Rick knew Kate’s heart, her story, an ending scenario, the denouement that could complete the narrative, now their love’s story… and its possible end. Indeed he helped her find the solution, risked life and love for her, diving into her life completely to solve her mother’s murder.
Ironically the clever writer knew the question to ask and the reason long before he fell in love with her, read her story etched on her lovely face and inscribed in her heart.
Now years later and loving each other, full circle, come choices, and decisions that could lead to renewal or heartbreak for both. The denouement begins. The human comedy, the human factor unfolds its truth. Now Kate can leave or stay.
Will a resolution be an ending or a new chapter together in their love’s journey?
Infinitely smug in his own knowledge and perceptive brilliance, Rick reads Kate’s face and heart that first time together on a case:
“There’s always a story, always a chain of events that makes everything make sense. Take you for example. Under normal circumstances, you should not be here. Most smart good looking women become lawyers, not cops. And yet here you are. Why?”
“I don’t know, Rick. You’re the novelist. You tell me.”
“Well, you’re not bridge and tunnel. No trace of the boroughs when you talk. So that means Manhattan. That means money. You went to college, probably a pretty good one. You had options. Yeah, you had a lot of options, more socially acceptable options.
But you chose this. That tells me, something happened. Not to you. No, you’re wounded, but you’re not that wounded. No, it was someone you cared about, it was someone you loved. And you probably could have lived with that, but the person responsible was never caught.”
“And that Detective Beckett is why you are here.”
“Cute trick! But don’t think you know me.”
“The point is there is always a story you just have to find it.”
Motivated by his dogged need to complete the story and offer her solace, and offer her solace, and by his growing awareness of Kate, Rick strives to solve Kate’s mother’s murder. Once smothered in the rabbit hole searching for the murderer, on the edge of depression and despair, almost destroyed, Kate cannot go back, and she demands that Rick leave it alone or never return to her again.
But honor bound now, armed with his new knowledge, Rick reveals to Kate his information, knowing he has destroyed their blossoming relationship with his seeming betrayal. Still they press on every year to a startling denouement advancing the end of their story, but each page now he writes, inscribed with Kate’s name.
The penultimate episode for season five harkens back to “Undead Again” with Rick and Kate off chasing the unusual, this time other kinds of zombies…drones, non humans, with Rick enjoying himself with his wild theories and war games.
“The Human Factor,” a curious story begins with Rick at home playing with his robotic tanks, setting up scenarios for this episode to mimic and parallel, while Kate dresses for work. But Rick has an eye on Kate, scantily clad, and Kate declares him a pervert. Off they go to a crime scene ripped out of the pages or off the screen of Rick’s game.
Dale Tanner, a whistle-blower who investigates banks, big oil, dirty politicians, various corporations and individuals is blown up on the city streets by what appears to be a bomb but is a missile, a drone. Tanner posts documents on his website and according to his wife and son is harassed by Homeland Security.
Kate’s investigation is terminated and Ryan believes the Feds are covering up. Insightfully, Kate goes around them and begins their own investigation starting with “the manner of death.”
Tanner’s girl friend Monica Lane is questioned, but she was spying on him. Off to Fort Drummond, a drone training facility, Rick and Kate go for more information and, of course, Rick annoys and entertains with his many wild theories about the military industrial complex and drone strikes, and…the rise of the machines. Stonewalled at Drummond, Kate promises to find out just what is going on.
A man watches Kate surreptitiously, the same man who watched her at the crime scene.
Now knowing what evidence Kate has, after playing her on their wasted trip to Drummond, the Feds move in to seize all of her forensics evidence and fragment samples. From Tanner’s son Sean, Kate learns that Omar Dickson worked with Tanner, and Sean is persuaded to arrange a meeting with Omar and Kate. They meet. Omar knows nothing, only that he set up web sites for Tanner.
Still the man follows. Kate takes him on without hesitation and arrests him. Who is he? His id is faked; he has no records. Kate interviews him. Impressed with Kate’s techniques he remarks: “You are tenacious; I respect that.” However, he informs her he will be out of there in five seconds. And he is.
Jared Stack is a Special Investigator for the Attorney General’s office. And Kate receives an impressive call from the A. G. She must release Stack. But Kate bargains for information.
