‘Castle’ Season 3 Finale Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 17th, 2011 at 9:38 am,

castle season 3 finale Castle Season 3 Finale Review & Discussion

Castle has come a long way in three seasons. Back in 2009, it was just a mid-season replacement with “that guy from Firefly.” It’s since developed into a Monday night staple with a host of fun characters that viewers have come to love.

Does the third season finale deliver on the stories and relationships that have been building for so long?

“Knockout” is the latest Castle story to focus on the series-long arc of the murder of Beckett’s mother. Beckett is still making regular trips to the incarcerated hitman Hal Lockwood (Max Martini) who has knowledge of her mother’s unsolved case. When he kills an inmate who also knows about the crime, he enlists the help of some shadowy figures to escape. As a result, Castle, Beckett and the homicide squad must track down Lockwood before he murders Beckett.

Before we turn a critical eye to Castle‘s final episode of the season, let’s take a look at what it is and is not. Castle is a personality-driven show: the performances of Nathan Fillion (Richard Castle) and Stana Katic (Detective Kate Beckett) and the chemistry between these characters move the dialogue, if not the stories, forward.

Without the light-hearted and even flirty back-and-forth, there’s not a whole lot to distinguish Castle from any mystery made in the last twenty years – and in fact, there’s not much about it that stands out either. If you were to put Castle in a field with the likes of The Shield or The Chicago Code, it would undoubtedly be the “fun” show in the bunch. Castle is in line with Psych, Monk and Bones on the lighter side of murder mystery.

Until tonight, that is. With “Knockout,” Castle takes a radical shift in storytelling and atmosphere. Gone are the puns, the jabs, and the good-natured sexual tension between Castle and Beckett. The finale strives to be pure hard-boiled Manhattan police drama, filled to the brim with professional killers, dirty cops and heavy-handed dialogue.

castle finale stana katic Max Martini Castle Season 3 Finale Review & Discussion

The shift is jarring to say the least. While Castle has had serious episodes in the past (almost all of which are in the same storyline), it’s never gone as dark or as moody as the finale. For example, last week’s episodes had the intrepid detectives and writer-sidekick catching the killer of a beauty pageant contestant – complete with a toupee-sporting Donald Trump stand-in. Earlier this year an entire show was devoted to the underground steam-punk aesthetic, with a Back to the Future DeLorean prop for good measure.

One of these things is not like the other.

A little dark flavor added to Castle‘s goofy veneer isn’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact I was hoping for as much during the alien abduction episode a few months ago – but pouring this much drama into the last episode was a bad fit to say the least. I like just about all the characters on the show, from Beckett’s bromancing fellow detectives to Castle’s soundboard mother and daughter, but they simply haven’t earned the moments that they were reaching for in the finale.

Nowhere is this more true than with Captain Montgomery (Ruben Santiago-Hudson). The third act sets up a huge dramatic revelation that does not sit well on the character’s easy-going shoulders. The drama and performances feel forced to fit within the meandering story of Beckett’s mother’s murder, and Montgomery finishes the episode with a few action-packed seconds that feel totally out of place.

castle finale Ruben Santiago Hudson Castle Season 3 Finale Review & Discussion

There’s a moment where the homicide detectives and Castle are all investigating a crime scene, decked out in their “POLICE” and “WRITER” body armor, respectively. I couldn’t help but think, “What is Castle doing here?” – which effectively sums up the feeling of the finale as a whole. Castle‘s Season 3 tagline was “solving murder has never been so much fun.” Tonight, no murders were solved, and there was barely any fun to be had.

It isn’t all bad. As convoluted as the primary plot is, it allows the viewer a believable motivation behind Beckett’s tough-as-nails attitude. Those hoping for a romantic windfall for the two leads will be somewhat satisfied, though there’s hardly time within the episode proper to explore their feelings. It sets up for a good reveal in the fall, and the blossoming romance between Castle and Beckett finally has the reason and the room to move forward.

