Castle "Significant Others" Review: The Ex Factor

By Alex Navarro

Jan 08, 2013

Castle S05E10: "Significant Others"

After a few weeks away from television following that delightful little Christmas episode, Castle returned last night to the viscous mixture of relationship-hagglin' and procedural murder-solvin' that has largely dominated this season. I'm going to be brutally honest here: I'm maybe ready for a change of pace.

No, I'm not talking about anything too dramatic. We're way too early in Castle and Beckett's new relationship to shake things up too significantly, and it's understandable that the writers are still trying to hash out all the usual "early relationship craziness" plots before they continue on as if Castle/Beckett: The Couple is just an established thing. But I'm really starting to get a tad exhausted with all the quirks, bumps, and ill-advised decisions that seem to keep happening, week in and week out, for the sake of minor relationship drama.

Take this week's episode, "Significant Others," as the prime example of what I'm talking about. Early on we learned that Alexis's planned vacation to Paris with her flighty, possibly insane mother Meredith (Darby Stanchfield, whose actual resemblance to Alexis still freaks me out) had been canceled due to a tragic case of mono. However, instead of being allowed to tend to his daughter's health in peace, Castle suddenly found himself foisted upon by the aforementioned mother, who'd decided to come stay at Castle's place to care for her sick daughter.

Who in Sam Hell would ever agree to such a thing? Castle would, apparently. Never mind the generally amicable nature of Castle's divorce; this was just weird. Beckett was standing right there, and he just let Meredith traipse her way in and set down her luggage like it was all totally cool. Beckett was understandably pissed, Lanie had a conniption fit when she heard about it, and Ryan and Esposito spent half the episode staring bug-eyed at Castle and making exploding noises to signify how badly the situation was going to blow up in his face. If Captain Gates had been in this episode, I'm pretty sure she would have just punched Castle in the face on principle.

It was such a stupid idea, and literally everyone in the episode saw it. Even Castle saw it! But once Castle goes into armadillo mode in lieu of a minor conflict, that's it. That's your entire episode. The second he goes prone, you know you're in for an entire 42 minutes' worth of him hemming, hawing, and goofy face-making as he tries to do literally everything except the one thing that would solve this whole issue: telling Meredith to take a hike.

I love Castle's inherently affable charm, but his inability to handle conflict is something that is maybe a tad overused in this series. After all these years working together, the idea that Castle can't just tell his ex-wife, "This is really inappropriate" when Beckett is clearly seething is, frankly, insane. It was a lame excuse for a comic misadventure, and it was only held together by the comedic talents of the cast. Yes, I loved watching Esposito and Ryan read Castle the riot act over what a dumbass he'd been, but I also feel like the whole situation was purposely arrested development for the sake of yuks. Yuks, I might add, that were only sporadic throughout the night.

Granted, a lot of screen time went to the mystery of the week, which pertained to a murdered divorce lawyer and her bevy of clients (and jilted opponents). This lawyer had evidently dug up inadvertent evidence of a crime committed in the past, one so bizarre that it involved a fake boyfriend (who was actually spying on her for a rival law firm), a disgraced former athlete suspected of killing his wife years earlier, and scads upon scads of angry divorced people smashing things. Literally, an entire five-minute scene was dedicated to a divorced couple destroying each other's property while Castle and Beckett looked on, astounded.

In this regard, "Significant Others" was about as shrill an episode of Castle as I've seen in a good long while. It had laughs, but I can't help but feel like the laughs often took a back seat to Castle just being an idiot, which is not really why I watch this show. Even the "We're all good now!" coda felt kind of lazily tacked on. I'd have much rather witnessed the dinner scene between Beckett and Meredith, where they got to know each other and apparently became entirely friendly. Instead, we got to watch Castle pace around nervously, wondering aloud to anyone who would listen what terrible secrets Meredith might be telling Beckett. We, the audience, would have loved to have known too. No such luck, it seems.

Rather, all we were privy to was a brief exchange at the end, where Meredith explained that Castle's inability to open up to her about much of anything ultimately guided her decision to divorce him—though, unless I'm completely remembering this wrong, I'm pretty sure she ALSO had an affair, right? This left Beckett wondering how much she truly knows about this man she's dating. You know, besides pretty much every detail of his family life, his career, his financial situation, etc.

We're obviously building to something here, and that's great. But unless that build-up is for something coming up real soon, I think maybe I'd love it if we just got a couple of episodes where Castle and Beckett went back to solving crimes, with the relationship drama put on the back burner for a couple of weeks. Is this an unreasonable thing to ask for? Probably, but I'm gonna ask for it anyway.



NOTES


– Speaking of things this show might be building toward, we're about to reach the 100th episode. Considering Meredith dropped a reference to Castle's unknown father, I have to assume we're headed in that direction for such a milestone event. Which would be great, and I'm looking forward to it, honest. But again, can we have just a short frivolity break here, and keep the Important Things off the table for a week or two? I'd really appreciate it.

