From these two episodes, it is fairly clear that without Beckett by his side, Castle is growing more and more unhinged. Both The Nose and Cool Boys have outlandish if plausible plots. Both rely on having supporting guest characters that are rather strange. Most importantly, the character of Richard Castle behaves with increasing desperation as he tries to solve the cases.
In The Nose, the otherwise ordinary murder is complicated by an important witness with a highly sensitive sense of smell. Due to her enhanced ability, she is a recluse who really does not want to help out the investigation any more than she needs to, but Castle gets her to help him determine whether or not Beckett still really loves him. (After all, she can smell pheromones…) Unsurprisingly, Beckett still loves him. We as audience members know that – her break from him is entirely work-related. But Castle, in the dark as he is, might very well have suspected that she was having an affair, or that she no longer loved him. By the end of the episode, his faith in their relationship is somewhat restored.
What is enjoyable about having Castle and Beckett working separately is it gives us a chance to watch Castle interact with other characters on a one-on-one basis. We get to see him team up with a highly-sensitive witness, an independent British investigator, and in Cool Boys, a returning rogue Detective Slaughter. Slaughter is a maverick macho cop who seems to think that he and Castle are friends, despite his nearly getting Castle killed the last time that they worked together. Their dynamic has shifted somewhat, since Slaughter needs Castle to help him solve a case to prove his own innocence.
Beckett is entirely absent from this latter episode, thus pitting Castle and Slaughter against Esposito and Ryan. Castle is in turn quite rude to his friends (if one can simply call stealing a car “rude”) and has very little regard for his own safety. It is as though he does not care what he does now that Beckett is temporarily out of the picture. |
That isn’t to say that these are dour episodes – in fact, they are highly entertaining! But one cannot help but feel the tension underneath the humour. There are lots of jokes, Castle and Slaughter breaking out into West Side Story to elude execution, and Ryan and Esposito get a lot of chances to be in the spotlight. This last plot inevitably leads to much more tension, as Esposito passes his Sergeant exam while Ryan does not. The former lords it over the latter, while the latter accidentally shoots him in the midst of a case. This leads to lots of resentment that is not resolved until later episodes. Again, more humour to cover the tension – namely that Esposito gets shot in the posterior.
Despite the tension and the downright cold attitudes between Castle and Beckett, these are enjoyable episodes. They are not the dynamic that we have come to expect on Castle, but they are different and equally interesting. Castle gets to branch out more and we get to see more of the supporting cast. Do I want this to continue? No, I hope it gets resolved soon. I hope that Beckett comes to her senses and realises that at the very least, she can trust Castle with her mission and why she is doing what she is doing. Castle is completely lost at the moment, and it might very well get him killed or put in jail.
Or maybe just shot in the posterior too!