ABC's Castle's sixth season premiere, "Valkyrie", opened in the moments immediately following Castle (Nathan Fillion) pulling out the ring, allowing the characters to discuss how serious he was and how it sounded like he was breaking up with Beckett (Stana Katic) but also allowing the audience to get her answer immediately. But then it catapulted the show-- and Beckett-- in time and distance to her new FBI training, where she wasn't the self-assured, always hero she has been within the NYPD. Instead she made mistakes. Big ones. She had to relearn a lot of things and rid herself of other habits. She was no longer looking at evidence but intel, and the instincts that made her such a good detective, caring about victims and witnesses and hostages, can and did trip her up in the bigger leagues. It was great to finally get to see a different side to Beckett and some different vulnerability from her, too, even if it did prove to be a bit short-lived. But it was even better to see her play off Lisa Edelstein, as her senior partner who seemed to see a lot of herself in Beckett, flaws and all. "Valkyrie" was a true chance for Katic to stand alone and shine.
However, the decision Beckett made to move on up into the world of the FBI should not be taken lightly. While thankfully none of the characters felt she had left them behind (maybe the jump in time helped us avoid all of that melodrama), the world, if not the work directly, will inevitably change Beckett the longer she stays in it. It starts with little things, as we already saw in "Valkyrie", like not having proper time to have a life-- or relationships outside of the the ones on the job. The long hours are one thing, but the fact that the cases can't be talked about, and Beckett was already worried about hiding folders of information and potentially talking in her sleep are a whole other ballgame-- something she probably never considered when dreaming of getting to this place. Or something she never had to consider because before Castle she was all career, all the time. Over the last five seasons, Beckett has become a more well-rounded woman, though, and now is the time for her to weigh what is the most important at the end of the day.
Already these things were weighing on her. She carried herself differently inside the walls of the FBI, worried McCord would rat out Castle for being at the golf course, worried she would screw up in the field. Even when she was able to draw on some of her past cases to help her with this one, the joy she got seemed to come more out of the reminiscing it inspired than the new good she was doing.
And something else that was impossible not to notice was just how dark the world of the FBI was in Castle. Not only to Beckett, who was less certain within its walls, but physically as well. It's like they couldn't afford their electric bill anymore. That's an extremely uncommon representation; on television shows, usually the higher you go, jurisdiction wise, the brighter and flashier and full of more technological toys it is. It's supposed to entice and intrigue; you're supposed to want to go play there. But not this time, not here. Here it certainly seemed the show is telling the audience that the FBI is supposed to be the opposite of what you want for Beckett-- that she thought it was what she wanted.
Here it also stripped the charm and humor right out of Castle himself and exposed him as the liability you kind of forgot he was. He regressed to being the meddling, childish Castle we should have left behind seasons earlier. It made it kind of hard to believe, let alone hope, Beckett could successfully balance both worlds. Because he wasn't making it easy on her.
Had Beckett chosen Castle and her "big fish in a little pond" immediately without giving her dream job a shot, she would have regretted it, and a good chunk of the audience would have rejected her for it. Instead, though, the audience has given that new and different world a chance, even if a biased one. That way if Beckett goes back, they can say she gave it the good ole college try, but it wasn't what she thought, and it puts the people she loves in much too much danger-- more than anything 3XK ever did. With "Valkyrie", Castle as a show certainly proved to be having its cake and eating it, too-- too.
However, I have to admit that the ending of this episode did leave something to be desired. For as much as this episode was all about Beckett, the show is still called Castle, for crying out loud! We know he can't possibly actually die while the show is still on-going. So this cliffhanger had no real stakes and ended a pretty strong episode on a down note. I took away one whole review star because of it.
Castle airs on ABC on Monday nights at 10 p.m. What did you think of the sixth season premiere? Let us know in the comments below.
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