“Flowers for Your Grave” — Mystery novelist Richard Castle is questioned by police after two murders bear a strong resemblance to the murders in his novels. Later, Castle finds himself helping to investigate the crime displaying a unique insight into the true motivation of the killer. On the home front, Castle’s mother has moved in with him and his daughter Alexis. Both are concerned that he hasn’t been writing for some time and his publisher (and ex-wife) is putting on the pressure for his next novel.
First impressions are everything | When viewers first meet Rick Castle, we get the idea he’s a playboy—one with no scruples but is clearly searching for some more meaning in his life. That’s when Detective Kate Beckett enters his world—and he enters into hers. Both are unhappy, even if they don’t express it openly. However, Castle is a bit more open in his emotions—he’s killed off the title character in his novel series, hasn’t written a word, and has missed a deadline. Kate Beckett is also in searching of something more. She vocalizes this to ME Dr. Lanie Parrish when she says romance is dead every Saturday night.
More than partners from the beginning | This is one of the biggest, most often used literary tricks in the book. Girl likes boy but girl doesn’t want to admit it because she’s afraid. Boy likes girl isn’t afraid to admit it but doesn’t know how to crack this egg. Read almost any book about unrequited love or see any movie that has that theme as a backbone to character relationships, you’ll find a similar pattern. And it works because getting the payoff from the beginning isn’t any fun. It’s the journey, the adventure along the way that draws us in to the show. The show’s writers did an good job of establishing this cat-and-mouse from the very beginning. And it’s a good thing the network wanted them to pull back the attraction a bit.
She’s annoyed with him but that’s a good thing | Castle really is like a nine-year-old on a sugar rush. He gets in the way but his intrusions are helpful and in a way, reminded Beckett of “Veritas”—the truth. He opens her eyes to thinking outside the box, to search for more. He reminds her subtly that there’s always a story and never to settle for the glass half full. But he also gets to her, he reads her like an open book despite her attempts to hide her emotional side for him. When he tells her her story of why she’s a cop it reverberates through her, forcing her to think about something she’s tried to bury just to move on with her life.
Filming the premiere | When the first shot this pilot, they only shot something like 20 or 30 minutes of it and it was filmed in New York. When it was ordered to series, they filmed the remainder of the episode in Los Angeles. That’s why Ryan seems oddly placed—Seamus was cast in the part after the pilot and why the precinct looks different. These are noticeable but it’s never bothered me. It’s the first episode of the series. We’ll save the nitpicking for later episodes.
Great actors for great characters | The success of any show depends on the basic principles of storytelling—a believable set-up, good characters and great cast chemistry. The show has all these elements and they were established from the beginning. Susan Sullivan as Castle’s mom, Martha Rodgers, adds the right amount of humor with insight. Molly Quinn as Castle’s daughter, Alexis, is in some ways the audiences way into Castle’s home life and allows us to see Castle in the fatherly role, even if he acts like a 12 year old. Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Captain Montgomery brings the fatherly figure factor and knows what his detectives need, especially his top detective, Kate Beckett. Jon Huertas as Detective Javier Esposito adds the straight man factor while Seamus Dever as Detective Kevin Ryan adds that little brother humor. Medical Examiner Lanie Parish is the science behind their cases (and is so under utilized by the show IMHO).
None of this works without the leads | Of course, the secondary main characters don’t matter much if your leads don’t have great chemistry. Nathan Fillion as Rick Castle (so glad they changed it from Nick!) brings the right amount of humor and depth needed to the role. And Stana Katic as Detective Kate Beckett brings the right amount of spunk and humor. And they have great on screen chemistry together. Not only can you buy them working together, you can see the attraction between the two.
Sets up the series | This was a sound premiere that establishes all the main characters and gives viewers a look at what they can expect from the show.