Castle: Recoil – A Good Cop/Bad Cop Review

Castle: Recoil


Early in my childhood, my mother taught me a valuable lesson—if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, or something, then don’t say anything at all. So I’ll start this review off on a good note by saying…everyone on the show looked nice.

But, I really want to talk about the “he killed my mother” plot. I really do. I want to scream from the depths of my soul, “The FBI will find Jimmy Hoffa before the Castle writers stop beating this old and tired horse!”  What, you have no imagination, or an imagination that’s so limited you feel the need to replay this same story over and over again, just in a different form, sort of, but not really. But I won’t go there. I promise, Mom, I won’t say anything since I have nothing good to say. That’s right, I’ll keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. Not one bad word will escape my lips. I won’t even mention that I’ve seen kindergarteners show more affection toward one another than Castle and Beckett display. They’re a couple, right? Yeah, a couple of ice cubes…

Melanie, please jump in before I explode!

Melanie Atkins

This episode revisited Kate’s mother’s case and focused on a moral dilemma: Should Kate save the man responsible for her mom’s death, or suppress evidence and let him die. I love this idea, and it worked pretty well. I’m well aware that many people, including Lee, are so over this story line, but I enjoy it. I think it’s given us tons of meaty back story and provided us with great insight into Kate’s character. The deeper TV shows delve into that, IMHO, the better.

We’ve seen Kate evolve over time, and a lot of that change is the result of this story line. The other reason is Rick. She chose life for herself, because of him. She chose to celebrate with him on Christmas Eve because she loves him. She’s got a better outlook on life now. She laughs and enjoys living because of Rick Castle.

Then why, oh why, do we get such infrequent Caskett moments? I loved the few we got in this show, with them sharing some moments of quiet conversation and spending time together in Kate’s apartment, but we haven’t seen them hug or kiss since Christmas. Then tonight, at the end of the show, Kate was on the couch and Rick was sitting on chair or maybe an ottoman. Come on, Marlowe! Where’s the love? The lack of intimacy is killing me. I’m not talking about sex, although that would nice. Just cuddling and showing how much they care for each other.

Another beef I had was that Kate doesn’t turn to Rick at the height of her moral dilemma. Oh, no. She goes back to the therapist she used before coming to Rick that rainy night in May in a scene that seemed shoe-horned in. In my opinion, the writers would’ve much better served to have her talk to Rick and break down. Let him hold her. Act like a freaking couple, for crying out loud!

So the bottom line is, this episode frustrated me to no end. I want to see more moments of them acting like a couple. Nothing graphic, surely. Just let ’em hold hands and snuggle together on the couch. Kiss and reassure one another. We got a lot of great looks between them and the squeeze of a hand, but that was pretty much it in this episode.

Keep this plot thread going if you must, but please give us more Caskett! I’m hoping we’ll get some next week, for sure, since that is the Valentine’s Day episode.

I won’t hold my breath.

Lee Lofland

Gee, where do I start. Oh, yeah, Lanie. Well, I’ll say this about her…she’s better by leaps and bounds at making her character more believable. In fact, I think she’s been doing a great job. Fantastic, even. Especially with the crap the writers hand her each week.

I know, the Lanie character’s sole purpose is to dump a bunch of information on us that the writers are too lazy to write into the show. I get it. So now, instead of blaming Lanie for the voodoo forensics, let’s switch our disdain over to the writers. That whole, baloney-filled scene where Lanie pulls a screw from the jaw of the crispy/toasted victim, and was then able to instantly learn the victim’s ID from a serial number stamped into the fastener…well, there are better, more realistic ways to get this information to the viewers. Why not try one sometime, instead of having Lanie pull goofy rabbits from her hat each week.

– Remember the scene where Beckett had the FBI assist by conducting a voice analysis of the victim’s phone message? Well, that was realistic, and I say so from experience. I’ve called on the FBI in similar circumstances. I’ve also asked them to do the same with video enhancement. I joke all the time about the FBI, but they’ve never turned down any of my requests for assistance. But, the whole “finding the exact crane situated beside the exact parking garage” based on a recording taken somewhere in New York City?? And to do so as quickly as they did… Nah.

