Setup is the first part of a super-dramatic two-parter, and the plot is complicated, so let’s dive right in. (Also, since I haven’t seen the second part, I don’t yet know what’s important, so I’m telling you basically everything. This goes on for a while.)
Cold Open: Ooh, we don’t often have the in media res/time jumping stuff on this show, so you know we’re in for something big. Anyway, we start with Castle dragged into quarantine by two guys in hazmat suits. He begs for information, but they won’t tell him anything. Then he sees Beckett, and we go back 36 hours …
Mystery of the Week: A security guard at a warehouse finds a stripped cab containing the body of driver Amir Alhabi. (Note: I usually refer to everyone by last name, but we have a few Alhabis this time so I’m going to use first names.) His money is gone, so the detectives think at first that he might have been killed for cash and car parts. His watch broke when he fell, so they know the time of death was 11:15 p.m. He took a bullet to the head from a 9mm, but before he died, his fingers were broken one at a time, which suggests that it wasn’t a random robbery gone wrong. Ryan looks into Amir’s background and discovers that he emigrated from Syria seven years ago, became a citizen last year, and owned a cab and medallion with his cousin Jamal. The TLC tracks cabs, but Amir shut his meter off at 10:02, so they don’t know where he went after that. He subscribed to a GPS tracking service, though, and the GPS data shows that he drove to Washington Heights, parked in the 1600 block of St. Nicholas Ave for six minutes, and then drove to the warehouse. His cell phone shows that his last call was to his wife at 10:01. He also noted the code C4121652 on his phone about an hour before he died; it’s not a license tag or phone number.
Beckett and Castle talk to Amir’s wife Nazihah, who tells them that when Amir called her said he was headed to Broadway to pick up fares after the plays got out. Neither she nor Amir’s cousin Jamal recognize the code from the phone. Nazihah says that Amir was worried about money because their daughter needed surgery. Jamal tells Castle and Beckett that the other drivers to whom they rented shifts were Kevin McCann and Dmitri Voldov. Jamal himself invested in the cab company but didn’t drive; he just started a moving company. Jamal also says that Nazihah will inherit Amir’s share of the company. Meanwhile, Esposito finds a guy named Jones who was selling parts of the taxi at a chop shop. He admits that he stripped the taxi but swears he didn’t kill Amir, and tells them that someone else was there, ripping up the car’s upholstery looking for something.
Dmitri Voldov albis out, but he tells the detectives that Amir and McCann got into a fight and Amir was planning to fire McCann. Beckett and Castle bring McCann in and he admits that he and Amir fought, because Amir was suddenly carrying around tons of cash and McCann though he was paying too much to rent the cab. McCann’s alibi is a fare. When CSU examines the cab, they find hidden pinhole cameras with microphones, but someone ripped out the hard drives so they don’t know what the cameras recorded. No one they talked to knew that Amir had installed cameras, and they determine they were installed by professionals, but not law enforcement. They discover that the cameras were ordered a week ago by TechnoPro Systems, and the man who installed them says that Amir hired him to put in cameras for “security reasons,” but doesn’t know anything else.
When Ryan goes through Amir’s financials, he finds the expected medical bills, plus a $10,000 cash deposit ten days ago. Esposito goes through more of Amir’s GPS records and finds a fare who paid $30 to drive in a circle, probably just to talk to Amir. He gets a picture of the mystery passenger from a traffic cam and sees that the guy is carrying a gun, so he canvasses the neighborhood with the picture. Castle and Beckett take the new information to Nazihah, who says she kept track of expenses for the cab, but never saw a bill for the cameras and knew nothing about the $10,000. She recognizes the mystery passenger as someone who was talking to Amir in the street last week, but Amir had claimed the man had mistaken him for someone else. Esposito finds that the mystery passenger goes to coffee shop at the same time every day, so Beckett and Castle find him there. It turns out that he’s Fariq Yusef, Head of Security for the Syrian consulate, and he’s carrying a 9mm but won’t talk to them because of diplomatic immunity. Ryan confirms that Yusef is a member of the Syrian secret police, but he also has an unimpeachable alibi.
