Exactly two months and seven days ago, Castle fans around the world went into collective cardiac arrest, me included. But since I had to resurrect quickly and keep studying for my never-ending exams, I never got around to actually writing a recap for it. I doubt anyone will bother to read it now, but I can’t not write about the episode I’ve been waiting forever since I first started watching the show. I just can’t. So, without further ado…
“Always” starts with a bang: we see Beckett hanging from the top of a building, seconds away from coming crashing down. Castle’s voice calls out for her (regardless of what happens later on in the episode, I don’t think any Castle fan- or, more specifically, any Nathan Fillion fan- will believe that wasn’t his voice), but she can’t hold on any longer. Her hand slips. We start hyperventilating.
We’re then taken to three days prior, to find Alexis freaking out over her valedictorian speech and Castle trying to comfort her. A phone call from Beckett interrupts the moment and has Castle rushing to meet her at a crime scene- I have to admit, I had forgotten there even was a crime in the episode-, where a Hispanic man lies dead in an alley, with no ID. Cause of death? A gunshot from a .9 millimeter.
The victim’s identified as former thief and gang member Orlando Costas, whose last ‘visit’ before going into the alley was to a location a lot more familiar than you’d think: Captain Montgomery’s house, where he stole his laptop, the one that contained Montgomery’s old files. The files that connected him to Johanna Beckett’s murder.
Ahh, the plot thickens.
The next day Castle walks into the precinct with his morning kiss… er, his daily cup of coffee for Beckett. It turns out, Costas’ break-in wasn’t personal. Castle reassures her that she’s not alone in this, that he’s there for her. There’s some hand-holding, which Ryan and Esposito rudely interrupt (of course) to inform them that Costas called ex-fellow gang member Vincent Delgado. All signs point to the latter being responsible for the former’s murder, including a connection to Captain Montgomery, but Ballistics quickly proves them wrong. There is, however, one gun that matches the one that killed Costas, the one that was used in another shooting some time before. Beckett’s shooting. As if things weren’t complicated enough already.
She orders the team not to tell Gates, lest she take her off the case. Castle tries to persuade her to let this thing rest, but Beckett doesn’t particularly like the idea. At all. Ryan doesn’t agree with her, however, and tells Esposito they need to tell Gates. Nevertheless, his partner is with Beckett on this, and knowing that she is likely to investigate the case on her own even if she’s officially taken off it, he vehemently refuses.
Cut to Castle’s house, where he’s called by Mystery Man- the one that first showed up on the season premiere and told Castle that Beckett would be killed if she kept investigating her mother’s murder. The conditions have most certainly not changed, and Castle’s getting desperate.
In the meantime, Beckett’s striking a deal with Delgado. He tells her exactly what happened on the night of Costas’ murder, which is hardly anything at all. Turns out, the man doesn’t know much. Guess who does? Costas’ girlfriend, the same one who earlier on denied knowing anything about his death. This time, however, she reveals that Costas met the man who hired him at a church. Using said church’s security cameras, the team finally gets to take a look at the man who most likely shot Beckett eleven months ago.
As if to complicate matters further, Beckett refuses to let the picture leak, unwilling to take the chance of warning the man and having him disappear. Ryan points out that they know nothing about him and have little to no chances of finding out who he is on their own, but she’s determined to find a way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kate Beckett more determined and, quite frankly, obsessed than she was in this episode. Castle and Ryan are less than thrilled to see the usual level-headed detective on a mad quest for retribution, whereas Esposito doesn’t think twice. He’s got Beckett’s back, no matter what her choice is. End of story.
Except that it’s not. Castle finally makes a decision and shows up at Kate’s doorstep, where he finds her brimming with excitement over a keychain that gives them a lead towards the killer. He proceeds to tell her she needs to stop investigating this case and he, wait for it, explains why. A whole season’s worth of secrets come out in this scene, when Castle tells her the whole story about Montgomery’s friend, the incriminating package, the deal to keep Beckett alive if she stayed out of the investigation and Castle’s own role in this whole debacle. Needless to say, she is far for pleased: “How do you know that he’s not behind my mom’s murder, how do you he’s not involved and how the hell could you do this?”
And since we’re in quoting mode, let’s just add Rick’s response as well.
“Because I love you! But you already know that, don’t you. You’ve known for about a year.” Ouch. No wonder Richard Castle is a best-selling author, he certainly knows how to use words to turn an argument around.
Beckett is incredulous that he should bring the L word right then and there, but when he tries to explain, she wonders how is she supposed to trust anything he says from then on. Again, ouch. Low blow, Kate. I was answering in my mind even before Castle went in for the kill.
“How are you… Because of everything we’ve been through together! Four years I’ve been right here; four years just waiting for you to just open your eyes to see that I’m right here.”
