In Monday night’s tense episode of CASTLE, Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) confront a killer in a case that hits a bit close to home. A sniper is shooting victims seemingly at random and they have to race against the clock to figure out what the pattern is: does he pre-selects his victims or is all about the locations and mere convenience?
But the real issue is not about the killer, it is about whether Beckett will completely unravel as memories of her own shooting begin to surface. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an insidious psychological reaction to extreme physical and mental trauma that can surface unexpectedly.
In Beckett’s case, seeing the vulnerability of the sniper’s victims as they go about their daily lives resonates with her and she wonders about her own vulnerability — particularly as a cop who always lives in the spotlight tracking down criminals on the run. Castle quickly takes note of Kate’s uncharacteristic behavior, and worries that she is reacting as if she were living her life in the cross-hairs. It has turned her into a live-wire of emotions. So when Beckett takes a cross-examination of a witness a bit too far, Castle asks Detective Esposito (Jon Huertas) to intervene and talk with Beckett.
Therapy can only take a person to the door to self-healing, it is up to the patient to actually take the steps necessary to face their fears and truly heal. The combination of therapy, friends who care enough to give her space and the steadfast love of a man who knows she needs the help of another at that time is exactly what Beckett needs. She is a woman on the verge and one push in any direction could send her over the edge — the edge of sanity, the edge of sobriety, the edge of self-preservation. In a rare and touching scene, Esposito reaches out Beckett and manages to break through her impenetrable protective wall surrounding her fear and uncertainty.
It is remarkable that Castle knows that this is the one time that he needs to take a step back in order to allow Beckett the space she needs. Instead he focuses his attention on the case and for the first time ever, Captain Gates (Penny Johnson Jerald) allows Castle to work unobstructed in tracking the sniper before he strikes again.
The entire episode is about them all working together, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and using those to their advantage. Esposito says it perfectly when he reminds Beckett, “Think [PTSD] is a weakness, make it a strength. It’s a part of you — so use it.” Without Beckett’s rock-solid guidance, it is up to her team to be there and provide her the strength she needs to lean on until she can turn her own weakness into her own strength.
The story is not just about catching a killer; it is about working through our problems and using them to show us a path to understanding, revelation and strength. For Beckett, the case is not just an echo of her own recent trauma, it is a reminder that she has not let go of the past. She clings to her shooting and lets that fear cloak her life and it keeps her from moving on. She also clings to the grief she carries from her mother’s brutal murder. Beckett finally realizes that to heal, she will have to make a decision about those ghosts of her past.
To see how they ultimately catch the killer, how Esposito steps up to help Beckett, and the hard decision Beckett makes in the end, be sure to tune in on Monday, November 21st at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.
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