This is a member contributed article.
Anger, happiness and sadness. Only Castle has the ability to make me feel these three powerful emotions in the span of only three minutes at the end of its series finale. For eight years, Castle has been a fixture in my life, helping me through troubled times by giving me the joy of watching two characters find themselves as they navigated the waters of mystery, suspense and comedy. Castle was different. It was a love story insidiously disguised as a police procedural that sucked this testosterone infused, former jock into its web until I found myself hooked on the relationship between the two leads before I knew it. There have been other shows that many have compared to Castle: Moonlighting, X-Files and Remington Steele to name a few, but these were detective and thriller series that threw in sexual tension as an ingredient to each show’s recipe, but that wasn’t Castle. At its heart, and Castle was all about the heart, Castle was about love. A father’s love for his daughter, a mother’s love for her son, a son’s love for his mother, but most of all, this show was about the love shared between two kindred spirits, so it was with a heavy heart that I watched this week’s finale.
I wish I hadn’t seen how the network and the current showrunners had completely missed what was the essence of the show. I should not have been put in a position to think there was a worse alternative to cancellation. In the final three minutes, my first emotion was complete anger. Seriously, if Castle hadn’t been cancelled, and a Season 9 was going to be produced, the last image of Katherine Beckett we would have had was her lying hand in hand with her husband in pools of blood, complete with the possibility that she died thinking that this chain of events had been her doing. Rapid thoughts went through my head, thoughts about how completely off the mark the new showrunners had been about what made Castle what it was. To me, they lost touch of the love story, and completely became engrossed with the mystery. The McGuffin, Loksat, became the thread that bound our leads, not their love for each other. The pursuit of this big “baddie” made them make uncharacteristic choices to keep secrets, to forestall their commitment to each other, in order to “keep each other safe”. I was angry, because without the news of cancellation, we might have gotten a season finale far darker and much more “unCastle-like” than we could have handled. Most of all, I was angry that the network and the showrunners made me relieved that this was a series finale and not a season finale.
The last fifteen to twenty seconds of the episode, however, brought a surge of joy to my heart. I’m old and cynical, and I’m a guy. I know that the scenes of familial happiness were thrown in as an afterthought, as a wave goodbye to the loyal fans who were passionate in their love for the show. I didn’t care. We needed to see them “ride off into the sunset together”. We needed a payoff for the years of dancing and missteps they took to grow in their love. We needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now we know. Our last image of our favorite couple was one of happiness, family and of course, love. Truth be told, I needed the last fifteen seconds. Over the past eight seasons, Castle has seen me through a divorce, layoffs, a son going off to college and other sundry tribulations of real life. It wasn’t a fairy tale to me, it was an expression of hope that no matter what happened, there was a silver lining that the sun will “always” rise and that the power of the love of two people can and will persevere. Our couple deserved their ride into the sunset. No matter how it was expressed, and honestly, I can’t think of a better way to do it than to show them in domestic bliss, Castle fans deserved to see that Kate Beckett and Richard Castle finally earned their forever together. The trauma of the final loft scene was almost expunged by the simple image of our favorite couple sitting at the family table, holding hands. It was perfect.
Finally, as the end credits rolled, I was sad. This wasn’t only because of the finality of the knowledge that there would be no more Castle, but I was sad over what might have been. Something was off this season. The boards were alive with consternation over the separation, both in their relationship, but also in how they worked together. I understand that. But to me, there was something even more off, from a tonal standpoint. I’ve wracked my brain trying to put my finger on what was bothering me. I said earlier that Castle was a love story disguised as a mystery show. I think what made this season seem out of sorts was that the new showrunners seemed to lose sight of that overarching principle. The mystery of Loksat became the goal and made the love story secondary to the pursuit of the bad guy. Beckett as Captain broke up the team we loved at work. New characters like Vikram and Hayley were brought in as part of this “big baddie” storyline. I have no doubt that new showrunners had the best of intentions, but they missed the mark. As Andrew Marlowe said himself that Castle, in the end, was a great love story. I feel fans got a little short changed by Season Eight, because we lost sight of the love story.
All in all, we were treated with a great experience. Castle fans have followed Richard Castle and Kate Beckett with passion and love. For myself, I revel in the memories of how they met, how they came together, and how they loved. There’s was a great, contemporary love story that managed to embed its essence into the very fabric of my emotions. I am grateful that, in the end, they got their happy ending. Any other ending, any other possibility would have been shattering. Castle was about endless possibilities. It was about love and hope, and that even in the darkest of days, the strength of two people in love can and will endure. Always.