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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Right? Not so!
“Where do we begin?” my students would complain. “I need a title; I need an introduction to my essay.” Time flies. My class fidgets. Frustration sets in.
Begin! Put words to paper; Get sentences down. Ramble if you must. Soon you will find your logical beginning and inspiration. Leave the title space bare. Don’t even worry about your introduction. Maybe you are writing your conclusion right now. (I know I have done that often enough.)
Funny, but lately I don’t heed my own instruction. For some reason the title jumps out at me before I even begin to write. Perhaps it is the theme or a particular word that prompts my instant ah ha recognition, and I think it’s just the perfect title that came to me unaided. Uh oh, what will I title this? Just kidding…my title is secure well before I start. Do you detect a bit of a ramble here?”
I have written about “Castle,” in every way shape or form, and always the title of my essay hits me before the actual writing, some of my topics including: elevators, doors, Shakespeare, chess, coffee, just words, a love story, logos, archives, Rick’s daddy, fire, ice and water, partners and numerous episode reviews.
Today I write about titles. I chose “Tomorrow,” as my title for season five’s premiere, a word straight from the heart, so personal, balancing between “rise” and “always.” However, the apparent actual name of this episode “After the Storm,” is a great title to be sure. In fact, several weeks before the finale, I wrote an article entitled “Before the Storm,” the storm analogies so appropriate.
All of this leads to my premise: Titles count.
Indeed, “Rise” is the perfect title for season four’s “Castle” premiere. So many scenes speak of the reconciliation of two lovers arising from near death, with Kate heart-wounded…and Rick heart-broken; the swing set scene so sensitive and harmonious is so perfectly healing and symbolic in “Rise,” that Kate seeks reflection and refuge there, in “Always,” body restored, life renewed, love remembered, love reborn: arisen.
Their code word of love and hope, “tomorrow” is encrypted in the title “Rise,” for to rise again is to have another chance, a renewal: a rebirth of hope in tomorrow.
I especially love the scene wherein Rick sits at Kate’s desk and lovingly convinces her to wait; to give it time; they will solve her mother’s case together, just not today. They have tomorrow, always. If she doesn’t pursue her mother’s murderer immediately, Kate claims, she will not know who she is.
Rick answers: “You are who you always were,” reminding her that she honors the victims and gives solace to the survivors. Rick’s words to Kate remind me: What a love story.
What other perfect appellation jumps to mind besides the obvious “Always” I so love: “Undead Again.” Although dealing with a zany-zombie story of the undead, this episode reveals Kate’s and Rick’s love, lately on life support, now revived again.
After a difficult few weeks of secrets, disappointments and seeming betrayal, they have reached the end, with Rick planning to leave her after this case, and Kate aware of his coolness and distance, knows she is losing him.
Finally, in the last scene between them, she explains how therapy is helping her to “accept everything that happened that day.” And Rick now understands.
Standing there with zombie makeup half on, Rick watches Kate’s own mask come off, Kate coming “undead again” to him. She wants him with her when her walls finally come down, and she jokes, even if it is with “the zombie makeup which suits you, Castle.
With all of his hope alive again, Rick says, “Yeah, I’ll make it work,” and he will.
Kate carefully asks him, “Tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow,” Rick promises
“If I ever have to be hitched to someone it would be you,” Rick remarks in “Cuffed,” truly a perfectly titled episode wherein we get a glimpse of what Kate and Rick might be like as a couple. And hitched they are literally in this episode, handcuffs binding them together. Of course, it is merely a Freudian slip (the “hitched” word) on Rick’s part, and he denies saying it to the nth degree.
Earlier Rick complains to Kate: Why do you always have to be first? And then when Kate “gives” him the lead, Rick’s facial expressions are priceless, especially his eyes. Turning to lead with his jaw, Rick is not afraid to appear a little less than the macho guy, and now in the lead, not really knowing what to do, he defers to Kate’s direction anyway.
They sound kind of married or a couple to me.
