WARNING! THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE SEASON 8 FINALE AND EVERYTHING THAT PRECEDES IT. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS FAR, I SUGGEST YOU TURN BACK. WHILE YOU STILL CAN.
Secondary warning: this is an opinion post. You can disagree or agree with me, I don’t mind, just be classy about it, hey?
For the last 24 hours, I have been bedridden with the end-of-semester cold from hell. Headache, light-headed, salt-water sinuses, coughing, and the terrible taste of phlegm that just kind of lingers. So because I’ve been unable to do anything that didn’t involve lying down and breathing through my mouth, I watched the entirety of Castle Season 8.
From the outset of this season, I wasn’t a fan. Honestly, I felt like Season 7 should have been the final season of this show. As much as I love Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, and the crazy antics that their characters get into, Season 7 had an air of finality to it from the very first episode. Season 7 follows on from when Beckett finally arrests the man, Senator Bracken, who was behind her mother’s murder. So the Big Bad is captured and is essentially not a threat anymore. The through-line of the entire series, I feel, ended when Beckett slapped those cuffs on Bracken. Everything that happens after that feels like an exploration into what Beckett is like without her mother’s murder, and the conspiracy that led to it, to focus on.
Of course, there’s Castle’s disappearance, but I always felt like this was one of those story lines that would standalone. That Castle had been needed for an undercover op because of his notoriety (that is, “Richard Castle is famous, he couldn’t possibly be a spy!”). I was fine when there was no explanation for his missing two months. Like the showrunners wanted to demonstrate that not every case can be solved, not even for the titular character. I liked that.
Then, do you remember that final scene of Season 7? When all of the main cast were sitting around a table, toasting to the future and to Castle and to his lifetime achievement award? It felt like a summation of the show; that everything was changing and yet, everything would stay the same:
GATES: It’s a pretty big step, Kate. Have you decided what you’re going to do?
BECKETT: Not yet, but whatever it is I’m looking forward to the adventure.
RYAN: One thing’s for sure: things are going to change.
CASTLE: Well, I know one thing that’ll never change. What we all have. A toast. To us.
(BECKETT’S PHONE CHIMES)
BECKETT: It’s the precinct. There’s been a murder.
(transcript courtesy of SeriesMonitor)
See that? THAT is a series finale. The show should have ended right there. With everyone’s story wrapped up and happy, and the Big Bad finally out of everyone’s way.
But then Season 8 opens and it turns out that oops! The Big Bad wasn’t the Biggest Bad out there. Now, there’s LokSat. And God, I hated it. Castle and Beckett lying to each other, ending up separated, before realising that they were always stronger together and so they team up. Where have we heard this before? Oh, wait, in every single season up until this point. Why did this story need to be explored? Was it just that the show got renewed and the showrunners needed a convenient story? Because the LokSat plow was just thoughtless.
I didn’t believe in the story like I believed in a corrupt politician who had done terrible things for an end game he believed in. I liked Bracken as a villain, because he made a sick sort of sense. I did not like, nor believe, in LokSat as a villain. Even less with the two reveals. I mean, an older man turing out to be the patriarch of an evil conspiracy? Absolutely. That’s the plot of most mobster films. But in those final five minutes when LokSat turned out to be golden lawyer boy Caleb and not Mason Wood of the G.D.S.? And that Caleb had somehow faked his death and ended up in Caskett’s apartment?
And let’s talk about those five minutes. What a half-assed series finale. As a season finale, I would have been fine with it, but a SERIES finale? When there is NOTHING ELSE COMING? No! This could have been the first half of a series finale, but not the whole damn thing.
Recap: Caskett come home, all happy and smiling because everything is finished. Next minute, Caleb Brown appears, shoots Castle in the chest and Beckett in the stomach and the lovers crawl to each other and lie, hand in hand, bleeding out on the floor. Then there’s about a minute, probably less, of flashes of Castle’s empty apartment with Caskett moments voiced over the top. THEN there’s 20 seconds of Caskett sitting at the breakfast table surrounded by a gaggle of young boys and girls with dark hair.
AND THAT’S IT.
My take on those atrocious last seconds is that the breakfast table scene is what flashes before Caskett’s eyes before they die. Because nothing else really makes sense. If it were a happy ending, with Caskett still alive, the rest of the cast should have been there, at that table. Or at least just Martha and Alexis. I know that there was the “seven years later” text on the screen during this part, but I feel like the whole thing was a fantasy cooked up in the final seconds of life. Either way, this was not an ending. Not to a show that has always taken pains to flesh out every single character, not just the main cast. What happens to Martha and Alexis? It could be argued that Castle told Hayley to look after them after he’s gone, but we don’t know. And what about Ryan and Esposito? Lainie? Richard’s dad and step-mum? Hell, we don’t even know why Caleb was LokSat and where Mason Wood came into everything.
The point of all of this is that I feel ripped off. After how long it took Caskett to finally get their ‘happily ever after’, they deserved a better ending than this. We as fans deserved a better ending than this. And I feel cheated.
What did you guys think?