‘Castle’ Season 4 Premiere Review & Discussion

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Castle Season 4 Premiere Review ‘Castle’ Season 4 Premiere Review & Discussion

After a shocking season 3 finale, Castle and Beckett are back for their fourth run around the TV schedule. Does the premiere fix the issues raised by last year’s conclusion? Will fans finally see some progression between the protagonists, or the case that’s tied the last three years together? Read on to find out.

The Castle premiere picks up right where the season 3 finale left off. After Captain Montgomery is killed during a shady operation including the people behind the murder of Kate Beckett’s (Stana Katic) mother, a sniper shoots Beckett while she’s giving the eulogy at Montgomery’s funeral, causing Castle (Nathan Fillion) to finally confess his love for her.

Beckett is immediately rushed to the hospital, where the precinct’s medical examiner Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones) is waiting. Castle, his mother and daughter, and detectives Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Esposito (Jon Huertas) all wait for news while Beckett goes into surgery.

She lives (of course), but must recover for three months. In what seems like the writers pressing a plot reset button, Beckett can’t remember anything about the shooting, including Castle’s confession. Castle blames himself for her injury, reasoning that if he hadn’t pushed her to investigate the case, she never would have been targeted.

Kate Beckett Stana Katic on the Castle season 4 premiere ‘Castle’ Season 4 Premiere Review & Discussion

Three months later, Beckett returns to the precinct, which has made no progress on the case. Ryan and Esposito are gridlocked because they can’t tell the new captain, Victoria “Iron” Gates (Penny Johnson Jerald, 24) about Montgomery’s involvement. Gates has kicked Castle out of the precinct and forces Beckett to earn her way back to full duty, while keeping an eagle eye on everyone.

After the disappointingly somber season 3 finale, I was hoping that Castle would return to its sweet spot and drop the “intense” storyline surrounding Beckett’s mother. No dice. The writers seem determined to inter-stitch the show with a handful of heavy-plot episodes, concentrating a season’s worth of drama and story in a few short hours. Apparently it needs to be said again: Castle doesn’t work as a dark, big-city crime drama, and the latest episode in this storyline does almost nothing to clear up an already convoluted plot.

First, the good news. Penny Johnson Jerald is an excellent choice to replace Ruben Santiago-Hudson, bringing a hard line, no-nonsense voice to a group of characters that were starting to feel too much like a group of cowboys (and girls). Not only is Captain Gates played with a believable stubbornness, she represents a new challenge for the detectives and Castle, who formerly had their way around the NYPD and the city. Castle pulls strings with the mayor to allow him to remain as Beckett’s “partner,” so both of them will have to tiptoe around the commanding officer for the foreseeable future.

Plus, as long as the show insists on dialing up the drama five or six notches a few times every year, Castle’s daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn) finally raises the question of what a playboy writer is doing in the middle of a high-stakes murder/conspiracy. The writers have driven the character to be more than a sounding board in the last season, and look to be doing even more now. This, combined with Beckett’s believably frustrating post-traumatic stress disorder, add some much-needed realistic touches to the episode.

Castle and Beckett in a stand off ‘Castle’ Season 4 Premiere Review & Discussion

…until you look to a police stand-off and see Nathan Fillion with his “WRITER” Kevlar. Because no matter how hard the script works to push these characters into a dark and moody atmosphere, it’s impossible to forget the show’s unavoidably silly premise.

Castle is a great show when it sticks to fun cops-and-robbers mystery and the back-and-forth banter between the incredibly charismatic Fillion and Katic. Here at least, we finally see some progression. On the romantic front, the ball is entirely in Beckett’s court, and she almost flat-out tells Castle that she won’t be pushing the relationship forward until her mother’s murder is solved. This presents an issue for Castle, who’s now trying to solve the murder on his own, for reasons that are hastily provided.

