‘Castle’ 5.17 Episode Review and Recap: Scared to Death

Hey Castle fans! Did you enjoy the break? Feel all rested and ready for action? Good, because we have an interesting and terrifying case tonight! Our show opens in the home of Val Butler, and advertising executive. Val is home alone and terrified. Something is coming for her. Something wants to kill her at midnight. In fear she calls 911. Then the lights go out and she screams.

Enter our superior team of investigators. They walk through the apartment while listening to the 911 tape of Val’s last moments. When the officers responded to the call, they found the apartment locked up tight with a couch pushed in front of it. The they see the victim for the first time and she literally looks scared to death, a look of horror frozen on her face. Pearlmutter (how do you spell his name? I doubt I got it right!) is on the case, but he has not obvious cause of death. As usual he is not thrilled to see Castle, but Castle doesn’t mind. He is busy noting all the interesting books on Val’s table. He notes that in the 911 call Val did not say “he” or “she” was coming for her, but IT. Could it be that Val feared a supernatural killer? She has all these books on how to ward off evil and horse shoes (for luck) and dream catchers (he called them wind chimes, but we will forgive that slip) on the wall. Of course, Beckett isn’t buying. Val’s killer was very human, and they will find him or her and lock them up. End of story. But we all know that Castle won’t let go of his pet theory that easy.

Val’s roommate Amanda arrives on the scene. Amanda works nights as a research assistant. She tells Castle and Beckett that she knew she shouldn’t have left Val alone last night. She had been acting very strange for the last 3 days, very fearful and paranoid. Amanda asked her what was wrong, but Val didn’t want to discuss it. Beckett asks if Amanda knows of anyone who might want to hurt Val and she has a ready answer. Enter the exboyfriend, Freddie Baker. Of course he has a record. And of course Val had a restraining order against him. When questioned he admits to going to her place last night, because she had begged him to come over, claiming she wanted to get back together. But when he got there all she began accusing him of sending her a package. When he convinced her he did not send her any package she began to freak out, asking Freddie if he believed in the power of evil. She wasn’t making sense and he didn’t want to get into trouble for breaking the restraining order, so he left. He spent the rest of the evening with friends, an alibi which checks out.

This new information sends Castle and Beckett back to the apartment looking for the package Val spoke of. Of course, Castle finds it. And of course it is creepy and scarey. It’s a DVD (ever seen “The Ring”?) with a message, in 3 days at midnight you will die. And now Castle has watched it. Now it’s his turn to live in fear! He is going to die in 3 days! Only Beckett doesn’t seem too concerned. She takes the DVD and they head to the station, where she insists on viewing it. It has some very interesting imagery in it, several symbols that represent rebirth ands resurrection, as if to say something is coming from beyond the grave to kill (queue creepy music). But Beckett is looking beyond those images to the ones of actual places. Perhaps they can find these places and link them to Val, and to her killer.

Now off Detective Beckett and Defective Castle (good one Pearlmutter!) To get the results of the autopsy. It appears she died of heart failure, but there is no clear indication of why. She was healthy and there were no signs of drug use or alcohol abuse. Of course Rick jumps right on that, insisting that she must have been scared to death! He whips out his “bucket list”, wondering what he can get done in 2 days. Speaking of wondering, Espo is wondering if Castle dies, would he leave Espo his car?? He and Ryan are on the way to check out the P.O. box that the package was mailed from. Turns out that Val beat them to it, she was there 3 days ago asking about the box. It belongs to a dead man though, so it seems that this is a dead end (dead man, dead end….makes me smile……sorry). But perhaps not, perhaps it was sent from another realm, like maybe New Jersey?

Yeah, it’s New Jersey. Our package is part of a sequence of packages with shipping paid for by a man named Jason Bennett. The team goes busting down Jason’s door in Jersey, only to find him dead. 2 days dead, in point of fact. And he has a copy of the DVD. I have to mention this hilarious sidebar between Espo and Castle here. They are searching Jason’s apartment (and have not found Jason yet) and Espo is trying to get Castle to put a price tag on their “priceless” friendship. Then with the flick of a switch, Castle yells out “DEAD” and throws his hands over his mouth like a little girl caught saying a dirty word! I am not doing the scene justice here, I hope you caught it. It was a classic Castle moment!

Back to the case! What is the connection between Jason and Val? And if they make a copy of the disc and send it to someone else, will that save Castle and Beckett? Okay, I’m not sure that is really on track with the case, but Castle is still a bit preoccupied with dying. And now he is also worried about Kate dying. At the very least he wants her to live to share the story of his sacrifice and selflessness with the world. Beckett sets Esposito and Ryan to the task of tracking down a link between Val and Jason. Then she suggests that she and Castle head home to her place. After all if this is their last night together, they should enjoy it. But Castle knows that in every horror movie, sex always brings death. So he removes himself from temptation and heads home for some rest. But rest does not come easy, so instead he phones a friend, Wes Craven. Yes, that Wes Craven. The horror movie master piece creator (is it wrong that I have never watched one of his movies all the way through?). Rick tells Wes that he is considering writing a horror screen play for something similar to “The Ring” only with a less bloody ending and he is looking for advice. Wes tells him to look for clues to the evil spirits origins in the images on the disc (wasn’t Beckett already headed down this road??) And Castle is inspired. He all but hangs up on Wes and dashes off to renew his investigation of the disc. Wes Craven hangs up the phone in disbelief of Castle’s.

