May 21, 2011

season finale watch: castle and hawaii 5-0

I'm actually a little surprised that these two shows stayed on my schedule this year. Nathan Fillion has always been enough to keep me watching Castle, but I never really expected to like Hawaii 5-0 as much as I do. I'll get into that a bit more below. The reason I paired the two finales together is that they both used really similar plot devices: a surprising twist followed by a traditional cliffhanger that is equal parts potentially game-changing and realistically unbelievable.

The second season of Castle disappointed me a little. It was so heavy on the Castle/Beckett romantic tension. I realize these two characters form the central relationship of the show, but it seemed like the writers were relying too heavily on that plot device for all of the dramatic moments this season. There are so many other strong aspects of the show that could be used more prominently, namely Castle's interactions with his mother and daughter, which make up some of the strongest scenes.

That said, I do think the chemistry between Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic has improved. Beckett has softened and become much more relatable and likable this season. Actual smiles are a welcome change from her uber-intense disposition last year. (Special recognition also goes to the show's stylists who finally resolved what seemed like an endless line of unfortunate hair styles on Beckett.)

The finale brought a pretty unexpected twist to the resolution of Beckett's mother's murder. At least I think it was a resolution? I'm still not sure that we know the whole story. Turns out, Captain Montgomery - long time mentor and boss to Beckett - was partly responsible to the cover up of her murder. He had been living with the guilt for years and took Beckett under his wing as a rookie as a way of trying to make amends. With the guilt finally breaking him, the Captain sacrificed his life to catch the man responsible. As a relatively low profile and light-hearted character on the show, we definitely didn't see this loss coming.

If that twist wasn't enough, in Beckett's attempt to save Captain Montgomery**, she took an apparently fatal bullet to the chest. The scenes closes with her in Castle's arms as he professes his love. As TV watchers, there are two things we know 1) this is not the kind of show to kill off a main character 2) this is not the kind of show to resolve a romance in two seasons. So, as dramatic as the conclusion was, it felt a little cheap. But at the very least, these developments will mean some changes in their relationship and  potentially a new Captain next season.

** I just realized that I completely mis-remembered this scene. She actually gets shot at the Captain's funeral. At the scene of his shooting in the airplane hangar, Castle carries her to safety when she tries to intervene and save the Captain. Whew. That was a brain fart.

Hawaii 5-0
As I've said before, Hawaii 5-0 snuck up on me this season. I'll admit, my attraction is pretty superficial. Great chase scenes, things blowing up, gorgeous men, beautiful scenery, and even some humor. It's just fun, entertaining Monday night television.

I even found myself getting attached to these characters, which is why the finale was pretty gut-wrenching, assuming of course you could suspend your disbelief (as you did in the final moments of Castle). The twist came in a similar way to Castle, McGarrett finally gets some answers about his father's death. Surprisingly, he figures out that his long time supporter and 5-0 benefactor Governor Jameson was indirectly responsible due to her involvement with organized crime and the ubiquitous villian Wo Fat. Of course, McGarrett doesn't go about proving his theory about the Governor in the most law-abiding way.

We end the episode with McGarrett arrested for the Governor's murder (Wo Fat framed him) by Chin who has just been reinstated as a Lieutenant with the Hawaii Police Department, believing 5-0 is now defunct. At the same time, Kono has been arrested for stealing millions from HPD (which she and McGarrett secretly did back when they needed to pay Chin's ransom earlier in the season). And Danno is the only left standing to save the crew - meanwhile, he's missing his flight back to New Jersey with his reunited family. Whew. Got all of that?

So, again we have a really dramatic, game-changing cliffhanger that -- while suspenseful and fun -- obviously does not signify the end of the 5-0. We'll see the gang back fighting the seemingly disproportionate amount of major crime for a tiny island next season.

Sidenote: Masi Oka has been upgraded to a series regular as Dr. Max Bergman next season, so expect to spend more time at the lab.


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