The plot thickens. Rick knows a lot about plot; just how to structure a story.”The Human Factor” lays the foundation for another story line which will greatly affect his and Kate’s own story, but for now unbeknown to him. But I flash back to earlier episodes.
As a matter of fact, as a writer’s child interested in plot structure, Alexis’ first word uttered, Rick jokes, is denouement. We, examine words of plot construction, the asymmetrical triangle of back ground or exposition, Act I of the saga, getting to know you, the long narrative, exploring who you are and who I am
Kate and Rick increasingly delight each other, their relationship building and blossoming in a forward, rising action of adventures in Act II, with some set- backs and always love in the sub-text. Life is carefree then.
The “I love you” so dear so obvious is revealed at the end of season three: “Knockout!” Kate hears Rick’s tearful declaration and his profound risk of exposure and rejection, his raw emotion, gut- wrenching; and Kate runs away: so afraid of its demands.
All he can do is wait for her, for he loves her with a steadfast passion he never knew before. Not to decide is to decide. Unsure, she cannot speak of such powerful emotions. In “Rise” they agree, no words spoken only love hinted; avoid the commitment for now; heal, but silently try to thrive in the love. Love sitting on a powder keg becomes so confusing.
Sub-text, words never spoken reveal and define their love’s passion. Lover’s glance, stare in wonderment; eyes speak and always longing and painful need underscore. Once it was I need you, I love you; now it is I love you and I need you. Love’s paradox explodes in subtext and ironically does not.
Through cases and verbal foreplay as always, the asymmetrical plot triangle climbs. Moving in to each other’s space, finishing each other’s sentences, in their own world, Rick and Kate know who the killer is, but cannot speak of their love, doing their best in this holding pattern, too afraid of the outcome.
Words and patterns repeat as they speak in subtext and in metaphor. “Tomorrow” is code, theirs, secret and open, intense, filled with hope and fervently spoken, eyes speaking; breathe suspended. “Always” is born through icy, near-death and dangerous dark-threats.
“Stay with me Kate,” Rick cries so often; “Don’t leave me,” words spoken, and unspoken, “I love you, Kate:” the wordsmith tongue- tied, speechless.
Hanging around with the school’s funniest kid for three years is not enough. It is not enough; for he is not enough. Waiting for four years for her to finally see him right there is too much. He is everything. She is everything.
On mystical symbolic swing-sets they speak of walls, sitting together, moving at first, then still, the chains that bind between them. They whisper in metaphor.
Afraid to lose, so afraid to win, then finally nature weeps and understands. Kate cries through the rain and blue, foggy -mist to insight; the mist lifts; a door opens and the door shuts.
In love’s great paradox she knows he is enough, and only in giving of herself can she hope to have enough. The climax comes, the highest point of the action, the peak of tension, the turning point, in “Always,” in their love story.
She only wants him. He has moved heaven and earth for her, to be enough. They cannot part, for life without him looms too lonely, too heartbreaking; too empty. Not enough becomes all she wants.
In echoes of previous moments, we look for symbols like Beetles fans playing the recording backwards; did Paul die? Searching for the ethereal “always,” some hear Kate whisper it, as Rick leaves in “Still,” maybe so, stoking the flames of our mythology. We search the symbols, the parallels.
In last year’s penultimate episode “Undead Again,” Kate and Rick’s love speaks again in subtext. With her walls coming down, she wants him there, both believing again in tomorrow. Even in zombie makeup, a man accepted as he is, an unlikely hopeful hero will make it work.
On a different playing field, “The Human Factor,” the penultimate season five episode, still searches for meaning, the nature of the human factor, human fragility, the push and pull of death and humanity, here on Earth, no finer place to be. The human comedy plays anew, for alone we search for roses, for meaning and together we draw strength.
“There are four questions of value in life: What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.”
But Jared Stack is an eerie, stoic and singular man, dismissive of Rick’s contributions, fancying Rick is only good to close the blinds. He reminds me of Sophia Turner, and her dismiss of Kate, another driven person, not a prime example of the best in humanity, emotionless, and rather forbidding. He sics Kate onto Simon Warburg.
On a video tape Warburg reveals his opinions about drones, and well he should know. “I’ve seen the future.” He mentions surveillance, the use of security drones, armed drones and, voila, too late, for like the frog in the pot of slowly heating water, it is too late to survive. He will stop it, for he will frame the government and cause a shutdown of drone production, testing and use. Drones kill innocent people.
