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She’s back! In “Always Buy Retail” four years ago, Rick describes her effect on his household: “She’s Auntie Mame on meth!” Meredith takes Alexis shopping, innocent enough, but she shops in Paris…France…on a school day.
Oh, yes, in the current episode, Alexis’ mom Meredith, Rick’s first ex-wife, temporarily moves into Rick’s house, ostensibly to take care of a mono-struck Alexis. But mama is conniving and big trouble we know that. And the opportunity for mischief is too tantalizingly delicious and ripe.
Originally mother and daughter are slated for a trip abroad, leaving Rick’s loft to our favorite new lovers, while Kate’s home is being fumigated. Perhaps Rick’s loft will need a little fumigating sooner rather than later, in an effort to get rid of Meredith. But all is not what it seems.
Nevertheless, just how does one get rid of a boyfriend’s ex or deal with her…that is the question for Kate? Now throw in Rick’s history of ex- sex, and a cat fight could begin over “Kitten,” Meredith's annoying nickname for Rick. Meredith is manipulating to say the least; maybe so, maybe not.
Indeed, our perception is far worse than what may actually happen. When last we spy Meredith, four years ago, Kate innocently asks Rick:
“If she’s so bad, then why did you sleep with her this morning?”
“Let me tell you something about crazy people. The sex is incredible.”
“How shallow are you”
After revealing Meredith’s plans to move back to New York, Rick adds: “That would be a very special brand of hell, the hell of a deep-fried Twinkie.”
Then Rick explains the Twinkie syndrome as: “the guilty pleasure that you know is bad for you so you only do it once, maybe twice a year for the novelty, but the deep-fried Twinkie everyday is…” Kate shuts him down: “Castle!”
At this point I cannot resist saying that just a month or so ago Twinkies stopped production; Twinkies are no more.
However, in the earlier episode we also learn a bit about the divorce and how it is that Rick raises Alexis virtually alone. After ex-sex, which truly rocks the loft’s rafters, Meredith wonders why they ever divorced. Rick sarcastically explains: “Except for you having an affair with your director and moving to Malibu and serving me with divorce papers, I think we really had a chance!”
Even Martha doesn’t like her, and she asks her son why he married her. Cuttingly, Rick answers: “I don’t know Mother; maybe because she reminded me of you.”
That was then; Kate cares now.
We fans stand ready to defend our Kate, ready to give Meredith the boot from the moment she enters Rick’s loft with her teasing greeting: “Hello Kitten.” Didn’t Rick once advise Kate to “never ever call me Kitten?”
Lanie advises Kate to “take care of it,” the ex wife firmly planted in Rick’s home. But Kate trusts Rick; she protests to girlfriend Lanie, the savvy one who reminds Kate this is war and that she should be “marking her territory,” and establishing “boundaries.”
Lanie figures if you lose this skirmish with the ex, you lose the battle. Lanie is onto her. Meredith is a schemer, and she knows that Rick is a nice, easily preyed upon, gullible guy. Rick makes you want to scream: “Man up, Rick.”
Nothing is quite as it seems just as in the story line. In the mystery a divorce lawyer, Michelle Twohey who specializes in representing many angry women, divorcing their significant others, is murdered with an ice pick, for Michelle stumbles upon some incriminating evidence when she represents Samantha Voss, evidence so disturbing that distracted and upset, she loses the woman’s ensuing divorce suit.
As convoluted as it seems, Voss’ husband Walter assists Billy Piper’s wife Lee Ann Piper, another woman Samantha represented, in disappearing off a cruise ship, leaving her husband Billy, to forever stave off accusations that he murdered his wife Lee Ann who disappeared at sea. A cad Billy is, but he did not murder his wife Lee Ann.
Instead, she pretends to be dead and runs off with another man, Rob Garrison, establishing another identity. The story has the usual twists and suspects, interviews with a former military spy and tricky lawyer, a photographer and others.
The plot seems to hinge on the public’s perception of pro golfer Billy Piper as a wonderful man, and the truth, only his estranged wife knows; he is an abuser. Billy’s remarks regarding his presumed dead wife: support the supposition that he is callous even brutal: “She never was my favorite trophy.”
But the convoluted plot gives us a chance to enjoy Rick’s discomfiture and convoluted home life when, as he summarizes, his “loft is overrun with redheads,” namely his mother, his daughter and his ex-wife Meredith, all while hosting his girlfriend, one Detective Kate Beckett, kind of blondish. Oh, my, talk about “worlds colliding.”
Did they ever razz Rick about this, Esposito and Ryan that is, and they have a field day playing with Rick’s mind. Regarding Meredith’s stay at Rick’s loft, Esposito says:
“Tell me you said no.”
You are “on the edge of a very steep cliff.” Ryan adds or was it Esposito? What happens when worlds’ collide?
