This is a member contributed article.
And this I know; to plunge down and breathe is more than possible if you believe.
Once upon a time in the tiny kingdom of Castledom, a ruggedly handsome prince, a spinner of adventure tales, despondent with emptiness and ennui, hopes for meaning and something life inspiring, for he has nothing left to say, nothing left to write. Phony happiness, empty book signings and soirees fill his days, while he denigrates his name signing damsels’ chests with empty promises of more signature shallow days and empty nights.
The prince has no inspiration, no direction, only hedonistic pleasures. Into his soiree floats a princess, a beautiful peace officer, seeking his help in solving a copy cat crime. On that night the prince of tales, finds something new, meets inspiration, renews enchantment, finds his muse and ultimately finds himself.
The beautiful detective rediscovers her inspiration that night also, although she never admits it; and yet she has a long- time secret she keeps from this egotistical man. Kate loved his words before she ever loves the man. Reading his Storm novels provides pleasure and escape from the reality of her deep grief for her murdered mother. The writer finds inspiration in his muse and a reason to be a better man; Kate finds hope and someone to care enough to tear down her walls and wait for her to heal.
The fairy tale ends now with the season eight, series finale, or does it continue, for the power of this little love story remains forever in our hearts and minds; it will live within us, an inspiration to us all.
Thank you to all of the writers, directors, crew, set and wardrobe designers, sound technicians, stage hands and extras who made the 12th Precinct come alive, everyone who breathed life into Castle; and to the cast with thanks to all; you brought joy and hope into our homes.
The series finale, entertaining and intense, was co- written by show- runners Alexi Hawley and Terrence Paul Winter. Rob Bowman delivers marvelous direction in “Crossfire,” as he always does. And special kudos go to Rob Duncan, the sound- track genius who never ceases to amaze and capture every nuance with every sound, melody or song.
Words of wisdom, powerful scenes, brilliant episodes, so many wonderful stories fill our memories as we remember our Monday night appointment television, our love affair with Castle for so many years. It is universally decreed: Castle gives us hope and joy.
Today I write on the last episode “Crossfire,” but I spend equal if not more time on my thoughts about the series itself. Perhaps I could write a book on my thoughts, but oh, I already have, with so many reviews written. Today I recognize the many years of inspiration and share grief for the end of my favorite show. Today I do not talk specifically about any issues or clouds that darkened the last few weeks; there is time for that another time and regrets enough to go around for all.
Castle helps so many overcome grief and pain. From emails, twitter tweets, Face book and other social media, and replies to articles I’ve written, I’ve seen, and you have too, how Castle eases burdens and helps so many survive devastating events, medical crises or personal challenges. Everyone has a story of how they came to Castle and stayed, enchanted and renewed and many even say saved.
In a world of daily crisis and a television land awash in tawdry programs, Castle was different, far more than a procedural detective story, or an awkward joke. We cared about the characters and their development, their struggles and their journey to love. Castle was for many years an inspiring love story and it was ours.
All nationalities, all races, young and old, men and women agree. Castle gives us magical moments and a respite from the trials of every day.
I learned this first hand from the first day in March 2009. Later Castle gave me the hope, the interest and the words to write weekly reviews. I survive, still, devastating cancer, a rare form and I am my doctor’s miracle; I will never be cured, but I am still here four and one half years later, after a six months to live prognosis. True I will never need shampoo again, and soon I go back for four more months of chemo, a yearly event, but I am here and I have been healthy and writing all season eight and though it sometimes is frustrating and challenging, writing on my favorite show is a blessing, not in disguise.
We read different versions of the same story every day; we all have incredible stories; and we feel additional pain right now; for Castle’s end feels like a death in the family.
Yes, Castle exudes love and hope; it was ever so; Castle gives us magic and we believe. We see the possibilities of joy in every day as we bond with the cast and our friends, fellow fans from across the globe. This is powerful.
Castle is Andrew Marlowe’s and Terri Edda Miller’s legacy and an ode to joy, and love, their opus of hope. We thank them for their insight and the words, for creating and breathing life into Castle. In her beautifully penned speech, Alexis’ graduation speech, Terri Edda Miller shares with us the pain of parting and the glory of our memories.
