Member Article: The Layers We’re Ashamed Of

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The Wild Rover - Copyright American Broadcasting Company Inc (20)

Everyone has a past… an aspect of their life that they’re not particularly proud of.  The things about ourselves that – when asked about them – we down-play it.  We ignore it.  We bury it.

In the Castle universe, we call it the onions that are the characters.

The Beckett-onion has been being unpeeled for four years.  So many layers there.  The Espo-onion has revealed a past that included growing up in a broken home, a youth that resulted in a juvenile record, and a military history.  The Gates-onion has revealed a strong exterior under which cloaks a Reality TV-loving, doll-collecting enigma.  The Martha-onion is more from a different food group (“On the exterior, she’s a tough cookie, but underneath all that bravado – gooey center”), but the layers are there.  The Alexis-onion has shown to have just as many layers as her father, and the Lanie-onion has unpeeled layers that have revealed a lover of dance and a woman who keeps one foot out the door in her relationships, just in case – like Beckett once did – though we have yet to discover why.

The Castle-onion and the Ryan-onion are as equally intriguing as all of the other characters.  In this episode, we saw more layers unpeeled from these two characters.  And in unpeeling the layers from them, layers were unpeeled from Beckett and Espo as well.

In ‘The Limey’, Castle remarked that, “sometimes it’s the people we think we know the best that we don’t really know at all.”  This concept was highlighted in this episode.

First, Beckett is curious about the mysterious “Jordan” that Castle spoke about in his sleep.  He shrugs it off and tries to convince her that it’s nothing, but you can’t bluff to a woman who could write the instruction manual about building walls and hiding your past from others: “I know nothing.  ‘Nothing’ is a dear friend of mine.  And this?  This is not nothing…”  This will not go away, so much so that she refuses his coffee.  She is a detective… she is her mother’s daughter.  And like Johanna, all Kate Beckett “cares about is the truth.”  And she “hate[s] not knowing things.”  This is a layer of the Castle-onion that intrigues her, and she will not allow him to re-bury this part of his past.

Furthermore, just as we think we are beginning to understand Kevin Ryan (a former narcotics detective who once dated a girl who liked to think she was a vampire), Siobhan kisses him and calls him “Fenton”… right in front of Jenny.  We’ve always known him to be the ‘nice-cop’ to Espo’s ‘bad-cop’, to be the guy who accepts that “it is what it is” when he and Espo don’t see eye-to-eye, the guy who doesn’t like breaking the rules.  We’ve known him to be “Honey-Milk”.  We’ve known him to be “Castle Junior”.  But Fenton O’Connell?   Pool shark?

Do we really know Kevin Ryan at all?

In discovering that he was undercover with the Irish Mob for fourteen months, Esposito is shocked:  “He’s not the Ryan I know.”  But Ryan and Esposito are partners.  They are with each other “till the wheels fall off.”   So in the diner when Ryan insists on seeing this through, Espo asks him: “What’s wrong with you?”  He wants Ryan to realize that he now has a wife, a different life than he had seven years ago.  He now has a lot to lose.  Even Jenny wonders about her husband’s motives, asking Beckett, “Why would he do something like this?”  She wonders if her husband feels that he has something to prove.

However, Beckett’s reply to Jenny not only explains Ryan’s motives, but Castle’s as well:  “He wants to do the right thing…  That’s who he is.”

In ‘Kick The Ballistics’, when Jane was killed with his service weapon, Ryan felt at fault: “That weapon was issued to me by the city of New York. I let it out of my hand and now a girl is dead. So please do not tell me that it’s not my fault!“  He’s disgusted when he discovers that Seth Carver used Jane: “You– you sent her in there alone! No back up, no protection, and now she’s dead!”  Even after he helps Ben Lee escape an unpleasant life and find closure, Ryan continues to doubt himself, but Castle reassures him: “You are a better cop, Kevin. You’re a better man, because you didn’t send him in there alone.”

