|Read my review of Season One here.|
The first season of Castle ends on a huge emotional cliffhanger, and I can't even imagine what it was like for audience members to have to deal with waiting for the next season to start. Luckily I was able to start the next disc right away.
Which may be why I found the first episode of season two a little more jarring, and not as satisfying a conclusion as I think they could have done. Season two sometimes felt like it was re-establishing the show's premise, like season one was a pilot season and this was when the real story starts.
Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Going back over the list of episodes in this season, I see a lot of standouts that I really loved, and that helped move all of the characters along as the season progressed. There were a few that tread along well worn tropes- the bondage/S&M episode in particular has been done by CSI multiple times. But Castle did their take on it rather well, if they didn't break new ground with it. I am actually completely thrilled that the "backstage in the world of high fashion modeling" episode didn't shoehorn a reason for Beckett to have to walk the runway, like every other show does when this episode comes around.
The show very quickly went for a story about Detective Beckett's new celebrity status as the inspiration for Nikki Heat, in a two-parter that was as enjoyable for poking fun at other shows as it was a fine episode of this one. The show also starts to get a very fine parade of guest stars this season, which I think speaks to the high quality of the writing they have to work with.
I spent most of season two not sure where I was on the fence of a relationship between Castle and Beckett, but the character of Detective Demming really didn't help matters, since he was so obviously there simply to be a foil and had almost no character other than that. In a show where everyone else is so well rounded and interesting, he stood out like a sore thumb. He wasn't objectionable, he just wasn't particularly great either, and in a show where everybody is great...well, I was glad for him to go.
The highlight of the season is, of course, Sucker Punch. While you know that more developments in the case of Joanna Beckett's murder are coming, the way that this episode goes through it is gut wrenching. It reveals so much more character, even as it's answering questions and posing more problems. Everything about it is done to perfection, and the resolution of it could not have been more perfect.
The only fault I can really find with season two (Demming aside) is that the end of the season felt off somehow. The "we must separate them over the summer while the show is off the air so that they have to work to reconnect next season" isn't just old news, but it's something that a lot of shows will get into a habit of doing. And I was very worried that Castle would do that, over and over. Obviously I should have had more faith in the show, but it just wasn't as strong a note to end on as it could have been.