Hello Castle fans! Let’s get started on the last episode’s recap and review, shall we? This was a very intense episode with lots of unexpected twists!
The story begins with a homeless man warming himself by the fire. But something is wrong, there is a body in the fire barrel! The victim is a woman whose body has been burned beyond recognition and the teeth have been smashed out in an attempt to keep her identity a secret. But Lanie finds a titanium screw in her jaw and with the batch number the team is able to i.d. her. Her name is Melanie Rogers and she was an engineer living in new Jersey. A look at her phone records reveals several calls to a Washington DC number and a call to her sister.
When Castle and Beckett interview the sister they find she has a voice mail message from Melanie on her phone. When they listen to it, they hear Melanie, sounding scared and trying to give her sister a license plate number. Then there is a gunshot and the sound of a lighter clicking repeatedly. They have her murder on tape, but where did it take place? And whose license plate was she trying to give them?
Here’s a clue, the Washington DC number she was calling belongs to Senator William Bracken, the man responsible for the murder of Kate’s mother. This is Beckett’s chance to finally bring Bracken down! Surely he must have had Melanie killed. Perhaps they had an affair and she became a liability. Beckett decides they must proceed with caution, if the Senator sees Beckett, he will know she is on to him. Esposito and Ryan are sent to interview him. Bracken tells them that Melanie was working with him on an important piece of legislation that he is preparing to unveil this week. He claims the relationship was purely professional and has no knowledge of what happened to Melanie. Then he recognizes Ryan and the interview is over.
Bracken alibi’s out for the time of death, he was at an Eco conference at the Widmark Hotel. Melanie was also seen leaving the hotel at about 3:45pm. Time of death has been established by the voice mail message as being at about 4:00pm. And FBI analysis of the recording has determined the murder occurred in a parking garage near a construction site. All this new information leads the team to the parking garage where the murder took place. There they find a car matching the partial plate number from the voice mail. The car had been reported stolen 4 days ago and a search of the trunk reveals a floor plan of the Widmark, photos of Bracken, and a sniper rifle. It is beginning to look like Bracken isn’t the murderer, but the target.
The security staff at the Widmark report that just before the time of murder they turned away a man who was trying to get into the conference without proper credentials. He was carrying a gray duffel bag like the one found in the trunk of the stolen car. It seems likely that Melanie noticed something about this man, and that something got her killed. But what?
Beckett now finds herself protecting the man responsible for the murder of her mother. Bracken points out the irony of their situation in a closed door meeting with Beckett at the station. The man has enemies, but no one crazy enough to want to kill him, “present company excluded, of course”. “This must be a dream come true for you”, he says. To which Beckett replies, “in my dreams I am the one pulling the trigger.” Score one for Beckett. She also lets him know that if he isn’t comfortable with her leading the investigation he can step out and tell everyone why and request a new investigator. Of course, he can’t do that, so he packs up his shiny lawyer and heads out, promising to send over the threatening letters he has received for the team to go through.
Beckett and Castle spend the evening going through the letters, but when Beckett finds a handwriting match, she doesn’t speak up. She sends Castle home to rest and then spends the evening struggling with what to do (including a visit to her therapist who tells her that right choice may be “the one you can live with”). And who can blame her? This man killed her mother and has gotten away with it. If she can just set back and do nothing, she may get her justice. But Melanie’s killer will mostly likely get away, and her sister will suffer in the same way Beckett has.
She almost burns the letter and then fails to mention it to the team the next morning. She starts to, but Esposito turns up a lead on the suspects whereabouts and she runs with it, leaving the letter unmentioned. But maybe they don’t need it after all. The lead does lead them to the suspect via his former employer. His name is Robert McManus and he is a schizophrenic who has been living off the grid for months now. They find his place, a room in a rundown motel and raid it. But he isn’t home. Beckett steps out of the room and there he is coming out of the elevator. She draws her weapon, but hesitates and he escapes.
Back at the station, Beckett tells Castle about the letter. She is feeling guilty for the hesitation that allowed McManus to escape. But she says she saw something familiar in his eyes, the same pain she feels at the loss of her mother. His son was an intern for Bracken and he hanged himself (presumably) just before he as scheduled to meet with a reporter about Bracken. This is why McManus blames Bracken for his son’s death.
Beckett’s guilt is worsened by the knowledge that bomb making materials were found in McManus’s room. Now, more people are in danger. Could she have stopped this? Did she let him get away? Will she be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people? She tells Castle she has to figure this out, to find the bomb. Just then Ryan and Espo arrive with McManus in tow. They found him on a roof top, but he isn’t talking. But Beckett has a connection to him, she can relate. She gets him to talk, but as soon as she mentions the bomb he gets angry and confused. But once again, it works out for the best (or does it?). The bomb has been found by the FBI and it’s over.
Something is still bothering Beckett though, something she can’t quite let go of. Why a bomb? McManus had a gun. And the bomb was expertly constructed. Melanie’s body was burned and her teeth knocked up to hide her identity. All of this feels wrong. It feels too smooth, to professional to have been the work of McManus. Is it possible this is a frame up? Is it possible that the real killer is still out there?
Castle cautions Beckett about moving on her concerns, but she can’t let it go and calls in an order for the evacuation of the Eco conference. But the bomb squad can’t find a bomb. Bracken beyond angry and threatens to take her down professionally. Then Beckett hears something. A lighter. Like the one from the voice mail message. Bracken’s driver is flipping it as he walks away from the car. He is Melanie’s killer, he is the man looking to kill Bracken. Beckett throws herself on Bracken, saving his life as the car bomb explodes. Castle takes down the driver. Later at the station Bracken tells Castle that he believes that he did this all for money. Castle returns with the observation that he wouldn’t have done what “she” did. He would have watched Bracken die. They find evidence in the drivers home that ties the case up and will put him away for Melanie’s murder.
Bracken knows who paid off the driver, but he is not sharing. He plans to take his “king maker” down in his own way. He does tell Beckett that he owes her, which is very strange. Later, Castle and Beckett see a news report about Bracken helping to take down the man who put the hit on him, making Bracken the rarest form of politician, one who stands up to special interests. Making Bracken an instant hero. Something tells me this won’t be the last we see of him.
So, how did you like this episode? I really enjoyed it. I could really feel Beckett’s struggle to do the right thing. It felt real. Sometimes in shows like this, the main characters become rather flat over time and become goody-goodies who can do know wrong. Not the case here! Beckett is full of depth and conflicting emotions, just like us real people! I am looking forward to our next episode, it promises to be a Valentines extravaganza. See you then!