Happy 100th Castle fans! Have you been around for the whole thing? I have, I don’t think I have missed a single episode in 5 years (I probably need to consider getting a life!!). So, let’s get started on this epic episode, shall we?
The opening scene finds us watching as 2 security guards witness a crime unfolding on the video surveillance monitor. Two people meet in the alley, a woman and a man whose face is obscured by a bright light. She seems begins to back away from him, he produces a bat and begins to beat her. One guard runs toward the scene, the other dials 911. When the guard reaches the alley, it is empty. Fearfully he checks the dumpster and finds a body.
Meanwhile at Castle’s place there is a lot of groaning going on, but not for any good reason. It seems that Castle (who is trying to reach his foot to give it a scratch) has broken his knee while on a ski trip with Beckett. He has been confined to the apartment (and a wheelchair) for 2 weeks and he is slowly going crazy from the boredom. Beckett is there, preparing him breakfast (and scratching that itchy foot for him). He has 2 more weeks of this torturous boredom to endure before he can return to “work”. To top it off, his birthday is in just a few days, and Martha is going out of town to a retreat with spotty cell phone coverage. She may not be able to even call her only son on his birthday. Of course, if he had not broken his knee, he would be celebrating his birthday in Bora Bora, so he really can’t blame her for making other plans! (It is a spa trip, darling, not a guilt trip.)
Just as Martha heads out the door, Ryan and Esposito are arriving to pick Beckett up. She, after all, still has to work! Castle is frustrated to be missing another case and begs to go along. But Beckett refuses. The boys notice a pair of binoculars sitting on a table by the window, they are a gag gift from Alexis and Castle loftily informs them that he has not resorted to voyeurism. Ryan and Espo don’t have the same lofty morals though and are soon fighting over the binoculars as they describe a hot body across the way. Beckett puts a stop to this, “unless that body you are looking at is dead, I suggest you drop those binoculars”. And off they go, leaving Castle behind. On the way out the door Castle calls out “what if I consult by phone, we could pretend that I am Charlie and you are my Angels?”. This prompts Espo and Ryan to do a totally hilarious “Angel” pose that I could never describe adequately. You just had to see it!
And now to the case. Clara De Winter is dead, the victim of that brutal beating in the alley the security guards witnessed. She is an IRS agent, working late and headed to her car. When they view the video footage Beckett questions what the bright light is that is obscuring the murderer’s face. Espo has an idea that the guy might be wearing an IR light that only the infrared can see. A pretty effective way of covering his identity. This is not random street thug, this is a premeditated murder, well planned and executed. The only real clue they may have is the killer’s car fleeing the scene. The video will have to be cleaned up to try to get an ID on it though.
Back at the precinct Beckett interviews Clara’s husband, Gavin. He is devastated at the news of his wife’s death. He explains that Clara had been working late a lot due to cutbacks in her department. The last time he saw her was at dinner, around 7 pm. Did she have enemies? Well, yes, she was an investigator for the IRS and went after tax evaders. Was there someone in particular who might have been angry with her? In fact, there was. Some guy had accosted them at dinner one night a few weeks before, but Gavin didn’t know who he was. He tells Beckett to check with her work, she had promised to report the threat.
At Castle’s place there has been a tragic accident. His very cool remote controlled helicopter is dead, crashed with no survivors. So, what’s a boy to do when all his toys are gone? Why, he is to use his brand new binoculars to see what’s going on across the way! (Back to that in a minute!)
Esposito and Ryan are at Clara’s office, interviewing her boss. He takes them to her desk, explaining along the way that Clara loved her job and was quite good at it. As far as the threatening encounter, she never reported it. It seems there is a unwritten rule that employees who make such reports do not fare well on evaluations. This unwritten rule may have gotten Clara killed, and sense there is no report the team will have to go through all her audits for the past 12 months.
And we are back with Castle, looking through his handy binoculars, watching a couple across the way who appear to be writers. Castle thinks so anyway, and I am sure he can spot the type! (did you know this couple was in fact Andrew W. Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller, who co-wrote this episode? Good work Andrew and Terri!) Then we have the maid in another apartment stealing cash from her employer. But what really gets Ricks attention is the young couple a few windows over enjoying an afternoon tryst. Just as he is about to give them their privacy he sees that someone else is home, the young lady’s roommate/boyfriend is coming through the front door. As he walks toward the bedroom, our cheater pushes her lover under the bed. She greets her boyfriend with a kiss and as soon as he enters the bathroom she rushes the dust bunny under the bed out the door. One problem, he left behind his hat. And guess who finds it? You got it, the boyfriend. And Rick has a front row window to the whole affair.