– Moving on to the scene where Beckett and team locate the suspect vehicle in the parking garage. Beckett opens the trunk, finds a bag…and opens it???? Would you open a bag found in the trunk of an abandoned car in New City, knowing that the car belonged to someone who wanted to kill a senator? Wouldn’t the slight notion cross your mind that the bag could contain an explosive device that would go BOOM the second you opened it?

– Gates was back this week. I’ll say nothing more than it would please me greatly if she’d stay away for good. Her character irks me, especially when people address her as “sir.”

– Castle was way out of character when he eagerly and quickly left Beckett to face her demons alone. A simple yawn in the precinct, and he left her sitting there. Castle would never do that. He’s too nosy for one thing. And, in any other episode, she couldn’t beat him off with a stick. Normally, he’d cling to her like Velcro.

– The Beckett character has changed quite a bit from the days when she was a tough-as-nails, take-charge detective. Nowadays she’s softhearted and a bit wimpy, and I’m not so sure the change is good for her. She let a suspected killer remove his own handcuffs. She missed a point blank shot, on purpose. Oh, and how about the justification of lethal force in that instance. Was she justified in shooting the unarmed, fleeing suspect, in the back? What do you think?

– The whole “suspect-trying-to-blow-up-a-senator-who-just-may-be-the-next-president-of-the-U.S.” seemed a bit like the plot lines from Homeland. Anyone else get that impression?

Finally, we get to the killer. The bad guy in the episode. I’ll have to admit, they stumped me this time. No predictable character this week, no sir. Couldn’t be, because they never introduced him to us. Instead of providing clues, they borrowed Lanie’s hat, reached way down, and pulled a great big old rabbit from it. A rabbit we hadn’t seen. And that’s cheating the audience, as far as I’m concerned.

Another big mistake this show makes is when they try to be serious, like last night’s episode. It just doesn’t work as well as the episodes featuring a bit of humor. The difference between the two is night and day.

For example, last night we saw Castle show up with the raid team as they were preparing to kick in a door. Of course, Castle wore his vest, the one with WRITER stamped across the front. Normally, that’s sort of funny. Last night, though, it was out of place. You know, should we chuckle, or not. After all, they were possibly facing extreme danger. Perhaps even death. Cute doesn’t work well when death is on the other side of the door.

Anyway, this episode didn’t work for me. Not at all. From the tired storyline to Beckett’s wimpy side, to the writers giving Lanie stupid things to say, to Castle’s out of character willingness to leave Beckett at a time when she needed him most, to the lack of emotional connection between two people who’ve finally established a relationship after years of longing for each other. And that, my friends, is not what I call believable make believe.

To me, this one was a bit squirrelly.

* Special note to our friends over at Television Without Pity – Someone there wrote: “It’s Hollywood. It’s all fictional. Things are twisted for storytelling purposes and time constraints. It’s not a real-world bible…To make it an issue after finding it out just seems like I’d want to find shortcomings.”

That’s my point, exactly. Believe me, as a fiction writer myself, I truly understand how it works. But this review is written at the requests of other fiction writers who don’t want to make the same glaring errors in their books as they so regularly see on Castle. I, like the viewers at TWoP, watch the show for enjoyment. Still, the show has taken a definite downturn lately, and that’s not due to the shoddy police procedure and forensics. And, thanks to the TWoP folks who stop by each week. You have a great forum.

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28 replies
  1. Pat Marinelli
    Pat Marinelli says:

    It was an okay episode for me. And, yes Lee, I wondered if Beckett could really shoot that guy in the back. My thought is she can’t legally. Am I right?

    Melanie, I agree. I need more moments that show Castle and Beckett as a loving couple.

  2. Nancy Sweetland
    Nancy Sweetland says:

    Just wondering – do the writers and directors ever read these comments? It seems that they keep making the same mistakes over and over.

