As this week’s episode starts, Beckett and Martha discuss Castle’s new P.I. business which hasn’t been going as well as he originally hoped. While he claims to be getting calls, Beckett says they’ve mostly been from fans or people giving him theories about his disappearance. Castle however, appears undaunted as he walks in to show off his new P.I. website. Just then Beckett gets called in to her latest crime scene.
The victim of the week is a telenovela actress named Anahita Menendez. According to Perlmutter (who’s here for the second week in a row for some reason), Ana was hit in the head with a piece of plumbers pipe outside of her apartment building and killed instantly.
Beckett and Esposito go to the studio where Ana worked (where Esposito shows himself to be the kind of starstruck usually shown by Castle) and question the show’s producer Francisco Herrara. Francisco tell the detectives that Ana recently had a run in with her former assistant Marcus that ended with him getting fired and Ana taking a few days off from the show. Francisco also tells them that while he doesn’t know where Ana went the night before that the star of the show Sofia Del Cordova might.
When Beckett questions Sofia, she tells Beckett that Ana had likely been at an event on the Upper East Side. She also tells Beckett that Ana had borrowed a very expensive purse from her for the event and asks Beckett if the purse was found on her. When Beckett tells Sofia no, she is visibly panicked because she says the purse was on loan from a high end boutique and that she needs to return it the next day or she’ll have to pay them a fortune (which frankly begs the question as to why she lent it out in the first place).
Castle’s First Case
Meanwhile, Castle is in his P.I. office passing the time by throwing pencils into the ceiling and narrating to himself (imagine J.D. from Scrubs if he were in a low budget film noir). Suddenly, Sofia walks into his office telling him she needs a private investigator. She tells Castle that he was referred to her by Beckett and while at first he thinks he’s being hired to investigate the murder, she tells him that she actually needs his help finding the purse she lent to Ana. She fills him in on her situation with the boutique and that she needs to return it by 5 PM the next day or she’ll be on the hook for $500,000. Seeing shades of The Maltese Falcon with this job, he all too eagerly agrees to take the case.
Back at the precinct, Marcus is brought in for questioning. Beckett confronts him with the incident at the studio that got him fired but Marcus tells her the whole thing was staged. He says that Ana paid him $3,000 and the promise of a better job to start the fight so that she would have an excuse to take some time off from the show.
On the Castle side of the investigation, he figures out that Ana went to an opera the night she was killed and asks one of the ushers about her. The usher remembered seeing her walk in shortly before the opera ended and head straight into the ladies room. When Castle makes it over to the restroom he is surprised to find Beckett already there and questioning the ladies room attendant. The attendant tells both Castle and Beckett that Ana had been meeting with a Middle Eastern woman who gave her a USB drive.
Castle questions the usher once more about what Ana did after leaving the bathroom and (after a quick bribe from Castle) tells he tells him that Ana left the theater immediately afterward, got into a white limo and still had the purse with her. Castle gives this new information to Sofia who tells him that she wants an update on the investigation later in the day.
Meanwhile, in the police investigation, Ryan identifies the mystery Middle Eastern woman as Layla Nazif, who happens to be the daughter of a billionaire and high ranking Saudi official. Beckett interviews Layla, who while relatively pleasant at first, immediately stonewalls Beckett once the meeting at the opera is mentioned. She leaves shortly after citing diplomatic immunity. While this is going on, Ryan and Esposito get a call from Perlmutter who (after rather pointlessly belittling Castle) tells them that he found a usable fingerprint on Ana’s throat belonging to Harlan Mathis, an ex-Marine turned low rent mercenary.
