We begin this week with Castle having a particularly vivid dream involving his disappearance. He’s apparently been having these dreams for about the last week or so and his family members are starting to become concerned. Castle thinks the best solution is to ignore the dreams and hope they go away since he’s still afraid to find out what he did while he was missing. Beckett however, fearing the dreams will only get worse, convinces him to see her old therapist Dr. Burke (Michael Dorn) instead.
Castle reviews with Dr. Burke what he remembers and knows about his disappearance and this presumably also serves as a reminder to the audience in case they forgot anything (and considering it’s been about seven months since they’ve really talked about this, it was actually much appreciated from me personally). He tells Burke that the last thing he remembers is being run off the road by a black SUV until he was found two months later in the Atlantic Ocean. During the two months, he had been exposed to Dengue Fever and received a bullet scar but has no memory of how he got either. Castle also reveals to Burke that he tracked down a guy named Kevin Jenkins who told him that the reason he doesn’t remember anything was because he didn’t want to. Despite this however, Castle has decided that he doesn’t want to keep his memories buried any longer so Burke suggests putting him through hypnosis.
During the hypnosis, the first thing Castle sees is a man telling him “hello” and while Castle admits that he looks familiar, he can’t quite place him. After that, Castle sees a trophy, someone shooting a gun and a man that’s been wounded. Castle then realizes that he is sitting in the back of a truck that is being chased and shot at by another truck through a jungle. He manages to get to get the license plate number of the truck chasing him before Castle’s visions inexplicably get even stranger. Just as someone is about to fire a rocket launcher at Castle’s truck, a man bearing a striking resemblance to Chuck Norris comes to the rescue at the last second.
Insert Chuck Norris Joke Here
When Castle relays all of this to Beckett, Ryan and Esposito, they are unsurprisingly skeptical at best (with Esposito in particular almost mocking him). Nevertheless, Castle has tech look into the license plate number he saw and asks Ryan and Esposito for help in identifying the Chuck Norris lookalike (in the dream Castle notices the guy has a distinctive skull tattoo). Tech comes back with some information on the license plate number that indicates that at some point during the disappearance, Castle was in Thailand.
The next day, Castle has become so obsessed with piecing together his missing two months that he’s gone borderline conspiracy nut, which once again has his family more than a little concerned. Despite this, Beckett remains supportive and helps Castle to ID the trophy from his dream. He suddenly remembers that it was a trophy he won from a debate competition back in high school. He also remembers that he shared the trophy with a former classmate named Phillip Bartlett, whom Castle now recognizes as the man saying “hello” to him in his dream. Castle’s next logical step to track down Bartlett and have Beckett do a background check on him.
Castle quickly finds Bartlett and meets with him at a coffee shop. Unfortunately for Castle, the meeting doesn’t go as well as he hoped, since Bartlett denies ever being with Castle in Thailand or even being on the debate team with him in high school, both of which are later confirmed by him and Beckett. To make matters worse Captain Gates lightly reprimands Beckett for dedicating police resources in what admittedly looks like a wild goose chase (though considering they haven’t had any leads in Castle’s disappearance in over six months, it still seems like something they should look into regardless).
The investigation heats up again though when Esposito comes back with people fitting the criteria for “Chuck Norris” and Castle positively IDs him as ex-Delta Force member Jeff Powers, who by sheer coincidence happens to live in New York. When Castle and Beckett go to question Powers at his apartment, they find him dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
Thanks For the Memories
Lanie gives her preliminary prognosis that Powers had been killed around midnight the night before, prompting the detectives to reach the rather obvious conclusion that Powers’ murder and Castle’s dream are somehow connected (on the plus side Castle is now relieved to know he’s not crazy). Ryan finds a napkin from a strip club in Powers’ pocket indicating that this might be the last place he had been seen alive. When Ryan and Esposito question one of the strippers, she remembers a guy claiming to be an old army of Powers coming by the club looking for him about three days ago.
