Archives for : season seven

The Slippery Slope

Castle stars Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion. Also, massive amounts of sexual tension.

Castle stars Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion. Also, massive amounts of sexual tension.

It’s not easy being a fangirl and an author.

Not to be melodramatic, mind you, but it has unintended consequences when you’re both an admirer of good storytelling and a storyteller yourself. You know the tricks, the procedures, the tropes, and unfortunately you are almost always the first to recognize when there is a decline in the quality of writing.

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a die-hard fan of ABC’s ‘Castle’. My entire life unknowingly changed when I watched the pilot on my mother’s birthday all the way back in 2009. ‘Castle’ became a singularity. It was my favorite show, the first show I’d truly fallen in love with since the DC animated shows ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ ‘Batman Beyond,’ and ‘Justice League/Unlimited.’ I immediately glommed onto the sharp writing, the superb acting, the atypical humor for a crime procedural drama, the deeply interwoven storylines, and of course, our delightful cast of actors. At the time, I had happened past Nathan Fillion in ‘Waitress’ and I hadn’t heard of him before, so I looked him up and that’s how I found ‘Castle’ and later ‘Firefly.’

‘Castle’ has been going strong for seven seasons including the one currently airing at the time of this blog post. Seven years.

Unfortunately, this season is the very first one that shows the first sign of the slippery slope into poor quality.

And I don’t know what I’m going to do if my show becomes bad.

The slippery slope is nothing new to me. In my life, I have lost several shows to bad writing: Supernatural, Futurama, The Legend of Korra, Community, and Scrubs. The slippery slope, as defined by me, is not the same as Jumping the Shark. The slippery slope is early signs that your writers and showrunners are running out of ideas and start retreading things they have already explored with the show, whether it’s rehashed plotlines or backwards characterization.

Last night’s Castle, “The Time of Our Lives”, had all the signs of the show starting on that downward curve into bad.

1. It introduced a concept that was too outlandish for the format of the show. ‘Castle’ has had some delightfully weird and quirky themed-episodes from a Star Trek-esque convention murder to Santa Claus murder suspects to even a 70’s themed retro precinct to even a time-traveling killer, but the alternate reality universe where Castle and Beckett never met is just way too silly for the show. By the end, of course, we’re sure that it’s simply a dream that Castle had after hitting his head during a nasty gun fight, but we’re still expected to believe what happened might be real on account of some weird little Incan artifact. That is a lot to expect an audience to absorb in a show that is pretty much grounded in reality with the exception of some fun themed episodes.

2. It didn’t commit fully to the alternate reality concept. Things were different, but not to the point where I felt like this needed to be an episode that made it off the cutting room floor. For example, sure, there were differences: Alexis lived with her Mom, Castle never wrote Heat Wave or created Nikki Heat so he wasn’t as filthy rich, Martha was a famous actress, Esposito never got back with Lanie, Ryan never married Jenny, and Beckett never caught her mother’s killer and became the youngest Captain of the precinct. Still, these are just slight changes. The most major one should have been Beckett never finding her mother’s killer, but it didn’t have the impact on her personality that it should have. The show has always implied that without Castle, Beckett would be that same closed off, eternally angry and unhappy cop that we met back in the pilot. The Beckett we met in the alternate reality was still way too understanding of Castle’s antics. She despised Castle when he first started shadowing her, and even though there was a seven year time difference, she was not hard enough on him. She still let him get away with practically everything when we saw season one Beckett smack him silly for getting out of line or disobeying direct orders. The fact of the matter is that AU!Beckett was simply not different enough to warrant focus on. This could be Stana Katic’s way of playing her as softer, but I bet a quarter it’s the weak writing rather than her performance.

