Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Castle 8x18 Review: “Backstabber” (You Said Forever and Always) [Contributor: Hope]

Original Airdate: April 18, 2016

Appropriate title for this one, don’t you think? Anyone else feeling betrayed right about now? And not one of those dream betrayals, either. This week’s episode was a really good one, but unfortunately, it was overshadowed by terrible, heartbreaking news. I’ll address that in a moment, but let’s talk about the episode first.


This week centered around Hayley, who was roped into a secret mission that ended up being an attempt to frame her. But it went deeper than that, with her old partner setting her up in order to test her before setting their “retirement plan” into motion. Except she didn’t want to be on the run. She finally had friends. She had people who cared about her and people who weren’t about to frame her for knocking out all the lights in London.

The case had plenty of twists and turns, and while we didn’t see all that much of Beckett, Ryan, or Esposito, we got to know Hayley a little better. I’ve said from the start of the season that I liked her character and wanted her to become part of the show. The dynamic she adds to the team works so well, her bond with Alexis is amazing, and a show can’t have too many awesome crime-fighting women.

She ended up having to shoot her old partner, and the pain in her expression was heart-wrenching. Toks Olagundoye did an amazing job in this episode. She has stepped into her role and meshed with the dynamics of an established show wonderfully.

I want to put this out there: I understand that Toks is getting her share of hate over this turn of events, and that’s just sad. It’s not right. If you want to blame someone, blame ABC. Blame the showrunners. Don’t blame another actor. She did a wonderful job in this episode, as she has in all of her past ones. She’s not taking Beckett’s place, because that’s something no character can do. Thinking she is takes away from the value of her character in her own right and assumes that women have to be competition for each other. Let me repeat: A show cannot have too many awesome crime-fighting women. I can feel betrayed and saddened that Stana is leaving, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the work Toks is doing. The two things are not mutually exclusive.


The Caskett Cute Storyline of the Episode™ involved a dream Beckett had about Castle betraying her... but we never found out what that dream was about, other than that she didn’t want to relive it. Is this foreshadowing? Will this never come up again? Does anyone even know what this dream was about or did they forget to think up something?

Meanwhile, Castle was keeping something from her — that he had taken her old motorcycle from her dad’s garage and had it fixed up. He also bought himself a motorcycle so they could both go on her dream ride across the country together.

First of all: crossing the country on a motorcycle? Is it just me or does that sound kind of unsafe? Maybe that's just me. Secondly: could this come back into play at the end of the season? Could they literally ride off into the sunset? Could something happen between them and Beckett rides off alone? Could there be an accident? Everything in this show now makes me think about how it relates to that dreaded End of the Season and it’s getting old really quickly. I want to enjoy these episodes and laugh because I know this show will either end or become something completely different. I’ll laugh at something like I normally would... and then fall silent because it doesn’t feel right to laugh.


I have a lot of say on this matter. Kate Beckett is one of my favorite female characters of all time. She’s strong and smart. Loyal and driven. She’s flawed and she has trouble letting people in. And when she lets people in, they become the world to her, and she completely becomes her happy, sometimes dorky self. She has grown and evolved over the course of the series, and it has been wonderful to watch. She’s inspiring. And — fight me on this — her story has been more compelling than Castle’s. Castle’s hilarious and endearing, and he’s had his own journey as well, but Beckett has come further.

I DON’T want either of them to die, but compare these two storylines: Castle dies, Beckett has to overcome losing another very, very important person, but she does because she’s stronger for having loved. She and Alexis become very close. She becomes the best captain New York City has ever seen. She solves crimes using Castle’s signature point of view, and in that way, he’s always with her and the series. Scenario two: Beckett dies, and Castle is heartbroken. He continues solving mysteries (P.I. or police ones) until this thing gets canceled, the end.

Huh. Creatively, if you’re killing off a co-lead in order to “save money,” and want to make the choice that’s most conducive to storytelling, which one would you pick? Again: I desperately don’t want either of these two to be killed off. And yes, the name of the series IS Castle. Both characters are indispensable, but are red flags popping up for no one else at this choice?

