“Castle” helps us adjust to a new America, with women on top

Summary: The tv show “Castle” prepares us for a New America, as Kate Beckett grows larger and Richard Castle becomes smaller. As women’s education levels increasingly surpass men’s, incomes and status of women will follow. Gender roles will have to adjust, radically. This is the essence of Feminism. Hollywood helps us adapt by showing possible futures, which we can discuss — and prepare for — like the long decay of Castle from alpha to beta, and his failed attempt to reverse it. We’ll see more such stories in the future, on screen and in real life. Post your thoughts in the comments.  Warning: season 7 spoilers galore!

“Oh, wow. You’re engaged to a douche.”
— Rogan O’Leary (Beckett’s husband),  speaking to her about Castle

Beckett abuses Castle in "Flowers for your grave"
Sensing his weakness, Beckett’s abuses Castle in S01E01

Contents

  1. The mystery resolved!
  2. From the start Beckett saw weakness
  3. Over time Castle grew smaller
  4. Other posts about “Castle”
  5. Other posts about women

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(1)  The mystery resolved!

At the end of season 6 Castle had an epiphany. Beckett’s serial deceits (details here) culminated with her “forgetting” that she was married (exquisite from the woman who mocked Castle’s two divorces by saying “I’m a one and done girl”). He saw his evolution from the ruggedly handsome, rebellious, action hero of Season One into a beta. Castle realizes that he shares Rogan’s contempt at what he’s become.

The show ends with a cliff-hanger: Castle kidnapped while driving to his wedding. In the opener of season 7 Castle has amnesia, but the NYPD detectives discover who arranged the kidnapping. The answer is exactly as I predicted. {Transcript from Series Monitor}

  • TORY: {the video plays} This is in the time window when the {money} drop should have taken place. …
  • RYAN: We get eyes on Cardano’s client we can get a real lead on who took Castle. … That’s him. That’s the client dropping off the cash. …
  • BECKETT:  Wait. Freeze that. Zoom in.
  • ESPOSITO: That’s Castle. He’s the one who dropped off the cash. … Castle’s in on this. He planned the whole thing.

In S07E02 Castle tracks down a man who knows what happened, and so learns the source of his amnesia: “… you were the one who asked to forget.” The mystery for season 7: what did he want to forget, and why?

Here’s my guess. Each of us has the capacity for self renewal. Castle has forged new versions of himself, from high school prankster to millionaire novelist to A-team detective.  At the end of season 6 he decided to make a clean break with his old life, using his incredible Rolodex of contacts to arrange the faking of his death — and a rebirth. But he lost his nerve, asked for the memory of all this to be erased, and then blindly fled to await his return to Beckett. Renewal is difficult, and painful — too much for the man he’d become.

Let’s review why Castle decided to bail on his life, and what happened after he returned to it. Reminder: spoilers!

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Beckett humiliates Castle in S01E03: "Hedge Fund Homeboys"
Beckett humiliates Castle in “Hedge Fund Homeboys”

From the start Beckett saw weakness

Castle is praised for its gender equality. See the photos at the top and to the right. Imagine this reversed, Castle so lightly inflicting pain on Beckett. Publicly.

What kind of man accepts this? It’s very beta. It’s behavior of a sub.

In this we see Beckett’s insight and strength that she so quickly sensed the weakness in Castle, and boldly exploited it to manipulate him.

Over time Castle grew smaller

(a)  He’s a writer; she’s a cop. He’s proud of his skill at Scrabble. She beats him at it, twice, in “Law and Boarder” (S06E21). Skill by skill, she proves herself his superior.

(b)  Castle was a good shot. From “Home Is Where the Heart Stops (S01E07; from Series Monitor):

  • [Beckett fires her pistol at the target]
  • CASTLE:  Wouldn’t it be more of a challenge if they weren’t standing still?
  • BECKETT: [stops shooting] OK Castle, you show me how it’s done. All yours. [She gives Castle the gun; he takes a one handed stance with his right hand extended]
  • BECKETT: It’s not a duel, Scaramouche. [Beckett turns Castle around] Here. Square off the target. Feet shoulder distance apart. OK, gauntlet your right fist in your left palm.
  • CASTLE: [Castle fires, into the wall] Oh, shot too soon.
  • BECKETT: You know we could always just cuddle, Castle.
  • CASTLE: Oh, funny, and a smile. Good. [Fires, again missing the target] I came to ask you if I could take home some of those stolen property photos. … I thought it might spark something. [Fires, hitting the target in the groin] Oooh, that kinda hurt!
  • BECKETT: Tell you what. You put any of the next three in the 10 ring and I will give you the files.
  • CASTLE: [quickly fires 3 shots, all in the 10 ring. Beckett stares at the target, stunned] You’re a very good teacher.
Stana Katic
Hero of the show

Later, he’s a bad shot. From “The Human Factor” (S05E23; from Series Monitor):

  • [The drone flies towards them. They both fire. Hit, the drone crashes.]
  • BECKETT: Really? Do you think that you shot down that drone with your marksmanship?

