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Real Men Of Genius: Mal vs.Castle

I was talking to one of my geek guy friends who, while he loved Firefly, just can’t seem to get his head around the idea of watching Castle. He watched an episode or two and didn’t decide to go back again.

Know what I said?

“Go back and watch it again.”

Which got me thinking. Watching Castle was a no-brainer for me. Once I became a Fillion fan, I watched anything he was in, because he was in it. I know that’s more a fan thing, or maybe a female thing (c’mon, the man is adorable).

But I wanted to see it happen.

I wanted to see that moment when someone figured out how to use Nathan Fillion as well as Joss ever did. Maybe (dare I blaspheme) even better?

When I first heard the Castle premise, I worried. Major network? Crime show? WTF? Cue the mutter: Here we go again with them putting this charming, funny, quirky leading man into something that’s just not gonna fit, but fine I’ll watch cause it’s what I do.

I’ll even admit, I watched the first episode and it didn’t click right away. But, it was cute and had Nathan and the writing was good enough and so, sure, I watched again.

After all, any show needs time and a little love. Actors need to find rhythms. Writers need to find voices. Characters need to develop. We live in an immediate society. Giving things “time” isn’t something we may always do these days. Especially when we tweet, IM, write email and whathaveyou while watching, right?

Now –  let me tell you why I think Richard Castle may be the best Nathan Fillion role to date.

Rick Castle is man.

BTW, here’s where the women reading are likely nodding along. I promise, I’ll explain for anyone who doesn’t get what I mean.

Malcolm Reynolds was a space cowboy. Rugged, mercenary, flawed, damaged, charming and he had “a past”. He had been a soldier. He’d seen more in his life than most people ever would. He’d loved and lost, commanded and failed. He’d been betrayed by a government he’d sworn to protect.

He also didn’t know how to say “I love you”, “I’m sorry” or “I screwed up” unless someone was literally holding a gun to his head!

Women love Malcolm Reynolds. Of course we do. Who wouldn’t want to spend a night “in his bunk”.

He’s unattainable and women love a good chase, but once we had him, then what? Strap on a gun? Deal with the constant “Will he or won’t he”? Resist the urge to smack him upside the head every time he got himself into some mess because he was just too stubborn to admit he couldn’t handle?

Mal’s one of those guys – that wounded and stubbornly vulnerable guy men want to be and women want to tame.

But he’s not real.

Now Richard Castle. Let’s look at him a moment.

He’s smart, funny, successful, twice* divorced. Has a daughter. He’s a writer. Likes to throw a good party and has a wicked sense of humor. No huge demons in his past. No intergalactic battles. No loan sharks after him.

Boring? Hardly.

He’s just a guy, living his life. He’s fallen into a partnership with a lady detective because she inspires and challenges him. She makes him think.

But – here’s the thing. When the bullets start flying, the man has the brains to duck. Because he knows he’s human and has a daughter and because he values his own life. He knows he’s got something to live for.

And, likely my favorite moment of any episode so far, involved Castle and his daughter after his curiosity took him a bit further into Beckett’s past then he was invited or allowed to go.

His daughter Alexis is hurt after being stood up by her boyfriend, who made a fake excuse instead of telling her the truth. Just a daughter to her dad, she asks him “Why do boys act like that? Why can’t they just say they’re sorry?”

And Castle, after doing the dad thing, making his daughter feel better, finds Beckett and does just that.

It’s one of the best pieces of acting I’ve ever seen. It was touching, human and totally believable.

It was real.

So, before you decide that Rick Castle may not be as exciting as Mal. Look at it this way…

Mal’s cool and all, and I’m always gonna love him.

But Rick Castle is the man.

*thanks to @sparrowwritings for catching that. ::grin:: I need an editor. ;-)


  1. I think you hit it right on the mark with this…totally agree.

  2. Exactly!

    Mal is…Mal’s hard to love–you can’t help it, but you know (waaaaay down in your gut) that it’s not going to end well. Castle, on the other hand–it might not end well (see “prior wives”), but you actually CAN hold out hope that it might.

  3. Wow – you nailed it. Castle is smart, witty, sensitive when he needs to be, snarky when he can be and just an all around great character. The best thing about the show is how all the characters fit together so well. I love Nathan Fillion, but the how wouldn’t have worked without the other great actors, like Stana Katic, and the amazing writing. Sci-fi isn’t for everyone, but who doesn’t love a good crime show? Especially one with a heart.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous

    This is perfect! I agree that that was one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen on television. Castle and his daughter have a great relationship. When I first started watching the show I thought “okay, it’s kind of shallow but it’s fun and it has Nathan and yea, I’ll keep watching.” Now it’s one of my only “must watch” shows. The chemistry between Beckitt and Castle is there, the jokes are hilarious (I love corny jokes) and Castle’s relationship with his family is touching and real.

  5. Castle is Mal without the pressure of being a Big Damn Hero. He’s a man allowed to sit back and enjoy life. He’s the person Mal WANTS to be.

  6. You have hit the nail entirely on the head.

  7. I agree with everything you said up there! Rick Castle is the man!

    Just one little nit-pick, you mentioned Castle as being divorced once, but wasn’t he divorced twice?

  8. Agreed, GGD. My wife and I were a bit skeptical of the show at first, but now it ranks right up there with our favorites.

    The Halloween ep was great, although our favorite moment of the season so far was when Alexis hauled Castle into the interrogation room and read him the riot act after he snoops around her violin tutor.

  9. I had just started thinking the exact same thing at the beginning of this second season. I loved Mal. LOVED him. But Castle is really much more likable, and I think his family makes him so.


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