– This week DID return to one of this season's funnier running gags featuring Esposito and Ryan. Their constant state of incredulity over Castle's boneheaded decision-making mostly mirrored my own—and I assume, the rest of the audience's.

– The fact that this week's episode featured Ryan getting hip-tossed onto a car hood and Esposito delivering an actual karate kick to a suspect was a totally unnecessary, but kind of awesome little flourish. It was all so ludicrously pointless, but impossible to dislike.

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  • bingo1492 Jan 10, 2013

    not much left on TV that can be enjoyed but they will cheapen the show somehow....they always do when they think their RATINGS are falling...they will do some R rated thing just too see what they can get away with....happens to all the shows....or how much BLOOD and GORE to show...

  • bluemorphotat Jan 10, 2013

    "Darby Stanchfield, whose actual resemblance to Alexis still freaks me out" You and I both mate!!!

  • NillaSweden83 Jan 09, 2013

    I love this show and I actually loved this episode too. I like the little relationship things because that makes the caracters more real. So Castle was being an idiot - well sometimes people are! When he said yes to M living there it was a stupid moment and then he found himself stuck - I thought he did a reasonably good job trying to fix it. I do agree that they totally robbed us of that dinner scene with Kate and M though! That could have been great - such a miss!

    All and all I really like where this show is going. I wouldn't mind there being a few case-centric episodes, as long as they don't give up the little relationship-gags entrely because it's pretty darn charming! And I think it's entirely possible for Kate to know alot about Castle (for four seasons he's consulted her on most things going on in his life) and still don't know how he feels about the serious stuff (like his dad) - because he's a guy who likes to keep things on the light side. As the Beckett-story line is all 'but wrapped up, this is the prefect way drag a new arc on a few seasons. I mean if Castle dad could get him in to the CIA when he did his first book - he's not gonna be just anybody. Playing their cards right they can keep this a quality show for several more seasons. Yay!

  • CarlosR628891 Jan 11, 2013

    "Did a reasonably good job"? In the episode I saw Castle didn't get in a word edgeways because he was too chicken to say, Shut up for a second, willya?

  • NillaSweden83 Jan 12, 2013

    He did talk to Meredith and she gave him that sob-story. He could hardly refuse after that...

  • oz_island Jan 09, 2013

    I don't get it...the description made the episode sound even funnier than it was. I really enjoyed it, and I don't get the point that Beckett knows everything about Castle. Beckett, and we the audience know almost nothing serious about him. Sure he seems like a guy's guy, and would probably be a hoot to hang out with, but we literally know nothing about his past. Heck even in season 1 when Beckett asked him about why he got into writing crime novels he made up a story.

    Sure was it a pretty ridiculous premise, but this is Castle we are talking about, and it's not like that it was out of character for either Meredith or Castle.

    And I also don't get thinking that they have been putting too much of the relationship to the fore front. I haven't got that feeling at all, and honestly I think they have handled the relationship better any show before or currently on (Chuck, Bones, etc). To me they have a great balance. This particular episode was more focused on the relationship, and possibly the one a couple of episodes ago (with the dinner scene at the beginning), but most other episodes only gave the relationship part a few cute moments between the two.

  • Televisioneer Jan 09, 2013

    Actually we know an awful lot about Castle. And so does Beckett. She's not some silly naive neophyte. Or at least that's not how they wrote the character. But nuff said.

  • theopratt Jan 09, 2013

    I completely agree that this whole overly tired running gag of silly relationship problems needs to stop. I hate to say it, but Castle and Beckett's relationship was the most stable before they ever really cared about each other. Because once they started having feelings for each other, the show played that stupid game of having them almost confess their feelings for each other, then back out for some really stupid reason, before almost revenge dating other people. Now that they're a couple, the writers have decided that they need to keep this tension going, which is not the right move, especially since it hasn't been until this episode that a "relationship problem" will at least last until the next one.

    Up until now, each "problem" has lasted only one episode, and it has always been resolved by Castle and Beckett just talking to each other and being honest, you know, the sign of an actual good relationship. And you'd think that after all that Beckett and Castle have been through, they could share a continuous dialogue of trust with each other, and not just have a heart to heart about once a week, only to discover that they've been distrustful towards each other over some really pointless misunderstandings or mistakes. But now we're facing a new type of relationship problem, the kind that survives for more than an episode. But don't get me wrong, this one is actually more stupid than all the others.

