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Castle - The Time Of Our Lives - Review: "For Caskett, For The Fans"

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I've had my doubts about how the seventh season of ABC's Castle would turn out. I'm also a member of the club that is (still) pissed off about how the wedding in last season's finale went up in flames, and that we have a period of time that remains unresolved.

Therefore, it's needless to say that last night's episode of the comedy-drama was the one I've been most looking forward to - even more so than the season premiere. Though I rarely watch a television series for the romance between characters, Castle is one of the only exceptions because it has been, for the most part, beautifully kindled, grown and nurtured over the past 133 episodes. That's not to say the creative team haven't made the odd slip-up, with fans, myself included, at times criticizing the lack of continuity, the sheer length of time it's taken, and the lack of general "couple" scenes between Castle and Beckett, among others. But putting that aside, I was just keen to finally see one of television's best couples finally seal the deal.

And what absolutely excellent hour of television we, the long-time fans who have stuck with the series and Caskett all these years, were gifted last night. I genuinely enjoyed every minute of it.

The series is known for daring to be different, and we've seen more than a half-dozen really unique episodes since 2009 that only Castle could pull off. "The Time Of Our Lives" joins that club.

Proceedings began with Castle and Beckett chatting about what their lives would have been like if they hadn't been brought together by that copycat murder in the series premiere. A body drops, the duo arrive, but the trio were down a duo, who turned up late. Castle and Beckett wasted no time in looking into the former's first bizarre theory, and for once it proved beneficial. A flashbang grenade sent Castle diving through a door into the alternate universe, and that's where the fun began.

Suffice to say I spent the entire alternative universe segment of the episode unsuccessfully containing my laughter. It, along with the rest of the episode, was beautifully written by Terry Edda Miller. It was the most I've enjoyed an episode in a very long time, and the dialog played a very large part.

What topped that off was the sublime acting performances by all the cast, chiefly from the master himself, Nathan Fillion, with perhaps his best ever outing as the light-hearted Castle. Fillion managed to play a character that was exactly the same as the "normal universe" version, in an environment where everything else, bar the names of the other characters, was completely different. That is a substantial ask, and is no doubt a lot harder than it sounds, but Fillion absolutely nailed it.

However all the other cast members had to do the same thing. Stana Katic, with a new wardrobe, managed to bring a matured version of her series premiere depiction of Kate Beckett into last night's episode. Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas arguably lacked the growth in maturity, having traded it in for other power-ups like improved interrogation and physicality. Susan Sullivan and Molly Quinn did very well portraying their characters as being the most transposed of them all. Seeing the look on Castle's face when he learned of his mother and daughter's new pastimes in this universe was much funnier than your average comedy.

Throughout the alternate universe, we watched Castle put numerous words in his new-found colleagues' mouths, annoy the hell out of them, and stop at nothing to continue investigating the case, employing his trademark hilarious secret agent tactics to boot. Yet through all this, the cast leads, Fillion and Katic, conveyed this amazing, one-of-a-kind chemistry between their alternate universe characters. Not only was this a lot of fun to watch, it was paving the way for the closing moments of the episode. But there was plenty more to come before that.

Some of that was comprised of the numerous callbacks to the early days of the series. The bad coffee machine, Ryan and Espozito's early relationships, the Derek Storm novels and book signings, the tagging along for "research", and, of course, those famous words, "Mr. Castle".

But there were also some beautifully integrated moments hinting at the less positive events of the past. Chief among them was Beckett's mother's murder. We saw the ring Beckett wears around her neck, still there, still signifying that Johanna Beckett's murder remains unsolved. I was hoping this would be covered, and I was hoping that the murder would have been unsolved because there was no way it could have been solved without Castle assisting, whether asked to or not, as has played out in the real universe over the last 6 seasons.

I was also pleased that, while in the alternate universe, Castle held back on revealing anything to Beckett about her mother's murder, even though he knew the answers. I can't really pin down why I was glad, other than to say it would have felt wrong, so well done to the writers there. To balance this, it was Castle pushing Beckett to continue investigating the case, instead of giving up and settling with what she had. That was a powerful moment, as was Castle's talk with Alexis, when she revealed why things had fallen apart resulting in her move to L.A. in one of the episode's best scenes.

In the closing moments of the alternate universe, it was Beckett who followed Castle's lead and pushed harder for answers. The end result was Castle saving Beckett's life in a tribute to his actions in the season 3 finale, "Knockout", only this time he came off second best, and it was Beckett begging Castle to stay with her. This was a great idea, but I would have loved to see Beckett express much more emotion over what just happened in the seconds before Castle returned to reality.

Speaking of reality, the last four minutes of the hour were dedicated to what Castle fans have been waiting for all these years to see. I avoid real life weddings like the plague, but was more than happy to see this one go down in front of me on the small screen. At last, Jim Beckett returned to the series to give his daughter away. The couple, dressed beautifully, wasted no time meeting at the balcony, and the most beautiful and special reading of the vows began, with a gorgeous Robert Duncan composed score playing in the background.

Kate to Richard:

The moment that I met you, my life became extraordinary.
You taught me to be my best self, to look forward to tomorrow's adventures.
And when I was vulnerable, you were strong.
I love you, Richard Castle.
And I want to live my life in the warmth of your smile, and the strength of your embrace.
I promise you I will love you.
I will be your friend, and partner in crime, and in life.

Richard to Kate:

The moment we met, my life became extraordinary.
You taught me more about myself than I knew there was to learn.
You are the joy in my heart.
You're the last person I want to see every night before I close my eyes.
I love you, Catherine Beckett.
And the mystery of you is the one I want to spend the rest of my life exploring.
I promise to love you, to be your friend.
And your partner in crime, and life.
Till death do us part, and for the time of our lives.

After a romantic kiss to seal the deal, the newlyweds had their first dance to "In My Veins", by Andrew Belle - the same song that was used at the conclusion of the season 4 finale, "Always", in the moments before Beckett, having been drenched on the swing set where they later got engaged, decided her relationship with Castle was more important than risking her life pursuing her mother's murderer. This was a really nice touch to end an amazing scene. If only it had been better green-screened, or, even better, not green-screened at all.

I have to say that as a long-time fan of Castle, I felt an enormous weight lift off my shoulders when the pair finally sealed the deal. A wedding between two series leads isn't something that's seen often these days, so it's immensely satisfying to see one of television's best couples make it this far. Six years is a long time to wait, but in my mind, the wedding we saw, combined with the fantastic, highly entertaining, alternate universe theme made it all worth the wait.

But more importantly for me, "The Time Of Our Lives" reminded me why this series is so good, why I got hooked, and why I continue watching. The excellent cast, writing by Terry Edda Miller, score by Robert Duncan, and directing by Paul Holahan, were all at their absolute finest, and combined to make this one of the series' greatest episodes. The characters along with the series have come a long way, and the prospects for the future are brighter than ever. I keep a list of the best television episode I've ever seen, with only a few dozen episodes from the thousands across the numerous series I've seen, making it onto the list. "The Time Of Our Lives" is its newest addition.

Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your opinions on the episode too, so share them in the comments below. Tell us what you enjoyed and what you didn't, what you thought of the vows, the dress, the venue, and what you're looking forward to as the series moves on! Don't forget to stop by Castle on my TV ratings website,

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, The Blacklist, The 100, and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.
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