Member Article “Recoil”

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“I promise you we will figure this out, and we’re going to make them pay; just not today,” Rick pledges.

No "Castle" scene, it seems, not the welcomed new season’s intimacy, not the loving embraces, the soul- searching hugs, not the intense, earth-shattering handshakes, the tender looks or the faithful words, nor the passionate kisses, nothing is more powerful than this heart- wrenching, perfect scene from “Rise,” when love, always there, heart-felt was hidden, yet alive and waiting…waiting, spoken…silent, sometimes heard, palpable.

Kate returns to work edgy, in free fall, frail from the trauma and her near fatal heart shot. At her desk Rick patiently sits down, rests in her presence as he so often does, her cup of coffee offered, his heart stripped bare this time. How can he stop her, make her stand down? How can he save Kate from herself and from her arch- enemies?

Love’s greatest gift, Rick now bestows. “Rise,” love. With all he is, Rick asks her to walk away from her mother’s case; he does this before in “Knockout,” and Kate lashes out then; they are over.

Now, again, anew, a scene so old, so fresh, he cherishes a chance to save her; with eyes face-searching, with voice breaking, anxious with love, needing her, Rick pleads, his words: “I’m not telling you to walk away; I’m just saying give it time...just until you get your bearings.”

He waits; achingly reads her face. Have they come this far, he so in love with her, they so in tune always, and she, once more not hearing…his heart speaking…his words?

But then she asks: “How am I supposed to get my bearings when someone out there wants me dead?” Kate listens; Rick’s hope glimmers, earnest.

“Just not today, “Rick promises and pleads.

“Castle, if I don’t do this… I don’t know who I am?”

“You are who you always were.” Rick promises. “You are the one who honors the victims.”

He knows her, validates her truth. It is hard to think of a more loving, greater gift than this, life- affirming one’s character and one’s existence. Rick urges Kate to live her life, to be herself, to enjoy life’s pleasures, and, as always, to believe in a hopeful new day…in tomorrow. She tries; seeks counseling to heal, to love…him, walls down. And she does…start to believe in tomorrow in herself and in him.

In another beginning, season five’s “After the Storm,” as lovers now, Rick’s words and demeanor mirror the “Rise” scene, only this time urging a flagging Kate on to action, not pleading with her to halt her inquiries. She cries: “I can’t go back again, not now.” Rick realizes they have no choice but go on. “I don’t know how to do this and I’m not even a cop anymore.”

This time Rick spurs her on to action: “I’ll tell you exactly what we do. We figure out who this is. We’ve done it before and with less to go on...” He engages Kate in locating Mr. Smith and unlocking the conspiracy, lifting her sinking spirit: “This is what you’re great at, and I’m not so bad myself.”

Rick and Kate, Ryan and Esposito go on to uncover an all encompassing, high profile, powerful conspiracy and Senator Bracken, the self-serving, diabolical politician responsible for Johanna Beckett’s murder. In a seemingly impossible situation, alone, Kate encounters Bracken, confronts him, and pistol whips him, cleverly striking an unholy bargain with this devil.

Kate pretends to have incriminating evidence and forces Bracken to continue the agreement he had with Smith and Montgomery, thus safe- keeping Kate and those she loves. For now, their match is a stalemate.

Finally, Esposito asks her, “What about your mom?”

Watching Rick, Kate replies: “I’ll get justice for her… just not today.”

With Rick’s proud eyes tracking her, Kate walks off, her head held high: “Till then I’ll get it for others.” And so she does.

Indeed, from the first day they meet, Rick is aware of Kate’s honor, her beauty and her sorrow. Responding to her challenge, he analyzes just why the lovely Kate is a cop and not a lawyer. He reads her; knows she is a cop because she has lost a loved one and wants justice; he sees her face fall and her heartbreak as he comes too close to the truth; a kind man, Rick lets it rest, but not until Kate defends: “Don’t think you know me.”

For the next few years working side by side, risking and saving, death-defying and loving, laughing and crying, disappointing and heartening, Rick and Kate learn who the other is and mature with self- knowledge, too. Always there for each other, they learn about love and their incredible desire to be together, for they are so alike and so different, sometimes so star- crossed and always longing for each other.

From the beginning in some of the most powerful sequences and scenes, the Johanna Beckett mystery and murder arcs, threads its way through five seasons, impacts two strangers, the writer and his muse, two want to be lovers and now at last two lonely people in a loving relationship. Johanna Beckett’s case still lingers, ready to sprout its ugly tentacles to hurt and to destroy.

They meet again, Senator Bracken and Kate Beckett. Bracken lurks and provides the irony of all ironies in “Recoil,” as Kate dutifully proclaims: “I’m protecting the man who murdered my mother.”


