On May 13, 2013, fans of Castle watched as their post-season four dreams came true. Richard Castle, with moments left in the season five finale, wrapped up the question of the ultimate post-sexy-door cliffhanger by proposing to Kate Beckett. As fans remembered that this cliffhanger would last them until mid-September, thoughts started running wild as to what Beckett’s answer would be. However, with this type of cliffhanger, Castle is now in danger of becoming too predictable.
On the surface, fans want Castle and Beckett to be together. Die-hard fans have made it clear that they want Caskett sex all over the screen. They want make-out sessions, flirtatious moments, and cute witty remarks on both sides.
All this is great for now, but how long will it keep being great? Seeing the same thing over and over again will grow boring. Castle and Beckett can shack up and stare into each other’s eyes for days on end, but this will be essentially like watching a live stream of a teenage couple on their high school steps. Over time, not much will differentiate the two.
Underlying the predictability is a troubling maturity gap between the two leads. The one thing that should make Castle and Beckett different from the two kids kissing in the back of the movie theater is maturity, but right now that’s only half true.
The character of Beckett has changed greatly over the years. Her base values are the same (one and done, etc.), but she has grown up. She has realized things about her personal life, her mother, her boss, her hair, and Castle himself. If we look back at season one, the character of Beckett would not understand her personality in season 5. But, if we take the current Beckett, and show her what she was like back then, she would know what happened. She would see where she had changed and allowed herself to go through things so she could grow. Now, at the end of season 5, she is ready to go further with Castle.
However, if Beckett says yes to Castle and forgets the job, she is not only disappointing fans, but she also will be straying from the core values of her character that have developed over five seasons. The concept of Beckett has always been straightforward and whole. She has known what she’s wanted and when she’s wanted it. If she was in a relationship, she was invested, but she wouldn’t let it stop her from doing what she loved. If she does not take this job in D.C., a job that she has shown great interest in, the writers will be falling short of this character. Seasons’ worth of development of Beckett’s complicated personal/professional balance will be thrown out the window simply to answer the fans’ needs.
The man Beckett may marry, on the other hand, has undergone very little development over those same seasons. Castle’s daughter has graduated, he has learned some cop lingo, and he has made some new friends. But, in terms of understanding his part of a relationship, he has stopped. He has made miniscule improvements, but not enough to earn the right to propose to Beckett. In the past, when Castle has gotten worried or scared, he popped out a ring and got married. And his previous wives were the type of characters to go along with that and there’s nothing wrong with them doing so. However, someone watching the show cannot say that Meredith, his first wife, and Kate are the same character. Castle has gotten into a more adult relationship.
Although Castle respects Kate immensely and would die for her if the time came, he is still, to some extent, acting like a child with a play toy. While Castle might check for bullet wounds, argue over leaving a bomb scene in order to stay with her, and jump in front of a targeting sniper, he still is that same character who persuades a blonde flight attendant to parade around in a red Ferrari to make Beckett jealous. When Castle and Beckett got together, he still gave her the cold shoulder when things became too tough. When he thought she was lying or cheating, he backed away instead of talking to her. Beckett is not a play toy, but what does one do when someone else tries to pick up his or her favorite toy at day care? They scream, they hit, and they do what they need to do to get it back. In this case, Beckett is the toy, D.C. is the other child, and Castle’s proposal is the retaliation.
If Castle had grown at the same speed as Beckett, this proposal wouldn’t have seemed so staged. It would not have the underlying sense of disappointment that this did. . Fans wouldn’t have sat in front of their TV screens thinking, “This isn’t how it was supposed to go.” It would have been romantic. And even before Castle would have proposed, he would have let Beckett go to D.C., figure out her professional standing in the world, and allowed her to come back to him if she needed to. He would have assured her that he would be here with his family and that she would be the only one that he would truly love. He would have made a speech that would have been derived from a Nicolas Sparks novel and that would have been the finale. Castle would have made the decision before Beckett was even approached with these two choices.
Fans expected a proposal though, not a speech, and because they did this show is at risk of embarking on a downward spiral to predictability. This upcoming season will be the litmus test to see if Castle has developed its creative legs to stand on. If audience members can figure out what the characters are going to do episodes in advance, then why would they decide to come back week after week to see the show? Why not turn on something more entertaining, more surprising, and better than what they already know?
With this said, speaking of these die-hard fans, I am one of them. I have the Castle calendar, the Castle mini calendar, and the Castle puzzle hanging on my wall. I’ve succumbed to fan fiction, stayed up countless nights watching fan videos, and have even named my cat after a character. I am one step away from being branded by Castle for the rest of my life. I have seen the show since the beginning. And I have seen it start to stray. The season 4 finale was my mecca. Season 5 set the playing field for things to come. But as we began to approach the season 5 finale, I saw the series that once kept me on my toes start to become like every other show on air. By “Still” it was apparent that Castle was going to propose at the end of the season and it was obvious that they were going to cut to black with a surprised Beckett as the finale. Season 5 began with incredible potential, but when we reached the end, some of us realized that the once amazing storyline was in its beginning stages of withering away.
If Beckett says yes to Castle, as everyone expects, and says no to the job in D.C., as some may want, where does that leave season 6 of Castle? What will it say about Kate Beckett, the strong, driven, career-oriented character who passed on the professional opportunity that she’s been working so hard for to be with a man who essentially leveraged their relationship to force her into choosing between him and her dream job? And what does it say about Rick Castle, still too insecure to let the woman he loves pursue a goal that doesn’t directly involve him? And what will it say about Castle in general that the bride, who spent five seasons steadfastly growing both personally and professionally, is the one making the life-changing sacrifice to appease the rich man who still, five seasons later, cannot handle the thought of not getting what he wants exactly how he wants it?
Before the series spins out of control and falls into the pit of other washed up television series, this upcoming season is the one chance it has to save itself. Castle can live up to the “series that could” motto that it survived off of in the early seasons. Castle’s maturity needs to be brought up to par with Beckett’s, and the series needs to surprise its viewers. When gif sets are suddenly less appealing than the actual show, then this series will be back on the right path.
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