“Cuffed” is filled with the wonderful one- liners of an in-sync couple. While spooned together for leverage in order to push the refrigerator, a relaxed and playful Kate makes this ribald comment: “You’d better not be enjoying this.”
Rick salaciously responds: “I’ll let you know in a minute.”
Although shackled together, they then use their legs to kick down a wall, an interesting way to bring down those walls. The funniest scenes involve Kate’s climbing over Rick’s body, sometimes upside down or squashing down on his shoulders, scenes of togetherness which illustrate their changing relationship and the ease they have which each other.
Throughout this handcuffed experience, Rick is still ever protective of Kate, holding her other hand as they fall back to the mattress, telling her to get behind him when the tiger appears and apologizing when it seems futile saying:”I’ve got nothing else. I’m so sorry.”
Ultimately Rick and Kate, cuffed together for hours on end in a life-threatening situation, realize how well they work together and how much they mean to each other. When asked how they survived without killing each other, Rick simply says all was well when they “found their rhythm.”
“You ok?” Kate asks Rick.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Liar” Kate quietly replies in the last scene of “The Final Nail,” as she and Rick walk off together in a most charming scene of love and support, with the accompanying sound track playing this melody and these lyrics: “I’ll go anywhere with you, with you.”
Rick has just put the “final nail in the coffin,” signifying the end of a friendship, the end of an illusion, the end of a left-over childhood, hero worship. And Rick is disillusioned. Kate sadly says: “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy, F. Scott Fitzgerald.” Rick simply needs a drink. Hemingway!
Some heroes have feet of clay and so it is with Damien Westlake, Rick’s childhood friend and hero, now arrested for murdering his wife…with a nail gun. Rick, though, cannot let go of the man who befriended him, a lonely boy so many years ago.
Disheartened, and on the edge of tears, Rick agonizingly, revealingly tells Kate: “Without Damien Westlake I’m a lawyer; I’m a grifter; I’m a rodeo clown, but I’m not a writer. Without him I’m not me.”
The final nail is, of course, the last straw, the end of a belief or a final event, bringing understanding and in most cases regret. In the extremely well-acted interrogation scene, Rick becomes visibly more uncomfortable as sordid details unfold revealing Damien to be a cad, a cheat and most probably a murderer, although not his wife’s murder.
Rick’s kind face falls, sinks word by word with Kate watching Rick and the disintegration of Rick’s faith in Damien. Later Kate comforts Rick with coffee and a heartfelt conversation. Rick believes Kate simply doesn’t know Damien, and Kate kindly replies: Castle, neither do you.”
When Damien asks Kate if she thinks him that cold, Kate responds: “Personally I have no doubt, but Richard Castle believes in you, and I believe in him.” So much meaning and subtext strengthen these few words, adding dimension to Rick’s and Kate’s deep regard and growing love for each other.
For another spin on the final nail image, in Revolutionary times so the story goes, true or not, to save much needed ammunition, twenty one nails were used to nail shut the coffin and to replicate the twenty one gun salute, thus with the final nail honoring the brave and fallen comrade. That final nail for Rick was just too hard.
With insights suggested by the titles, we analyze the themes and so many other elements of the story in a new way. We recognize the relationships between the plot, theme, character and setting, the shades, the tones, the music, all the elements the writers use to enhance our enjoyment.
Double, even triple title implications enrich our appreciation and help us to see the parallel plots or subplots, threads to the story, often featuring a familiar domestic scene, or an expanding universal thread, satisfying, sinister or portentous. Amusingly, Alexis’ first word was “denouement,” for as Rick explains, she was already “interested in plot structure.”
A new “Castle” season starts soon, one promising to be fun-filled, with questions to resolve and relationships to build. And I could not resist. I offer a baker’s dozen, my titles for some new episodes, with a few words of explanation, and leave the fleshing out, the filling in the blanks to your fertile imagination.
“Homecoming Homicide”: Rick and Kate arrive for parents’ day at Alexis’ college, only to be greeted by a visibly shaken Alexis. “Dad, Kate, my dorm-mate’s brother died a few days ago. Everyone thinks his death was an accident, but Sarah believes that Sammy was murdered. I told her she should talk to you and Kate, dad. You and Kate will figure out what really happened. Please dad. Please Kate, help her.”