“They will compare notes, Meredith and Kate.”
“Notes,” gasps Rick.
No need to know which detective said which line because both Javier and Ryan complete each other’s sentences, in a tandem of inquisition, something they have been known to accuse Rick and Kate of doing. They are quite the team.
Then the guys whistle Rick’s downfall, his demise, and make a downward hand sign, to show Rick is going down in this battle: ex- wife and girlfriend in the home at the same time. They are too funny, setting Rick up, playing with his head, wiring him up and then letting him go, spinning and sputtering, unnerved, rattled.
Indeed, Rick wants to ease Meredith out of his home, but she is smooth and conniving, and he cannot get a word in edgewise, talk about edges. Meredith coos: “So refreshing to see how secure you two are in your relationship. You know most women would take issue with an ex-wife staying with her boyfriend; but not Kate Beckett. She gets it.”
“Yeah,” Rick agrees, Kate gets it. And he knows he is going to get it, too; he is toast.
Rick tries to convince Kate to go with him to a luxury suite in the Four Seasons, and outlast Meredith’s invasion, but Kate will have none of it. Why should she run scared? Oh, no. Kate admonishes Rick: “Button up Kitten; we’re going home.”
Meredith sashays around at home with very little on and tries to bond with Kate over morning coffee, until Rick appears. The scene has the feel of the Natalie Rhodes, Nikki Heat precinct skirmishes…uh scenes. Rick’s ex wife knows just a little too much about how Rick likes his coffee: with a dash of nutmeg. Kate decides to go to work, with a crack about the kick the coffee has: “I think I’ve had enough kick for one morning.”
Realizing that Meredith and Rick have a lot of history together, and knowledge about each other, such as a sprinkle of nutmeg in his coffee, and other information Kate does not share, Kate feels left out.
Later in the precinct, all heads take turns- turning or spinning when Meredith calls Kate and invites her to go out to dinner, just the two women alone. Ironically, Rick cannot understand why Kate does not simply say no. Hmmm Rick.
Now, Castle is truly afraid of having the two women together, especially after Ryan and Esposito have planted the seeds of doubt and the suggestion of “colliding worlds.” Rick’s voice cracks; he is totally discombobulated and at his wits end. He doesn’t know which way to turn.
He asks the guys: “Is this as bad as it seems?”
“Just dinner between your ex- wife and your new girlfriend?” Ha ha, the unspoken sub-text lurks.
“Meredith knows things about you.”
At home, Rick paces while the ladies dine and most surely exchange notes. Indecisive, he frets, his worlds are colliding, should he call them and interrupt them; they are telling secrets about him. Finally, Kate and Meredith come home to Rick.
Kate confronts Rick: “You are not the man I thought you were.” Oh, no. Will she break up with him? Rick stammers and stumbles in dismay. He cannot comprehend, and then the two, rather similar appearing women, his ex and his next, teaming up, laugh at him, messing with his mind and his ego, deflating him and hugging each other, exclaiming what a good time they had.
In the bedroom Rick begs Kate to tell him what Meredith said, fearing the worst. Humoring him and loving him,kissing him, Kate reveals: “I actually like you a bit more now.” To Kate, a little less control, a little more worry, a little less ego are rather attractive traits in her man Castle.
And then Kate makes an interesting observation: “Meredith is a fun, dynamic and hard to say no to woman.” Amazingly the women unite and get along.
Nevertheless, In the last few minutes, what had been a sweet, funny confection, with a murder mystery and lots of suspects tossed in to keep us guessing, turns to something serious, setting the stage for the next half of season five and some hard times for Kate and Rick.
At last, Alexis encourages her mother to go on to Paris without her, and Martha is only too happy to hurry Meredith along and out of the picture. Rick, of course, over talks to the point that Meredith might even consider staying, but never fear, behind her back, Martha and Alexis point and gesture, keeping Rick on track and focused to get rid of the vibrant, self-serving and annoying ex Mrs. Castle.
As Meredith prepares to depart, Kate has a chance to say a private goodbye, and an innocent remark changes everything, perhaps Rick’s and Kate’s course and their love’s progression. Confiding, Kate confesses that she was concerned that Meredith “might have had a secret agenda.”
“I did.” Meredith concurs.
Continuing she adds that Alexis told her mother about Kate and her father and that “this one was serious.” Meredith then knew that she had to come and “check it out” for herself. Happily she concludes: “You two are great together.”
Kate is ecstatic, open and friendly. She takes this new friendship a step farther and asks the question she has been harboring in her heart. Why did they break up?
Meredith compares her relationship, her life with Rick as a “sweet soufflé,” wonderfully exciting but lacking in a few areas. She contends that Rick knew “everything about me, my deepest secrets, my worst pain, enough to fill a million novels, but I didn’t know enough about him to even write a pamphlet.”
