After one full season with Captain Victoria Gates on "Castle," it appears the writers on the show have fallen into the same trap with her character that they did with her predecessor. Captain Gates has fallen into the category as an "extra-directional character" just like Captain Roy Montgomery was. Even though the character started out strong, she has faded into the shadows of the set.
When the previous season started out, viewers were promised a dominant female character to balance out Det. Kate Beckett. "Iron Gates" was not going to be a pushover like Montgomery. In the first few episodes of the season, fans were led to believe the new boss was going to be on Richard's back every step of the way and would be a regular antagonist to the main characters.
The Quick Fade
After the third episode of the season, Gates began to fade into the background more and more. She would only be seen when Kate needed direction or if someone needed to be yelled at. Gates has become as much of a fixture as the coat rack across the aisle from Ryan's desk that nobody ever uses or the first door to the left of the elevator. To this point, there has not been anything added to the character other than the fact that she can be mean and cares more about getting the job done than personal relationships with her officers. Viewers do not know what made her the way she is, what truly drives her, or what she is like when the badge comes off.
Extra-directional characters are ones that are used to simply set up a story or to take a story in a different direction and then fade away. Sometimes they are used to assist the characters, but very little insight is given to the extra-directional character as these types of characters are simply used as tools to progress the story. The Well-Manicured Man, X, or the First Elder would be perfect examples of this type of character from "The X-Files." On a show like "The X-Files," which used hundreds of characters over the run, "Castle" uses far less characters and should have more room for character development.
The job of a writer on a TV show is to create characters we can care about in some way. We should cheer when we see certain characters on screen and jeer at others, but they have not been able to make this type of connection between the viewers and Victoria Gates. Even Martha, who is only traditionally on screen for a few minutes each episode, is a living and breathing character that has become an important part of the show. After one complete season, the writers have yet to mold Gates into a character we can relate to, cheer, or jeer.
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