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Rick Castle, writer and Kate’s civilian partner, claims everyone has a story. What prompts the beautiful Kate to become a detective instead of a lawyer, Rick inquires when first they meet, intuiting that something traumatic happened, reading Kate’s face as it changes from mildly intrigued to saddened and then to raw with emotion; exposed.
Kindly, then, Rick ceases his cold reading, knowing that he has hurt her. Eventually Rick wants to help Kate find the answers to her mother’s murder, to free her soul, and to understand her story, for he has faith in his own investigative abilities and he has fallen in love; he just doesn’t know it yet.
For me a theme emerges; the search for identity; for Rick, there is always a story, a reason; you just have to look for it, question, search and see with new eyes.
Why does Kate wear her father’s watch and her mother’s ring, and why does she keep a little stickman in her desk drawer, a talisman? How can he help her break free from her fear of loss, thereby settling for empty relationships with men she doesn’t love? We know the answers now as the story has unfolded over the years.
But still Kate is so afraid of risk, of love, and potential loss of love. Can he help her believe in hope, in tomorrow, in always, and in him? In “After Hours” locked in Rick’s embrace, Kate sighs: “I thought I lost you.” Rick allays her fear of losing him: “No! Never, Never Never!” will I leave you.
“And what about you, Rick,” Kate once asks, wanting to hear his story, perhaps waiting and hoping that he will finally reveal more of himself to her. Why does he stay with her? She knows why, but somehow she needs to hear the answer.
Although so much is hidden deeply in his heart, Rick‘s inner life story slowly unpeels, before Kate, as she sees the loving family man, in “Cops and Robbers,” as Rick holds his distraught daughter and his mother. Kate looks on, transfixed, so filled with the emotion she is observing between a father and his daughter, a son and his mother. Rick remains the loving man, loyal, steadfast and brave, and Rick’s generous spirit emerges. She is proud of him and wants to be included in his realm.
Like Kate, we want to know more about this sunny, hopeful man. The second half of season five should address more of his story, as Kate reciprocates the care, realizes his needs, the protection, the understanding and devotion Rick imparts to his loved ones, to her, faithfully, and always.
We understand Rick’s childhood more, his search for love and meaning, his fears, his nonchalance regarding his father, his loneliness, the failure of his marriages, both seemingly on a rebound of sorts, his futile attempts to find true love and meaning, and the great love he has for his craft, his family and for Kate.
Ultimately Rick, too, needs to learn to truly express himself to his loved one, rather an ironic dilemma for a wordsmith, a writer. He, too, needs encouragement, a little tending, a little loving care.
Even Sir’s affinity with the little dolls in “Your Secret’s Safe with Me,” harbors a story for Rick, for us. Gates is softening a trifle, with an occasional crack in her defensive armor exposed. She would love the regard and unconditional loyalty Captain Roy Montgomery enjoyed. Her story will begin to unfold. We may see an entirely different woman than the icy, distant woman she projects.
Lanie, Kate’s confidant and friend, a dancer once, a songstress now, a bright and witty, earthy, medical examiner, needs to enchant us with more of her story. She has alluded to “the girls” as reason for her dance- career demise. What are her hopes and dreams? Is Javier, a roguish guy, the man for her? In “Secret Santa” she gives Javier hope for tomorrow although not eager at Christmas to renew their affair just for a sad, empty, unhappy holiday- hook up.
In “Under the Influence” Detective Javier Esposito emerges… a good influence.
Indeed “Castle” becomes an even greater show when it becomes a truly ensemble cast, highlighting the people we care about. And in the unpeeling or revealing of the characters, we see the layering and textures, the intricacies of good writing and acting, of motivations, character, plots, threads and theme development…stories; their stories.
Slowly and with infinite affection, in his own good time, for it is his saga, “Castle” creator Andrew Marlowe, weaves a great love story, keeping his promise, unveiling with exquisite care, each character’s inner life, one episode at a time.
In “Under the Influence,” Javier shines.
A strong, steady force, the closest thing to a brother Kate has, Javier impacts many episodes. Perhaps Kate and Javier are most alike as are Rick and Ryan. Javier is a warrior and only too happy to announce as he does in “Swan Song”: “I am former military…expert marksman and first through the door.” Well, of course, this speech is delivered with considerable braggadocio, and a lot of “one up” on partner Ryan.
In “Killshot,” Javier sympathizes and communicates with a stressed Kate, unstrung, almost unable to continue because of her terrors and post traumatic stress. Showing Kate that needing help is not weakness, Javier helps her face the sniper weapon and her fears.
She breaks down before this man, her brother in arms. Later in the episode, Javier shoots his own kill shot, a dangerous shot to take, to save Kate’s life. Indeed, Rick understands that it takes a man who has experienced this type of trauma to help his love get through her terror.
And in “Always” Javier goes through that door and supports Kate without Rick and without his partner Ryan. Even if his actions risk reprimand and/or loss of his badge, and the honor it truly bestows, Javier backs up Kate and thus he truly defines honor and a belief: leave no one, no brother in arms behind.