In a cute bedroom scene, Kate has a little pay back with Rick for his early morning adventures, and stages a rise of the machines; Wild-eyed Rick attacks the drones, to no avail. On second thought maybe he will try to save Kate. Kate is hysterical. Not one of Rick’s stellar moments. …She cries: “You fell for it and you bailed. I saw the look."
Another great moment is right out of Hitchcock’s “North by North West.” I remember seeing this first hand in the theater with Cary Grant hitting the deck as a crop duster swerved and dived attempting to kill him.
Well, this was not quite so, for Warburg’s plane was firing blanks, but Rick certainly felt he dispatched the drone, saving Kate and heroically redeeming himself for his early morning cowardice, although how I can say that is extraordinary, after watching Rick come to Kate’s rescue every week it seems. But still he does spook a bit, but so do I, I am loathe to say,
While tracking down Warburg, Rick and Kate travel to a used book store and Rick simply loves the place until “love fades” when he spies his “Storm Season” relegated to the bargain basement and the half price bin. Wow, an ominous sign from the universe in so many different ways, and they pile on.
“Seriously!” Rick knows signs, symbols and subtext and so do we. He’d better be looking out.
Cloaked in subtext, metaphor and meaning, in a scene in “Heroes and Villains,” Rick enlists Kate’s help as always in understanding his child Alexis who is pulling away from him. Rick’s age-old parent’s cry: “I’m just not ready,” a lover’s cry, too.
“Well, she is. You two are just not on the same page.”
“So what do I do?”
”Let her go. Trust me. If you hold on too tight you just drive her away.
The words of early season four echo through our memory. It is, after all the human factor, the human comedy. Kahlil Gibran’s words, though often used, and risking cliché, still speak:
“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were.”
Rick helps Alexis understand some of the intricacies of living and loving, but words repeat in parallel and echo for evermore. “Things change and change is good.”Rick tells Alexis.
For all Kate’s worldly cop experience, she is inexperienced in love’s inner working, as is the twice married Rick. Kate lost years, emotionally shut down, so, too, has Rick. Now, walls down and bound in love, she is free…and vulnerable. Each can choose the next road. “Follow your heart and you can’t go wrong.” Rick advises Alexis.
Afraid of loss of losing Rick, Kate cries out in “After Hours:” “I was afraid I had lost you.” And Rick renews his pledge to be there always. “Never Never Never,” will I leave you. Indeed, “the heart wants what the heart wants,” despite the obstacles. He helps her find freedom and risks his own chances.
And he wants her, needs her near. Once the assured player, seldom at a loss for words before, Rick is shy and hesitant now. Consumed and confused with love, he forgets how to act, or perhaps never did know and seems indifferent. He is different with her; his touch is gentle, easy, not the Rick of crazy ex- sex. He cherishes Kate, a path he has never successfully trodden.
“When we are in love we seem to ourselves quite different from what we were before.”
Rick once advised Kate in plot detection or construction; “You have an ending; you want to know the rest? You have to work backwards. You need to finish the story…. Sometimes when I am trying to figure out how a character of mine does something, I will walk the crime scene.” It is time to know, to walk the scene, to recount just what can be gained and what lost.
Kate’s own story-end shines so hopeful, although it needs finishing, for always we have unknown factors; we are human and not machines. Rick loves her and would die for her; such a man is a keeper. She loves him. Must she leave him to find herself? How can he set her free?
“Any relationship…is going to have challenges, but if a relationship doesn’t work out, it’s usually not because of the challenges; it’s usually because the relationship wasn’t strong enough to begin with.” Again Rick advises Alexis as to the ways of life and love.
“I promise you this: If two people really believe in something, anything, even the impossible is possible.” Rick knows the words and now must believe them. Love speaks, risks, dares, tries and reveals the heart.
Diverse roads call Kate, paths impacting place, partner and lover; husband, career, all unclear now. Their year of happiness comes to an anniversary. It is time to make tomorrow and always a reality, part or simply gather some space. But uniting in marriage spells lost to Rick, for he has no compass here and no success.
“In love, the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.”
So much has changed between not enough and everything I want;
“None of them were you.”
“I just want you.”