Castle has another session with Burke but he’s struggling to remember anything new. Burke theorizes that there must have been an inciting incident that triggered his dreams so he tries to get Castle to remember if anything unusual happened that day. Castle remembers that he had a sudden ringing in his ears that day while he was watching the news at a coffee shop. When he watches the news clip again, he recognizes a person in the background as one of the people shooting at him in his dream. Just then Esposito comes in with a sketch of the person looking for Powers at the strip club, who turns out to be the same person Castle recognizes on the news.
Afterward, Beckett and Ryan go down to the morgue to get some additional information from Lanie on how Powers was killed. As it turns out, before he was shot, the killer pried out several of his teeth in an effort to get some information out of him. When Lanie adds that the killer was probably wearing Latex gloves during the torture, Beckett has some bloodhounds search for the bloody gloves. Surprisingly, they manage to find the gloves and with that ID the killer as a Russian hit-man named Ilya Golovkin.
The detectives follow up on a tip indicating that Golovkin went back to Powers’ apartment while Castle stays behind to look for some more clues in Powers’ case file. When detectives get to the apartment however, all they find is the stripper from earlier dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Meanwhile, while looking through Powers’ credit card charges, Castle notices that he ate at the same restaurant every Tuesday at around 6 PM and goes there alone hoping to find a fresh lead.
When he gets there, he recognizes one of the waiters from his dream and realizes that he was the man he saw get shot. Castle corners the man, demanding answers and the man reluctantly obliges. The waiter identifies himself as Bilal Khan and claims to have been an old friend of Castle’s from high school (he even says that he consulted with him on his first Derrick Storm book) and that Powers was his CIA handler. Bilal also explains that the reason Castle doesn’t remember him is because all his memories of him were erased and replaced with Bartlett, thus explaining his confusing memory of the debate team trophy. Bilal later goes on to explain that he was a former high ranking member of Al-Qaeda before deciding to turn himself over to the CIA but he would only meet with someone he trusted and whose death would raise too many red flags, which in this case turned out to be Castle. Now that his cover has been blown though and has told Castle all he can, Bilal leaves in a dark van immediately afterward and wishes his friend farewell.
Once Bilal leaves, Castle is confronted by the assassin Golovkin. Just as Golovkin is about to shoot Castle however, Kevin Jenkins comes to the rescue and takes the Russian out. Now that he’s relatively safe, Castle wants to know why he was forced to miss his wedding. Jenkins grudgingly explains that some of Bilal’s information was time sensitive and they needed Castle right away so they could use the intel to stop a major Al-Qaeda attack and according to Jenkins, thanks to Castle’s help they saved tens of thousands of lives. Castle tells this to Beckett, Martha and Alexis though he makes it clear that he can’t tell anyone else and swears them all to secrecy. Castle admits afterwards that there are still a bunch of unanswered questions but for now he feels that he knows enough.
I have to admit I liked this episode a lot more than I expected, though since this episode was a continuation of the craptastic season premiere, I didn’t set the bar very high. Even so, this proved to be a surprisingly solid outing all things considered.
That’s not to say there aren’t some problems with it. For starters, it was rather irritating to watch Esposito act like a jerk to Castle for seemingly no reason which has been a bit of a recurring problem this year. It’s at this point that I feel I have to ask if the writers are some sort of season long mission to make him as unlikable as possible.
Of course, this pales in comparison to watching Castle run down the restaurant lead by himself. I would think that Castle of all people would remember the importance of bringing backup considering Beckett got abducted by 3XK only a month or two ago after also stupidly following a lead on her own. What makes matters worse is that the writers clearly killed off the stripper purely as a plot point to make Castle go by himself since her very presence in the episode would’ve otherwise been completely unnecessary.
It also bothers me a bit that the writers still left so many details about Castle’s disappearance unanswered like why was he gone for two months, why was he shot and how did he end up in a boat in the middle of the ocean? To be fair though, they openly acknowledge this, indicating they still intend to answer these questions down the road and with three episodes left in the season, I’m guessing some of them will be answered soon.
Next week, Castle stumbles upon a murder mystery while he’s 30,000 feet in the air. Tune in next time for ‘In Plane Sight.’