“There is a universal truth we all have to face whether we want to or not; everything eventually ends. …Leaves fall, you close the book. You say good bye. Today is one of those days…We’re moving on…There are some people who are so much a part of us, they’ll be with us no matter what. They are our solid ground, our North Star, and the small clear voices in our hearts that will be with us Always.”
In a scene early in season one, Rick tells Kate, “Until tomorrow,” as she leaves for home.
“Can’t you just say good night?” a saddened and realistic Kate replies.
“I’m a writer, good night is boring. Until tomorrow is more hopeful.” An important word enters the Castle lexicon… tomorrow. We hold on to tomorrow; we believe in tomorrow.
But at that time Kate can only say: “Yeah, well, I’m a cop. Goodnight.”
Another time Kate agrees to allow Rick back to shadow her saying: “Tomorrow.” Tomorrow becomes a special word, a word we fans use with our Castle friends and our own family. We know tomorrow is never promised to us; but we live with the expectation of another chance; we believe in the hope and the grandeur, the goodness of bright and fulfilling tomorrows.
It is a bond, a promise, words of faith and trust. I love you and I will be there for you, no matter what befalls. Garth Brooks’ classic song reveals some truths: “Sometimes late at night I lie awake and watch her sleeping. She’s lost in peaceful dreams so I turn out the lights and lay there is the dark. And the thought crosses my mind: If I never wake up in the morning, would she ever doubt the way I feel about her in my heart. If Tomorrow Never Comes.” Sometimes Rick watches Kate sleep and they both marvel with their love for each other.
In “Undead Again,” Kate asks Rick if he will return to her; things have been very rocky and Kate knows and feels that this is their last case together. Rick is moving on without her. Kate tells him about her therapy with Doctor Burke and of her progress. Someday soon she will be able to handle everything that happened the day she was shot. She knows he wants to leave, but she asks him, commits, risks her heart and her pride; will he return and be there when her walls finally come down; will he return: “Tomorrow?” She asks him.
Standing there in his zombie costume, in an iconic Castle scene, Rick is encouraged by her use of the word he taught her to believe in so long ago. He answers Kate’s question: “Tomorrow!” They move to reconciliation and love to “Always,” and the passionate and promising ending of season four.
“If tomorrow never comes; will she know how much I loved her? Did I try in every way to show her every day that she’s my only one?” Garth Brooks sings and the lyrics of so many songs match our emotions.
We all have favorite lines, adages, wisdom and advice from our favorite character, scene and episode. The Castle themes of reconciliation and of redemption have resonated since the beginning, as Rick and Kate often strive for forgiveness and redemption as we do. Stories resound with hope of rebirth and renewal, often paralleling the events the Castle family and friends experience. We have 173 stories in the canon, sharing moments of revelation, joy and pain, in short, the human comedy… and always hope.
Castle tells of friendship and love, of being true and protecting your partner. Kate honors victims and never gives up especially in the mighty struggle against evil. Rick believes in truth, in human goodness and in the light of decency that shines on the darkest of all calendar days.
Through comedy and drama, Castle shares timeless values. In one episode, Ryan delivers a toast which epitomizes Castle perfectly: “To bravery and commitment, love and sacrifice,” and ultimately to Jane who loved. This always was the Castle emblem and hallmark. Being there for your loved ones matters. People matter.
Rick claims the story is important and comprehending the story is their secret weapon as it was in so many cases such as in “Still” and in “Secret Santa.” But the LokSat arc sadly bogged down the Castle love story all season eight, keeping Rick and Kate apart and deviating from the successful premise:
Castle is a love story. After a difficult season six finale that destroyed the most promised and anticipated wedding ceremony, and an uneven recovery in season seven, Castle reeled sometimes unrecognizable season eight with Rick and Kate’s phony separation, shredded character integrity and an unfathomable and universally hated story line. It was heartbreaking to watch a great show spiral downward and slowly disappear every week. We waited for the finale as we always seem to do, but this one was truly final.
In “Crossfire,” we see Rick and Kate, Vikram and Hayley involved in a set up to entrap the LokSat head or his accountant, using a phone Caleb Brown has entrusted to Kate, the method of contact with LokSat at a given time and rendezvous.
