Castle: Sacrifices

ABC/Richard Cartwright
ABC/Richard Cartwright

Castle and the guys get competitive while Beckett tries to face an age-old fear to give her husband a chance to win

Much has been said about this seventh season of Castle being focused mainly on the titular character, but while there have been certain storylines that have thrust him into the spotlight, including his mysterious disappearance and his delving into a short-lived career as a private investigator, this reviewer has long viewed this season as more of an exploration into the relationships between Castle and his family and friends than him as an individual. With Castle and Beckett finally exchanging their wedding vows and starting a new chapter in their lives, having a final deadly showdown with two of their most notorious enemies, and exploring life as a married couple while dealing with some truly remarkable challenges in their relationship, Season 7 has delved into much more than just the individual life of Richard Castle. More so, it has taken us deeper into his relationship with Beckett, these early stages of their marriage, and what matters most to the infamous novelist: his wife, his family, and his friends. Monday’s episode continued that exploration, both in his competitive spirit with Ryan and Esposito, his interactions with his mother and daughter, and his willingness to make a vital personal sacrifice to do right by his wife.

Penned by the always brilliant Rob Hanning and directed by the incomparable Kate Woods, Monday’s “Habeas Corpse” was truly a quintessential Castle episode, perfectly combining comedy, mystery, romance, and heartfelt drama, all while balancing the compelling personal storylines with an interesting case of the week. The Castle team has always done well to draw remarkably clever parallels between their cases and the storyline of their characters within any given episode, and Monday’s installment was no exception. While their latest murder victim, Richie “The Pitbull” Falco, appeared to be a typical ambulance-chasing personal injury attourney, Castle and Beckett’s investigation eventually revealed that he was much more than his outward persona. In fact, he was a true believer in finding justice and doing the right thing, taking his crusade to the point of risking his own life to achieve the greater good that he fought so hard for. It was an interesting revelation in the case as it was revealed around the time that the audience also came to understand that not everything was as it seemed behind Castle’s bravado and sense of competition, with the episode proving by the end that both he and Beckett were willing to make some important sacrifices for one another.

The episode was a highly entertaining one, relying on the fantastic wit of the entire cast and some great comedic writing for much of the episode, yet there was also a great depth that came through some extremely heartfelt moments throughout the hour. It was a fantastic balance and truly gave the episode that wide tonal range that Castle has long been successful at achieving.

With the comedy centered on Castle’s unwavering sense of competition between him and the guys over their upcoming talent competition for a police fundraiser, the three amigos delved into that very funny one-upmanship that we have come to know and love about them. But while Beckett would typically be right there with Castle, making wagers and trash-talking Ryan and Esposito alongside of her husband, there was an immediate hesitation that she did not do well to hide. Already having admitted in the past that she was terrified of being the center of attention, even being hesitant about saying her wedding vows in front of a large congregation at the massive wedding they were originally planning, it seemed obvious that Beckett was having a difficult time overcoming her stage fright. But Castle’s heightened sense of competition seemed to blind him to her hesitation, as did her attempts to explain it away, chalking it up instead to a lack of preparation, not wanting to embarrass herself in front of her colleagues, and the fact that Ryan and Esposito had won the talent competition for the past two years. Not wanting to disappoint her husband, Beckett did her best to swallow her fears and push forward, all with Castle unable to see what she was working so hard to hide.

The competitive spirit got rather intense amongst the guys, with Esposito even going to the extreme of faking a knee injury to make Castle believe that he and Beckett would have an advantage, enticing him to increase their wager despite how already ridiculous that wager had become. But after witnessing Ryan and Esposito secretly rehearsing their hilarious routine in one of the precinct’s interrogation rooms, a routine that was so fantastically performed by Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas, Castle was more focused than ever on beating them at their own game and winning the competition.

