Castle: we had the ‘Time of Our Lives’

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More than five and a half years ago, a midseason replacement called Castle debuted on ABC. It was the story of a charming mystery writer and a strong-willed detective, two seemingly polar opposites who were brought together by fate but then found something within the other that drew them in and captivated them beyond reason. In a way, they each represented what the other was missing in their lives, and while their story was always complicated and consisted of poor timing, bad decisions or uncontrollable obstacles that kept them apart, theirs was clearly a love story in the making. Castle and Beckett were two people fated to be together, no matter what, and even they could not deny that as the years went on. With all of the hardships and struggles, as well as the joys and triumphs, Castle and Beckett eventually discovered that all they ever wanted and needed was each other. Now, partway through the show’s seventh season, the couple finally reached the milestone that fans have long been waiting for: Castle and Beckett exchanged their wedding vows.

Written by the always incredible Terri Edda Miller and directed by the uber-talented Paul Holahan, Monday’s aptly-titled “Time Of Our Lives” was everything this long-awaited episode should have been. It was truly the quintessential Castle episode, one that so perfectly melded the elements of comedy, drama, romance and intrigue while delivering a heartfelt and very meaningful story–one that brilliantly brought Castle and Beckett together in the ultimate way. Yet it was also a beautiful tribute to the show itself, to the fans, and to the incredible journey this series has taken all of us on over the years, bridging the past and the present with the future. It seemed only fitting that the episode was written by Miller as she and creator Andrew Marlowe have brought us so many of these memorable moments from the very beginning, infusing in this episode everything that the audience has always loved about Castle while celebrating this new chapter that the beloved Caskett couple are about to embark on.

With Castle’s recent disappearance on the precipice of the couple’s first attempt at a wedding still fresh in their minds, it seemed as though Castle and Beckett were still trying to find their footing before making another run at their nuptials. But when an accident during one of their cases pushed Castle into an alternate universe, either simply in his mind while unconscious or perhaps through the magic an ancient artifact, the mystery writer found himself facing the very disturbing reality of what his life would have been like had he never met Beckett all those years ago. The premise itself was an interesting one, taking the series back to its roots while also diving into an alternate reality, all the while showing Castle (as well as the audience) how different everyone’s lives would have been had these two not had fate step in and push them together when it did. It was certainly interesting to see how Castle and Beckett’s story was so interwoven with the stories of everyone around them, with their love having had such a positive impact on their friends and family as much as it had on themselves.

While the episode was layered with some of the funniest moments of the entire series, especially those moments that also played back to the show’s past episodes, it was also remarkably moving as Castle so desperately fought to get back to his own reality and not waste another second wondering if he could give Beckett the life she deserved. Nathan Fillion was absolutely outstanding throughout the episode, in his hilarious fish-out-of-water reactions to his alternate universe, his plethora of laugh-out-loud one-liners (“I would never sing “Let It Go” as a duet!”) and his clever ways of trying to find his way back in with Beckett and the guys. But as much as the storyline played to Fillion’s strengths in his comedic acting, it even more so allowed us to see that charm and sincerity that allowed Castle to win the heart of Beckett in the first place. The revelation that he had been wondering whether or not he was right for Beckett and if he could give her everything she needed and deserved was a rare moment of self-doubt for the usually confident Castle, and his desperation to get back to the love of his life and take that next step in their relationship was absolutely moving. It again also made this reviewer wonder if that was why he opted to have his memory of his disappearance wiped away, all just to go home to Beckett and be able to move on with their life together, a true sign of the power of love.

Meanwhile, Stana Katic delivered a wonderful performance opposite Fillion throughout the hour, with beautifully dropped hints along the way that the same magic that drew Beckett towards Castle all those years ago was still there, even in their alternate reality. After all, these two were fated to be together in one way or another, and had their alternate storyline continued, there is no doubt that they would have found their way together again. Of course, Castle finding his way back to their actual reality was a much better ending, bringing us back to the story we have followed for over six seasons now. It was fitting that Castle found himself in a familiar situation at the end of the alternate reality storyline, with a bullet being fired at the love of his life. This time, however, he was able to get to her in time, jumping in front of her and taking that bullet in the chest instead of watching it pierce into hers. In a beautifully mirrored moment, Beckett knelt beside a dying Castle, just as he knelt beside her when she was shot, with Castle once again telling Beckett for the very first time that he loved her.

