A few weeks ago, Castle had a case that involved Beckett’s personal life and shook her to the core. This week, it’s Castle’s turn …
Mystery of the Week: Damian Westlake and his neighbor Charles Utley return from a basketball game to fine Westlake’s wife Victoria dead – by nail gun. The police find that the back door is ajar, and something that looks like a gang tag is painted on a wall outside the house, but no one heard the dog bark, which suggests that there was no unknown intruder. The time of death was between 4:30 and 6 p.m., and Westlake left the house at five. When Beckett tries to talk to Westlake, she discovers that Castle is with him – they’re old friends from boarding school, and Westlake called Castle because he knew he worked with the police. Westlake tells Beckett that his wife was in interior design; he’s a writer but has never been published, and they were married – happily, he says – for five years. And from here on, you can pretty much insert “Castle insists that Westlake shouldn’t be a suspect” after every sentence. Westlake says that the nail gun wasn’t theirs, but that it probably belonged to workmen they had renovating the house. Victoria fired one of the workmen last Friday evening, but Westlake doesn’t know why. When Westlake goes to call Vicky’s ex Simon Campbell and their kids, Utley tells the detectives that Westlake seemed distraught and surprised when they found the body, but that he had been unusually tense and aggressive during their game that day.
Vicky’s coworker Amber Patinelli confirms that Vicky fired a carpenter named Morris Hasberg because she thought he stole her engagement ring. He was the only person with access to her bedroom, but he denied taking it and made a scene, saying that if Vicky didn’t stop telling lies, bad things would happen. Hasberg had a history of armed robbery, and evidence seems to point to him: his truck was spotted near the house, and his prints are on the nail gun. But when Beckett brings him in, he says that Vicky requested a meeting, at which she said that she found her ring and apologized for accusing him of theft. CSU finds the ring in the house, so Hasberg’s story holds up.
When Ryan and Esposito check Westlake’s background, they discover that his father was murdered at their vacation home in Puerto Rico when Westlake was nineteen, and Westlake was the prime suspect, but no arrest was made. Westlake insists to Castle that he was 2000 miles away when his father died, but admits that they had a bad relationship and that he inherited his father’s fortune.
Vicky’s ex Campbell tells Beckett that Vicky left him and the kids for Westlake, but that she was unhappy and now regretted the decision. He claims that on Monday they had talked about getting back together; two days later, she was dead. According to the Westlakes’ prenup, if they divorced, Westlake would get nothing, but now that Vicky is dead, Westlake inherits $10 million. Westlake had spent the last of his father’s money to woo Vicky, and now he was living lavishly on her money. Meanwhile, the gang tag is IDed to Omar Lincoln, who did time for assault with a deadly weapon while breaking and entering in 2007. Why Ryan, Esposito, and Castle find Lincoln, he insists that he was just tagging the wall, but says that he overheard the Westlakes arguing, and that Vicky Westlake called her husband a liar and thief and said she wanted a divorce. Lincoln has an alibi, so he’s off the suspect list.
The detectives find a credit card Westlake had hidden from his wife, on which he charged things like flowers and jewelry, as well as a “playroom” at a private club. Castle, of course, is a member of the club, and says that a playroom pretty much just contains a bed. They go to the club and ask the receptionist, Callie Langston, who Westlake was meeting, and Langston admits that she and Westlake fell in love and that he claimed he would leave his wife for her. Vicky Westlake, though, went to see her at the club the morning of the murder to warn her that she was leaving Westlake, and that he would therefore leave Langston in order to find another rich woman to support him. When Langston told Westlake about this, he said nothing would keep them apart, but after the murder he told Langston that they couldn’t see each other for a while. He told Langston to lie to the cops about their affair, but she didn’t, and her alibi for the time of the murder holds up.
When Beckett brings Westlake in, he insists he didn’t kill his wife, but she arrests him anyway. He admits to Castle that he and Vicky had fought and tells Castle that Vicky had an enveloped containing divorce papers. Castle finds the mail carrier, who says that she saw Westlake after he’d left the house, and then saw Vicky alive at the house, so Westlake couldn’t have killed her. Beckett figures out that Westlake took the stones out of Vicky’s engagement ring and replaced them with imitations. She suspects that he used them to hire someone to kill Vicky, but he still has all the diamonds, and says he only took back the ones he had given Vicky, because he knew she was going to leave him.
