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We were emotionally exhausted then,“Castle” weeks six and seven, more so now at the end of season five, now reeling for Rick’s and Kate’s anguish, watching two lovers caught between love’s loss and love’s fulfillment, out of touch, still searching ever in hope’s quest for a bright tomorrow.
Season five “Castle” had erupted then with the big episodes: “After the Storm”; “Cloudy with a Chance of Murder”; “Secret’s Safe with Me”; “Murder He Wrote.” “Probable Cause” exploded.
Now for some catharsis, weeks six and seven in the “Castle” catalog: First “The Final Frontier” and then “Swan Song.” Even silly is special in Castle world.
Although first aired November 12, 2012, the "Swan Song" theme still rings true, a tribute to the consistency of character development, narrative thread and writing so apparent in “Castle.”
Some might say this is a filler episode; not so. Entertaining, slightly bizarre but no filler, but then transcending the trappings, “Castle” always has a point.
Some hate the cinema verite style, similar to the dizzying camera of “The Blair Witch Project,” or for me, “An American Family,” one of the first “reality” shows heralded in the 1970s.
It brought down and destroyed a family. The parents divorced, the son declared to all his sexuality, and nothing was ever the same for the family.
Today we throw all of the parts together, call it truth, and watch the people disintegrate. No fun sometimes, this kind of reality, certainly not now only “Castle” week seven.
So it is that I had misgivings about a documentary style episode ultimately involving the family Castle at the 12th Precinct with Gates, Lanie, Ryan, Esposito, Kate and Rick Castle center stage.
The camera rolls and reveals. So many things can go wrong; harsh words, wrong tones, a fragile relationship destroyed.
Love faces another challenge. The promos suggested fun, but I did not want the humor to be at Rick’s or Kate’s expense; I worry.
Cameras unlock and reveal different facets of our personalities; some hide and others play up to the cameras in a hammy way. Observe your own family picture-archives. Some members are conspicuous by their absence.
No need to think too hard to know who adopts which persona in your personal family or our Castle family. But we often have surprises.
Last week at the Super Nova Nebula 9 Con, in ”The Final Frontier,” characters strutted around in costume, including our beloved Alexis, taking on a role, a persona, embodying a character for a short time and regaling in the obscurity, growing and testing, changing and feeling important.
No one knows the real you and that is just fine. So, too, Kate reveals then a part of herself, her past hero worship and love of costume and cons, a time when her world was right, a time of searching for meaning and purpose, and hiding in plain sight.
This week all members of the 12th try on a persona before the camera, the real them or perhaps a role they’ve always desired, hiding some relationships and feelings, exposing others. The results are revealing. Just who are they?
Seemingly uncomfortable, even shy with the documentary style, Kate avoids the camera, not always the certain, confident Lt. Chloe or Nikki Heat on display for a few weeks now. She looks to Rick; he urges her on.
Bracing herself early, Kate takes the cup of coffee from Rick, touching his fingers, slightly stroking in a sensuous way, a kind of good morning kiss, from two emotional people who make even a handshake or a touch through a wired-cage something intense, palpable and passionate.
Always, hands clasped, fingers intertwined, or an embrace, proclaim: “I am here.” Now as lovers, they still thrive on touch, on connecting, emitting pulse-pounding energy and pulse-quieting emotion. It is so much deeper, their need to know, to feel each other’s presence.
Indeed, can they survive documentary day without the electricity of touch, the sparks when together?
The love vibrating in Kate’s relieved loving-leap into Rick’s arms in “Probable Cause” is profound and indicative of her need for him, and this physical connection.
Rick’s arms around her, he snuggles her into his body, stroking her hair and cherishing her faith and presence. Lingering in his embrace, Kate gains and imparts strength, finger-feathers Rick’s face, melts into his touch.
They need to hold each other the very next week in “After Hours.” With her expressive hands bound together, Kate leaps into Rick’s outstretched arms, as Rick whispers: “Come here.”
Trusting Rick to catch her as he always does, her hands encircling his head, Kate holds his face close, feels him so near, reassures, and treasures their bodies’ bond.
Earlier in “Probable Cause” Rick’s gathers Kate’s hand and guides her to hold his offering of coffee. They crave the physical contact, to connect unobserved, for in the emotion of tactile tenderness breathes their love.
Now in “Swan Song” in the break room, Rick glazes Kate’s face, soothes her hair; their hands converge, a clandestine caress. Kate leans into Rick’s gentle, hand-glance, and glows.