Overall, “Knockout” feels like someone tried to rip Castle‘s characters out of their customary setting and drop them into an old episode of NYPD Blue. While the show has been circling its fun and witty stomping grounds for years and could do with a little shaking up, this much change, this quickly, is a poor move – and will feel even more strange when Castle inevitably returns to its comfort zone in the fall.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @ MichaelCrider

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  1. I’m going to have to disagree with you there. I don’t think they were ‘reaching’ at all. I thought this episode was a solid end to a fantastic season. You can’t have fa-la-la hijinks every episode, or the plot would grow stagnant very quickly. Jokes must be balanced with drama. This is a show about murder, after all.

    This episode demonstrated one of the things I love about Castle: One episode you’re chuckling and the next you’re on the edge of your seat with anticipation. I don’t call that reaching; I call it a damn good Monday night.

    • I have to agree with you on this one. I felt that Marlowe successfully moved the relationships and plot forward without feeling forced.

      My theory’s on Montgomery have been surfacing for some time so it came as no suprise to me that he was forced into a corner in this ep, if they want to realistically push Becketts mother’s murder successfully next season, any information coming from Montgomery needed to be subtle and I thought the scene was very very well done. I also took mental references for next season on other plot points that were very craftily hinted at.

      Yes the show is for the large part humourous but it does have dramatic tendencies already engrained and I thought Knockdown was extremely well thought out and acted. Marlowe always said this would be seen as a darker episode and I feel it was relatively realistic too, Castle charged with trying to ensure that Beckett doesnt get herself killed is not too be taken lightly and he needed to take it seriously, we see him frustrated, anxious and invested in keeping her from harm. This is what we needed to see from him moving forward. There are sides to everyone and just as we saw Beckett unravelling, we saw Castle take charge, most definately part of a game-changer to me.

      I was worried by the cryptic hints at this episode and wondered if I would be clawing for Marlowe but instead I’m excited and cant wait for Season 4. God I hate the Summer Haitus.

      • I’d have to agree with you guys. This episode was definitely a great one to end the season. WHAT A CLIFFHANGER!!! Seriously that is gonna be bothering me till season 4 begins. Castle is awesome!!

        • Castle is AWESOME!! Loved the season finale. I did not see that coming with Roy M. Who knew!!! Can’t wait til season 4.

    • Absolutely loved this episode. Made for great Monday nite viewing. Definitely was not expecting the way the show ended. Well balanced episode. Looking forward to next season.

    • I absolutely agree with you. One of the things that stands out about Castle is the variations in tone, mood and drama, while still maintaining the goofyness of Castle and the mush of Beckett-Castle relationship. I thought that was one of the best episodes of any show that I’ve seen.

  2. Okay, I gained nothing from this review. Good job!!!

  3. I agree with this review. I enjoyed the finale, but it did feel very jarring, almost like a different show altogether. It would’ve been nice to have a little more fun than just the first 30 seconds.

  4. Guys smoking dope, best Castle episode yet, can’t wait for the fall.

  5. Agreeing with everyone else, it was a great episode. Good twists, great tension that had everyone clawing at each other. I think this was a well needed, serious episode to balance out the rest of the season.

  6. I thought the episode was one the money for a few reasons. Castle would grow stale if Rick remained the same irreverant character as in seasons 1 & 2. How many seasons would he fit in at the precinct as the season 2 guy before we all ask ourselves how realistic this would be? I was already asking. How long do we stay viewers with Kate beautiful hair always in a bun, so to speak? I was asking that too.

    Montgomery: thought it was very well done. As the show gets more serious I think they have great comic relief potential in Ryan and Espo. Be great to see an episode with them on their own.

    I figure Monty’s demise, failing to find the killer, dealing with Castle, and having a round for lunch will cause Beckett to unravel next year. Hopefuly the hair comes down.

    Rick can’t go back to goofy season 2 Rick so it does seem that the show changes course. Not a bad thing if they keep the boy/girl dynamic healthy.