Melanie Rogers, a 27 year old environmental engineer is gruesomely murdered; her murder taped or recorded on her phone as she calls her sister to seek help, revealing a partial license plate number. Also picked up in the background on the recording is a clicking sound, the flicking of a Zippo cigarette lighter.

On a different note, for a few incidental but interesting ironies, the murdered woman’s name is Martha’s last name…Rogers, spelled differently. The word Bracken refers to a clump of ferns with coarse fronds and spore cases with extensive stems, slimy and slithery, encroaching enough underground I would imagine.

And, of course, “recoil,” suggesting moving back suddenly and violently after an impact, or reacting in horror, disgust, certainly something returning and bringing its own violence and fear, and, indeed, a change in movement as a result of a collision. The words are certainly suggestive enough, no grasping at straws, I hope.

On the surface Bracken is involved with the young woman in a clandestine affair, but that is not so, for ultimately he is the primary target for an assassination, and Melanie is murdered, a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time, a woman who can identify the culprit.

When analyzing and reading the Senator’s hate mail, Kate identifies one letter and matches it to the hate journal found along with a sniper rifle in drifter, and mentally ill Robert McManus’ car trunk.

But it is the juicy dialogue between Kate and her arch enemy, fraught with ironies and moral ambiguities which make this episode fascinating.

While Kate wrestles with her conscience, she and Rick are close and supportive; Ryan and Esposito would gladly kill Bracken for murdering Johanna Beckett and their captain Roy Montgomery, or at least Espo would, for Ryan fights with the moral implications of the deed and what carrying it through would make them; no better than the scum Bracken.

Leading the investigation Kate questions Bracken: “Is there anyone who would like to kill you?” Oh this is delicious in its implications.

Retaliating, Bracken then goads Kate: “Must be a dream come true for you?” And, yes, it is for Kate to have in her cross hairs, the man responsible for her mother’s murder. And she keeps her cool. Kate has moments of doubt, but she is under control.

“In my dreams I’m the one who gets to pull the trigger.” Kate retorts and Bracken recoils. They spar, and Rick supporting Kate all the way looks daggers at the man, ready to defend Kate if need be. Rick and Kate touch, console and are together on this case and in its aftermath.

Both making biting comments and scoring, Bracken and Kate, however, fence with each other. Finally Kate warns the senator and throws down the ultimate challenge: “When someone commits murder, no matter who he is, I will bring him to justice, no matter how long it takes.”

Holding his ground, the Senator brooks no interference with his plans to give the keynote speech at the environmental conference, for the exposure on the national stage is the cornerstone to his reelection and presidential ambitions.

The hate letters leading to McManus throw Kate into a moral dilemma or crises. Consulting her therapist she confides: “If we find the suspect (McManus), someone worse, much worse is going to escape justice.” Morally conflicted, Kate feels that there is no right choice, and the doctor “helps her realize the choice must be the one she can live with.” And ultimately she chooses wisely.

Still, Kate is so tempted to burn the McManus letter, the evidence, and thus continue to pursue Bracken. She basically lets McManus go when she and her team break down his apartment door to arrest him. Later she confesses to Rick that she didn’t miss hitting him, for she never really fired her gun at him. Kate claims she “looked him in the eye and felt his pain.”

Now Kate questions her own integrity as a cop, for perhaps she wanted the man to escape to aid him in killing Senator Bracken: “What if I wanted him to get away…what does that make me.”

In interrogation Kate finds that the suspect’s son, a Bracken campaign worker, hanged himself and McManus blames the senator for his son’s death. The interrogation has the hallmarks of”47 Seconds” with Kate bonding or pretending to with the suspect. “I know what it’s like to lose someone that you love…to live with that pain, to feel the rage towards the person responsible.” Revealingly Kate cries out. This is powerful.

While Rick observes and feels for Kate, in walks Captain Gates. The charged atmosphere in the interrogation is too personal, too real. Kate yells out to Mc Manus: “He took someone close to me; he killed my mother.”

After her words resound around the room, Rick covers for her, and Gates pulls her out of interrogation. Reluctantly Kate leaves, verifying that she is all right. But it seems that the explosives and C4 were found, and the man is indeed guilty. Case closed.

At Kate’s home, she and Rick decide that just maybe the evidence is planted and suggest that McManus is too dull and an easy patsy to blame. The real bomb rigged to murder the loathsome Senator may still be in place.

Kate concludes she must evacuate the convention, no doubt bringing down the Senator’s wrath, and according to Rick: “If you stop it and you are wrong, your career is over.” She calls it in to evacuate the Widmark Hotel. With Bracken beyond irate, and no bomb surfacing, Kate is stricken with her error.