Update, another example: in S07E07 “Once Upon a Time in the West” Castle was in a shoot-out with the bad guy — but fumbles the gun. Beckett saves Castle by shooting the gun out of the bad guy’s hand.

(c)  Once back with Beckett, Castle continues his decay in Season 7, as in S0702 (from Series Monitor). Pitifully, he begs permission to travel, gaining permission — but only with his daughter along as a minder. How many men would sink so low?

  • CASTLE: Fine, I’ll go! Montreal is a short flight. I’ll be there and back in a couple of hours.
  • BECKETT: No, not after everything we’ve been through. You’re not going alone.
  • ALEXIS: She’s right, Dad. You can’t go by yourself. (Castle pouts) I’ll go with you!
  • CASTLE: Yes. Yes! (to Beckett) She’ll go with me.
  • BECKETT: We have no idea what’s out there. No idea who’s out there. That’s too risky.
  • CASTLE: It’s Canada. How risky could it be? And need I remind you, I’m a grown man. I don’t need to ask your permission. That being said, please, please, please can I go? {He looks at her with puppy-like eyes}
  • BECKETT: Okay, fine. But only because I know you’re not going to do anything stupid if she’s with you. {to Alexis} Don’t let him do anything stupid.
  • ALEXIS: Promise.

(d)  We learn that if they had never met, Beckett’s career would have been a bigger success — while Castle’s would have crashed and burned (failure as an author, then losing his money in bad investments). What a crushing blow to his ego! Ashamed of this knowledge, lied to conceal it from Beckett and quickly marries her. Imagine the conversation if he had told her the truth.

No wonder there are rumors that Nathan Fillion will leave after this season.

Other posts in this series about “Castle”

Castle gives us a mirror in which we can see ourselves, skillfully constructed by the best producers, actors, and technicians in Hollywood.

  1. Spoilers for “Castle”: explaining the finale & season 7. It’s a metaphor for America.
  2. What we do here. Why it’s unpopular. And our new theme.
  3. What the TV show “Castle” teaches us about America, and ourselves, — About our myths
  4. The TV show “Castle” challenges us to see our changing values. Most fans decline, horrified.
  5. “Castle” shows us marriage in America, a fault line between our past & future
  6. “Castle” shows us a dark vision of Romance in America
  7. Richard Castle shows us the dark reality of justice in 21st C America
  8. “Castle” shows that many of us don’t defend New America because we don’t like it
  9. The bitter fruits of our alienation from America — more lessons from “Castle”

For More Information

Other posts about women in society:

  1. The Real Revolution in Military Affairs (it’s not what you think), 14 November 2005
  2. Women dominating the ranks of college graduates – What’s the effect on America?, 7 July 2009
  3. A better answer to “why women outperform men in college?”, 8 July 2009
  4. Women as soldiers – an update, 25 August 2009
  5. Update: women on top of men, 27 October 2009

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9 thoughts on ““Castle” helps us adjust to a new America, with women on top

  1. I remember that when Castle first premiered, I couldn’t understand its premise. Why would Rick Castle, a famous, high-status, wealthy and strong-willed man pursue this NYPD detective Kate Beckett? The answer is simple: Rick Castle has a problem. He wants to be dominated by his wife.

    This is readily evident by his choice of women. He’s married twice with both women illustrating his problem. His first wife was very turbulent and “crazy fun” but lacked the controlling instinct of Kate Beckett. His second wife was high demanding but was too civilized to physically hurt him. This did not deter Rick Castle, a man determined to be dominated.

    His quest was fulfilled by a killer copying a murder in one of his novels. Ordinary women at his book-signings who fawned over him were no competition. His heart went out to the woman who handcuffed him to a table and pressured him for hours on a murder charge.

    Ironically a dominatrix would have been cheaper in the long run and hurt his reputation less if discovered by his readership. Now he gets to spend the rest of his life with a woman who regularly hurts and mocks him. Although she is likely to divorce him when convenient and take all his money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ian,

      One pleasure of reading comments is that there are always people who see these things more clearly than I.

      Yours is a powerful high-concept interpretation of “Castle”. My impression of both wives is that dominated Castle. We see that clearly in his dealings with ex #1 in S01E06 “Always Buy Retail” and S05E10 “Significant Others”. She runs his life, effortlessly.

      Also note Castle’s fascination with dominatrixes in “The Mistress Always Spanks Twice”, and how when they visit one Beckett automatically introduces Castle as her sub, and how easily Castle’s normal behavior fits the role.

      An easy “tell” to Castle’s weakness is the number of times he apologizes to Beckett and Alexis. Many many times. They seldom apologize to him (does Beckett ever do so?).

      It took Beckett 2 or 3 years to dominate Castle. It appears it was sweet to play with him, but biological clock grew loud so…

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  2. Question from a reader: “did Castle get a pre-nuptual agreement from Beckett?”