At the end of season two Esposito recognizes that Rick might not be coming back to Kate and to the precinct, and he talks gently to Kate like a big brother: “Why do you think he’s been following you around all this time?....The guy had done enough research to write 50 books. Look…whatever the reason is, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include watching you be with another guy.”
In tune with Kate’s hesitation and heart, he seems to be the man who interprets Kate and who understands her love for Rick better than she does. He’s onto Kate in “Double Down,” knowing that Kate let Rick win the bet so that Rick would return to her the next day and other tomorrows.
“I love the guy, too,” Javier cries out in “Probable Cause,” speaking about Rick’s grave danger, saying the words Kate is too afraid to say, manning up with the gentle words Kate needs to hear. Kate knows it is so.
Still Esposito struts his stuff and sings his tunes, and he is good: “See, I told you I could sing,” he calls to Ryan and the precinct after the “Swan Song” cinema verite showdown. During the episode, he postures before the camera and grand-standing, Javier brags to the camera crew member: “Trust me bro. You don’t have to worry about this creeper ever hurting anyone again. That’s a gift from me to you. You’re welcome America.”
He is bragging and honor and humor and sincerity, and, no doubt, insulted when the male- stripper recruiter in “Almost Famous” informs him that they prefer Ryan, the pale, skinny, vampire-type and they don’t want him, for they have enough” A Rod types.” That hurt, hits hard his now fragile male ego.
When he returns to the precinct, Javier proceeds to do pushups between the chairs and gloats that he was a pin up on a police calendar receiving letters and kudos; yes, Ryan stands amazed, agrees and deflates; most of the raves came from his mama.
Javier is often puffed up with his own bad-ass, patrolling the city, but always true; Javier is a cool, Hispanic hotshot versus Ryan’s cute, Irish Hobbit, sometimes “boyo” and definitely leprechaun.
Indeed Jon and Seamus, Javier and Kevin are wonderful foils, a team, playing off each other, finishing each other’s lines or busting each other, especially when interviewing, the shall we say, rather eccentric among us…zombies, call girls, vomiting party girls, vampires and maybe some of the city’s undead, along with some freaks and geeks.
While Ryan interviews an attendee to the Nebula 9 Super Nova Con, a bug type who only speaks Mersatorian, his compatriot Esposito delightedly interviews an amazing, Amazon type woman, twice his size. Of course, the lover boy Espo needs to know exactly how she keeps her pasties, uh, leaves on her breasts. She pulls one off and leaves her number on a leaf, while managing to keep his pen to boot.
Didn’t he fall for a dizzy not so dizzy type girl in “An Embarrassment of Bitches?” What about the whip, and whatever, in “The Mistress Always Spanks Twice”? Admit it, Javier, you were enchanted. He and Ryan are too good at dead pan humor and add so much to the show.
But what is it with this man and the neediest or biggest or most dangerous women coming on to him, he with his puppy dog eyes to quote Lanie. Now they were quite an item for a while, providing quite a surprise when first he emerges from Lanie’s bed.
“The boys” seem to get into a lot of trouble razzing Rick, with Javier more or less serious, in Kate’s camp, against Scooby Doo and Shaggy, too. Definitely Ryan is Castle-esque, a reader and fount of trivia, a dreamer, a story teller, as Javier continues to remind him, and Javier, indeed, he is a realist, a joker, a lover and Kate’s big brother.
Ending “Secret Santa” with Javier seeking to restore the clock to Tim and his mother on Christmas Eve, epitomizes the message of Christmas, of sharing the heart and love with family and friends and helping others, even strangers.
This is the theme, the background, the set, the story of Javier who becomes a better man, who chooses to spend his Christmas Eve selflessly with a family who needs him, and who needs cheer. With nothing tangible to gain, just inner joy and satisfaction, Javier, another secret Santa, another of the magi, becomes the man he always wanted to be, a better man, a mature one, a wiser man.
Javier’s story with its parallels, and its echoes, its rich layering, unfolds just a bit more with the next “Castle” tale “Under the Influence.” Indeed, Jon Huertas earns star status with this stellar performance and with his body of work in each episode, especially of late.
When fourteen year old Joey aka “Monster” is interviewed as a person of interest in the murder of Holly Rhodes, DJ, want to be singer, and part time thief, Javier takes an interest in the wise- ass kid, seeing in him a part of himself and his past and wanting to help the boy. Joey’s father died when he was seven, and his mother committed suicide; he now lives with a gambling uncle.
Enter the picture Shane Winters, a slithery low- life who preys on young, abandoned kids, influencing them to work gigs and committing burglaries, bailing out his protégés, namely Joey when caught, and a long time ago, doing the same with a young Holly Rhodes; DJ and thief.
Holly and Joey have a legal gig together, but Winters makes it all about stealing jewelry and other small high end items from swanky parties and homes where Holly DJs. At this particular party, Joey steals a phone for Shane, from record producer Tyrese and gives it to Shane who wants to use the cell phone’s e key app to break in to Tyreses’ studio and steal or down load soon to be released records.
