Nicole Wilder/ABC

A dead smuggler leads to a cache of stolen artifacts — and possibly one magic lamp


S8 E17
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April 12, 2016 at 05:35 AM EDT

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

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