In Marked Contrast to My Retraction Regarding Gotham

The Misgivings I had regarding the Season 6 finale of Castle were born out by the Season 7 opening.

Warning, if you have not seen the episode yet, SPOILERS ENSUE. You have been warned.

The point of a cliffhanger is to heighten drama, and thus attention to your production. Thus it behooves one, when using this device, to ensure that said drama can support the weight of additional attention. The Season 3 finale of Castle did this well, with Beckett shot, maybe dead, and Castle’s admission of love just before she faded to black.

But a bad cliffhanger can backfire. And this was one. Why? Because it seems the writers were caught between their urge to continue to play will-they/won’t they with Caskett, and the fact that realistically, at this point, the only way to jeopardize their relationship is to make an end with one of the characters. Really, they’ve survived Bracken, separation, their own polar opposite personalities, Beckett’s thick skin and Rick’s worst jackwagon behavior. What was going to separate them, other than flat out death?

The other problem is with all the angst threats to Beckett the last few seasons, there was a real–and correct–need in the writers to restore balance. To make Castle the star of his own show again. The problem is, you cannot KILL Castle. We know this. Castle dies, show’s over. (OK, we might have a couple wrap-up episodes, but that’s the end of the story.) So the whole car-crash at the end of Season 6 was obviously not a ‘death.’ It would be a pathetic way to end the series, and if the series comes back, Rick comes back. Period. So the drama is supposedly in who takes him.

Oy, and here’s where things go haywire. There’s the whole “Castle wasn’t kidnapped” line. Yeah. Because a guy whose never roughed it in his life would WILLINGLY live in a tent. So either the tent is false, or we know he was held there under pretense. The dinghy has bullet holes in it. Yeah, he tried to put those in it himself. Erm, do recall, we’ve seen Castle shoot before, he’s proficient. So somebody did the shooting. And then there was the ‘questioning.’ Yeah…wait. Pardon me…the people who spent 2 months taking and holding Castle, leaving a false trail for Beckett & co to chase the entire time, suddenly up and vanish the day after speaking to them, and let all the real people come back? No…really. So they had all the resources and money to make a false trail, only to fold it up literally the DAY after Beckett talks to them. So they have limitless resources and are incompetent. Gee thanks for that.

Oh wait, they’re going to have WANTED Rick to go back to Kate? So why did they try to take him away in the 1st place? Meh. That doesn’t work. Either way, it reeks of incompetence. Which makes it strange that they would so efficiently whisk him from the world. Hmmm. Could be two different groups…I suppose. Maybe. But why would group 2 do the charade at all then? Still stinks.

Executive Producer Andrew Marlowe, who left at the end of last season as Show Runner, conceded they were going to ‘take their lumps’ early on as they introduced this ‘new mythology.’ But here’s the thing: It wasn’t necessary. There was a simpler, cleaner way to do it: End the Season with a wedding, but right before the end, cut away to the villains talking about how ‘the target is moving’ as they go to their honeymoon.

Note, this is no less effective than a Cliffhanger. They did it this way at the end of Season 4, where Beckett and Castle faded to black, and then we saw Beckett’s tormentors still at work. It made sense. Happy ending, and yet not ‘the end.’ Give them their moment, and then bang, on the island, while they’re alone, separate them. After all, it would’ve been a whole lot easier and more efficient to get them while it’s just the two, then to evade an entire police force, FBI, and everything else, on the mainland. The logic of the plot follows better. You still get the hint of the new mythology at the end of last season (in fact, more of it). And yet the fans don’t have a reason to go, “huh”? for months.

And after last night, to be honest, we’re still going ‘huh’? And how long can viewers scratch their heads before the ‘lumps’ the writers take translate to lost viewers? The show’s ABC’s biggest cash cow, so they’ve done something right. But mind the golden goose.

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