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Murderboard: An Author's Perspective on Castle - Episode 4.01

EP. 4.01: "RISE" / BEST OF 
A brilliant follow-up to last season's cliffhanger. -- Contains one of the most realistic scenes I've seen on TV.
So many dramatic moments stand out in this episode...
• Beckett fighting for her life. -- Even though there is no real doubt she is going to make it, there's enough gore and tension to convey that something truly horrible - and life-altering - is happening to her. Just seeing fearless Beckett unconscious and barely alive would have been disturbing enough, but the small details like her blood dripping from the gurney or oozing out of the chest tube made the extent of her injuries hard to take in. -- Chilling, and incredibly well-filmed, first sequence.
• Castle & Martha, waiting for news in the hospital: lovely mother-and-son moment. -- "This is my fault. (...) I put her in the crosshairs". Nathan Fillion's delivery was especially poignant there.
• Castle & Beckett talking in the recovery room. You can clearly see that Beckett is lying -- and kudos to Stana Katic for managing to show a) how vulnerable and torn Beckett is, and b) that she's hiding it from Castle: not an easy thing to pull off. On paper, the scene was already great, but several details made it even more layered on the screen:
- Castle checking himself out in a mirror before entering the room, followed by Beckett's first reaction: "You're staring at me, I must look really bad." -- Nice way to show how self-conscious the two of them are: nervous and worried about how they'll be perceived by the other.
- Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic using the same body language throughout the scene: looking down and only glancing at each other from time to time. Very efficient mirror effect.
- The music - both romantic *and* tense -, adding to the slightly "off" nature of their exchange, especially when Beckett recalls Montgomery's death: haunted voice and facial expressions from Stana Katic; haunting music.
• The swing scene -- Really interesting angle from a storytelling point of view. First, Beckett verbalizing why she's unable to fully commit to a relationship is a real pay-off in terms of character development, especially after THREE seasons of knowing *very* little about her inner thoughts! Second, by stating where Beckett wants to be at, and what must be done in order to get there, the showrunners have created a wealth of dramatic situations to be mined: Beckett may have identified/acknowledged her demons, but she still has to conquer them... And we're now *with* her as the battle begins. Very exciting direction.

• The first PTSD scene -- Beckett freezing when confronted with an armed suspect: one of the most powerful and realistic scenes I've seen on TV. I have experienced a similar situation (see author's notes) and this scene is the most accurate representation I have ever seen of what it feels like, in real life. The "white noise", the heavy breathing, the time "slowing down", that strange feeling of being frozen and hyper-aware at the same time. Not sure how Stana Katic and the production team managed do get it so right, but that scene was incredibly close to the real thing. -- The way it was shot was also outstanding: the dark green light, the close-up of Beckett's gun, Esposito and Ryan running past her (painfully showing how still she is), her hand shaking as she struggles to put her weapon back in its holster... Film-making and acting at its best.
• Beckett dismissing Castle's concern over her PTSD. Very much what you would expect from Beckett, and from Castle, but the stakes are much higher now. You're still watching the same people you've been watching for years, but there's a slight edge to them. Subtle, but there.
• Beckett's emotional breakdown in her apartment -- “(...) If this was an accident, then I’ve got nothing. The guy who shot me is gone. Dick Coonan, gone. Hal Lockwood, gone. Montgomery, gone. My mom. Everybody is gone, Castle." -- Kudos to Stana Katic for making that speech so moving and heart-wrenching.
• Castle & Beckett the next day, at the precinct. Another great scene and great piece of dialogue.
• The second PTSD scene, book-ending the first one: beautifully shot and perfectly acted. The way Stana Katic squeezes her eyes shut to chase away her demons was brilliant. The way she stammers... struggles with words: "Don't... don't... Don't move, Mitch!". Castle talking to her, guiding her through it. We literally see "old Beckett " resurfacing, regaining her confidence. Tense and poignant.

• The ending -- Next to no dialogue. Powerful images of Castle and his secret murder board, followed by Beckett crying during her therapy session. -- "I remember, everything." -- A brilliant way to end an episode, and a key moment for future ones.


• "I. Want. My. Gun." -- The way Stana Katic played that beat made Beckett come across as both furious and childish. Brilliant choice. 
• Ryan scared of "Iron Gates" -- Seamus Dever manages some really funny looks and reactions throughout the episode. 
• "Yes ma'am/sir" exchange between Castle & Gates -- Once again, Nathan Fillion nails the "kid in trouble" body language and awkwardness. One single word - (sheepishly): "Sir." - and he manages to turn it into an hilarious beat. 
• "If you don't mind, I'd like my gun back" -- Beckett shoving her target practice sheet onto Gates' desk. Right in-your-face. Major Beckett attitude there. 
• Beckett & Castle hiding from Gates, and Gates shouting: "You too Beckett!". Loved the two of them behaving like little kids (and Gates literally having eyes in the back of her head). Typical "Castle moment"™.