  3. Janet
    Janet says:

    Oh, yeah, one other thing. Every time Beckett says, “You killed my mother” (or some variation of same), I have a flashback to “The Princess Bride” — “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Makes it hard to take the line seriously.

  4. Janet
    Janet says:

    I miss the flirting. Even long-married couples can flirt and banter. The Castle writers seem to think that the hallmarks of a secure longterm relationship are boredom, flatness, and humorlessness. They would benefit from spending some time in old Tracy, Hepburn, and Cary Grant movies – “My Favorite Wife” comes to mind. Sitting around being supportive isn’t exactly the stuff of legendary love stories. At least he could dress up in one of his outlandish outfits (as per “Punked”) so she could roll her eyes and be snarky. Things were off to a more charming start in the Hamptons, then . . . blehhhh.

  5. IPJ
    IPJ says:

    As an example, and sorry I can’t just add it to the post: I liked the Ryan bit where Jenny had slept with a newly dead guy several years earlier and he was like “Uh yeah, I know. It was before we were exclusive, so?” Not sure the characterization quite worked for Jenny of the two week anniversary tie, but Ryan and Beckett’s assumption that grown-ups have sexual pasts and you don’t need to freak out that they had a life before you was welcome.

    Then within an ep or two Beckett realized Castle had dated other women in the past and went for insane jealousy, both before and after they became a couple. I know I’m supposed to awwwww at the sign she cares, but it just comes across as both inconsistent and juvenile. I don’t think these writers have the faintest clue how to write Castle and Beckett as honestly communicating with each other (see Xmas episode). Their relationship has always been very juvenile (they’d rather stare yearningly after an almost elbow brush than risk anything with the object of their crush) and so I can’t be too surprised that it hasn’t improved now that they’re together. But I no longer think the writers have it in them to do this well.

    Heck, I go to Castle for light entertainment. If they could get back to that with a happy relationship I would overlook how they got there. But I think we’re looking at CB having keys to each other’s apartments while buckets of angstiness pour everywhere.

  6. IPJ
    IPJ says:

    I’m saying it’s inherent to the showrunners (Marlowe and writers) not the characters. I’ve seen grown-up relationships happen on other shows. (Though endless ust is more common, and predictably stale after about one season.) Ryan and Jenny is the only one to happen here, and that takes place with Jenny almost always off-screen. We don’t see them doing stuff with each other, just the choices Ryan makes because she is out there.

  7. IPJ
    IPJ says:


    I’m becoming convinced the failure to just go on a date 2 or 3 years ago reflects, not a desire to draw out the long slow dance of ust, but a complete inability by the writers to figure out how a date, which involves actual text and not just subtext, would work. (And thus, now, how being in a relationship with each other would work.) I wouldn’t need to see the entirety of each date, plus a cotw. But the writers have no idea how to imply onscreen that a slow-budding relationship is happening partially offscreen, letting us fill in around a couple of excerpt moments we do see. S4, where they don’t trust each other and don’t talk, struck me as a particularly insane lead-up to “soul mated.”

    It was funny a couple of years back when they went on dates at the same restaurant and kept ditching the dates to talk about the case with each other, but it now underscores that they don’t have anything when they aren’t talking about a case.

  8. Verdana
    Verdana says:

    Just visiting Lee from TWOP to say how much I enjoy your reviews, this week’s Castle offering made pleasurable or is that painful reading? I can’t decide which at the moment!

    Lets hope Rick and Kate have stirred up some passion in time for Valentine’s Day.

    Keep up the good work, your efforts to inform and educate are appreciated by this viewer.

  9. Frank & Val
    Frank & Val says:

    More bad writing, direction and missed opportunities. If it ain’t on the page it sure as heck ain’t on the screen. The writers don’t know how to write a relationship or a crime story. The fun is long gone.
    We’ve been loyal viewers since S01/EP01. This season has been actually painful to watch with a few exceptions. Lots of family and friends who used to be viewers have since tuned out. Every week we keep saying next week is the last time for us. I believe it will be the Valentine’s Day episode. There is just so much one can take. It’s really very sad when a show is destroyed by it’s own creators.

