“Alakazam, jackass!” This becomes Beckett’s catch phrase in this magician-filled episode, and I like it so much that I’d start saying it too, if only I said words like “jackass.” And hey, the episode was fun too!
Mystery of the Week: Zalman Drake, owner of Drake’s Magic Shop, is found dead in his water trick tank by his assistant, Eliza Winter. There are no signs of forced entry; time of death was between midnight and two, and Lanie thinks he was probably dead before he hit the water. But then the team finds a suicide note in which Drake says he was in financial trouble and couldn’t stand to lose his family’s shop. The note isn’t signed, though, and Eliza claims Drake wouldn’t have killed himself, and that two weeks ago he told her that he had solved his financial issues. Lanie soon confirms that Drake was asphyxiated, not drowned, so it must have been murder. Eliza last saw Drake the previous day: he left after lunch and didn’t say where he was going. He had, in fact, been gone more often in the past month; he said he was working on something and looked like he wasn’t sleeping. Also a month ago? A guy came into the shop, shoved Drake, and threatened to sue him. It turns out that a law suit was indeed filed by one Jerome Aspenall – and a judge threw it out the day of Drake’s murder. Aspenall tells Castle and Beckett that one of Drake’s “mind-reading” tricks cost him his marriage and his job, but his alibi for the time of the murder holds up.
There are no prints on the water tank, but prints on the suicide note lead the team to Chuck Russell, a magician Drake got kicked out of the guild for breaking the code of conduct by using unsafe pyrotechnics. Russell shows them that his prints are on the note because he had given Drake an invoice written in invisible ink; whoever wrote the note thought the paper was blank. The invoice is for C4 explosives, but Russell claims not to know why Drake needed them. Russell also tells them that Drake was designing tricks for Tobias Strange, the hottest magician in town. When Strange tells Castle and Beckett that he no longer worked with Drake because Drake had been poached by another magician, they suspect him of killing Drake to keep him from revealing trade secrets, but Strange claims that he never doubted Drake’s discretion – and that he’d never use C4 in his tricks.
Strange tells Castle and Beckett that Drake had a workshop, and they find it by tracing his MetroCard and a car he hired to get there once. They find a few things that seem suspicious: fresh wheelchair tracks on top of newspapers dated the day Drake was killed, weird paint marks on the wall, and pages ripped out of a sketchbook Drake was using for his current project. They’re shocked when Drake himself appears, looking very alive, but it turns out that it’s his identical twin Edmund. Edmund doesn’t know that Zalman is dead; he came looking for him after a weird phone call during which Zalman said he needed help hiding $500,000 from the government. Edmund knew that something was wrong, but can’t tell the detectives anything about what his brother might have been mixed up in. Castle is convinced that Edmund is somehow Zalman in disguise, but Lanie shoots this theory down by checking the dead body’s fingerprints.
Meanwhile, the team finds some more clues, including trace residue of C4 on Drake’s workbench, white rabbit fur in his teeth and throat, and organophosphates – found in things like jet oil and nerve agents – in his nose and throat. And the wheelchair tracks lead them to Thaddeus Magnus, a professional government protester who’s on the magic shop’s mailing list. Magnus is surprised to hear about Drake’s death; he made specialty items for Drake’s tricks, but nothing with explosives. He tells the team that the guys Drake was working for told him to meet them at the store at closing on the day of the murder. Most recently, Magnus made Drake a mechanical arm that would allow switches to be toggled remotely. Drake said it was for his “greatest magic trick ever” and told Magnus that he was “getting paid a fortune to get away with murder,” so Castle and Beckett theorize that Drake had been hired to use his knowledge of tricks and illusions to kill someone and hide it.
Castle and Beckett independently research recent deaths by explosion, and both focus on billionaire Christian Dahl, whose plane exploded over the Atlantic. When they watch takeoff footage, they see Drake deliver something while posing as a caterer. (The decal on his fan explains the weird paint in the workshop.) Dahl made his fortune by investing in whatever was about to hit it big, and everyone loved him, so they decide that his wife is probably the one person who wanted him dead. A month ago, he had caught her having an affair, and according to their prenup, that meant she’d get nothing if they divorced. But if he died, she’d inherit everything – and the Dahls recently attended a gala at which Drake was the entertainment and made someone disappear. The wife claims innocence, though, and says that she too is suspicious of Dahl’s death, especially because all of his accounts have been frozen. The DA tells Beckett that this is because Dahl is being investigated by the SEC. It turns out all of his stock returns were falsified, and he was a few weeks away from being indicted for fraud when he disappeared.
