This week’s victim is named Paul Reeves who was found dead in a park bench with a gunshot wound to the head. Castle and Beckett find out from the victim’s brother that he was an investigator for the GAO and that he had scheduled a meeting with someone around the time he was killed. When Ryan and Esposito question the victim’s boss she tells them that he specialized in investigating healthcare facilities. Castle naturally thinks there’s some kind of conspiracy afoot (much to Beckett’s usual chagrin) and thinks one of the many facilities Reeves was investigating had him killed to silence him.
Ryan goes through Reeves’ phone records and finds that he received a call the day before from a payphone. Thanks to tech and some traffic camera footage they identify the caller as a hacker named Jared Stone with a history of targeting Wall Street and the 1%. Ryan and Esposito drive over to Stone’s apartment to question him but see him on foot heading toward the subway. Not wanting to lose him, Esposito gets out of the squad car to follow after him. Stone and Esposito both board the subway and when Esposito goes to confront Stone, the suspect panics, steals a gun from a nearby transit cop and holds the subway car hostage.
Stark Raving Mad Bomber
Hostage Rescue Team shows up at the scene while the detectives try to find out as much as they can about Stone and why he’s taken the subway car captive. As it turns out a security camera was recently installed on the subway so they can watch Stone’s every move without his knowledge.
Meanwhile back on the subway, Esposito tries to talk Stone down. He tries reasoning with him that the best thing he can do now is surrender but Stone says he needs to stay the course. When Esposito also points to Stone that it’s only a matter of time before HRT gets the drop on him and takes him out, Stone counters that they’ll back off once they find out about the bomb strapped to his chest (though I’m not really sure why he waited this long to show it to anybody). To make things worse, the bomb has a dead man switch attached, which will set off the bomb the second Stone lets go of it.
Back at the precinct, Castle and Beckett figure out that the subway wasn’t Stone’s intended target. Stone had originally intended to attack either a wealth management seminar or a theater on Broadway, both of which would’ve been a much better fit for his anti-1% MO. As Ryan investigates Stone’s apartment, he discovers that he purchased a paper shredder two days before and that it had been used recently. When the HRT negotiator calls Stone to offer food for him and the hostages he accepts. When they also ask Stone what his demands are he tells them to free Erin Wilson.
When Beckett looks into the identity of Erin Wilson, records show that she’s Stone’s girlfriend and a fellow hacker currently serving a seven year stint in prison. When Beckett and Castle try digging deeper into Stone’s life all they really find is that he had started a “Free Erin Wilson” site and had been corresponding with somebody named White Knight. Erin Wilson herself doesn’t prove to be much help either as she had no idea Stone had even been planning on getting her out of prison.
Meanwhile at the subway, the hostages are getting their pizza and Esposito finds a note from HRT inside his pizza box asking for his help in taking down Stone. Esposito gets ready but things go wrong pretty quickly when vibrations on the subway tip off Stone that HRT is coming. Not only that, but it helps Stone realize he’s being watched and quickly disposes of the camera.
Ryan finally makes some headway with the documents Stone had shredded at his apartment and theorizes that it’s his playbook since the pieces he’s put together so far appear to be his hostage negotiation strategy which he has been following to the letter. Before the detectives can discuss it further, Lanie uses the recording of the subway to show them something she notices about Stone. As the hostage situation has worn on, Stone has been using his inhaler more and more frequently and she suspects that he’s experiencing flu-like symptoms. This makes Beckett remember that Paul Reeves, the original victim, had been investigating a missing flu virus and figures the two have to be connected.
Stone’s condition continues to deteriorate and Esposito knows that he has to make his move quickly if he and the other hostages are going to make it out alive. Esposito figures the best time to act is when Stone is using his inhaler and convinces the transit cop to help him. The plan goes off without a hitch and the officers are successfully able to subdue Stone. Esposito makes a call to Ryan to tell him the good news but Ryan tells him that there’s more to it. He tells Esposito that Stone’s plan revolved around a lethal strain of the H5N1 virus and that Stone is infected and possibly anybody he’s come into contact with recently.
Not Over Yet
Captain Gates tells Castle and Beckett that while the virus Esposito and the others were exposed to was lethal, there is fortunately a vaccine and that everyone involved should make a full recovery. Castle and Beckett go to question Stone about his motives and the identity of White Knight. He says he doesn’t know White Knight’s identity and when they confront him about the flu virus, he’s visibly horrified at the implications leaving the detectives to conclude that Stone was a patsy. When they dig deeper into Reeves’ investigation, they find out that the pharmaceutical company with the missing virus had also had 10 million vaccines of the virus made despite only 1,000 reported cases of the virus worldwide. Not surprisingly, they find this highly suspicious.
It doesn’t take long after that for Castle and Beckett to connect the dots to Reeves’ boss who had recently converted all of her assets into buying stock in the pharmaceutical company and killed Reeves when he started to get a little too close. I’ve got to say that all in all this felt like a pretty terrible plan. Even ignoring the fact that this she basically made herself into a bio-terrorist for what would probably amount to a few million bucks, I really have to wonder how she expected to get away with this. Did she not think anyone would notice a company just happened to have a butt load of vaccines made just before the virus in question became widespread? Or that she just happened to buy a bunch of stock at just the right time? I’m no law expert but I’ve got to think the paper trail on that one would be pretty long.
I wanted to like this episode more than I actually did. There was a decent plot idea here but the writers botched the execution. This could have been a good episode to give Esposito some much needed character development but that opportunity was sadly squandered. We learn nothing new about Esposito and nothing that happened here effected his relationship with any of the other main characters. This could have also been a good time to address to rekindled relationship between Esposito and Lanie but the two barely say two sentences to each other this week. As a matter of fact, he had more dialogue with the transit cop than any of the series regulars this week and even that pretty much went nowhere.
What’s worse is that I found myself noticing the similarities between this episode and the season four episode where Castle was held hostage at a bank. Not only did that make “Kill Switch” feel unoriginal but it also made me feel like my time would be better spent watching that episode instead.
Next week it looks like we’ll see Castle pay tribute to cheesy action movies of the 80s when the detectives investigate the murder of a movie star and yes there will be explosions.