Well, yes. She did have that one coming. He then tells her he loves her (again! It certainly does look like he’s growing used to saying the word) and begs her, “if you care about me at all, just don’t do this”, to drop the case. She furiously says she won’t and he says she can throw her life away if she wants, but he’s “not going to stick around and watch you, so, um, I guess this is… over. I’m done.” Such a brilliant callback to Kate’s similar words in the third season finale.
Another lovely Richard/Alexis moment ensues, where she confesses to her father that she’s scared of moving on. Castle says he can relate.
Back to the precinct, Ryan and Esposito inform Beckett that their suspect rented a car under the name of Cole Maddox. She and Esposito set off to the last place he went, according to the car’s GPS. Ryan tries to persuade them to take back-up, but they’re not inclined to agree with him. Regardless of how logic and right I personally think he’s being. He then tries to call Castle, but he ignores the call. There’s only one decision left for him to make.
We’re left to wonder what that decision will be when the scene changes. Beckett and Esposito arrive to the apartment building where Maddox is staying, and they head straight up to his room- where they find Montgomery’s files, as well as his wedding day photo album. A photo is missing from it, so Beckett grabs it and rushes to the door, deciding they’ll call for back-up to come back later. Only, it is too late. A man knocks out Esposito while another- Maddox- throws Beckett to the floor. She reaches out for her gun and follows him to the roof.
A struggle takes place, one that makes me wince whenever Maddox hits Beckett- which, mind you, happens several times. And when she hits him, he’s not the least bit fazed. Have I mentioned how much I love that this show doesn’t make its characters almighty? Anyway, the fight ends with Maddox kicking her off of the roof and Kate trying to hold on for dear life. Her hands slip, first one, then the other. And then finally a handy hand grabs her wrist and start tugging her upwards. Castle, you think? Wrong. It was Ryan. Ryan, who brought back up and, oh no, Captain Gates. Who looks angry.
She doesn’t only look it, however, she is very much angry. She puts Beckett and Esposito on suspension. He hands over his badge, now it’s Kate’s turn. And then she shocked us all speechless with two tiny sentences: “Keep it. I resign.” Did anyone ever think we’d hear Detective Kate Beckett utter such words? I didn’t, not once.
We’re then treated to Alexis’ incredibly beautiful speech, all the while seeing the truth of her words in the scenes that unfolded.
“There is a universal truth we all have to face, whether we want to or not, everything eventually ends. As much as I’ve looked forward to this day, I’ve always disliked endings. Last day of summer, the final chapter of a great book, parting ways with a close friend. But endings are inevitable, Leaves fall, you close the book. You say goodbye. Today is one of those days for us. Today we say goodbye to everything that was familiar, everything that was comfortable. We’re moving on. But just because we’re leaving, and that hurts, there’s some people who are so much a part of us, they’ll be with us no matter what. They are our solid ground. Our North Star. And the small clear voices in our hearts that will be with us … always.”
And all throughout, we see so many endings for the characters we love. Ryan and Esposito’s friendship seems to have hit a very high wall. Beckett’s career has reached its end, and she’s already wondering how she’ll cope. Alexis hasn’t simply finished high school, she’s closed an era in her life- which inevitably means that so have Castle and Martha.
There is, however, one thing that hasn’t ended. Castle and Beckett’s relationship. Or it has, in a way, but not the one that counts. In a striking scene that echoes the season premiere, Beckett sits- alone this time- on a swing and thinks. Cut to Castle’s loft, where he ignores the call she gives him and deletes all his investigation on Kate’s shooting and Johanna’s murder. And then there’s a knocking on the door.
A rain-soaked Beckett is waiting outside. He says nothing at first, until he asks what she wants. Not one to beat around the bush, her response is concise. “You”. Then she kisses him- and, this time, it’s not part of an undercover investigation. She pulls back and apologizes over and over for what happened before. He asks what happened- and now I’ll have to resort to quoting her again.
“They got away. And I didn’t care. I almost died, and all I could think about was you. I just want you.”
And this time he kisses her- again, without any undercover operation as reason- and it’s clear for all of us that they finally, finally gave up all pretenses of being simply partners and friends. She grasps his hand and leads him to, I assume, his bedroom. Fans around the world dissolve in happy tears. The end.
Only… no, wait. It’s not. It might be the last Castle and Beckett scene of the episode, but it’s not the last scene altogether. The last scene involves Mr. Smith, otherwise known as Mystery Man, whose picture is the one missing from Montgomery’s album. He walks into his house to find Maddox there, who (cordially) greets him with a gun aimed at his heart. Now that he got his employer the information he wanted from the deceased Captain’s files, the deal is off. And he wants all the information Smith has, so that he can finally put Beckett in the ground.
Let’s see what happens on September, shall we? If we can live that long.