Beckett stops by the P.I. office to check on Castle and his progress on the lost purse. After telling her that he’s working on “plan B”, they start making out before being interrupted by Sofia who had also stopped by to check on how the case is going. A clearly embarrassed Beckett leaves the room so they can discuss the case alone. Naturally, Sofia is less than pleased with Castle at this point and fires him. However, Castle manages to talk his way out of this by showing the work he has put into the case and coincidentally at that precise moment finds a photo of Ana taken minutes after leaving the opera. The photo indicates that she left the purse in the limo and all he needs to do is trace the VIN number also shown in the picture. After getting the limo owner’s address from the DMV (after posing as Ryan), he finds the limo and begins searching for the purse. Not long into his search however, he finds himself held at gunpoint by Harlan Mathis.
Mathis interrogates Castle about what he knows and while Castle insists that he was just looking for a purse, Mathis doesn’t believe him because he knows for a fact Ana didn’t have the purse with her when she entered the limo. Mathis gets ready to use a knife on Castle when by another sheer coincidence the detectives show up at that exact moment to arrest him. With Mathis in custody, Beckett tries to get a confession out of him for Ana’s murder. Mathis admits that he had been hired by Layla’s father to bring Ana in to meet with him but he doesn’t know why. Shortly after he picked her up in the limo, she ran out while they were at a red light and he doesn’t know happened to her after that. When he tracked Ana down at her apartment, he claims that she was already dead and that his fingerprint on her throat was him checking for a pulse.
The Maltese Falcon (or Rather Purse)
With this information, Castle figures Ana hid her purse somewhere shortly before going into the limo and once again questions the usher at the opera house. After another quick bribe he finds the purse hidden in a nearby bush. He takes the purse back to his P.I. office and looks inside, finding the USB drive. After finding the drive, Castle notices the purse is actually a cheap knock-off and that Sofia was likely after the USB drive the whole time (shocker). Before he can do anything with this information, Sofia pulls a gun and demands he hand over the drive. Castle manages to disarm her and brings both her and USB to the police station.
Tech analyzes the USB and discovers that the purpose of it was to unlock a Swiss bank account containing $100 million. When Beckett asks Sofia about this new bit of information, she admits that she and Ana had been planning on starting a female-driven Latin-American TV network (which to me sounds like a telenovela version of Lifetime but I digress) and that Layla was their investor. The whole thing had to be kept secret to keep from endangering the deal and also because Layla’s father didn’t approve of the investment. She also confesses that she pulled the gun on Castle because the money needs to be put in escrow by 5 PM that day or the deal is off. She says that she and Ana discussed the details in her trailer and when Esposito searches said trailer he finds that the place had been bugged. As it turns out the killer is the show’s producer, Francisco, who had suspected what Ana and Sofia were up to and bugged the trailer. He then killed Ana in a fit of rage, knowing how much the show would suffer after it’s two biggest stars jumped ship without warning.
In the aftermath of the investigation, Sofia tells Castle and Beckett that she was able to make the escrow desposit 20 minutes before the deadline and would therefore be able to launch the network and apologizes for lying to and pulling a gun on Castle. Esposito then asks Sofia for an autograph, claiming that it’s for his aunt.
I have to admit that while I didn’t outright hate this episode, I found it to be incredibly disappointing. They got off to a good start with the telenovela angle but that gets thrown out the window pretty quickly and shifts into a noirish setting for no reason. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem except that doesn’t fit with the setting of the episode very well. The episode would’ve worked better in the murder had some kind of outlandish telenovela twist to it like the soap opera setting they did a few years ago.
The other problem was that there were way too many red herrings. Again, multiple red herrings isn’t normally a huge problem for this show but in the case of this episode they aren’t used very well. Persons of interest for this case included a real estate magnate, a Saudi billionaire and Sofia’s co-star/ex-husband. Whenever these people were mentioned, I was expecting them to come into play later but with the exception of the Saudi billionaire, they all ended up being completely irrelevant to the case and not one of them has a single conversation with Castle or the police.
Hopefully things will get better in the next episode. When the shows returns in two weeks, it appears that Castle has found himself in the middle of a Hitchcock thriller (again) when he witnesses a murder that no one believes was committed.