Sunday, 19 July 2015

Characters We ♥ : Kate Beckett (Castle)


© ABC | Source: homeofthenutty.com
I love TV shows and the stories they tell! Whether I want to watch some light entertainment or indulge in some deep, dark storylines, TV is my go-to-medium. What I love most about it is the space characters are given to develop and blossom. While I occasionally enjoy a person just for eye candy’s sake, most of the time it is the complex characters that I can get to know and welcome into my home every week that really get my heart pumping. For me it is especially strong female characters that interest me and give me someone to look up to (in the broadest sense). It is not that I watch a show for the sole purpose of witnessing female strength, but more often than not it is a female character that I can respect and maybe even identify with that keeps me coming back. One character this rings especially true for is Castle’s Kate Beckett. 

[After they make the arrest]
Beckett: Well, guess this is it.
Castle: Oh it doesn’t have to be. We could uh… go to dinner, debrief each other.
Beckett: Why, Castle? So I can be another one of your conquests?
Castle: Or I could be one of yours.
Beckett: [extending her hand] It was nice to meet you, Castle.
Castle: [shaking it] It’s too bad. It would have been great.
Beckett: [stepping closer and leaning toward his ear] You have no idea.
- 1x01

©ABC | Source: homeofthenutty.com
Described as a “tough but savvy female detective” in the show’s very first episode, we immediately know that this lady is one to be taken seriously. As the youngest homicide detective in NYPD history she leads the team with the highest case closing rate. We are introduced to Katherine Houghton Beckett as a “no-nonsense”, goal-oriented, focused-on-work person whose routine is rattled when she meets womanizing mystery author Richard Castle. This man-child that seemingly cannot take anything seriously is fascinated by the woman that can stand her ground and does not faint at his first wink. He comes to see her as his new muse (“Call me muse again and I will break both your legs!” 1x04) and tricks his way into shadowing her at work. But even within that very first episode we already get to see that there is more to Kate Beckett than her work persona. She can banter with the best of them, has a lot of empathy for the murder victims, and is good at communicating with people. Her by now (at least within the fandom) famous last words in the pilot episode (“You have no idea…”) are a case and point to how much more there is to Kate Beckett than initially meets the eye.

©ABC | Source: homeofthenutty.com
Refreshingly enough, there is more to Beckett’s tough appearance than just trying to seem as steeled and non-feminine as possible to be able to have a successful career in what still is regarded as a male domain. This differs from the way many other shows handle their successful female characters. The character’s driving force (and the driving force of the series for the first 6 seasons) is the still unsolved murder of her mother when Kate was 19. This single event has given her grief and emotional insecurities, as well as drive and determination at the same time. It’s a hard job she has been working in and her personal motivation has lead to a single-mindedness that is hard to divert from. As a person of virtue and convictions due to her personal tragedy, Kate Beckett believes in justice and doing what is right, not what is easy, and lives by those virtues at home and at the office. That she can successfully solve the murder of her mother Johanna attests to her determination but also gives credit to the way in which she solves it.

I don’t cross the line. I put myself on it. – Kate Beckett 6x23

The journey of how she concludes this most personal case is no small feat either and involves a lot of character development. Fiercely independent, Kate Beckett learns that it is okay to accept help from others and that it is no sign of weakness. Even making friends and finding happiness in her life is no longer a reason to feel guilty in face of her mother’s tragic fate. She realizes that there are other people around her who have the same sense of loyalty and of what is right in the world. Beckett even learns to open up enough to find a partner for life in the unlikeliest of people. But with Rick Castle she can enter a relationship without giving up who she is. She can even be better. Kate does not experience any emptiness or loss of purpose after she avenges her mother because she is full of life and new ambition

Castle: Most people come up against a wall, they give up. Not you. You don’t let go. You don’t back down. That makes you extraordinary. Rick Castle 1x10

© ABC | Source: stana-katic.net
Kate Beckett’s development over now seven years can easily be traced by her demeanor and appearance. While I believe the writers intended for Beckett to be a female force from the beginning, they did not have enough courage to embrace it completely. Her short hair, unisex attire, and confidence in professional situations, while being at times awkward in personal interactions, illustrate this fact. It was actress Stana Katic, who portrays Beckett, who urged the writers to see that a woman can be respected and successful, while still being feminine. Luckily this was taken to heart and in combination with plot developments involving opening up to Castle and her co-workers Ryan, Esposito, and Lanie Parish, we see a self-confident, sometimes even light-hearted Kate Beckett. Her looks also change from tomboyish to long-haired model-like professional. Katic’s portrayal of Beckett strongly enhances and compliments the character’s development. Her skills allow Beckett to appear realistic and confident in any range of situations and emotions from romantic and funny, to dark and dramatic. After 7 seasons Stana Katic knows who Kate Beckett is and there is no hesitation or awkwardness in her portrayal.

As the female lead character in ABC’s Castle, Kate Beckett holds as much of the attention as the show’s namesake Rick Castle. She embodies a lot of qualities that make a character interesting to me. Complex and multifaceted, Beckett is a person to admire and like at the same time. Throughout 7 seasons so far, she has grown a lot. On a personal level Beckett went from barely trusting anyone to having a husband, family, and close circle of friends. In her professional life Kate managed to uncover a large conspiracy that led to the murder of her mother and develop the ambition to make something of herself besides avenging her mother. With season 8 almost around the corner, I look forward to a bright future, both professionally as well as personally, for one of the characters I love, Kate Beckett.

6 comments:

  1. She's my favorite TV female character, Castle isn't as great as it used to be, far from it, but I will really miss Kate Beckett when it's over.

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    1. Very true... Although I do have some hope for the new season. If Stana Katic was hesitating signing her contract and then did after talking to the new show runners, that must mean something. :) since she's the one I watch the show for, this must be good news :-)

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    2. Hopefully you're right, Squuls. Because I think, if she would've loved to be out, having time for other projects, she shouldn't have signed. But of course I have no idea how much money they offered her for staying. I'm excited for Season 8 but at the same time very scared. I hope they just don't milk the cow till she is dead. Season 7 ending would have been a very good ending for the show.

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    3. well maybe I'm a bit naive, but I believe she honestly would not have signed if she didn't find the storylines they have planned exciting. And I mean there is a lot of exciting stuff ahead for Kate career wise and on a personal level... you are right in saying that 7x23 would have been a good show finale (as I have also said in my Episode Close-Up http://bigscreenphilosophers.blogspot.de/2015/05/episode-close-up-castle-2009-7x23.html), but it was also one of the only episodes that really felt like Castle. So, if they chose a new showrunner after just one year, I am hopeful the producers, or ABC, or whoever realized there was something missing last year and want to rectify it. Because I do believe there are a lot of stories that can still be told. ;)

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  2. Couldn't agree more. Beckett drives the show and it diminishes significantly when she's not onscreen. To that end I'm a little anxious that SK's involvement in Sister Cities seems to suggest she won't much, if at all, be in 801 & 802? Are they holding her scenes?

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    1. yeah I am interested to see how that turns out as well... especially since imdb is listing Stana as being in one episode less than the rest of the main cast...

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