This week’s victim is named Whitney Williams who died at a local hospital but not before saying with her dying breath “Diamondback.” According to her doctor, she was poisoned with a very deadly plant and had ingested it late the night before. Some detective work from Ryan and Esposito show that “Diamondback” meant the Diamondback Old West Ranch in Arizona where Whitney had very recently vacationed.
When Beckett video conferences with a local sheriff in Arizona about the dude ranch, the sheriff is less than cooperative. He’s unwilling to disrupt the ranch due to it’s importance to the local economy and being personal friends with many of the likely would-be suspects and refuses to help without concrete evidence. Somehow, I would think that by my estimation the victim spent every second of her poisoning window in Arizona and that she used her last breath to say the name of the ranch she was saying at make for pretty compelling evidence but for the sake of the episode’s plot I’ll let that go.
Since the local law enforcement in Arizona is unwilling to cooperate, Castle comes up with an idea. He thinks that he and Beckett should go uncover as vacationing honeymooners at the ranch and at the same time thinks it would a good place fro them to go on an impromptu honeymoon (since Beckett used up all her vacation days looking for Castle during his disappearance a proper honeymoon was out of the question). Beckett hates the idea (and understandably so) but even Captain Gates admits they don’t really have any other options.
Once Castle and Beckett make it to the ranch, they insist on checking into the same room Whitney had stayed in despite it being a single room with one twin bed (that shouldn’t raise any red flags). Once there, they meet the guest staying next door and after a bit of talking he admits to seeing Whitney sneaking off in the middle of her first day and alleges that she had hooked up with one of the married ranch hands. When Castle questions the ranch hand about it, he insists nothing happened and figures the only reason she had flirted with him to begin with was to swipe his key to the ranch’s supply shed. Upon investigating the shed, Castle and Beckett deduce that Whitney broke in to steal dynamite.
Though none of the detectives know what Whitney was doing with the dynamite, Ryan and Esposito provide Beckett with a fresh lead saying that the victim was doing research on some old documents involving a Native American tribe in Arizona and figure she took the trip to the ranch for additional research. Castle and Beckett take a trip down to the local Native American reservation and the chief informs them that Whitney had shown up a couple of days before asking about the meaning of an old word. He said that depending on the context it could mean either “river ” or “stream.” The chief also noted that this information seemed to please her and that she thanked him and left.
Meanwhile, back in New York, Ryan and Esposito have recovered Whitney’s luggage and inside of it, they find her research concerning the ranch and a twenty year old letter from a guy named Clyde to a woman in New Jersey. In the letter, Clyde says that him and his partner Dutch were on the verge of uncovering some big secret on the ranch which has something to do with the same word Whitney wanted translated at the reservation and some guys named The Peacock Boys whom Castle recognizes from an old wanted poster.
According to a bartender at the ranch, the Peacock Boys were a couple of train robbers who made off with 50 U.S. Treasury gold bars back in 1893. They were both killed a couple of days later but despite numerous attempts from treasure hunters, the gold was never found. This naturally leads Castle and Beckett to assume that Whitney had also showed up in search of the gold and the double meaning behind the old Indian word indicates that all the previous treasure hunters had been searching in the wrong place. With that information, they figure Whitney must have been searching at a dammed off stream nearby and had used the dynamite to open it up. Castle theorizes that Whitney found the gold and had been silenced by the killer before she could tell anybody. However, Beckett notes that multiple witnesses said she was visibly upset when she left the ranch which is not normal behavior for someone that just found gold. When Ryan interviews the recipient of Clyde’s letter, she said that the letter was meant for a friend of hers named Virginia Williams, Whitney’s mother and also reveals that Clyde was also Whitney’s father.
Castle and Beckett are able to find where the gold was stashed but instead of gold bars they find a skeleton. They quickly identify the dead body to be Clyde and figure that Whitney likely made the same discovery explaining her behavior shortly before her death. Based on the evidence they also figure that Clyde found the gold years ago but had been double crossed by his partner Dutch and is likely also Whitney’s killer. They identify Dutch to be a family friend of Whitney located in New York named Phillip Dagmar. When Ryan and Esposito question him, he denies being her killer but has a good idea about the real killer’s identity. He said that he and Clyde enlisted some help from a town local to locate the stream. Their original intention had been the turn the gold back to the U.S. Treasury and collect a finder’s fee but the local guide argued against it and accidentally killed Clyde in a struggle. Afterward Dagmar and the guide hid the body and split the gold among themselves. When Ryan asked who the guide was, Dagmar says that it was the current owner of the ranch, James Grady, who just happens to be having a drink with Castle at that precise moment. With his cover blown, Grady attempts to walk out but Castle challenges him to a duel and stalls just long enough for Beckett to place him under arrest.
Ryan and Esposito
Shortly before this week’s mystery starts, Castle and Beckett invite Lanie, Ryan and Esposito over to their apartment to announce that they have just gotten married. Not surprisingly, they are all rather annoyed that they weren’t invited to the wedding though Lanie is pretty quick to forgive and forget. Ryan and Esposito, however, are far less generous and generally spend the rest of the episode acting passive aggressively to the newlyweds. Finally, Captain Gates has enough of listening them whine about it and basically tells them to pull their heads out of their asses and be happy for them. To make up for their behavior they both agree to donate some of their vacation days to Beckett so that she and Castle can take some time off for a real honeymoon.
All season we’ve been dealing with either the borderline supernatural or the writers just taking the show way too seriously. This week however, was a refreshing break from that and for perhaps the first time all season we get the kind the episode the show is known and loved for. Castle has had better mysteries, but after two months worth of super dramatic and often bizarre episodes it was nice to see them return to basics. However, that return may be short lived as next week’s preview shows Esposito trapped in a subway car with a mad bomber.