Well, we are somewhat back to the status quo with the premiere out of the way. I can see where the writers are going with the story and what they had hoped to accomplish, even if a lot of viewers are disappointed. As storytellers, the writers and actors want character growth, change, and interconnected plot development. The show has been around seven years already! But as viewers, we want more of what we enjoyed over the past seven years. Castle used to make fun of other crime shows, but like a cynical teenager now grown into mature adulthood, it has become what it used to mock. But is that a bad thing?
I certainly do not think so. There is only so much mocking one can do before one is just annoying – or overly comedic, in the case of a television show. Castle is a dramedy, not a satire. By lasting to an eighth season, it is only natural that it has exhausted the novelty of making fun of itself. That really would not be funny anymore. It would just limit storytelling.
Likewise, by taking the characters in new directions, the writers are merely making the story more interesting. Castle and Alexis are spending more time together. Beckett is working on a case while she otherwise sits in the Captain’s office. She is no longer required to appear at crime scenes, so having her continue to work on the case from the premiere on the side gives her something more intriguing to do than simply pop her head in on Ryan and Esposito every once in awhile, without our having to watch her do administrative work. Seriously, no one wants to watch someone else do paperwork!
PhDead gives Castle an excuse to go undercover on a university campus. He and Alexis team up to work a case parallel to the detectives. I think that he has the wrong strategy to try to win Beckett back, but it is heartening to watch him try nonetheless. This episode hearkens back to earlier, sillier, more whimsical storylines. Castle is reliving his college years – much to Alexis’s (and Beckett’s) chagrin. Despite being a light and fluffy episode, it is darker than earlier seasons. Castle is at a loss to understand what is wrong with him and Beckett. So are we. For that matter, so is Beckett.
What Lies Beneath brings Martha in to the precinct to talk to Beckett on our behalf, because she articulates a lot of what viewers are thinking about their relationship. Unlike a lot of viewers, however, Martha seems to better understand her daughter-in-law. Martha was not one for marital commitment or success. She can relate to Beckett and her need to be independent and fight her own demons. However, she also knows that her son has lost two marriages already. She knows that she has very little influence on either her son or his wife, but she wants to help as best as she can. Her words of wisdom are welcome, reminding us of the ongoing marital crisis, but otherwise, the show settled back into its new status quo: Castle & Alexis working parallel with Ryan & Esposito (despite Beckett’s annoyance) to solve the case of the week while Beckett helps out, does paperwork, and investigates Senator Bracken’s death in the shadows.
We are back to normal for now.