That is the kind of man Kevin Ryan is.  Ryan puts a gun in the hand of Bobby S, spelling it out for everyone:  “You think I’m a man without honour?!”

He leaves no doubt.  He loved Siobhan at one time, he put her in danger, and he needs to do the right thing to keep her alive.  His honour is at stake when he’s told to kill her.  But he’s a better man than that.  He’s an honourable man.  Kevin Ryan is a good man who – at times feels like a fraud – but always strives to do the right thing.

Castle, too, believes himself to be a fraud.  Like he’s not worthy of anything he now has in his life.  He is terrified of Kate knowing the unpleasant aspects of his past:  “What happens if you don’t like what you see?”  It’s as if he’s afraid of not being worthy of her.  But as they already learned, “secrets are like time bombs, eventually they explode.”  Neither of them want to go through that again.

We all have aspects about our pasts that we’re not proud of, but these are often the aspects that have the most profound impact on who we become.  They are the moments that lead us to become the people we choose to be… for good or bad.

As it was explored in ‘Under The Influence’, the actions and words of other people can have an enormous influence on the course of our lives.  Now, in ‘The Wild Rover’, the exploration is about how our own decisions influence the course of our lives.

Beckett used to be afraid to reveal the truth about her past, but she eventually let Castle see the ugly truth.  But Johanna Beckett insisted that “the truth can never hurt you” and Kate has come to understand the wisdom of her mother’s words.  Now Castle is afraid that Beckett won’t like what she sees in him, but she counter-argues, “What happens if you don’t let me look?”  So he lets her look.  He allows her to see that, when he was in high school, he took credit for writing something he didn’t write, that he didn’t earn the praise he received, and that he’s been writing ever since in an attempt to earn the acclaim and the applause he was awarded when he was an adolescent. That he’s “still trying” to be worthy of that acclaim.

Both Castle and Ryan have felt like frauds at some point in their lives, but they keep trying to be better men.  Better so that they can be proud of themselves.  Better so that they people they love can be proud of them.  Better so that the women they love can be proud of them.

We all have aspects of our lives that we are ashamed of, times when we have felt like a failure.  But as Castle once told Alexis:  “It’s how you handle it that determines where you’ll end up.”


  1. PenguinOfTroy says

    It’s about time you turned one of your epic forum posts into a site article. Excellent job.

  2. Dandan2220723 says

    Shena has it right. It took 4 yrs of Castle prying the onion apart to get Kate to the point of her knowing what she needed. How did he succeed? He did it at a pace that Kate was comfortable with. Marlowe has said that uncovering Castle’s past was required for CASKETT to succeed. Since Rick’s background has been shrouded in secrecy all the way from Season 1, and every time something comes up he tries to cover it with comedy or humor, how does Kate get past these fears so she can succeed where Meredith or Gina failed–to be able “to write a book on Rick Castle”? She does this by applying firm but sensitive tactics on Rick, and use his position in the relationship to ‘uncover his past’. This was done brilliantly in 5×19 by both Marlowe in his plan, and in the execution of the plan by both Stana and Nathan. How long will it take Kate to get to the point that she is totally comfortable with Castle’s background? Only Marlowe knows. But isn’t it wonderful that AWM is giving us fans a glimpse into these two complex people who love each other and enjoy their journey. Thanks, Andrew!

  3. Kath47 says

    Hi Shena!
    I am a new subscriber to the site. I have been a visitor for months now, and always enjoy reading the posts and the responses.
    I think you wrote a wonderful article and enjoyed getting your insights into the characters and last night’s show. Thanks!

  4. Dandan2220723 says

    My comment had an error in it..mention of 5×19 was in error..should have been 5×18. Sorry

  5. scottish castle fan says

    Thanks Shena. As “always”, I liked your episode review in the post discussion thread. As PenguinOfTroy says its about time you turned one into an article. Lovely analysis of the episode. Thank you!