I enjoy Castle, I really do. It’s one of the shows for which I never miss an episode. But the reason I watch it is not because it’s a hard-hitting drama that leaves me on the edge of my seat. It’s a silly cop show that’s a lot of fun, mostly on the merits of the two leads and some great dialogue. M.E. Parish shouting “Come on Kate! Don’t you die on me!” isn’t even okay dialogue – it’s repetitive, fill-in-the-blank drama that a lot of other shows do better.

Nathan Fillion Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas on the Castle premiere ‘Castle’ Season 4 Premiere Review & Discussion

The many episodes in this arc haven’t been fun at all, and it looks like they will continue in this fashion for at least another year. I’m sorely temped to skip the rest, simply waiting a week whenever I hear another quip about Beckett’s mother. These episodes have the weakest stories and writing of the entire series, forcing me to simply lose interest in who killed who and why.

That said, it looks like the show will be returning to its comfort zone in no time, with some much-appreciated romantic progression on Beckett’s part. I’m much more excited for the rest of the season – at least, the part of it that has the protagonists solving crimes instead of circling the same one over and over.

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Castle airs Monday nights at 10:00 PM on ABC. Be sure to tune in next week, when the gang solves a superhero murder. Yes, really.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider

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32 Comments

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  1. Get over it. This’ll be a good season with or without the “hard-hitting drama” you despise.

  2. I had mixed feelings about this one too ,
    But it looks like there might be room for growth.

  3. Thank you for saying exactly what I wanted to say… these dark, poorly written episodes about Beckett’s mother’s killer are awful. I loved Castle when it was witty, clever, fun, and different than the other serious crime dramas out there.

  4. At first I thought this was going to be same old, same old, here we go again, but it started getting better towards the end, ofcourse. I do like the show the best when Castle’s humor kicks in. I want the Castle Beckett relationship to move forward and at a much faster pace. Fillion and Katic are amazing actors, along with the rest of the crazy cast of characters. I’m looking forward to the next episode.

  5. I thought this episode was great! Wasn’t mad keen on the season 3 finale but I thought this one did a really good job of wrapping all that stuff up so we can move back to the ‘happy-fun’ Castle that we all know and love. I think the writing in this was was especially good, when it can be a bit patchy sometimes. Looking forward to the next one!

  6. what the heck men! This show it’s great you cannot just diminish its value like that. The drama part is good too, people can’t be happy and funny all the time, not even in a series! I, myself believe that the series premiere was perfect, especially when Beckett admited that she DID remember everything!!!

    • MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA! I FREAKIN’ LOVE YOU. THANK YOU. If castle was all fun and games the show would have been canceled ages ago. The writers do a great job of balancing the light and dark episodes. People can’t go complaining that the episode was too dark. Beckett’s mom’s murder is part of the main foundation of the show and if people don’t like it, then stop watching. It’s not gonna go away. The show wouldn’t be at all realistic if every episode was light a humorous. I do agree that Castle needs to be light, and it will be! But I hate it when people complain that they actually get a more realistic, serious episode! It’s stupid that people expect to be watching a COP show, where people are MURDERED on a daily basis, to be all cheerful. CASTLE IS NOT A FREAKIN’ COMDEY! You want laughs? Go watch something else. Castle does a great job balancing both light and dark aspects of the show and people who don’t see it are blind. I loved the premiere episode and to expect that after Beckett gets shot she’s gonna go back to joking around is just stupid. And I know I just wrote you a whole essay, but I needed to rant, so sorry :)

  7. I love Castle, but watching last night’s episode, I wasn’t too happy with it, but I couldn’t put my finger on it… til I read this article. And I have to agree. I even had the same reaction when I saw the ‘WRITER’ Kevlar! lol

    I was irritated the first 5-10 mins because I KNEW they wouldn’t kill off her character, so I felt it was a waste of my time. I HATE when shows do that.

    And the whole ‘I love you’ bit. I realize that for many shows (‘Moonlighting’ anyone?) the leads getting romantically involved is jumping the shark. But a few shows have done relationships just fine. Like Friends. Either hook them up or remove the romance. I mean really? Who pines for someone for years like that? Crazy people, that’s who.

