For a procedural show so rooted in formula, the new sixth season of ‘Castle’ that premiered this week actually attempts to shake things up with some pretty major changes. That’s both surprising and potentially interesting. Whether those changes actually work is another matter, however.
In the fifth season, Castle and Beckett officially became a romantic couple, and the finale ended with Castle proposing. The premiere ‘Valkyrie’ picks right up from that spot. After some initial shock, Beckett accepts. There’s just one problem: She’s already accepted a new job offer to work for a federal task force in Washington, D.C.
Beckett interviewing for this job was the source of some relationship strife last season, which always seemed pretty ridiculous to me. Castle is a successful millionaire author who could easily buy another home in the D.C. area and work from anywhere. His daughter is also off at college, leaving him with little excuse to stay in New York. At the very least, he could afford to jet back and forth anytime he wanted. In any case, Castle promises that they’ll make this long-distance relationship work.
As Beckett starts her new job, she teams up with a partner/mentor named Rachel McCord (Lisa Edelstein from ‘House’) and is assigned a case involving a break-in at a company with the silly name “Cybertech Transnational,” where a high-tech encryption system was stolen. Unfortunately, the case derails Beckett’s plans to spend the weekend in New York with Castle. Lonely and bored at home, Castle flies down to D.C. to surprise her. Of course, this means that he starts snooping into her case to help, which gets Beckett in a little bit of trouble with her superiors.
It turns out that the theft of the encryption system was a distraction. The Cybertech building also housed a top secret military program called Valkyrie, the description of which sounds like it was ripped off from a Jason Bourne movie. The presumed perp, a former Marine named Jack, spots Castle and Beckett investigating a golf course that’s tied to the case. He kidnaps and threatens Castle, but then mysteriously just dies. Upon digging into this, Beckett believes that the Marine was a patsy. It appears that he was poisoned by a chemical toxin, and… Oh no! Castle has been exposed to it now and has only one day to live!
“To Be Continued…”? Seriously?
Obviously, there’s no chance that Castle will get killed off in the second episode of the season. He’ll of course find an antidote at the last possible second, and everything will be fine. This is a pretty lame cliffhanger to end the season premiere with.
The way the episode splits the action between New York and D.C. is pretty awkward. Will every case this season conveniently tie into both locations? The episode also strains to find an excuse to involve Ryan and Esposito, who are basically relegated to a couple of cameos. I can’t imagine that the whole season will work this way. Beckett will have to move back to New York at some point.
On the other hand, aside from the poisoning cliffhanger, the episode generally keeps things light and breezy, without trying to go “dark,” as the show too often does (and almost always fails at it). A side story in which Alexis returns home for a visit, and brings along her new “fruititarian” hippie boyfriend is pretty amusing (though, honestly, it seem unlikely that Alexis would go for a dipshit like this).
All in all, setting changes or no, ‘Castle’ seems to be plugging along as it always has. If you enjoy the show (and I must, or I wouldn’t still be watching six seasons in), I’m sure this season will continue to entertain.