The Season 6 finale of Castle ended with the titular character being run off of the road on the way to his wedding, throwing Castle and Beckett into a new mystery as he disappeared from his loved ones for two months and she was left to desperately search for him. It was a storyline that opened the current season with shocking revelations and more questions than answers. As Castle and Beckett learned that whatever had happened to him, he had made the conscious decision to forget it all and have his memory erased. While it has been months since Castle and Beckett opted to put this mystery behind them and move on with their lives and their wedding, it always seemed as though it would only be a matter of time before the questions surrounding Castle’s disappearance would be thrust back into the spotlight again. Monday’s episode did exactly that, though the question remains whether or not the answers we were given were really the truth or just another mystery that will find its way to the forefront again by the end of the season.
Penned by longtime Castle writer and Season 7 showrunner, David Amann, and directed by the brilliant Paul Holahan, Monday’s “Sleeper” found Castle suffering from nightmares associated with his two-month disappearance. Despite having seemingly accepted that he may never know the truth about why he was taken and what he did during that time, Castle quickly admitted that while the timing was terrible, he had always felt compelled to learn what really happened to him. With that, Castle and Beckett were forced to delve back into the mystery of it all, enlisting the help of a familiar psychiatrist, Dr. Burke, to help him understand what his vivid dreams were trying to tell him.
The interesting element of this episode was that there was no murder investigation, at least not in its typical form, something the show has done very rarely in its seven-season history and something that allowed for the full hour to focus entirely on the personal storyline while still maintaining the standard Castle procedural format. With no new murder to solve, Castle and Beckett used their resources at the 12th precinct, including every member of their team, to help track down the leads presented by Castle’s dreams, even if they would only lead to the conclusion that none of them were actual memories.
In fact, it was that fact versus fiction element that was one of the most compelling throughout the early stages of the episode, with everyone, including Castle and Beckett, wrestling with their own ideas of whether Castle’s dreams were memories or just fabrications of his own imagination. But when the clues began to point towards a possible witness, someone who Castle believed held the answers he so desperately needed, and the team discovered him murdered, his wild dreams started to become much more believable. The deeper they dug, though, the more intense their investigation seemed to become, as the evidence began to suggest that Castle had been involved in something extremely dangerous.
Throughout the episode, we also saw how Castle’s disappearance had affected those closest to him, with some truly remarkable scenes that showcased the emotions that had surfaced as he and the team investigated his disappearance yet again. From Martha lamenting to Beckett that her son may have been better off never knowing the truth, worried that what he might find out would only hurt him more, to Esposito admitting that he had never really believed any of Castle’s seemingly far-fetched notions about his disappearance. But it became obvious to even the disbelieving Esposito that whatever Castle was involved in was far more serious than any of them could have predicted.
Perhaps the greatest highlight of the episode, though, was the way that it showcased Castle and Beckett’s love and commitment to each other. After so many years of Beckett being the one to chase a mystery down the rabbit hole with Castle trying to pull her back to the safety of their world, or attempting to hide her own fears or pain by brushing it aside and saying that it was nothing, it was interesting to see the role reversal at play in this episode. Castle was now the one obsessed over solving the mystery, one that was so personal to him that it took control over him in ways that Beckett’s mother’s murder had always done to her. And while he attempted to brush things off and not admit how he truly felt about all of this, Beckett was the one prompting him to open up and get it off of his chest. And throughout the episode, we saw the two of them lean on each other for support, work through their challenges together, and show a great deal of care and concern for how this search for the story could affect one another. Castle had sacrificed the truth in order to return home to Beckett and now Beckett was sacrificing their current state of joy in order to help him find the truth he needed.
