Castle ceasefire won’t dull battle of sexes

It’s the rule with very few exceptions that when a new television series has conspicuously attractive male and female lead characters – and in American shows that is compulsory – there is always a “will they/won’t they get it on” dimension that helps kick the plot along. Till it doesn’t.

After four highly entertaining series in which rascally thriller writer Rick has progressively annoyed dedicated law-enforcer Kate into a progression of suffering, tolerating, liking and finally fancying him, the writers of Castle, back on TV One, Monday, decided they couldn’t string it out any longer.

Hence they started this new season waking up in bed, and – after probing for regrets the way one explores a sore tooth – deciding they’re really rather happy about it.

Wisely, the writers also decided it would be a bad idea to let them enjoy this ceasefire for longer than the span of an ad break. We can depend on the rest of the series to maintain the essential sexual tension by interrupting the happy couple with urgent and generally life-threatening obstacles. Like the fact that a popular senator is still trying to have Kate killed; that her police captain would like to rid her squad of the pesky writer unofficially embedded in it to stave off his writer’s block; and that Rick’s imperious mother will derail anything that murderers and police red tape have overlooked.

The key dynamic, established firmly by Shakespeare in The Taming of the Shrew, is that the lovers must keep bickering, however compatible and reconciled we know them secretly to be. So an early sequence featured Rick ordering a half-naked Kate to hide in the wardrobe so his mother and daughter wouldn’t see her, and then refusing to do so himself when their long-suffering colleague Esposito called by her apartment. The difference is, he says, in his maddening glib patter, that he has his pants on.

As usual, the plot is pacy, kinetic and suspenseful. The overall larky tone is nicely barbed with flashes of Kate on the rampage, exposing a core even steelier than habitual viewers would have expected. She very nearly goes rogue in this episode, and maims the evil senator. At least we know the identity of all the following: the mystery man who has been in deadly pursuit of Kate, the mystery man who has been stopping him, and the mystery person or persons for whom both the former and the latter were working.

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Bang bang, they’re dead. Coast clear for more twisty plots – and no appreciable upsurge of smooching.