Early on in "Cloudy With a Chance of Murder," resident medical examiner and sassy side character Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones, who I had forgotten I kinda missed until seeing her again this week) mads an off-hand comment about seeing something "different" in Detective Beckett. Later, she identified that exact thing: Beckett was having sex. She identified a "glow" about her that previously had not existed. I can't remember entirely if Beckett had, in fact, not had sex for the entire four years prior to this moment, but regardless, the weird part of the whole thing is that I saw it too. It's one thing when a scripted character points out something you're meant to see, but I'd noticed it last week as well. Stana Katic is different this season, and it's a difference that's wholly welcome.
Katic has always been Nathan Fillion's straight-man, so to speak. She was the voice of reason, the one meant to set Fillion up for his various goofball one-liners. She was the serious character with the serious history who got to do all the serious stuff on Castle. Now, all of a sudden, she's not so serious anymore. Funny what getting laid will do for one's personality, no?
I've made my complaints about Katic before, but so far this season, I haven't had a single one. She's been fun to watch, seemingly more willing (or more able) to mix it up with Fillion on a comedic level. And because of that, this relationship is working. Fillion's still being Fillion, which is what people want and expect from Castle. But Katic going toe-to-toe with Fillion on the fun front adds a whole other dynamic that this show has rarely had before. Seeing these two actively enjoying each other, instead of just passively enjoying each other in sort-of-secret, has given the show a nice shot in the arm.
I just wish they didn't have to keep the relationship secret from everyone else. You see, despite Castle not actually being an NYPD employee, the NYPD still has very strict rules against coworkers dating, and undoubtedly mean ol' Captain Gates would put the kibosh on Castle's continued assistance on murder investigations should she discover his and Beckett's secret humping. Additionally, Castle's minor celebrity status in New York City means he has to keep things quiet on his end too, lest he end up on the front page of some tabloid rag. Though considering his previous history with the local media, it's more likely that they'd just mistake him for Jason Bateman again.
Because of this, Castle and Beckett spent much of "Cloudy With a Chance of Murder" jumping through hoops in an attempt to keep their coupling a clandestine affair. At times, such as with the always delightful Dr. Parish, this made for some decent comedy. This became especially true later in the episode, when Castle found himself stalked by a man-eating local entertainment reporter (Jodi Lynn O'Keefe). After innocently sitting down for a segment with her on the news, O'Keefe took things to maximum levels of awkward by asking him out on the air. Castle being Castle, he of course accepted. While Beckett stood not even 10 feet away. Oops.
Let's not even bother addressing the ludicrous lack of professionalism that led a reporter to ask an interviewee out on a date, live on television. This is Castle, so naturally something wacky and hilarious like that would happen. What we should address is Castle agreeing to the date specifically as a cover. In his mind, it was a way to fool the world into thinking he and Beckett aren't dating. By going out to dinner with this voluptuous TV personality, he could shake any possibility of people assuming he has a secret relationship with his best cop lady buddy. He did this without quite realizing what Beckett's reaction might be. One could describe it as "displeased."
It was fine for a time, until we realized that O'Keefe wasn't just overly forward. Indeed, she was a sex-crazed, celebrity-devouring temptress, who lured men into her den of sin by being incredibly hot and also apparently wearing top-of-the-line bikinis under her clothes. No, not sexy lingerie, but bikinis. In New York. In the fall. Right.
While O'Keefe was fun in full-on vixen mode, and Fillion's usual blubbering in these types of situations is always good for a laugh, I'm really, reaaaaaalllllly hoping that this doesn't go on for the entire season. I like Castle and Beckett together, but I'm not digging the desperate attempts to hide their love. It's funny in spurts, but it's also kind of exhausting, and it certainly isn't helping the standalone episode plots.
This week's mystery involved a sexy, aging weather woman for a local news station finding herself shot to death in Central Park. How she got there—the result of an expose on a carpet company polluting the air, or something—ultimately played second banana to a constant string of parallels to Castle and Beckett's own situation. Most notable among them was the silly conversation with the weather woman's supposed former boyfriend, who relayed a long, torturous account of the many lies and deceptions they had to indulge in to keep their relationship secret from their coworkers. His pain suddenly became Castle and Beckett's pain, and the conversations began to spiral into depressing self-reflection and doubt over their ability to keep this secret from their friends.
I realize that some drama will have to be wrung from Castle and Beckett's coupling, but the secret romance thing is just such a tired old trope, and it's not being used to particularly great effect here. "Cloudy With a Chance of Murder" was at its best when Castle and Beckett were free to have fun with one another and just focus on solving a damn mystery. Granted, the mystery was a largely forgettable dud, but this early in the season, I'm willing to forgive that in favor of just enjoying this new dynamic between the show's leads. Boy I sure do hope I get to keep enjoying that, and don't have to sit through episode after episode of Castle and Beckett desperately trying to hide their fun from everyone else.
– Ryan and Esposito seemingly made up this week, which would be great if I cared about them. Look, they're decent comic relief, but whether or not they're fighting doesn't make much of a difference to me. Just be bros and keep spouting your expository dialogue week after week. That's all we need from you, guys.
– Man, the writers really had to jump through some hoops to get Beckett to run in on Castle and Sexy Reporter Lady's bikini wrestling match, didn't they? I haven't butt-dialed someone on my phone since phones stopped having keypads.
– Really hoping for a better mystery next week. Last season was probably half good/half bad on that front. Considering we're now in this show's fifth season, I'm worried that ratio might start leaning toward the bad end of the spectrum.
– Best dialogue of the night: "She's like the Terminator of sexpots!" "What does that even mean? That she never stops coming?"
– Fillion moment of the night: That little end-of-episode smile that creeped out after Beckett confessed to still being weirded out by seeing Sexy McSexLady's boobs all up in his face.