This is basically a more fleshed out version of an analysis posted to Twitter the evening of April 29, after “Castle” aired on the East Coast. This is not a review for “Still”. It’s an analysis of the transition between “Still” and “The Squab and the Quail”, which is something that has left a lot of people feeling conflicted and a little upset about. These are, of course, just my personal thoughts and observations. You’re more than welcome to draw on your own conclusions and disagree with me as you see fit. In fact, I encourage you to let me know if you have a differing opinion because I’d be curious to hear it and discuss it with you.
Over the past week, I’ve read a lot of comments and have had people tweeting me saying that “Still” didn’t make any sense to them. The transitioning between it and “The Squab and the Quail”, which chronologically should have aired this week instead, seemed so off. Castle was not only acting completely different and seemingly taking Beckett for granted, but Beckett suddenly seemed to decide that what they have together isn’t enough for her anymore. How could Castle go from being so devoted to her in “Still” to suddenly…well, not? And how could Beckett go from saying, “I think we’re just getting started,” to nearly getting seduced by another man? All in all, it just seemed a little crazy and a lot inconsistent, and I felt challenged to make some sense of it all because initially I wanted to agree with the majority.
When “Still” opened and proceeded along, it did seem oddly out of place for what was set to occur in the next chronological episode. Castle and Beckett were basically recounting all the ways they fell in love over the years, and “Squab” is almost like a backward step from all of that. But then one scene in particular at the end of “Still” struck me. Upon further reflection and a few more rewatches of both episodes, I don’t feel as though the episode is misplaced or causes many continuity issues with their behavior at all. Why? Because the final montage seems to completely set up the arc for the final three episodes. It speaks volumes to me as to Beckett’s changing mindset on how she’s lived her life thus far, and what she wants out of it in the long run after this.
Kate Beckett has been a homicide detective for all these years because, as she tells Eric Vaughn, “Someone close to me was killed and that just changed things, and changed me.” She would have been a lawyer had her mother never been murdered, and perhaps she would have moved up the NYPD hierarchy by now had she been able to catch Johanna Beckett’s killer. The scenes in the montage at the end of “Still” were the equivalent of her life flashing before her eyes, but in my opinion, they were very carefully selected so as to give the scene an even bigger meaning to it: how her life has somewhat been at a standstill in many ways because she’s not been living it to the fullest.
The montage starts with Montgomery’s words to her in “Knockout”, the speech about how, “we don’t owe them our lives.” They show Johanna Beckett’s grave, and as he says, “There are no victories, there’s only the battle,” the montage continues through scene after scene involving her mother’s case—Dick Coonan, Vulcan Simmons, Senator Bracken. Then the montage moves on to scenes of just her and Castle, and moments she’s shared with him over the years. “I wish that I had someone who would be there for me, and I could be there for him, and we could just dive into it together,” she says from “Setup” as the scene with her sitting alone on the swings in “Always” comes on screen. “On the worst days, there’s a possibility for joy,” and we have the scene of her being shot at Montgomery’s funeral; the day when Castle first told her he loved her. Cue flashes of the two of them together, plus her previous brush with death, as we hear the infamous line, “I almost died, and all I could think about was you,” because, here she is, thinking she’s going to die again, and once again, all she can think about is Castle.
In the montage, it feels as though the little bug was planted in her ear even in this beautifully executed “clip show” of an episode: now that she’s lived to see another day, does she still want the life of a career woman, spent in a job she only got in the first place so that she could chase down her mother’s killer? As Montgomery said, there may never be a victory to be had there. Or does she want a more fulfilling life spent with Castle? Marriage, and a family, maybe.
In “The Squab and the Quail”, she’s presented with questions as to where their relationship is headed, and she’s not sure how to answer them. Are they serious? Before Eric Vaughn came along, I honestly don’t think she ever really gave it that much thought. I think she was probably caught up in the day to day of things, too, just like Castle seems to be. They’ve had a great run, and they’ve been so happy, so if it’s not broke, why fix it? It’s only when she’s faced with her own mortality again in “Still”, probably thinking about a future she wants but may never have, and then being questioned about the seriousness of their relationship in “Squab” that she realizes she wants more. She wants a serious, committed relationship and a future with this guy she’s so in love with. The question is…is Castle wanting and/or ready for that, too?
As for Castle’s behavior, it does seem a little off between the two episodes, but I’m thinking it’s because he’s always been good under pressure, and he takes care of her when she needs it. Her life was in danger in “Still”, and he was her rock, refusing to leave her side. She had a long night at work and he woke her up with coffee and foamy hearts because, “every morning I bring you a cup of coffee just to see a smile on your face”. There’s no question that he loves her and goes out of his way to take care of her. It’s just the day to day stuff he seems to have trouble with, as seen in “Squab”. The video game scene occurred at night, so who knows what they may have been up to until that point in the day? It could have just been a casual evening in, and it went a little awry for them, as things in relationships sometimes do. While he was preoccupied with his game, she started feeling a little frisky. Just because he hesitated doesn’t mean he doesn’t want her or outright rejected her. It just shows that they aren’t always on the same page. It did hurt her though and started the dominos falling as the episode progressed, leading to everything else that happened.
They’re human and make mistakes. Relationships require work, and sometimes they hit bumpy roads. That’s life. It’s real, organic. One incident doesn’t mean they’re backtracking, and “The Squab and the Quail” as a whole doesn’t imply that they’re doomed or feeling completely different about each other now. She was hurting and in a vulnerable state, and she got charmed by a celebrity who everyone was fawning over (see Lanie’s swooning reaction, for example.) But the important part was that she put a stop to it. She didn’t reciprocate. If anything, the encounter with Vaughn probably opened her eyes to how much she loves Castle, and how much she wants to progress things forward with Castle. While she’s ready for more, he’s just not quite there yet like she is. As Marlowe said in that new TVLine interview, “he is somebody who doesn’t rush into commitment if things are working well the way they are.” Again, if it’s not broke, why fix it? As the next two episodes unfold, Beckett’s going to be forced to bring up these issues again because, at risk of spoilers, she appears to be given a job offer in “The Human Factor” and interviews for it in “Watershed”. The question will then be: does she put her career ahead of her heart? If Castle were to say he isn’t ready, she might be tempted to choose to take that job over staying with him. But if he assures her that he’s in this with her…you catch my drift.
After “Still”, I really can’t say I have any worries about an impending breakup. If anything, this episode solidified my theories of a stronger relationship between them by the end of the season. The writers are challenging these two characters, and they’re going to figure things out, as they always do. Doesn’t mean it will be easy, but they’ll get there in time.
So, what do you guys think? Agree or disagree with anything I’ve said here? Feel free to leave a comment below or throw me out a tweet.
And now, I’ve got a review to go write.
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