Supposedly Caleb meets his fate, just prior to this, burned to a crisp by a robotic LokSat right hand man Mr. Flynn.
Unaware that Caleb is dead, Rick and Kate on stake out, wait for a rendezvous between Brown and the right hand man who will eventually lead them to LokSat. In a tremendous shoot out despite Vikram’s surveillance and Hayley’s sniper skills, Rick and Kate barely survive.
To their rescue in bursts a Korean Tacos bus driven by Mason Woods who claims Rick’s step mother Rita enlisted him to help the couple. Safe now, Rick and Kate have a loving parting scene, forehead to forehead, with tender words of love, then silhouettes, in a familiar pose. But Rick is worried and distracted.
For their protection, Martha and Alexis retire to the panic or secret room in Rick’s PI office, protected by the loyal Hayley. Rick explains all to his mother and daughter, in a scene reminiscent of “Countdown,” when Rick returns after near death with Kate locked in the refrigerator van, to tell them they must not ask any questions but go to the Hamptons. Now Rick speaks to Kate at the station and reminds her to come to the PI office for her own safety.
Kate, however, intends to stay at the station since new developments have surfaced in tracking the right- hand man, information provided by Ryan and Espo working on the Caleb Brown murder. Vikram begins to explain to the guys the LokSat connection, and Kate realizes she must tell them the details and enlist their help.
Kate’s guys come to her aid and actually demand that she stay put in the station. “We’re not going to let you go to war without your two best soldiers. You have a target on your back, we don’t,” Javi explains, “you’re staying here.” And Ryan chimes in with “you can fire us for insubordination otherwise we’ve got this.” It is amusing to Kate to see them step up like this against their captain. Yes, united, Javi and Ryan hold Kate back as they could not in “Always.”
“Right now there is no war,” Kate claims, in a scene that mirrors or reflects Kate’s insistence in “Always” to pursue Cole Maddox in a rogue mission. Then Javi backs her up while Ryan refuses and tries to inform Rick for help, ultimately going to Captain Gates for help in saving Kate. Kate is willing then “to bring the war right to them” despite Rick’s pleading with her to let it go and walk away. Ultimately Rick has to walk away from her. The scene parallels so perfectly.
Back in the panic room, a nervous Martha provides Merlot and picnic food as they camp out in the panic room, guarded by Hayley and some of her henchmen. “If I wasn’t scared out of my mind, it would be a lovely afternoon,” Martha dithers. But Rick is restless. After exchanging I love you with Kate, Rick decides to leave the safety of the room and go to Kate. Hayley advises him not to, but then offers her assistant as his back up. Rick wants Hayley to stay and protect his family. ”I should be with Kate. I promised we would take down LokSat together. I’m going to the precinct.”
Rick hails a cab and is picked up by the right- hand man, a disaffected nut case singing a Brady Bunch song and just loving it. Captured, strapped down, Rick endures questioning as to who knows what about LokSat. In robotic fashion, Flynn questions, determines Rick’s weaknesses and wants to know about love and Rick’s family. Here we learn what we always knew about Rick, and it comes straight from him as the truth serum takes hold of his mind.
Meanwhile Mason Woods calls Kate and sets up a meeting with someone “from the dark side of the CIA,” who can help bring down LokSat. Kate will join him, and she slips out of the precinct.
You were “an incorrigible playboy before you met Katherine Beckett,” Flynn informs Rick. ‘What changed?” Of course, the answer is embedded in the legend and canon of Castle and Beckett, What happened to make Rick become more than he was; how does he transform to become the hero he always was? “I fell in love with her,” he states.
“Because I had never met anyone like her.” Rick continues describing the mystery that is Kate: her legs, her eyes, her brains and her heart. Once upon a time in LA he tells her she was a mystery he would never solve; he sees her heart and her “hotness.” “Beckett makes me laugh; she challenges me; I became a better man.” And so it was. In their wedding vows he proclaims she is the mystery with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life.
“These feelings make you vulnerable,” Mr. Flynn informs. Once Mike Royce wrote to Kate telling her “that risking our hearts is why we’re alive; the last thing you want is to look back on your life and wonder: If only.”