Then she spies the camera. Kate radiates anger for the intrusion to her comfort and need; she enjoys a reputation for being a very private person.
She wants the camera crew gone to fulfill her need to be more informal with Rick, sitting with him, flirting, teasing and secretly, gently touching each other. The loving connection grounds the new lovers, centers them; stabilizes them.
Kate also needs room to work the case. Perhaps she loses her bearings even though they are now intimate, without the work place stolen touches, secret pleasures and inspiration, the contact and the private talk.
Cinema verite, the lens so true sees all, recalls and reports, and they must deny themselves any revealing display.
Before, a longing look or completing each other’s sentences sufficed. On this documentary day, Kate is unprepared; she is thwarted by the never ceasing camera crew’s presence to her every move, a kind of stalking, too upsetting for such a private person.
Rick, however, realizes the cameras must be endured and confides to Kate: “I just want them to see what I see” (in you).
Kate rails against the invasion of her privacy: “What we do here…this is mine. And just because they want to invade my privacy doesn’t mean I have to help them do it.”
Locking the crew in the broom closet in the final scene, a bit of retaliation, stems from her feelings of invasion of privacy; however, the crew did do her a slight favor by deleting the cheek-caress scene from the film footage.
When they lose touch, as they seem to, later in season five, the needed, repeated fond caresses languish in this year-long dance of love, and joy, and sometimes they and we scarcely know they are lovers.
Their connection, the current breaks, becomes intermittent, and unsteady. Rick and Kate then flounder, fledgling lovers barely knowing who they are let alone who the other is.
In the end, in “Watershed,” two lovers sit on their swing-set, the chains of love between them, facing opposite directions, devoid of touch, the connection that is their love’s breath.
Rick’s face is stripped bare; no performances, no flourishes of fancy, no exotic locations, both are afraid to lose their love.
For the first time love is true for both of them. How can they center their love again? Vulnerable, honest, no longer hiding in fairy tale, Rick and Kate are only a man and a woman. They are real.
A heart shot, Rick’s proposal is an echo of season three’s finale: “Knockout.” Never does Kate doubt his love, but she fears the outcome. Where are they going with this love?
Finally Rick recognizes his own doubts and failures, and wants all of her, her strengths and flaws, this remarkable, wonderful and maddening woman.
Kate wants him desperately; she knows who he is. Last year she gave up a job and her obsession for love of Rick, needing and only wanting him, the man who believes in tomorrow and who sees the roses. Although imperfect, he makes her happy as she sees during the last case. She truly only wants him.
They do not touch. They parted once before with another hand shake, with heartbreak. It took Kate more than a year to recover, for loving and committing to Rick Castle was a high wire act, the fall unbearable.
They do not touch again, in the end, a startling proposal…at first. Terrified of losing her, Rick kneels before her to show he is real, simply a man in love, his eyes and face beseeching hers. Kate seems stricken, at first, thinking Rick is leaving her.
Perhaps season six will open as “Rise” does with Kate in the operating room and Rick waiting for her recovery, metaphorically speaking, to live again, this time with him.
Season six premieres. And I imagine. It is a moment later, the same swing-set scene. Rick continues:
“I love you Kate. All I’ve ever wanted is to be near you and be a part of your life. I was afraid of my own mistakes and failures, and carelessly, I thought just being together enough. I was wrong.
I want a deeper commitment, facing everything together. I am yours and always have been; I am faithful. Be my wife, Kate.
Marry me, my forever and always love.”
“Rick, I love you. I was coming here to tell you that. I remember everything you said so long ago. I return your own words now: ‘Stay with me! Stay with me! Don’t leave me! I need you. I love you. I love you ….’ Rick.”
“I want to marry you.” Kate touches Rick’s face. He caresses her face, both connecting, both rising and holding each other, nestled in each other’s healing arms. “Let’s go home. Castle, are you coming?”
Wishful thinking done, my best scenario, I return from reverie.
Rick is Rick in episode seven, “Swan Song.” He mugs or plays to the cameras, full of trivial knowledge, assuming the role, not so difficult to imagine, of the narrator of the events, his customary role anyway.
He informs the camera documentary-world that this is his bailiwick…and oh, by the way, he is Richard Castle, a best-selling author, in case you didn’t know, and his latest novel on sale now is “Frozen Heat.”
“Swan Song” is the story of a rock star’s death, of a band in the throes of a possible break up and Zeke a band member who does not want to be left out of the band’s successes and new directions, of people who cannot communicate and become disconnected.
