Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Castle - Watershed

In the show's Fifth Season finale Beckett (Stana Katic) and Castle (Nathan Fillion) investigate a murdered skid row prostitute who turns out to be a Harvard honor student as Beckett faces a difficult choice concerning her future after interviewing for a job in Washington D.C. working as an investigator for the Federal Government.

The victim's parents believed their daughter was backpacking in Europe, not living a secretive second life in the seedier part of New York City. The mystery continues to thicken when Lanie (Tamala Jones) finds no evidence of recent sexual activity on the victim leading the team to wonder what they actually know about the victim, what she was really doing in that hotel, and why she wanted her neighbors to believe she was a prostitute.

Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Esposito (Jon Huertas) interview a friend (Mekenna Melvin) of the victim from Harvard who discovered the victim's double-life but has no rational for her odd behavior. Castle surmises their victim was actually a hacker which explains the lengths she went to make it appear as if she was a prostitute to her neighbors while spending hours on a missing laptop which Ryan and Esposito are able to recover. The episode marks the return of Maya Stojan as video tech Tory Ellis who narrows down the IP activity of the hotel to the victim's most likely target: a law firm who the victim hacked repeatedly over the week leading up to her murder.

The discovery of a second victim, the apparent suicide of a lawyer recently fired from the law firm the hacker was talking with, and a third death months before involving a friend of the hacker who interned at the law firm before dying in a car accident lead Beckett to take a much closer look at the law firm and a client of the firm with a promising political career which would have come to a quick end if he was tied to the drunken car crash involving the firm's perky young intern.

Stumbling on to Beckett's trip to D.C. on his own, and realizing that she went out of her way to hide and lie to him about the opportunity (which, to be fair, does seem a bit odd), Castle storms out. As Castle heads to Martha (Susan Sullivan) for advice Kate calls on the advice of both Lanie and her father (Scott Paulin) after she's officially offered the job by the Deputy Director of the FBI (Kyle Secor). Making her mind up, Beckett finishes her last case but before the season's end the writer will make her a counter offer.

The finale has some nice nods to previous episodes including Castle's wariness to sign off on Alexis' (Molly C. Quinn) trip to Costa Rica given her kidnapping in Paris from earlier this season. The show also chooses to have Kate and her father meet in the same diner we've seen the pair in before. And for the final scene, our two leads find themselves on the same playground, and in the same swings, where they previously put aside their hurt feelings at the beginning of the show's Fourth Season.

"Watershed" has trouble at times balancing a complicated murder investigation with the far more important decision surround the future of Beckett. A more straightforward case might have worked better given that the focus of the episode is often elsewhere. Beckett's unnecessary secretiveness about her activities and the job offer feels forced to allow Castle to be justifiably angry at her deception rather than only petty about her choosing a job over their relationship. Without an easy answer, the cliffhanger shows Beckett officially offered the position and get an unexpected proposal from Castle on the same afternoon.

The tension of the situation works well, but I do have some trouble with choice of storylines, especially as I don't see an easy out for the characters when the show returns next season. Since I don't see the show relocating to Washington, the writers have put their characters in a corner to try and resume some version of the status quo without Beckett simply giving up her dream job for Castle (which doesn't seem to be in the character's DNA). It's going to be a challenge for the show to keep the characters together at the NYPD after opening this Pandora's Box since, as we know, Beckett does deserve working much higher profile cases, even if that means doing it without Castle.

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