For the record, if there is a Castle season nine, I probably will not be watching. I know that a lot of you probably feel the same, but I also know that there would be some who would stick with the show, and you know what? That’s fine. I won’t judge you. I respect your choice. Just know that I, in turn, don’t take this decision to quit the show after season 8 lightly. I have been watching this show since... well, a long time. I have been watching this show longer than I’ve been able to drive a motor vehicle. This show has spanned an era of my life, and it breaks my heart that it’s come to the point that I’ll walk away from it. I rarely quit shows, and when I do, it’s usually because I don’t care enough about the characters.

The problem is that I care too much about these characters. Remember that scene in “Always” when a Castle walks away? He tells Kate he loves her, and that if him saying that means anything to her, she’ll walk away from her mother’s case. Continuing on was just a suicide mission. He knew he couldn’t stop her, and he loved her too much to continue on with her. “You’re right,” he said, “It’s your life, throw it away if you want, but I’m not going to stick around and watch. So this is over. I’m done.”

The way I see it, there is only one way Stana can leave the show without having Castle and Beckett break up again. Sure, they could have Beckett run for office (or go on the world’s longest motorcycle trip) and be out of town all the time, but that’s a stretch. And breaking them up again is just over-the-top, forced, and out of character. The only way for her to leave is to kill her off. If Fillion didn’t come back either, they could have Alexis solve crime as a P.I., and just let Caskett live happily ever after. I might watch that show. But if they kill Kate off, the show is essentially guaranteeing its own demise. It will be a greedy shell of what it used to be, and I’m not going to stick around and watch one of my favorite shows of all time self-destruct.

No baby for Castle and Beckett. All that wasted time with the break-up, when they could have been happy. No Lanie and Esposito, because Tamala Jones also got let go from the show, which is a crime. She was barely even in this season, and her humor and personality added so much to the show (and she’s been taking it all very gracefully in stride on social media, bless her). I’m upset enough that she’s leaving, and I’m sorry that I’ve been focusing on one departure more than the other. I’m angry about these so called budget-cuts that led to both of them leaving. Of course, when you look at your budget and you realize you’re spending too much, you decide “well, why not kill off our co-lead? And while we’re at it, let’s kill off one of two female characters left who’s not related to Castle.” Not to mention this is so soon after the terrible turn of events on Sleepy Hollow.

One of the worst parts? They didn’t tell the rest of the cast. At least not Jon Huertas or Seamus Dever. They found out on Twitter like the rest of us. After eight years. They finished filming on April 13, which as far as I can tell, was before they told Stana and Tamala they were off the show. So they never got to have their last day on set, even? How disrespectful is this show going to get? I don't pretend to understand what exactly is going on behind the scenes, but from the outside, Castle is coming off as shady and suspicious, without doing anything to try and change our impressions. I almost wish I didn’t know ahead of time, like with Sleepy Hollow, because the rest of the season is just going to be painful. If the show gets canceled, we get the happy ending. If it doesn’t, we get the ending where Caskett is torn apart. It’s a catch-22.

There is no Castle without Beckett. This isn’t right. I’m so disappointed in this show. It pains me to say this, but I hope ABC cancels it, and gives us at least a fraction of the ending the characters and audience deserve.

Notepad (Short, Somber Edition):
  • These three. I can’t even. They’re so adorable and I don’t want them to be torn apart. 
  • Taylor Swift’s piano version of “Forever and Always” is so fitting for this turn of events. 
  • I feel the pain of slow moving computer progress bars.
  • “You betrayed me... last night, in my dreams.” 
  • “Bro, you cannot solve a homicide without us.” TRUTH.
  • “Esposito, we have Hayley. What do we need Castle for?”
  • “I mean, it might not be all that bad. Hamlet was written in the sixteenth century… Okay, I’m not helping.”
  • The secret room in the P.I. office is technically a panic room? I thought of it as more of a secret lair. 
  • “You don’t have to do anything alone ever again.”
  • “I should have known better than to try and surprise the world’s greatest detective other than Batman.”


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