When the fifth season of Castle ended with Beckett (Stana Katic) getting her dream job in D.C. and then getting proposed to by what so many fans hope is her dream man, Castle (Nathan Fillion), I argued that there were no stakes because a procedural with all of its core characters in one precinct would never send a character to another district, let alone another state. I felt like there was no way Beckett could take the job, and I really didn't want her to become a stereotypical "I choose my man over my career" woman either. That's not the kick-ass Beckett we've known her to be. But thankfully Castle's sixth season premiere answers those concerns within the first three minutes of the episode, setting out to prove Beckett can have her cake and eat it, too. The show might still be named for the author who tags along as what should be a major liability partner for "research" (and love), but "Valkyrie" is most certainly a moment for Katic to stand alone and shine.
"Valkyrie" opens in the moments immediately following Castle pulling out the ring, allowing the characters to discuss how serious he was and how it sounded like he was breaking up with her but also allowing the audience to get her answer immediately. But then it catapults the show into something of a new world as the show responds to Beckett's own responses.
Castle has always been a procedural, even if a character driven one, and this episode is of course no different. The usual gang is all around, even if some of them-- Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Esposito (Jon Huertas) specficially-- are significantly scaled down in roles. They are basically relegated to being Castle's sounding boards in this episode, which is a grave under use of both of their talents and hopefully is not indicative of the arcs or lack thereof to come. There are some new faces, as well, most notably Lisa Edelstein whose character has somewhat of an authority over Beckett yet still manages to see enough of herself reflected in our favorite detective that they feel like they could be friends from long ago. But mostly those on display here are Beckett and Castle themselves and how their lives and dynamic changes after such a big moment as a proposal is shared.
However, it is worth noting that the physical look to this episode is different, as well. The show has gone dark before, for episodes like "3XK" or ones that deal closely with PTSD or Beckett's mother or even Beckett's life being in danger from a bullet or a bomb. However, here the physical darkness of sets is not due to heavy theme of case but instead appears to be indicative of Beckett's state of mind. She made two very important decisions-- ones that affect the largest parts of her life and to some degree self-identity-- and that everything around her is not bright and cheery and flashy may be the clue that at least one of those decisions may be one she decides to go back on in the coming episodes.
Did Beckett know what she really wanted; did she make a reactionary "in the moment" decision; or did she simply give in to what she thought she wanted only to learn the reality is something different? If Beckett changes her mind, the show can say she gave it the good ole college try, but maybe comfort and change don't go hand in hand. With "Valkyrie", Castle as a show is having its cake and eating it, too-- too.
Castle airs on ABC on Monday nights at 10 p.m. "Valkyrie" airs on September 23 2013.
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