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Kate hangs on the edge of that wall, far above the city she serves and loves, a literal wall and a figurative one, facing death, her strength and life ebbing. Repeatedly, she calls out his name to come to her, to be there for her as he always is, and to save her once again.
With love, regret, and now despair, she softly whispers his name: “Castle.” He has waited forever for her to realize his love and her own need for him. He has waited for four years for her to “open her eyes and see that he is right here.” She now sees; is it too late?
For Rick is not there now. Kate rejected his love, she, so blindly entrenched in retribution and obsession to find the men who killed her mother thirteen long years ago. Earlier Rick professes his devotion: “I love you, Kate…And if that means anything to you; if you care about me at all, don’t do this.”
The vision of Rick and his words, his belief in love and trust, tomorrow and always engraved in her heart keeps Kate fighting with a fragile hold on the precipice, hallucinating Rick’s presence, defying death… all eternity in mere seconds. So many times she has innocently called to him: “Are you coming, Castle.” He always runs to her, but not now.
Safe now, Kate realizes how much life and love she wants and how much she has lost; she resigns from the force. Toting a few forlorn possessions, with a last look back at her barren desk, Rick’s empty chair, Kate departs. She walks the lonely path to the elevator, and at last succumbs to her sorrows and fears. Rocking herself in comfort, hidden safely in the elevator, her life in shreds, she is alone…just the way she thought she wanted it.
With only her tears and memories, bereft, Kate braves the misty, grey-blue, rain-storm, engulfing her from without and from within her heart. Seated on the swing, their swing, she stares at the empty seat where once not too long ago they sat together, their love then reborn and silent promises pledged, the swing-chains between them, binding them together forever.
Where did “always” go wrong? To restore their relationship, to win Rick back, to plea for forgiveness, to pledge her love, Kate runs, home to Rick.
Her world undone, her life in crisis, Kate runs to Rick. He is all she wants to heal the hurts, to love her and to hold her as he has done before, lovingly, unconditionally, “always.” Rick brings her joy of life and hope in tomorrow.
Standing in his doorway, unsure of her welcome, Kate professes she wants only him. She holds him with her kisses and caresses, her words of sorrow and apology. And he responds. Could he do any less when all he wants is to love her? His passion unchained, Rick embraces Kate, showers her with his kisses, and slams shut the front door with her body. Together, smiling in recognition, holding hands, they are home at last.
This love scene at Rick’s front door still resonates months after it aired, surely the most repeatedly viewed love scene of the season. Perhaps to express our initial amazement, shock and then pleasure, we fans fondly call it STFD, an abbreviation, or more precisely: “Shut the Front Door.”
Kate runs to Rick and to his home front door on other occasions, usually for help and solace. Perhaps she doesn’t know why she runs to him only that she needs him. Rick goes to her, to her home, too, just to be near her and to relish in the little things he loves about her: her smile; her courage; her proud heart, and her beauty… sometimes to save her life and other times to save her from herself.
Giving solace to the survivors and voice to the victims, Kate strives to wield the truth and right the wrongs.”How did you do it, Sam?” Kate muses aloud, mind racing, in “A Chill Goes through Her Veins.” Alone again, late at night, she perseveres in the precinct, at her murder board; this case is personal; besides, she has no one at home waiting for her.
In contrast, at home, surrounded by his loving family, mother and daughter, mind at rest, relaxed, Rick, dodges, shoots, and brays as he plays a game of laser tag with his daughter. Martha admonishes him as only a mother can do: “How old are you? “
Now late, Kate runs to Rick for his inspiration, his confidence; his help. Rick’s companionship attracts Kate and unbeknownst to her even, she slowly begins to unburden her soul, to share a secret part of herself with him, and to trust.
Kate raps on Rick’s front door, interrupting the usual, family, fun-filled banter between mother and son, father and daughter. “Did someone order food,” Rick intones. All Kate can say is an astounded “hi” as Rick greets her in the open doorway, armed with his laser gun, bedecked in his laser goggles and vest, blinking blue, and Alexis, well-armed too, eager for fun, her goggles and vest, blinking green.
To add to the happy ménage, Martha, in a green, facial, mud -pack, stands by the two flashing combatants, her family, and drolly remarks: “Darling, are we entertaining?”
Over the threshold, into this outlandish, space scene, Kate ventures, her jaw dropping in awe at this family and at their home. And Rick welcomes her kindly: “Can I make you a drink?” Into his inner sanctum, Rick escorts Kate. “I feel like Alfred in the bat cave for the first time.” Kate pronounces.
