Devika Syal ’18/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Castle returned for its eighth season this Monday with a two-part season premiere. Titled XX and XY, these episode names are fitting seeing as part one is told through Castle’s (Nathan Fillion) perspective, and part two relays the same storyline through Beckett’s (Stana Katic) perspective. Unlike previous seasons, the finale of season seven did not leave viewers with a cliffhanger. To those who need a reminder, last season ended with Castle accepting a writing award, which he dedicated to his friends and family, all of whom were together in the audience cheering him on. Beckett had just been given the choice to become captain or run for senate. That was the only dilemma any of the characters were facing. Even then, show runners announced in early August that Beckett had taken the captain path. Castle fans were left with a simple, angst-free mental attitude as they approached season eight.
However, if viewers were hoping that the lighthearted mood of the season seven finale would flow seamlessly into the season eight premiere, they are in for a surprise. The episode opens in a club, where a mysterious woman approaches a man, seduces him, then stabs him. So obviously, this isn’t a typical find the murderer episode. And when the audience already knows the vil
lain, it means they are far more dangerous than any run of the mill murderer. It also means that the storyline won’t be as linear as a typical episode.
ABC announced last spring that Castle would gain two new showrunners, Alexi Hawley, who created the NBC show “State of Affairs,” and Terence Paul Winter, who has worked as a producer and writer on Castle for the past season. This change in command is apparent within the first few scenes of season eight. The tone of the show was immediately darker; even the coloring reflected that. There were no bright colors, no saturation, and everything seemed to have a literal and figurative shadow looming over it. The score used in the episode was louder than it has been in the past, and featured sharp, abrupt beats and eerie music. The entire episode had the viewer left with the sense of impending doom. Even the first Castle and Beckett scene, moments which are usually lighthearted and romantic, was eerie.
A problem which Castle has had in the past is that its two-part episodes differ greatly from their general episodes. There isn’t a flow between what happens before the two-parters and what happens after, in terms of storyline and tone. This was evident last season in the two-part episode, “Reckoning and Resurrection,” when the twelfth precinct finally caught 3XK. Those two episodes were so well done, and the one that followed looked like a joke after it. This is a big problem if it carries on into season eight. If the premiere shows incredibly intense sequences, yet episode three of the season goes back to how the show was in season seven, it features a severe lack of inconsistency that cannot be passed under the radar anymore. It was okay last season because even the most intense episodes weren’t too different from the average ones. But the first half of the season premiere of season eight was borderline disturbing and cannot be forgotten about.
“XY” did have one standout factor though: Alexis (Molly Quinn). The first shot of her shows an unrecognizable young woman who took over her father’s PI firm and has been closing cases left and right with success–and without his knowledge. Alexis is finally finding her own feet and showing growth towards the future. For the past few years her character has been stuck as an ambitious, intelligent student, but she is finally getting a chance to expand her future. It is inevitable that she would find her way into the detective’s world, following in Castle’s footsteps, however the season premiere has shown that it may be her true calling. Alexis has always been an example of the fine female characters Castle should be proud of portraying, and as she grows up significantly during season eight, it’s obvious that great things are ahead for her.
While “XY” was a great introduction to season eight and what it has to offer, the following part, “XX,” should answer a lot of questions viewers will have watching the first episode. Regardless of what’s to come, Castle is back after a long summer, and that in itself is enough to be celebrated.
Episode Grade: A