• The quick cuts at the start: Beckett on the gurney, heart monitor, blood... Very efficient and very visual (especially the neon-bright colours: blue, red, green, etc.).
• "3 months later" -- Even though I would I've liked more hospital scenes and some insight into Beckett's recovery, the time jump worked very well. When we see Beckett again, we know some time has passed, and that first shot of her at the precinct, looking at her mom's ring, was beautifully shot and moving. -- Beckett is back, but you also sense right away that something is amiss:  she looks different, reflective and more vulnerable.
• The band's rehearsal space/warehouse -- The two scenes shot there were incredibly visual and well-shot. The set, the blue light, the action, the tension... Some shots looked like paintings: beautifully framed and lit.
• The therapist's office. Again: great set, great lighting and great framing. For some reason, I also liked the shoes on the floor, like two dots in an abstract painting.

• "If my mother drops by you can call her ma'am. Call me sir or captain." -- First time we hear the new captain, and right away, we know what type of person she is.   
"Castle, wait!" / "I did, three months." -- Beckett and Castle outside the book store. Great way to set the tone when the two of them finally reunite (and nice play on words). Castle's angry; Beckett's out of her comfort zone. So glad the writers/producers didn't opt for a happy-soapy-Hallmark-moment here. 
 • "Showing her up with the mayor? You might as well have beaten a beehive with a bat!"-- Beckett to Castle (about Gates).  
"What are you saying? You sleep-shot her? -- Ryan, interrogating a suspect. 
"I'm fine." / "No you're not. And you know you're not." -- Becket and Castle. Loved Castle's line, and Nathan Fillion's delivery was perfect: sweet, caring, touching.

• Stana Katic. -- Utterly convincing as a broken Beckett who's trying to hide it. The PTSD scenes were outstanding, and throughout the episode, she manages to convey such a wide range of emotions: frustration, doubt, fear, panic, anger, regret, confusion... Very impressive.
• The production team. -- This episode was so well filmed and lit. The sets were great. It had action sequences, emotional moments, funny beats. A real feast.
• The showrunners/writers. -- This episode was jam-packed with inspired choices in terms of storytelling and character development, creating *so* much potential for future episodes. The lies, Beckett's PTSD, her physical injuries, the introduction of the shrink (*finally* allowing us to get into Beckett's head!)...

• Whoever came up with the double twist at the end! -- Castle and his own murder board; Beckett's admitting she lied. Somehow reminiscent of the double blow at the end of Knockout (Montgomery's death; Beckett's shooting). Some shows stall or go overboard after a few seasons. The Castle team knows exactly what they're doing right now. So lovely to see a character-based show doing so well.


Lots of major scenes in this episode (already covered), and several turning points:
• The lies: Beckett (not-) remembering the shooting, and therefore, Castle's "I love you."; Castle (not-) investigating Johanna Beckett's murder. Brilliant set-up for the rest of the season/series.
• The shift in their relationship: Beckett more vulnerable and Castle daring to push her more on personal matters.
• Josh: now out of the picture.
• The new Captain allowing more Castle & Beckett complicity, i.e. "Castle & Beckett vs Gates".
• Beckett opening up to Castle: the swing scene, when she breaks down in her apartment, and the next day at the precinct. It doesn’t feel like their relationship has suddenly changed, more like major events have pushed it into new territories, strengthened it.

..NOT SO SURE.....
• As I mentioned earlier, I would have liked to see more of the direct aftermath of the shooting (hospital scenes, recovery period, etc.) - and especially would have liked a scene between Beckett and her father.
• Wasn't too keen on the Castle & co. scenes while waiting for news at the hospital: a bit too melodramatic for me. Same goes for Josh's reactions (in the operating room and in the corridor). Didn't feel much there.

..TOP 3..
If I had to choose...
#01: First PTSD scene: Beckett freezing.
#02: Second PTSD scene: Beckett conquering her fears, with Castle's help.
#03: "I remember, everything."
(very close runner-up! > "I. Want. My. Gun." -- Such a funny choice in terms of line delivery.)

Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below!

CAROLINE is the author of a series of thrillers set in Vancouver [ www.seriecsu.com ]. She also writes for a TV magazine: articles, interviews and BTS reports. She currently enjoys CASTLE, FRINGE & THE KILLING.
Author's notes - I started watching Castle for two main reasons: Beckett was in many ways like the main character I had created for my series (a strong, guarded and caring female cop, dealing with a traumatic past... who also happened to be called Kate); Castle was a writer with an overactive imagination (something I could personally relate to!). Over the course of the seasons, I have liked some episodes way more than others, but the show has never failed to deliver some special moments for me - touching, moving, funny... -- The aim of this blog is to share some of my thoughts on the show, via a series of reviews and features. On a more personal note: I live in Belfast (Northern Ireland) where I have witnessed acts of violence such as shootings and explosions - something that has shaped me as a person and as an author. My comments on certain aspects of the show (like the blast in "Cops & Robbers" or Kate's PTSD) do stem from personal experience. 
@murderboard on twitter

Other posts:
Episode 4.09: "Kill Shot" / BEST OF 
Episode 4.07: "Cops & Robbers" / BEST OF 
Episode 4.01: "Rise" / BEST OF 

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