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“No monsters!” her dad proclaims.
No monsters sneak and slither, ugly under his darling daughter’s dorm room bed.
In a ritual, perhaps as old as time, a loving, devoted father seeks to assure his beloved “baby girl” she is safe, to allay his precious child’s fears of danger and of the unknown, of the dreaded. It is a father’s calling. Some fathers hear and answer the call. Rick guards Alexis, watches over her…always.
Feeling a bit lost in her dorm room, away from her home, and her father for the first time, Alexis is used to her mother being gone; but her father is always there, and now she fears she will wake up and not find him, not there when she needs him most.
“Everything is going to be fine, and you are going to be fine…And although I’m there, if you need me here, here is where I’ll be.”
“Dad, would you do it for the last time?” And Rick bends to his knee to look under her bed. He searches.
Rick checks the crannies, the dark, scary shadows and spaces, where the stuff of nightmares lurk, the free- roaming den of dragons, or demons, of evil ones, of monsters who wait to pounce on the sleeping, defenseless innocent. Alexis believes in her dad; Rick is her rock and he will always be there; he promises; he pledges:
“If there are, I’ll come running.”
And now he must.
So many “Castle” tender moments this fifth season, indeed, in seasons past and the present, depict a father’s devotion to his child, especially to a precious daughter. In “Swan Song” Rick observes the interrogation of a father, now an accused stalker, who searches for his long- lost daughter. The father confesses to the harassment and cries out brokenly: “I just, I just, I just want my little girl, my daughter."
The grieving father adds that his daughter, a groupie, awestruck by rock star James Swan, “threw her whole life away…I was afraid she was going to get pregnant or worse.” Although Butterfly is older than Alexis and the circumstances are entirely different, Rick’s heart skips and stops for the sorrow this father shows.
Rick, counts family first, and stripped to his essence, his compassion and his empathy, etch on his face. Rick grieves for the dad, for his despair; he understands his suffering, for Rick, too, has a daughter. How would he feel; how would he react if this were happening to his family?
Rick examines his heart and knows just how far he would go to protect and save his baby girl, his Alexis… to the ends of the Earth. A father will do anything for his daughter.
The relationship between fathers and daughters shines poignantly, brilliantly in all of “Castle,” and in “Death Gone Crazy,” an episode which also depicts the shows strengths, the themes, the acting and writing. According to Candace Mayfield, Beau Randolph, the reprobate, the father of her unborn baby girl, has been “searching all of his life looking for meaning.”
The reformed, libertine Beau, a fatherless child himself, finally discovers “the meaning to life for him is being a father.” With subtext, and self-knowledge, Rick understands first- hand and acknowledges: “He (Beau) really was trying to be a better man.”
“Beau gave his life to be her father.”Candace now comprehends the sacrifices Beau makes for his unborn child, this man she cannot trust.
When Candace’s own estranged father comes to the precinct to bring her, his unmarried, pregnant, daughter home, Kate turns to Rick, a father, the man she loves:
“Do you think he will be able to accept his granddaughter?”
“Absolutely!” Rick steadfastly replies.
“What makes you so sure?"
“Because a father would do anything for his daughter.”
When Rick learns that Alexis is kidnapped, in “Target,” along with her girlfriend, the original target, he is terror stricken; the reality and the horror scourge his expressive face, while he holds on, trying to breathe, not “to be handled.” Alexis is taken also because it is easier to grab her rather than… kill her.
A father’s nightmare enshrouds Rick, sucks him under the bed, to face the monsters.
We witness the anguish grip Rick and it is unbearable. Will the monsters simply kill his daughter now, Alexis, in the wrong place at the wrong time? Quietly Agent Harris reminds Rick that Alexis has value; they will not kill her.
Alexis has value, has value…value. His beautiful, kind and caring, loving daughter has value; Rick and Kate investigate gruesome cases.…but ”value” remains such a singular word to sum up Alexis’ caring, kindness, joy, beauty, loyalty, dedication, intelligence: radiance.
Rick clings to Kate; then he walks away, going home to the emptiness, and his pain. Despairing, down that lonely hallway to the elevator, Rick manages to walk, alone, and we cry for his nightmare, his heart break.
The camera frames, shoots through, reveals the cage wires and squares that squeeze Rick in, or out, showing him alone, breathless, bereft; broken. He must leave his friends; leave their pity or consolation, while he can still walk, before he collapses entirely.
