Ryan’s Special Episode
The detectives spend a day in some pointless meetings in which Castle eloquently says he “squandered three hours of his life” but unfortunately for Ryan the day isn’t over for him yet. In a continued effort to raise money for his infant daughter’s college fund, he’s been taking some security gigs working for his brother-in-law Frank, who owns a private security company (and just in case you’re wondering, no in seven years I have no recollection of Ryan ever mentioning this brother-in-law even existed).
Despite Frank’s assurances to Ryan that the threat level for tonight’s job is low, it’s still made plainly clear their client, Congressman Alex Lopez, who has been rumored to be running for President, is high priority. At first, things appear to be going rather smoothly until three shots are fired in the direction of Lopez. Lopez appears to be fine but the same can’t be said for his friend Carolyn Decker who is quickly seen lying in a pool of her own blood. Ryan sees the presumed gunman fleeing the scene and chases after him but thanks to some rather eye rolling incompetence from some local cops, the suspect gets away.
Lopez walks away with some minor injuries but unfortunately Carolyn died during surgery officially making the incident a homicide, putting Castle, Beckett, Ryan and Esposito on the case (even though I’m pretty sure Ryan’s personal involvement with the shooting should prohibit him from investigating this case but whatever).
Castle and Beckett talk to a still recovering Lopez to ask him if he had gotten a good look at the shooter. Lopez doesn’t have anything helpful to say at first but then remembers seeing a suspicious looking guy in a grey suit (the same guy Ryan had chased earlier) and gives a description. With Lopez’s description, the suspect is quickly identified as activist/blogger Eric Chambers who has a well documented hatred for Lopez. Chambers is apprehended shortly after but despite Castle and Beckett’s best efforts to get a confession out of him, Chambers claims he’s being framed as part of some incredibly vague conspiracy. Afterwards, Ryan and Esposito report that a gun was found in a storm drain and that it could be the murder weapon. This prompts the detectives to believe that Chambers may have had an accomplice in the shooting so Ryan decides to go through event photos to see if Chambers was hanging around anybody before the shooting.
Ryan meets with tech, who tells him that while he was photographed over a dozen times, there was about five minutes where Chambers is unaccounted for. The last photo taken of Chambers before going missing for those five minutes shows him about to enter a storage room which according to Ryan was supposed to be locked. Another photo taken shortly after shows a hotel employee coming out of the room so Ryan decides to question the employee to see what he knows. The employee claimed he was waiting in the storage room for a girl but while there Chambers and another man entered the room as well and the employee hid out of fear for losing his job. He said Chambers and the mystery man were arguing about Lopez for a couple minutes and then left. He identifies the mysterious man as billionaire and fellow Lopez hater Carl Shelton.
When the detectives try confronting Shelton about the argument with Chambers, Shelton and his lawyer naturally deny everything, though Beckett makes it clear to Shelton that she intends to build a case against him. While the case appears to be solved, Ryan isn’t so sure and thinks there’s more to the story. Personally, I have to side with Ryan for two reasons. One, if Shelton wanted to stop Lopez’s political career, it seems like it would be easier to launch a well-funded smear campaign instead of having Lopez killed and turning him into a martyr. Two, we’re only halfway through the episode.
Sensing a conspiracy Ryan decides to reconstruct the shooting and naturally asks casual conspiracy nut Castle for some help in proving his case. Eventually, the two realize that Chambers wasn’t the shooter.
Castle and Ryan initially have a hard time selling the theory to Captain Gates (them using the terms “magic bullet” and “grassy knoll” doesn’t exactly help their case) but nevertheless gives them the opportunity to prove Chambers’ innocence. With that in mind, Ryan decides to question Chambers while he’s in lockup. It doesn’t take long for Chambers to admit everything he knows about the shooting.
Chambers claimed that his plan at the event was to confront Lopez during a speech in an effort to undermine his presidential bid and that the reason he was seen arguing with Shelton was because Shelton was trying to talk him out of making a scene, indicating that neither man was involved in the shooting (much to the disappointment of Castle). What’s more, it turns out Chambers was able to gain access thanks to a press pass that was mysteriously left for him in his mailbox (much to Castle’s delight). The case then gets more interesting when Esposito comes back with the new ballistics report. The report confirms Castle and Ryan’s suspicions though the detectives also realize that “accidental murder victim” Carolyn hadn’t merely been caught in Lopez’s crossfire but had been the intended target all along.
