Original Airdate: May 16, 2016
And I will. But I can't ignore what just happened on my screen, what was clearly not only an ending we were never meant to see, but also one that was not, in fact, swapped with the original cliffhanger. Oh no, that gut-wrenching scene happened. It was then followed by less than a minute — 34 seconds to be exact — of a final, happy-ending scene that you could have blinked and missed. Don't get me wrong, I loved that scene. I had only dared to hope for a scene where they were both smiling and happy, with little to no allusion to their future. If anything, I expected them to ride off on their motorcycles or fly to Paris like they had been talking about. It was more than I was asking for, in that respect.
As a long-time viewer, I’m disappointed that we didn't get a true finale. I would venture to say that the season seven finale was more wrapped up than this was. I remember watching that final scene, where every character was acknowledged, and thinking that I would have been content with that. The future the time traveler had foretold was waiting in the wings. But that final, squeezed-in-there excuse for a scene is still something that I loved even as I was feeling completely robbed. It was beautiful. And that ending, after I come around to accepting it, is what will allow me to love this series as a complete whole — and not just up to a certain point.
THE LAST STAND
A wise man once said that if you're lucky enough, you'll find people who will stand with you. Beckett found those people in spades.
The episode didn’t waste time in going right into the LokSat takedown. They received the call on the burner phone, as Caleb had said they would, and when Vikram wasn’t able to trace the call, they hid at the drop site with Castle and Beckett behind pallets and Hayley at a sniper perch overhead. Castle leaving cover to try to set Beckett’s camera’s F-stop off auto made for a cute scene, but it was strange. You have tons of image enhancers at the precinct, right? Why now?
Then they realized that Caleb was dead, and a whole flock of baddies with machine guns started pummeling them (it was an awesome scene, I’m not going to lie). That is, until a Korean taco truck pulled up between them and the herd of machine guns, and they got in. Children, do not go into the Korean taco trucks of strangers, even if they claim have been sent by your stepmother. Just don’t. It turns out the driver of said truck was Mason Woods, the president of the Greatest Detectives Society. (Who was only in one episode, and who I didn’t even recognize.) He said that Rita had sent him in as a babysitter, and Castle trusted him right away. Beckett wasn’t so sure.
They then decided that their families had to be protected. Mr. Beckett was away on business, so Castle only had to round up Martha and Alexis and hide them in the P.I. office’s panic room. And of course, Castle and Beckett had to separate, which is pretty much the number one thing you shouldn’t do when everything hits the fan. Do not go into strange taco trucks, do not split up, and do not run to the top level any building. It’s basic thriller rules, people. You’re a cop and a mystery writer and I KNOW YOU KNOW THESE RULES.
However, Beckett made the point that she was in her police station, with HER cops (did anyone else feel so proud of her right then?). She couldn’t be in a safer place than at the precinct. Especially with her two adoptive brothers, Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito, clued in thanks to Vikram, willing to do anything for her. At first they looked so very betrayed that she hadn’t told them about LokSat, and she looked so betrayed by Vikram, because she was counting on these two NOT knowing. She didn’t want them to be targets, but they so selflessly joined the cause, despite risking everything.
There was talk of “going dark for a while,” which seemed right in line with the hints in recent episodes about Castle and Beckett making major changes to their lives. Of course, at this point we could be about 95% sure this wouldn’t happen. Could the happy ending really be them in witness protection with new identities? Yeah, that doesn’t sound right. Vikram was also debating quitting the force, saying he wanted to “go back to being boring,” and it seemed like that idea appealed to Beckett a little as well.
Then followed a series of stupid decisions that I honestly can’t even suspend my disbelief for. Why did they assume the suspect didn’t go out his back door after he got home? Why did that occur to no one? They also assumed that they were one step ahead, which was wrong, but at least that is understandable. Everything that happened was planned out, and they were simply being moved around like pawns. That was part of the suspense of the episode, so I’ll give them that. But leaving the station? And not telling anyone? Beckett is better than this, writers. She’s headstrong, but she’s also smart. She was just attacked by a miniature army of machine guns. This was not a time to be striking out on your own. She knew Castle thought she was at the precinct. And him going to the precinct in spite of already being safe at the P.I. office wasn’t that hard of a thing to predict. Was she keeping him safe? We went through this in the first half of the season, folks. Stop beating this “protecting others by being stupidly independent” idea. It’s character regression, and that’s not something one likes to see in a series finale. Or a character’s final episode.
Of course Castle did leave the panic room, but not before stopping Hayley from going with him. He asked her to stay with his mother and daughter, and she went along with it. That left the takedown completely in the hands of our core four, and it was only right that way.
Rule number four: if you’re running from an evil band of criminals, maybe be more selective about what taxi you ride in? Like, if your cabbie is playing children’s music and looks suspicious and unhinged, maybe get a different cab? Maybe walk? Maybe STAY WHERE YOU ARE?