A short while later Beckett gets a call from Castle, who is bored and hungry. The conversation sounds like your typical “where are you, when will you be here”, and Espo and Ryan certainly get a kick out of hearing Beckett’s end of it! They are working late going through Clara’s IRS files, looking for someone who might be her killer. Bored, Castle goes back to his binoculars and the couple across the way. They are fixing dinner and arguing, working their way to a break up. Or so it seems until the boyfriend picks up a wicked looking knife and follows his lovely girlfriend into the bedroom. Of course, now the blinds are drawn, but we do see what appears to be a struggle and something (her hand?) slide down the blinds. Castle calls Beckett back and before she can admonish him for bothering her again, tells her he thinks he has witnessed a murder.
The team responds, but they can’t find any evidence of murder in the apartment. The boyfriend claims that his now ex-girlfriend left and is headed to her mother’s home in Philadelphia. Espo even spoke to her on the phone. Ryan could find no sign of blood or a struggle of any kind. Castle is dumbfounded and confused. He is not crazy, so what happened? Beckett chalks it up to meds and his strong writer’s imagination. Castle gives in, but you can see he hasn’t quite let go of the idea of murder most foul.
The following morning Beckett finds Castle sound asleep in his wheelchair in front of the window, binoculars in hand. Castle explains that the boyfriend spent hours pacing back and forth through the apartment and then slept on the couch. Why would you sleep on the couch when you have a perfectly good bed?? (Beckett: I could ask you the same question!) Castle has determined that the body must be hidden in the bedroom, that’s why Ryan and Esposito couldn’t find it! Beckett points out that he is obsessing over this imagined murder because he misses his work. She wants him to go to the precinct and tackle a real case, but he says he is going to stay home and write. “Okay, as long as by writing you don’t mean staring out the window and ogling at your neighbors”, she says. To which he replies “No, that would be immoral and intrusive.” “Yeah, like you’ve never done that before”. Castle lets that last remark slip by unnoticed, he is already thinking about the binoculars.
At the station Espo is at work on the murder board and asks Beckett how Jimmy Stewart is this morning. “Oh, you know up all night waiting for the neighbor to move the body”. This gets a chuckle and then it’s back to the real murder. The car on the video has been identified as a late model CLS550. Espo has people going over the files to see if anyone listed that make and model on their return. Enter Ryan, he just got off the phone with security at Clara’s office. They sent him a photo of a man who had tried to muscle his way into the building to see Clara. He managed to escape from the security team and drove away in a CLS550. He also matches the description that Gavin gave of the man who accosted them at dinner. This man is Dan Renner, a tax evader that Clara caught. Dan has a good reason to hate Clara, because of her he has lost everything and his wife has filed for divorce. Sounds like someone with an axe to grind….or a bat to swing.
Back at the window, Castle is watching his neighbor, who has gone out and purchased rope and a tarp. What does he need a tarp for?? Then he comes out of the room with blood on his hands. Castle tries to call Beckett but she is in an interview with Espo and Dan Renner. He claims that yes, he was very angry with Clara, but he had no reason to kill her. She had come to him and asked for his help. If he could help her disappear then she would help him get his life back. Why would she want to disappear? And why ask Renner for help? Renner doesn’t know why she wanted to leave or what she was running from, but she asked him because he was so good at hiding his own money and obtaining fake names. And yes, he did have a CLS550…did. The IRS seized it weeks ago. So, Renner has no motive for Clara’s death.
At this point Ryan enters the room with a message. Castle is calling and claims it’s an emergency. She rushes over to his place where she finds Castle, and no emergency. She is not convinced that what Castle saw was blood at all. It could have been anything (including red velvet cupcakes apparently). Castle argues, pointing out that he took the tarp and rope into the bedroom. He wants her to get a warrant to search the place. Beckett isn’t going along for this crazy ride. She thinks Castle is lonely and making up things to get her to come see him. This does NOT sit well with Castle. I think we are having our first big fight, right here, right now. Beckett decides to head back to work but when she tells him she will come back later, he tells her not to bother, he will be fine. Then he turns his back on her and picks up his trusty binoculars.
