The sum of our tomorrows equals always. And for Rick and Kate, “always,” spoken only six times, is their most powerful code word for their mutual promise and pledge of love.
Rick avows his love for always in “Countdown,” facing death in the frozen locker; in “Knockdown,” saving Kate from an assassin’s bullet, promising to be there for her always; in “Killshot,” pledging his unconditional love and support; and in “The Blue Butterfly,” answering Kate’s alter ego Vera who asks Joe/Rick to tell her that he loves her. Kate shyly promises always in “The Dead Pool,” as a sign of her love, so unspoken, so shiny; so scared.
How fitting then that the season four finale be entitled “Always,” a symbol of their rebirth of love, their reconciliation, their promise and pledge, their hope for an always love.
“Rise,” is the perfect title for the season four premiere, as two lovers arise from the dead, Rick, spiritually; Kate, literally. The tone is set for their growth and progress in their love story, a season long journey, filled with some advancement and some set- backs, and ultimately, and always, with love ascending.
And so it goes with titles, sometimes so appropriate, so meaningful that I speculate now on the season five premiere title. At first glance I knew that “Stay” would be perfect. Please stay the night; stay with me for always; stay with the police force: Stay, Kate! Stay! Stay! I will stay, Kate. I will be true. Stay, the executioner.
As Kate lay shot through the heart, Rick pleads with Kate, with God, with all that is in him: “Stay with me, Kate!” And in the icy, blue refrigerator, while sheltering Kate in his arms, Rick entreats: “Stay with me, Kate!”
But then a more powerful title smacked me in the face: “Tomorrow!” Think of all of the ramifications. And yes, before “always,” “tomorrow” was their first code word for their promise of love, and their pledge of always. Indeed, somehow the sum of all their tomorrows equals always.
“Until tomorrow” are Rick Castle’s parting words of the day to the troubled, emotionally-fragile Kate in season one’s “A Chill Goes through Her Veins.” For Kate Beckett, a cop stressed out and on the edge of her belief in anything, a simple good night will suffice.
Todays are harsh enough for Kate, the cop who has seen it all, the devastated daughter seeking retribution for her mother’s murder and commemorating her father’s return to sobriety after his heart- wrenching retreat to alcoholism. Tomorrow is too far away, with little promise, alone with sadness, sameness, and little hope.
“Tomorrow is more hopeful,” Rick tenderly exclaims to Kate, recognizing her need to be uplifted. A sunny man, he teaches her to believe in tomorrow, an optimistic tomorrow, filled with hope, and renewal; filled with opportunity, and filled with rebirth.
And along the way Rick strengthens his own belief in hope; he lives life ever hopeful of love and truth; he teaches this to his beloved daughter Alexis and even to his mother; he radiates this honesty. We all grow with him, along with him and Kate. He teaches me, and I, too, grow in hope and in understanding.
Tony Robbins, a renown, motivational speaker once said: “It’s never the environment; it’s never the events of our lives, but the meaning we attach to the events, how we interpret them, that shapes who we are today and who we’ll become tomorrow.”
It is true: tomorrow is promised to no one. And totally aware of that self- evident truth, we live in faith today, enjoy God’s blessings, do good, be kind and rest assured that tomorrow will be better with more time to pursue a life of love and fulfillment. And if tomorrow never comes, we have lived a good life today.
But Kate basically places her life on hold for thirteen years of todays, of preparation to get the men responsible for her mother’s murder. She reshapes her life, building barriers and displaying a fierce, self -destructive path, no time for tomorrow or its joys. She erects walls to keep everyone out and to leave her alone with her obsession.
And in “Always,” season four’s finale, hanging literally from one of those walls, Kate realizes the truth. She has shut love out; she has a man who loves her unconditionally, always, and she pushes him aside, while he waits for her, “to open her eyes and see that he is right there.”
In the finale, again Rick tells her that he loves her, but Kate throws his love in his face, hurting him and betraying him, by choosing her dead mother’s case and her retribution rather than hope and the man who loves her.
Crushing Rick and sparking his anger, Kate tells Rick she cannot trust him, this after four years of a relationship built on trust, of having each other’s backs, of going through those dangerous doors together. Rick declares: “I love you Kate. Four years I’ve been right here. Four years just waiting for you to open your eyes and see that I am right here. And I am more than a partner.”
In essence, Rick implores Kate to let the hatred go, especially if he means anything to her, and to begin a new tomorrow, and to see the events of her life in a renewed light. But she is closed off at this time. And the sunny man seems defeated; he cannot stand by and watch her throw her life away. He has to leave her to her obsession if only for his own preservation.