  10. Frank & Val
    Frank & Val says:

    More bad writing and direction. If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the screen. We’re giving them until next week’s episode to right this ship. We’ll be done with the show if they blow it. We’ve watched it since S01/EP01 (March 9, 2009). This season is the worst one yet with a few exceptions. Everyone we know that used to be loyal viewers are long gone. It’s really very sad to see a once funny and delightful show be destroyed from within by it’s own creators.

  11. IPJ
    IPJ says:

    I would say Kate has actually devolved over time. She’s changed, but from a smart cop with compassion for the families, damaged but not broken as Castle put it, to a wounded fragile supermodel who should definitely not be carrying a gun, especially as it gets taken away from her about every 3 episodes.

    I think a has something with the narcissistic turn, as the big bold plots of the last few years have been painful clunkers, only to have the stakes raised Yet Again with more darkness and more convolutions and more angsting.

    As one who felt they got together two seasons too late for me to much care (come on, if passing breezes convince you that you shouldn’t make a move on your alleged “soulmate”, you aren’t actually that into them) I nonetheless feel this is a really bizarre way to write two people in a relationship.

    (Nikita) Michael and Nikita: functional and supportive relationship. (They got together the instant they landed on the same side of their war.)
    (Burn Notice) Michael and Fi: dysfunctional relationship for much of its run, but it felt grown-up. They regularly gave it a shot, ust did not linger for seasons on end with no resolution, and when broken up they could still respect and work with each other and talk like adults.
    Castle feels like “X is at Y’s apartment. Therefore you can tell they are in a relationship.” Really, I wish that back in early S2 they’d had them try to go on a date, realize they had nothing to talk about except work, and moved on.

    I felt that the refusal to date was a huge problem with C/B as a believable wannabe couple, and it’s just as much a problem with them as a believable alleged couple.

  12. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    Mars, check out my earlier comment. Castle is back in the spotlight in the last two episodes in February. Nathan will get a chance to shine and show some real emotion.

  13. mars
    mars says:

    I agree with others – I’m sick to death of Beckett’s murdered mother storyline. They should have resolved this for good last year. This will be 3 bad episodes in a row and its being reflected in the ratings. I watch the show mainly for Nathan – the last 3 episodes he’s played a supporting character. The show’s called Castle. Can we possibly push him to the front of the episodes once in a while? And the lack of intimacy/affection between the two is just baffling. It wouldn’t take much – as Melanie stated – the couch scene was a head-shaker. They couldn’t have Castle sitting on the couch with his arm around Beckett? You have to wonder what’s going on behind the scenes for this show to be struggling so much with depicting Caskett in a believable way.

  14. a
    a says:

    I agree with Helen. The fans are more interesting to me than Castle (the show) is. Fan sites are probably why I still watch. I skipped last night’s ep and people said, oh it was so good. So I thought, ooookay, I’ll watch. It wasn’t good.

    I think Stana was good. But sometimes the directing makes me think of a high school play…”Okay, everyone just stand there with your arms at your side and talk expressionlessly”…I can hear the directors now.

    And the plot, of course, was full of truck-sized holes. The biggest is what kind of idiot is Bracken that he would let Beckett protect him? … The only possibility I can foresee is that he actually staged the “assassination plot” to help his presidential chances. Thus, he knew that he didn’t need protection.

    I think Castle (show) needs to bring back some Vanna White. What the heck am I talking about? I tried to find the exact quote…but years ago, someone asked Vanna about the secret to her TV longevity. The answer? “I never tried to be something I wasn’t. I never forgot that my success is from turning letters”. If Vanna had turned letters for only a few years and then tried serious dramatic acting, likely none of us would know her name by now. She stuck to her roots and she stayed reasonably humble for a TV star. And now she is an icon.

