Castle is back! When we last left our characters, Castle was headed to the Hamptons for the summer. Now it’s fall, but he hasn’t written, he hasn’t called … and he’s Beckett’s new murder suspect.
The Mystery of the Week: When Beckett and company are called to a murder scene, they find that Chloe Whitman, a high school chemistry teacher with no criminal past, was shot to death and fell out a window. An address on a slip of paper in her hand leads them to the apartment of sculptor Maya Santori. There they find Castle himself – standing over Maya’s body with a gun in his hand. Beckett arrests him, but after a very interesting interrogation scene (more on that later), she lets him go because the bullets that killed Maya don’t match the gun he was holding. They do, however, match the bullets that killed Chloe. Beckett and company can only find two connections between Maya and Chloe: they both have tattoos, and they both received calls from one Todd McCutcheon, who has a criminal history but now seems to have gone straight and is working in vending machines. When they get to McCutcheon’s apartment, they discover that he was killed by the same gun as the others (and, of course, Castle’s there with the body).
A search of the victims’ financials shows that they each deposited a lot of money on a certain date, and they each had credit card charges at a club called KCBC, which Castle describes as “like the circus, with alcohol.” Club owner Kitty – also a tattoo artist – says the victims all sometimes worked at and/or frequented the club, but claims that the only connection between them is that Chloe’s boyfriend Evan Murphy once followed her to a club and made a scene, and the other two intervened. Murphy admits to this, but claims not to know about the money. The club mailing list turns up a guy Maya sculpted named Xander Doyle. He has a criminal past – including weapons charges – and says that Maya went to see him on the day she died, looking for a gun. He suggests that Maya was making meth, allowing for a great Breaking Bad reference from Castle, but Lanie quickly squashes this theory. She agrees that the bodies have an odd assortment of chemicals on them, though. Meanwhile, Ryan and Esposito find the gun at Murphy’s place, but there are no fingerprints on it, and Murphy has no unusual financial activity, so Beckett thinks something’s off.
When Castle and Beckett discuss the case, she says she can’t figure out what connects the victims, “other than they made a bunch of money and got themselves killed.” “Made a bunch of money!” Castle exclaims. Yes, kids, they were counterfeiting. Vending machine salesman McCutcheon provided the small bills to make into larger ones, teacher Chloe provided the chemicals, and sculptor Maya made the metal plates. But where were they getting the ink? Castle and Beckett realize the answer to this at the same time, as they simultaneously announce “I know who the killer is!” while doing sexy things with their eyes. The missing piece is, of course, Kitty, club owner and tattoo artist, because tattoos also use ink. (This was the one part of the episode that felt a little thin to me. Sculpting with metal or tattooing with ink doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the right metal or ink, or the skill set needed to counterfeit. Oh well. If Castle and Becket keep having eye-sex, I’ll give them a pass on this one.)
When the cops and Castle get to the club, Kitty and her husband Earl are throwing the plates and fake money in bags, preparing to run. While the cops talk to Kitty, Earl shoots at Beckett. Castle sees him just in time and manages to tackle her out of the way. Beckett gives Castle one of her guns, and a chase scene involving a nicely creepy mirrored room ensues. Finally, everyone ends up outside, where Beckett draws her gun and orders Castle to get down on the ground – but he draws his gun on her instead, and they shoot. Yes, this is the scene the teaser tried to make us think was about Beckett and Castle shooting each other, but it turns out that they are shooting Earl and Kitty, respectively. In the post-arrest discussion, we find out that Early and Kitty murdered Chloe, Maya, and McCutcheon because a loan shark had discovered what they were up to and demanded they hand over the operation, and Kitty wasn’t willing to do that.
Castle and Beckett: The episode begins with Beckett profoundly hurt about both Castle getting back together with his ex and his failure to return at the end of the summer. The interrogation scene fills in some important information – Castle didn’t know that Beckett had broken up with Demming, for one thing – but beyond that, it displayed their feelings and dynamic perfectly. Everything they say has a double meaning, especially her plaintive “Why didn’t you call?” She’s supposedly asking why he didn’t call the police when he found a body, but we all know that’s not really all she was thinking about. And in this classic exchange, Castle tries to deflect Beckett’s questions and correct her grammar, all at once:
“I’m in a relationship.”
“Is that a new lipstick?”
“You know with whom.”
Beckett’s barely bothering to hide her emotions in this episode, but honestly doesn’t get what he did wrong. While she’s convinced he was making some sort of statement by not coming back, he says maybe he was waiting to hear from her. (And a conversation with Martha and Alexis suggests that he was just waiting to go back until after his book tour, which seems reasonable enough.) Beckett lashes out by declaring their partnership over forever. When Castle insists that his presence at the murder scenes is a sign from the universe that they’re supposed to work together, Beckett asks the million dollar question: “You’re not going to go away no matter what I do, are you?” She says this in exasperation, but it’s clear that she wants the answer to be no: he won’t go away. Given the tragedy and trauma in her past, Beckett is reluctant to trust, and she will only believe that Castle will stick around after he resists everything she can do to push him away.
They end up making a bet: If Beckett figures out the connection between the murder victims first, Castle will never interfere with her cases again. If Castle figures it out, then they’re back to being partners. I’m sure no one was surprised when Castle won this bet; there wouldn’t be much of a show otherwise. But Esposito puts the whole thing in a different light with a simple question to Beckett: “So, how long before Castle did you know this was about counterfeiting?” Is he right? Did Beckett lose the bet on purpose? When I watched the episode again with this question in mind, I couldn’t find any definitive proof either way, but I’m leaning toward yes. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!
The Rest of the Force: Beckett’s not the only one who’s been missing Castle – Ryan and Esposito clearly miss him too, and at the beginning of the episode, they’re right there with Beckett waiting for Castle to call. (Ryan’s line of the episode: “He really is ruggedly handsome.”) They’re also adorably protective of Beckett, though: this is the boy she likes, and he left to be with someone else, and they can’t just let him get away with that. They freeze him out for as long as they can – even the chief gets in on it – and clearly enjoy calling him “stupid” and “slimebag” while they’re threatening to shoot him at Maya’s murder scene. By the end of the episode, though, they’re clearly happy to have the team back together.
The Castle Family: The focus is on Alexis this week, with a story that oddly parallels her dad’s: she met a guy over the summer, but he was supposed to call her when he got back from a trip, and he hasn’t. Alexis’ conversations with Castle about the situation show that, for all his silliness, he’s still one of the best dads on TV – he isn’t perfect, but he actually parents! (I hope the CW is taking notes.) Alexis accuses her dad of taking the boy’s side when he suggests that maybe he was waiting for her to call, but what she doesn’t realize is that her father is totally talking about himself here, and she alarms Castle with a blunt statement: “Maybe he missed his chance.” By the time Beckett and Castle are reconciled, though, Alexis and her boy are too, and when asked who called whom first, Martha articulates the point of this episode: “What does it matter? As long as they connected.”
Next Week: Psychics!