Castle: Lucky Stiff

There’s money everywhere on this week’s Castle! A lottery winner is murdered, Martha gets an unexpected inheritance, and the show remembers that Castle’s rich!

The Mystery of the Week: Butler Reginald Easley finds the body of his employer, Jay Hixton, in his apartment, surrounded by scattered $100 bills. Hixton’s home is lavish, and the detectives soon learn that he had won $117 million in the lottery the year before. It looks like there was a struggle that ended with a gun going off and killing Hixton, sometime between eleven and two the night before. There’s a gun next to the body, but Beckett notices immediately that it doesn’t match the entry wound. A safe in the room is open and empty, and Easley tells them that Hixton kept $100,000 in it. Easley says Hixton didn’t have a gun, but did have a dye pack in his money – it was triggered to go off three minutes after the money left the apartment.

Easley last saw Hixton the day before, when Hixton left at five to meet his estranged wife. The widow confirms that the lottery winnings had caused a rift in their marriage: the money was like poison and changed Hixton. Their teen daughter got into drugs, which acted like a wake-up call for the Hixtons to work together to get her clean, and then begin using the money for good. Hixton’s work with a soup kitchen had reminded his wife how much she loved him. She tells the detectives that Hixton cancelled their date at eight the night before, telling her that something had happened that they had to deal with together, but not what it was. Hixton had called from the soup kitchen where he volunteered, so Beckett and Castle head there next. The soup kitchen guy tells them that Hixton gave away lots of money because it seemed like he felt he didn’t deserve it. He also tells them that a strange guy had been hanging around the day before and acted like he knew Hixton.

Prints on the gun found by Hixton’s body show that the victim himself loaded it. Meanwhile, Esposito finds the money bag, and prints in the dye on it lead to maintenance worker Todd Shipley. He’s all blue from the dye pack, but claims that he found the bag on the ground after he saw someone running. His story is corroborated by the owner of a convenience store where he bought a soda, which he couldn’t have done within the three minutes before the dye went off. He says Hixton came home around eleven, claiming that someone had taken his car – but he didn’t call the police. The car is tracked to the Holland Tunnel, and a man named Shawn York is caught in the car – but there’s no money. York has a criminal record in a variety of states, but tells the detectives that Hixton was alive when he saw him. York had heard on the street that Hixton was generous, so he went to him at the soup kitchen, and Hixton signed over the title of the car and gave him the keys, saying he wasn’t going to need it anymore. York has a theater ticket as alibi.

The team goes through Hixton’s financials and finds no credit card charges for the night of the murder, but they do find plenty of recent extravagant purchases: a race horse, a mausoleum for a dead neighbor, property on the moon. Esposito finds Hixton’s camera in the car, and it has surveillance photos of an unknown man. Hixton had called his wife from the 500 block of Lexington, and he also wrote checks to a business there called Meech Industries, so Beckett brings in scam artist Logan Meech. Meech claims that Hixton was a donor to his “relief organization,” but that he hadn’t seen him in weeks – a claim contradicted by the landlord. Meech finally admits that Hixton came to him the night of the murder looking for a gun because his past was “coming back to get him.”

Speaking of Hixton’s past, prints in his apartment belong to the Page brothers, who were arrested for robbing Hixton before he moved to New York, and just got out of prison and headed north. (I think they said the Page brothers grew up with Hixton, but they seem a lot younger than him, so maybe I misheard that.) The team stakes out their car, and a guy coming out of the building tells them that the brothers are upstairs – where are they, apparently, practicing their rapping. Heh. They tell the detectives that Hixton called them for help getting his daughter Nicole away from drug dealer Oz – who turns out to be the man Hixton had under surveillance. They admit that they beat Oz up, but deny that they hurt Hixton, and then the interview is interrupted when their car explodes.

Nicole tells Castle and Beckett that Oz tried to get her back after she got clean, and that he’d be capable of killing her father. Oz, who has a history of both dealing and bombing cars, is off the grid except for word of mouth business at nightclubs, so Castle and Beckett dress up and go undercover. Beckett manages to get to Oz, pretends she wants drugs, and then arrests him when he tries to sell to her. Oz admits to the car bomb but denies killing Hixton. He went to Hixton’s apartment on the night of the murder but someone saw him so he didn’t go in. And who saw him? The butler. Easley’s last few employers say he resigned after things went missing, and though Easley claims he’s content with his lot, Castle and Beckett theorize that he was jealous of Hixton, who became rich without doing anything to “deserve” it. Easley admits that he stole a few Dickens first editions from Hixton, but felt guilty and was at the apartment that night because he was bringing them back. He heard the shower running, so Hixton was alive at the time.

