Castle wraps up its seventh season by taking us back to the beginning. Not to the moment when Castle met Beckett, but to the origin of Castle’s fascination with mysteries. We journey into Hollander’s Woods to uncover the reason behind Castle’s career as a mystery writer.
Unraveling the Mystery of Castle’s Past
The story begins with a woman found in the woods, her face marked with carved crosses. In Season 2, Beckett inquires about Castle’s motivation for becoming a mystery writer. He tells her a tale of a boy on a beach who discovers a body washed ashore, sparking his interest in the macabre. Although this story turns out to be fictional, the real story isn’t too far off. Castle, spending a summer in New Hampshire, stumbles upon a dead body in the woods. The victim, her face etched with crosses, was attacked by a man wearing a mask: white porcelain with black streaks streaming from the eyes. When a man wearing the same mask kills a victim named Emma in the present, Castle becomes determined to find answers. However, Castle was only 11 years old when he encountered the masked man, and he had convinced himself it was just a dream.
“That day in the woods, Kate, that’s why I do what I do. I’m driven to figure out the story, because I could never figure out that one.”
Creepy Moments and Chilling Revelations
This episode is filled with spine-tingling moments, such as the discovery of 73-year-old Connie, who had been dead and decomposing in her house for three years. Castle and Beckett track down a suspect undergoing psychiatric treatment. When they meet his doctor, Castle becomes convinced that the doctor is the masked killer, based solely on the sound of his voice. This leads to one of the most chilling moments of the episode: watching Castle’s face freeze as he listens to the man sends shivers down our spines.
As Castle sometimes allows his emotions to get the better of him, it’s nerve-wracking to watch him and Beckett interact with Dr. Holzman. Castle’s persistent provocation raises concerns that he might snap or that Holzman might realize they’re onto him. Fortunately, neither occurs.
A Showdown in the Masked Man’s Lair
Castle and Beckett follow the clues to the masked man’s hideout. Castle enters, leaving Beckett off Holzman’s private property in case they’re wrong, and is attacked by the masked man! The man remembers Castle from 30 years ago and assaults him in the locked barn. Castle puts up a valiant fight, but he’s pinned at the neck by Holzman’s knife. However, the space beneath the door, where Kate frantically calls from the other side, is just wide enough for her to slide Castle her gun. He shoots Holzman, putting an end to the nightmare once and for all.
Beckett’s Captain Exam and Castle’s Award
Throughout all this, Kate takes the captain’s exam and awaits her performance review. When she receives an early evaluation, she’s taken aback by the harsh criticism of her career during the meeting. But our girl stands up for herself and impresses the panel, who were merely testing her. “You’re wrong, sir. In every case you have references, I have not only successfully brought the killer to justice, but I did so with the utmost respect for the law.” They don’t just want her for captain; they want her to run for office! While Kate in public office doesn’t fit the show’s premise, it’s an intriguing plot direction for a potential final season.
Castle is honored with the Poe’s Pen Career Achievement Award, where he delivers a heartfelt speech acknowledging all of his friends. Since contracts and a Season 8 renewal decision hadn’t been made when this episode was written, this final scene could have served as a series finale. It straddles the line between an ending and a continuation, as they all prepare to return to work at the end of the scene. Thankfully, our concerns are put to rest: ABC has renewed Castle for an eighth season, and Stana Katic has renewed her contract, ensuring the entire cast’s return.
Looking Ahead to Season 8
As I’ve mentioned throughout the season, I believe Season 8 could be the show’s last. Many loose ends have been tied up, and the characters are yearning for new experiences beyond the 12th precinct. It’s been challenging to advance them professionally while maintaining the group dynamics, but perhaps a new showrunner can bridge that gap. However, I must say, Castle is one of the best long-running shows in terms of keeping the same cast and work environment with only one significant cast member change without becoming stale. But it’s time to either end it or shake up the dynamics in ways the show might not be able to handle. We’ll see how Season 8 unfolds.
Other Notable Moments:
– It’s Rysposito’s 10-year “man-niversary” of being partners! Congrats, gents!
– “I don’t cross the line. I put myself on it.” Kate Beckett, ladies and gentlemen.
– The swings make a delightful reappearance! It seems Castle and Beckett now make all life-changing decisions on those swings.
– A touching shout-out to Kate’s mom. The episode references both Castle and Beckett’s origin stories.
– If Kate can “get [her] own precinct within a year,” should we be worried about Captain Gates? I hope she survives Season 8!
– Everyone is highly skeptical of Castle this week, which would be more understandable if we hadn’t spent the entire season with everyone doubting Castle’s story about his disappearance. But it creates intriguing bookends for the season.
– Michael Connelly!
– Show creator Andrew Marlowe stated on Twitter that the speech scene was the first time every cast member was in the same scene at once. You can even spot LT and other precinct regulars in the background!
– Also, show creator Marlow, wife Terri Edda Miller, and other writers are in the dinner scene at a table. See if you can spot them!
– “There’s no doubt in my mind that you are going to be amazing. You know how I know? Because you already are.” Castle says this to Alexis, reminding us once again that he is an incredible father. After comforting and boosting Martha’s self-esteem last week, it’s only fair he does the same for Alexis this week.
[Photo credit: Richard Cartwright/ABC]