Three of Rick’s wishes came true on Castle tonight, but one of his heart’s strongest desires still eludes him. Poor, sweet Castle just wants proof that magic is real. (“I prefer ‘fantasy-augmented.’”) You can’t blame a guy who spends his mornings in bloody crime scenes for dreaming that there’s more to life than who killed whom and for what money. And the day that Castle’s faith in the tangible power of stories dies will be a sad day indeed.
Still, the writer happily settles for the little miracles he gets. He doesn’t meet his death at the hand of a gun-for-hire in a Lower East Side rug warehouse. And Jenny and Nicholas Javier Ryan (be still my beating heart) survive a complicated birth, making Detective Kevin Ryan a very proud first-time dad. Castle gets the piss taken out of him regularly for being a very wealthy adult-sized child, but he knows what really matters.
The few breathless moments at the hospital aside, “Death Wish” is a Castle special: the pastiche-heavy romp. LokSat and their ruthless crime ring are standing right outside Beckett and Castle’s door, but there’s still time to get a few silly episodes in before the inevitable season-ending showdown. It’s season 8, and the show is upping the ante on the deadly cold opens like Six Feet Under did through the course of its run; this one is special. Castle lets out a gasp of delight when he sees that Lars Cross was decapitated by a genuine Turkish scimitar. And I’d be scandalized by him doing this over a fresh corpse, but a lifetime of television has wholly desensitized me.
Cross was a sonar technician, fresh off a job in Turkey. If he was let go after blowing off work too often, then why, Castle wonders, is his apartment decorated in Middle Eastern antiquities and expensive electronics? The newly unemployed victim had been tortured before his death; for what, it’s unclear. When Castle walks into the hallway to take a phone call, a blond woman surprises him and demands his attention. She doesn’t identify herself but claims to have overheard Lars’ ex-boyfriend Mark banging on his door the previous night and demanding that he repay some amount of money he owed him. He gets distracted, and she’s gone.
The victim’s sister verifies that Mark did cover Lars’ tuition at Columbia, but as far as she knew, her brother was too broke to pay him back. The electronics, the antiques, the new Porsche — all evidence that Lars had to have run some kind of job in Turkey and that Mark had probably found out about his ex’s newfound wealth. Mark owns up to threatening Lars, and no, I can’t really blame him. (#PiscesProblems.) But he wouldn’t have killed the “love of [his] life” for any amount of money. Anyway, Lars promised to pay him back within a day, and Mark’s alibi checks out.
While Beckett and Rysposito follow their non-mystical leads, Castle becomes engrossed in Lars’ collection of scholarly books on One Thousand and One Nights. He recognizes the symbol on one of the victim’s hand-annotated texts as the Seal of Solomon, a circular imprint that legend says could enclose a genie into a lamp, just like in one of Scheherazade’s stories. Some think — Castle explains to the nonbelievers he works with — that Aladdin’s lamp was hidden away in the tomb of Solomon, which is supposedly somewhere close to Lars’ employer’s base of operations. Castle looks like he was just invited to play catch with Stephen King; Beckett rests her head in her hand in defeat. (“Oh, please, no.”)
The Arabian Nights connection isn’t an entirely off-base catch. But Beckett is more of the mind that Lars was spending all that time away from doing sonar tech things doing treasure hunting things. His haul would suggest that he found and sold some priceless things…or that he freed a genie from a lamp and was granted three wishes. Even Dr. Marion Baker, author of one of the victim’s books and an antiquities professor, assumes that Castle must be pulling her leg when he treats Lars’ possible run-in with a genie as a deadly serious possibility. If genies were real, neither Lars nor Castle would probably want to meet one. An ancient lamp wouldn’t produce a Disneyfied version but a “capricious trickster” leaving destruction in its wake. Castle doesn’t care; he still wants one. Can he have one, Mom, pleeease?
Mark told the cops that Lars had been working with a partner. And Castle hears that name, too, from the mysterious blonde who’d disappeared from the crime scene without giving so much as a statement. She identifies herself in his office as Lindsay Dillon, a journalist working a story about stolen antiquities. Lindsay didn’t go on record because she’s still chasing her story, but she promises to help Rick anonymously. Mike Harlin’s alias is “Al Aiden,” and Castle can’t help but respect that commitment to the theme. Lindsay vanishes as mysteriously as she came.