Even if he had a do over with a chance to live, Rick explains, he would not change. “She’s going to find you and LokSat and she is going to bury you both.”
“Kate Beckett is going to be dead by the end of the night, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.”
With the truth serum in full effect, LokSat appears: Mason Woods, the benign leader of the Great Detective Society; the man who rescues Rick and Kate in the Korean Taco bus.
After Rick tearfully reveals the names of all who know about LokSat, including his family, Mason informs him; it was “hubris that made you think this could end any other way.” The scene is that powerfully acted and truly emotional.
Next Kate’s guys seize the building and begin to search for Mr. Flynn who now prepares a special injection which will kill Rick in six seconds. “Everything ends in tragedy even an epic love story like yours,” he tells Rick, words so ominous. Bursting into the room Ryan expertly shoots the serum out of Flynn’s hand, saving Rick.
In Mason’s car, a subtext- laden conversation ensues between Kate and Mason. Kate is tense; her body language suggests distrust, but still we worry that she is duped by this avuncular character. Will he kill her?
Speaking to Mason, Kate explains the bond she and Rick share: “I am crazy for him. He’s the love of my life and he understands the sacrifices I must make to do this job.” Mason wants to know why she never walks away. She admits that she “took an oath,” and she wants justice for her dead friends. Regarding the weight of office and its burden, Kate informs Mason: “I don’t carry it alone.”
While Ryan and Espo try to hold off the CIA rogue goons in a gun fight, Rick tries to extract information from Flynn as to where Mason is taking Kate to kill her. Under the truth serum, Flynn tells Rick he is taking her to the building’s incinerator room. Still Rick and the guys are pinned down by the gun fire and Rick is desperate to get out and save Kate.
In an amazing slow motion sequence, Rick wanders the room, searching for egress to save Kate. Everything slows down. Circling in desperation, Rick spies the dry wall, and begins to break it down with a fire extinguisher. Espo and Ryan toss Rick a gun and cover for him as he heroically climbs down.
Meanwhile Mason brings Kate into the incinerator room, but a suspicious Kate draws her gun on him. Because, the room is booby trapped with an electric magnetic field in the ceiling, Kate’s gun pops out of her hand and clings to the ceiling. “I’m not going in there (the incinerator) without a fight.” Badass Kate steps up.
Coming to her aid, Rick enters the room, but his gun is also forced out of his hand. In combat, Kate disarms Mason, leaving him lying on the floor. Rushing to each other, Rick and Kate embrace, as they have always done.
Rob Duncan’s sound track has the same viola, rather mournful string tone; it hovers, climatic, stirring and yet quiet. I recognize the familiar tones heard in “Cops and Robbers” as Rick greets his waiting family. Kate stands by and watches them, the family she loves, the family man she loves, reunited. It is painful to intrude in her longing for him and for family.
The same somber, string tones are repeated in “Veritas,” as Kate emerges triumphant. With Bracken arrested, Kate rushes to Rick’s waiting arms. “She would have been proud of you,” he tells her with great love in his voice.
“I couldn’t have done it without you.” The battle won once is won again.
In “Reckoning” Kate returns to her precinct, to her home, to the welcoming cheers of her cop family. Rick protects her, and she holds on to him; Javi and Ryan, Kate’s guardians, follow as they leave their elevator and reclaim their hall and home.
Now in “Crossfire,” from their elevator, Hayley emerges, escorting Martha and Alexis, returning them safely to Rick. Hayley smiles kindly, but the home hall is surrendered to her, so it seems. Hayley circles Rick’s family, and protectively watches over them as they embrace.
On the outside of the chosen, looking in, Kate stands alone, and my heart breaks.
This is the intended goodbye, for soon Kate must die. Kate hugs Lanie, who then walks off with Ryan and Espo and Vikram, now one of the guys. All partnered, off they go for a drink with Kate’s blessing. Alone, Kate smiles .The emptiness penetrates the senses. Rick whispers a thank you to Hayley as Alexis once did to Kate in “Cops and Robbers.” Kate watches Rick encircle his family, embrace them, treasure them, love them and console them. Hayley smiles, guards, secure in the Castle family second circle.
Alone, Kate stands: separated.