    I will continue to watch though in the hopes that it is mostly the show I first started watching that was a lot of fun.

  8. Better suggestion: finish Beckett’s plot-line. It was 1. never interesting to begin with, and 2. drawn out way out of proportion.

    If they finished it (preferably in one episode) then they could get back to the fun that is Castle, without having a lame plot-line hanging over them.

    • Totally agree, Sock Monkey. It should have been kept to backstory.

  9. My family and I LOVE Castle. We were so upset Kate got shot, but laughed (I’m sorry, it was hella funny!) hysterecally when we saw Laney riding the gurney with Kate.

  10. I could not put my finger in what I didn’t like about last night’s premiere but your article says it all. Thank you. I’m not sure I am up for another long drawn out t.v. romance. I put up with that on Bones.

    As a hard edged crime drama, Castle doesn’t work. Law & Order it isn’t. Drop the mother’s death conspiracy and get back to what makes the show hum.

  11. That’s the beautiful thing about this country, everyone is entitlted to their own opinion; we do not have to agree – AND – just goes to show, not everyone knows everything – the ME was at the funeral, not waiting at the hospital.

  12. I couldn’t disagree with you more!!!! Combining the last two episodes of Castle (wherein Max Martini, as the assassin, did an outstanding job of scaring the pants off me!)with the first episode of this season has been the BEST of writing in the series!

    While I do not want to lose the humor and silliness of Castle (and from his last remark to his concerned daughter I don’t think I will)I have been riveted to my screen and have watched each of the last three episodes several times to date! I applaud the writers and have continuing adulation of both Static and Fillion and the rest of the cast for making me care about this show.

  13. I was disappointed. First, a minor point – has anybody ever known a woman, no matter how diehard a feminist, who insists on being called “sir” instead of “ma’am”??? I suppose they thought it would be funny, but it’s just stupid and isn’t needed to illustrate that the new captain is a hardass.

    More importantly, the “mother’s murder” storyline has gotten entirely too tiresome and convoluted. They apparently think they have to continue this story arc in order to keep Beckett and Castle apart. But it is so very unbelievable that the case would be “dropped” by the new captain and “put on hold” by Beckett. Does anyone believe for a moment that the police would just stop looking for someone who killed one cop and almost killed another just because there had been no new leads for 3 months? (Remember, no one knows the truth about Montgomery’s death, but do know it was caused by his involvement in investigating the mother’s case.) There is no way the case would be dropped or that Beckett would let it go.

    Let them solve the stupid case already. As for keeping Castle and Beckett apart, how about the fact that if they are together, Castle wouldn’t be allowed to tag along anymore (especially with the new captain running roughshod over the precinct). So they could declare their love, but be unable to establish a real relationship, or could only snatch a few stolen moments here or there. Or even better, the mother’s case gets solved, but meanwhile, with the release of his latest novel, Castle has acquired a deranged stalker who would be a gigantic threat to Beckett’s life if she’s with Castle, again causing the two lovers to have to stay apart except for stolen moments. That could be exquisite in the level of romantic/sexual tension that could be continued.

    Bottom line – they have to do something more believable and less “oh crap, they’re STILL working on the same darn case.” As others have said, they need to get back to the light hearted comedy or they’re going to lose their audience. Just checked last night’s ratings and they lost 2 million viewers from the 1st half hour to the 2nd half hour. The writers have been so fantastically clever up until now, I hope they don’t blow it by trying to continue to use the same old scenario to keep the two protagonists apart.

    • I was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and I was ALWAYS referred to as “Sir”; I might be a hold-over from ‘Nam, but it was and is a sign of respect and nothing sexual should be read into it. Overall, I gave this episode an A-. I got a kick out of Kate’s 3 month period of non-communication (same as Castle’s last summer to her; payback?) and that SHE finally choose to seek HIM out (for a refreshing change), although I do think Castle forgave her all too quickly: Castle and Beckett are the best couple on TV, but I miss their verbal sparring a la Nick and Nora. Still, I trust Andrew W. Marlowe’s Master Plan (whatever it is), and I’m along for the ride.

