This episode felt once again like classic episode for the show. While I really don’t like the Castle disappearance mystery, the stand alone episodes have been top notch this season, and since those are the majority of what we get, I’ve been loving the show still.
Our victim this week is the Bulldog, a personal injury lawyer who runs late night ads with his face on the body of a bulldog. He has a reputation as an ambulance chaser, which gives him plenty of potential killers - either people whose cases he’s lost or people who lost to him in court. His secretary certainly doesn’t know who it might be, although the Bulldog was acting funny over the last few days. (But then again, which victim on this show doesn’t act funny in the few days before they are killed.)
We go down the line of potential suspects. There’s the ex-football player who was seen with the victim the evening of his death, but he alibis out. We meet the Hammer, another attorney who competed with our victim for the same clients. In fact, they were competing over a victim of a recent accident who had puncture marks in her chest from a defective airbag that went off in the accident.
However, when they talk to the Bulldog’s PI, they learn that the victim was setting things up to kidnap someone. The question really then becomes who and why and is the person still alive. After the victim’s office is trashed, the detectives also find a hidden storage compartment behind a false wall that included stuff for the kidnapping.
A ping off a cell phone tower on the day the victim died (a day where he was unaccounted for until late) puts him in a remote park out of town. Beckett and Castle head out there and find whatever he had buried. However, when they have uncovered it, someone wearing a mask comes up behind them, ties them up, and takes off with the body bag.
Once they get back to town, they are lucky to find that the area in the park was surrounded by motion activated cameras for a wildlife study. One of them capture the person who attacked Castle and Beckett on camera, and it’s the PI. They arrest him and recover the body bag.
Only the body bag contains a crash test dummy. There’s nothing to indicate where he might have gotten it. However, the dummy has three holes just like the potential victim in the hospital.
That’s when we discover that before he opened his current practice, the Bulldog was a lawyer for the car company that made cars with the defective airbags that leave that telltale pattern. And his ex-wife, who he’d called from the park, still works there. Coincidence? The detectives don’t think so, although we are just back from the final commercial break, so clearly she isn’t the killer.
No, the killer is the Hammer. The competing lawyer wanted to keep finding victims of these defective airbags and milk them for all they were worth. The Bulldog, on the other hand, wanted to use this case to force a recall and keep others from getting hurt. To save this new income stream, the Hammer killed him.
Meanwhile, we got a fun sub-plot involving a talent show that NYPD puts on every year. Ryan and Esposito always win, but only because Castle can’t participate, or so he says. He’s thrilled when the celebrity special guest has to back out and he is asked to step in. He even makes a bet with the guys over who will win. Castle has roped Beckett into his team, but she is less than enthusiastic. As she reveals to Martha, it’s because she gets extreme stage fright. Fortunately, the celebrity is able to do it after all, meaning that Castle and Beckett are out since Castle isn’t really a cop. However, Beckett figures out that Castle overheard the conversation with Martha and pulled strings to get them out of it while saving everyone’s reputation.
That sub-plot more than anything is what made this feel like classic Castle to me. It was fun and light and added some great humor. Alexis and Martha had brief appearances with no real sub-plot of their own, but that was about the only thing missing that would have made it perfect.
We’ve got three weeks off and then we are going back to Castle’s disappearance on April 20th. I’ll be interested to see if they solve it or just tease us with some developments not no actual answers. Meanwhile, let me know what you thought of this episode in the comments.