The episode is a parallel or rather a contrast to the “Final Frontier” premise of an actress wanting to leave her limiting role of Lt Chloe, and the victim the founder, breaking up the Nova 9 convention annual appearances, wanting out, and Zeke in “Swan Song” wanting to remain in the band, while James, the victim, wanting to expand his band without Zeke.
Desire, want, need and ambition collide.
Each murderer kills the one who thwarts his dreams. Samantha Frye and Zeke are both guilty, and the murder instruments are rather unique in each case, come to think of it: phaser and guitar.
Real life and a camera both spark power to convince, to enlighten, to betray, to delude. And what of the dichotomy of Zeke and Samantha? Who are they? What have they become?
Who are the people of the 12th precinct? We all see ourselves through a lens darkly.
In “Swan Song,” so aptly named, the last performance, James Swan embarks on a different direction with his band, in fact adding a different bass guitarist, a friend from long ago, a fellow prisoner from their cult days, and now a roadie, a young man who is an amazing guitarist and. in fact, is James’ mentor and guitar teacher.
James pays twenty-five thousand dollars for Buck Cooper’s freedom from the cult. This new direction leaves Zeke out of the equation. In interrogation Zeke cries out to Rick and Kate that James “wants to Pete Best me.”
The nuances and little subtleties as well as personality revelations make this story engaging in its own, over-the-top way. And upon second viewing, the relationship development is far richer than first noted, with subtle almost metaphorical emotion and awareness of destiny.
How do we behave when the façade is stripped away, when only truth remains? Our lovers will be tested.
Even the Castle logo changes, complies with a rock music blast.
Rick cannot resist commenting to the camera and directing the action with his instructions. He whispers to the cameraman: “Pete Best is a drummer, not exactly the best comparison” for a bass guitarist who is getting the axe. A “more apt comparison would be Stu Sutcliffe.”
Now, fade out and some soundtrack, Rick’s improvised guitar riffs. Everyone leaves him, standing there waiting for applause.
Rick’s reference in the opening scenes regarding James Swan’s age at his death…27, joining “the club 27,” pantheon of other noted musicians, dying at this age, of glory gone wrong: Jimi Hendrix; Jim Morrison; Janis Joplin, prove Rick sure is a fountain of spontaneous knowledge, who rapidly thinks outside the ripple.
And you’ve got to love the guy…as Kate does.
Kate recognizes, however, his grandstanding or over-talking with eye-rolls and even moves away from him (along with Ryan and Espo) as Rick celebrates himself and his knowledge. Still she loves him despite this.
He brings fun and passion to her life. Sometimes the jokers among us with their puns or cracks can be a bit exhausting. Can they be serious? Why must they hide behind a funny face?
But Kate acknowledges and accepts Rick’s ways, even in “Undead Again,” when she wants him in her life, to be there tomorrow, even in the Zombie costume “which suits him.” And Rick knows he “can make it work.”
Rick is an odd mixture of deeply serious, amusing, annoying, grandstanding: the tender-heart, loving and the silly together.
When he strokes Kate’s face in the break room, and smooths her hair, thinking that they are alone, he is extraordinarily tender, emotionally supportive; so gentle with her always, he barely touches her, and it has been thus always.
Indeed, while stopping at the comic book factory, in “Heroes and Villains,” Rick directs Kate, even stops her at the store front with some insight, his touch so very gentle and careful. All of their intimate scenes show a very delicate touch and gentle leading.
On Valentine’s Day, in her loft, he embraces her tenderly, encasing her arms in his, always careful of her, his touch far more passionate in his cherishing; so, too, on his birthday while sitting in a wheeled chair gathering her close to him.
Soothing Kate’s hair, in “Knockout,” touching her and caressing her sorrow for the horrors of Captain Montgomery’s final sacrifice for her, Rick is gentle and loving while restraining a grieving Kate.
Still quite the hero, his faithfulness unmatched in “Still,” it is his combination of grand-standing, kind-heart loving; generous-understanding, and protective-cherishing, a mixture that makes Kate love him.
Now Rick encourages Kate to go it alone and interview or interrogate, Keith, saying: “You got this,” words he uses in “Rise,” when Kate is overcome with fear and stress and he supports her.
Rick wants Kate “to strut her stuff” before the camera, showing her powerful presence and compassion, the woman he knows so intimately and always. His pride in her renews her confidence.
Ironically the camera finds and records Rick’s love and admiration while she interrogates Campbell, the evil cult leader, as Rick sits back, a bit out of the picture.