  6. southerngirl says

    Thanks Shena – very insightful. Castle personifies the truth that people perceived as ‘fun-loving, always-cracking-the-jokes’ types are often insecure and hide beneath their humor. After 4 years, our savvy Kate is more than aware of this and I feel sure recognizes it in Rick. One of her strengths (and it’s one that Rick admires) is her ability to interrogate and hone in on hidden truths buried in people. What I loved about the ‘confession’ scene was that, although unsure how Kate would take this piece of his past, he trusted her enough in the end to come clean with the ‘Jordan’ mystery details. Also, I found it exciting and really unsurprising that Ryan is not only ‘honorable’ but also quite brave. As early as season 3 (in Knockdown) we see a glimpse of Ryan’s bravery when Lockwood tortures him. He remains strong and doesn’t divulge any information. All this to say that I more than enjoyed this article and glad to see one from you!

    • Shena says

      Thank you very much, southerngirl. I’ve always been hesitant about submitting my writing as an article — never thought it was good enough. But I really appreciate your feedback an thoughts. I, too, was glad to see more of this side of Ryan.

  7. Trinxy says

    FINALLY! I am glad you finally did it and posted your review as an article! Good job! I really really loved it! :)

  8. youcomingcastle says

    Well it’s about time Shena…there’s no stopping you now girlie.

    I just love your introduction paragraph…nothing like “getting stuck into it” straight away. I also particularly like it when you said “they are the moments that lead us to become the people we choose to be……” so true Shena, so very very true.

    I’m not going to waffle on except to say that I admire that you put aside your doubts that it was not good enough, you bit the bullet and you put it out there…that in itself is a lesson for us to learn…hoorah!!!

    I enjoyed every single word…”see” you for Episode 19…I just know that you are going to write a “doozy”:)

    • shena says

      You can blame / thank Trinxy and Fooxoo for convincing me to submit. :) And thank you so much for your kind words.

      As for the line about “moments that lead us to become the people we choose to be” — I see this happen so much day-to-day, especially working in a high school. And it goes both ways. Over their years here, I watch some students become such amazing young adults, and I watch others fall, and fall hard. And much of this is due to their own choices.

      That’s what I loved so much about Castle’s story. Adolescence is about discovering who you are and forming the foundation of who you will be for many years to come. I remember those years very well… as it wasn’t so long ago.

      As Castle said (in a cut scene from “Linchpin”) … we all change, and we all stay exactly the same. In so many ways, we are the same people who we were as teens, but at the same time, we are completely different. This is due in large part to the conscious and unconscious decisions we make. But I truly believe that it IS how we handle everything that will define who we become.

  9. Micro says

    This episode reminds me of an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation called “Tapestry”. “Q” gives Jean Luc Picard a opportunity to go back in time and “redo” the tarnished areas of his own past of which he was ashamed. What he ultimately found was that, when he started tugging at these untidy threads in the tapestry of his life, it fundamentally changed who he was….and who he ultimately became. Every event that occurs in our lives, good or bad, shape who we are. They guide the course of our lives in ways we cannot even begin to comprehend.

    For Castle, had he not paid this person to write that term paper for him, he never would have felt the shame that drove him to be a better writer. Kate realized that this does not make him a bad person. In fact, it makes her “like him a little bit more”. She knows that if he were a bad person, he would not be feeling so badly about a poor decision he had done so many years ago. It is BECAUSE he is a good man, that this event even matters to him.

    On a side note, I suspect that the very fact that he is sharing such a dark secret with her, makes her feel a little more secure in their relationship. Chances are good that he never told this to Meredith!

  10. Peeling the Onion says

    Yeah Shena. Those of us who already know you have appreciated your perceptive comments for a while now. I’m happy to see you on the front page where your insight will have a larger audience.

  11. TracyLee55 says


    Well done my friend!! I agree with everyone else, it is about time you submitted your reviews as articles. And to think that at one time you did not think you had anything to say.