NEXT: You ain’t never had a friend like her
“Al” is off the digital grid and hiding in a seedy motel. Not from the police, of course. From the genie, who he believes is out to get him. Lars’ death was the latest blow in a string of unlucky incidents. He’s in the middle of a nervous breakdown during his interrogation but still gives up some valuable details about the smuggling operation. Lars and Mike were working for an anonymous sponsor. Once they discovered Solomon’s tomb and had their artifacts in hand, Lars hired someone to ship the goods out of the country for them. But the shipper held the goods hostage when he found out how much they were potentially worth. Some customs research shows that a rug importer named Yuruk Sezen was the only recipient of cargo from that ship in question. The boys head down to his establishment to question him. In the process of checking whether or not any of his carpets can fly, Castle finds a very dead Yuruk wrapped up in one.
Dr. Baker tells Castle that a universal element of the genie legend is that a genie who loses its master is separated from the lamp until a new master rubs it. And Beckett doesn’t know who the mystery blonde is (because a quick Google search says she’s not Lindsay Dillon), but she knows she’s getting Castle’s hopes up about this “three wishes” things. Castle becomes convinced that the blonde is his “Ronin genie” and that she’s hanging around him for a reason. Beckett’s first wish? “That my man would stop talking about being some skeezy blonde’s master.” Even so, Beckett asks a favor of Ryan and Esposito before they head out to the rug store. If they do find that lamp, could they humor Castle and let him get his hands on it first? Beckett doesn’t believe in this stuff for a second, but it’s so important to her that Castle isn’t unnecessarily crushed. His goofiness and optimism and wonder make him who he is. She loves him for it, not in spite of it.
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Castle does get to the lamp first, though it’s not because Rysposito let him have it. He wanders off when those two are casing behind the store. He spots the artifact through the window of the store’s storage warehouse and promptly falls through it. At gun point, he’s still not giving up hope that the criminals packing up these stolen antiquities are doing so because they think there’s a wish-granting immortal entity inside. (“What are you, 5?”) The mystery blonde appears again, this time at the very same moment that Castle’s hand brushes the lamp and the woman holding him hostage moves to pull the trigger. Smoke kicks up and obscures his vision, but Castle can’t help but notice he’s not dead. The wish worked, he thinks, but do genies usually need 2x4s to carry them out? His savior gets him to safety and — surprise — disappears. But by the time he returns to the precinct, his mystery blonde has a name and an occupation.
She’s Genevieve Sutton, a fixer who was hired by the same secret benefactor as Lars to make sure that Lars and Mike were successful. This benefactor was exactly that: someone with deep pockets and selfless motives. Her employer, Genevieve tells Beckett, had an interest in removing priceless items from the Turkey-Syrian border so they couldn’t be sold to fund terrorism. Because she’s good at what she does, Genevieve got the plate of the truck that drove off with the smuggled goods. Beckett and Esposito listen on the scanner as officers pull the truck over and triumph in a shoot-out. There are eleven crates in the vehicle; one less than the dozen Genevieve promised.
Lanie’s examination of both victims bodies proved that Lars and Yuruk were both killed by women. Phoebe, the “woman thug” who nearly shot Castle, was just the muscle in this situation. She’s working for a paycheck. Castle can think of one woman he met during the investigation who’d have wanted revenge on Lars and the contents of that 12th crate. Dr. Baker is better with a scimitar than most tenured humanities professors, but she’s bad with getting away with things. Cops find the lamp in her home; the symbol of the consuming spite and jealousy she harbored for a former pupil who found a historic site that had evaded her for her entire career. The lamp she stole and the rest of the artifacts will be tied up with the courts for years. That’s a fine outcome for Mr. X, the Jordanian prince who put up his own money to preserve history. Genie — I mean, Genevieve — leaves Castle with a wink. He still wants to believe.
Odds & Ends:
- Someone explain the melon thing to me in the comments.
- Oprah’s assistant waits for no man.
- “I love being a captain. It’s just sometimes it feels like I’m more of a kindergarten teacher… Guys, play nice. Indoor voices. Espo goes first.”
- Tony winner Kevin Ryan and MMA Champion Javier Esposito would still be best friends.