A Brother from Another Mother: Detective Duo Esposito and Ryan from ABC's Castle
By Hannah P.
What are some of the most important aspects of friendship? Love, loyalty, honesty, integrity…and the ability to do the right thing no matter the consequences. Such is the case with Detectives Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito from Castle. This pair of quick-witted cops is not the main focus of the show, but they feature heavily and their antics, intelligence, relationships and friendship are important facets.
Ryan and Esposito are two of their precincts’ finest, working closely with Richard Castle and Kate Beckett. However, Castle and Beckett, as the show’s leading characters and head detectives, call the shots and leave most of the research, paperwork and office duties to the often disregarded Ryan and Esposito. But in the midst of the hubbub and murder solving, secrets and intrigue, intensity and drama, you can always count on the overlooked but quick-witted duo for a quip, joke, wisecrack or one-liner to ease the tension and lighten the mood.
In spite of this, Ryan and Esposito are not merely comic relief. Both cops come with complex personalities and background stories. While their histories are still being revealed, it is known that Esposito used to work in the military, received sniper training, and worked closely with several partners before teaming up with Ryan several years before Castle became involved with the New York police force. Less is known about Ryan’s past, but it is known that he used to be an undercover detective, using a false name and covertly investigating an Irish mob while pretending to be one of them.
These pieces of the past are windows into Ryan and Esposito’s personalities and motivations. Esposito isn’t against breaking the rules if he deems it necessary, whilst Ryan’s “by the book” demeanor and conscience prevents him from doing so. Esposito’s military past helps him to identify with Beckett after she has a nearly fatal encounter with a sniper. Ryan’s straight laced “no nonsense” attitude about solving cases keeps his partners on track more often than not and his sense of duty to the rules saves their lives on several occasions. But despite these differences, Ryan and Esposito both work together for the good of their comrades Castle and Beckett, and for the good of their individual team as well. No matter what happens, they always have each other’s backs though thick and thin.
Another differing aspect between Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito is their love lives. While not featuring as heavily as the relationship between Castle and Beckett, Ryan and Esposito’s relationships are factors in the show as well. Esposito is a ladies man, and much is made about his wandering eye. His longest portrayed relationship is a “secret” relationship with morgue co-worker and dead body expert Lanie Parish (while their dating was supposed to be a covert affair, their closest comrades knew the entire time). Ryan, on the other hand, is quite the opposite from his partner. While he is known to have had previous relationships, during the course of the show he only romances one lady, his future wife Jenny. Their courtship, engagement, marriage and forthcoming parenthood have been a recurring storyline on the show and factors that keep Ryan grounded.
While Castle and Beckett take center stage with their romantic tension and case-solving antics, Ryan and Esposito are constants in the background, always there when needed. They research people, places and weapons on a frequent basis for their comrades and are ready to interject with an observation or insight even if the situation doesn’t call for it. They also are ready to fight when needed, leaving behind the desk they frequent and taking up arms to help further the investigation. Men of action as well as intelligence, Ryan and Esposito are often gun wielding and vest wearing members of the team who break down doors, chase down criminals and stake out a place for hours, as the investigation demands. Together, Ryan and Esposito present a lethal force to be reckoned with when they are on the case.
Together is a key word regarding this particular team. Ryan and Esposito have worked separately on several occasions and are effective detectives in their own right. However, things are always better when they work as a united force, as the finale for season four proved. In that episode Esposito firmly supported and aided Beckett’s venture to take down a criminal on her own, a secret investigation that the police chief didn’t know about. Ryan didn’t approve of his friends’ actions, believing that their secret investigation would have disastrous results. In the end Ryan decided to do the right thing and told the precinct captain everything. This decision saved Beckett and Esposito’s lives, but came at a great cost. Beckett resigned, Esposito was suspended and Ryan was left to deal with the consequences of the relationships that were fractured, especially his and Esposito’s. Even when Beckett returned to the force and Esposito was reinstated, the wounds that were caused by that event took a long time to heal.
Ryan’s decision to do the right thing cost him dearly, and his friendship with Esposito was the greatest sacrifice. Esposito’s pride was hurt and his heart hardened against his partner when he perceived a breach of trust in their relationship. When they were reteamed after Esposito’s return to the precinct the tension was high and forgiveness far from Esposito’s mind. However, Ryan never abandoned his partner and defended him during a violent confrontation with a suspect. Esposito later realized Ryan’s loyalty and selflessness when watching a video of Ryan taking a punch for him. Forgiveness and reconciliation were finally able to happen as Ryan and Esposito finally moved past the break in their relationship back into a warm friendship.
With this in mind, it will be interesting for viewers of Castle to see how Ryan and Esposito’s relationship plays out during the rest of the show. Indeed, this friendship is a uniting force that lends heartwarming and humorous scenes to each episode. It is also refreshing to see a glimpse of realistic comradeship, complete with its ups and downs, onscreen alongside the drama, romance and action of this weekly primetime TV treat.
(Formerly published in Femnista - www.charity'splace.com - )