Three years ago, a great love story began to unfold. A story about two very different people, brought together by fate, who had no idea how much they truly needed each other. In the beginning, Kate Beckett and Richard Castle saw something in one another, something that they had been searching for their entire lives, and, although they could not admit it at first, something that would bond them together. Always.
Over four seasons, we have watched these two grow closer to one another, evolving from unlikely cohorts to loyal partners, detached strangers to caring friends, and two people with an undeniable chemistry to two people so deeply in love with one another. It has been a beautiful journey and a brilliantly told story, and all of it reached a glorious new level on Monday’s Castle season finale.
Penned by the genius writing team of series creator Andrew Marlowe and the reigning queen of the Castle, Terri Miller, “Always” was a beautifully written example of storytelling as an art, the perfect way to conclude what has been an epic season. Shying away from flashy explosions and high-octane stunts, this immensely character-driven finale was a true testament to the power of pure storytelling on television, taking viewers on a path of emotional drama as the characters that we have come to know and love found themselves pushed past their limits. It was those challenges and the choices that these characters were forced to make that set the stage for the staggering emotional cliffhangers.
The writing was not the only talent on display throughout the hour, and much of the credit for the success of this story should be given to the plethora of fabulous actors who make up the core of this cast. Series regulars Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever, portraying Javier Esposito and Kevin Ryan, were both powerful and moving throughout the hour as the two found themselves on opposing sides of a moral debate that seemingly severed their partnership in the end. Meanwhile, Molly Quinn (as Alexis Castle) delivered a touching and deeply meaningful graduation speech, which served as the narrative subtext that would set the stage for the emotional ending.
Yet the heart and soul of this series has always been the incredibly talented (and very much Canadian) lead actors, Nathan Fillion (Richard Castle) and Stana Katic (Kate Beckett), who have brought so much chemistry and so much depth to their characters that we have been captivated by their every word and every look from the very beginning. In Monday night’s finale, these two brilliant actors brought their A-game, most notably in a heartbreaking mid-episode scene, which found Castle laying all of his cards on the table in an effort to save Beckett, while she struggled to get beyond her feelings of betrayal and her innate drive for truth and justice to truly hear what he was saying to her.
This was a pivotal scene, not only within the episode but also the series itself, as it marked the first time that Castle and Beckett have pushed aside their fears and doubts and confronted their issues and feelings head-on with one another. As wonderful and meaningful as all of the subtext and hidden meanings have been over the years, especially throughout this latest season, the raw emotion and unbridled honesty of this scene was so powerfully moving. The greater purpose behind it all, a sign that these two are now beyond all of the fear and denials that have long plagued them, made this the moment where it was clear that everything had changed for Castle and Beckett.
In another turning point, towards the end of the hour, when Beckett faced near-certain death for the second time in the past year, all she could think of was Castle. This moment of clarity within her often-torn heart and soul (mixed with Gates’ ordering her off of the case) led Beckett to resign from the police force with absolutely no regrets. She had long felt that her life was meant to be dedicated to finding the justice for her victims that she never received herself, to deliver closure to those torn apart by tragedies, and yet, in that moment, she knew that her life was worth so much more than that. It was time for her to follow her own heart, to go after what her heart wanted, what it has always wanted.
Thus, Beckett returned to where it all began this season, to the swing-set that provided the setting for her revelation to Castle that she needed to find closure in her mother’s case before she could be ready to move forward as the person she wanted to be and begin the relationship that she wanted to have. Only this time, Kate found herself ready to move forward, even without that closure that she always felt she needed. As the rain poured down, so too did the final bricks in the wall that she had long built to protect her heart.
As the episode concluded, Kate brought herself to Rick’s door, to the place where she knew she truly belonged. When Rick opened the door to her, just as he had long done to her heart, he asked her the question that she finally had the answer to: “Beckett, what do you want?” In that moment, Kate responded with her honest and emotional answer three years in the making, simply telling him, “You. I just want you.” With that, the two gave into their feelings and, in a beautiful and emotional conclusion, Kate smiled and took the hand of her partner, her friend, and the love of her life, leading Castle towards their future together.
This season’s finale left many more questions hanging in the air than it answered, but is that not the mark of great storytelling – to end one chapter by brilliantly setting the stage for the next? This was not the end of the journey, not by any means. Rather, it was simply the beginning of a new chapter in this grand love story, a rare television story that we have truly come to believe in.