But near death and hanging on for her life, Kate has an epiphany and chooses to let go of her self- destructive hatred and choose life, choose tomorrow, if only she isn’t too late.
The final scene between them is reminiscent of a powerful scene in season three’s finale. Despite their relationship ending fight in “Knockout,” Rick is there for Kate at the airplane hangar ready to risk his own life, restraining Kate, a grieving Kate who wants to help her captain in his sacrificial shoot out.
As Rick forcefully restrains Kate, he repeatedly mouths the words: “I am so sorry; I am so sorry; I am so sorry.” He strokes Kate’s hair, and touches her tenderly, his reasons for being there so shatteringly revealed; she lovingly touches his face.
Indeed, this scene has its echoes so poignantly in the final love scene in “Always.” Coming to Rick’s home, Kate must find a way to make Rick listen, for she knows she has broken him with her lack of trust and horribly bitter words.
She has thrown his love away, forsaking tomorrow, and now realizes that he was always there for her; she needs him so desperately and he is all she wants. She must be filled with hope now, for to his forlorn question: “What do you want, Beckett?” Kate replies, heart in her throat, all barriers down, hoping for his forgiveness, totally and emotionally exposed and giving of herself: “I want you.”
As he restrains her with his body, in “Knockout,” she now holds him in “Always” with her kisses until she can convince him of her sincerity and love.
Rick is caught up in the need for her, but then tries to hold her back, hands shaking, weak himself with wanting her, but struggling for self-preservation, his heart, mind and body warring with each other. He looks down, eyes closed, in anguish for what he wants so badly but cannot be sure of. Always was so easy before.
Kate sees the pain she has inflicted on this man who only loves her. She caresses his face. She kisses him and whispers: “I am so sorry, Castle; I am so sorry; I am so sorry,” hopeful, willing him to love her again, to trust her, the scene so reversed from “Knockout,” so similar, so endearing, so important to their hopes for tomorrow.
Ultimately Rick can only look at her and try to see clearly the woman he loves so much and needs so much. He searches her face, her eyes which speak the truth. She touches his lips with feathery fingers, as she does in “Countdown” when weakened, praying for tomorrow, and loving Rick. Her sorrow and contrition are so evident now; she cannot lose him, for he is all that matters to her.
She ignites an electric reaction in Rick. What a vision of Rick, in two shots, both close and powerful, the first, supernatural, gripped in passion, the second shot bathed in the super-charged electricity from the lightning flashes and thunder bolts, other worldly, intense, powerfully releasing all of Rick’s pent up passion, slamming the door shut with Kate’s body, starving for her love. So Bronte, a Rochester or Heathcliff, so dark and demanding, and then gentling and Rick once again who loves Kate.
Awestruck, Rick kisses her healed, heart- wound, a symbol of their love’s journey. Guided by her hand, Rick touches her heart and feels it racing, in a scene so mesmerizing and beautifully choreographed; a love ballet.
With their final, tender kisses, they watch each other for a signal, so attuned to each other. In sweet recognition of each other, as always, Kate and Rick smile, their fingers clasp together, a healing touch. She turns slightly, accepting his love; he follows, holding her hand, at last both knowing they are home with a chance of a bright tomorrow.
In “Undead Again,” the episode just prior to the finale, Rick contemplates making this case, with all of its bizarre, zombie twists, his last case with Kate, for they are too much at odds, love seems bleak, and he must move on.
The last scene between them, however, is extraordinary. It is here that Kate admits to Rick that she has been in counseling, seeking help and working on the walls she has built to keep love and hurt at bay. She explains that “therapy helps, and I think I ‘m almost where I want to be now.”
“And where is that?” Rick asks her.
So pointedly, so hopeful, well-aware of Rick’s plans to leave her, Kate says, “In a place where I can finally accept everything that happened to me that day.”
With Kate’s reiteration of the word “everything” Rick says: “I think I understand.”
She wants Rick to be there when the walls shatter and she remarks: “That wall I was telling you about, I think it’s coming down.”
Rick knows that she needs and wants him; perhaps soon she will acknowledge her love. But her words renew his hope, and it is enough for now. And all he can say is that he wants “to be there when it does.”
“I’d like you to be there, too.” Kate responds.
Then, with conflicting hope and trepidation etched on her face, Kate shyly questions Rick: “Tomorrow?”
So much rests on his answer…his decision. Does he still love her? Does he want her enough to get beyond the hurt? And for Kate: Will he stay with me?
Radiating hope in his heart, wonder-struck, the man who taught Kate the word, now follows his heart to the truth, and speaks in affirmation: “Tomorrow!”