Cold-reading her again, Rick understands her too well, and pegs her as a Batman fan, saying:”Figures…. Similar origin story…Loss of a loved one leads to a life fighting crime.”
Rick waits for her to speak, and then breaking the silence, Kate confides: “I can’t find it…the answer. That family, those kids, they need more than a theory. They need to know.” And after a pause, Kate speaks the truth: “I need to know,” the crux of Kate’s difficulty in this case.
Indeed, she needs to know, answers for that family and answers for her own, why her own mother was murdered and by whom. She runs to Rick who is there for her.
“What’s it matter if Sam killed Melanie?” a person of interest in the case later remarks. “He’s dead; they’re both dead. What’s it matter anymore.” It matters to the living, Kate knows only too well, to their closure and to their ability to heal, to experience joy, and to move on.
Kate has not let go; fear of loving again and losing a loved one isolates Kate. Still she shares a part of herself with Rick when she explains why she wears her father’s watch and her mother’s ring, remembrances of “the life I saved and the life I lost.”
Throughout this case, Rick recognizes Kate’s integrity, her heart, her dignity, her loneliness, her strength blended with her fragility; she honors the job, and recognizes that “the cop doesn’t get to decide how the story ends.” Rick knows how his stories end; he writes and reads Kate and defines her. But their relationship is changing. Rick understands more, extends himself more than ever to be a better man for his family and for Kate.
Oh, so literally in “Tick, Tick, Tick…Boom!” Rick runs to Kate, to her front door, only this STFD twist has a different spin and might be called “Storm the Front Door.” Rick tears through the city streets to Kate’s apartment, his panic building, hoping against hope for her safety.
Will he be in time to save her from the obsessed bomber? As the bomb explodes, he stands staring up at her loft, stricken with fear, transfixed, too late. Racing to Kate, in shock, Rick bashes down her front door, falling through the portal into the burning room, and crying out her name.
His warning phone call to her is in time, for Kate takes refuge in the bathtub, surviving the blast, her home destroyed. With relief that manifests in humor, he moves towards Kate in the bathtub, and obeying her protestations, Rick amusingly, manly, manages not to look as he envelops her slight body in his overcoat. His relief is profound: “You’re alive and, oh, you’re naked.”
“Castle, turn around…Don’t look.”
“I’m not looking…nice and easy …Are you in pain?”
“Well, not nearly as much as you. It’s killing you isn’t it, having to wait this long to tell me how you banged down the door.”
“You want me to start from the beginning?” Oh, yes, indeed.
Forging a closer relationship, Rick brings Kate to his home after the blast, to shelter and safety. Later Kate trusts him as her back up in the battle to save FBI Agent Jordan Shaw. In the final emotional scene between them, Rick gifts Kate with her father’s watch and rejoices in the joy he brings her. Touched by his thoughtfulness, she thanks him and Rick responds: “I found it in the wreckage and had it fixed.”
In “Sucker Punch,” Kate holds the knife, a replica of the weapon used to murder her mother Johanna, and Kate is overwhelmed with emotion. Declining the case, Kate hastily leaves the station, grief stricken.
She sits alone, in her car, tears falling, preparing to meet with her father. “Life never delivers anything that we can’t handle,” Johanna’s words Jim Beckett declares. Kate’s father proclaims that her mother was “a devout believer in the truth,” and that “the truth can never hurt you.” Supporting his daughter and bolstering her quest for right, her father adds: “The truth is still your weapon to wield, not theirs.”
With truth in mind Kate runs to Rick, the novelist, the fiction writer. Rick sweeps open his front door and greets Kate while Martha adds warm words of welcome. Gently Rick guides Kate into the sanctuary of his home saying: “I will do anything that you need, including nothing if that is what you want.”
Providing words of inspiration, Rick supports her interrogation of Dick Coonan. Ultimately it becomes a shoot out in the station with her mother’s killer grabbing Rick and using him as a shield to exit the station.
Kate kills Coonan to save Rick, and then, because she needs him alive, Kate frantically and fruitlessly attempts to staunch his bleeding. When Rick lovingly touches a bloody, grieving Kate, urging her to stop as only a friend or lover can do, the lyrics and plaintive melody surround the scene:
“More than friends I always pledge cause friends they come and go. I just want to grow old; I just want to grow old.”
They are more than friends, and in “Knockdown,” Kate runs to Rick’s home “to talk” and to ask Rick to accompany her to a diner to meet with John Raglan, lead detective on her mother’s murder case long ago, a dying man who wants to unburden his soul to Kate with the truth about Johanna’s murder.
