In Castle‘s most recent episode, “Like Father, Like Daughter,” Alexis is still mad at her father – but she knows when to come to him for help. Through school, she’s working with a group called the Innocence Review, and a man she’s sure is innocent, Frank Henson, has lost his last appeal and is days from being put to death. Castle agrees to go to Pennsylvania with Alexis to see if he can find any evidence the Innocence Review didn’t, happy, I think, to help out, but mostly hoping to work toward repairing his relationship with his daughter. (Alexis, of course, tries to be all business, at least at the beginning.)
Frank and his fiancee, Maggie, aren’t exactly thrilled when they realize Castle isn’t technically a professional, but they agree to let him work on the case – at least until he starts getting too close to an answer. Though the local cops are hostile, arguing that everyone in town loved Kim, the young girl who was killed, and don’t want her supposed murderer to go free, Castle and Alexis quickly prove that someone other than Frank was in Kim’s house that night, which lends credence to his claim that he ran over because he heard screams and she was already dead when he got there. And Lanie has a friend redo some of the lab work and finds ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in gardening – or making meth.
They suspect Kim’s ex-boyfriend Lyle, who worked at a gardening store and has not exactly been cooperating with the Innocence Review. When Alexis talks her way into seeing him, it turns out that he’s innocent, but he gives her two useful pieces of information: there were regularly other guys seen visiting Kim’s house, and that on the day she died, she had asked him to pick her up at a place called Jasper Grove, later uncovered as a meth lab, and she was upset and said she had decisions to make. At this point, Frank asks them to stop – even though they’re making progress – saying he doesn’t want to give Maggie false hope. Of course, these are the Castles we’re talking about, so they completely ignore his instructions.
When Kim’s mother says the “other boys” were students Kim was tutoring in chemistry, Castle bribes a school official to trace a textbook found at Kim’s house – and discovers that it belongs to Frank’s brother John. It turns out that a few months before Kim’s death, Frank had caused a car crash that injured his brother badly, which in turn led to drugs, violence, and memory lapses. When Frank heard Kim scream, he actually found John at the scene, and had been trying to cover for him all these years – while John in fact didn’t remember the night at all. Frank felt guilty because he caused the accident, so he planned to die in John’s place so that John could have a life with his wife and children.
But it’s a double fake-out – Castle finds a fascinating binary clock that the cops at the time didn’t even realize was a clock, and sees that it crashed to the floor during the struggle – a whole half hour before John or Frank arrived. Ryan and Esposito trace Kim’s tutoring checks and find some from now-Police Chief Lane, and a charm found under Kim’s body matches one worn by Lane’s son Ted, now a police officer. Ted was worried that Kim would turn him in for making meth, and killed her – no wonder the local police were hostile to further investigation. With this evidence, Frank’s conviction is vacated.
Castle and Alexis combine their skills nicely during this investigation, and even have one of those simultaneous “A-ha!” moments that Castle and Beckett usually have. (Alexis, understandably, finds that a bit creepy.) By the end of the case, they’ve made up, which makes me happy, as I like Alexis and didn’t really enjoy that whole Pi storyline. (Of course, Pi may still come back. We’ll see.)
I loved the way this episode, while being set mostly away from New York, perfectly illustrated the way both Castle and Alexis have grown to be part of the family at the precinct. Alexis goes to Ryan and Esposito for help early on, while she’s not even speaking to her father, and Beckett and Lanie end up helping with the case as well. They’re both involved on an emotional level too, as Castle calls Beckett for support when he worries he’ll let Alexis down and Lanie gives Beckett some advice as she worries about creating a blended family and whether Alexis likes her. Lanie wisely tells her that perfect families don’t exist and that she needs to make her own history with both Castles. At the end of the episode, she gets to start doing just that, as Alexis goes to thank her for her help and they hug. And wedding planning is indeed starting – Castle asks Beckett to get married in space (which she is not going for) at least in part to escape having to visit potential venues. I really appreciate the way the show is making this whole process have normal difficulties and complications without throwing huge obstacles in the couple’s way. (So far. Crossing my fingers!)
(Image courtesy of ABC.)