After Castle and Beckett briefly have a discussion about them having kids, Beckett gets called in for a murder. This week’s victim is ex-con Susan Watts who was found inside a dumpster by a homeless guy (who flees the scene before the cops show up). Lanie declares the cause of death to be strangulation and Beckett notices that the victim probably didn’t come from far away because she was found in her nightgown and had abrasions of her feet indicating she was running in the street without shoes.
Beckett goes to Susan’s last known address to interview her roommate but doesn’t provide much help since Susan had apparently moved out months ago when she got a mysterious high paying job.
Back at the precinct Ryan and Esposito are having a hard time finding any information about whatever job Susan had which naturally makes them both believe whatever she was doing was illegal and the only indication of official employment is through a job placement organization called Newstart Horizons. Meanwhile, Lanie gives Esposito a piece of feather found on Susan’s body and points out to him the similarities between this case and the one last year where Lanie’s doppelganger Pam Hodges had been murdered.
Beckett goes to Newstart to look into Susan’s involvement with them when she gets a call from Lanie. Lanie tells her that Susan had recently had cosmetic surgery and she believes it to be the work of Dr. Kelly Nieman, the same doctor who performed cosmetic work for Pam Hodges and suspected accomplice of Jerry Tyson/3XK. Beckett confirms those suspicions when she notices several pictures of Dr. Nieman all over the walls at Newstart (who apparently is a major donor for the organization).
After informing Castle of this troubling development, she discusses the case with Captain Gates. Beckett admits that while she suspects Nieman to be the killer she doesn’t have any proof. When they also address the suspicions that Tyson is involved somehow, Beckett also admits there’s no official proof he’s even alive and Nieman could just as easily be working alone. With all this in mind Beckett suggests bringing Castle in to consult on the case, citing Castle’s previous experience against Tyson and Nieman. Gates is less than thrilled with this suggestion but even she admits Castle could be helpful in this case so she reluctantly agrees to let him work just this case.
Meanwhile, detectives track down Nieman’s medical practice and Beckett goes to her office to question her. The interview doesn’t really go anywhere since Nieman just denies everything and generally acts just as creepy as she did last year. On the bright side, as Beckett is leaving she gets a call from Esposito informing her Castle is on his way to the station.
Back at the precinct, Esposito shows Castle and Beckett through some street camera footage. They watch what appears to be Susan exiting the building Nieman works at and getting into the passenger seat of a blue pickup truck. They notice however, that the footage was taken after Susan had died leading the detectives to believe that the mystery woman was surgically altered to look like Susan, though of course they don’t know why. All of this takes a more dramatic turn when Beckett notices the driver of the truck to be a very much alive Jerry Tyson (whoa shocking).
3XK Strikes Again
After Castle gives a brief summary of the 12th precinct’s past run-ins with Tyson, Beckett and Gates have every available cop search for Susan’s doppelganger. Afterwards, Castle and Beckett take another crack at Nieman to get the mystery woman’s name. They get Nieman to admit the woman’s name is Amy Barrett. When Ryan runs down the name, he finds her contact information to be out of date, saying that she moved out of her apartment two months ago. He also mentions that Amy had a similar troubled past to Susan. After looking at the two women’s striking similarities, Castle theorizes that Nieman operates on the women to better fit Tyson’s M.O. of targeting young, pretty, blonde women.
Meanwhile, Esposito finds the pickup truck which belongs to a man named Michael Boudreau. When the cops go to Boudreau’s apartment, they find none other than Jerry Tyson trying to sneak out the window. After arresting Tyson, Ryan and Esposito start searching Boudreau’s apartment for any sign of what’s happened to him or Amy or their connection to Tyson. Esposito finds Amy’s phone but they still don’t know what happened to her.
Meanwhile, Castle and Beckett decide to interrogate Tyson though he pretends to not know who either of them are. He claims to be Michael Boudreau and that he had recently gotten some work done and by sheer coincidence looks exactly like Tyson. Not helping the detectives case against him is the fact that his fingerprints somehow match Michael Boudreau. Gates tells them that unless they can get some hard evidence to prove he’s Tyson, they’re going to have to cut him loose.
With only a couple of hours left before they have to release “Boudreau”, the detectives search frantically for any evidence to prove he’s Jerry Tyson. Beckett runs down a credit card charge while Castle tries to rattle him in lock-up. While Castle talks to Tyson, he recalls they first met where he guessed that Tyson became a serial killer as a way to vicariously get back at his neglectful mother (who was also pretty and blonde) but Tyson nevertheless sticks to his story. Even so, Castle thinks he has a way to nail Tyson.
While Beckett is busy running down the credit card charge, she notices Amy exiting a coffee shop. When she confronts Amy, she claims to be “Michael’s” girlfriend and tells her to stay away and despite Beckett’s warnings to her, Amy walks away in anger. Once that happens, Castle suggests getting a DNA sample from Tyson’s mother so that it can presumably match Tyson and prove his identity. When they visit Tyson’s mother, she gives some disappointing news saying that she isn’t his biological mother and that she got stuck raising him after her boyfriend/Tyson’s father abandoned them both. She gives them some old toys of Tyson’s where Beckett finds some hope in an old baby tooth.
While they wait for the DNA results (with Nieman waiting in the station for “Michael’s” release), Beckett gets a call from Amy and says that after seeing the picture of Susan on the news, she’s now afraid that Michael/Jerry may try to hurt her. Beckett offers Amy protection and goes by herself to pick her up (this should end well). Much to the surprise of the detectives, the tooth DNA doesn’t match “Michael” (I’m pretty sure DNA results don’t come in that fast), so they have no choice but to let him go. With nothing to hold either one of them, Tyson and Nieman walk hand-in-hand to the elevator.
While the psychotic happy couple wait for the elevator, Castle realizes that Tyson has been one step ahead the whole time (you know like pretty much all of their altercations with Tyson) and begins to think they both wanted to be at the station at the same time which immediately makes him realize that Beckett’s in grave danger. Huh, it’s almost like going out on your own while you’re hunting a serial killer with a vendetta against you and is also known for having accomplices was a monumentally stupid idea. Just when Castle realizes their tactical error, Beckett is abducted by an unseen assailant.
Castle tries calling Beckett but it keeps going straight to voice mail. He and the other detectives are forced to watch helplessly as Tyson and Nieman leave the station with Tyson giving him a knowing wink.
There are two types of Castle episodes I dread watching more than any other. One are the annual two-parters the show makes during sweeps where the writers are suddenly under the delusion that they can write serious drama. The second are the equally melodramatic 3XK episodes, so you can imagine how “thrilled” I was when I learned I’d be subjected to both at the same this week.
To be fair, this wasn’t quite as bad as I was expecting. Much to my shock, there are some elements here that actually work. While Tyson spends the episode playing the victim of circumstance, Nieman is creepy enough for the both of them and there are a couple of moments where even looking at her can give you the willies. I will also give kudos to the episodes ominous ending and the chilling use of “We’ll Meet Again” by Dame Vera Lynn playing in the background until the credits roll.
However, that still doesn’t change my issues with the writing. As always, Tyson is several steps ahead and his plot is annoyingly convoluted. This might not have been so bad except this is exactly the same stuff we’ve gotten from him several times before so anybody that has ever seen the show before this episode knows that things aren’t ending well for the detectives (especially since this is the first episode of a two-parter). It also doesn’t help that the promo leading up to this episode all but blatantly tells you Beckett is going to get kidnapped.
Either way, the story will conclude next week with ‘Reckoning’ and with any luck we’ll finally be done with 3XK for good (though I’m not holding my breath).