Beckett is really getting worried about Castle now, he is behaving so irrationally. Even more so than usual. She turns her mind back to the case at hand, Clara’s death. Renner was telling the truth about his car, perhaps he was telling the truth about the rest. It’s time to dig deeper into her life.
Oh dear, Castle fell asleep in front of the window again. But don’t worry, he wakes up pretty quick when he drops his binoculars in his lap. It is 3:13 am, and our neighbor is on the move. He is hauling a carpet out of the apartment. And Castle is ready this time, armed with a camcorder to prove to Beckett that something fishy is going on. One problem, the camera goes from standby to record just as the edge of the carpet disappears around the corner and out of site! The next morning Alexis comes by and He tells her all about it and they end up back at the window, watching the neighbor. At first Alexis is playing devils advocate, looking for the innocent and reasonable explanation. But soon she is wrapped up in the drama (popcorn and all). Of course it doesn’t hurt when our neighbor strips down to his jockeys (he is Cute!). But then he dons a respirator and heavy gloves and things get serious. (side note, where did she get an extra set of binoculars??)
Meanwhile, Beckett is still having a hard time focusing. She is worried about Castle, but the boys have a distraction. Clara was hiding over 1/2 a million dollars in a secret bank account. So, where does an IRS agent making $75k a year get that kind of money? Working on the side for Tommy the Shark, a well known crime boss.
Our neighbor has finally emerged from the bedroom with trash bags full of..something. Then he lays a purse on the table and starts to shred little plastic cards. Castle is sure he is removing the last of the evidence of his crimes and formulates a foolproof (foolish) plan. He will hobble over to the over building with his lock picks, what for Alexis to give him the all clear, and then break into the apartment and retrieve the contents of the shredder. Yes, this will work, as long as Castle doesn’t get distracted. Yes, this will work (shaking my head).
Back to Beckett, who is interviewing Tommy the Shark. Surprise, he freely admits to knowing Clara and paying her, as his tax consultant (no one’s gonna “Al Capone” Tommy). But he didn’t kill her. He was surprised to hear she was dead. He tells Beckett the reason she was hiding money and the reason she wanted to disappear was because of her husband. She was afraid of him and wanted out. And Tommy has a rock solid alibi. It’s time to take a closer look at the husband. Gavin seems to be pretty clean, the manager of a retail store, just your run of the mill guy. Except for that huge life insurance policy he took out on his wife 3 months ago. Hmm….
Castle is carrying out his foolproof plan and guess what? Our foolish hero is instantly distracted by the open bedroom door. Alexis tries to stop him, but off he goes looking for clues. And he finds them, lined up like ducks in a row in the closet. Plastic bins holding paint cans and bleach. And then he notices something red on the wall. This is it! He has found his proof! And…he promptly loses his balance and falls down. And our hunky neighbor is headed back into the apartment. Castle just manages to grab his crutches and slide under the bed (that bed is seeing more action under it than on top, I think!) before our suspect enters the room, talking on his cellphone. It sounds like he might be making plans to borrow a friends boat. It sounds like he might be planning to dump a body. Castle does manage to escape undetected, taking the contents of the shredder with him.
Gavin De Winter is back in interview and this time Beckett is not so friendly or understanding. But as soon as she asks about the life insurance, Gavin asks for his lawyer. Beckett’s cellphone rings and our scene shifts back to Castle’s place. Beckett obviously came over immediately. And she doesn’t seem happy. She can’t believe what Castle did or that Alexis helped him. But Castle has news, in the apartment, besides the blood, he found a receipt for a storage unit (in the shredder bag. Anyone think that’s strange?). It was rented last night, right after Castle saw the rug being removed from the apartment. He is sure the body and other evidence is in that storage locker. And then, the lover that Castle saw on that first day is knocking at the neighbors door. They watch as he tries to enter the apartment, obviously worried about his lover. Beckett goes down to the street to intercept him and ask a few questions (just to shut Castle up). She finds out that Brent (his name) has been texting Emily (Castle’s victim) for the past several days with no answer. Ryan tracked down her parents, but they haven’t heard from her either.
Castle is sure of his path now (He is not crazy!). He convinces a frustrated Beckett to go with him to the locker, where he breaks in and finds the rug and trash bags. One problem, with his knee in a brace he can’t reach down to unroll the rug. So Beckett steps into the locker (an act that could get her arrested and fired!) and unrolls the rug. Nothing. No body. Castle is confused but not deterred. So we have to check the bags, where Beckett finds…a head? No, wait, it’s just a wig! “Now, can we get out of here, before someone sees us?”. Too late, they turn and find a security guard with his gun drawn on them.