      • It is NOT a sign of respect to address a ranking female officer as sir. You address them by their RANK and if you don’t know their rank than you address a male as Sir and a female as Ma’am. I would LOVE to see someone even attempt to address a female officer as sir. And no, you don’t have to take my word for it. Look it up. It was NEVER a sign of respect. Sir and Ma’am ARE gender specific. Castle and other T.V. shows that do this are works of FICTION. They come from the minds of writers who do not know any better and/or believe that calling a female sir means that a female is held in higher esteem – as if to say that calling a woman ma’am should be beneath her. It’s twisted and demeans the female gender.

    • I agree its very annoying to hear a woman been called sir. The correct way to address is maam. It like a woman been called mister, really stupid person will call a woman Mister right lol

  14. If I recall correctly, he’s worn that “Writer” kevlar before in past episodes [again, I could be wrong]. So why the problem with him wearing it in this episode?

    • Yeah, he’s been wearing it since the first episode. It was that him having that vest is funny surrounded by such a serious circumstance. (At least to me)

  15. My biggest problem with season 3 was two fold, first no continuity, second the character Josh. I am so glad the have gotten rid of Josh!!! Now if they can keep each episode consistant with the last… I would be beside myself….

  16. I tend to agree with ALL of your assessments. One thing you left out, which surprise me, is that now the romance between them has left the field of charming, charismatic duos like Nick and Nora Charles, and have entered the ridiculous, yet ridiculously predictable land of night-time soaps. My friends and I knew, when Beckett said that she didn’t remember anything, that she was lying. It was clear in the way it was played and directed. There was nothing about the end reveal that took any of us by surprise. Further, we expect that she’ll continue to deny her knowledge on some contrived pretense of worrying about Castle’s own safety.

    Friends and I are giving them a mulligan for the first episode on the premise that they couldn’t immediately move back to the light comedy that they’re good at. But if the painful soap opera continues, I can’t continue to watch. Blech. It’s now boring and a disservice to a good cast.

    Two final notes — First, I don’t know why they’re turning Katic into a woman who looks like one of the backup singers for Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, but they seem determined to turn that character into a one-note male fantasy, running about NYC solving crimes in stiletto heels. This is going to backfire. What originally made the character great was her humor, her teasing sassiness, her slightly tomboyish competitiveness with Castle. What’s left is a woman on the verge of becoming some dark night/catwoman hybrid. Or a shell-shocked alcoholic.

    Finally, if those writers continue to make Alexis sound like a 40-year-old woman, I am going to scream. The sooner she goes off to college and gets busted for pot or dyes her hair and joins an all-girl punk band, the better. But this is ABC, not HBO. What am I thinking. But for the love of god, puhleeese… knock it off with the matronly Dear Abbey shtick.

    I appreciate that most everyone here is giddy about the evolution of this series. But I’m all but gone.

  17. Why did they have to put a Black woman in as captain. It seems that what all of the cop shows are doing, having a black lady in charge of everyone. It has ruined the show. Several of my friends feal the same way. It would be nice if she wasn’t so power hungry. This has happened in 3 or 4 other police shows. They have to have a black lady in charge.

  18. Is it just me, or has Kate and Castle aged 5 years since last season? They just looked alot older.

  19. well so much for journalistic integrity… its as if our reviewer is coming afresh into the series and doesn’t understand what’s taken place over the first three seasons….

    the “writer” vest is an ongoing gag that has been referenced multiple times over the past two seasons.

    the ME was at the funeral, hence her presence on the gurney going down the hallway in the ER.

    people who get shot in the chest sometimes really can take three months to recover from their injuries, honest!

