So we watched the last episode of Castle last night. To say it was a disappointing ending to
the series is an understatement. Part of the problem for us might be that we stopped following the show this last season; some of the narrative choices the writers made weren’t very interesting to me—mainly Rick and Kate’s relationship being on the rocks. There are so many interesting ways you can add conflict to long-term relationships (which I thought they actually did a great job with earlier on with regards to the wedding planning, keeping their life separate from their work, etc.) that this seemed like a retread of the earlier will-they, won’t-they dynamic. I didn’t need to see that; they’d already done it. SPOILERS ahead for the Castle finale:
Some of my disappointment may have stemmed from the fact that a lot of plot threads were disjointed to me because I hadn’t been watching. However, the ending made it a solid WTF for me, mostly because of that terrible, terrible epilogue.
In part, that may be because the writers didn’t know whether the show would be continued for another season or not, so their choice to leave Kate and Rick both shot and possibly dying may have been intended to serve as a season-ending cliff hanger. And then when they got the word that the show would not be continuing, they had to come up with a way to resolve the entire series, not just the season. I don’t know what kind of timeline they had between finding out when the show would be ending and turning in the final script. However, the viewer shouldn’t have to know what’s going on in the writers’ room.
The epilogue was so disappointing because of how dissonant it was with the hour of television preceding it, and the rest of the show. It was too big of a jump in time and too big a shift in tone. Castle is not the kind of show that’s going to end with two dead leads; it needs a happy ending of some kind. The problem is that this ending wasn’t in the least satisfying.
It felt to me like it was a happy ending, but not Rick and Kate’s happy ending. It felt very generic. Rather than wrapping things up for these two characters, this could have been anyone’s happy ending. So how could they have ended the episode more satisfactorily? (Even if some of the final scenes already been shot?)
Tons of ways! All they had to do was make it specific to these characters and connect the viewer to the future so it’s not so much of a leap. Off the top of my head: We’ve already seen how long it took Kate to recover from being shot in previous seasons, so what about a montage of physical therapy for both of them? Martha and Alexis picking them up from the hospital? What about music overscoring scenes of them returning to work, Kate at the police station and Rick signing at a bookstore, and then returning home to be together? You can even keep the cheesy overlay of dialogue from the first episode if you must, but give it a connection to what’s happening—and connect what’s happening to the eight seasons of history these two characters have, not some rando plot moppet children that mean nothing to the viewer.