Castle started its seventh season out in fine fashion on Monday, Sept. 29 with a premiere episode, entitled “Driven,” that shocked and rocked viewers, as well as the show’s characters, to their core. The ABC hit drama’s premiere picked up right where the Season 6 finale left off. Writer Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) has been run off the road and abducted while in route to his wedding to Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). Rick is talking to Beckett (dressed in her lovely wedding gown) on the phone when a mysterious SUV comes up alongside Rick’s vehicle and mayhem ensued. Following a frantic phone call from the Hamptons police, Beckett arrived on the scene to find Rick’s vehicle engulfed in flames.
The action, intensity, and emotion elicited from this episode of the series is first-rate. It is one of the most visceral episodes of Castle aired in a long while. The reaction of Beckett when she arrived at the scene is raw and guttural. The way she beelined for the vehicle in an attempt to rescue her groom from the flames, without any regard for her own safety, was so touching and expressed the depth of Kate’s love for Rick. When she reached the vehicle, Beckett was forced to face the fact that nothing could be done. Her reaction was heart wrenching and completely instinctual. Then, she discovered that Rick was not inside the car when it exploded. Hope is suddenly renewed for Kate amidst all the wedding mayhem, and just as the episode title implies, Beckett is driven to locate her beloved and find out what happened.
Along with loyal friends and co-workers Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas), Beckett’s search for Castle becomes an emotional rollercoaster. Beckett’s fear and desperation to locate her groom and find the truth pushes the aggressive detective to employ tactics that are very uncharacteristic of her. While the FBI is brought into help in the search for Rick, leads and clues are scarce as the disappearance drags on without any results. When Rick does re-appear two months later, the circumstances surrounding his recovery are as bizarre and shrouded in mystery as his disappearance.
The most significant aspect of Rick’s re-appearance is the fact that he does not remember anything about the time during which he vanished. He does not recall any of the locations, people, or information Beckett and the team were able to uncover while searching for the abducted mystery writer. Moreover, Rick’s disappearance has both Kate and viewers wondering just how well they know Castle. Even though Beckett and the fans know Rick would not abandon Kate or their wedding plans, there are several questions that still need to be answered. Over the course of the season, Rick’s disappearance and background will be further explored. This should be a refreshing and enlightening turn of events given how long was spent on Beckett’s investigation into her mother’s death.
Castle really upped its game in the debut episode of the seventh season, as Beckett searched for Rick and dealt with wedding mayhem. The episode involved several twists and turns that reflected a distinctly different tone for the new season, which is now under a new show runner in the form of David Amann. Amann joined Castle as an executive producer and writer in Season 3. Series creator and show runner for its first six seasons, Andrew Marlowe, announced he would be stepping aside in June 2014 to focus on his development deal with ABC. Castle airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.
Opinion and Review By Leigh Haugh