Anyway. Beckett, meanwhile, leaned up against her old desk in thought, one last time for old time’s sake. Castle ended up tied to this ominous-looking chair with his terrible choice of a cabbie standing over him, ready to give him truth serum in an IV. Castle was completely confident that he wouldn’t cave in if he was tortured, which was sweet but also a little too optimistic. Creepy Cabbie started questioning him about his life, saying, “I never knew love in the way you so clearly do.” He pointed out how much Castle had changed, and in turn he replied that it was because she had made him a better man. This was important. I know that this was all leading up to what was supposed to be her death, but it’s still important. She wasn’t just his muse, she was his light and he was hers. They both needed that. So often on TV, I think it’s usually skewed toward being a one-way street. One person needs the other in order to grow more than the other person does. This wasn’t the case here. I think that’s part of what I really loved about these two.
Creepy Cabbie then pointed out to him, “she’s the reason you are on this table. Surely you would take a do-over if offered.” “No, I wouldn’t.” Then followed THAT line from the promo, that “everything ends in tragedy, even epic love stories like yours, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” (Round of applause to the fandom. You did something about it.) Castle, as always, had tried to cope by being funny… until things soon turned very serious. Because not only was Castle going to sing like a canary, but also LokSat walked in.
In the anticlimax to end all anticlimaxes, some random dude entered the room. Oh right, I forgot who he was again. He was Mason Woods, that GDS dude who had been “keeping an eye on Castle” and who we have absolutely zero attachment to. And who makes zero sense. Why is he called LokSat? Why does he wreak havoc? Did Lost Months Castle know it was him? All these things are unknown. Beckett’s mom’s case was such an important aspect of the show, and it was perfectly wrapped up at the end of season six. We knew that Bracken was associated with something even bigger... and I guess that was a one-off character who had nothing to do with anything. If you’re going to pull out this storyline again, at least make it have a huge payoff.
Mason proceeded to get Castle to tell him, one by one, everyone who knew about the LokSat case. Now, “truth serum” scenes are hard to fully believe, so I have to give credit where credit is due — this scene was amazingly acted. The way he tearfully choked out “yes” to all their names was heart-wrenching.
Then Mason went off to meet Beckett about a “lead” on the case, while Creepy Cabbie prepared to kill Castle. Until Ryan and Espo plowed their way past the guards and epically descended upon the room. They fought off backup attackers while Castle gave (an overdose of?) truth serum to the cabbie, who told him Mason was bringing Beckett to the basement of that very building. Ryan and Espo tossed him a gun while they fended off their attackers, and Castle broke his way through a wall and somehow ended up in the basement (???).
Mason had a little heart-to-heart with Beckett, asking her why she continued on this case when she had so much to live for. He looked seriously interested to know, almost too interested for a soulless killer. She pointed out that she took an oath to protect the city. And that Castle is “the love of [her] life, and he understands the sacrifice [she has] to make for this job.” He pointed out that she had a lot of weight to carry, to which she replied “you can’t carry it alone.” THAT was nice. That at least reflected her character growth.
Then they went to the basement room with the creepy incinerator, and as he turned to shut the door behind them, she pulled her gun on him because she’s not stupid. She suspected something was off with this guy all along and I’m just happy the writers let her retain that much of her common sense. Unfortunately, the ceiling was magnetized and her gun flew out of her hand. He then went on to tell her that Castle was dead and in that aforementioned incinerator. Katic perfected this expression of guarded determination combined with such despair in her eyes. She really did an amazing job in this episode, and I’m sorry she was undervalued by this series. I hope she goes on to star in something else incredibly successful, because she deserved better than this ending.
Castle barged in, but his gun was also sucked to the ceiling. Beckett quickly took down Mason while he was distracted and these two hugged it out.
THE LAST FIVE MINUTES
It was 7 a.m. and everything was sunny at the 12th Precinct. Everyone hugged. Castle, Alexis, and Martha. Kate and Lanie. Ryan, Espo, Lanie, and Vikram (who decided not resign) went out to eat, while Castle and Beckett went home for breakfast. And all was right with the world.
Wait, what’s that noise? Oh, just the writers’ evil laughter. Why take out the cliffhanger and give the audience two whole minutes devoted to wrapping everything up?
Castle realized Caleb’s death didn’t make sense, but it was too late. Caleb stepped out of the shadows (at 7 a.m.? Coming from, if my mental map of the loft is correct, nowhere he could be in hiding?) and shot him. Beckett came into the room and shot Caleb over and over again... and stood there to see she had killed him. And then she collapsed because she had been shot, too, and the two soul mates dragged themselves towards each other and held hands and WHY DID WE HAVE TO SEE THIS. Why?
