I last checked in with ‘Castle’ just before the show’s second season finale. I mentioned at the time that I probably wouldn’t watch that final episode for several days. Well, here it is two weeks later, and I’ve just now gotten around to it. As I said before, I like ‘Castle’, but it’s not priority viewing for me. I enjoy it when it’s on, but I also don’t have a problem letting it get backlogged on the DVR. Even so, the finale is, like most episodes, entertaining enough to ensure that I keep recording the series and will look forward to its third season.
In my prior post, I expressed some fear that the season would end with Castle attempting to derail Beckett’s relationship with Detective Demming. And yes, that’s pretty much exactly what happens. However, he doesn’t seem to be doing it maliciously. He likes Demming well enough. He just doesn’t like the idea of losing Beckett’s attention to a new boyfriend. “Will they or won’t they?” relationships like this need to maintain a delicate balance. If you string out the flirtation and banter too long, the audience will grow restless. (By the time Tony and Angela got together on ‘Who’s the Boss?’, did anyone care anymore?) On the other hand, if you follow through and throw the characters together, you run the risk that they’ll lose their chemistry. (The ‘Moonlighting’ Syndrome.) The way this second season ends doesn’t reinvent the show. It’s basically just a big tease.
This is what happens: Castle spends most of the episode trying to talk Beckett into spending the weekend with him in the Hamptons. She repeatedly declines so that she can be with Demming instead. Somewhere along the way, Beckett finally realizes that she has feelings for Castle, and dumps Demming. But it’s too late, because Castle has already given up and decided to get back together with his ex-wife. This is more or less exactly how the Ross and Rachel thing played out during one of the middle seasons of ‘Friends’, isn’t it?
Fortunately, the episode has more than this one storyline going on. The murder case of the week involves a mysterious victim assassinated in the middle of Central Park. His IDs are all phony, and the company he supposedly works for (a Fastwater Global Services) doesn’t really exist. Castle and Beckett immediately jump to the conclusion that the victim was a spy. However, the episode title, ‘A Deadly Game’, pretty much gives away the twist right off the bat. Just like that Michael Douglas movie ‘The Game’, it turns out that Fastwater is really an elaborate role-playing fantasy for bored rich people. They call it a “spycation.” (The company’s name even sounds vaguely like that movie’s “Consumer Recreation Services.”)
This twist is so obvious from so early on, that it’s a huge relief when Castle figures it out after only about 15 minutes. The rest of the episode follows the leads as they track down other players, spouses, etc. Ultimately, it’s revealed that the victim was having an affair with another player, whose spouse found out and killed him. This isn’t the most shocking or clever of plotlines, but then the show’s murder cases are rarely its high point anyway. We watch the show for the character interactions. That much is, as always, pretty entertaining.
‘Castle’ will probably never be considered classic television. It’s light, disposable entertainment. But I’m still glad that it’s doing well and has been renewed for another year. This is a good showcase for Nathan Fillion, and he finally deserves a hit.