    Castle cut its teeth as a romantic comedy with silly crimes for backup. The cute, the sweet, the snarky, the snappy lines, the pleasantly ridiculous was its successful formula. Unfortunately, Marlowe hated that, I think. He wants the show to be a serious PROCEDURAL, an Air Force 1 act-alike. Maybe the actors want that too. I get the feeling at least one of them imagines themself as an Emmy-winning actor(ess) stuck in a show beneath Their reach. Rom-Com TV shows aren’t going to get them any academy awards.

    Castle plotlines now almost have narcissistic personality disorder, delusions of grandeur, exaggerated importance, fantasies of success, unrealistic goals – and worst yet – disregard for the feelings of others (aka the fans). After about a year and a half of this “plot narcissism”, begrudgingly Marlowe at least got the couple together and then hoped that if he pretended he hadn’t done it, he could go back to what the show was really about (in his mind)….a dark and serious procedural. Most of the eps this season, including last night’s, could have been made pre-couple.

    Annnnd…it doesn’t work. People don’t like it. The die-hards, really the cultists, will still watch. They would love the show no matter how stupid it gets. But people who sign up to get entertained every week, and not to just “support the show (LOL)” aren’t buying it. They are tuning out. The only thing saving it is that the other two 10pm shows are just as bad. And I think that’s key. ABC doesn’t want to put money into making a good show when its competition is mediocre too (although without Revolution, Hawaii 50, not Castle almost always wins in the demo).

    In the past Castle (show) was like having meat and mashed potatoes and sometimes a little dessert every Monday night. We got a lovely, quirky and charming cast, a cute case, a cute moment, a laugh or two, satisfying. So I think the show needs to do a Vanna White, go back to its roots, go back to understanding that it isn’t an Emmy-winning show. It’s a rom-com, not a serious procedural, it’s mashed potatoes. (And BTW, I’m sure it’s no accident that mashed potatoes are Vanna’s favorite foods ;-).)

    And also BTW, if the show had to go “dark” last night, a potentially satisfying moment would be this. While Beckett and the senator were standing outside talking at the end, someone could have rounded the corner with an assault rifle and shot the life out of the senator. Beckett would have no moral dilemma because the senator called HER outside. The mombatross would have died, while at some future date they could have moved the story on to who shot the senator. Castle (show) is all about the missed opportunities…a fact for another post.

    BTW, I think Beckett talked to her shrink rather than to Castle, because she feared making Castle an accessory to her potential crime. She only told Castle about it when she decided not to do it. I forgive Marlowe for that.

  15. Raphael Salgado
    Raphael Salgado says:

    Was a decent episode in my book, and I was hoping something would have developed when Gates overheard Beckett saying that the senator was behind her mother’s death to McManus. I thought that would be such a game changer, but could Castle really write something like that off to Gates and she’ll just believe it?!

  16. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    BTW, the show will focus more on Rick in the two-parter that begins on February 18 and ties up on February 25. Don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that Alexis is in danger. We’re going to have lots of Castle-Rogers family drama for a change.

  17. Louisa Bacio
    Louisa Bacio says:

    Thank goodness for a new Castle, and to have an update. Sheesh. Not sure why I didn’t make it here sooner.

    OK, I enjoyed the episode, and as I put on Facebook I really liked Castle’s comment at the end. He’s so deadpan, and I love that about him, and the show and I miss it.

    The storyline, eh? We know we’re going to see it again because Beckett is going to need that favor, right?

    FInally, about Castle being at the bomb call at the end. Missed when Beckett stopped telling Castle not to get involved and instead instructs him to chase after the guy. What did I miss?

  18. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    Seems like everyone has strong feelings about this episode, either pro or con (mostly con). I hope the Valentine’s episode next week will lighten things up and make the show fun again. I sometimes think they try to do too much in episodes meant for sweeps months, and sometimes like last night, it just doesn’t work. My main assessment of this one is this: Poor writing and direction. ‘Nuf said.

  19. Pat
    Pat says:

    My wife hates the Moriarity character too. It’s old and tired just like “Jason and Red John”. Kate did look great with her hair up and the jacket with a buttoned up shirt collar.

