Castle: Kill Shot – A Review

Castle: Kill Shot

Hypervigilance was Stana Katic’s mission was this week. Her job was to portray someone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), displaying an abnormal state of being on guard and extremely tense, with an increased awareness of her surroundings, and she did a great job. A fantastic job, actually. In fact, I’m sure last night’s viewers had also reached their own state of hypervigilance, with their rear ends glued to their chairs and their eyes riveted to the screen, anxiously watching and waiting for Beckett’s next move. But more about this later. First…Melanie’s take on the mushy side of the show. Are you there, Melanie?

Melanie Atkins

The past two weeks have crept by for me, mainly because we didn’t have a new Castle episode last week. This week, they made up for it with “Kill Shot”, an intense episode that centered around Kate’s battle with PTSD. I thought Stana Katic did a fabulous job. I’m willing bet they’ll submit this one for Emmy consideration. What do you think?

I’m not sure how well the writers did in portraying her PTSD, since I don’t know enough about it to judge — I’ll leave that part to Lee — but I found the show to be powerful, heart wrenching, and fast moving. And when Kate finally accepted help from Esposito, I had tears in my eyes. That scene rocked! I also love that she went to see her therapist voluntarily. That proves she truly wants to get better.

Relationship-wise, Rick was obviously distressed by Kate’s terror and begged Esposito to help her because he didn’t know how — and then stepped back to allow Kate to find her way. Very smart of him. She appreciated it, too.

And at the end, Kate admitted to her therapist that she’s ready to try to let go of the past and stop defining herself by her mother’s murder. By the case that has engulfed her more than once, and by her shooting. She wants to let go of all that and live her life… to open herself up to other possibilities. This has been reiterated by Stana in several recent interviews I found online. She claims Kate wants to “dive in”, to experience what she’s been denying herself, such as a relationship with Rick. So maybe, just maybe… they’re getting closer to starting something fun.

Oh, I hope so! Next week ABC is airing a Castle rerun, so tune in on December 5 for “Cuffed”… and get ready to rumble. Read the blurb below and tell me what you think. Tee hee!

Here’s the blurb from ABC’s press release for “Cuffed”: When Castle and Beckett wake up in bed, handcuffed together, in a locked room with no memory of how they got there, they must piece together the mystery of where they are and why, all while trying to escape. But as the two of them adjust to being shackled together, what’s the biggest threat they face… the people who abducted them or each other? Meanwhile, Ryan, Esposito and Gates are left to investigate their disappearance in a case where all is not what it seems.

This episode was very well-written and well-thought-out. And the writers packed in a lot of things in short period of time, meaning they kept the tension going throughout. Sure, we saw Lanie digging a bullet from a wall, telling us the shot was fired from 200-300 yards away (medical examiners don’t poke around crime scenes removing crucial pieces of evidence, well, unless they want to compromise the entire investigation…and, she couldn’t and wouldn’t have known the distance), but let’s overlook that and get to the what made this show what I think was the best of the season.

1. Stana Katic. Enough said. She is the reason this episode came across as well as it did. Her character was extremely layered, and we looked on as each of those layers melted away with the passing of each scene. She was frightened. She was confused, not knowing what was happening to her. She was vulnerable. Yet, she was still Beckett, determined to get past the demons clawing at the inside of her head.

Some of Beckett’s PTSD symptoms were quite realistic—reliving sounds of her own shooting (flashbacks), hypersensitivity to loud noises (hyper-startle responses), extreme anxiety, avoidance of places and people that reminded her of “the shooting,” unable to sleep, outbursts of anger, wanting to be alone, she couldn’t concentrate, she tried to “drink away” the problem, and, of course, there was the hypervigilance.

Then there was the scene where Beckett dumped her badge and gun on the floor, her attempt to separate herself from the case, the shootings, and her emotions. This was extremely raw and realistic. I know because I’ve been in those very shoes (well, maybe not those exact shoes, but…). When PTSD came knocking at the inside of my head, one of the first things I did was to ditch my gun, placing it in a box in the bedroom closet. Didn’t want any parts of it. In fact, I didn’t even want to look at it. Weird, I know. But it is what it is. Thankfully, that’s in the past.

So a big BRAVO to Stana Katic and to the writers for delving into this topic, and for doing such a great job with it. My only negative comment about the PTSD issue is how quickly she overcame it. People sometimes suffer from PTSD for many, many years. For some, the demons are with them for life.