In the diner Kate identifies Rick as “someone I can trust.” And yes, she can trust him as he aids her when Raglan is assassinated in the diner booth. Kate tries to send Rick home, but he stays with her, going to the station, his love and concern for her paramount. After this incident Rick confides to his mother, who is afraid for her son’s life, that being with Kate is “not about the books anymore.”
Removed from the case because of her proximity, Kate, emotionally spent, retreats to her home. Rick runs to her, and standing in her doorway, awkward, tongue-tied, he presents flowers to a tearful Kate, saying: “I brought you some. I just thought after everything…You might want…” He crosses the door sill and enters Kate’s home to console her.
Rick later runs to her again, to her home, in an effort to help her solve her mother’s case and ease her troubled mind. He will not part again as he did when he went to the Hamptons with Gina, letting Kate’s love down, leaving Kate alone, to create the murder board in her home. To Kate’s statement: “It’s not your fight,” Rick proclaims, “The hell it isn’t.”
Searching his face, Kate asks: “Why do you keep coming back Rick,” and he cannot speak. He is not the “plucky sidekick,” but her “partner,” and she is owner of his heart.
In “Knockout,” with his heart and love on the line, Rick goes to Kate’s loft with a mission: to convince her to step down, to step away from pursuing her mother’s case and to save herself. She will not listen. He implores her as a friend, and she responds: “Is that what we are?” Once again Rick cannot verbalize what they are, what she means to him and how much he loves her.
Kate lashes out at him telling Rick it is not enough, or perhaps he is not enough, and to get out, for they are over. As Rick leaves her loft, with his heart and voice breaking, he tells Kate that she deserves happiness, but she hides herself in her mother’s case and in empty relationships with men she does not love.
Among the many powerful scenes of love and reconciliation in season four’s premiere “Rise,” one emotional scene takes place in Kate’s home with Rick present to help her sort through her mother’s case file.
Grieving Kate begins to break down, naming all who have died in her mother’s murder case. In a heart-wrenching outburst, Kate cries out to Rick: “Everyone is gone.” We all grieve with her and cry out: Rick is here, Kate. And so are you. You are alive.
Indeed, Rick’s heart is engaged on several levels with Kate’s… on other occasions when he runs to her home, often because he has a brainstorm or a solution to a case, and he can’t wait to share it and be near her; several cases come to mind, often offering a deeper subtext and mirroring their unspoken love.
In “Heroes and Villains” a sweaty and breathless Kate opens her front door to Rick who immediately thinks that perhaps he “should have called.” With laughter Kate remarks: “Yoga, Castle, I was doing yoga.” Rick delights her with his company and all of his comic book research.
A touch of irony prevails in the final scene of this episode when Officer Hastings reveals the reason for her attempts at retribution, angrily explaining to Kate that “somebody killed my dad; nothing will ever be enough.”
Does Kate hear herself when she says: “Anne, you’re a good cop and you’ve got somebody who cares about you.” At that symbolic moment Rick strolls into view. Kate continues: “Don’t be so driven by the past that you throw away your future.”
When Rick appears at Kate’s loft in “Demons,” he spouts theories which involve Lord’s ears. Amused, Kate remarks: “I think I’ve had either too much wine or not enough.” He teases her that ghosts scare her. “If you’re not scared, just say it, “Rick continues,” for me, please.”And Kate admits: “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts,” to Rick’s triumphant smile and to the up-swelling “Ghostbusters” theme music.
Their delight in each other is infectious. Later, at home, Rick speaks to Alexis about relationships: “If a relationship doesn’t work out, it’s usually because the relationship wasn’t strong enough to begin with. I promise you this. If two people believe in something, really believe it, anything, even the impossible is possible.” And we all hope this is true in Rick and Kate’s blossoming love.
Rick and Kate need to be near each other, sometimes holding hands for moral support and other times in a hug of triumph or caress just to know the other is there. Other times Rick simply brings Kate to his home to share his world and his family, and these are some of the more poignant moments in the show.
One evening Rick and Kate prepare to go out club-crawling, undercover in” Lucky Stiff.” Bringing the beautiful Kate home, Rick is so proud of her, Martha thinks that they may be on a date. Not so! While Rick changes, Martha and Kate talk about her deceased boyfriend Chet’s legacy to her, for she does not want to do something, “selfish and petty” with the money.