  20. Helen Ginger
    Helen Ginger says:

    I’ll state upfront that I rarely watch Castle. But I love coming here and reading the critique/assessment of the show. I strongly suspect this blog is more entertaining than the TV show.

  21. Pat Brown
    Pat Brown says:

    I was tired of this ploy long before last night. And since they still haven’t totally resolved it — the senator remains in power, with the now added threat of being the President — so we know this shaggy plot will show up again. They’re milking it and I’m growing less fond of the show as they do.

    Give it up already.

  22. Sally Carpenter
    Sally Carpenter says:

    I agree with just about all the comments–let Kate’s mother rest in peace and get on to new and more compelling stories. How many people didn’t know immediately that the whole car-full-of-evidence-left-for-the-police-to-find was a frame? As for the victim’s last phone call, if she saw her killer approaching, why didn’t she just say his name instead of reading a license plate number?
    The name of the show is “Castle” yet the storylines lately have been more focused on Kate and Rick was just tagging along for the ride. Let’s see more of HIS backstory. Surely he has a skelton or two in the close the writers can rattle (and I don’t mean bring in one of his ex-wives). And let’s have more fun and humor! Otherwise, “Castle” is just another (bad) police procedural show.
    What’s up with Kate wearing her hair pinned up this week? Was she trying to look “tough” for the senator?
    If the senator was behind the murder of Kate’s mom, Mcmanus’ son and who knows how many other people, wouldn’t somebody notice? The police know when the Mafia hits so how could a senator, who’s surrounded by people all the time and in the public eye, get away with murder twice?

  23. maegan
    maegan says:

    I liked this episode. I agree that the storyline is a tired one, but I also thought that this episode raised some pretty interesting moral questions: What do you do when your victim (or potential victim) is a criminal? Do you treat them like any other victim and protect them or do you stand back and let nature take its course? Where is the line between “bad guy” and “miserable excuse for a human being” and who gets to decide the difference between the two? I think the writers did decent job of exploring those questions–a bit clumsy at times, but decent. I also like the fact that in the end, Kate did what was right. She didn’t allow herself to be consumed by her need for revenge. She’s a cop and she did her job.
    What I don’t like so much is that I see a huge difference between 1st season Kate and present Kate. I get that they want it to seem like she’s achieved some sort of emotional growth but really, it’s kinda lame. Give us soft and squishy Kate when she and Castle are alone and give us kickass Kate when they’re on a case–not the other way around.

  24. Janis Patterson
    Janis Patterson says:

    I too feel that the whole ‘mother’s murder’ storyline is way overdone and should be put to rest immediately if not sooner. I positively loathe the old ‘Moriarity villain’ trope where the killer/storyline/incident keeps coming back again and again. It’s a sure sign of lazy writing and lack of creativity. If we want that kind of unresolved stuff, all we have to do is look at real life. We watch television for entertainment, for something new and fresh and exciting – not for tired tropes that outlived their welcomes long ago. And yes, just about everything about this episode made me grumpy!

  25. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    My reaction to this episode was basically: What in the cornball Hell…? I totally agree with Melanie- they cave to the relationship and then don’t do anything with it- and I agree with Lee-a tired and peculiar plot. That anyone she knows would ALLOW Beckett to be in charge of that case (including the senator) is crazy, and well beyond my generally willing suspension of disbelief.

  26. Liberty Speidel
    Liberty Speidel says:

    I agree with you on many points… I do think the “Bracken killed my mother” storyline is old… would you say the same thing if they’d done this same story (with some changes) next year, when it’s not so fresh?

    My HUSBAND is irked by everyone calling Gates “sir”. He caught that last night, and I shrugged and said, “that’s what she told them to call her.” (Personally, if I were in her shoes, I’d just prefer “captain” or whatever her rank is…)

    The writers dangled the whole “who is Castle?” carrot when his ex was back a few weeks ago. I wish they’d take that storyline and run with it!!! Ugh!

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