|Read my other reviews from Castle!|
Castle very quickly climbed to the top of my list of favorite shows. But even as I was watching season two, and seeing how much the show could make me laugh right before making me cry, my friends warned me about season three. No warning they could have given would have really been enough. There are a few episodes that really aren't up to snuff, but for the most part it's just a very long, very good ride.
When I left off talking about season two, I said that I didn't like the way the show handled the "we must separate them for a little while" plot line. I still don't like the way that season ended, but I do like the way season three picked up that thread and ran with it. Especially because it gave us not just Beckett's reaction to Castle forgetting to call, but also the rest of the team. The show always makes sure to give Esposito, Ryan, and Montgomery plenty of time to flesh out the story, and I love them for it.
Season three also makes sure to give Stana Katic enough to work with so that we can see what a phenomenal actress she is. Her performance in "Under the Gun" is nothing short of amazing. Somebody start giving her some awards already. Nathan Fillion gets to have fun too, and of course his interactions with Alexis and Martha are always wonderful. But this season really belongs to Beckett.
I could have done without the episode "Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind" really, even though it was funny it just didn't feel like it was keeping the pace the rest of the season was setting. I was pleasantly surprised though to see how the show handled Beckett and Castle's alternate romances. Despite Castle being obviously a bit jealous of the new guy in Beckett's life, he handles it in a really mature way, and it was really nice to see after how much I disliked the Demming storyline.
I also have to say, the first half of the episode "Nikki Heat" where we meat the actress playing a character based on Beckett started out kind of embarrassing and hard to watch, but quickly became one of my favorites. I'm a sucker for behind-the-scenes type stuff and the jokes in this one were pretty spot on. The same goes for "One Life To Lose," which had a crazed fan character that I'm pretty sure I've bet at some point in my life.
I did like parts of the episode "To Love and Die in L.A." for the same reasons, but the fact that it was almost entirely built on the old trope of "I'm not really investigating this thing you told me not to do and now I'm working against law enforcement even though we have the same goals because nobody can just communicate" really killed it for me. It was good, but it wasn't great.
But the writing really shines with "The Final Nail," an episode where Beckett and Castle have opposing opinions about a murder suspect, who happens to be one of Castle's old friends. When I was watching it, I was convinced there was no good way for the episode to end, because they had set up the conflict far too well. If the man was guilty and Beckett is right, then Castle's faith and humor take a hit, making him less like the character we love. If Castle is right and the man is innocent, Beckett's instincts and dedication to policework and doing her job at all costs is seen in a bad light. Neither is good, because it was each character's best qualities that were making them disagree. The fact that the writers managed to resolve the conflict without knocking down either one, and still make it heartfelt and upsetting is a testament to how good they are.
The thing is, this all leads up to the season finale, "Knockout" which does not let up and does not let you go. Even when you think the episode has destroyed your emotions enough for one hour of television, there's more. The character development, the plot development, everything about it is astonishingly good. If I had watched this when it aired and had to wait through an actual hiatus for it to start up again, I would have wanted to throttle the writers.
And I mean that as a compliment.