The week’s victim is identified as Richie “The Pitbull” Falco, a famous personal injury attorney, who had died from blunt force trauma at about midnight the night before. Castle and Beckett stop by Pitbull’s office to question his assistant. She admits that he had been acting weird and paranoid the last few days, including not showing up for work the day he died but she has no idea why.
After Lanie finishes with Pitbull’s autopsy, she informs Ryan and Esposito that based on some pollen found on his pants, he had been in the countryside recently. Also, several taser marks found on his body indicate that he was also tortured shortly before he died. Afterward, the detectives find some parking lot footage of Pitbull seemingly being abducted by a guy in a sports car and the cars owner is identified as ex-NFL running back Derek Bolt. They do some digging on Bolt and find out that he got sued last year after beating up a guy outside of a club and the lawsuit ended up bankrupting him. Less than coincidentally, Pitbull was the lawyer of the guy that sued Bolt.
When the detectives confront Bolt with this information, he says he had been so impressed with Pitbull during the lawsuit that he hired Pitbull to work a paternity case for him off the books. He says the reason he forced Pitbull into his car was because he had a crucial meeting the day before with the baby mama and her lawyer but Pitbull never showed up. Once in the car, Pitbull apologized and promised to smooth things over and then asked Bolt to drop him off at a diner so he could meet someone.
A look at Pitbull’s phone records show that the last call he made before he died was to his ex-wife, Elise Resner. When Beckett talks to her, she says that Pitbull was in trouble and wanted her help but she admits she didn’t know what kind of trouble because she didn’t want to know. The ex-wife says that Pitbull started out as a successful corporate lawyer and was on track to make partner until about five years ago when the pressure started getting to him. At that point he fell into drinking and drugs, causing him to lose him his job and marriage and presumably making him switch to personal injury cases. At that moment Esposito informs Beckett that Pitbull’s office has just been ransacked.
When they go back to Pitbull’s office, the assistant informs them that his computer and all of his case files have been stolen. Meanwhile, Ryan looks into Pitbull’s meeting at the diner where he was seen arguing with another guy which a waitress identifies as another personal injury lawyer named Archie “The Savannah Hammer” Bronstein. According to Pitbull’s assistant, Hammer was his professional rival and they both had a track record of poaching each other’s clients though she says Pitbull was better at it, which Hammer was none too happy about.
Castle and Beckett go to question Hammer about the argument at the diner. He says that he was there eating and spotted Pitbull, so he started yelling at him for trying to steal one of his biggest clients. The client in question had been hit near the heart by three pieces of flying metal when she got hit by a scrap truck and according to Hammer, Pitbull smelled an easy settlement. He claims to have an alibi for Pitbull’s murder saying he had a “special” meeting with one of his clients and hints that Pitbull may have been killed due to some of his alleged “extra-curricular activities.” Back at Pitbull’s office, Ryan and Esposito find a duffle bag filled with among other things rope, duct tape, night vision goggles and chloroform.
With this evidence, the detectives deduce that Pitbull abducted someone very recently and decide to talk to the owner of the night vision goggles Pitbull had used to see if he knows anything. The owner, a private investigator named Mike Sampson, admits to lending the goggles but says that Pitbull payed him extra not to ask questions. When Castle mentions the chloroform however, Sampson is surprised and also says that Pitbull asked him “What’s the best way to get rid of a body?”
Tech is able to triangulate the location where Pitbull called his ex-wife to a parking lot in a wooded area up north which Castle and Beckett notice would be a convenient place to get rid of a body. They go the location and it isn’t long before they find a fresh burial site (good job hiding the body Pitbull). When they finish digging they find a body bag but the second they pull it out of the hole, a masked man holds the pair at gunpoint.
Crash Test Dummies
Some time later, the masked man has left Castle and Beckett with their hands zip-tied behind their backs, taking the body with him as well as the pair’s keys and phones. Luckily, Castle watched an instructional video on how to break out of zip ties as part of his P.I. training. When they get back to the station, it doesn’t take much time before they find some footage of the masked man revealed to be Sampson. They find him and his car soon after and when the detectives open the trunk they find the missing body bag inside. To their surprise however, they find the occupant of the body bag to be a crash test dummy.
Sampson refuses to talk but the case against him appears to be building when they find Pitbull’s missing case files shredded in Sampson’s apartment. Beckett decides to examine the dummy and Lanie informs Beckett and Castle that the dummy was hit with three pieces of projectile metal around the heart which Castle recognizes as being strikingly similar to the injuries sustained by the client Hammer showed them earlier. Castle and Beckett decide to talk to the client and when Castle asks what kind of car she was driving, she says she doesn’t remember because it was a rental but that a woman came by yesterday asking her the same thing.