Seizing the opportunity, Bracken attacks and threatens to bury Kate. At that moment Kate hears the clicking sound, the sound of a Zippo lighter, flicking in the driver’s hand. The Senator moves towards his car and it explodes. Kate tackles Bracken, saving his life, or at least, by her dogged efforts to search for a bomb, she saves his life.

Rick reveals to Bracken that he would not have done what Kate did. However, Rick and Kate both suspect that the Senator knows who is paying the driver to murder him. Sparring and insulting, the moments between Kate and Bracken are tense, meeting each other as equals, with the Senator claiming that he is in her debt.

“It is a dangerous world out there, Detective, he slyly suggests, “You never know when you might need a friend.” These two sworn enemies will meet again and it promises to be some mighty collision. Still the outcome of that fight may be entirely different than expected. We wait in awe.

At home at Kate’s, Rick and Kate, together, learn that another king maker Ben Maas is behind the attempted assassination of Kate’s arch- nemesis.

Indeed, it is the change in Kate that is so profound; she is savvy, and sophisticated, handling herself with aplomb in a morally charged situation with a man she personally despises and holds responsible for her mother’s murder. She is always sophisticated and aware,but she is so much confident, so sure; so in control.

Kate is well; she is whole. She and Rick are together, comfortable and secure. Rick knows her and she knows herself; we know her, too. Indeed, Kate has her moments of doubt, her moral ambiguity and crisis, but she concludes rationally and calmly, especially considering who this Bracken is and what he is capable of doing:

“He’ll slip up eventually. and when he does, I’ll be ready.” Those words sound remarkably like… “Just not today.”


  1. Sherry says

    What a great article!!! The show was awesome last night! Cant wait too see what more is to come!!

  2. Kathy1948 says

    Wonderful article Peggy, as always. This episode kept me on the edge of my seat because nothing seemed the way it really was. The internal battle within Kate was beautifully done by Stana Katic. My heart leaped when Captain Gates walked in and heard Kate say that Bracken had murdered her mother. I am sure she will think back on what she heard and probably question the way Castle explained it away. Gates is one smart cop and she will start to connect the dots. First there was Bracken’s reaction when she announced that Beckett would be leading the investigation and then what she overheard during the interrogation of McManus. This will motivate her to look back and find other odd behaviors that didn’t make sense at the time but make sense now if what Beckett revealed is true.

    I am looking forward to a lighter episode next week for Valentine’s Day before we all get swept away with the two-part episode which opens the door to another world of intrigue and conspiracy. Andrew Marlowe will continue to make this show interesting for what I hope are many more seasons. What would we all do without our weekly dose of Castle.

  3. Ali, Sr. says

    Peggy TrueHeart – thank you for once again “dotting” the I’s :)

    You sum it up so very deeply: “KATE IS WELL; SHE IS WHOLE.” This is felt throughout the episode – Rick & Kate have evolved, they truly are a couple.

    Do I miss not having Caskett moments? Of course, who does want the “romance” we were promised? And yet, the respect & maturity of their relationship now fills us with healthy optimism. There is a deep sense of respect between these two young people – so there will be MAGIC & SHUT THE FRONT DOOR MOMENTS…JUST NOT TODAY…but together ALWAYS !!! :)

  4. yeoman says

    I find I can hardly wait for your article after each Castle episode. Once again you are spot on! Stana Katic is such a superb actress, she hardly needs dialogue! Her facial expressions tell the story! The trust and love between Castle and Beckett is so obvious in the expressions and body language that it is evident to viewers. They are maturing along with the viewers. Would like a little more of the old teasing, sexy fun interaction , but i think that will come every so often and will be more appreciated when it does!

  5. Netsrik says

    Wonderfu as always, Peggy. You broght back the excitement of the episode for me. Great episode, great show!

  6. scottish castle fan says

    Thanks Peggy. Fantastic insights as always. Reading your articles in conjunction with a rewatch are a compulsory part of my enjoyment of the show.

    • youcomingcastle says

      Mine too scf…as Rick would say “nice”.
      This episode (for me) made up for what was missing in the previous 2 i.e. the “romantic moments”. For me the maturity/respect of their relationship just shone through and highlighted this episode for me…this has been one of the more important aspects that has been missing from Rick’s past relationships and because I was so engrossed in the story I honestly didn’t notice the missing “romance” until the episode has finished…I found their matured growth in this episode so satisfying “romantic”.
      When Kate told Rick about finding McManus’ letter, she sounded so very natural when speaking softly to him…the words just floated from her as if they had always been a normal part of her relationship with him…she is steadily filling the gap of coming full circle.
      Thank you Peggy, always and always.