2. Esposito – What a great job he did with taking viewers to the classroom. He taught us everything we needed to know about snipers, weapons, and ammunition, and he did it without doing the dreaded info-dump. The information was needed to help viewers understand what had happened, but the actor made the learning experience seem like part of the dialog. That’s how it should be done in books, too. Great job. Espo also did a great job of showing emotions when it was time for us to see them.

For writers – I’d like to point out one tiny detail about the ejected brass Espo found under the cabinet/table (whatever it was). An expert sniper/shooter most likely would have retrieved/picked up (“policed” as they say on the firing range) that spent brass. But, later in the show they clearly stated the guy was not the expert they’d once thought.

– I liked seeing Ryan taking care of “paperwork.” This is how cases are often worked, with detectives splitting up to work on various aspects of the crime. Not everyone is a “door-kicker.”

*By the way, Beckett would not have been allowed to remain on this case.

*     *     *

General information about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Research Fact Sheet – Overview of the latest research on PTSD, including its causes, risk factors, and promising new treatments. (National Institute of Mental Health)

Myths and Facts About PTSD – Learn the truth behind common misconceptions about PTSD. (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Alliance)

Signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Self-Test – Online self-test for PTSD to help you evaluate your symptoms. (Anxiety Disorders Association of America)

The Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Chronic and/or Delayed – Description of PTSD’s many symptoms, including withdrawal, avoidance, isolation, and flashbacks. (PTSD Support Services)

Common Reactions – Find information on some common reactions to trauma, including anger, nightmares, sleep problems, avoidance, and depression. (National Center for PTSD)

Treatment and self-help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Treatment of PTSD – Guide to the treatments for PTSD, including cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, and EMDR. (National Center for PTSD)

Self-Help and Coping – Series of articles on how to cope with PTSD in healthy ways that promote healing and recovery. (National Center for PTSD)

17 replies
  1. Lian
    Lian says:

    Castle seems to be given “free passes” to conduct police interrogation in this show. He’s a crime novelist with no professional/requisite qualification (save for writing) or working knowledge relating to the cases. In most countries (I think), a non-police civilian agent may conduct an interrogation jointly with the police provided the agent possesses the necessary and/or specific skill/ qualification relating to the cases/police work or is appointed by the court, for example, psychiatrist, state appointed agent(s), specialized investigators (like Serena Kaye @ art-theft investigator appointed by the museum), insurance adjuster and even to a certain extent, a retired police officer with vast interrogation experience. Even so, I think such participation (if allowed) is rare as the police would prefer to have “control” over the interrogation and in certain countries, the participation is not physical but via communication over the earphone between the interrogator and the “agent” (from the adjoining room) as to the questions that the “agent” wishes to pose to the suspect. In reality, would the US police allow someone like Castle to conduct joint/solo interrogation, just because he is a non-police civilian agent (as confirmed by Beckett)? Would it make a difference if Castle was a former police officer turned crime novelist like you guys?

  2. TJ
    TJ says:

    I really don’t like the direction the show has gone. This show always made for a fun monday night. Now it seems every other episode is heavy and dark being devoted to Beckett’s melodrama. The show has become too Beckett centric and thus has lost all of its charm.

  3. Pat Marinelli
    Pat Marinelli says:

    Awesome episode! Great performaces. Wonderful review. I was so on the edge of my seat that I missed the errors except for the bullet distance. I did notice the writers are trying to make Gates nicer, but I still don’t care for her. I agree she needs to go to another department.

  4. Eva
    Eva says:

    Lee, I really enjoy reading your reviews on the rights and wrongs of the police procedure! It also lets me watch my other favorite series Rizzoli & Isles with another eye :-).

    Anyway, back to this episode. In the end when they drive to the location where the sniper is, wouldn’t Beckett have had to wear a vest as well (besides that she should not have been on the case anymore anyhow) and wouldn’t she at least go with a partner through the building, instead of checking rooms by herself? (Ok, it had to go with the story line of being able to show her scar which would have been difficult wearing a vest, but still…)

    Nevertheless a great episode with to outstanding performances by Stana Katic and Jon Huertas!

  5. David Fuchs
    David Fuchs says:

    @Sally, Castle Fan

    Indeed. An AP art class is all you need to know that–or just some basic appreciation for the greats.

    She’s far brighter than I, so I can imagine she’d remember even more than me.

    Hell, if you want to say it’s far-fetched, the unlikely part is that she’d have that good an AP art teacher 🙂

  6. Raphael Salgado
    Raphael Salgado says:

    Liberty and Lee,

    I thought the same way about Rick taking home a piece of the evidence, but if you look carefully, I think it was a photocopy replica that had a ruler measurement reference underneath it.

