Missing Air Marshal
This week’s episode takes a break from the crime beat of the NYPD and instead we open to Castle and Alexis taking a flight to London where Castle is speaking for the Sherlock Holmes Society. The flight is not off to a good start for Castle since on top of having to hear an obnoxious passenger in the back of First Class complain about his seat placement, the plane also begins to experience some turbulence. The turbulence eventually passes though Castle notices that the flight attendants still appear to be concerned.
Castle goes to the front of the plane to ask the crew what the problem is and because the captain is familiar with Castle’s background they inform Castle that the Air Marshal, Kyle Ford, has gone missing leaving the crew understandably worried. According to the captain, Ford had been investigating a possible security issue on the flight before going missing about an hour ago. Since Ford is nowhere to be found, Castle is asked by the captain to investigate since he’s the closest thing they have to law enforcement (which even Castle himself points out to be rather alarming). Castle searches the plane’s cargo hold and notices something off about a large piece of luggage. He opens it to find the very recently deceased Air Marshal Ford.
Killer on a Plane
Castle calls Beckett to fill her in on the situation and also informs her that Ford’s gun is missing. To make things worse for Castle, Alexis has started noticing that something’s up and goes to ask her father what’s going on. When Castle tells her about Ford’s death, she insists on being part of the investigation. Castle is naturally against this but she reminds him of her M.E. training, working as an intern for Lanie and offers to examine the body to see if she determine the cause of death. Alexis Skype’s with Lanie on her cell phone to show her Ford’s head wound. Lanie isn’t able to narrow down the murder weapon very much but concludes that judging from the angle of the wound, the killer is left handed.
Meanwhile, Castle starts talking with the crew and asking them when the last time was that they saw Ford. One of them remembers seeing him near the back of the plane about half an hour before he was killed. Castle decides to look through some photos taken by a newlywed couple to see if he can find out what Ford was doing in the back in the plane and to see if anybody follows him. He’s eventually able to find a video during Ford’s time at the back of the plane and notices him looking at a suspicious looking guy a couple of rows in front of him named Isadore Baldon. When Castle asks Beckett to do a background check on the guy, Beckett tells him that Baldon is an imposter travelling on a stolen passport. Castle is able to get “Baldon’s” fingerprint and sends it over to Beckett. The fingerprint is a match for a college student/Syrian national named Aiman Haddad. It turns out the reason Haddad is flying on a stolen passport is because the FBI has put him on the no-fly list due to some alleged ties with I.S.I.S.
Castle and the attendants are able to quietly subdue Haddad and detain him in the cargo hold. With Ford’s missing gun still nowhere to be found and Haddad’s motives still unknown, Castle is left with no choice but to interrogate the murder suspect by himself. Haddad claims that the only reason he’s on the no-fly list is because his cousin is an I.S.I.S. member and that the reason he’s flying under a stolen passport is because his mother is dying of pancreatic cancer and he needed to visit her right away. Haddad also claims that he saw Ford using a second cell phone shortly before his death. Beckett confirms this to Castle and with some help from tech, Castle is able to find the phone hidden in the cargo bay. When Castle opens up the phone, he reads a series of text messages sent to Ford in which the mysterious sender threatens to take down the plane.
Castle decides to narrow down the suspect pool by seeing which of the plane’s passengers are left handed. An attendant named Farrah suggests having them all fill out Customs and Immigration forms. While that’s going on, Beckett and tech trace the threatening text messages to a woman named Marilyn Singer. Marilyn had been a executive for the airline (I think the name is Oceanic) until she was fired last year and less than coincidentally also happens to be a passenger on the plane. When Castle and Alexis find her, they notice her wearing a hilariously obvious disguise and see her writing with her left hand. The evidence against Marilyn mounts even farther when Castle notices Ford’s gun hidden in her purse.
When Castle tries to question Marilyn, she immediately demands to talk to Ford. As it turns out, she was Ford’s girlfriend and had followed him onto the flight because she believed that he was having an affair and claims to have not even known Ford was dead. Castle has Marilyn detained along with Haddad, though he tells Alexis that he can’t help but feel like something is off about the case. He found her surprise at the news of Ford’s death to be genuine and he also found it suspicious that she would send threatening text messages that could so easily be traced back to her. He begins to believe that somebody is setting up Marilyn.
Final “Shocking” Twist
When Castle calls and relays his theory to the other detectives, Ryan tells him that he might be onto something (which let’s face it, isn’t exactly surprising). It turns out, Ford had received a $10,000 payment just before the plane took off from a rich German guy named Victor Dietrich. When Beckett and Ryan bring Dietrich in for questioning, he initially denies everything (like pretty every other rich guy that’s been on this show), though he gets more talkative when he finds out that Ford is dead. He confesses that he hired the Air Marshal to provide extra security for some cargo being transported on the plane. The cargo is a rare watch worth over $13 million, which was being worn by one of his employees for tax purposes. He also admits that he hasn’t heard from his courier in several hours.
Back on the plane, Castle finds the courier asleep and evidently drugged. When the courier finally wakes up, Castle takes a look at the watch on his wrist and it doesn’t take him long to realize it’s a fake. Alexis realizes that this was probably why the obnoxious guy from earlier was complaining about his seat since he was originally meant to sit next to the courier, therefore making him the likely thief. Castle also realizes that since the thief had access to the seat assignments, manifests and Ford’s personal life that it had to be an inside job. It’s at this moment, one of the other flight attendants (I think her name was Debbie) reveals herself as the killer by pulling Ford’s gun on Castle and Alexis. She confesses to planning the theft of the watch after the airline took away her pension and killed Ford when he got suspicious. Thankfully, Alexis is able to get Debbie to put the gun down and turn herself in (or rather detained in the cargo hold until the plane lands).
Now that the killer has been caught Marilyn is released and sent back to her seat. As for Haddad, Castle informs him that he’s going to be detained for a travelling with a stolen passport but that he’s arranged for him to be able to visit his mother before he faces charges. Once that’s over Castle and Alexis have a nice hug and resolve to spend more time with each other (I get the feeling this lesson is going to be completely forgotten by next week and I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t show up in the next episode at all).
Before I analyze this episode, I’ve got to say that this might be the most incompetent airline I’ve ever seen in pop culture. Not only do they show themselves to have very lax security by letting a guy travel with an obviously stolen passport but between Marilyn and the homicidal flight attendant, they seem to have more disgruntled employees than the post office.
Anyway, this was actually an excellent episode for both Castle and Alexis. Alexis hasn’t really had anything interesting to do since her kidnapping arc back in season 5 and it was nice to see her contribute to the plot of an episode for a change. We were also given a chance to see some nice father/daughter bonding which once again we haven’t seen in awhile.
It was also interesting to see Castle take charge of an investigation, since let’s be honest here, Beckett has always been the one calling the shots. Sure, Beckett, Ryan and Esposito still help out but there’s only so much they can do for Castle while he’s 30,000 feet in the air. The interesting part for me is when he interrogates Haddad. This isn’t the first time Castle has interrogated a suspect alone but he’s usually had a very personal stake in these interrogations (Jerry Tyson, Alexis’s kidnappers, etc.), so it’s interesting to see him basically channel Beckett’s interrogation skills for this episode.
Some of you might have noticed this recap has taken a little longer than usual and for that I apologize. The issue that caused this has now been resolved and I fully expect to be back on schedule by the next episode. Speaking of which, when we return, Castle and Beckett investigate the world of late night TV in ‘Dead From New York.’