    Your pointed out so well the choices we make in life can define us, but don’t have to. I have often said the voices of choices are always there, reminding us, cajoling us, always a whisper away. “The Road Not Taken”, the smooth and easy path or the one that may cause us to work a little harder, stumble a bit, but in the end builds us into the kind of man or woman we hope to be.

    Richard Castle as a lonely boarding school student at a moment of weakness chose what he thought would be the easy path, paying another student to write something he took credit for and received the accolades for. But he found it was not the easy path at all. It haunted him, drove him to be the better writer, the better man. It also showed us, he was always this writer and person, he just had to discover it the hard way. Kate Beckett pealed the layer away, let him, without judgement, finally confess the “sin” that so buden him, and he was “cleansed.

    Kevin Ryan, a man who all of have seen step up to the plate often, even if it meant losing his partnership with Esposito, knew he had risk his life to honor the woman he once loved, to save her. He still cared deeply for her. And he could have let her go, be sacrificed. After all he was a married man now, deeply in love with his wife, and wanting to start a family. But a true man (or woman) of honor cannot just let innoccent blood be shed, not when he was responsible for putting her in that position in the first place. No he was not that kind of man.

    As you started your article you wrote: “Everyone has a past… an aspect of their life that they’re not particularly proud of. The things about ourselves that – when asked about them – we down-play it. We ignore it. We bury it.”

    You are so right. But the past has a way of rearing it’s ugly head. The things we thought buried….resurrected. We must face them down, confront them. And realize that yes they are a part of our past, but they are just that… the past. I don’t have to be that person anymore. I choose to follow the path that will make me the kind of person I have always wanted to be. A better person. As the saying goes…. To leave this earth just a little better.

  12. Kathy1948 says

    Wonderful article Shana. I have always enjoyed your contributions to this sight and I am so glad that you have written your own article for all of us to enjoy. If we have both you and Peggy to look forward to each week the world would be so much richer in Castledom. Keep writing, keep sharing – you have a gift.

  13. catluver aka Donna says

    Thanks for finally putting your thoughts out there for all to see. It was great as usual. Someone said that reading these articles and reviews are like seeing the show with multiple eyes. I like that . It also shows how many layers the show itself has that so many see so much in this show. Keep it up, please.

  14. Morrison says

    Thank you Shena. I thoroughly enjoyed your insight. You write very well, please consider future submissions.

  15. Genelle says

    Hi Shena, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your article, and the others were right – it was about time you submitted one. Most of last year I printed out enough articles to fill two binders, reading these & adding the occasional comment helped me to get through my long search for another job. So, I’d like to say thank you – to you and all of the other article reviewers. :)
    Last year, I had 2 poems published & thought I might try my hand at doing an article – but I lost my nerve. This year I hope I find it.

    • Shena says

      Genelle, I am flattered and humbled by your kind words. Mine is an interesting story. I am an English teacher, but never in my life did I really enjoy writing — I was always more of a reader. In fact, I got so used to reading (novels to be taught, students’ assignments, students’ essays, students’ stories) that recreational writing never even crossed my mind.

      I never thought I had anything worthwhile to say… let alone anything anyone would want to read.

      And then “Castle” came along. And for some reason, when I start writing about this show and its characters, the ideas just flow so easily. Usually I wrote a paragraph or so for the post episode forum discussions. However, when “Under the Influence” aired, I ended up writing a short essay. I didn’t intend to do so… the words and thoughts just kept coming. For some reason, they haven’t stopped.

      And then 2 lovely forum moderators nudged / prodded / guilted / convinced me to submit my post-ep discussion thoughts as an article. So here it is.

      I discovered that if I aimed to (specifically) write an article to submit here, I found it extremely daunting and couldn’t find the words. But just writing for myself… the words and thoughts came so easily.

      So my advice to you? In the words of Andrew Marlowe: “Take your shot.” Write something for you. And if others like what you have to say, consider it a bonus.