Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Castle 8x15 Review: “Fidelis Ad Mortem” (Faithful Unto Death) [Contributor: Hope]

“Fidelis Ad Mortem”
Original Airdate: March 21, 2016

This week forced Beckett to think about her past at the same time she and Castle faced the aftermath of his trip to Los Angeles. While the previous episode didn’t even include Beckett, Castle sat on the back burner for the larger part of the hour.

Castle, however, did have a difficult decision to make — whether or not he should tell Beckett about what he had learned in L.A. It was a question of what it meant to be truly faithful to his wife. On one hand, he wants to protect her at all costs — at the cost of never knowing what happened, at the cost of never catching LokSat, at the cost of possibly falling out again. On the other hand, he needs to show that he trusts her to take care of herself, and that if things get so bad that she can’t take care of herself, then together, they can overcome anything. It didn’t come down to either saving her life or being honest, because you know she isn’t going to give up the case just because he says she’s in danger. She would continue on either way, and he’d rather not let her do it alone. To be faithful to her means choosing to be truthful rather than safe. But it’s a scary choice for him to make.

The light scene in the beginning where Castle evades talking about his trip by procrastinating with food, combined with Martha’s arrival, brought some brightness to an otherwise dark episode (content-wise, but also visually; it didn’t help that the police academy was all dark blues and greys). The darkness that was present, however, wasn’t a bad, angst-y darkness. It was a thoughtful, meaningful one. It felt so connected to the rest of the series, and it was a nice way to make the storyline come across as more organic. It also kept this half of the season on the right track by revisiting character growth that affected their choices at the end of the episode.


The case of the week revolved around the murder of a recruit from the police academy, and they soon learned that the only people with access to the murder weapon were the officer-in-training’s classmates. Each and every one of had the techniques of crime-solving fresh in their minds, which set the team up for a hard case. It’s strange that this concept hasn’t come up before, because it’s actually a really good obstacle to play against the team. In the end they realized the real killer was the man in charge of the academy, but not before Beckett’s old instructor was shortly cast into suspicion. Then followed a cool action scene where Beckett turned on the cutouts in the gun range to distract the guy.

However, it wasn’t just that the team had to get creative and make up training exercises to double as tools to figure out who did it. They also had to be careful, because while they thought one of them was the killer, the other trainees had their careers on the line as well, and being suspected of killing one of their own could have followed them forever. They had also lost a teammate, and Beckett tried to get them to reflect on how they really felt... to little avail. “Is that a P.R. statement for the Post?” They were all so unwilling to express an emotion outside of solemn respect and an urge to hunt down the killer. She wanted them to feel. She wanted them to acknowledge that they would have to feel in order to exist as cops, because there is only so much you can hide under a stoic face until you reach your breaking point.

Beckett focused her attention on a recruit named Decker, who was driven, angry, and skilled: the new generation’s Kate Beckett. Beckett saw a lot of herself in this trainee — that woman who would have irreparably crossed the line to get justice, who needed someone to be there to pull her back from the edge. Someone who needed a Captain Montgomery. So that’s what she decided to be for Decker. It brought things full-circle, and also called for certain decisions on another front...


Meanwhile, Beckett also realized that she still needed someone to be there so she wouldn’t have to go it alone.

Castle wasn’t involved in the case this week, or any case for that matter. Which was just strange, because that left him kind of lost in this mystery-less void, only to pop up in Beckett’s darkened office and confess everything he had learned. Hayley had made him see that whether or not Beckett could forgive him once she knew the truth wasn’t his decision to make.

It caught Beckett off-guard, but Castle got out all he needed to say before Esposito walked in the room with new information on the case. Several scenes later, Beckett sits in her office, the lights out, spinning the ring around her finger. Later on she and Castle start to talk about it, but they give up very quickly. “How did we end up here again? You lie to protect me and I lie to protect you.” The protecting each other part of it is all fine and sweet, but even Castle and Beckett were like UGH, HERE AGAIN. Having your characters disparage your own storyline is a clever technique, I’ll give it that. It puts us in the same boat as them.

Beckett didn’t want to talk about it and still needed time to process, but didn’t seem to be harboring hard feelings towards him for erasing his memory (probably because he couldn’t remember doing it). But Castle still complains to Hayley that he doesn’t know if Beckett will forgive him. She knocks some sense into him by offering to investigate LokSat with him instead. In doing so, she makes him realize on his own that he needs to be working with Beckett on this and not investigating behind her back (the thing I can’t see, however, is that if he and Beckett enlist Hayley to help, there’s no way he’s letting Alexis anywhere near this case, right? ... Right?)

Meanwhile, Beckett walked around in a daze and Castle's post-production got to experiment with some muffled sounds, pensive music, and an overall disconnected effect that worked really, really well. The tone of the quiet scenes where she’s just trying to process everything reminded me of the tone in earlier seasons, when she was obsessed with her mom’s case. Of course, this time around she’s more collected, and she’s not going be on her own.

In the end, they both independently concluded that they were sick of the separation and that they need to work together. Castle realized that he couldn’t sit back anymore and Beckett realized she needed his help. It only took us until the end of the episode to get here, but I’m feeling so positive about this that I’m trying not to care. This should have been a natural decision made in the second episode this season. Character regression brought on by fear might have been understandable, but this new decision just feels like another déjà vu.

At least in moving the story forward, the writers tied in Beckett’s past and — very wisely — managed to breeze through this reunion without making it into a big thing.


  • “‘For Richard. Without your constant stumbles in life the advice in this book would not have been possible.’ ‘Constant stumbles’?” “Let’s not make this about you.”
  •  The return of the secret room in Castle’s P.I. office! They made this set, they need to use it. 
  • “Well, they will. Every record falls in the end.” She’s so very unaffected about her accomplishments. 
  • “I have been at the edge of that map, and monsters lie there.”
  • “For reasons you know all too well. From you. From yourself.” 
  • “It’s the cocky ones that are the easiest… you’re so focused on showing off that you don’t notice the matchstick that falls out of your pocket. I’m going to find it, and watch you burn.” … Well, that was dark. 
  • “I’m not making any more decisions about LokSat unless I talk to Beckett.” “THAT is the smartest thing I’ve heard all day.” Hayley continues to be one of the most perceptive characters on the show. If she wasn’t around to knock some sense into Castle, he’d still be waffling. 
  • “There was a point in my career when I wanted to quit. I lost faith that I became a cop for the right reasons. A man named Roy Montgomery helped me. He was my captain. He didn’t give up on me and I won’t give up on you.” 
  • Between the “dazed” effect in some of Beckett’s scenes and the intercut of the CCTV footage with Decker walking up to her father’s office, there were some really nice editing details in this episode.
  • “It’s a place to start.”


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