“First Lap”: So, you think you can lap Rick, Kate? When they found the abandoned GTO, in “Pandora,” Kate revealed another side of herself; a muscle car aficionado and expert. She talks the talk. I know. I had a 1968 yellow GTO with a four barrel carburetor and overhead cams. Somehow I think I had close to 400 horses in that baby; but I digress.
Now Kate, Rick, Ryan and Esposito, are dispatched to a grisly murder scene at a muscle car convention, (Muscle Car Con…if you must know). Of course Rick brings his Ferrari. Imagine the delectable, shiny scenes.
“A Gala for Johanna”: In “Lucky Stiff,” Rick gifts Kate with a memorial to her mother Johanna Beckett, the gift, a scholarship for a student, like Johanna, struggling to right the wrongs in the legal system, and to speak for those who have no voice. Rick promises to help raise the money to fund the scholarship.
Let this gala be truly spectacular, with tuxedos and gowns, dancing and light-hearted fun, with Jim Beckett in his element and friends and well-wishers celebrating, with no murders in sight. Well, a tiny murder in the beginning is acceptable, but the episode must include at least ten minutes of dining, dancing and sweet moments with friends and family.
“Start Spreading the News”: Gossip columnist Hedda Grace is murdered at her desk, her recent column heralding rising star, Detective Kate Beckett’s involvement with the spectacularly rich and renowned author Richard Castle. Are they an item? It is time for Rick to contact some of his jewel thief, mafia type friends, or others for a little help. Gossip is a killer.
“Your Place or Mine”: Is everyone getting along? Just what are the living accommodations? Do tell. A cheating -cad Robert Traynor has two families and somehow he ends up murdered.
“Heat Stroke”: Hot Hot reviews for Castle’s “Frozen Heat” spill over into all of the newspapers and social media. Now Kate, Nikki’s alter ego seems quite thawed, and emotionally together at last for a book signing, Rick and Kate want to celebrate.
But snow, ice and freezing temperatures grip the city and grind everything to a stand-still. Out there on the city streets, a sick individual targets Rick for stealing the beautiful detective away from him, calling Rick repeatedly, leaving threats and obscene messages.
“A Piece of Cake”: While Cindy Ledger attends a baby shower for a friend, her husband Ron, waiting in the lounge falls over, dead. It just so happens that Lanie and Kate are across town attending a shower for Jenny and are called to the scene.
“Poker Face”: After being heckled enough by his author poker-buddies, Rick reluctantly escorts the beautiful Kate to a poker play date. Returning home from the game, they stumble upon something untoward…a man beaten to death. But Rick is still steaming, and disgruntled after seeing Kate steal the show, charm his friends and clean out everyone’s pockets…including his.
“Father Knows Best”: Lots of fathers to consider. Kate takes Rick home to see her father Jim; she cannot wait to bring her two loves together. I wonder if Kate knows that Jim pleaded with Rick to get Kate to quit pursuing her mother’s case.
No need for Rick to allude to his fantasies regarding Kate and Nikki as he does in the “Knockout,” outtakes when he meets Mr. Beckett. Ah, Jim knew the score then and he knows it now. But father to father could be interesting…intentions and otherwise…awkward. But they sure have loving Kate in common.
Then, of course, Alexis could be involved with an older “college man,” and wouldn’t that jar Rick’s preserves. Throw in an appearance of Rick’s own father or at least some rumblings about his identity and whereabouts and we have the perfect pot stirring. Kate should enjoy refereeing the ensuing domestic scenes…and bonding with Martha.
“The Next Level”: Lanie and Espo have another try at making their relationship work, especially after seeing Rick and Kate and other couples around them. But one random couple tries to take it to the next level, and we have murder and mayhem resulting. Don’t ask!
