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Monday, November 26, 2012

What happens "After Hours" for Castle?

ABC's Castle has had a very satisfying and varied last few episodes. First, there was the geek-centric installment, wherein we learned of Beckett's (Stana Katic) cult obsession. Then, a documentary crew showed us what happens when the staff gets in front of cameras, throwing off their game. Finally, this past week, "After Hours" explores the romance between Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett, which has finally been allowed to flourish this season, under scary circumstances.

It used to be, series were too scared of the Moonlighting curse to put their leads together until the end of the run. Lately, shows such as Bones and Chuck have disproven that this should not be done; it just needs to be dealt with correctly. Castle's own stab at things, in the currently airing fifth season, seems to be following the successful path, rather than killing the series.

You see, what does a show in is if you lose the dynamic tension between the main characters. Castle and Beckett still have that tension. It comes to the forefront in "After Hours," when they are on the run from mobsters together. They must trust one another, working together to try to get their witness to safety. It's not an easy thing to do; as well as their partnership works, they have to balance their worry for one another with a confidence in each other's abilities. This is explored terrifically in this episode.

The other thing keeping the tension up is the worry that Captain Gates (Penny Johnson Jerald) will find out about the pair. Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Esposito (Jon Huertas) are already in on the secret, as is Castle's family, but none of these people, who love Castle and Beckett, would rat them out, even though their relationship is against department rules. (Castle may not officially be a cop, but his work with the department would realistically make the rules apply to him.) Once Gates learns the truth, it will present an obstacle that will have to be overcome, unfortunately, probably too conveniently.

Add to that, Castle and Beckett are still early in their romance, and so are unsure themselves how things might work, long-term. They worry that they are too different after a dinner with Castle's mother, Martha (Susan Sullivan), and Beckett's father, Jim (Scott Paulin), gets rocky. Of course, they are not their parents, but it's easy to see how such a scenario could scare them a bit. Even if the real purpose of such a scene seems to be to add some lightheartedness to the episode, which happens when Jim and Martha bond over their concern for their children.

"After Hours" sets this dysfunction in a high intensity story, with twists and great guest stars including Bonita Friedericy (Chuck), Tony Denison (The Closer), and especially Patrick Fischler (Lost, Mad Men). Is it still a formulaic procedural? Yes, but in season five, the aversion to taking risks is ebbing, and Castle is finally stepping it up as it's own unique entity. More of this, and it could grow beyond the strict conceits that have held it back thus far.

It also helps that Fillion and Katic are absolutely phenomenal, no matter the situation.

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

Read more Castle reviews.

Want to read some of my fiction? It's on my website, JeromeWetzel.com! Also, for the latest updates and article links, as well as commentary on episode I don't fully review, please follow me on Twitter! Article first published by TheTVKing

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