Meanwhile at the station, Esposito finds out the car crash victim was driving a Modesto Sedan and discovers that some dates and locations Pitbull had written down on a piece of paper just happened to coincide with a list of victims who suffered similar injuries while driving the same car indicating an alarming defect with the vehicle’s airbags. Between this and the injuries on the dummy, they figure out Modesto likely knew about the defect and had been covering it up. Some further digging from Esposito also reveals that Modesto was a client for Pitbull during his corporate law firm days and that it’s likely that his role in the initial cover up contributed to his problems with drugs and alcohol. Castle realizes that Pitbull must’ve had a recent attack of conscience and had been working to expose Modesto. The case suddenly gets even more interesting when the car crash victim identifies her mystery visitor as Pitbull’s ex-wife. As it turns out, she had been recently hired as the lead counsel for Modesto.
When Castle and Beckett confront the ex-wife, she unsurprisingly denies everything. Beckett then mentions that three days ago, a silent alarm had been tripped at a nearby storage facility owned by Modesto but that cops had been told that it was set off by mistake even though one of the guards had been treated by an ambulance for chloroform inhalation. She’s unfazed by this bit of information and even goes so far as to demand the incriminating evidence back by contending it was obtained illegally. Beckett then mentions Sampson’s arrest and says that only a matter of time before he’s connected to Modesto. The ex-wife scoffs at this saying that Modesto already has their own team of investigators, so hiring an outsider would’ve been dumb and pointless. She does admit however to seeing Sampson outside the crash victim’s hospital talking with someone inside of a car.
With this new bit of information, detectives discover the culprit to be the Hammer. His alibi fell apart after the woman he was supposedly with recanted her statement and Sampson finally confessed to breaking into Pitbull’s office on his orders. Apparently, Hammer’s plan was to blackmail Modesto with the dummy (how did he know about it exactly?) and he was forced to kill Pitbull because he wanted to blow the whistle on Modesto instead. According to Castle and Beckett, a full scale investigation has now been raised against Modesto.
Dancing with the Cops
In what has to be one of the silliest side plots this show has seen in quite awhile, Ryan and Esposito are busy preparing for a talent competition at an NYPD fundraiser which they’ve already won two years in a row. Castle claims that the only reason they’ve won before is because he and Beckett aren’t eligible due to him not being a cop, though thanks to some last minute circumstances that claim is quickly put to the test.
As it turns out, the show likes to use a celebrity performer to boost ticket sales but their originally intended celebrity Jimmy Kimmel had to drop out at the last minute. Naturally, they turn to Castle to fill in and he happily agrees on the condition that he and Beckett be allowed to compete. Unfortunately, while Castle is excited Beckett isn’t nearly as thrilled.
This isn’t helped by the fact that after Esposito allegedly twists his knee taking down a suspect, he and Castle decide to make a bet on who wins (though honestly the wagers are kind of lame). They find out later however, that Esposito faked his injury to trick Castle into the bet, when they see him and Ryan practicing their dance routine in one of the interrogation rooms (though considering their routine makes them look like a two person, over-the-hill boy band, I’m not sure why Castle and Beckett are worried).
They try to practice their own routine with Martha’s help but when Castle momentarily leaves to make a phone call, she admits to Martha the reason she doesn’t want to compete is out of stage fright and would rather Castle didn’t know. The issue proves to be a moot point however, when Captain Gates informs Castle that Jimmy Kimmel was able to work fundraiser back into his schedule, so Castle’s services are no longer needed.
With Castle and Beckett out of the running, Ryan and Esposito win the competition. At the end of the episode, however, Beckett realizes that Castle must have overheard her stage fright admission and secretly asked Kimmel to come back to the fundraiser to spare Beckett the embarrassment, which Castle reluctantly admits to, though he points out it would’ve been easier if she had just told him in the first place.
Honestly, I don’t have a whole lot to say about the episode. Despite a couple of plot holes, the case was a relatively solid if not particularly remarkable one. Admittedly though, as much fun as I poked at the side plot, I actually enjoyed it. These kind lighthearted plots are what I feel made the show work in the past and have been sorely lacking for most of the season in favor of more melodramatic episodes.
Sadly, if the promo is any indicator, it appears we’ll be having yet another one of those episodes next time. Castle will be taking another break for the next three weeks but when we return, Castle may finally get some answers about his disappearance in ‘Sleeper.’ As a said before the 3XK episodes, you have been warned.