  7. WOW!!! Loved the cliffhanger..! Love the cast, but hated to see Monty go? However, done in good taste. Obviously, I can’t believe Becket it gone also? For me, it was the first time to see Becket’s father? Therefore, I have to conclude he may end up as the bad guy. He (dad) had to know what Becket’s mother knew and saw an opportunity to blackmail the perps…. Just thinking out loud??? Becket taking one in the chest – a diversion to keep her alive until they can deal with bad old dad???

    • Mike the thought occurred to me that it would be Becket’s dad also ,but that’s to obvious and they dont do obvious often. Im actually thinking its going to be the Mayor the Juice has to come from some where higher up.
      that said that was one of the best season finales Ive seen in a while, a true cliff hanger. It seems series are afraid to do Cliff hangers cause they dont know if they are getting picked up for another season. I think that effects the series by not giving the audience anything to invest in and look forward to

  8. Fantastic ending for the season. Will Beckett live? The long awaited words have been uttered! I was scred that they had been cancelled. Love Castle. Hope for many more episodes.

    • Does she live? Does she die? (She better live b/c she is central to this show) What is in the envelope Montgomery put in the mail before his demise? I can’t wait for Season 4.

      • He signed his will, then he also put the old missing case files in an envelope. Not sure where he mailed them. But he said to Lockwood that they were both finished. Meaning that no matter what, if they survived, they were both going down. My guess is that he was mailing it to the mayor, castle, or Kate.

    • Stana Katic has extended her contract for the next season. She’ll be back.

  9. I loved it! Was on the edge of my seat and did not see Montgomery’s involment coming at all. Sad to see him go. Like a few others, I thought of Beckett’s dad but too obvious
    Very well done and can’t wait till next season

  10. Castle’s job going forward will be to keep Beckett in check – the woman absolutely needs a minder, now that Montgomery is dead. The stuff the Captain mailed out is for Castle’s eyes only, because Castle’s demonstrated time and again that he is fiercely loyal to his Detective/Friend/We-Don’t-Talk-About-It/Muse. My only complaint came when Castle forcibly overpowers Beckett to remove her from making a stand with Montgomery – or why Castle would oblige such a request, knowing that Montgomery faces certain death alone. Kate has demonstrated she can fight and prevail over men much larger than herself and Castle would be no match for her – but in watching the scene play out again, she wasn’t fighting Castle, she was fighting herself (always, this character is conflicted between her head and her heart) and LETS Castle get her far enough away so that Montgomery, a man of honor in the end, can be allowed to settle this score in his own way.
    It was a dark episode, and while light will return – Fillion will see to that personally – the characters have moved well past the boundaries set out by the first two seasons. Marlowe is smart – if he was really smart, he’d be looking at a 5 season arc, 6 tops – to avoid the fate of its role model series Bones (its excellent espisode from last week excepted).

    • what do you mean by
      “avoid the fate of its role model series Bones (its excellent espisode from last week excepted).”?

  11. I didn’t mind the darkness or seriousness of this episode. I quite enjoyed the drama. It was a nice break from the usual easy going murder of the week :-)

    I hope that Kate doesn’t forget that Castle said he loved her and I’m hoping they move forward with the relationship. I get tired of the foreplay if it continues season after season after season.

    Sad to see the Captain die but I did like how they planned it.

    Love Ryan and Espesito. It was sad how they found out the Captain was the 3rd man.

    Overall it was a good and satisfying season finale. Looking forward to next season.

  12. Loved the episode. Thought it was a thrilling and appropriate end to a really good series. As has been mentioned by so many you cant have continous humour otherwise it would grow stale very quickly. By jarring and shocking the viewer it keeps him / her on their toes for the next season. Congrats to all involved for an excellent finale.

  13. Just a nod to the co-stars: Ryan and Esposito fighting over the discovery that Montgomery is the 3rd cop – Esposito the ex-Marine has it roughest, and Ryan going toe to toe with him until they finally wrap their minds around it.
    Martha’s line, “Oh Richard, Richard, for a man who makes his living with words you sure have a hell of a time finding them when it counts” – I penned immediately as my favorite line of the night. Alexis, so familiar with where her dad is emotionally, “Is that Beckett’s mother’s murder?” Castle putting them away, safely out of sight. I have to say, the idea that they Core Four have come together as family as a result of this tragedy – Ryan’s tear. All of this rich, fine stuff for this great ensemble to play – it was all these little moments that helped make this finale such a satisfying one.