  7. Delilah Devlin
    Delilah Devlin says:

    I soooo love Castle. Not because it’s accurate, but because I am in love with that cast. Beckett was front and center this week, and completely awesome. I’m ex-military with plenty of PTSD symptoms training, and she and the writers rocked that aspect. Espo–he’s my favorite secondary character–managed to be strong but sympathetic, and completely sexy at the same time. Poor Lanie has to work with what she’s given. And Castle? NF can portray everything his character is feeling with a look. He took a step back this week, but you could see the caring and the yearning. Can’t wait to see where he and Beckett are headed now!

  8. Edie Ramer
    Edie Ramer says:

    Now I feel sorry that I didn’t watch it. I’ve been disappointed too many times by Castle this year. I think there was only one episode I enjoyed. I decided that I’d rather read a book.

  9. Ole Mo
    Ole Mo says:

    I was kinda distracted by the blatant Microsoft product placement durin the first part of the episode – they justs HAD to show Ryan clicking the logo again and again…

  10. Maryann Mercer
    Maryann Mercer says:

    I’ll just add my two cents about Gates, since I actually felt the writers made her a bit more of a team player in this episode. Still, in her case, less is more. Stana Katic was amazing. Nuff said.

  11. Castle Fan
    Castle Fan says:

    Sally, I disagree with you regarding Alexis’ part in this. I took an AP Art History class way back in high school, went on to study CS — never anything having to do with art. However, huge chunks of that class are forever burned into my mind, and I could easily name quite a few artists in many of the important art periods and movements. Alexis is much closer to that class year-wise, so this doesn’t strike me as even remotely far-fetched.

    While I’m glad everyone seemed to enjoy this episode, I personally look forward to the lighter episodes full of wisecracks and joking.

  12. Sally Carpenter
    Sally Carpenter says:

    At last, a great episode! Good story, engaging mystery (and the ex didn’t do it for a change), fantastic acting.
    Good to see another side of Esposito. Well played.
    Looks like the writers are trying to make Gates more likeable but she’s still coming off too shrill. Please transfer her to another department.
    Since when is Alexis an expert on obscure European art? Even if she’d had an art class (must have been Advanced Placement/honors) in high school, she wouldn’t rattle off artists like that, especially since she’s never been interested in fine art before. But I guess the writers had to get the information and the character into the show.
    Of course Castle comes to the rescue by barging into the station “I know what the dolls mean!” and explains the pictures to the clueless cops. Silly in real life, but dramatic.
    Otherwise, the show is back on the right track.

  13. Janet
    Janet says:

    Back in the day (before I went from clinical work to research), I did psychological therapy with some clients who had PTSD. As Lee says, the process can be slow and can last years.

    Sometimes a turning-point moment occurs when someone with PTSD is able to act out resisting an assault (or whatever triggered the PTSD), or do some other symbolic thing to counter the event. It can be an empowering moment that propels the person forward into healing. Beckett’s character does have a ways to go, but what she did in holding the gun that she was shot with and in then getting into the mind of the shooter was a start.

    It doesn’t work that way all the time, of course, and people differ in their ability and readiness to move ahead. Although her journey has been compressed into less than half of a TV season, it does fictionally depict how PTSD sometimes begins to resolve. I’ve seen the process happen through a series of dreams, in which the person finally is able to raise a hand against an aggressor, or finally relives events without being traumatized.

    And with that retreat to my past life, I’ll get back to present life, where I’m not a therapist…and don’t even play one on television.

    My only other comment about an otherwise good episode: Too much Gates. Dump Her Sirness in her office and barricade the door. Stuff a sock in her mouth.


  14. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Liberty – Yes, I had the doll thing in my notes, but elected to focus on the positive aspects of the show this time. But you’re right, he’d never be allowed to even touch a piece of evidence, And to bring it home…no way.

    Leslie – I still can’t stand the new captain, but she was a bit more palatable this week. The sir thing, though, needs to go.

  15. Liberty Speidel
    Liberty Speidel says:

    I just finished watching it (admittedly with a distracted eye on the show and another making a pie) but I noticed that Rick had taken one of the paper dolls home and was researching it online. Surely, SURELY, the NYPD wouldn’t have let him take evidence home.

    Otherwise, great episode. Will have to go watch it again when I can watch for some of the details (since a couple things you pointed out, I missed.)

  16. Leslie Budewitz
    Leslie Budewitz says:

    Lee and Melanie — great analysis, as always. Loved this episode, for Kate’s portrayal of PTSD, Castle’s response, and Esposito’s role, sharing his own experience. Also liked seeing the new captain take a more active role in the investigation and decision-making. (But insisting on being called sir? Really??)

Comments are closed.