It’s time for the Castle Mid-Season Report Card, something that I normally look forward to writing each year.
But this has been the bizarro season of Castle, where most of what I've loved about my favorite show has disappeared and characters I once adored are almost unrecognizable.
As they say, misery loves company so I invite you to take a look back at the first half of Castle Season 8 with me.
Best Episode: In the past I’ve had a list of episodes I’ve really enjoyed and had to parse out the best, but in season 8 that wasn’t the case. This season it’s hard to find any I’ve entirely liked and certainly none that I’ve loved, but if I have to choose one, it will be Castle Season 8 Episode 7. "The Last Seduction" felt like it had the most Caskett chemistry we’ve seen all season, perhaps because our dynamic duo actually shared some scenes together which have been few and far between. Rick setting up the anniversary surprise in Beckett’s office was very sweet, and Ryan and Espo finally worked out their ridiculous issues. And we actually got a romantic Caskett scene at the end, even if it was a "time in" from their "time out" nonsense. In a nutshell, this was the only episode all season that left me feeling hopeful that the show could find its former glory.
Worst Episode: There were plenty of bad episodes this season or merely mediocre episodes with bad moments, but Castle Season 8 Episode 3 "PhDead" was the worst. A dark, violent, and disturbing murder. Alexis and Castle partnered together. Castle deciding he had to win his wife back, never mind the fact that he hadn’t done anything to drive her away. Lanie comparing Castle’s disappearance to Kate walking out. Alexis parading around like a Victoria's Secret Supermodel. Even Rick and Kate’s theorizing, felt forced. Let’s face it, any hour that gives us only a few scant minutes of Caskett sharing screen time is just all wrong, and not even Nathan Fillion in a pair of glasses could save this one.
Best Trend: The dumbed down, sitcom humor…no. The ridiculous Castle P.I. arc…absolutely not. Alexis all but ditching college to partner with her father…dear God no. Sorry, but there hasn’t been one good trend from Castle season 8.
Worst Trend: That all of our favorite characters are so out of character. Martha’s giving horrible advice. Lanie blamed Rick for his abduction. Ryan shoots at shadows. At least Alexis as super spy has been tempered in the latest episodes, but shouldn’t she be in college and focusing on a real career? Not to mention Kate choosing obsession over her marriage and Rick taking months to ask any questions. What happened to our ever curious mystery writer? Speaking of which...
Biggest Disappointment: What ever happened to a Writer and his Muse. I miss Castle as a mystery writer consulting with the team at the 12th precinct to solve quirky crimes. For that matter I miss Beckett as a detective. This show works best when our core foursome, Castle, Beckett, Esposito and Ryan, work together as a team. The new P.I./Captain dynamic doesn’t allow for much of that, and it’s been really disappointing.
Favorite Moment: Rick and Kate taking a time in from their time out. For all the talk about Castle being a great love story, we actually get to see very little love or romance on screen. Kissing, cuddling, or all out sex scenes, preferably at the loft, will always rank tops on my list no matter what the circumstances.
Worst Story Arc: The Caskett separation. Of all the stupid decisions this season, this ranks number one. The magic of this show is the chemistry between Rick Castle and Kate Beckett. Fans waited years to see them as a couple, then got cheated out of a real wedding. Then not even a year into that marriage, and Caskett ends up apart! No matter what the reasons, it has been the worst story arc in the show’s history and has tarnished a couple that many adored. Can they get the magic back? I’m not sure but I’m holding out hope.
Most Boring Plot Twist: LokSat. The story arc concerning Beckett’s mother’s murder worked because it was so personal to her and defined her character but after six seasons of that conspiracy it was time for it to end. Rick Castle’s disappearance was a convoluted mess that is best left in the past. Personally, I’ve got conspiracy fatigue. LokSat, with whatever big, bad, evil is behind it, holds absolutely no interest for me. After half a season, they haven’t made me care a bit about this plot.
Most Disappointing Regular Character: Martha Rodgers. I LOVE Martha. She’s always been Castle’s closest confidant and has given odd but usually good advice. This season Martha feels like a caricature of her former self.
I don’t feel the heart in the scenes between Rick and Martha that I always had and listening to her tell him over and over again to sit on his hands and wait for his wife to come home was excruciating.
Best Guest Star: Stephnie Weir as Mia Laszlo in Castle Season 8 Episode 5, “The Nose.” She saved this episode with her sarcastic comebacks and witty one-liners. Also Castle showed his heart by helping her try to live her life to the fullest. This hour had some really funny moments, and it could have been the best episode if not for the dumbed down humor that gave us fart jokes or tried to reassure us that Kate still loved Castle because Mia could smell it. Ugh.
Worst New Character: Vikram Singh. After the first three episodes, I would have said Hayley, but she’s become slightly less annoying as time has gone on. Vikram, however, makes me wish someone would shoot him every time he opens his mouth. He’s anti-Castle and anti-Caskett, and has inexplicably earned Beckett’s complete trust while she shut out her husband and real partner.
To be honest, both Vikram and Hayley are unnecessary add-ons who feel as though they just don’t belong. I’ll be happy to see them both go, but I’ll cheer if someone actually puts a bullet in Vikram to end him.
What we hope to see come February: That Rick Castle comes out of the shower in a towel as Beckett wakes up from the horribly bad dream that has been the first half of Castle season 8.
Being that that probably won’t happen, even though it’s at the top of my list to Santa, In lieu of that, I’d love to see the following:
- Castle get back to the smart, witty humor that attracted me to it in the first place and drop the silly dance moves, jazz hands, and sitcom comedy.
- Rick Castle goes back to being a writer and NYPD consultant and quits the P.I. gig.
- Kate Beckett ditches the Captain’s chair and goes back to working with her team. I don’t care how they pull it off.
- Alexis heads back to college and picks a real career.
- Martha goes back to giving her odd but brilliant advice.
- Hayley and Vikram leave the city by whatever means necessary.
- Castle and Beckett deal with their trust issues, for real, and for more than one scene.
- Actual Caskett romance and not just jokes about naked punishment.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved Castle from the pilot episode. I’d love to see it continue for Castle Season 9 and beyond…but not like this. This cast still holds the magic. I just hope they can find a way to get back to it.
I took a look back at the last three Castle mid-season polls and this is what I found…
Castle Season 5 had 87.2% grade it as an A
Castle Season 6 had 71.0 % grade it as an A
Castle Season 7 had 67. 7% grade it as an A
Here we go folks. It’s your chance to rate Castle Season 8 so far. Do you think my assessment is wrong? Do you really love it?
Grade Castle Mid-Season 8:
Don't forget to check back with us on February 1, 2016 for Castle Season 8 Episode 9 and if you want more, you can always watch Castle online here at TV Fanatic.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.