It is hard for Rick to cover his expressions. He signals to the cameraman to pay attention to Kate: “Here we go,” Rick mouths the words.
Protective, Rick smiles and whispers encouragement. He can be over-talking or pompous, but he is very tender, cautious and caring with her, aware of Kate’s shyness and hesitation, fearfulness and fearlessness. She is his extraordinary love and he cherishes her.
Kate and Rick observe Espo’s grandstanding, hard-nosed, brow-beating of the stalker, a person of interest who turns out to be a father, Butterfly’s father, the young groupie.
The father is afraid for his daughter becoming pregnant or worse in her devotion to the rock star. …”I just want my little girl.”
As Rick witnesses the interrogation become more unsettling, the lens lingers, records Rick’s face and changes of expression, for he thinks of his own daughter Alexis so focused and successful.
Moved and troubled, Rick wonders what he would do were he this man, this father.
With hindsight we recognize all of this inherently sets the stage, foreshadows ensuing episodes of Rick’s search for his own daughter and the horror he experiences, as well as his meeting with his own father and of the longing and estrangement encompassing Rick.
A father will do anything for his daughter; and so it seems a father for his son. Also Rick will do anything to protect those he loves: Kate; Martha and Alexis. We witness this truth.
Kate emerges from camera shyness when she interviews the church leader who abuses the young people of his flock, holding them virtual captives, never medically attended, undernourished in all ways.
John Campbell is a scoundrel, accepting twenty-five thousand dollars for the release of the young people in his care. But he isn’t the killer.
On another note, I remember C. Thomas Howell, the actor playing the cult leader in this episode, in another role played eons ago…Ponyboy…the original outsider from S. E. Hinton’s novel/movie: “The Outsiders.”
I enjoyed teaching this coming-of-age novel to my students, my fourteen-year-olds, also reading “Great Expectations.” They saw Ponyboy, alienated, alone as was Pip.
Perhaps my students, now grown up, see the young men, James Swan and his friends held captive in the cult.
Fiction brings home the reality of the circle of life, of alienation, of reclamation of redemption. How fragile life, how fragile love; we see clearly at last, through our own lens.
Ponyboy, the outsider, writes about his experiences and the deaths of his dearest friends…of Dallas the loner whose death despairs and then inspires Ponyboy, and of Johnny’s heroic sacrifices, whose dying message to Ponyboy is to urge him to “stay gold.”
Well Johnny knows Robert Frost’s words: “Nature’s first green is gold; its hardest hue to hold.”
Although their love and need for each other obvious, Rick and Kate’s story remains on the sidelines in this episode and that is fine. The noted stalwarts Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito carry the show…and Captain Gates, too, of all people.
The partners amuse even more than they do in their interviews with zombies and geeks and other critters and cretins over the last few years.
Javier, in particular, vies with Ryan for air time; this is a case of the brawn, a bit brainy and the brain a bit brawny. Did I get that right?
First they fight like a long-married couple over driving directions; however, Ryan believes they “make a pretty good team with different strengths.”
Of course, Esposito cannot wait to pronounce to the world, reality-stage at large: “I am former military…expert marksman and first through the door.”
Now where does this leave Ryan but to save face with: “Somebody’s got to know what door to go through?”
And so it goes with them. Ryan is the self-described “circumspect one, the nerve center of the team” and Esposito is the physical one…”BOOM!” And he shows his muscles.
Naturally Ryan undermines his brother in arms with a crack about his shirt being too tight, (to show his sculpted body), and did he change the shirt? You have to laugh at these two bros and big time competitors for face time, air time and just a little baloney time.
Before interrogating the stalker, Esposito brags: “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.”
Esposito addresses the cameraman and the folks watching; we are so reassured.
And they continue to jockey for face time, with Ryan looking a bit embarrassed for his partner.
Espo is one bad- ass, in his own mind, and Ryan lurks in the corner of the room rolling his eyes in disbelief. Cameras do bring out various aspects of the personality.
But Javier is Kate’s best friend, too, the brave ones. Ryan is Little Castle, the sensitive thinker and dreamer and sometimes goof-ball.
Who can forget Lanie’s vamp time and her…big… personality, and her oh, too, convenient low-cut outfit, showcasing…”the girls.”
Even Rick and Javier have a scene together, bonding over intricate music, theorizing, and upstaging each other; Espo is Kate’s sometime-alter-ego so not surprising that he and Rick understand each other, despite a little competitive edge.