Castle realizes that the 1652 in the code could be the address where Amir stopped on St. Nicholas. There’s a storage facility there, so they theorize that C412 is a storage unit. Beckett and Castle go to the unit and it’s empty except for a crate of guns and explosives. As they’re looking at it, Beckett’s radiation meter goes off and she screams at Castle to run. They get out, and we’re back to the quarantine scene from the beginning of the episode. Beckett tells Castle that the scale on her radiation detector was maxed out, and then they talk about Josh (more on that later) until a hazmat specialist comes in and tells them that there were residual traces of Cobalt 60 in the storage unit, but not enough health problems, so they’re free to go.
While Castle and Beckett are in quarantine, DHS liaison Mark Fallon (guest star Adrian Pasdar) shows up and once Esposito and Ryan confirm that Amir had an electrical engineering degree from Damascus and had been working on nuclear weapons for the Syrians before he emigrated, Fallon takes over the investigation. Montgomery surmises that there was a dirty bomb in the storage unit, presumably built by Amir, but it’s gone, and Fallon confirms that they need to find the person who moved it. Fallon tries to send Castle, a civilian, home, but Castle mentions his “friend the governor” and Fallon lets him stay as long as he stays out of the way. When Castle tells Montgomery that Fallon doesn’t trust him, the Captain says “Or anyone else. Nature of the job.” (Raise your hand if you think Fallon is going to end up suspecting that Castle is a terrorist!)
Fallon asks Beckett to help him question Nazihah, and creepily calls the baby “a nice touch.” Meanwhile, Castle and Ryan trace the money that was wired to Amir, and it goes through a bunch of “James Smith” accounts in different states until it finally originates at a bank in Afghanistan. Castle, always the writer, doesn’t think they’re dealing with an Arab terrorist because “it’s been done,” and Esposito believes Amir’s wife must know something. Fallon apparently agrees, as he yells at Nazihah and threatens to take her baby away if she doesn’t tell him what she knows. Beckett seems vaguely appalled by this, and Fallon eventually lets Nazihah go, but bugs her house. Beckett still thinks Nazihah is telling the truth, but must operate under the assumption that she’s lying.
Ryan watches security video of the storage facility and sees Jamal leaving with a crate, so theorizes that Jamal had Amir make the bomb and then killed him. Castle, again thinking like a writer, thinks the idea of Jamal and Amir as terrorists doesn’t fit because all the details are wrong, so he suggests that Jamal, who owns a moving company, might have been hired to pick up the crate and didn’t know what it was. The bank in Afghanistan was one often used by U.S. military, so it seems an odd choice for a terrorist, and Castle suggests to Beckett that the killer could have put the storage unit key on Amir’s keychain as part of an effort to frame Amir and Jamal. While Castle goes off to do something hush-hush, Ryan finds that Jamal bought a burner phone three weeks ago, and Beckett determines that all of Jamal’s trucks are parked except one, so suggests that they trace the truck.
Castle secretly meets with Yusef, who tells him that he never saw any evidence that Amir could have been a terrorist. He met with Amir occasionally to try to get him to go back to the Syrian weapons program, but Amir wouldn’t, even for money. Amir thought that Yusef had put the $10,000 in his account to pressure him, but he hadn’t. Yusef gives Castle his card in case he ever needs “a man of his skills,” and I have to think that’s going to come back eventually, somehow. Beckett agrees with Castle that what Yusef said means that Amir didn’t know where the money had come from, so he couldn’t have been hired to make the bomb. Fallon, however, is angry that Castle talked to Yusef, and while of course I’m on Castle’s side in all things, I loved the way Fallon exclaimed “I don’t even know what you’re doing here,” perhaps as a bit of a meta nod to the fact that it really makes no sense that Castle is more or less working as a detective full time without any training or credentials or, you know, being hired by anyone. When Beckett confirms that she knew about Castle’s activities, Fallon takes them both off the case; Captain Montgomery tries to stand up for them, but he’s not in charge anymore. Fallon’s parting shot: “Oh, and Castle – the governor? He’s never heard of you.” (Heh. It’s the mayor who’s friends with Castle, after all.)