Sifting through the suspects and everyone is a suspect, Kate along with her team discovers the murderer is a fading singer named Gina or Regina, whose new album about “love, heartbreak and revenge” is prophetically named “Fatal Impact.”
If she can steal a new album from a young upstart named Josie, or leak it on the internet, Gina’s own album may stand a chance in the competition with Josie. But Holly grows a conscience and tells Joey to return the phone, and then she confronts Gina with her gun. Gina turns the gun on her and kills her.
Once again we have a convoluted story, and some people may be disappointed without more Rick and Kate moments, but a few things happen for those interested in relationships and the lives of our peripheral characters.
Much like “Kick the Ballistics” features Ryan, and his bid to find his stolen weapon and apprehend Jane’s killer, this episode features Esposito, who like Ryan, doesn’t disappoint, and who in fact tears up the scenery. The show belongs to him tonight. He emotes, energizes and emerges.
In the end, helping Joey, Esposito seriously threatens Shane who escapes legal punishment for his duplicity and use of children. Shane Winters, on pain of death, will never abuse or use another street kid or any kid. Esposito will be waiting and watching.
Earlier Rick calls Shane “a Fagan to Joey’s Oliver Twist” and he is right. Of course “Little Castle,” as Javier has been known to call Ryan, enjoys the comment and answers back to Rick’s delight: “If Holly’s involved, that makes her the Artful Dodger or the Artful DJ.”
Rick comments: “Nicely played.” And Javier simply shakes his head at the two of them with their Castle-esque, erudite references.
Ryan and Esposito do most of the interrogations and investigation and are at their usual bantering and funny selves, proving they are a force to be reckoned with and they deserve a chance to do some of the heavy lifting, for they have grown tremendously.
Many of us want Rick and Kate only and that is a mistake, although a tempting one. Indeed the story, “Castle” is far richer when we are exposed to the ensemble cast and additional textures. Perhaps Alexis and Martha will have a chance to show their many facets and continue their stories. As they say it’s all good. We welcome it.
Now the kid, Joey doesn’t believe in much, and he feels that no one keeps a promise, especially any one in his life, and then Javier, who seems to be primed for this role in “Secret Santa,” reveals his life story to the kid, with all of the parallels and echoes. He assures Joey: “I keep all of my promises.”
Javier tells the story of his life, the short version. His parents split up when he was five. “Dad went to Florida with his new wife and I only ever got a phone call and a post card.” Arrested for assault, resisting arrest, and possession, Javier ran wild. Javier reveals that one of his teachers, however, “sees a future for him, but it was up to me to make the choice which road to go down.”
Paying it forward, Javier will check in on Joey every week and see that he studies and attends school. He gives Joey his card to call him day or night. He makes a promise. The story ends with Javier.
We don’t have any close or extra sweet Rick and Kate scenes; they could have begun with them at home with a kiss or two, but the couple seems to be more comfortable than ever, joking from the first about which movie to see, setting up Valentine’s Day, the movie and the holiday, with Kate easy going, even giving Esposito a swat upside the head for siding with Rick.
As usual Rick and Kate finish each other‘s sentences, but they have a little competition in the room, Ryan and Esposito, who are an amusing and interesting team.
Rick and Kate sit close to each other in the interrogation room and McThugg makes a sly crack about Rick’s status. Mc Thugg aka Darius Carson knows that Rick surely isn’t a cop because of his “puffy shirt and his fancy hair.” Only Rick or should I say Nathan can pull this off: With this dastardly indictment, Rick surreptitiously glances away to check himself in the reflective window. He then adjusts his fancy hair.
What makes this extra funny to me is that earlier Ryan does the same thing, in his case, slicking back his hair which he is wont to do when he meets a famous, beautiful woman, in this case a recording star, instantly earning Javie’s dismissal, calling him out on this new habit, and calling him fan-boy. These two pairs are on a roll and are great foils to each other, often shifting rolls.
More often now Kate looks to Rick and smiles her pleasure with him. Underneath the jests and jokes, Rick can be counted on for a wise summation on love and life. Once again she sees Rick as a serious family man and as a potential husband and father of her children. They glow with each other.
When Esposito is about to wash his hands of Joey Malone, realizing that the wise- ass kid, well earned his epithet “the Monster,” he looks to Rick for parental advice, and Kate listens and looks very carefully at Rick.
Ryan, too listens because he wants children even if times are troublesome and uncertain. Recall Javier telling him on Christmas Eve that having children is the way to keep it together, to give meaning and to help rid the world of its chaos.
Rick tells his story about Alexis: “I lucked out with Alexis. At a certain point you realize you’re just dealing with someone who hasn’t been around as long as we have. They have to find their way.” Kate and Rick, Ryan and Esposito realize the power of influence, of aiding children, of giving children, even each other, room to find their way, to grow, healthy and happy and safe.