Across the distant gulf, golden, kind smiles Rick bestows upon his wife. Kate should have been included in the circle, in their celebratory embrace. But that was not part of the plan. Generous, beautiful Kate returns smiles in farewell, observing her family’s tender reunion, giving them a moment, mother, daughter and son.
It should have been Kate, my plea last week. Kate’s final appearance, a vision whole and smiling breaks the heart. Duncan’s sound track sings the piano notes, five and then four or five notes, Kate’s Song, la la la la la and then la la la la; I feel the notes, hear their faint tones, as they float off to nothingness. They are the same piano tinkling sounds in “Always,” as two lovers impatiently embrace, longing for each other and loving, their passion so long denied. They are thematically repeated in “After the Storm,” as Kate brings morning coffee to Rick. “Kate’s Song.”
The piano plays the same thematic notes in “Murder He Wrote” as the camera pans the swimming pool and home. Kate’s Song. Looking back and listening to early seasons, one can occasionally hear the same piano notes, lighter, skipping, brief, not developed. Duncan places them there thematically. As their love matures, the notes tingle in passion. Now the notes, fainter and fewer drift away. It is over. Kate’s Song: the goodbye; the homage; the end.
Things change; endings blur; we know she may live. Live Kate, we pray out loud, wiping away our tears and fearing to watch any more. We are shaken now, so little time left; how will this end. Rick and Kate return home. Is there no security in this loft? As Rick prepares to cook a breakfast for his love, the burning blaze stirs some cognition in him. Why would Mason have Caleb’s body burned in a car trunk when he has an incinerator at his disposal?
In walks Caleb, very much alive. He fires his weapon at Rick who drops down to the floor, wounded. Kate comes in to save him from Caleb’s second shot. She is caught; it is a double- cross, crossfire of sorts as they shoot at each other. Caleb falls dead and Kate staggers and falls to the floor, terribly wounded. She crawls to Rick; gun in hand, as he inches to her side. They are so star- crossed.
They touch; they clasp hands. Always their hands speak and vibrate, aware of love, send messages as their eyes used to do when they could not voice their words of love. As the passion of “Always” subsides, their hands reach out, their fingers electric, intertwine, speak of love and desire.
Their hands touch in handshakes or in presenting coffee, or consolation, or in offering partnership in a dance; Just a touch revives, sustains them. In “Always,” the music builds into a crescendo of their blended voices as they walk off together, hand in hand, fingers entwined; the storm still rages: thunder and lightning, hearts pounding.
Once upon a time in “Head Case,” an episode about cryogenics, Rick and Kate discuss the people who have their bodies frozen in the hope of being reunited with loved ones, sometime in the distant future when science can restore life. Kate speaks to Rick in sub text, hopeful:
“That’s what all the great love stories are about right? Beating the odds.”
“You really think so?”
“I hope they make it.”
“I do, too.”
Now they lie there on the floor. The scene mirrors “The Last Seduction,” their hands touching, interlacing with love awakening; their hands reach out; their fingers slide together, an accustom ritual. Rick remains on the floor, beneath her, Kate above him in the bed. The sun rises on them, shines on their love. There is no sun now.
Gravely wounded, so terribly alone, their bodies, beautiful and darkly lit, pose, trace the chalk markers, the outlines and positions of the dead bodies, on the season seven DVD cover, which also superimposes above the white, death markers, Kate and Rick, smiling, in mock pose. The imagery, the chalk body outlines, the prone position, their smiling faces blur into foreshadowing. And still the gasps fill the air followed by somebody’s tears, could they be mine?
In keeping with an ordinary ending or even a last minute alternative ending, Castle writers have the uncanny ability to turn an episode or a season upside down, in two minutes, even less, and thus change the course of the show. In season one Rick leaves Kate at Kate’s request; in season two Rick leaves Kate standing there as he goes off with Gina.
Kate is shot and gravely wounded and Rick declares his love in the last seconds of season three. Two lovers find each other in a moment of passion to end season four; a stony Rick proposes marriage in the last second of season five; their wedding is destroyed and Rick disappears to end season six.