In that moment, Castle was brought back to his real life, with his fiancé kneeling beside him and coaxing him back to her. Whether he was truly just dreaming after being knocked unconscious or whether it really was the magic of that ancient artifact that caused him to go back and forth between realities, that mystery was left open-ended for us to decide, just as so many of these types of storylines are. No matter what, though, the important thing was that Castle had returned and that he had experienced, in one way or another, what life would have been like without Beckett. Knowing now that nothing else mattered other than being together, regardless of what they had been through or could still be forced to go through because of his disappearance, Castle once again asked Beckett to marry him. After Beckett hilariously reminded him that she had already said yes to his proposal, Castle clarified that he was asking her to marry him right now. Her whimsical and joyous smile was all the answer he needed.

With that, the two made their way back to the Hamptons for a second go at their perfect wedding day. As only Alexis, Martha, and Jim watched over them, Castle and Beckett shared the most intimate wedding possible. After the formal wedding they nearly had in the spring, this quiet and beautifully small ceremony was the perfect balance, perhaps even suiting Castle and Beckett much more than the previous one would have. In a way, this ceremony actually illustrated the brilliance of last spring’s finale and the wedding that never was, perhaps a stark reminder that there is always a greater purpose when it comes to the storytelling on this show. It was the perfect balance and combination of every possible element for a memorable Caskett wedding, all without having to push aside the very framework of the show in order to fit an entire wedding into one episode. After all, the Castle team gave us so many of the moments we had been waiting for during those pre-wedding scenes in the spring; Lanie and Beckett sharing a moment between best friends, Martha and Beckett exchanging a heartfelt mother/daughter scene together, Beckett dressed up in her mother’s wedding dress, and all of the lavishness we could have asked for in a formal wedding between Castle and Beckett. Meanwhile, Monday’s episode gave us the rest; the intimacy of a small and private wedding with just family (and the audience) to witness the event, Jim walking his daughter down the aisle and happily giving her away to the love of her life, and, most importantly, Castle and Beckett exchanging their vows and uniting as one.

Likewise, Castle and Beckett’s vows themselves were absolutely perfect, capturing the very essence of their love story and their journey while also touching back to some of the show’s most vital moments, episodes, and lines with just a few short sentences that were so loaded with meaning, something that should have been expected considering who was writing those vows. But there was also something wonderfully magical about Katic and Fillion delivering those breathtaking and meaningful words on the screen with all of the chemistry they have brought to this show and to their characters, something that has always been one of the biggest keys to the success of the series. After five and a half years of watching the Caskett love story unfold in front of our eyes, nothing could have been more rewarding than that very moment.

The hour concluded with one last nod to both the love story between Castle and Beckett and to the fans themselves, with Castle pulling out his phone to play their song as the two shared their first dance as Mr. and Mrs. Castle. As the couple pulled in closer to one another, swaying to the music as if they were the only two people in the world, Beckett softly whispered to Castle the simple yet meaningful words that so beautifully captured this moment in their lives and in the journey we have watched unfold over all of these years: “it’s perfect.”

What did you think of last night’s episode of Castle? Did you enjoy the alternate universe storyline? Who do you think was most affected by Castle and Beckett never having met in this alternate life? What moment made you laugh the most? Did you catch all of the throwbacks to the past? Were you happy with the wedding ceremony and was it worth the wait? Can we still call Beckett “Beckett” or do we have to call her “Castle” now? These reviews are going to get confusing if I have to refer to both of them as “Castle” …  just checking to see if anyone reads these notes at the end … Share your thoughts with us below!

Castle airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC and CTV.

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