I have said, in other articles, that “Castle” has kept me going with hopes of tomorrow, throughout the turmoil of 2009 and 2010. Hope did not prevail in this case, however, for my son-in- law died January 2, 2011, after his four year battle with cancer, leaving my daughter and then four year old granddaughter behind.
In one of the ironies of ironies, I now face a battle begun in October 2011, my own battle with stage four cancer. I am defying the odds and the experts, struggling with the rarest of rare cancers. It took three months to ascertain what we are fighting, and I still cannot give it an exact name.
Sloan Kettering and a lab in Vancouver finally found a course of treatment; there are only a few precedents. My doctors think I look fine, (of course hair is gone and I have crazy syndromes), telling me that someone else would probably not be here to write; so rare and slow growing this cancer is, my saving grace, thus far.
Since late January I have undergone aggressive chemo treatments. Basically I have minimal effects, but sometimes I don’t feel like doing very much. I guess that is a small wonder. Some of my hopes are now placed in an MRI I will take (among the many) in order to see if the cancer remaining has been attacked, checked or held back. It is incurable, but stable is good. The MRI is in a week or so.
In my “It’s Only Words” article, I shared some of the events leading up to my operations and other happenings. But I put such emphasis on Robin Gibb’s struggle with cancer and his survival and, of course, the magnificent “Words,” the Bee Gees’ song I so love and construe, as I am wont to do, to fit Kate’s and Rick’s love story. But Robin Gibb died last month and I am slightly rocked.
However, I will not worry. I am happy that I shared my story with my fellow “Castle” lovers. “Castle” has been a source of inspiration and hope to me always. I often say that Rick Castle is the most hopeful of heroes, and some of you probably swear that you hear my echo on this point, for nothing will dim my positive outlook on life.
But Rick came along when I needed a hero. We do need heroes; but amazingly, some of them are most unlikely, perhaps just ordinary people who become more than they ever imagined they could be; so too with Rick, and I think with Nathan. This is an extraordinary message.
For the past three years and four seasons, since 2009, “Castle” has inspired me with its truths, its words of wisdom and values, often, something so hard to explain to others who are unaccustomed to quality television, to meaningful, finely drawn, and growing characters. Many television viewers have become so uninspired, so inured, to the usual, banal television bombarding them and us every day. But “Castle” is different.
Is it the writing? Is it the fine acting? Is it the wonderful depictions of character and growth all around, the entire cast included? Within the week to week adventures Rick and Kate’s tender love story shines, and it is that love story that so fascinates me. But it is more.
Unlike other mysteries, or crime-solving shows or even other genres, “Castle” is about growth and change. Ironically, Nathan has changed his view as evidenced in a recent interview posted on this site. Once he had a negative view on getting Rick and Kate together for fear that it would spell the end of the mystery, the allure that is Kate and Rick, but he now acknowledges his error.
And Nathan also recognizes Rick’s growth and maturity, Rick no longer the man/ child on a sugar rush, self- centered, barely serious when encountering a dead body. All of the characters have grown and developed. We don’t see this in other programs.
With Nathan’s and Stana’s fantastic chemistry and acting prowess, and with the writers in full stride, season five will be terrific, and as Nathan says, this is really the beginning of Rick and Kate’s story. The past is prologue. He is hoping for an excellent season five and hopefully a season six and seven. This news surely keeps me going. I want to see the next few seasons and more.
In “Undead Again,” Rick acknowledges that “change is good,’ as he counsels his daughter. He advises her that she “must follow her heart,” as he indeed will do. In “Always,” Rick respects Alexis’ fears of moving on, gives her doubts credence but also supports her, knowing that in her quest for answers, she will find her own truth.
This growth makes the show exceptional but also baffles the pundits who have no idea what they are dealing with or in what category to place “Castle” (in truth) when it comes time to reward the good shows, writers and actors. But the pundits are learning, taught by the legions of “Castle” fans.
The question often arises. Does Andrew Marlowe, Castle’s creator and writer extraordinaire, understand the impact his little show has made on so many people? Perhaps he does if season four’s finale is any proof. He has read us on our blogs and in our forums; he trusts us and has confidence in his writers and actors, our steadfastness, and in Rick’s and Kate’s moving on in a loving relationship.
Season four was about change and acceptance, love and growth, arising from near death, concepts sometimes hard to appreciate, other times left to subtext, usually in an undercurrent of emotion and often heartfelt angst, leading to Kate’s and Rick’s manifestation of love in the final, much –heralded, fan -pleasing love scene between them, and after a season of some joy and some struggle, to trust, and then to hands united, Kate’s and Rick’s, in the hope of a brave tomorrow.