Despite her fears weighing heavily on her, Beckett did her best to support him and the two enlisted Martha’s help in creating a classy and award-worthy song and dance performance, confident that they could certainly beat Ryan and Esposito with this routine. But when Castle left the room, Beckett opened up to Martha about her fears, telling her very understanding mother-in-law that she simply did not want to disappoint Castle and that she could not bring herself to tell him the heartbreaking truth. It was a moment between Stana Katic and Susan Sullivan in this scene that truly brought forth the depths of what Beckett was willing to sacrifice to make Castle happy and how desperate she was to get over her own fears in order to give him the victory that he deserved. It was a beautiful scene between the two and one that would set the stage for another heartfelt scene later in the hour.

ABC/Richard Cartwright
ABC/Richard Cartwright

Through it all, one of the great strengths of this episode was the way in which the entire ensemble cast came together to tell the story throughout the hour. From Castle, Beckett, Esposito, and Lanie sharing a collective moment of late-night television reminiscing with a confused Ryan watching them early on in the episode, to Tamala Jones’ Lanie slyly attempting to get the scoop from Ryan and Esposito regarding their routine, to the fantastic sense of competition amongst Castle, Ryan, and Esposito with the more vocal of the two even going almost literally head-to-head as they trash-talked each other to an unbelievable new level, there was truly a great amount of focus on the friendships they all have with one another. With Penny Johnson Jerald’s Captain Gates added into the mix at times throughout the episode, the ensemble cast within the precinct certainly came together in ways that reminded the audience of why it was so easy to fall in love with this story in the first place. It has always been that comradery and sense of friendship amongst this group, that personal investment they all have together as they find the joy in life and the humour in even their most gruesome of professions.

But the Castle family also got involved in this week’s storyline as well, bringing Susan Sullivan and Molly Quinn back into the fold, something that truly brought a completeness to the episode as it was able to delve into Castle and Beckett’s relationships with both their friends and co-workers as well as their family. From the opening scene with Beckett helping an appreciative Alexis study for a law exam, to Martha working with Mr. and Mrs. Castle on their talent show routine and sharing a quiet and very moving moment with her daughter-in-law, the Castle family had their place within the episode, showcasing the depths of their commitment and love for one another and how easily Beckett has become one of them since her marriage to Castle.

In the end, however, the focus was entirely on the happy couple themselves, rounding out this classic Castle episode exactly as the show has always done, with Caskett at the forefront. As always, Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic brought their captivating chemistry out in full force, Fillion’s Castle even boasting about that very thing to Ryan and Esposito as a point towards why he and Beckett would win the talent competition. But while the pair were stellar in every scene they shared together, it was their final set of scenes that gave the episode the compelling and moving heart and soul that it ended with. Having overheard Beckett’s earlier conversation with Martha, Castle secretly and very cleverly obliterated his chances to compete in the talent show, doing so without Ryan or Esposito knowing what he had done to take himself and Beckett out of the competition. Knowing that Beckett was willing to face such deep-rooted fears just to make him happy was enough to convince him to sacrifice his own chance at victory and bragging rights to protect her and make her happy in return. In life, it is so often those seemingly small sacrifices that we make for those we love that are truly the most meaningful, trading our own wants and needs to make someone else feel happy or safe.

With that, it seemed as though everyone won what they most wanted. Their killer was brought to justice while Richie’s sacrificing his own life to expose the truth proved to be not for naught after all. Ryan and Esposito became three-time champions at the talent show but graciously conceded not to hold Castle to their wager since he had not had the opportunity to compete against them. Meanwhile, Castle and Beckett shared a heartwarming moment as they admitted their sacrifices to one another and came to the conclusion that their talent show routine was perhaps best shared with a very intimate and much more appreciate audience anyway; each other.

What did you think of Monday’s episode? What were your favourite lines, moments, or scenes? Did you enjoy the competition between Castle and the guys? Were you surprised that Beckett was hiding her fear of being on stage to help Castle win? What did you think of Castle’s sacrifice for Beckett? On a scale of 1 to awesome, how great was Ryan and Esposito’s routine? Were you happy to see the entire ensemble cast involved in this episode and did that make the episode even more enjoyable for you? Share your thoughts with us in our comment section below!

Castle airs Mondays at 10pm on ABC and CTV.