Before the detectives start looking into Carolyn’s life to find a motive for her murder, they are shown some security camera footage of the press pass being left in Chamber’s mailbox by an a mysterious man. The case suddenly gets much more personal for Ryan (if that was possible) when he realizes the stranger is none other than his brother-in-law Frank.
Ryan has a hard time believing Frank is involved but goes out looking for him anyway. He starts by visiting his sister/Frank’s wife (who like Frank I don’t believe has been seen or mentioned before this episode), who eventually admits that money had been tight lately and that Frank had recently become rather secretive with the finances and she reluctantly tells Ryan where to find him.
Meanwhile, back at the precinct, Beckett tries finding a motive for Carolyn’s murder by going through the victim’s purse. It isn’t long before she finds a second cell phone hidden inside and Beckett finally finds a motive for her death (which the writers decided to keep secret until the near end of the episode).
Ryan goes to confront Frank underneath what looks like an abandoned pier. Frank admits that his private security hasn’t been going as well as he was making it out and had recently begun selling access to the events he was working at to make ends meet which usually came in the form of backstage passes for concerts or credentials to fringe journalists. He also claims to Ryan however, that he had no idea the press pass he left in the video was going to Chambers and that he doesn’t know who paid him to leave it. With a heavy heart, Ryan takes him into the precinct.
When Ryan makes it back to the station, he tells Castle and Beckett everything he knows from Frank. Frank had been paid $5,000 and was given an address where to leave the press pass. The payment was made by a shell company so that appears to be a dead end until Beckett reveals what she found on Carolyn’s second cell phone. As it turns out, Lopez had been having an affair with Carolyn for the past three years and the detectives go to question Lopez’s wife, whose fingerprints were found on an envelope left for Frank. Mrs. Lopez admits to knowing about the affair but denies having Carolyn killed since she had been a crucial ally for her husband’s political career and his would-be presidential run and she also has an alibi for the shooting.
Once Mrs. Lopez is ruled out, the culprit is revealed to be Congressman Lopez’s chief of staff, Megan Brooks. After going through some Carolyn’s texts, the detectives discovered that Carolyn was pushing Lopez to fire Megan because she found Megan to be a liability for his future campaigns. For whatever reason, Megan had apparently suspected Carolyn’s misgivings about her and formulated a plan to get rid of her rival and simultaneously boost her boss’s profile by having him be a heroic survivor of an assassination attempt.
Ryan takes Frank home to his wife, though Frank is visibly nervous about facing her. He not unreasonably thinks his wife will hate him for lying to her, especially since he figures that his role in the murder will likely get him some jail time. Much to Frank’s surprise however, his wife welcomes him back with open arms and Ryan leaves them to work out their issues.
In an odd change of pace, Beckett is given the subplot for the week. In a continuation of her feelings of not accomplishing what she could be from last week’s ‘Hong Kong Hustle’, she casually mentions to Castle towards the end of the episode that she’s studying up for the Captain’s Exam. On the surface she sounds non-committal about it but I have a feeling this will become a plot point some time soon and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this issue raised again in the season finale.
Let me start by saying I didn’t have very high hopes for this episode. Seamus Dever hasn’t been given a whole lot to do as Detective Ryan this season (a problem for all the characters not named Castle or Beckett actually) and given how underwhelming the Esposito focused episode ‘Kill Switch’ was a few months back, I was expecting more of the same here. Much to my surprise though, Dever actually carries the episode pretty well and honestly his performance single-handedly made the episode an enjoyable watch for me.
Unfortunately, like so many episodes this season, the writing leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t think there was a single moment or twist that surprised me here. Frank’s involvement in the murder failed to surprise me since given that he’s a supposedly close family member of Ryan even though he’s never been seen or mentioned before now basically guaranteed that he would either die in the line of duty or betray Ryan at some point (especially considering the writers have used both of these plot points before with Beckett’s old partner Royce).
This might not have been as annoying if the other plot twists were remotely surprising but I generally saw them coming about at least ten minutes beforehand. From learning that Carolyn was the intended target to Lopez’s affair with the victim to the whole thing being revealed as plot by a scheming staff member the whole episode ended up being completely predictable and for awhile I had a hard time figuring out why. Then halfway through this review it dawned on me. I finally realized this whole thing bears a striking resemblance to the pilot episode of Monk. Whether or not the writers intentionally ripped it off in the hopes the audience wouldn’t notice, it still comes off as lazy writing to me.
Tune in next week when detectives investigate the death of a famous attorney in ‘Habeas Corpse.’