified me.
And then… and then… it was canceled, and my relief was so high. I didn’t see the finale until almost a week later, but I immediately looked up the ending on YouTube, and was surprised and delighted. It was perfect! I mean, not the whole shooting thing, but at least Caskett was still together (*side-eyes HIMYM*) and happy with their children (*side-eyes XF*)… and I was happy. I eventually watched Crossfire, and was not impressed, but I’m still happy with the ending. Because I can ignore S8 now. Because I know they’re happy, and that’s never gonna change. (Unless you think the last 40 seconds was the afterlife shhh it’s not true.)
The thing is that Crossfire didn’t feel like a finale. LokSat was boring, and the only thing it wrapped up was Caskett. Although Espo, Ryan, and Lanie all had some small sense of closure, I guess (Ryan is happy with his wife and kids, Espo had a thing with his ex-fiance?, Lanie had a thing with No-Death Guy, even Haley was going on and on about her new family), it wasn’t there in the finale. Hollander’s Woods was a better finale then Crossfire will ever be.
I think I liked the drama of the show, because I feed off of drama and angst like a vampire. But I appreciated the comedy. I love love, so I loved Caskett. The macabre and dated feel of the murder mysteries are another thing I love (I love playing Guess Whodunit, which I can’t do with any other shows). And I’ve seen Caskett compared to a screwball comedy romance, which might be why I was so drawn to them – I was really into I Love Lucy and old movies before I got on the Castle train. I loved Castle and his nerdiness, his writer self who looked for the story, no matter how ridiculous. I loved Beckett, who was strong and capable and complex and goofy, a well developed character – I love her character arc almost more than Castle’s, because I’ve seen Playboy Turns Nice Guy more often then Strong Determined Woman Confronts Her Demons To Let Herself be Happy. I loved Alexis, totally normal and yet different teenager, who loved her dad so much. I loved Martha, who loved her son less obviously but still strongly, who was eccentric and dramatic, who encouraged Castle to pursue Beckett. I loved Ryan and Esposito, their personalities and their bromance, and their friendship with Castle and Beckett, the sibling protectiveness of Beckett. I loved Lanie, a strong friend for Beckett and love interest for Esposito, sassing it up in the morgue. I loved Montgomery, a strong father figure for the precinct, and Gates grew on me, with her begrudging affection towards Beckett and eventually Castle. There is so, so much for me to love about this show, so so much to come back to.
The last two seasons, especially S8, were ultimately disappointing. Castle was almost unrecognizable, Beckett was barely there, and it was all kind of a mess. But the thing is, the first 6 seasons were pretty much my definition of a perfect show. It had great character development, great supporting characters, complex plotlines, a realistic, satisfying, and not overdone (ahem) will-they-won’t-they, a perfect mix of comedy and drama, the show stayed good (for a while) after Caskett became a thing… in fact, if it weren’t for those last two seasons, it would probably go up next to Friends as my closer-than-not-to-perfect show. And those six seasons are beautiful. The complicated story of two people who mean a lot to each other.
I always say that a show presents a goal in the beginning, usually in the very first episode. (Shows that don’t have a goal usually work well because of that.) And the finale is usually about accomplishing that goal. Some people might say that Castle‘s goal was to find Beckett’s mother’s killer – which, yes, was important, and I think wrapped up too soon to a point where the mythology kind of flailed in the last two seasons. But that wasn’t the goal. From the very beginning, Castle was a love story. A love story about two very different people who think the same way, the one who was in love from the beginning (you’ll have to pry the fact that Castle was in love in the first episode from my cold, dead hands; he followed her when she was confronting a murder suspect in the second freaking episode!), and the one who had to grow on him. A love story mixed in with the stories of others, where they were just passing characters, but everyone had their own story. A love story. And where the last scene shows Castle and Beckett happy with their three kids (time travel confirmed, baby), they reached their goal, even if they took a different path than expected, even if they crawled the last few steps there. “Everything I’ve ever done, every choice I’ve ever made, every terrible and wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me, it’s all led me to right here, this moment with you,” Castle said in the excellent S6 episode Smells Like Teen Spirit (x), and I think that’s a good, if not a little wistful and unrealistic, way of looking like that. Of course, there is that old saying it’s the journey, not the destination, and that’s true, too, although not with this philosophy. But so much of the journey was beautiful, and memorable – it made me laugh, it made me gasp and have a jumpy stomach, it kept me up at night, it made me go aww – that it’s easier to ignore those bad parts. Sure, S7-8 was bad, but they had their moments, and besides, you know it ends well, which is a privilege I haven’t gotten with some shows (*side-eyes HIMYM*). And as cheesy and weird as it may sounds, the journey is still going for Castle and Beckett. We as viewers know that they are happy, and can imagine whatever we want happening to them. I watched The Blue Butterfly a lot – one of my favorites – and I said to myself, I want that for Castle and Beckett, what Joe and Vera had. And they had it. I don’t think you can ask for much better than that.
Me, I’ve traveled with Castle for over two years now – through emotional and wonderful moments, through thick and thin and replacing it with the shiny, new Netflix binge – and, to be cheesy and quote Caskett, it’ll always be one of my favorites. Always.