Castle decides to solve Westlake’s father’s murder, hoping to clear Westlake’s name, and when Alexis finds a sketch of someone seen near the crime scene, Castle immediately recognizes him: he’s Michael Rutherford, another boarding school classmate, who was a thief and sociopath. Castle meets with the detective who worked the case in Puerto Rico, and Rutherford’s identity is confirmed. Rutherford wasn’t friends with Westlake, though: Westlake is the one who turned him in for theft.
Castle also suggests looking into Vicky’s ex Campbell, and Ryan and Esposito discover that Campbell’s in a lot of debt, but now that Vicky’s dead, he gets their brownstone and is executor of the kids’ estate. The security system at the brownstone shows that the front door opened at 4:37 and 5:42, so he could have left, killed Vicky, and returned. Ryan and Esposito stake out the house; they see Campbell kissing Amber Patinelli and bring them both in. It turns out that Patinelli called for a car and took a round trip to the Westlakes’ house right at the time of the murder. She admits that Vicky confided in her about possibly getting back together with Campbell, so she went to talk to her. Patinelli begged Vicky to let her have Simon, but Vicky refused, so Patinelli got angry and killed her.
But we’re not done, because we get two murders for the price of one this week! Castle tells Westlake that Rutherford has been arrested and that DNA evidence links Rutherford to Westlake’s father’s murder – so Rutherford confessed and said that Westlake hired him. So even though he actually had nothing to do with his wife’s death, Westlake is arrested for murder after all.
Castle and Beckett: Our heroes have one of their biggest disagreements yet, as they clash this week over Castle’s attitude toward his old friend Westlake. He refuses to see Westlake as a suspect, because Westlake encouraged his talent when Castle was a homesick young boy at boarding school. Castle thinks Westlake is the one who made him into a writer: “Without him, I’m not me.” Beckett eventually sends Castle home because of his interference – an echo of Beckett being sent home in “Knockdown”? Nevertheless, Castle keeps repeating that Beckett is the finest detective in New York, and eventually apologizes for his behavior. Beckett tells him that the Westlake in his head is a character in a story he told himself, not a real person. She doesn’t completely ignore Castle’s opinion, though: at one point she tells Westlake that she is suspicious of him “But Richard Castle believes in you and I believe in him.” By the end of the episode, Castle and Beckett are back in sync with one of their adorable “I think I know who the killer is” moments. And when Castle is sad about his friend’s arrest, Beckett buys him a drink even though it’s Valentine’s Day and she theoretically has plans with her invisible boyfriend. Aww. (Appropriately, the song playing during this scene says “I’ll go anywhere with you.”)
The Rest of the Force: Esposito doesn’t think Lanie wants to do anything for Valentine’s Day, but Ryan convinces him he’s wrong, and Esposito manages to get a gift in time. Ryan, though, gets chocolate for Jenny, and Esposito has to point out that Jenny’s currently dieting for the wedding, so that might not be the best gift right now. Oh, these two. What would they do without each other? And in the line of the episode, when Castle and Beckett are yelling at each other, Esposito tells Ryan: “Mom and Dad are fighting.” Aww.
The Castle Family: Castle again uses his mother as a sounding board, and really, I love it when he does that. When he says he’ll need solid evidence to believe that Westlake could be a killer, Martha points out that Beckett never closes cases without solid evidence, so he needs to get over himself. (More or less.) I loved Martha sticking up for Beckett here, and I’d like to see more of their dynamic. Meanwhile, Alexis needs to figure out what to get Ashley for their first Valentine’s Day together, and settles on a “true love” picture frame with a picture of Ashley’s pet rat. Awww. (And continuity! They remembered what pet they gave him! Yay!)
Next week: There’s a dirty bomb in New York! Just to warn you now, this is the first of a two-parter, so get ready.