Valkyrie: Canadian Review

Unless you wanna be spoiled, do not read until you've seen Valkyrie:

It has been four long months since Castle ended its fifth season with a breathtaking and emotional finale, the culmination of an exciting, captivating, and often extremely touching season that saw Castle and Beckett exploring the ups and downs of their first year in their newly established romantic relationship. The finale took viewers through a rollercoaster ride of emotions, as Beckett struggled with a potential new job offer in D.C. and Castle struggled with the thought of potentially losing the love of his life. In the closing minutes of the intense and dramatic final hour of the season, Castle got down on one knee and proposed to Beckett, leaving fans waiting all summer to not only find out Beckett’s answer to Castle’s proposal, but also whether or not she had accepted the job.
Sunday’s highly-anticipated sixth season premiere not only answered those questions in the most perfectly satisfying way possible, but it brilliantly kept the focus of the episode on something much more important: how Castle and Beckett would move forward after those decisions had been made. Penned by the über-talented Rob Hanning and directed by the legendary John Terlesky, “Valkyrie” picked up immediately where last season’s finale left off, with Castle down on one knee. In a short but very sweet scene, and one that was so perfectly Castle, the two solidified their engagement, decided that Beckett should take the job in D.C., and committed themselves to their relationship no matter what they may have to face along the way.

Not only was this scene so perfect in that it quickly and effectively answered the two major questions presented in last year’s finale, but it was also everything that this scene needed to be. While the finale’s proposal was misleading, shocking, and almost heartbreakingly serious, with the audience being made to feel as Beckett felt, believing Castle was preparing to end his relationship with her, this continuation was sweet, funny and incredibly romantic. It showcased every element of what we have come to truly adore about these two as a couple, from their hilarious banter and their awkward fumbling to their sharp one-liners and their ability to express the most heartfelt emotions through both brilliant dialogue and detailed performances. It also set the stage for Beckett to explore this new job opportunity, while allowing it to truly be a decision that the two discussed and were committed to dealing with together.
From there, the episode jumped ahead two full months, taking the story to D.C. as Castle and Beckett struggled to make their relationship work despite the distance between them and their busy, now very separate schedules. While Beckett was attempting to establish herself in her new job, Castle was returning home from a lengthy cross-country book tour, and it was quickly revealed that the two had been struggling to find time to see each other, creating the foundation of the episode’s storyline.
New characters were introduced in the process, including Beckett’s new partner, Rachel McCord (played brilliantly by former House star, Lisa Edelstein), and Alexis’ new love interest, Pi (played by Myko Olivier). Meanwhile, the majority of the supporting cast was either non-existent or given very little to do within the episode, something that was understandable given that the majority of the story took place in D.C. But their lack of screen time also made it seem rather clear that this storyline will not last long this season and that Beckett will find herself back in New York with an ensemble of familiar faces sooner than later.
With that said, even the absence of the supporting cast did little to take away from the absolute brilliance and beauty of this episode. While last year’s “After The Storm” was an incredible premiere in and of itself, “Valkyrie” was truly playing in a whole different league. It had the elements of a typical premiere episode, yet it took the story so much further and had the feel of a mid-season sweeps episode. It was not just the beginning of a new season, but very much a continuation of a story that has not missed a single beat since we last left it. This was truly one of the most powerful, captivating, emotional and intense episodes of the series thus far and certainly the biggest premiere to this point.
Seeing as it was an incredibly detailed and layered episode, it could take far more than one review to adequately discuss. There are, however, a few key elements that should be highlighted. One of the most interesting aspects of this episode was that it combined the original elements of the series with the new developments of Castle and Beckett’s relationship. We saw Beckett immersed in her work, Castle spending more time with his family and his writing, and the two struggling to walk the line between Castle’s desire to figure out the story and his getting himself in way over his head, just as we would have seen in any of the earlier seasons of the series. But we also saw these two so wonderfully domestic and familiar in their relationship, being more open and honest than ever before, and fully committed to one another despite the hardships of their now-long-distance engagement. It was a poignant mixture of the classic Castle elements and some very fresh and wonderfully captivating elements.
But at the heart and soul of the story was the struggle that Castle and Beckett both felt as they attempted to navigate the waters of their new situation. Only two months into Beckett’s career in D.C., the two revealed they had not seen each other in the past six weeks, something that clearly weighed heavily on both of them. And while Beckett struggled to find her place as a Federal Agent, attempting to prove herself all over again and doing it all without Castle by her side, Castle struggled to come to terms with the fact that he and Beckett would never get to solve a case together again and nothing would really ever be the same for them. It was a heartbreaking lesson that they both seemed to learn throughout the episode, one that may very well be at the core of Beckett’s eventual decision to return to the NYPD and to her regular routine and life with Castle. After all, this is a storyline that has a great amount of potential to bring Castle and Beckett closer together and make them both realize just how much they appreciate the life they share together. The Castle team seems to be brilliantly mining this story in that way, too. Clever writers.
With so much going on in this premiere episode and the pace being incredibly fast and intense throughout, the hour certainly flew by in a way that was reminiscent of the first part of a Castle two-parter. So it should have come as no surprise that this was, in fact, just the first part of an epic, season-starting two-part episode. Even still, and as is always the case, it did come as quite a shock. In an intense and chillingly emotional cliffhanger ending, Beckett revealed to a devastated Castle that he had been poisoned by a deadly military chemical, just part and parcel of his seemingly harmless attempts to help her solve her case. The heartbroken couple stared at one another in the dark interrogation room as the screen faded to black and the words “To be continued” faded onto the screen.
While the fan in me thought it cruel to make the audience wait four long months for a resolution to the finale’s cliffhanger only to leave us hanging even longer with another cliffhanger ending, the writer in me could not help but grin from ear to ear. Because, quite frankly, what better way is there to kick off an epic new season of Castle than to do it with a two-part episode?
Clever writers indeed.
Captain Founder, Administrator, Editor and Writer

The moment that I met you, my life became extraordinary. You taught me to be my best self, to look forward to tomorrow's adventures. And when I was vulnerable, you were strong. I love you, Richard Castle. And I want to live my life in the warmth of your smile and the strength of your embrace. I promise you I will love you. I will be your friend and your partner in crime and in life, always. - Kate Beckett The moment we met, my life became extraordinary. You taught me more about myself than I knew there was to learn. You are the joy in my heart. You're the last person I want to see every night when I close my eyes. I love you, Katherine Beckett. And the mystery of you is the one I want to spend the rest of my life exploring. I promise to love you, to be your friend, and your partner in crime and life, 'till death do us part, and for the time of our lives. - Richard Castle

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