Oh, we are in trouble now! Captain Gates is pissed and has our two heroes in her office. She has spoken to the neighbor and to Emily and has an answer for everything Castle can think of. She lets him no in no uncertain terms that she is more than willing to throw him in jail if he even looks at his neighbor wrong. As Castle hobbles out of her office with his head down the boys are right there to rub it in. Castle heads to the car, looking hurt and dejected. Beckett rounds on them, wanting to know if they have any news on the De Winter case. Yes, in fact they do. While it is true that Gavin was at work during the murder, his behavior was not ordinary. The staff of the store reported that he generally stays holed up in his office all night, but this night he was out on the floor. Like he wanted to be seen, to establish an alibi. Yeah, this man killed his wife, now Beckett and the boys just have to prove it.
Did I mention that today is Castle’s birthday? He is all dressed up and ready to go out to dinner. As he sits at the window watching his neighbor (whose blinds are still open!!) get a soda from the cabinet, he apologizes to Beckett for his craziness that got her into trouble. She forgives him, telling him that his wild imagination has helped solve so many cases and it is in fact one of the things she loves about him. As he turns from the window to face her he is dazzled by her beauty. She has outdone herself, dressed in a lovely little black dress and her hair pulled back just so. Very sophisticated. Castle is left hoping that she is his present and can he unwrap it now please?
But no, they have dinner plans. As Beckett turns to the kitchen she asks (very deliberately) if Castle would like a drink from the fridge. This sets him off again, why did his neighbor get a soda from the cabinet and not the fridge?? Because her body is in the fridge!! Those plastic trays in the closet, they must have been refrigerator shelves! Castle rescinds his apology of moments before and declares he is not leaving until he sees what is in that fridge! Beckett is close to tears, he is about to ruin all her plans for his birthday. So she declares that she is going over there and looking in the fridge, and then they are going to dinner and NEVER speaking of this again. Castle doubts that she can get into the apartment, why would he let her in? Beckett responds “Look at me, he is gonna let me in”. Good point Beckett, good point.
Off she goes to knock on the door, sticking her tongue out at Castle, who is watching through his trusty binoculars. Of course, he lets her in, but things go seriously downhill from there. She tries to move toward the fridge and he blocks her, they struggle, he grabs a knife, the lights go out.
Castle of course calls the cavalry and hobbles downstairs and across the street to meet them. They rush up to the apartment and bust in the door. Castle, Ryan, and Espo enter the darkened apartment calling out for Beckett. SURPRISE! The lights come on and a room full of people are yelling and cheering. It’s a surprise party. This whole thing with the neighbor has been an elaborate birthday surprise, orchestrated by Beckett and Martha. The “neighbors” and the “lover” are students in Martha’s acting class. Even Alexis was in on it, that’s why she bought him binoculars to begin with. And of course, Ryan and Espo were in on it too, even Captain Gates was part of the rouse. Castle is stunned and seems upset at first, causing Beckett to rush to explain how she was just trying to cheer him up, he had been so bored cooped up at home with no cases to solve. But they shouldn’t worry. Because “this is without a doubt, the GREATEST BIRTHDAY GIFT OF MY LIFE!”. After checking to be sure Gates is not in attendance, Castle gives Beckett a big kiss. (See, they are perfect together, she really gets him!) Then Castle inadvertently solves Beckett’s real case with these words “I can’t believe the whole thing was staged”.
The next morning finds Beckett interviewing the female security guard from the Clara De Winter murder. Something has been bugging Beckett, she has watched the video dozens of times looking for clues. Then she realized she was looking in the wrong place. Instead of looking at the crime itself she should have been looking at the wall. Because there it is, proof that the video has been tampered with. Right there on that wall is some graffiti that magically appears between one frame and the next. And guess what? Our pretty little security guard used to work in the same store that Gavin De Winter manages. And she rented a CLS550 recently. The video was staged to give the perfect alibi. The murder actually took place in the De Winters garage earlier in the evening and her body placed in the dumpster. Ms Security Guard was having an affair with Mr. De Winter and they planned the whole thing. Case closed.
Our closing scene finds us once again at Castle’s place, toasting 100 cases solved by our dynamic duo. 100 cases, 100 episodes. I am looking forward to the next 100, how about you?