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‘Castle’ Season 7 Finale Recap: “Hollander’s Woods”

castle hollanders woods

“Kate, seven years ago I thought I would never write again, and then you walked through the door, and my whole world changed. You were right, you said I had no idea but now I do. This is because of you, because of us. Always.” – Richard Castle

With the cast and crew unsure about an eighth season of the show, Castle’s season 7 finale had the feeling of a series finale. Richard Castle is being honored with a lifetime achievement award and he is preparing for the award’s ceremony. And after the case of the week, which ties into Castle’s past, the ending of the episode had a beautiful amount of symmetry. The last scene with Kate Beckett receiving a call and exclaiming there has been a murder harkens back to the series’ pilot.

The case of the week ties into Castle’s past and makes him reflect on his childhood. Beckett and Castle are called out of the city to help with the death of a woman who is hit by a truck and is found with crosses carved in her face.

Castle is speechless when he sees the woman and it takes him back to when he was 11-years-old. As a young boy, Castle became lost in the woods surrounding a classmate’s house. While trying to find his way out of the woods, he stumbled upon a figure clad in black and wearing a white and black porcelain mask. It is also the first time he sees a dead body, as he finds the body of a woman with crosses on his face. The truck driver describes a figure that hits close to home with Castle. Young Castle is attacked by the eerie figure and let go. Since his run-in, Castle has been haunted by the figure. It motivated him to solve mysteries and become a mystery writer.

Beckett is also being led. Her desire for more spurred her to take the Captain’s exam and she is anxiously awaiting the results. While working the case, Beckett is called into Captain Gates’ office and told officials at One Police Plaza, the NYPD’s top-brass headquarters, want a meeting. Like anyone called to the office of people above them, Beckett is nervous and unsure about the meeting.

What was the meeting about? First, the officials verbally attack Beckett and even go so far to say they believe she isn’t fit to be a captain much less a detective. After being dismissed by them, Beckett prepares to leave but thinks better of it. She delivers an impassioned speech about what she has done on the job and who she is helped. During their tirade, they also attack and question Beckett’s relationship Castle, as well as the antics of her literary counterpart Nikki Heat for which she retorts:

“And as for his fictional representation of me. I’m proud to have been his inspiration, and I am proud to be his wife.”

After Beckett’s speech, she turns to go but the officials’ halt her. They inform her she wasn’t participating in a review; it was an audition. They want her to run for New York State Senate. Later, Beckett tells Castle what happened. She tells him about the senator offer and how they also told her she could earn her Captain bars and run her own precinct within a year. Always the supportive husband and partner, Castle informs Beckett he will back her no matter what her decision.

Haunted by his childhood trauma, Castle continues to dig deeper, with Beckett’s help, into the mysterious figure. When Castle and Beckett go to talk to a psychologist who has been treating their prime suspect, Castle is floored when he recognizes the man’s voice as the mysterious figure from his childhood.

First, Beckett has doubts Castle can remember the man’s voice 30 years later. Hurt she doesn’t believe him, Castle heads home. Later, in the loft, Beckett appears with a deed showing an abandoned farm the man’s family owns and they go out to investigate.

There, Castle goes into the barn as Beckett waits in the car. Beckett can’t trespass but Castle can. Castle is attacked by the psychologist/mysterious figure and Beckett is helpless to assist him as the barn door is locked. With Castle struggling with the man who is on top of him with a knife at his neck, there is an amazing camera shot that shows how Castle and Beckett are partners in life and work. He puts his hand under the bottom part of the barn door, Castle’s wedding band winking in the sunlight, as Beckett hands him her gun and he uses it to kill his assailant.

With the case solved from Castle’s childhood, they can prepare for his awards ceremony. As he and Beckett are getting ready, Castle laments on what would have happened if he hadn’t met the mysterious figure in the woods – if he would have been a writer, if he and Beckett would have met. Beckett tells him they are who they are supposed to be and are together because it was meant to happen.

For the first time in the series’ history, a Castle season didn’t end with a huge cliffhanger. It was an ending that felt like the closing of a chapter.

The show’s premise would drastically change should Beckett run for senate but I think her taking over the role of Captain would be more in tune with the heart of the show. In any form, the show can’t and won’t work unless it is Castle and Beckett together, married and solving cases and navigating life together.

A Castle series without Stana Katic is a series that is missing its heart and soul and would be a sad and shallow shell of what it used to be.