    We can only guess. My theory:

    We will learn the answer in season 14, when Beckett divorces him. As he ages and continues to gain weight, while Beckett remains rail-thin hot and advances in her career, tensions will grow between them. Eventually Castle will have an affair with a young hottie. Of course, Beckett will learn of this, and file. She’ll hire a NYC junkyard-dog attorney, who will barrage Castle with lawsuits. Did he have Beckett’s permission to use so many details about her life in his books? Did he compensate her for attending promotional events? However weak legally, these boost the pressure — already intense since Castle’s friends are Beckett’s friends, and they’ll condemn him.

    Castle’s mother will shrug, tell him he was stupid, and advise him to fight her on the settlement (which he’ll ignore).

    My guess is that Castle will fold under the pressure, and give Beckett a “whatever she wants” settlement to end the fight. She’ll use that big money to finance her first run for office (we learned about her political career in “Time will tell“). He’ll break (as we learn he would have if he never met Beckett in S07E06 “The Time of Our Lives”). Castle will Alexis will support him, but move off after he breaks (as she did in the alternate timeline of S07E06).

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  3. Even some of the female fans have a twinge over Castle’s devolution into a beta

    Castle Season 7 Episode 7 Review: Once Upon A Time in the West“, Christine Orlando, TV Fanatic, 17 November 2014 — Excerpt

    My one small complaint was that Castle needed Kate to rescue him from Grady during the gunfight. I was hoping to see a throwback to Castle season 1 where we learned what a great shot Castle was. Of course this was a showdown with six shooters not a target range but I would have enjoyed seeing Rick be the hero on this one.

    Comment by Sue Ann — Excerpt:

    Nathan Fillion can simulate a quick draw pretty well; he did it in Firefly. I’d have liked to see him do it. His character is a good shot; having him flub up that draw the way he did was idiotic for a man on his honeymoon with everything in the world to live for. (After all, he had already had a graphic illustration of how well the villain could draw that gun and aim it.)

    Castle is fairly submissive, and not just to women. He’s also quite bright. Even considering trying to stop that man from leaving was stupid, and I did not buy it for a second. It quite took me out of the story. But since he was being stupid, it was a perfect time for him to be shown to be competent. And they just made him look like an incompetent wuss again. Annoying.

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    1. Another comment by Sue Ann at TV Fanatic (Feb 2013) about the submissive side of Castle.

      The relationship between Castle and Beckett has always been Kate the dominant, Rick the submissive. Of COURSE she ordered him to report to the bed. Castle being such a soft wussy guy most of the time is one of the funny (giggly) things about having the actor who portrayed Malcolm Reynolds, a stone cold killer, play Castle as generally not overly brave. I have even seen him hide behind Kate a time or two.

      Yes, I know he shows overwhelming bravery, too. I said, MOST of the time. But he is very submissive to all the women in his life.

      The scenes of Castle hiding behind Beckett — or running from danger while Beckett stays (S06E11 “Under Danger”) — seem odd given the character of Castle, but nicely show his devolution.

      Like

  4. Castle Recap: How the West Was Fun“, Matt Webb Mitovich< TvLine, 17 November 2014 — Excerpt:

    As for Caskett themselves, the campfire scene was heading in a very nice direction before being cut short by the rattlesnake — but for once can we have a brazen, bedroom-eyed Beckett not turn Rick into a flustered, fumbling-whatever-he-has-in-his-hands schoolboy? (Wasn’t this guy a smooth playa back in the day?)

    Like

  5. From CastleConfessions:

    Castle as a metrosexual

    Comment posted there (reblogged here):

    I feel like I’m suffering a little bit from the “are we watching the same show” syndrome upon reading this, but it does hit pretty close to home in terms of how I view to the show. Mostly because Castle is, for a show about heterosexuals (which is the only thing I can assume you mean by the “most heterosexual show on TV” comment), also one of the most non-heteronormative shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. While I won’t deny that I’m sure Beckett’s metrosexual comment (which, to be fair, I only remember occurring once) was belittling… Well, everything she says to Castle is belittling. That pretty much stands for itself, and it’s part of their banter.

    But I think I take issue most with the comment of it being reflective of the writers of the show and their closed-mindedness. Part of Castle’s theme – to the point that is is almost a specialty, if you ask me – is not only the reversal of gender roles but the complete defiance of them. We have a female character – the tall, dark and silent type who is emotionally distant and troubled. The male character – the fun-loving, heart on their sleeve type who is as much homemaker as he is anything else. And it doesn’t stop there. The show continually and unapologetically turns these traditional tropes on their heads. And that’s the keyword for me – unapologetically. For as much as Beckett may razz on Castle for his lack of embracing his traditional gender roles, he never changes them. And as for much as she teases him for it, she is the epitome of defying these roles herself. Somewhere out there (and I would link it to you if I still had it, but I don’t), there is an amazing article discussing Castle’s role as a sexual submissive. It covers a lot of the specifics that I’m not going to go into, but my point of bringing it up is that it’s not fanon – Castle embraces his submissive qualities in the canon, and he doesn’t ever seek to change to adjust to the expectations of the role of a “man.” …

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