But Kate, love, stay with me…stay with me…he must cry inwardly.
Two years ago, in “Countdown,” Rick walked the same long path to the elevator, to sorrow, holding back the tears, knowing he had lost Kate forever, as she embraces Josh. Another time he walked alone, rejected, lost, when Kate lied, about remembering his love. This lonely unreal walk, how can it be?
Just breathe, he tells himself. Remember how to breathe. How did he do it then? How will he breathe now? What can he do to save Alexis from the demons that haunt her day? He must settle down, think, and plan. Erase fear.
But first, just breathe. Don’t pass out. Sleep will come and still this horror may prove a waking nightmare. No monsters!
Speckles flash in Rick’s bleeding eyes; nothing is real, but Alexis has value; the agent has said so; value, how cold, but kind, a word to save a sinking soul, a testament to restore hope to the most hopeful, and unlikely hero, a man who believes in tomorrow.
Rick knows that the road through hell is a harrowing journey. Can goodness and love survive the demons, the monsters unleashed from under Alexis’ bed? He remembers his promise:
“Here, is where I’ll be,” and his pledge:
“I’ll come running.”
”A father will do anything for his daughter.”
And he does.
Earlier that morning Martha confides to Rick how much she misses Alexis, for she “is the center of our lives…Now she is gone.” Children have a way about them.
Joking, a parent’s typical response line, Rick tells his mom:”She’ll be back.” Hopefully this joyous, nostalgic scene will come to pass. The irony is palpable for we know and we are braced. Sweetly Rick declares to Martha, Alexis’ departure is a part of the grand picture, part of “the Circle of Life.”
At the crime scene Rick kids with Kate, showing off his new brand of Zen, his new attitude: “I’ve learned to let go.” Kate kind of doubts this new attitude from the man who would do anything for his daughter’s safety, even most recently snooping and tracking, his daughter, out of fear, to be fair, but she lets it go. Rick dearly wants to give his daughter room to grow and not worry about her every move or acquaintance. He tries.
But this case moves from Rick’s and Kate’s in tune, light heart banter about movies, Gene Hackman and “The Conversation” to the kidnapping of Sara el Masri, a young Egyptian student. Meeting with her parents, Rick and Kate hear the familiar cry of a loving father: “I just want my daughter back…I will pay anything.”
As always, the kind-hearted Rick is deeply moved by their worry and grief; he sympathizes: “I can’t imagine what they are going through right now.” And we simply worry and wait. The stakes are building. Can the ground be shifting?
During the investigation of the murder of Hasim Farouk and Sara’s kidnapping, Rick learns that his daughter Alexis is taken, also.
At home Rick second guesses himself with what ifs, he should have done more, he could have done something, but this is frantic worry setting in. His mother consoles him: “She is her father’s daughter: strong, smart and we’re going to get through it.” Some degree of hope returns.
Checking Alexis’ video blog, a tearful Rick learns how the kidnappers know where to find the girls, through Alexis’ blog; they are at a science lecture as per her geek alert. Rick also hears his joyful, curious child talking about her experiences at school, about “the beautiful buildings.”
Alexis is “overwhelmed with the possibilities.” His caring child meets students “who are just like me and nothing like me.” Alexis’ optimism jumps off the screen. And Rick is heart- broken. She is gone….taken from him.
On the phone with Kate, Rick strikes out, so afraid, hurting: "Don't. Don’t promise you’ll find her unless you can do it, because if you don’t, I’ll never forgive you, anymore than I’d ever forgive myself.” Tension builds and Rick’s world starts to crumble.
The police locate the van and alone Rick finds his way to the site. Frantic he strains to see the van and its contents. What is in it? Panic ceases him. Rick breaks away from Kate, tears flowing, his face sinking. Dread grips him. How will he live through this? Is Alexis dead, his darling daughter?
Only a blood bath remains in the van, and Lanie attempts to ascertain the blood type. When she does, a relieved Rick learns it is not his daughter’s blood or Sara’s. The parents meet again at the site; circumstances have changed for Rick. He is part of the ongoing horror not observing or only investigating it.
Indeed, Alexis is her father’s daughter, and proves it every step of the way, with her calm presence and optimistic ingenuity. First she and Sara must figure where they are, not in a basement and not in NYC, for it is too quiet.
