Recurring Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Deaver, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Tamala Jones
This season throws us head-first into the continuing chase after the murderer of Beckett’s mother. The conspiracy thickens, as Kate discovers three cops with a dark secret connected to a mysterious benefactor, who has enough money to send a team of deadly assassins after anyone who gets in the way of him. As these assassins begin cleaning up the mess left by the past, destroying the last remaining leads to the case, Beckett takes them on herself, despite the advice of her co-workers and Castle. Before long, it becomes clear that Kate is losing herself in the case again and with her deadliest opponents yet, she might not make it out alive.
So yes, the excitement is dialled up to the maximum in the third season of Castle, which seems to improve with every episode. While the last two seasons skirted around the idea of Beckett’s mother’s death, this season fully explores the story. Before now, this mystery was just window-dressing; something in the background to make Beckett seem like a more interesting character, when she was first introduced to us. However, there is something very exciting about finally being put on the right track, especially when the writers have come up with a meaty plot to flesh out this mystery. There are still answers left over when the season wraps up. In many ways, we are still only made privy to the tip of the iceberg, but the season handles the material well and the season finale is a fantastic way to satisfy our desire for answers.
Moving away from the bigger mysteries, the relationship between Castle and Beckett also Heats up (pun intended). While in many regards, they are still distant from each other and still dancing around the idea of getting together, but we hit a handful of milestones this season. I don’t want to spoil them for you and a few of them are a little cop-out (when a relationship like theirs is stretched out for so long, they end up wasting some good milestones just to keep us invested in their character arc), but there are so good set-pieces. While we as the audience never fear for the lives of the two leads, especially not in the midway point of the season, when the two of them think they are about to die, their emotions come flying out. There are some tender moments, yet you will want to slap both Castle and Beckett, but mainly Castle, and make them confess their true feelings. It is a frustrating, but beautiful relationship to watch. Also other characters are given some time to shine. You may have noticed that I have finally given in and made Tamala Jones a recurring member of the cast. Well, this is mainly because she appears more often and feels like a true part of the team, but she is also given a romantic card this season that makes her feel more three-dimensional. I would like more, but it’s a start. The three cops, Montgomery, Kevin and Javier, get some good emotional moments to play with, as well, especially in the final episode. On the downside, Alexis and Martha have gotten a little repetitive and I think they have outlived their usefulness in the series.
Of course, these characters need actors good enough to fill their shoes and everyone is on remarkable form. The best thing about the show is how well Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic understand their characters. Almost every episode has a moment, where both the actor and the actress will add an expression that feels unscripted. It shows that they are so connected with their roles that they can bring an extra dimension to the story. For example, when Beckett is distraught and comes to Castle for solace, Nathan Fillion allows the smallest guilty smirk to cross his face, knowing that she has come to him, rather than her ‘boyfriend’. Other examples include the way Katic gives Castle a look, when he doesn’t realise it. These small touches add a spark to the show that makes it unmissable television.
The only problem with Castle at the moment is something I have brought up before: this kind of television show gets repetitive fast. When we hit a filler episode that does nothing to progress that over-arching plot or the relationships between the characters, there does seem little point to be watching this other than general light-hearted entertainment. It gets predictable and a little dull. Sometimes the writers try and break out of this box, but that can go either way. Sometimes it is a stroke of brilliance, like a simple investigation into the death of a bird-watcher than turns into a hostage plot or something small like telling us who the killer is from the first scene, so we approach the entire episode from a different viewpoint. Other times it doesn’t work, like when Castle and Beckett get wrapped up in an alien abduction conspiracy. It was a little too silly to take seriously and really pushed the boundaries of how crazy you are willing to let the season go. However, niggling downsides aside, Castle is really becoming one of my new favourite shows.
Final Verdict: The plot thickens, characters become far more interesting and the fun factor is still there. Season Three is just as amazing as ever.