Simon Warburg of “The Human Factor” is a man of principle who would appeal to Rick’s generous, kind side. He shows Kate and Rick a picture of a car with dots of red, roses bedecking a young couple’s wedding limo, innocents. The next generation of drones won’t even have pilots, a thinking sensitive, caring human factor to discern proper targets from innocents.
“When lives are at stake, we need a man who sees the roses; we need the human factor.”
Warburg is innocent and Omar Dickson is apprehended through lots of Stack clout, and Stack invites Kate to interrogate, to “do the honors.”
Next two men watch Kate at her best, through the glass, their images reflecting, Rick proud of Kate and Stack coveting Kate. Stack whispers to Rick: “Look at that; how she uses silence; she’s a force to be reconciled.” Rick agrees. Then he sees Stack’s intense, smug, feral gaze and Rick looks worried. This man has an agenda and it includes Rick’s love.
Privately, Stack seduces Kate’s psyche, intrudes in her soul, and I use this strong word because it feels that way to me: “Where do you see yourself in five years from now? Where is your heart? I think you’re exceptional; you’re smart; you’re an asymmetrical thinker.” He gives Kate pause, and hits upon things she has been considering; her life; her future.
Denying him, she says:”Who says I want bigger things?”
“Practically everything about you screams it. Stakes are high and outcomes can affect history. Not everyone has what it takes. I think you do.” And Kate takes his card and the number to call.
Kate understands Alexis’ bid for personal freedom, for her inner space as we see in “The Final Frontier” The Nebula 9 dress-up picture Kate acquires harkens back to another safe time for Kate, a time when a young girl could immerse in her own adventure, her own fantasy drama and test and try out different identities, different personas.
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
This was just before Kate’s mother was murdered and left to die in the street, before a young girl’s promising world fell apart. Kate needed to feel safe and now she does. Rick has helped her, the best paradox of all.
The roles, the costumes, the dress up and pretend provide a modicum of safety then. After all, “that’s not who you really are.” You are free to try on an identity. Rick has had his share of role playing, failing twice as a husband and in other roles; he would be the first to admit it. Afraid to risk love in total commitment, still despite some rejection he writes. The lives of others are so easy to tell.
“So what if we don’t make sense on paper,” he tells Kate. “We don’t live our lives on paper. And if we did, we’d never be astounded or surprised.” As viewers, writers, watching fictional characters, a writer talk about their lives not lived out on paper is quite astounding. And still we care, of all things ironic.
At the Super Nova 9 Convention Rick assumes command of the star ship and then relinquishes it to Kate. She smiles and takes her place at the Captain’s seat for she can dare the dream and Rick loves it and her.
Kate tries to explain why people love the show, and then she acquiesces: “You’re right, okay? It was a stupid show. It was cheesy and melodramatic…a handful of academy cadets are on a training mission, and suddenly, the Earth is destroyed and they’re all that’s left of humanity.”
Haven’t we all seen ourselves in that light; remarkable, noble, brave and on a mission to save the world?
For Kate and Alexis, and Rick, too, the conventions, the dress up, the various personas are, as Kate says, “about leaving home for the first time, searching for one’s identity and making a difference.”
Rick validates Kate’s identity, her dedication, one who honors life and the victims. He helps her dispel the burden carried for more than one third of her adult life, chained to memories, seeing some joy, but weary, even rejecting Christmas celebrations for lost memories, presents unopened, and loneliness, adrift from family ties.
For Kate, Lt Chloe “did not care what anyone thought about her.” Though insecure at times, seeing someone sure and confident lifts our spirits and guides us to realize our better selves also. Kate realizes as a young woman: “I could be anything, and I didn’t have to choose.”
"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
Numerous times Kate has spoken about her desire to be a lawyer like her mother even on The Supreme Court. But she shelves the dream and honors past commitments.
Is love enough? Does she need more than his love?
In this penultimate season five case, Rick and Kate identify the murderer, but it truly takes the human factor to arrive at the answer. And the human factor is Rick. Hopefully Kate eventually recognizes that human factor. But is one of life's little ironies.
She wants more and Rick will help her find more as he has always done; but she has been driven down rabbit holes before with intense situations that cut off life and love. The loneliness and lack of emotions such as this agent exhibits will strip her of her humanity and destroy her.