When Rick emerges in the background, he overhears Kate tell his mother: “Someone once told me money doesn’t change you; it only magnifies who you are,” of course, Rick’s own words spoken earlier to her. “Maybe you could do something that would honor his memory somehow,” Kate suggests. Rick’s smile reflects his love and pride in Kate and the happiness he feels with his mother and Kate sharing this bonding moment. Tell me he doesn’t love Kate at this point, mid season three.
Later, an eager Rick cannot wait to gift Kate, and so he dashes to Kate’s home, raps on her door, and announces: “I know what you would do if you won the lottery,” and barges in past an amazed Kate, who dryly responds: “By all means, please come in.”
Excited with his plans to start a scholarship in Johanna Beckett’s name and host a fund raiser to support the program, Rick continues explaining his generous endeavor. But Kate finds it hard to accept this gift and returns: “You just can’t stay out of my personal life can you.”
Rick’s smile disappears, he slowly deflates, crestfallen he looks at her, and Kate realizes how she just slapped him down. Bringing a goofy, smile back to Rick, apology in her words, Kate restores Rick’s happiness and gives him a “thank you. It’s really sweet.” In truth, Rick cannot stop himself from sharing with Kate, from giving to her, for he only wants to see her smile and be happy.
Kate seems to yearn for the kind of love and affection she sees between Rick, Alexis and Martha, and this is evident in the final scenes of “Cops and Robbers” mid-season four. Observing the tearful reunion between father and child, the tender and kind expression on Rick’s face as he gathers in and protects his family in his loving arms, Kate falls deeper in love with him.
Rick invites her to his home for a loving meal, prepared by Martha in celebration of life, to thank Kate for saving them and making this feast possible. Kate feels honored, a valued guest and member of this family-circle, this loving home. Kate is there for Rick as he is for her in her home.
Rick learns more about love in early season three’s entry “Punked,” an episode about love, obsessive, unrequited, father-daughter, teenage love and Rick’s unacknowledged growing attraction or love for Kate. For in this episode Kate’s boyfriend Josh enters the station, the picture, and Rick is perplexed. At home Alexis asks her father for advice about love although she only wants daddy as a sounding board for her discoveries…too funny.
Is love the tingly, warm feeling Alexis says she feels when she is with Ashley, or thinking about him every minute, or seeing him in every poem or in every song? Or is love, among other things, a twinge of jealousy Rick experiences as Kate saunters off with Josh, and a realization that Kate is special to him, and he does not want to share her with anyone…ever.
Earlier, when Kate comes to Rick, to his home with information on the case, Rick, dressed in his steam- punk outfit, bombards Kate at the door sill with Alexis’ question: “How do you know when you are in love?”
As she crosses the threshold, Kate quickly answers: “All the songs make sense.” Yes, Alexis was right; the three important women in Rick’s life know and agree.
Rick enters his home carefully in the final scene, not wanting to intrude again with his daughter and her boyfriend, only to find an apologetic Alexis and a more mature understanding between father and daughter. Alexis sighs to Rick: “Being in love is exhausting.”
“Yeah, you got that right,” Rick sighs back. They hug, but something has changed in Rick; he sees anew, although he is still with Gina; he is aware of what it means to love, really love.
In Rick’s third novel “Heat Rises,” published in the beginning of season four, Rick acknowledges those who have inspired him. Of Kate he writes: “Detective Kate Beckett has shown me the ropes of homicide investigation, not to mention how to make sense of songs.”
Opening and closing doors to a loved one, crossing a threshold, and stepping over into love reach the epitome of symbolic meaning in “To Love and Die in LA.” In the suite, Rick and Kate sit next to each other, smoldering rays of love and desire shooting between them as Rick confides to Kate what a mystery she is to him, how true her heart is and how hot she is.
But the silence, the intense looks and hidden or obvious meanings become awkward and embarrassing to Kate, and she retreats to the safety of her room as Rick calls out her name.
Kate shuts her door but hangs on to the door handle. Behind her closed door she agonizes: Does she love him? Is there room in her heart for him? He waits. Seconds pass. Does she want Rick enough to open the door and run to him? She doesn’t want him, he concludes.
Finally, as Kate opens her door to go to him, Rick, unaware of her decision, turns away, walks to his room and shuts the door.
One door opens, the other door shuts. How emblematic of their long journey to love, this door scene is then. It is fitting that in season four’s finale “Always,” Kate runs to Rick, that rain-soaked night, heart- healed and free, the door to Rick’s home and to his hurt-heart wide open, only to be shut, securely by Rick and Kate… together, in love’s embrace.
At last Kate pledges to Rick what her heart knew all along: “I only want you.”