I’m starting this article before I’ve even seen the finale tonight. Not because I have predictions (I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about it too much) but because I’m thinking about it too much.
This is the end of Castle.
For eight seasons, I’ve watched two complex characters figure out life side by side. Not exactly together-together, even though they do get together (and even get married), because when they’re finally a couple, they’re still pulling bonehead moves like keeping secrets and making decisions for the other person instead of with, but isn’t that just life? Don’t we all do that? We’re singularly singular individuals, and we make decisions thinking we know what’s best or that we’ve figured things out, but in reality, we do very poorly when it comes to taking someone else into consideration.
These two. Man, these two have made me crazy and made me inspired at the same time. To repurpose a quote from Castle, it’s “the most remarkable, maddening, challenging, frustrating” television show’s love story out there. And I love it.
Before I get to the finale, I have to explain what’s been built with this show’s eight years.
I entered the fandom via fan fiction writing. Not even really reading others’ stories, just writing my own. And when I say the ‘fandom’, I mean it. Fandom is a thing that exists now, and if you don’t have a fandom, you have no idea.
Fandom is epic. Fandom has power. Fandom can be despotic and cruel and inflexible just like a kingdom. Its rulers are imaginary characters from a television show, so of course all havoc breaks loose from time to time. There are fandoms for rock bands, sports teams, for Real Life people or events, but nothing about a fandom’s rulers is truly real. It’s all persona and perception, the media buzz distorted, the hype hyped, the truth spun.
If that sounds bitter, it’s because I might be bitter. The Castle fandom has a tightly knit group of trolls who forage on the creative output of those of us who keep making art for the sake of our love of this show. These trolls are real people who might or might not know each other, but they are vicious and coordinated in their attacks. They browbeat, they guilt-trip, they leave nasty comments, they ostracize, they spread rumors, they bombard one’s email with hate, they flame.
For that reason, I’m glad to see Castle go. It needed to end, all of it. But being a high-profile member of the fandom has brought such joy and opportunity as well as those trolls. And I want to dwell on that joy and opportunity so that you begin to understand why us freaks and geeks are fans in the first place.
I watched the season one premiere because I was a Firefly fan, and a fan of Nathan Fillion, from way back. When it came out that NF’s character, Richard Castle, was supposed to be a writer, I kind of had a mini freak out.
Nathan Fillion— a writer just like me.
Well, of course, Castle is a NYT Bestseller and multi-millionaire, but let’s not quibble over the details here. Don’t ruin my story with your logic. (I have to stop inserting every single Castle in-joke, I really do). When I saw the first episode, the female lead struck me as nothing more than a foil for Nathan Fillion’s comedic genius. I didn’t even know her name, but I thought she looked familiar.
It wasn’t until 1×05 “A Chill Goes Through Her Veins” that the brilliance of this show became apparent. There was something haunting about the lead actress, Stana Katic, and that was then being reflected in the story onscreen. SK’s portrayal of Detective Beckett was hard, unrelenting, but also wounded and seeking. I don’t know how that’s done, and I don’t presume to know, but whatever it was she did, she did it right. Beckett became for me a kind of mirror, a woman with a past who was struggling to be composed and professional even as she was drowning in the what-ifs of her own story.
She was also my age. That helped solidify my sense of connection. It’s interesting because in so many other aspects, we had nothing in common. But the writers, the show creator, the actors – they endeavored as a cohesive organism to bring Kate Beckett to life in a way that was universal and singular, both at the same time.
We related to her. I totally dug the writer aspect of Castle, and his dastardly charm (he was a rake with a heart of gold), but I really got Beckett.
And thankfully, they didn’t leave it there. The writers and creators and the actors all began exploring who Beckett was and what she wanted from her life, and in doing so, they brought Castle along with them. She grew, and the whole show grew. The most obvious example is that Beckett became Kate and Castle became Rick. Not just onscreen, but for me and the other fans as well. We couldn’t do that with X-Files. We never were allowed to be that intimate with Mulder and Scully. Heck, Scully wound up pregnant and we all wondered by WHOM. Aliens? Mulder? Someone else?
That didn’t and wouldn’t have happened on Castle.
At least I can say that. At least I had that— the intimacy of knowing their story and have participated in it.
And if that’s all I have from the show when all is said and done tonight, that’s pretty great. I learned. I grew. I became more than who I am. You might think that’s too much to ascribe to a show, but I would posit you’ve never been a fan in a fandom.
Thank you, Castle.