Premiere 1 – Not Exactly Resetting the Status Quo
Usually, by the third episode of the season, the status quo has been relatively restored to a series, particularly when a show is a detective procedural. By episode three, the audience is interested in getting back to having fun and solving mysteries.
Often, in fact, two-part season premieres are frowned upon if they are not shown together, much like a two-part season finale. It is expected that the stakes are high for the finale and the premiere, but a procedural show has a formula that is has to emulate weekly. Still, we can excuse a show for wanting to start off with a bang, making the premiere exciting and longer than an hour. By the end of the second episode, things should be relatively be back to normal. Plot threads from the finale are resolved, the main characters are no longer in mortal peril, the case is solved, and the supporting cast has fallen into place.
Castle appeared to do this, but then twisted the knife slightly in the final scene of the second episode. Instead of getting our status quo, Castle and Beckett’s relationship appears to be rocky while the conspiracy is getting more complicated. In fact, Beckett is even called out on her actions by another character, basically being told that any deviation from the status quo is her fault herein.
I am all for portraying a romantic relationship realistically with rough patches. In fact, I am not concerned that Castle and Beckett are going through a rough patch. They have a very passionate but ultimately rough relationship that has never been smooth sailing. As much as both of them would like to settle into domestic bliss, neither of them are really ready for it – but particularly Beckett.
Beckett is younger than Castle and has never been properly married before, unlike him, who is hoping that third time is the charm. She has always been a lone wolf and a warrior for justice. For her to “settle down”, so to speak, is extremely difficult. It is entirely understandable that she might need some time away, but why couldn’t she just go to a spa or retreat for a week? Honestly, do they have to make it look like she is breaking up with her husband? Couldn’t she have talked with Castle about her fears and decision first, rather than springing it on him when he thought that everything was fine?
Despite the change of showrunners this year, I do trust that the writers have a plan. Whether or not their plan is believable or not remains to be seen. Television is not real life, so if their story stretches the bounds of incredulity even more than they already do, I am fine with that. However, it does not do well to alienate a large portion of the audience by tricking them. This is a procedural show – the writers ought to follow procedure. It is also a dramedy, not a drama. Still, it is not my show.
The opening episodes themselves were very well-written! A conspiracy within the CIA, Beckett on the run, Castle and Alexis as private investigators following her footsteps, and cuts between their search and Beckett’s adventure all made for riveting television. Having the two episodes separated by a week was not preferable, but that was obviously a network decision. They would have done better together. It also would have worked better as a dramatic arc halfway through the season. Either way, it was a well-done story and would have been fine except for the very last scene.
Then again, back to the status quo might be a bit boring! Why watch a happily married couple be all cute and cuddly? Bring on the reality.