Castle returned from its holiday hiatus with a character-intensive episode aptly named “Significant Others.” The show has done a particularly good job with the slow burn of Castle and Beckett’s relationship, but it makes sense that now that they are together, some episodes will focus more on personal issues, with the actual procedural element serving as a subplot.
So let’s get the murder out of the way first: The victim is hot-shot divorce lawyer Michelle Twohey, who only represents women. (I expected them to say she’d represented one of Castle’s exes, but I’m glad they didn’t go that easy route.) A few years ago, she had a high-profile case in which the soon-to-be-ex-wife of a famous golfer “fell off a boat and drowned” under mysterious circumstances; it was widely believed that her husband killed her, but there was no proof. In the present day, while researching a different divorce, Twohey discovered that her new client’s husband had helped the missing woman disappear and change her identity. When Twohey threatened to expose the truth, the woman killed her to keep her quiet.
On the home front, Beckett is staying with Castle while her apartment is fumigated, but it turns out that Alexis is home sick with mono instead of in Paris with her mother as planned. Beckett’s fine with this, of course, but then Meredith shows up, claiming she wants to take care of her daughter, and Beckett, on the spot, ends up agreeing that Castle’s ex can stay at the loft. This sets up the conflict for the episode: Beckett’s mad that Castle even asked if Meredith could stay, effectively making Beckett the bad guy in Meredith’s eyes, while Castle, who was basically just trying to be agreeable, has trouble seeing that he did anything wrong and (to his credit) tries a bunch of different ways to fix it. When he starts to ask Meredith to leave, she manipulates him by getting teary about wanting to make up for missing so much of Alexis’s life, he books a suite for Beckett and himself at the Four Seasons, but she turns him down flat: “Button up, kitten. We’re going home.” Beckett refuses to be the one sent away, even if Castle goes with her.
The rest of the team gets in on the drama, of course. Lanie insists to Beckett that Meredith is there to seduce Castle, and that even if she doesn’t succeed, there are boundary issues that need to be addressed. While she sort of has a point, about the boundaries, anyway, it’s interesting that Lanie tends to expect the worst of Castle in regards to his relationship with Beckett. Is she just being a protective friend, or is there something else going on? (Can she just get back together with Esposito already?) Ryan and Esposito, for their part, are shocked and appalled that Castle agreed to let Meredith stay with him, and they find his cluelessness hilarious.
At the loft, there’s some tension between Meredith and Beckett – especially when Meredith wanders around in a shirt and panties and makes Castle’s coffee in a special way. This leads to some Castle/Beckett bickering, which, sure, I get, but Beckett’s upset that Castle’s ex knows things about him that she doesn’t. Isn’t that just natural? He was with the woman for years and they have a child together. She’s going to know things that have just never come up in Castle’s conversations with Beckett, even if he’s not actually trying to hide anything. Of course, it could be that the point here is that Beckett can’t be rational about this, and that’s sort of a good sign – if something makes Beckett, of all people, react emotionally instead of logically, it means it’s extremely important to her.
Meredith surprises Beckett by inviting her to dinner, which alarms Castle to no end. Castle: “Is this as bad as it seems?” Esposito: “No, it’s much worse. Much, much worse.” Heh. He and Ryan point out that Meredith might know things about Castle that he doesn’t want Beckett to know, and it drives him crazy. As Martha tries to get him to relax, she tells him “You’ve got to stop letting freeloaders just live here.” Castle: “Please tell me you see the irony.” HAHAHA. When Meredith and Beckett return, they deliberately freak Castle out by hinting at some big revelation, but it turns out that the dinner went well and Beckett might actually like Castle more now. Interesting.
Just as everyone’s more or less getting along and Beckett’s apartment becomes habitable again anyway, Martha and Alexis talk Meredith into going to Paris alone. Before she leaves, she tells Beckett that her secret agenda wasn’t seducing Castle – it was checking Beckett out for herself, since she knew that Castle and Beckett were getting serious. And Beckett finally asks Meredith why her marriage didn’t work out. Meredith compares the relationship to a souffle and says that Castle knew everything about her, but she never really knew anything about him, because whenever she brought up a touchy subject like his father, he brushed it off or changed the subject. “I mean, souffles are wonderful, but sooner or later they always fall.” She hastens to add that this was all fifteen years ago and Castle’s a totally different man now, but Beckett still looks a bit concerned.
A lot of fans seem to be afraid that this means DOOM AND GLOOM for Castle and Beckett’s relationship, but I didn’t see it that way at all. I am in favor of seeing a real relationship with ups and down and obstacles and challenges to be worked through; perfection on TV is boring. I’m trusting that Beckett’s thoughtful look meant that she’s going to make more of an effort to pay attention to the darker and more private aspects of Castle that he doesn’t necessarily bring up frequently, and I’m hoping the show uses this opportunity to pivot toward the big mystery of Castle’s father. Now that Beckett’s mother’s case is more or less closed, I’m ready for our heroes to start delving into Castle’s past and secrets for a while.
(Image courtesy of ABC.)