[edit: linked post was not available at the time of this post's writing, hence the explanation]
So as I do when faced with intense emotional reactions, I put it back in the icebox to cool off, partly because I was not quite ready to process the emotions of this GOSH DARN WONDERFUL pair. But I can't move forward until I polish off these reviews, so:
7x20, Sleeper: now that's a good mythology episode.
Not having a separate murder case to distract from the A plot allowed it to be all it could be. I can't shake the feeling that we're going to get more to this story and that it's possibly going to suck, as opposed to simply being allowed to live with the "Castle was off saving the world" narrative and that makes Beckett happy and would help me sleep a lot better at night, but for now, I'll take it. But I honestly do like the idea of never getting *all* the answers, only the most important ones.
Their married dynamic was also just exceptional throughout the episode. I loved how after encouraging him to explore the dream at the beginning, she walked that fine line between supporting his quest for answers and trying to rein him and temper his search to more realistic possibilities, especially when it meant balancing her desire to help him with her responsibility to her job and colleagues. Gates had an especially good reaction to that, sympathetic but asking the important questions: "These leads - are they solid? Or is Mr. Castle just grasping at straws?"
I also liked that he agreed to see her therapist. This show's positive portrayal of therapy is so important.
Plus there were just a boatload of wonderful individual scenes and moments in this one:
-"So, you were restless again last night. What's going on?"
"Babe, you keep saying that, and it keeps getting worse. You were whimpering in your sleep. It's been every night for a week. So come on, talk to me."
I would have taken the imagery + demonstration of concern in her first line alone. The ones that follow are just diamonds. The whole conversation of Beckett gently trying to get him to talk/talk sense into him and his stubborn reluctance to dwell on it (which strikes me as rather unlike him, considering it would involve solving a mystery) just illustrated their married dynamic super well.
-Alexis waking up Beckett to help with her dad. It has everything I like in one comfortable, fleeting scene: concerned daughter feelings, interaction between the important women, and a comfortable intimacy befitting of a stepmom that rarely gets the illustration it deserves, newfound cheek kisses aside
-Martha coming in for a heart-to-heart about Castle. Mother's concern x wife concern = a really great conversation.
-Lol moment I wish I could find in .gif form, after Beckett insists on him going home, voluntarily or in handcuffs: "Just for the record? Extremely bitter."
-Really wonderful Alexis moment where she pushes him to tell her which theory about his disappearance scares him most:
-"I wanted to forget everything. So in my darkest moments, I wonder if I...did something terrible."
With all the unconditional optimism and trust of a young child: "I know you. You would never do anything bad."
"I could never leave the love of my life -- desert her, and you -- for two months. And somehow I did."
I just need an hour or so to appreciate that "love of my life" phrasing. And then another hour for acknowledging that leaving his daughter is also a Would Not Happen scenario.
-Castle punching Jenkins in the face. Vicarious enjoyment levels: EXTREME.
-Alexis kissing him on the cheek after he brags about his heroic exploits to only audience he can.
-Beckett swooping in for a thank-god-you're-okay hug upon returning home.
-Castle's genuine apology, again, for "everything I put you through."
-One final long kiss over glasses of wine.
RS is a happy, happy viewer.
[edit: GEEZE, INTERNET. What is with all the dislike??]
In Plane Sight: So you've decided to pull the cliche "character needs to solve a murder on a plane before the end of the flight" card. That's bad. But you know how you make it work? Make it showcase a father and daughter working together. That was SO much better than it should have been, simply because Alexis was on the scene.
It could have worked with Beckett too, but this provided an extra layer of "need to make sure I protect my decidedly-unskilled-in-self-defense daughter from AN ACTUAL LIVE MURDERER" that upped the stakes. (how much did I like him subtly trying to stop her from walking any closer to toward the gun-pointing attendant, with her just as calmly removing his hand from her arm and moving forward anyway? A lot. And not just because it fueled a season 3 finale redux spin-out in my head.)
Plus I just liked the fact that they were on a trip together, or that she was tagging along on his trip, at least. It's like the minute I say there aren't enough father-daughter scenes, the show remedies that by giving me a whole episode. I loved her sleuthing skills, and the way she formed an empathetic connection with Debbie (awwww, Debbie, it's hard to blame you despite your murderous tendencies) to talk her down at the end impressed me as much as it impressed Castle.
And that super adorable hug at the end, as Alexis decides she actually kinda does feel like being attached at the hip this weekend, and he concurs? Golden. This episode is definitely one of my favorites of the year.
Seeing Beckett finally take a breath upon confirming that his flight has landed safely was a nice one-sided coda, too.