Castle: Scared to Death

Castle returned this week with “Scared to Death,” which examined, well, whether it’s possible to be scared to death. (Spoiler: It’s not.) In the process, they made the episode of this show so far that scared me the most, I must admit. Well done with the creepiness, guys.

Our victim of the week, Val Butler, is found dead of unknown causes in her locked and barricaded apartment, and I was a bit frustrated that Castle didn’t get excited about the prospect of a locked room mystery, but it soon became clear that we were dealing with an urban legend instead: Val died three days after watching a mysterious video that told her she would die in three days. When it turns out that she died because her heart mysteriously stopped, and when it becomes clear that she was afraid of some sort of evil spirit, Castle becomes convinced that the video is real, though Beckett is having none of it. “You’re right, it is kinda creepy. Because the killer made it creepy, Castle.”

After they find another, seemingly unconnected victim who also received a disc, the investigation leads Beckett and Esposito to a creepy, nearly abandoned inn. There they learn that the victims stayed at the inn while serving as witnesses at the trial of serial killer Nigel Malloy – they witnessed the kidnapping of his first victim. Malloy has since died, but his brother Leopold, who might or might not have been involved but plead not guilty by reason of insanity, is still alive and institutionalized. Unfortunately, he won’t talk.

Castle and Beckett follow a third witness, Mark Heller, to the creepy cabin in the woods where he has taken refuge, resigned to being the next victim. Castle is prepared with holy water and other evil-fighting paraphernalia, but Beckett insists on remaining practical as she leaves Castle in the cabin with Heller and a gun and chases a shadowy figure she sees outside. It turns out that it’s Leopold’s nurse, but she’s there to try to save Heller, not to hurt him. Meanwhile, Heller tells Castle that he and the other two victims were first pressured to pick a different suspect, David Collier, out of a lineup, and Collier, who was innocent, killed himself after three days in prison. Someone is avenging him – and it turns out to be his daughter Amanda, who was also Val’s roommate. After a mental break a year before, Amanda had set out for revenge, giving her victims three days of fear before using a modified taser to electrocute them. She breaks into the cabin to attack Heller, but Castle uses his glass container of holy water to knock her out.

But hey, one bit of added creepiness: It turns out that Nigel Malloy’s body was never found, so hey, he theoretically could still be out there!

Since Castle watches the video early in the episode, he’s afraid that he’ll die too – and, of course, worried about Beckett once she watches it as well. Castle starts working on his bucket list, and everyone is a bit unsettled – at one point, Esposito starts musing about whether he’s in Castle’s will, and Ryan is not amused. Castle even calls Wes Craven (!) for advice, pretending it’s for a movie script he’s writing. And he goes so far as to refuse to have sex with Beckett, because in horror movies, characters always die after having sex. But don’t worry: The bucket list business gets some thoroughly adorable payoff as Beckett sees that item one on Castle’s list is “Be with Kate” – and he confesses that he wrote it three years ago. Aww. In return, Beckett says that showing him her trick with ice cubes is on her bucket list. Have fun, you crazy kids!

(Image courtesy of ABC.)

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