“With Great Power”: … Comes Great Responsibility…I know, I just used a Spiderman reference Rick uses with Alexis. If Kate were a comic book hero she tells Rick, she would be Van Helsing; and given her vigilante- inspired, monster- hunting proclivities, that seems about right. Although I seem to recall some talk about Elektra. Indeed, Rick sees himself as the wealthy, suave, handsome industrialist Bruce Wayne aka Batman.
Enter Dana Delaney (her show has been cancelled) and stage a reunion with FBI agent Jordan Shaw. She would surely get a kick out of Rick and Kate when she questions them closely as she tends to do. Try to deny the obvious now, Kate. Jordan’s take on their relationship over the past two years and her gadgets would be welcoming: something for everyone.
Oh, we need some nasty case. And smart boards should be revealing, including Rick’s own. Did Rick take out the trash on STFD evening?
“Turkey Daze”: Ah just a bit of whimsy. Remember Rick expounding on just how long it takes to defrost a turkey while proving how long it would take for a body to thaw, (“A Chill Goes through Her Veins”). He knows. Didn’t Rick say he knew because it took a day for the turkey he was about to cook to defrost. I beg to differ, Mr. Castle. How about two to three days.
Now Martha cooks a mean Chinese takeout; Alexis seems to smash tomatoes rather well, and Kate does a mean breakfast a la Johanna Beckett, so it seems our intrepid hero is left with preparing Thanksgiving turkey for mom, Alexis, Jim Beckett, darling Kate and himself…. and Esposito who is left out in the cold. Throw in Kevin and Jenny, too. Kate calls Lanie last minute. Please don’t ask Perlmutter.
The plot thickens…I think. Remember the Alfred Hitchcock episode when the murder weapon, a hunk of frozen meat, was eaten? Oh, not at Rick’s place, please.
“O, Brother Where Art Thou”: And now for the piece de resistance. Although his relationship with Kate is a secret, Rick feels compelled to thank his buddy Ryan for saving Kate’s life. At the Old Haunt, Rick tells the younger, married man that he loves Kate, and Ryan saved his life, too, when he rescued Kate.
He speaks of his and Kate’s new relationship and of the need to keep it a secret from Iron Gates, who would gladly dispatch Rick if she knew of his new partnership with Kate. At the Haunt they bump into Esposito
A blind informant approaches them and reveals some information to Kevin regarding an ongoing murder case and the three are off chasing down the culprit.
Along the way, in another bar, someone slips the guys some wacky- weed, lotus flowers and they all lose the desire to go home to Detective Penelope Beckett. Ulysses or Ossie remains strong. On the trail they plunge into another bar only to be side tracked by the siren singers who unmistakably resemble Alexis, Lanie, Kate, Martha …and Gates.
The sirens sing an alluring chorus of “Come to Me, Return to Me, My Love.” To get more information, Ossie and his men must join in the karaoke sing–along. Harmonious bell -chords accomplished, they sound rather good. Circe, however, does not particularly like cops in her establishment and does pose an empty threat: to turn them all into pigs.
Armed with new information, the intrepid three now trudge on, through their own Scylla and Charybdis, only to be threatened by the one-eyed escapee from the local prison hospital for the criminally insane. Poly short for Polyphemus bares an uncommon resemblance to one giant Adam Baldwin.
Ossie dispatches this bragging lunatic with a swift kick to his one eye, and the intrepid three run for their lives, screaming we’ll drag you to the 12th if you ever bother us again…No man has spoken.
We will have no mention of a Circe Love and Callie Calypso sleep over.
All is not well on the home front with Penny besieged by her former suitors: Josh, Will and Tom, Tom the more insistent. And Penny feels she has to take him down again in a one on one combat…this is just until her man Ossie gets home.
Ossie does get home intact, but now he must prove himself worthy and he has the choice of weapons. Lured into thinking Ossie cannot shoot straight, Tom agrees; the fight for Penny’s affections comes down to pistols and paper targets. One thing Rick/Ossie can do well is shoot as we have seen countless times.
Need I continue this fantasy ramble and say more? How they get out of this… and me, too, I have no idea.
Wait! Those lotus flowers provide the perfect solution.
Convinced and hopefully convincing I remain, and please: Consider the power of a title!