The team figures out that Dahl wasn’t murdered – he hired Drake to fake his death and help him disappear. Drake put an automaton in the plane to make it look like Dahl was there, and then Dahl piloted the plane by remote control. Dahl could be anywhere now – but Castle theorizes that he’d be the kind of guy to attend his own funeral if he could. Sure enough, they catch him outside the funeral and bring him in for questioning. When he denies everything, Beckett has Tobias Strange help Edmund Drake dress up as Zalman’s ghost and scare Dahl into confessing. The two then decide to keep working together to keep Drake’s Magic Shop open.
Castle and Beckett (and Gina): Fans of Castle and Beckett who have wanted Gina out of the way, your day has come. Castle and Gina have been fighting – one public argument is all over Page Six – and he’s dodging her calls. As things are getting worse with Gina, the constant friendly flirtation between Castle and Beckett heats up. When he asks what magic tricks she knows, she immediately responds with “I do this one thing. With ice cubes,” and he almost falls over. Castle is trying to hide the fact that he’s upset about it (and Ryan is hurt that Castle hasn’t confided in them), but he finally opens up to his mother and tells her that things with Gina are “fine” but they’re just not in love. Right after Martha points out that what Castle wants is to feel “magic,” Castle and Beckett have a moment when they’re going back and forth figuring out the murder, finishing each other’s sentences, and then Castle stops and looks like he’s stunned by something, but won’t tell Beckett what. Realizing where he can find that magic, perhaps? Later, when the group is discussing relationships, Castle says that “the bubble bursts soon enough.” When Beckett replies with “Not if you’re in it with the right person, Castle immediately breaks up with Gina. Beckett hears him say that it’s over and has quite the interesting look on her face. Castle teases her about her boyfriend “Dr. Motorcycle Boy” – and honestly, I’d almost completely forgotten they were still together – but Beckett invites Castle to get dinner at the comfort food truck with her. He thanks her for not teasing him about Gina or asking any questions, and she magically pulls flowers out of the air for him, and it’s all very sweet.
There’s another ongoing Castle/Beckett theme that I liked even more, though. It turns out that they’re both into magic and grew up going to Drake’s Magic Shop. On a show that usually plays up their “odd couple” nature, it’s a nice reminder that they do have things in common, and that, therefore, a relationship between them makes sense and would stand a chance of actually working out. Well done, writers. Beckett’s grandfather was an amateur magician, and she gives Castle a great compliment: “You would have liked my grandfather. In fact, you remind me of him a little.” Awww. Maybe these crazy kids will actually get it together eventually. Although, while we’re on the subject: These past few episodes have been hinting heavily that Castle and Beckett will get together sooner rather than later, and yet I remain fairly convinced – for no specific reason, other than perhaps being scarred by Bones, The West Wing, Avonlea, et al. – that that won’t happen for years yet. Thoughts, anyone?
The rest of the force: Oh my! Lanie and Esposito are secretly dating, and they’re trying to hide it, and paranoid about their coworkers figuring it out, but everyone already has figured it out, and it’s all just completely adorable. I like when shows occasionally let situations like this be angst-free, and I hope they won’t turn it into one of those “one of them has to quit their job if they want to stay together” things.
The Castle family doesn’t have much to do this week – Martha and Alexis are mostly just around to act as sounding boards as Castle figures out what to do about Gina. It did make me wonder how obvious it is to the two of them that Castle’s actually in love with Beckett. I’m pretty sure they (like everyone else) have figured it out by now.
Next week: Actually, they’re making us wait two weeks, and it looks like it’s going to be a doozy: the preview suggests that it revolves around the still-unsolved murder of Beckett’s mother. The preview also made it look like Castle and Beckett are going to kiss, but I’m about 99% sure it’s part of some sort of ploy or ruse and not for real. Yet.
Photo Courtesy of ABC