Rick is not a drone, a devil in disguise to buy her soul, but a sometimes silly man who loves life and who would share his with her. He stops to see the roses or smell the roses or coffee; he loves humanity; he will never seduce her or lead her wrong; he will die to save her; he loves her. Kate has struggled for so long; she needs the human factor; other doors will open, safe ones; healthy ones for both of them.
Drawing out young Sean, Tanner’s son, Rick learns the story of a father’s neglect, of a father who put everyone else first; a crusader who cheated on Sean’s mother, an absent father with a son crying out for recognition, a young man so human and so hurting.
>From so many vantages Rick knows what it is like to be driven, to be a father, to be a lonely son, to be human and care. Sean has no friends, no money no life and no family any more. “He broke her heart and he broke mine, too,” Sean cries. Rick knows. And we know Rick is special.
“Still,” the ultimate homage for all “Castle” fans, celebrates what we love about “Castle:” honorable people, searching for love and meaning in an often hostile world. No dark clouds hover on the horizon while I bask in the glow of this episode; the romantic in me can end the season’s journey right here.
Storm clouds hide in the subtext, however. Many debate the logical sequence of “Still” and “Squab.” How can “Still” come before “Squab”? Why is Kate so hurt and Rick so inattentive? Why would Kate look at another man after what she and Rick had been through?
And how could Erik Vaughn begin to out Castle Castle with Castle’s own words, in Castle’s own territory or on Castle’s own game board? The discussion is endless, but this I know. “Still” can work either way.
Metaphor explodes in this episode, if we look in this direction. Trapped, Kate must stand still. Where is her relationship with Rick going? It is a downward ticking time bomb, time not on her side. She is unable to move, but for how long can she stand still?
She loves him, but can she remain constrained, encircled by his love, closed in his arms, not going anywhere? Each may have different needs now, though love prevails. It is the inertia that hurts and stifles her.
Yet, in another paradoxical way, close to my heart, “Still” moves forward in love’s affirmation, without a step. Two people, who talk all the time, now speak truths, of deeply personal impressions, embarrassing or otherwise, perhaps for the first time. They understand.
They proclaim their love out loud and remain together until the end as always. Hidden inadequacies and egos strip down to only love and the truth. He will not live without her. She will die rather than risk his life to save her.
Rick breaks her free from the circle that entraps Kate. He frees her to let her go; they work truly together. She sees the man who remains steadfast and is there for her. He encircles her in his protective arms and loves her. He must ask her to wear another circle, this time one of love.
Hope may waver, but our hearts are open to prospects, to tomorrow, to always, to hope, and this is life- affirming, to being real and only too human. Kate and Rick must search their inner spaces, their final frontier the human factor. This test will be their watershed. And we hope they set a course together.
Some lyrics from a power ballad by Survivor come to mind: “I was living for a dream, loving for a moment; taking on the world; that was just my style. Then I touched your hand, I could hear you whisper; the search is over, love was right before my eyes.”
We all face a climax; the thrilling peak in our own story; then our narrative seems to spiral down the denouement. Is this all there is we ask? To question is natural, a part of growing. The resolution can be breath-taking, and life-affirming, the beginning of something exciting and fulfilling. The resolution is the beginning. The story starts a new chapter.
The final frontier of space, of life on Earth, of machines of humanity is still and always the human factor, the human touch, as we search our inner space for love and peace, meaning and hope for a new tomorrow.
At home in this “Human Factor” case Rick and Kate talk of the rise of machines, the irony perhaps unknown to Rick, (but I would not bet on that), for he was not privy to Stack’s and Kate’s discussion; but still he must sense something wrong.
Yes, the rise of the machines is still a few years away, but we still have human care and touch. So cloaked in irony Rick says:
“With people all decisions are personal where one might see roses another might see a person.” We hope Kate sees Rick standing right there as always.
“The human factor,” Kate remarks.
“The human factor,” Rick proclaims.
And still Kate ponders. As to her talk with Stack, she tells Rick, “I’ll be there in a minute, and it was nothing, nothing.”
And it isn’t nothing. I’ve heard Rick say that in “Rise.”
Poet and philosopher Maya Angelou writes about love’s paradox and love’s redemption, what it means to be human; about love, its power, its sacrifice; its goodness and humanity and filled with hope.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles. Leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” We believe this.