Beckett goes with Castle to his apartment, where he projects an iPhone picture of the murder board on a shower curtain and loads the GPS data on his laptop, so they can continue working from there. (His shower curtain is 600 thread count, which can only lead to one question: what the heck kind of sheets does he have?) Esposito finds a photo of the missing truck, and Ryan finds a just-sent text message saying “The package has been delivered,” so Fallon orders a street-by-street grid search. Montgomery gets a location on the truck, and when the cops get there, a radiation detector goes off, but the truck is empty.
Castle thinks that maybe one of the other drivers was involved, and uses the GPS to find that Kevin McCann had been near both the storage unit and the warehouse. Castle and Beckett go to the warehouse location where McCann parked and find a white van – with the bomb inside. Someone starts shooting, so they shut themselves in some sort of freezer compartment, and can’t get out. Also in the freezer? Jamal’s body.
An unseen person takes the white stickers off the van – it’s actually black – and drives away with the bomb. To be continued …
Castle and Beckett: Seriously, I think someone pitched this episode as “There’s a big scary terrorist threat, and also Castle and Beckett keep getting stuck together in confined places!” But before that happens, Beckett is clearly upset about something to do with Josh, but won’t tell anyone what. Castle sees the two of them arguing, and Josh gives Castle a rather interesting look. They have a lighthearted moment later at the storage unit, right before they find the radiation that will turn things serious: Beckett holds up bolt cutters, rendering Castle momentarily speechless. He confesses: “For reasons too disturbing to mention, I find that hot.”
When they’re in quarantine, Castle scares Beckett by going through worst case scenarios, so he gets her talking about Josh to distract her. She tells Castle that Josh is on his way to Haiti with Doctors Without Borders, and Beckett says that at first she liked that Josh was so busy, because it let her keep one foot out the door. This gives Castle an opening to start a serious conversation – not about their relationship, exactly, but getting closer:
Castle: “But with one foot out the door, it’s hard to know where you stand.”
Beckett: “And even if I did, I mean, what does it mean? He’s out there, he’s saving people. How do you even compete with that?”
Castle: “You can’t. No. No one can.”
Beckett: “And that’s one of the things that attracted me to him the most – that passion, that drive. Why is it that that thing that attracts you to a person always ends up being that thing that just drives you crazy?”
Castle responds to this with something of a tortured smile, and Beckett continues: “I just wish that I had someone who would be there for me and I could be there for him, and we could just dive into it together,” and I start yelling at my TV: “OH MY GOD, Beckett, do you not see the incredible man sitting right there adoring you?” Castle, however, only gets out the word “I” before he’s interrupted by the Hazmat specialist who’s there to tell them that they can leave. (I think it was the word “I.” Is that what you guys heard? What do you think he was going to say?) It’s clear that Castle, while, of course, relieved that they’re not in danger, is annoyed that they’ve been released from quarantine before they can finish the conversation. Aww. Don’t worry, Castle! You’ll get locked in another small space together soon enough!
The Rest of the Force: This episode is so plot-heavy that there’s not much in the way of character stuff. At the beginning of the episode, Lanie calls Esposito “baby” in front of everyone, and it’s pretty adorable. Later, Ryan and Esposito talk about trying to send Jenny and Lanie out of town and away from the danger as Castle Stares Meaningfully at Beckett.
The Castle Family: Speaking of getting out of town, Martha got tickets for herself and Alexis at a spiritual retreat in the Catskills called the Serenity. (Get it?) Alexis doesn’t want to go, so in one of their trademark cute father/daughter scenes, she coaches Castle into making her stay home to study for her physics exam. Once Castle finds out about the bomb, though, he makes Alexis leave the city with Martha after all, and the fear and pain in his eyes as he’s telling her to go (but not telling her why) are heartbreaking.
Next week: Part two. Will Castle and Beckett make it out of the freezer alive? (Um, yeah.) Will they stop the bomber in time?
Photo Courtesy of ABC