Wednesday, 13 May 2015

TV Show Review: Castle Season 7

©Stana Katic Central | ABC

So, that’s a wrap, people! Monday night’s “Hollander’s Woods“ was the season 7 finale of ABC’s Castle – and at times you really could feel that ‘seven year itch’ looming in the background. A new show runner stepped in for Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller, and with pending contract negotiations Castle’s future seemed less than secure. In fact it remained that way until yesterday, when leading lady Stana Katic finally renewed her contract and Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter were announced as new show runners.

This set-up explains a lot with regard to the final episode of the season. To me – and probably intended so by writers and producers – it felt like this might have not only been the season, but also a series finale. It would have worked, too, story-wise as well as aesthetically, but I still felt like there was more to the story. Thank God Richard Castle is not ready to put his pen down just yet! Needless to say there were no shocking cliffhangers and everyone has a bright future ahead of them.

But let’s start from the beginning: Before season 7, with Beckett’s mom’s murder finally solved, the show creators decided that this season would be more about Rick Castle’s background. How could it not be, when Castle was abducted on his wedding day in last year’s season finale only to show up months later with no recollection of what had happened to him?

Overall, this season was more than solid. While for me there was some of the spark and tongue-in-cheek quality of the show missing this year, on paper you could check off most of the features you have come to expect.
Source: International Business Times | © ABC

• Castle getting himself into all kinds of      trouble 
• Caskett still solid 
•Weird, nerdy cases leaning towards the    fictional/ unrealistic 
• Ryan and Esposito bromance 
• Strange theories by Rick Castle 
• Rick Castle going rogue (this time even as a    PI) 
• A strong sense for pop-culture 

Season 7 saw some quirky cases like “The Time of Our Lives” (7x06), in which Castle accidentally got stuck in an alternative universe, or “Once Upon a Time in the West” (7x07) that saw Castle and Beckett enjoy a western style honeymoon – duel and tumbleweed included. Oh, and remember that time they also stepped on Mars in full astronaut gear (7x16)? While ridiculously over the top at times, these episodes always work well. They are parodies and homage to different genres and ‘nerd-obsessions’ and make up an important part of the show. Sadly, this year they were a little far and few in between.

The focus was rather set on the mystery behind Rick Castle’s disappearance, it seemed, and other demons lurking in his past. Castle’s abduction in the finale of season 6 was shocking, but the way it was resolved in the early episodes of the new season was a bit disappointing. Another conspiracy
Source: | © ABC
plot? Really? Over the course of the season small hints were dropped that shed light on the events 
piece by piece. Desperate good-bye videos to his family and mysterious men in dark houses only supported the cliché feel of the storyline that had started with the wedding-interrupted the year before. The solution, then, to all problems came to Castle – like many times before – in his mind, or rather in his dreams. “Sleeper (7x20) saw him remember bits and pieces of his absence. Expecting the worst, the resolution of this story revealed Rick to be the unsung hero of a top secret CIA operation, during which he had saved a former classmate of his. Alright then…

But it wasn’t all bad this season. Always a sucker for the underlying sub-plots, I enjoyed the subtle personal and private growth of the characters a lot. Be it Ryan’s anxiety over Sarah Grace’s college funds or Esposito finally growing up a bit and realizing he’s not 25 anymore, I loved it. In any case, the show’s brilliant supporting roles were given the chance to shine individually this year. “Kill Switch” (7x08) sent Jon Huertas’ Javier Esposito center stage into a hostage situation. In “At Close Range” (7x18) Kevin Ryan’s (Seamus Dever) second job got him into the middle of an assassination plot and finally, Molly Quinn’s Alexis didn’t only encounter snakes but also death and theft on a motherf***ing plane in “In Plane Sight” (7x21).
Source: | © ABC

The show also brought its traditional two-parter back after omitting it last season. As per usual these were two of the season’s strongest episodes. The final showdown between Rick Castle and everyone’s favorite psychopath 3XK was intense, especially when Tyson raised the stakes by kidnapping Beckett. Suspense built up over 80 minutes, guided by strong performances by Fillion and Katic. The latter, for plot-related reasons, didn’t have as much opportunity to shine this season, compared to previous ones, but here she had the chance and she delivered. Yet, the strong build-up was followed by a 3-5 minute resolution (in which Castle shot and supposedly killed his nemesis) and by the time the credits rolled, I still couldn’t believe that this was supposed to be it.

Source: | © ABC
The darker episodes overshadowed the light episodes by far this season, if not in number then with storyline residue looming over the lighter episodes. There was a good bit of fun but not as much as in past seasons and if there, the light atmosphere seemed a bit tainted. This became most apparent to me when looking at Castle and Beckett’s relationship. Despite strong performances, and although the characters did finally manage to get married in an intimate ceremony, the spark and levity of past seasons just weren’t felt as much.

Yet, all this changed in the final episode of season 7. “Hollander’s Woods”, written (as we now know) as a last farewell by the show’s creators Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller, brought back the character dynamics and rhythm we have come to know and love.

Read all about “Hollander’s Woods” in our episode close-up.


What did you think of Castle's season 7? Let us know in the comment section below.

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