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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Castle delivers a good "47 Seconds"

Castle delivers a good "47 Seconds," but what about the other forty-two minutes of the episode?

ABC's Castle tackles a bomb explosion this week in "47 Seconds." While the feds handle the main investigation, the NYPD is allowed to help. Beckett (Stana Katic) and company soon pinpoint a suspect (Tim Guinee, The Good Wife), whom the FBI arrests. But they have the wrong man. Trying to reconstruct the story of the forty-seven seconds leading up to the bomb going off proves difficult. Luckily, Beckett has Castle (Nathan Fillion), king of stories, to help her figure it out. Which he does.

The case of the week in "47 Seconds" is timely and interesting. The Occupy Wall Street movement is at the center of things, as the bomb explodes at one of that group's protests, killing five people. Castle plays with a handful of stereotypes at this rally, including a couple of people who are opposed to the cause. While touting a political message isn't the purpose of the episode, there, surprisingly, isn't a lot of sympathy shown to the protestors. Only to the victims of a crime.

In the end, though, it is not politics that prove the motivating factor, but greed. Not the Wall Street banker greed, but a similar vein in someone from a much lower tax bracket. A news reporter (Christine Woods, Perfect Couples, FlashForward) plots in order to be a news anchor. She helps set up the situation, and makes sure that she is in a position to cover it. Handling this exclusive will certainly get her attention. But by trying to create the news herself, she screws up royally, and will end up in jail instead of in front of a camera.

The real draw of "47 Seconds," though, is Castle deciding to finally tell Beckett about his feelings. He has previously done so, but thinking that she has forgotten, he steels himself to repeat the declaration. Before he can, Beckett lets slip during an interrogation that she remembers everything perfectly about the day Castle confessed to her. It's not a direct confirmation that she heard him, but he is smart enough to take it as such, and assumes her ploy is a rejection. So he keeps his mouth shut.

The whole thing is getting pretty frustrating. Castle ignores this arc for weeks, even months, at a time, only to drop back in on it without much forward movement. Castle is wrong about Beckett not caring, of course, though she has other reasons for being hesitant to get involved with him. What the two should do, what any two reasonable adults in a similar situation would do, is to talk through these issues, and figure out where they stand. Instead, the series continues to play with viewers' emotions, and deliver almost no satisfaction.

This is starting to hurt Castle. Many series have played this game in the past, but with the successful conquering of the "will they, won't they" tension problem in numerous examples, such as Bones and Chuck, fans are becoming less patient. The chemistry between the leads is great, but it needs to start going somewhere. Four seasons in, it's time for Castle to make a move. If not, it may be defined as a typical crime procedural, and it will start to shed people who tune in for something more. Not that the show has ever invested heavily in anything beyond that narrow genre, but still...

There are also a few scenes this week showing how Castle is a good son to Martha (Susan Sullivan) and father to Alexis. (Molly C. Quinn). His relationships with these women are much better done than his dynamic with Beckett, and they provide a contrast that does not do the central pairing any favors. By showing how Castle can have loving, stable people in his life, it makes his lack of such a relationship with Beckett even more of a problem.

Castle airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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