Gradually the girls discover another room with clothing. The men feed the girls, giving them reason to believe. Leave it to Rick’s daughter to know how to pick a lock with a bobbie-pin Sara provides, for she learned it from Rick when she was ten. It works.
Many heartfelt scenes of Rick’s moving through the various stages, denial, and grief, anger and tears, a range of emotions simply shatter him, Kate and us. Rick asks Kate if he may question the apprehended, injured van driver Douglas Stevens. Alone the two men speak, and Rick lays it out without any qualms. “Where are they? I’m her father. I will do whatever it takes to get her back.”
Closing his eyes momentarily, Rick gathers strength to do what he must; the easy going, mild- mannered writer will do anything, anything for his daughter. From outside of the closed door, Kate hears the man’s screams; and Rick gets his answers. They hold the girls on a farm, but they are gone when the Feds get there, Stevens tortured murdered, left behind.
Back at the station Rick refuses Kate’s offer of coffee, their special connection, and remarks with some wit in reserve:” My adrenaline will suffice.”
In a precious moment of truth between two lovers, Kate asks what happened with Stevens and informs Rick: “I didn’t think you had that side to you.”
“When it comes to the people I love, I do.”
Kate knows. Enraged by Hal Lockwood’s attempts to kill Ryan, Esposito and Kate, in “Knockdown,” with Kate’s life on the line, Rick jumps the highly trained killer and beats him to a pulp, pounds and pounds him, damaging his own knuckles with his rage and love released. Adrenaline kicks in, and a kind man does whatever it takes.
How many other times has he risked all for love of Kate? Dazed, after disarming and beating Lockwood, still stunned, glassy-eyed, Rick looks up at Kate and claims he never felt better. He pledges he will have her back always. Great power comes to those who act out of love. Rick will do anything for those he loves: his mother, his child and Kate.
At one point, waiting for the Feds to make their move, Rick and Kate sit close, facing each other, very intimate, her hands wrapped around his, a loving scene for Gates and all to see. With love for Kate, Rick then shares a love story of his child, of his Alexis.
“When I looked down at her (his baby Alexis), this feeling hit me, like I’d been struck by lightning. It’s love. That instant, inexplicable love you can only feel for your child. In that moment I knew. I knew my life had changed forever. And now it’s about to change again.”
A phone call interrupts further explanation.
This new change, however, can be explained a few ways no doubt, but I rather believe he is thinking of another love, too, another lightning bolt of love that struck him as he looks at Kate, so often, needing her and wanting her, amazed at its power and depth. Rick’s life is changing, for he and Kate are bound together in another, inexplicable, profound forever love, and change is good.
Rick teaches Kate about hope; he inspires her to believe in tomorrow and in always. He gives her hope when all is gone. Now Kate returns hope’s promise, and shares it with her love. She will find a way to restore this sunny man’s hope in a tomorrow with his beloved daughter. “We are going to solve this; we will find a way.”
Kate remembers every word of encouragement and returns it: “We’ve done it before with less to go on. You know who told me this.” Rick promises Kate they will solve her mother’s murder in “Rise,” but pleads with her to give it time. In “After the Storm” he urges her on out of her despair, and yes, Kate remembers his exact words; remembers him. Pray love, remember.
Rick answers her question: “I did, in a fit of irrational optimism.” Kate remembers Rick radiates optimism, for he is a hopeful man, and she sees signs of hope in finding Alexis. Love bids him drink some nourishment and go home to rest, and Rick’s tearful, grateful thank you hits Kate hard.
They will save Alexis.
Indeed, Alexis inherits her father’s ingenuity, his passion, his joy, his love of life, his bravery, his optimism; his hopeful ways. When she ingenuously exits her holding cell, she locates a phone, first calling 911 to no avail, how could it possibly work. Next she calls her dad who seeing her and hearing her for a few precious minutes, tells her to run.
Dropping the cell phone, Alexis bursts through a door. We see her pale, beautiful face as she searches the skyline, from a rooftop vantage. Are there no familiar signs of home? She is not in New York; she isn’t in America. The call to her dad originates from a cell tower in a foreign land; Alexis sees a skyline…Paris, France.
Rick has promised “Here is where I’ll be,” and pledged “I’ll come running,” for you for my daughter if monsters appear, hurt and trap you. “A father would do anything for his daughter.”