She seems honest, but we also know the other side; we know how she cheated on Rick and left him with a mutual arrangement to care for their child. How much of this has Rick told Kate?
To Kate, Meredith’s remarks ring true. Indeed, what does she know about Rick? As Meredith gives an example, Kate sees herself. The open and fun loving Rick Castle is very close-mouthed about his own life, and rarely do we see a hint of his past.
Rick will not discuss his father’s absence or even show a need to know who his father is. He simply smirks and turns the conversation or blasts the person as he did to Javier in “Suicide Squeeze.”
Of course, this is a defense mechanism. He hurts. He talks and jokes and smirks and teases to cover up his insecurities; he himself admits in “Cuffed” that joking is a defense mechanism or a coping devise.
Kate has opened her deepest wounds and darkest secrets and shared them with Rick over the course of the last four years. She once compared Rick’s inquires to unpeeling “the Beckett onion.” But what about Rick; just how much does she know about the inner man.
Continuing, Meredith remarks: “Souffles are wonderful, but they always fall.”
Kate appears stricken with the truth, and Meredith back-tracks a bit, assuring Kate that it has been fifteen years and people do change. But the seeds of doubt are planted in Kate’s mind. She is very concerned, even afraid.
This is the second time an ex has rattled Kate with a possibly, honest remark. Now perhaps Meredith does have a hidden agenda, but this seems true to us and to Kate. The other ex was Sophia Turner, the CIA turncoat from Rick’s past, his first muse, his prototype for Clara Strike of his Derrick Storm novels.
In a private moment in the “Pandora” saga, Sophia explains why their love affair fizzled. According to Sophia, their desire for each other exploded from longing and mystery to passion, but it wasn’t enough; too much familiarity destroyed their relationship.
Now Sophia was a liar and a murderer; Meredith is a manipulator and schemer, but Kate sees the truth. This man who loves her has feeling, emotions, an entire history which he has successfully kept hidden from her while encouraging her to pour out her heart. Rick has a way of encouraging her and not always revealing himself.
Somehow I don’t quite believe this, but I can run with this premise or see some truth in this assessment. Truly we have seen Castle, each episode through Rick’s eyes. We see the love between him and his daughter and the sacrifices he makes for her. We have met the one who got away, his first love, in “A Rose For Ever after” and have seen his growth as a man. We know he is there for Kate today, tomorrow and always.
During the Christmas just past, in ”Secret Santa,” Rick reveals a bit about his life with his mother, about how they were poor, how Martha provided a little spark of joy and hope for the lonely child Rick had been. Other times Rick shows the lonely boy, packed off to boarding school by a single mother, a diva, perhaps equally interested in her own career, with little time for the boy.
Was it just a writer’s affectation which propels Rick to change his name from Richard Alexander Rodgers to Rick Edgar Castle? Is he a man in search of his identity, and afraid of what he will find, covering up his need to know and taking on the dashing man about town persona? What, me worry?
In “Final Nail” we see Rick at his most vulnerable, unable to believe at first that the man who befriended him, his childhood friend could be a murderer. We have heard him allude to his life with nannies as caregivers, nannies often drunk overlooking their charge. How he prides himself in never leaving his beloved Alexis to a nanny’s care.
He is wisdom, protection, safety, care and love to the women in his life: Kate; Alexis and Martha. He can never do enough. Does he know how to receive?
At first Martha appears as a drinker, some would say a drunk, on the lookout for her next conquest as evidenced in our first encounter with her. But since she has come to live with her adult son and granddaughter, she has changed and has become more motherly and selfless.
Rick has changed, too. Kate has given him reason to be more than he ever thought he could be. The smug, self-assured, shallow playboy has grown tremendously. Does Kate see this or know this?
After Meredith leaves, Rick excitedly and overly attentive, dashes to the kitchen to prepare a breakfast delight for Kate, jabbering on; then his voice begins to fade out; Kate no longer hears him; neither do we, leaving only his excitable actions visible.
We realize we, too, need to know more about Rick Castle. Kate smiles at him, how can she not, and then she appears deeply perplexed. She loves him, but does she even know him. Does any of it matter for them?
Can their love survive; she is so fearful of loss? Her first words to him in "After Hours" as she runs to him are " I thought I lost you." So readily does he assure her that "Never, never, never" will he leave her.
She believes in him, and I think she knows him and his love,; they do not have all of the answers, but they have their love and they will find their way.
Still the heavy music at the end, a harsh, ominous, clanging tone and Kate's deeply concerned look suggest hard times ahead for our favorite lovers. Say it isn't so, Mr. Marlowe. But then hard times forge greatness and a powerful, everlasting love, tried and true.