  14. I could not disagree more. This episode was entirely character driven. The details of the crime were secondary to the character development of every single one of the shows core characters, including the Captain.

    I loved it and thought it was a huge payoff for the audience. It moved the arc and the characters forward.

  15. I love this show and I loved this episode. I do hope Castle & Beckett move their relationship forward.

  16. Dear Michael –

    Great review. I’m surprised at all the critical praise heaped on this episode. Friends of mine and I have been watching Castle together for awhile and your commentary echoed ours nearly verbatim.

    For the most part I’ve liked the series, but it’s best when it keeps to what it has done very well in the past… light, romantic comedy that is so entertaining that it enables you to otherwise suspend disbelief in what are its paper-thin plotlines — held together through the talent and chemistry of Katic and Fillion. By and large, the series is simply too contrived in premise and in style to hold up the kind of drama they served up on this last episode. And they’ve painted themselves into a corner, stylistically, that I think will ruin the series. Given that the real kingpin remains “out there,” it will be nearly impossible to bring back the light touch they’re truly good at. As a viewer, they’ve pretty much encouraged me to believe that a sniper could take aim at them in virtually any scene.

    Not only was the finale melodramatic, ham-handed, and contrived, but it also succeeded in being utterly predictable. There were points when we were laughing at the next obvious plot “twist” — telegraphed passes all.

    Unfortunately, in pursuit of this heaviness, it looks like Marlowe and his writers haven’t been paying enough attention to the lighter episodes. The last few episodes of this season have been poorly written and/or too focused on turning the character of Beckett into a fantasy idol rather than developing good/fun/quirky story lines and writing great dialog — which was the reason for their original success.

    Personally I think they’ve taken a path that will ultimately ruin the show. In the end, what makes the series interesting is Castle and Beckett’s relationship, not Beckett’s obsession with her mother’s murder.

    Hopefully the series finds a way back to its strong suit. If it doesn’t, I’ll probably stop watching within a few episodes and hope that Katic leaves for better vehicles. At this point, its primarily watching her emerge as a talent that keeps me interested.

  17. I dont get why it was shown how rick saw the reflection, if he didn’t get her out of the way before he shot.
    That was the only thing i really felt bad about, oh yeah and the fact it looks a lot like becket DIES in the last second of the finale….

    What the ****?

  18. I had a feeling that the capt had some thoughts of leaving just by him talking about retiring next year. I don’t believe it’s dad either. Can’t wait for next season great job ABC and the crew of Castle and to the Capt. wish you could have stayed you did an awsome job on the crew.

  19. I’m so gullable that I truly thought there wouldn’t be a season 4. I’m glad I read the writeup. Now I have something to look forward to next fall. Great writing and fantastic actors.

  20. Thank God-I enjoy this show, but I totally agree, and you helped me understand my own underwhelmed reaction-I simply didn’t care enough yet to appreciate the whole throw Kate over my shoulder and drag her kicking and screaming from the building scene, which, if I am honest, still kind of baffles me.

    This sort of pay off requires more than I have been given-though I appreciate others feel differently. This show doesn’t really delve too deep, when it does it always strays into worn out dialogue and lazy short cuts to make a point-I love the banter and fun cases, I simply can’t take the serious stuff seriously.

    Without the elements that make it unique, its derivative and a bit cringe worthy.

    • Yeah, that scene was a big mystery to me too. We’re supposed to believe that Kate Beckett, who regularly pounds full-grown men to the curb and drags them into custody, could be forced away from protecting her captain by a mystery writer? I’m sure you could make a case for emotional distress, but even so, we know that Beckett’s a crack shot and Castle’s not half bad himself – why didn’t she toss him her backup gun and just shoot the bad guys with Montgomery?