  7. Setty41319 says

    Thank you for another great review.
    You made me understand what I was feeling but could not put my finger on. Kate is healed now – that is what is so different about her now. She is so much more in control and able to handle the meeting with Bracken. She would not have been able to do that a year ago. The love and support she gets from Castle is the reason she has been able to get to this place in her life. And the reason she can wait to put an end to Bracken.

  8. says

    Stana Katic hit every note beautifully in yet another episode. Trueheart, as always, translated it perfectly in words.
    Thanks again!

  9. Phillip 07 says

    Peggy: I was pleased and happy to witness the return of Kickass Kate, missing in action these past few episodes, even more pleased by her newfound willingness to confide her inner turmoil to Castle, seeking him out as she once did Dr. Burke. Physical intimacy makes them bedmates; emotional intimacy truly makes them lovers.

    She has met her match for now in William Bracken, a charismatic sociopath with the will to power. He has had his eyes on the prize–the Oval Office–from the outset, believing himself destined for greatness. Bracken is that most fascinating of villains, the one who does not view himself as evil. At the conclusion of “Recoil” Bracken and Beckett are in a stalemate, keepers of each other’s darkest secret, but Gates is surely not deceived by Castle’s lame cover story and it’s a safe bet when the final confrontation comes she will play a decisive role in its outcome.

  10. the turtle says

    Peggy Trueheart you did it again. Thanks again for your deep insight. I can now see that Kate is healing – perhaps healed in a big way, and Rick is growing up – perhaps grown in a big way. And they both are growing closer together, less needy and more secure. Thanks again. I do wish you were on the Castle writing team. I honestly believe you see what even they don’t see. I am one of your biggest fans.

  11. Shena says

    Echoes of “Kill Shot”

    BECKETT: “Castle?… Thank you.”
    CASTLE: “For what?”
    BECKETT: “For not pushing and giving me the space to get through this.”
    CASTLE: “Always.”

    And we always knew that there was a darkness within Beckett as well as a darkness within Castle — and this episode highlighted those personality traits incredibly, perhaps foreshadowing things to come?

    Great article again, Peggy! 😀

  12. Teri says

    Stana did an amazing job again and she is showing such an acting range. Loved the story and hope The VD ep. Has lots of Casketty moments.

  13. southerngirl says

    As usual, I re-watch the episode after reading your article; and as always, gain so much more appreciation for the nuances hidden just beneath the dialogue and surface viewing. Thank you. I look as forward to your take on things as I do to each new episode!

  14. Micro says

    Great episode.

    Jack Coleman was a fabulous choice for Senator Bracken. He and Stana have a phenomenal on-screen chemistry. The ice cold dialogue and deadpan looks they exchange are priceless. Bracken reminds me of Bester from Babylon 5…you love him…but you hate him!

  15. Jim says

    A great review of a great episode. Thank you.
    Recoil was one of the all time best Castle shows. Stana was awesome in every way. Each actor had his moment to reassert the foundation of his character. Nathan as the lover willing to do anything to protect his love; Jon as the rough “take action against the bad guy” Green Beret; Seamus as the restraining, grounded, voice of reason partner.
    A premise that was believable led to the reconnection of main adversaries. The secret nature of the adversarial relationship prevented disclosure to third party forces and compels the antagonists into an uncomfortable accommodation. The moral character of each main character was tested. The character of the team as a unit was tested.
    The relationship between the lovers evolved as we watched Castle support Beckett as she wrestled with her moral dilemma. He wished she would go in another direction but did not interfere. He will always support her under any circumstances.
    Jack Coleman (Bracken) was great. He is he epitome of the cold, unflappable, calculating man willing to do anything to advance himself. He has established a character we want to see more of, not simply because he is the bad guy but because Coleman has established Bracken as an interesting evil man. In doing so, he has established a character like Professor Moriarty in the Holmes tradition. Bracken is a very strong evil man whose strength makes him a worthy opponent for our very strong heroine. He is human but evil to the core.
    At the end we were handed a beautiful twist with his expression of owing a debt to Beckett. Now we cannot predict what future action he may take when Beckett is involved with him next time.
    A wonderful episode.
    PS. When our favorite actors have good material like this, they all shine and it is a true pleasure to watch these talented actors work.

  16. Lynne says

    As always good constructive comments – Trueheart – as usual gives an inisght that only a few of us could put into words.

    Personally i found Recoil as one of the most outstanding portrayal of what love and commitment is about – watching, waiting and not judging, ready to catch if necessary.

    Having been married for a very long time – you have a taste of every emotion good or bad ( depending on your point of view), but allowing your vulneralble side – sharing your fears and flaws without judgement – that in my mind is true love.