The focus went soft and panned to an empty room (???) as an audio clip from the first episode played. Then the camera panned more, to the loft... seven years later and filled with a lot of toys. A girl and twin boys are running around, Castle and Beckett chasing after them (major credit to casting here — they were perfect). In a whirlwind of quick little shots and a flurry of activity, they sit down with their children for breakfast. Then, for whatever reason, they don’t speak, they just hold hands and instead, there is a voiceover:
Castle: “Every writer needs his inspiration, and I found mine.”
WHAT WAS WRONG ABOUT THIS ENDING
First and foremost, this was not a series finale. It was not structured like one. Sure, it was a high stakes episode, but Castle has had ones before, and those made a whole lot more sense. Secondly, if you’re turning your season finale into a series finale, then make an effort. Don’t make a 34-second clip to add onto the end of a horrific, tragic scene. The proportion is way off if eight seasons comes down to 34 seconds.
It also melted the whole thing down to Beckett being Castle’s inspiration, which is true, and not just as a muse. I would have liked, however, for Beckett to have more of a line than “always” (which was shoehorned in there, anyway). There hadn’t been a doubt in my mind that this alternative ending would end with “always,” but as I said before, this was a two-way street and the writers could have at least attempted to articulate their relationship with a little more dialogue. Or voiceover, should I say. Why was it a voiceover? They never said a word to each other. One of the most shocking things in the moment was that, as they were lying there, dying, they didn’t say anything to each other. I expected them to. I waited for them to. Nothing.
This incredibly short ending also brushed off Ryan, Esposito, Lanie, Martha, and Alexis. What about them? What does Alexis grow up to do? Do Lanie and Espo end up together? Do all their kids play together? THAT would have been an amazing flash forward — everyone at the park (THE park with the swings), playing with their children together.
There was no need for them to almost die. Within the span of five minutes, we went from chaos to happiness, back to chaos, and a flash forward to happiness. It was emotional whiplash. They probably ran over on time because they added that final scene, and it just felt rushed. The happy ending itself was amazing, but the execution of it was too little, too late. Season seven’s finale let every character be brought forward and said goodbye to. This episode didn’t do that. Even in the span of two minutes instead of 34 seconds, we could have gotten so much more.
Everything is now left to our imaginations to fill in. We don’t get to really see or experience their happy ending. But we do know they got one, and that in itself is a huge relief.
I want to say thank you to Marlowe and Miller for this wonderful creation and these wonderful characters. There are many shows that have inspired me as a writer, but Castle was one of the first. The heart and soul of the show you created is something that lives beyond an ending, to whatever extent that ending gives closure. And thank you to the cast, who did a wonderful job in this episode, and who brought these characters to life and gave them the dynamics the audience has loved for eight years. This show will be missed so very much.
Thank you for reading this extremely long review, and thank you if you’ve stuck with me through this season. I had such high hopes for it, and it’s been a rough ride, but it wasn’t completely for nothing. We got a happy ending, as short as it was, to what has been a really, really great story.
- “Oh my God, could my first wife be LokSat, because that would make a lot of sense.”
- “[He] just happens to be in the right place at the right time with the right Korean taco truck?” Why DID he save them? Ugh, this doesn’t make sense.
- When Castle and Beckett said goodbye and I love you before they separated, they were silhouetted by the sun and it was just the most beautiful shot.
- “And let you go to war without your two best soldiers?” And that you are, Ryan and Espo. That you are.
- “He does know I’m captain, right?”
- “If I wasn’t scared out of my mind, this would be a lovely afternoon.” Goodbye, Martha. You were a gem.
- Wasn’t Alexis graduating this year? Funny how she was so present this season, and yet the writers completely disregarded this.
- “I fell in love with her.” “Why?” “Because I had never met anyone like her.” “You’ve never met anyone like me.” “You don’t have the legs... or the eyes... or the brains… or the heart. Beckett makes me laugh. She challenges me. I became a better man.”
- “I need a miracle, guys.” “One miracle coming up.”
- “It would’ve been great.” “You have no idea.” I’ll give Castle this: that audio clip was a perfect choice. They had no idea this much was in store for them. And it’s kind of wonderful.
- Seven years. That’s almost as long as the show has been on. I want to know what happened after they were shot. Let me try... Ryan, Espo, and Lanie also realize that Caleb’s death didn’t make sense, so they rush to the loft. Now a two-time survivor of near-fatal gunshot wounds (that’s just cruel), Beckett slowly makes her way out of policing and into politics. Castle, after his near-brush with death, loses his passion for mystery writing and turns to more serious literature. Lanie and Espo are brought back together. Everyone still joins forces every once in a while for a good round of crime solving.
- Castle and its characters will always have a special place in my TV-loving heart. I would have watched it for years to come if it had stayed true to its premise. Mondays will never be quite the same without it.