Hixton told Easley that he stole the winning lottery ticket and then felt guilty, which was why he was giving away so much money. Castle remembers that Hixton had purchased a mausoleum for a dead neighbor, so theorizes that the ticket belonged to the neighbor, Hank Walters, who died the day the numbers were announced, and whose birthday makes up half of the numbers in the ticket. He died of natural causes, so Hixton didn’t murder him, but Castle figures out that Walters, who was ill and bedridden, had Hixton buy him a ticket, but Hixton returned to find him dead, and so claimed the fortune himself. They find Walters’s nephew Tom, who points them to a “son” of Walters – they weren’t technically related, but Walters dated the boy’s mother for years, and they spent holidays together until his death. The other numbers in the ticket match this “son’s” birthday – and the son turns out to be Shawn York. He figured out the lottery theft when he got out of prison, and tracked Hixton down. The team finds money with Hixton’s blood on it in Shawn’s apartment, so Shawn confesses: Hixton didn’t think Shawn deserved the money; they had a struggle, and Hixton grabbed for Shawn’s gun, which went off and killed him.

Castle and Beckett: I know some fans were frustrated that we didn’t see Castle and Beckett actually discuss the kiss from the last episode, but I was happy with the way their relationship seemed slightly closer and more self-aware. They’re both fairly private people, and they need to process. (And Beckett has a boyfriend.) I’m willing to give them some time. They did have some Moments in this episode – Beckett has a conversation with Martha that made me eager to see her spend more time with Castle’s family, eventually, and she insists on driving Castle’s Ferrari. When they go undercover at the nightclub, Castle is obviously attracted to her, and when Beckett catches him looking, she barely even pretends to mind. (Then she tells the drug dealer “I like to feel shiny.” Has someone been watching Firefly?) They’re headed toward more and more blatant flirting, and I love it.

The case’s focus on money gives Beckett – and us – a chance to learn more about Castle, our resident millionaire. He reveals that the wrote his first bestseller in college and spent the money quickly, but changed his ways with his subsequent books. His philosophy is that money doesn’t change people: it just magnifies things about them that are already there. In his case, he says it magnified his inner child at first, but he soon realized that the only luxury he cared about was the freedom to write and stay home with Alexis, so he uses his money to live life on his own terms. When Beckett suggests that he grew up, he admits that he bought property on the moon just last month. Aww. I like that they’re starting to address Castle’s wealth on the show, because that’s something that he and Beckett will have to have some serious conversations about if they’re going to embark upon a relationship at some point.

Castle spends much of the episode trying to discover what Beckett would do with lottery winnings, and she acts annoyed but goads him to keep guessing. When Martha says the word “legacy” (while discussing her inheritance – more on that in a moment), Castle realizes what Beckett would do – and I realize that he’s been trying to figure it out partially in order to know her better, but also so he can actually give her what she wants. (Castle falling in love with you: like winning the lottery. The sexy, sexy lottery. Why are you still with your invisible boyfriend, again, Beckett?) Castle heads to Beckett’s apartment, where she’s rather adorably practicing guitar, and announces that he’s figured out she’d honor her mother, so on the way over, he set up a scholarship in Joanna’s name at her old law school. On the way over? Wow. Confident, aren’t we? (Also: good at multitasking.) Beckett responds with “You just can’t stay out of my personal life, can you?” and Castle looks completely stricken, but she quickly shows she’s joking: “Thank you. That’s really sweet.” They start planning a fundraiser for the scholarship together, and it’s a great scene, except that I really think she should have hugged him. I mean, you’d hug any close friend who did something like that for you, wouldn’t you? But hey, Show, I’ll forgive all if this fundraiser involves formal clothes, Beckett being on Castle’s arm all night, and maybe some waltzing.

The Rest of the Force: Lanie and Esposito’s relationship continues to be played pretty subtly, but they have a cute moment of betting on whether Beckett would immediately notice that the gun by the body didn’t match the wound. Ryan eventually tells Esposito that everyone knows about the relationship, so it should be interesting to see how it plays out now that it’s public. When Castle starts asking everyone what they would do with lottery winnings, we get a fun peek at the characters’ inner lives: Esposito would buy a Ferrari, Ryan would open a winery, and Montgomery would get a really big boat. But perhaps the most adorable moment of the episode comes when Ryan reveals that he deliberately plays the same lottery numbers as Esposito so that if one of them won, the other would too, and it would keep their friendship from getting awkward.

The Castle Family: In a timely subplot, Martha inherits a million dollars from Chet’s estate and can’t figure out what to do about it. She goes on a shopping spree, and Castle confirms that shopping is the first of his “five stages of hitting the lottery.” Martha then feels guilty and decides to give back the money, since she was about to break up with Chet (stage five: enlightenment), but Chet’s kids refuse to take it back. Martha has a heart-to-heart with Beckett, during which Beckett quotes Castle’s words about money to her and advises her to do something to honor Chet’s memory. Martha finally decides to open an acting school, because Chet encouraged her to use her talents to help people.

Next week: Death by nail gun looks unpleasant, if you were wondering. This time, Castle’s friend is the main suspect, which leads to some Castle/Beckett drama. So I think it’s safe to say that they are not going to get together on Valentine’s Day.

Photo Courtesy of ABC

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