The next morning back at the station Beckett, Espo, and Ryan have hit a dead end. They can find no link between Jason and Val. None at all. But no worries because a truly energized Castle is on the case! He tells the team that he realized that there must be clues in the images on the disc so he shared them with his “legion of followers” and someone recognized one, the Brunswick Inn. Turns out both victims stayed there in November of 2008. An affair? Not likely given their age differences, plus they stayed in separate rooms. A trip to the Inn is in order. Only Castle doesn’t want to make the trip so he volunteers to watch the disc again.

So, off Esposito and Beckett go to visit the Brunswick Inn, which is super creepy and dusty. Espo has just finished telling Beckett how he is buying into all Castle’s evil spirit storyline when he is “startled” by the innkeeper (translation, scared 1/2 to death). The inn is closed for the season and at first the very creepy innkeeper (at least he matches the inn) doesn’t seem very helpful. But when Beckett asks if he remembers anything significant happening in November 2008 he opens right up. Turns out there was a high profile serial killer on trial in 2008 and the rooms that Val and Jason stayed in are rooms reserved for people involved in court cases. Interesting….

Now that we have this information the other images on the disc begin to make sense. They are all images relating to the trial in which Val and Jason were both witnesses. Our serial killer’s name is Nigel Malloy and he would be the perfect suspect for these crimes except for on thing, He is dead. That is a stumbling block, but not for long. Beckett believes that someone connected to Nigel must be responsible, despite the fact that Nigel gave an interview shortly before his death in which he claimed he could and would live on after death. To prove her point, she and Castle go to visit Nigel’s brother Leopold, who just happens to be locked up in an insane asylum (all very Silence of the Lambs) for helping his brother dispose of the bodies of his victims. Oh, and Val went to see Leopold before her death.

Val wanted to know if Leopold sent her the disc. But how could he have? He has been locked up for years with no outside contact. Beckett pushes him accusing him of planning the murder of Val and having someone commit it in order to avenge his brother. Leopold denies this, why would he risk his appeal to murder Val or the other witness? Castle notices his slip, they never told him about Jason’s death. After this Leopold clams up and bids them good day. He is done talking. On the drive back Beckett calls Ryan and he gives them some more disturbing news, Nigel Malloy is missing. To be precise, his body is missing. Somebody dug up his grave and his body is gone. Or could it be that he has indeed risen from the grave??

Some more digging (ha) turns up a third witness in the trial, Mark Heller. Mark’s girlfriend says he also received a disc and that he freaked out and disappeared. Ryan is able to track him down through his credit card purchases. He has gone to a cabin in the woods to hide out. Yeah. A cabin in the woods. Because that always ends well. Off Beckett and Castle go to visit Mark at his cabin in the woods. Castle is not pleased by this turn of events and requests that they make a stop before leaving town so he can pick up some supplies. It’s his war chest of evil spirit fighting supplies, which includes holy water. The phone rings and it’s Ryan and Espo, but whatever they are trying to say is too garbled and then we lose the signal all together. Creepy.

So, we are at a remote cabin in the woods with no cell reception. The body of a dead (?) serial killer is missing. And our heroes have watched a disc that seems to be killing people. Everything seems to perfectly normal and not all creepy as they let themselves into Mark’s cabin, calling out his name. He is there, sitting in a rocking chair waiting for death to claim him. He tells them that he and the others never wanted to testify against Nigel or “the other guy” and just as Beckett begins to question him about this other guy, the lights go out and a shadow crosses in front of the windows. Beckett draws her gun and goes outside to track down the killer leaving Castle and Mark inside with her backup weapon. She does track down a woman. It’s Leopold’s nurse, but she is not the killer. She is in love with her patient and is there to try to protect Mark because she knows if he dies it will affect Leopold’s appeal. But if she is not the killer, who is?

Inside the cabin Mark is reluctant to come clean about the “whole story” of the trial but he finally admits that before the police zeroed in on Nigel they had another suspect. The police pressured Mark, Jason, and Val to ID this man in a lineup. This poor man was innocent, but after 3 days in jail he electrocuted himself at midnight in his cell. So all of this isn’t about Nigel rising from the grave, but about an innocent man committing suicide. He left behind a daughter and her name is Amanda. Amanda…wait, isn’t that the name of Val’s roommate? Why, yes it is. And here she is now, creeping into the cabin ready to kill Mark with a modified taser. However, her plans for this final revenge of he father are foiled when Castle whacks her over the head with his bottle of holy water. Case closed. Well, except for Nigel’s body. Our friendly nurse was the one who dug up the grave, but the coffin was already empty. Nigel’s body was never in the coffin, it went missing just after his death but the authorities didn’t want that story to get out so they buried an empty coffin. Hmm, I wonder where Nigel is now?

Before we go, remember Castle’s bucket list? Beckett gets a look at it and guess what’s at the top of it? She is. Guess he can cross that one off, huh?

All in all this was another great episode. Just enough creepy and scary to keep you on edge with just the right amount of humor and romance thrown in to keep that Castle flare. I’m looking forward to next weeks episode when Ryan goes undercover. See you then!!


  1. I love that the writers don’t just keep the action in the city and are willing to bring in other genres. I agree, this episode had a good balance of creepy, suspense, humor and romance. Lots of unanticipated twists and turns in this one.

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