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Friday, September 27, 2013

"Valkyrie" Threatens CASTLE

Article first published as "Valkyrie" Threatens CASTLE on TheTVKing.

ABC's Castle returns for a sixth season tonight with "Valkyrie." When the series paused last May, Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) had decided to accept a job in Washington D.C., a step up for her career-wise, but something that she was sure threatened her professional and romantic relationship with Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion). Before she could break the news to Castle, though, he dropped to one knee and proposed. Will Beckett choose Castle or the job?

Well, both, it turns out, as Castle decides to have its cake and eat it, too. Thankfully, we get the rest of that proposal scene at the start of "Valkyrie," not left to wonder how it all worked out. I feel like this moment is necessary, and for fans who have loyally followed the series for the past five years, earned. It's not overly dramatic, but does reveal a lot about the two leads and how they feel about one another. Plus, a big engagement!

After that is dealt with, it feels OK to skip forward two months. Castle and Beckett are busy people, and the first couple of months of this arrangement are likely to be the easiest. They miss each other, sure, but they haven't been kept apart too long. Now, it's been more than six weeks, and it's time for them to spend some one-on-one time. Of course, a case gets in the way.

I was a little disappointed that Castle jumps headlong into a case-of-the-week so quickly. A lot of time in "Valkyrie" is given to Castle and Beckett figuring out their new dynamic, now that Castle cannot help her with her work. But even more of the hour is spent trying to solve the crime Beckett and her new partner (Lisa Edelstein, House) are assigned to.

Look, Castle is a procedural, and it will never be anything different. It is not the type of series that will abandon the formula and grow into something more, and if one goes into "Valkyrie" with that notion, you may not be too disappointed. I am grateful for the personal interplay time we do get in the premiere, more than in most installments. Yet, seeing how great Castle and Beckett are together, it's hard not to wish for more of that.

Castle gets involved in the case. He tries his best to respect Beckett's wishes and stay away, after a single false start, and I think that shows some real growth and maturity on his part. This is a sign they can make the new circumstances work for them, as long as he is willing to give something up, which he does willingly for her. However, it's clear Beckett also misses working alongside him, and that is what will likely end the D.C. stint. Castle will step aside so that Beckett can fulfill her dreams, but maybe her dream, which she doesn't realize until she loses it, is doing the job she loves with her man, and she'll want to get back to that.

Satisfying, "Valkyrie" is part one of what is at least (and likely not more than) a two-part story. There are high stakes, a dramatic twist, and it all feels like a natural part of something bigger. I like the D.C. team, temporary as they might be, and the tale is a fine one for this genre.

My only real complaint about "Valkyrie" is how Castle rushes off to be with Beckett right after Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) brings home a boy named Pi that Castle immediately clashes with. I mean, Castle and his mother (Susan Sullivan) talk about what Castle should do, and then instead of doing it, Castle leaves. This isn't him avoiding being an overbearing dad; it's him running off to something totally unconnected at a time when he shouldn't. The Alexis plot should have been held for a different episode so that it doesn't feel so disjointed when Castle goes to the capital, twice.

I do appreciate how Castle manages to work in some guy time for Castle, Ryan (Seamus Dever), and Esposito (Jon Huertas). They may be hanging out and talking about work, but it's the easy camaraderie that is nice to see, showing that perhaps the three finally have a lasting friendship, unlike how they drifted apart during times Castle and Beckett were estranged.

Considering the type of show that Castle is, "Valkyrie" is a good effort and a triumphant return, as best as we can expect from an episode in the genre. Castle airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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