Castle and Beckett start a new Cold War when they investigate the death of a Russian diplomat's son
The word “justice” has the connotations of being swift and absolute. But in the real world — and even the fake real world of Castle — justice is a political tool, and it reigns over all manner of gray areas. The delicate balance of enforcing the law of the land while keeping powerful people happy is no more apparent than in the sphere of international diplomacy. That’s where this week’s victim comes from. Grigory Mishkin is a self-appointed “diplobrat”: a gang of the offspring of diplomats who’re just like the Brat Pack, minus the likability and saxophone skills. His throat is slashed in the kind of decrepit building that no young man with the privilege he’s grown up with should ever be in. And though the precinct’s initial theory is that the hard-living ways of Grigory and his legally untouchable posse may have led him to his death, the truth is — as ever — much more complicated.
The Russian Consulate insists on embedding one of their own security team in the investigation, and Beckett has no choice but to go along with it. Enter our pseudo-partner for the week, a device that Castle has been utilizing to shake things chemistry-wise and to keep Caskett on their toes. Vasily Zhirov is a jolly teddy bear of a man, more excited to see the sights of New York than he is torn up over the death of the Russian Consulate officer’s son. He also happens to be a Richard Castle/Nikki Heat fan and geeks out tremendously to be working with his idols.
Ryan and Esposito present the members of Grigory’s social circle, but it’s basically a gallery of “persons of interest” whose positions protect them from being threatened. Jurgen Kass, son of the Finnish ambassador, rolls up into the precinct dressed in the flashiest rich-kid puffy vest he could dig out of his closet just to taunt the police with his immunity. He may own the Lambo that Castle identified via a recording from outside the crime scene, but there’s absolutely no way they can force him to talk.
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Scratch that. The cops can’t, but Visily can. Beckett sends Castle out on babysitting duty to keep the gregarious Russian out of her hair. While he pitches his Nikki Heat concept to Castle — and frankly, I’d be first in line to buy Heat & Ice, his nouveau Cold War masterpiece — they spot Jurgen. A few light threats about waking up footless in Ibiza, and he’s singing like a bird. He’d dropped Grigory off at that building but didn’t know why he wanted to go there. The boys were involved in a trade: Grigory needed a manual for a certain type of Cherokee vehicle, and all Jurgen wanted in return was an invite to a party at the consulate with the promise of sharing smoked salmon appetizers with a bevy of Russian models.
The strange manual request starts to make sense when Beckett deciphers the meaning of the string of letters and numbers inked onto the victim’s shirt. They match the case report for the car crash in which his mother was killed, the event that his father claimed sent him down a destructive path. Grigory had recently spent a few nights in a bed and breakfast near the site of the accident. Via Skype, the proprietor says that Anya, his mother, would stay there often with “a boyfriend.” Clearly, Grigory wasn’t at all convinced that his mother’s death was any kind of accident. A crime of passion then? Grigory’s father Sergei’s reaction points to “no”; he knew about the affair and described a sort of mutually beneficial relationship where he and his wife remained married for their work while leading separate lives. (Sort of a reverse Caskett, then.)
While Beckett interviews Sergei and Stana Katic shows off a bit of her Russian, Visily pulls Castle into the consulate’s high-security-clearance communications room. A quick hack into Grigory’s email account reveals a correspondence with a young woman who’d recently consummated her crush on him. Emily tells the detectives that she woke up to Grigory poking around on her work computer; he’d used her to gain access to the sensitive government files her cloud storage company housed, including profiles of Russian sleeper agents living in the United States during the Cold War. One of those agents is Anya’s “boyfriend,” Anatoly, a.k.a. “Frank Thomas,” and the other is Anya herself.
NEXT: To Russia with no love
Suddenly, Visily doesn’t seem quite so harmless, and his presence on the case becomes far less perfunctory. Beckett gets the scoop from Rita, Castle’s secret agent stepmom, at the same time Castle is off on a tourist date with the man himself. Visily isn’t security. He’s a “cleaner” for Russian intelligence or, in his own words, the man who makes Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in Red Heat look “like weak, non-violent child.” But Visily doesn’t lose his cheeriness when he drops his cover. He beams away as he cuffs Castle to the steering wheel so that he can knock Anatoly out and throw him into the trunk of the car. He lets Castle sit in on a torture session that’s one Stealers Wheel song away from being a full-on Reservoir Dogs homage. Castle begs to be allowed sixty seconds to use another method to get Anatoly to talk. Visily waits for his chance to dole out some pain, but Castle is able to use the man’s recent calls and pocket contents to construct a likely narrative. That party Jurgen wanted to attend? Models aren’t the main event; a possible assassination is.
Visily shows up to the reception with Caskett and Rysposito in tow. Every one of them might as well have “COP” stamped on their forehead for as well as they fit in. Their suspicions weren’t enough to get the consulate to call off the soiree (“In Russia, it’s better to be killed than lose face.”), so the detectives case the place as best they can. Beckett spots the laser sight of a sniper rifle in a window and throws herself over Consul General Pavel Oborin. Sergei is hit.
Rita drops by to see what she can pull from her old espionage colleague Visily. (“You mean the place with the guy?” I’d watch a spin-off of their adventures.) He tells her that Russian intelligence was trying to plug a leak in the consulate and stop the flow of state secrets that were being sold at auction. Anya was hot on the traitor’s tail when her mysterious accident occurred.
Castle and Beckett stand outside the interrogation room, watching Rita work. Earlier in the episode, Beckett had been pleased that, even with her guardian angel surveillance of them, her stepmom-in-law still believed the couple to be broken up. (How long the secret can stay a secret if they’re banging in government residences, I really have no idea.) It’s disconcerting to see Beckett smile at that, even though her motivations are only to protect her husband. After all the years it took Caskett to get over themselves and on top of each other, it just feels wrong that the people whom they love are now locked out of their lives. Castle is tired of it, too, and only more so when he learns that Rita is married to his father and that Beckett has known for quite some time. He and Rita share a moment, and he’s boosted a bit by her compassion. “She did it out of love,” Rita says. “No, I know,” Castle replies. “And at the end of the day she’s worth it.” She leaves him with a hug and a message of pride from his dad. I don’t believe for one second that Rita can keep her own promise never to see Castle again. She’s too wrapped up in their lives.
Castle’s frustration over the lies and half-truths wrought by the LokSat investigation gets Beckett’s gears turning. They’re old, and so is the sniper rifle that shot (but didn’t kill) Sergei. It’s the kind of gun that Cold War weapons caches were stocked with in the ‘80s, and only old-school agents would know where to find them. Surprise! Security footage shows that Anya is very much alive, having faked her own death when she grew tired of protecting Sergei and living a lie. It was Sergei who killed Grigory when Grigory became suspicious. There was no love there, Anya tells Beckett. Grigory wasn’t his biological son, but he sealed his fate when he became an obstacle.
Even with Anya’s testimony, Sergei is protected by his position, and Pavel argues that he has his own reasons for not revoking the killer’s immunity. Sergei gloats to Castle and Beckett about returning home unscathed. Visily and Pavel have other plans. Visily worked out the ending to his Nikki Heat novel, he says. It ends with Ice sending the villain packing to a desolate outpost to live out the rest of his miserable days. “In Russia, there are far worse places than prison,” he announces with another grin. Hope Sergei packed his fur coat. And a nice handle of Russian vodka.
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