Throughout the hour, the two worked as well as ever together and did so with the help of their friends and family to try to uncover the truth surrounding Castle’s two-month disappearance, even when it seemed as though they had very little to go on. It was, once again, wonderful to see the entire cast involved in the episode, something that the personal nature of the investigation certainly allowed in spades throughout the hour. There were so many touching scenes amongst them, including a heartfelt and honest conversation between Castle and his ever-maturing daughter, Alexis, and a very poignant scene between Martha and her daughter-in-law, Beckett, which came across as somewhat of a passing of the torch between the two generations of Castle women; Beckett vowed to take care of Castle just as Martha realized she could no longer protect him herself. It was a truly remarkable balance within the episode between the personal elements of how this ordeal was affecting everyone involved and the actual search for the truth itself.
But it was, in fact, the truth that seemed to be revealed that left this reviewer slightly skeptical about whether or not this was the real story after all. It seemed fitting to give Castle something hopeful and positive to cling to that would explain that his disappearance and the timing of it was absolutely necessary and saved the lives of so many others, even if it caused such a disruption in his own life and caused so much pain to those around him. But it also seemed highly suspect that the answers ultimately came so easily. Jenkins, or whoever he actually is, was adamant about not letting Castle figure out the truth yet he gave it all up so easily, just at the mere threat that Castle would reveal what he did know about Golovkin and Powers, things that ultimately would not be able to be proven anyway with the talent Jenkins clearly had at covering things up.
Likewise, Bilal revealed that when they had erased Castle’s memory, they also planted fake memories to help prevent him from remembering what had actually happened. If his memories about Phillip Bartlett being his debate team member were untrue and had been planted to throw him off if he ever did start to recall these memories, why were the other memories in his dream largely factual according to the version of the story that both Bilal and Jenkins told him? Also, it was somewhat logical that Castle would be someone whose apparent murder would raise too much attention, thus he made for a legitimate option for Bilal to trust as an insurance blanket as he met Jenkins, it also seemed more than just slightly odd that there was a need to run Castle off of the road, abduct him and transport him to Thailand as a means of Bilal exchanging that information, especially given the short timeline Jenkins mentioned.
If the aim was to keep things quiet and not attract attention, why abduct him on his wedding day, leaving behind a very high-profile car crash and then keep him away for two months, only to be exposed to dengue fever, be shot and be left to wash up on a random fishing boat that would ultimately lead them to Jenkins in the first place? Why leave so many clues behind that could lead back to the supposed truth? If they only had a few hours to thwart the terrorist threat, why was he kept away for so long? Why the elaborate plot to try to hide his disappearance in or to make it seem like he had been hiding out after running from his wedding? Why did he make the money drop that we saw in the premiere and what was the real meaning behind the video that he left for Beckett and his family if the story he was told on Monday’s episode was really the truth?
Perhaps Castle’s penchant for wild conspiracy theories have had an influence on this reviewer after all this time or perhaps these are questions and points that seem obvious the Castle team would not have overlooked or glossed over as their history of being some of the best in the business at setting up even the most minute details for a storyline well in advance, only to have them all make perfect sense when they spring up again weeks or months or even years later, would certainly seem to contradict that idea. While Castle and Beckett may look to move on from this experience, content with the story they have been told, it seems highly suspect to this Castle faithful that we have discovered the real truth. Of course, as Castle himself said in the hopeful final minutes of the hour, perhaps we “know enough”… for now.
What did you think of Monday’s episode? What were your favourite lines, moments, or scenes? Do you believe that Castle has learned the truth or do you suspect this was all just another way for Jenkins and his crew to keep Castle from pursuing this any further? Were you glad to see the entire cast involved in the episode? What did you think of there not being a typical case of the week? Did you enjoy the moments between Castle and Beckett? Share your thoughts with us in our comment section below!
Lisa Caputo is a proud TV Junkie, something that is evident by her extensive collection of TV shows on DVD and Blu-Ray. A trained scriptwriter, cinematographer, and video editor, Lisa is a firm believer in the craft of storytelling, always looking for compelling stories, captivating characters, and a healthy dose of clever dialogue and stunning drama. Before joining TheTVJunkies.com, she was a freelance writer for TV Guide Canada, covering shows like Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, The Following, Revenge, Big Brother, and Big Brother Canada. You can catch her on Twitter at @Lisa_Caputo.