3. This episode is unnecessary because we already know what their lives would be like if they never met. This issue is largely the fault of good writing, not bad, though. This show has explored so many avenues between Beckett and Castle that it goes without saying how the two would be living without each other. Castle starts out the show as an arrogant, cocky, irresponsible but charming author who has glided through life with little care in the world until he became bored with Derrick Storm. Beckett starts out extremely closed off to any of the great mysteries of life. Coming together matures them both and helps them grow into people who are open to change, love, and a desire for justice. We didn’t need to see an alternate reality episode because we know these characters so well that it’s redundant.

4. Lack of creativity. As mentioned above, this episode’s main purpose is redundant, so that means they made this based on the humor factor. Alright, I admit it, there were some scenes that were comedic gold, and most of them came from Jon Huertas (Det. Esposito) completely nailing his lines and facial expressions of total annoyance with Castle. Nathan Fillion also did a great job being his usual goofy self and while panicking about no one in the precinct knowing him and his family being completely different. However, they didn’t take the concept to the extreme and that’s what would have made this episode actually work. We needed to see extreme versions of our beloved characters instead of just those that were tweaked. They weren’t good foils to the originals, so it felt phoned in. We didn’t sign up for phoned in, guys.

5. The wedding was lackluster. I’ve been preparing for the Caskett wedding literally since the end of the pilot episode. We knew without a doubt from the look on Richard Castle’s face when Beckett walked away that he was going to marry that girl. I mean, look at him, he is so smitten with her:

Richard Castle Flowers For Your Grave

And what did I feel during the Caskett wedding last night?


I felt happy that they were finally married, but I didn’t scream. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t rushing to Tumblr to instantly reblog every single photoset of them saying their vows.

Do you know why?

It’s too after-the-fact.

The season six finale had all the right set up for the wedding, but for the sake of cheap drama, they ruined it. That’s six seasons of sexual tension and love culminating into a wedding, and you denied me that just so you could draw it out longer. You can’t do that. You can’t do that because it sucks out all my energy to know that everything would have been perfect, but you wanted to make me wait yet another summer to see my lovely darlings say their vows, and even the vows were phoned in. Hell, Ryan and Esposito—arguably family members—weren’t there and that just hurt worse.

The wedding didn’t work because ‘Castle’ is not just about our lovebirds. ‘Castle’ is about so many things and we feel so much for this entire cast of characters, not just Castle and Beckett. I wanted to see Ryan and Esposito in the background grinning their asses off. I wanted to see Lanie dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief as her best friend got married. I wanted to see the late Captain Montgomery’s family standing beside them and being proud of the woman that Montgomery helped build up. We were denied so much by Caskett deciding to elope, and that’s the biggest sign that we might be heading into dangerous territory, into a dark place that the show cannot come back from.

I’m scared, guys.

I don’t know where I’d be without ‘Castle.’ It’s given me so much inspiration and joy over the years, and I love these characters enough to know that they deserve better. As much as I don’t want the show to end, I think we’re nearing the end of the line here. That’s over 100 episodes now and we’re treading water between this episode’s poor writing and wasted concept, not to mention the groan-inducing season opener that literally made my sister-in-law give up on the show. (In her defense, yes, it was the very first truly bad episode of ‘Castle.’ It was just so poorly done.)

I will not quit ‘Castle.’ I know in my heart that I can’t give up on them like I did Supernatural or The Legend of Korra because it means way more to me than other shows I’ve quit. But I am worried for them. Very worried. It’s still very early in the season to make a full assumption—we’re six episodes in and they always have a season of 23-24 episodes—but there could be a storm on the horizon for my beloved Caskett and it’s not going to be easy to get through it.

Sadly, ‘Castle’ isn’t the only show in danger. If you’re involved online, you might have heard about the utter shitstorm that ‘Sleepy Hollow’ just got itself into thanks to a truly badly written episode revolving around Katrina, Ichabod Crane’s wife. The show is only in season two so it is way too early to say they are also on the slippery slope, but trust me, it’s toeing that line. I discuss their issues next, so here’s Part 2 to the Slippery Slope.