      • Yeah, the problem with that scene lies with the fact that, had she been there, Montgomery wouldn’t have been killed. Although I think there’s an argument that, had she been immediately visible, Montgomery clearly wouldn’t have gotten the jump on most of them.

        • Montgomery WANTED to die. If he didn’t, not only might he go to jail, but he would put his whole family at risk of being killed. And I think Kate wasn’t fighting against Castle to get free, she was just trying to get to Montgomery, like a reflex during a state of shock.


    • The show is renewed for a fourth season and Katic is under contract. So I’d say that there’s not much of a “cliff hanger” there.

      I suppose the cliff hanger is more emotional… what’s her response now that Castle has come clean. How does the discussion resolve.

    • I believe Beckett is alive. (knowing the possible danger – I’m sure it will be revealed ALL were wearing protective vest) I believe Castle will receive the Captains “packet” he mailed twds the end & Castle will be faced with decisions. I believe Beckett’s boyfriend “Josh” is more than what he has appeared on the show. I could be wrong but maybe ‘he’ could be the bad guy. The new Captain could be a woman and she could stir up things but it needs to be an actress with great appeal & chops to help take show to newer level. A very attractive, no nonsense breath if fresh air but tougher than Beckett!! Maybe with a dry witt & sarcasm but definitely better than Beckett in tact, sharp shooting, etc. Coming in with a “tough as nails” reputation that proceeds her. As far as Castle/Beckett banter & possible future? I enjoy the tease but shake it up! love the show and I look fwd to future episodes ….

      • Right on!!

      • No vest – you can see the blood on her hands as she lies on the ground

      • I like your ideas, but I don’t agree with you on the boyfriend. Josh is too young to be “the bad guy”. There is definitely potential to develop his character a bit more, with him being a bike-riding, humanitarian surgeon who is always on the road… It was also odd that in the “nuclear bomb in the van/hypothermia” episode, although he was out of town, he made a surprise return to be Kate’s doctor. There may be something there, but I don’t predict he is the kingpin.

        Also, bringing another woman in to “one up” Kate would cause too much conflict. Kate is the queen bee of that precinct. It is her realm. Another woman would convolute the show too much.

  22. The season finale of Castle…was quite the “Who Done It”…I am startled at the potential for change in casting for Chief Montgomery and for Kate…unless there are more twists and turns. Liked the format intensity change…Bravo and looking forward to next season.

  23. Beckett is essential to the success of Castle…from my perspective. Hope to see her next season…

    • Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) is as essential to Castle as Kay Scarpetta is to Patricia Cornwell’s books. Without her and Castle to provide the sexual tension and multi-level sub-stories, the series is dead. Long live Det. Beckett.

  24. Fantastic show. Kate will always be the target until the upper person is gone. Where did the retired/disabled records cop get his money to open the bar? Gone for one year to Florida and back to open the bar. Will the new Captain keep Castle around the office? They dynamics of office are changing now with Montgomery gone. Sad. Packet will be sent to Castle with new information coming out maybe identifying the upper person or more information about Kate’s mom killer. Kate is alive, but unable to return to her job immediately.

  25. Well I am happy that the show will be back, so few shows that have any redeeming qualities are being shown and while this genre has been mined pretty thoroughly, these folks still show that it can be entertaining when done properly. I’ll have to see how the more serious tone/arc plays itself out, I don’t see any reason to be judgmental about it now. For those that have no faith that the writing and the stories will not be as crisp or will lose what they’ve come to expect out of Castle, I hope your fears are unfounded. For those that wish the show to grow and see the cast evolve into something more than what they have been allowed to show thus far, I’ll hope that you guys will be happy to. Sorry to set the bar so low, but shows that generally don’t insult the viewers are kind of few and far between, so I’m just kind of happy its still around….

  26. That show packed a punch! I really did not see the Montgomery angle coming at all! Of course the show can’t go on without Katic. I don’t think any of the writers/producers would think they could. But an injured Becket making a recovery adds an entire new layer of material. All in all, I think it was a brilliant move!

  27. Very week show. It was like the writers were tired that day and said F it… just finish and lets go home.