As he follows Espo, investigating another lead, Rick explains Kate to the cameraman: “Detective Beckett is not an unfriendly person, she’s just got walls; let’s call them layers and layers upon layer of …walls; once you scale these walls…he snaps his fingers…the effort is worth it.” I‘m not too sure Javier wants to hear that about his little sister.
Another humorous moment occurs when Esposito informs the Captain that “Detective Beckett is working on that right now,” while Kate is in the break room, with Rick touching Kate’s face, oh so gently, until Kate notices the cameraman and inflicts her wrath upon him.
Indeed, Kate is not a happy camper with her fifteen minutes of camera time fame.
But imagine who is just so delighted, that air time brings out her happy face… Captain Gates, aka Iron Gates, but not iron on camera; she is all velvet now. She cannot wait to meet and greet the cameramen, cozying-up to the camera, letting them know who is in charge.
Next Gates spots her detectives watching a sex tape, Keith’s alibi, just a little cinema the cameramen manage to catch to the delight of a few members of her precinct… and one Mr. Castle.
Sweetness Gates mutters a few comments about “inappropriateness.” But she watches and lingers to say “Oh? Oh!” And Kate mutters something about it all being fake.
Perhaps their fifteen minutes go to their heads, each often trying to upstage the other, jockeying or literally moving the other out of the camera’s eye, but the funniest thing happens. Suddenly the team starts to pull together and actually work the case as they usually do.
Now they are for each other and not in competition. Indeed, Ryan and Esposito are on the same page. Ryan tells Esposito he should tell Becket the info (and get the glory essentially).
Espo returns: “Unless you want to,” so very considerate.
”You brought it home,” Ryan explains.
“You were the one who uncovered the whole cult thing. This guy broke the whole case wide open.” Espo reports to the camera and the world.
“But this guy was the guy who came up with the 25 grand.” Ryan informs the camera.
Ryan insists Esposito inform Beckett and maybe get the credit.
Normal behavior survives documentary day. Rick gives Buck, slain James Swan’s last music sheet. And Keith, the leader of the band, asks James’ mentor Buck, to audition for the band, for James would have liked that very much.
Gates in her happy face addresses her detectives and staff and coos: “I just want to commend all of you on a job well done as I do at the end of every case.” Indeed, this might be a first.
The funniest scene with Gates occurs when Sir calls Rick and Kate on the carpet for their inappropriate behavior. Gates wants them in her office after having reviewed the footage. Here it comes. They are “so busted” to use a “Rickism.”
It isn’t the break-room, tender cheek-caress.
While Gates is performing on camera, Rick is bouncing up and down behind her, checking out his watch for the time while she discusses the timely commitment of her detectives, with Rick generally dismissing her authority in a playful way, like a kid making the victory V sign behind the head of the adult in authority, with Kate lurking in the back- ground.
Gates reprimands: “I don’t find this very funny.” Well, that foolishness is more acceptable to our secret...sort of secret lovers than the tender caress is, if Gates gets wind of it.
Although: “Do you think I am an idiot,” Captain Gates from “Still,” just might be playing Rick and Kate…and us.
Hindsight suggests she is having her own private laugh upon occasion. Remember Valentine’s Day and Rick’s intercepted billet-doux, an ode to someone’s fierce beauty and intellect, and velvet-Gates lens records like the cinema verite camera.
Still, Rick and Kate are relieved with the reprieve. Somehow people truly are too busy looking at their “own picture,” my universal truth now told. See me; see my face.
And then music in this see all, cinema-verite style story, breaks the barriers, brings a happy ending, saves the day, in this swan song saga.
Missed is Robert Duncan’s music soundtrack, underscoring, highlighting and spotlighting scenes, breaking them down into their emotional equivalent and helping us to feel the passion.
But then we have Rick’s “ba da da ba,” fake guitar riffs and fades to accompany salient points. He is a legend in his own mind and maybe ours.
Rick and Kate high five each other, more or less, slap hands, touch, and survive the day, saved by the music: Keith, Buck, Ryan and Esposito jam in a corner of the precinct…Swan’s song.
They sound good, Esposito’s falsetto, the lyrics supporting Castle themes of personal growth, and awareness, of independence and unison, of the healing power of family, friends… and of love.
Think of all the dreams we’ve been chasing
Traveling through the sunshine
Driving through the rain
Drive away drive away
Can’t you hear it calling?
Road away, road away
It’s a brand new day
Anyone can hear my heart racing
Us against the world
When I think of all the time I’ve been wasting
I never would have made it on my own.
On my own.
“See I told you I could sing,” explains Esposito.
Ryan responds: “I taught him how to do that.”