    As for disappointment regarding the story line, people change, characters grow and in a dramedy like this, doing the same thing over and over again gets to be rather formulaic (see Eureka… geeks invent something cool, it gets out of control, common sense guy Sheriff Jack saves the day, rinse and repeat for seasons 1 thru 3) and becomes stale.

    and lets be clear here…. you state

    “Castle doesn’t work as a dark, big-city crime drama, and the latest episode in this storyline does almost nothing to clear up an already convoluted plot.”

    guess what, some of us out there LIKE messy convoluted plots, not every problem in life is solved in 48 minutes (commercial breaks notwithstanding). Sorry the show doesn’t work for you when its dealing with its dark side, so maybe you should stick to reviewing shows like Gilligan’s Island.

    • Dude… it’s a blog dedicated to screen art criticism. Journalistic “integrity” has nothing to do with anything here. Beyond that, you miss Crider’s point. The point is that — dramatically speaking — the moment is one that doesn’t work well with the kevlar vest sight gag. It just doesn’t. There’s nothing about Crider’s sentence that suggests he doesn’t know this is a running gag.

      In terms of what Crider is talking about, please understand that he’s making very good arguments around overall aesthetics (which includse all aspects of the craft), the writers’ choices and whether or not the writing and choices hang together in a satisfying, coherent way. The function of a dramatic critic is to talk about the ART of the thing, not whether or not life can be messy. Speaking for myself, as one who agrees with Crider, I’m more than capable of handling dark material. In fact, I like dark material. In this case, like Crider, I happen to think it’s out of place and works against the real strength of the series. I happen to be a dramaturg.

      Everyone here has been a fan of this show, or we wouldn’t be posting here. Crider himself likes the show (generally speaking), or has. There are plenty of other posters here who have disagreed with Crider in a way that suggests both differences in taste informed by maturity. Sorry Crider’s well-written and salient critique doesn’t work for you. Maybe you should stick to sites where shippers roam and play, nurturing their fantasies.

  20. The season finale was boring and stupid!!!!! The first and second episodes of this season are even more boring and stupid!!!!

  21. If you don’t like all the drama of castle then why do u watch it in the first place?? Drama is what most of this show is about.

  22. If Castle keeps the new captain I will stop watching the show. This season seems to be more about her than Castle, Beckett and our new wonderful sidekicks. I cannot stand the new captain and find her totally distracting. Please, please get someone else.

  23. I am really get bored of seeing Castle as “Becket”.Stana Katic wanted to be castle by her unproper,exaggarating,unnatural,BAD(for all who really know how to act),I’m doing this for doing this movements,acts and looks(unbeliavable),higher voice than others to get attention and be remembered more by audiences in the end.then she succed to get it,scenario became her toy.every replic based on her castle is just at the back.She can do like castle scenario,unbeliavable…That player made herself got the leading role by her exaggarating playing.absurd.castle became her poppy.the other dedective serials made the leading character name deserve that position not on castle because of the scenario.becket shows herself each dialog each second.her voice,her face,her I am trying to do role movements mymics.disgusting.I am not talking as a fun because I am not just someone who really knows to criticize tvproductions because of my education.this actress even badly effects the performance of the other good ones.kate becket will be named as one of the bad playing evidents of the world.unfortunatelly stana katicis not even an actress to be on a show.so pitty for good actors and actresses on the show because it was good on theory but not on practic.

  24. I’m watching the season 4 opener right now, and it seemed to me like Kate hasn’t forgotten a damn thing, she’s just faking her ‘memory loss’ until she sorts herself out. Castle was brilliant, the look of abject misery and disappointment that she forgot him in one of his most amazing and brave moments was very heart wrenching, you could really see it in his face. I’m not a huge fan of the Kate character, to me she seems cold and I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if Castle graduated to another ‘partner’. Preferably one, with which he shared better chemistry, and to me more sympathetic…I find it difficult to ‘like’ her tbh.

  25. Horrible premier. Don’t like the DC thing. Want them back in NY with Alexis and his mom..boring way overdone. Just sayin

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