After dealing with evil and terror, season seven ends happily with a gala party, celebrating Rick’s Poe’s Pen writing award, and also providing closure for the series. That’s the way it could have been; that’s the way it should have been some still feel. I hold my breath. We grieve for what could have been, and wait in fear for what will be.
“Crossfire” ends quickly. Startled, we wonder if it is a dream, illusion, or delusion, the last thoughts of a dying brain and heart, or Kate’s delirium and enchanted dream of love’s awaking.
In a voice over, Kate and Rick bring us back to the beginning with Rick’s flirtation and fascination with the beautiful and elusive Kate.
For a second we fear loving ghosts and then we hope live lovers.
We choose life; what else can it be with tomorrow and always our guides.
“Well, I guess this is it,” Kate teases Rick. No, please, Kate.
“Doesn’t have to be; we could go to dinner; debrief each other.”
“Why, Castle, so I can be another one of your conquests?”
“Or I could be one of yours? “
“Goodbye, Castle, nice to meet you.”
“It’s too bad; it could have been great.”
“You have no idea.”
Now he does. They do. Their happiness in this teasing flirtation shines through, bubbles over.
The ending thematically ties all of Castle together.
Less wounded than Kate, Rick teases Kate back to life and love. They are alive.
The camera pans to the loft now emptied of everything personal, only bare floors, walls and windows remain. Rick’s golden sailboat once adorning the window, overseeing the wide world, city caverns, and dreaming of sailing adventures has sailed away.
In “He’s Dead, She’s Dead,” Rick reveals his second name: Alexander. Perhaps the psychic is right. One day she will meet an Alexander; he will be important; he will save her life. Duncan’s sound track tells the whimsical tale as Rick smiles and walks off. Amazed and enchanted, Kate stands transfixed.
“The Librarian’s Song” begins its whimsy, and longing, its sadness, its hope, its pledge and promise.
“I know the distance it takes to sail around the world I’ve done it many times; on seas of Van Gogh green and every night with certainty the stars descend around the hull like fireflies.
It’s no surprise, I’m here tonight, holding out hope for a change in the tide.
Painted windows on the skyline sail me off this empty island; I’ll be home before you know it; I’ll be home before you know I’m gone.
I know the secret waves that lap around the world the mermaids sing of them, as they brush their hair with coral; where every lighthouse sends a beam, like Roman columns to a city down below.
And this I know; to plunge down and breathe is more than possible if you believe.
Painted windows on the sky line, sail me off this empty island, I’ll be home before you know it, I’ll be home before you know I’m gone.
I know the distance it takes to sail around the world I’ve done it many times; behind my knotted desk in quiet service to the stories I collect until it’s time to close and go home for the night.
Without the pirates; without the sirens; without the love notes in bottles at seas waiting for someone waiting for someone like me.
I’ll be home before you know it; I’ll be home before you know I’m gone.”
Rick and Kate struggle to come home to safe harbor; they always do.
Seven years pass. The barren room springs to life, comfortable, furnished with children’s toys and a teddy bear sitting in the chair.
The prince and his princess have vanquished evil and peace reigns in Castledom. All is well and the fairy tale lives, becomes a reality. They are home.
Rick walks out of the bedroom and serves the breakfast he loves to make and never finished when last we saw him. The orange juice is poured. In bustle three children, a young girl, a Kate look alike, aged five or so and twin three year old boys. A wonderful mother, Kate chases them and plays with them.
At the table the family toasts orange juice glasses, and milk. The sacred hot coffee steams from two white cups. Rick sits there in casual plaid, his shirt open, his hair a little long, at peace and home, watching his wife watch their children, Lily, Jake and Reece; perhaps a nod to “Aunt Lanie, Uncle Javi and Uncle Ryan.”
The scene is vibrant and warm, a picture of family happiness; two parents loving each other and their children. The sound track hops and skips a family happy song, unlike any other heard before, a Norman Rockwell scene some say, but it seems friendlier and softer.
The Time Traveler is correct: Rick and Kate have three children and a dog; Rick writes books of intellectual substance, and Kate becomes a senator. Rick speaks again in voice over, the old familiar words:
“Every writer needs inspiration and I’ve found mine.”
They live happily ever after. Yes, the great love stories beat the odds. The prince and princess hold hands and send their private love messages: