What a rollercoaster this Castle season finale was. I was almost completely unspoiled for it, save for some speculation I’d stumbled upon on Tumblr, and so by the time the episode ended I was sitting on the floor, my jaw brushing the floor and with no idea whatsoever as to what to think or feel. Written by Andrew Marlowe himself, “Watershed” has split the fans into two separate teams more than any other episode in the course of these five seasons. Some loved it, some hated it. I’m personally somewhere in between. But let’s start at the beginning.

When Erika Albrook, alias Krystal Sky, is found dead in a seedy hotel, the team quickly goes from thinking she was a prostitute to discovering that she was actually an honors student at Harvard. When it turns out that she was at the hotel so she could use an IP address that wouldn’t be easily distinguished, Beckett figures out that she was a hacker. Cue to the team finding out that Albrook was hacking into Banks & Bauer, a law firm where Pamela Bonner, a close friend of hers, had interned prior to dying in (apparently) a car accident a year before.

Albrook wasn’t working alone. Ian Blaylock, a lawyer who had been a star employee in the same company before he was fired for drug use shortly after Pamela’s death. He’s found hanging in his apartment; murdered, it turns out, by somebody who used his email address to lure Albrook out. It’s not a very long shot to assume that Blaylock had been covering something up – and they’re right. Colin Rigsdale, III, a rising politician, had been the one driving the car the night Pamela died. Unwilling to risk his career, Rigsdale and Blaylock covered the whole thing up. When Erika started looking into it, Rigsdale had his step brother kill both her and Blaylock.

Despite presenting noticeable parallels to Beckett’s current situation, the real focus of the episode was placed on the characters and their relationship. Beckett’s first scene opens with her standing in an office in D.C., staring out the window at the city. She has a job interview, one that she (unsurprisingly) knocks clear out of the park. Throughout the episode, she struggles with conflicted emotions: she wants to take the job but she’s afraid of what it might mean for her relationship with Castle. Meanwhile, Castle is facing struggles of his own: Alexis is planning a trip to Costa Rica, something that makes fears born of their shared experience when she was kidnapped in Paris resurface.

We get important close-ups into the mind and heart of both Castle and Beckett. She only tells Lanie about the job offer, something that doesn’t sit at all well with Castle once he finds out about it – accidentally, one might add, which adds to his feelings of betrayal. The argument that follows is painstakingly realistic: it’s not a matter of who’s wrong or who’s the bad guy, but about voicing questions about their relationship that neither had truly asked before. The theme here is, are Castle and Beckett on the same wavelength? Do they want the same things from their relationship or are they on opposing paths? The answer, however symbolic, was clear, I think, in the final scene, with the two of them sitting on the same swings they began season 4 on. They were facing different sides this time; talking to each other, yes, but facing opposite directions.

Both Martha and Jim help us shed some light on Castle and Beckett’s motivations, in two beautiful parent/child conversations. Martha asks Castle whether he truly sees this relationship work out – he’s not usually one to hold out, she says, and yet he waited four years to tell Kate how he felt and another year to do something about it. The question is, why? She also tells him that it is “absurd” to want Beckett to put him first when neither have mentioned where their relationship is going. Jim, on his side, tells Beckett to do what she genuinely wants to do – which she admits is taking the job. However, she says that Castle was right: if she takes this job, there won’t be time for anybody else. But if she doesn’t, she will end up resenting him for it. Her doubts extend to the entirety of their relationship: she says she doesn’t know what they have. Is it real? Will they still love each other once the excitement and romance fade?

Later on, while interrogating Albrook and Blaylock’s murderer, Beckett tells him that the interrogation room has been her life, her home; and she won’t let him lie to her in her own home. There’s a subtle but definitely present change in her expression in this moment. Has she changed her mind? Will she turn the job down and stay at the 12th? We don’t know. What we do know is what Castle would do about it. When they meet again, he tells her that whatever she decides, he wants more. They begin the conversation that was long overdue – it is conflicted and a little bitter and more than a little sad. Finally, Castle kneels down in front of her and asks her to marry him.

I turned this episode in my head over and over again before typing out this review. I wasn’t sure whether I was pleased with the way the events unfolded – I still don’t know. On one hand, I think it explained several things about Castle and Beckett’s characters and the way they react to different issues. I always found Castle harder to understand than Beckett, perhaps because the playboy façade – or his playboy side, if you will – does a great job at disguising just what a fiercely private man he is. He isn’t secretive, exactly, but he rarely displays his feelings in front of other people. I’m afraid his abandonment issues almost completely passed me by until quite recently. Beckett’s protectiveness of her privacy and her carefully constructed walls are far easier to spot and understand, at least for me. So, in short, I was pleased with the character insight that “Watershed” offered.

But then enters the elephant in the room: are they really ready for marriage? Considering past episodes, I’d say they’re not. I believe that they’re completely in love with each other, yes, and that they are perfect for one another, but they have a serious lack of communication they need to work out before making such a commitment.  Will they? We’ll have to tune in on September to find out.

What did you think of the season finale? Do you think Kate should say yes?