    So in this episode Beckett asked Meredith why her marriage didn't last, and she said that Castle never told her anything, specifically about how he felt about his father. And Beckett suddenly got all worried face, and was still worried at the end of the episode (which to be fair was only two minutes away from the conversation). But my question to Beckett is: why? Doesn't she realize that her relationship with Castle is much different from him and Meredith. I mean, they've survived being locked up with a tiger. They have a bond, a bond nothing like he had with Meredith. And he's also a changed person, in a large part due to his relationship with Beckett. So Beckett has no reason to think that Castle will hold out on her the same way he did with Meredith; otherwise, by the same logic she would never have shared a fraction of the secrets she's shared with Castle, because she had never told any of the previous men she'd been in relationships with. No, the only way that the writers could have made Beckett legitimately worried is if she had asked Castle about his father at the end of the episode and he had given her a half smile. But they didn't.

    Now I agree with many of you that this is not just a problem with Castle, but with many other shows as well. I just hope that the writers decide to not keep the show where it has always been, with it's minor bits of tension between Castle and Becket while the music in the background does a childish little dance, but instead allows it to rise up and be better, be the show it should be and all that. I mean, Castle is not One Tree Hill, or the OC, or one of those other shows that is about nothing but the relationships, mostly romantic, that people have. It is a case of the week show with a great plot and premise. It doesn't need to rely on people constantly breaking up and coming back together. This is especially true since it is a show about adults and not high-schoolers. So just let Castle and Beckett be a great team, both on the case and in their relationship, and let them be tested by the actual threats that loom over them (it would seem that everyone in the show has forgotten for the past nine episodes or so that they all know who is responsible for killing Beckett's mom).

  • CarlosR628891 Jan 11, 2013

    I also agree totally, and with the review (nicely done!). Yes, the show is not a "serious" one, but still, that kind of absolutely childish and plain stupid behaviour went too far. I think I missed most of the plot points because I was raging at the idiocy displayed. Of course I'd throw out the ex! Even in comedy, I like people to show adult, intelligent behaviour. Sometimes, you can get funny / romantic AND intelligent. Am I asking too much?

  • Televisioneer Jan 09, 2013

    I completely agree theopratt. A character like Beckett who is strong smart, an adult, wouldn't give a second thought or waste her time with these juvenile situations. Even Castle, who has been seen to be adult and responsible when it comes to parenting or Beckett, must know this is all nonsense if he truely loves Beckett. The senarios the writers are presenting in these episodes are not only boring, they're not credible. What is this, Junior High School?

  • Televisioneer Jan 08, 2013

    In complete agreement with your review Alex, including your sentiment of being "exhausted with all the quirks, bumps, and ill-advised decisions that seem to keep happening, week in and week out, for the sake of minor relationship drama." Relationship drama in the course of normal everday life is one thing, and there is abundant opportunity for that. Building entire episodes around it is another. And when those episodes employ the same lame, sophomoric, dopey gimmicks of prime time's worst sitcoms, they threaten to doom this show. Maybe the show runners need some grownups in the writers' room. The same thing is happening with Bones. Lately I've been skipping these shows after a few minutes into the episode, (sometimes just from seeing the reviews), waiting for a truely good episode to come along. And I've also been waiting for the writers to see the story opportunities between Beckett and Alexis, building on the episodes where Alexis volunteered at the precinct, and the bank hostage episode. I've been waiting for a "let's have dinner, just the two of us," Beckett Alexis moment, Drama in a new relationship often centers around kids from previous marriages. Then again I'm not sure I'd want to leave this type of material in the hand's of Castle's current writers.

  • tamaabi Jan 08, 2013

    Ryan and Esposito made my week in this episode. They made me laugh much more than Castle did, and they were basically the one *really* nice thing about that couple dramedy of the week. (Boom)
    The murder was fine, and the opening towards Castle's father's story is intriguing me a lot. I'd lot to see more about that.
    Overall though, it wasn't my favorite episode of the season, because Meredith was only here as a plot turner instead of as an actual complete character. I agree it'd have been great to see the dinner between her and Beckett.

  • mcepin3 Jan 08, 2013

    I agree...weird episode....I would also said to my ex "take a hike ho". And those couple destroying each others things was weird as hell. Who in real life would break stuff in front of police officer and they would let them. And then comes in ex husband.....too much Castle(show),too much....
    I knew it some chick killed that lawyer,but didn't saw coming, that it was "dead-person's" work:D
    This episode was "meh" at best. Castle's mom and Alexis have always the same and nowdays after 5 seasons,boring,cheesy and f-ing played out scenes. Yeah sometimes I laugh at what they say,but I thought at least we are "free" of Alexis going to college. And yet,somehow she still manages to get into every episode(more or less). I love watching Castle,but I think they could bring in some "new" face to show,to get some fresh meat and replace Alexis or mother....or both:D

  • thisismetoo Jan 08, 2013

    Remember Castle digging in Beckett's past about her mother? I think Beckett is going to do the same about his father. Then she finds something not even Castle himself knew, but his mother did. Or Beckett finds out how embarrassed he is of his father because he is some kind of criminal...

  • stanking Jan 08, 2013

    Honestly, I'm hoping they kill this actress off in both Castle and Scandal. I'm tired of Little Red Riding Ho.

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