Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Castle 8x03 "PhDead" (Personal Space [Contributor: Hope]

Original Airdate: October 5, 2015

I have a confession to make: I like this storyline.

Don’t get me wrong, I also hate this storyline. I’m frustrated by it. I don’t think it was absolutely necessary to break them up. I think it’s a bit much to split them up at this point, especially considering that we all know they’ll find their way back together again. However, not only have the writers handled it well by keeping Castle and Beckett’s actions, reactions, and reasons all within character, but they also provided this season with the drama it needs.

This is the first episode of the season that followed a normal format: no cliffhangers, no huge, arc-worthy case. So I was really interested to see how "PhDead" was handled and how much time the writers would spend devoted to our characters. Because, let’s face it, even with very serialized procedurals like Castle, there are always THOSE case-centric episodes. You know, the ones that make my eyes start to glaze over.

I think that with the Castle/Beckett drama this year, the show has found a brilliant way to avoid having those skippable episodes and bland cases. I was invested in the case they were solving throughout the episode. There were hilarious scenes and a lot of scenes concerning the main problem at hand. THAT is why I’m beginning to like this storyline. This episode was Castle as it should be. I think I’m going to be a lot more invested in this season –– and I’ll venture to say that others will be too –– because of its decision to focus on the characters.


Castle got it into his head that if he solved this case for Beckett, she’d come back to him. He even made the argument: "Working cases together is why she fell in love with me." Maybe it was HOW, but I don’t think it was precisely WHY. I think the steps he took to get Beckett's attention in this episode and completely ignore her request to stay away did show how he’s never given up on her. She can push him away for his own safety, but he’s going to insist on being there for her. He’s not going to let her walk into something this dangerous alone. It’s not that he doesn't believe she can take care of herself, but it’s because he doesn’t want her to be alone. He never gives up on a case, just like he’s never going to give up on her. And Beckett needs that person who’s going to be there for her no matter what. That’s why she doesn’t want Castle involved, and that’s why she loves him.

In fact, there was a really great pair of lines –– and delivery of those lines –– that really stood out to me in this episode. Castle has his professor glasses and goofy bow tie on, and he’s just secured himself a guest teaching position (I would so take that seminar, just FYI). Beckett says: "I asked for space. Why won’t you give me it?" His answer? "Because you need me." Then, what follows is this fantastically conflicted expression on her face. She doesn’t need his protection. That’s not the point he’s making. She needs a partner –– and not just Vikram. She needs Castle’s way of looking at things and the world. She needs someone she knows she can trust without a second thought. And she needs someone to pull her back from the edge.


Vikram made a really nice gesture in this episode. In the last act, when Beckett starts to second-guess the whole operation, he offers to quit if she does. He goes as far as to hit delete on the information they’ve gathered. Beckett ultimately clicks the "cancel" button, but it was a really nice display of character on his part. He’s not going to pull her back from the edge like Castle would, but he’s going to support her if she decides to leave on her own. Plus, I don’t think he’s 100 percent game with fighting high-stakes crime to begin with.

Beckett did meet with Smith, the guy who helped them a couple times in the past with her mother’s case. He essentially told her to go home. He was happy. He had a wife. He had a cute dog to walk. She should go home and do the same. I like how he gave her a little information, but stood firm in his opinion of the whole investigation and mess.


I particularly enjoyed how Lanie put her foot down when Castle tried to get information out of her. Ryan and Esposito were nowhere near as strong. Every stage of this case –– trying to get information out of the college student, sneaking their way into a party, getting caught in an underground prison –– provided hilarity and necessary levity. The Stanford Prison Experiment reenactment gone wrong (really, is there any other way for it to go?) was a great twist, and Castle locking himself and Beckett in the victim’s cell forced this episode to slow down and focus on them for a moment. The subtext of their conversation was beautiful, and while the result was only a temporary moment of doubt on Beckett’s part, it moved the storyline along a bit. At this point, she knows she hasn’t lost Castle. There’s going to be a time, though, when he’s going to get fed up, and I’m a little nervous about how they writers will handle it when he does.

  • "Yikes, sucks to be you, Rick." I hope Lucy, the Siri-like device Castle bought, shows up again.
  • "The man who went Houdini for months last year?" "I was Houdinied!"
  • It never occurred to me that, as captain, Beckett wouldn’t normally be at the crime scene. I’m glad they sidestepped that problem, because I’m sure 90 percent of all episodes have one of those investigation scenes, and even though I usually avert my eyes, it’d be a weird change.
  • CDRK –– the Castle Depression Rescue Kit. Completely with a company that promises "Puppies on Your Doorstep in ___ Minutes!" THIS IS THE BUSINESS THE WORLD HAS BEEN WAITING FOR.
  • "AH! It took me an hour to tie this!"
  • Ryan and Esposito trying to be college kids was GOLDEN. I appreciate that the student didn’t buy it for a second. "Dude, you look like you’re 40."
  • "Perhaps my secret weapon is the loophole you’re looking for." Anyone else surprised Castle was so eager to let Alexis go undercover?
  • "I’m sure he’s mellowed with age." *Castle comes on stage with dramatic lighting*
  • "Treadmill fiction." THAT is motive, dude.
  • The party scene was hilarious. As was Beckett sneaking up on Ryan and Esposito.
  • Actual note of mine: BE HAPPY. GET A DOG, BECKETT.
  • "After your wits."
  • "You’re indoors, so take off your sunglasses." YES!
  • "You went to an underground prison? Alone?" "No, not alone. I had Alexis with me." "Oh, well, since you had backup… Are you kidding, Castle, your daughter?" "When you say it in that tone, I sound like a bad parent."
  • "We’re missing part of the story." "And how do you suggest we find it?" The subtext in this conversation was so amazing.
  • "This is when I need you to boost me up." CLASSIC. So classic.
  • It was a different me!" This was a really good conflict here. They didn’t get to explore it at all, but that prison study did a number to that girl’s mental state, and it was worthy of a bit of debate.
  • Alexis and Castle drinking kind of shocked me. I didn’t realize she was 21, when I totally should have. God, this show has been on for a long time. Also: the bubble cigars and the bubbles floating up to the ceiling made for a really nice ending shot.


  1. You said everything that I felt including all the emotions! I lived the entire episode again and was in tears when finished. These two are my life! and I love the storyline as "painful" as it is to watch. The only issue I have is that one hour moves much too fast! Need more CASTLE!!

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