Blast From the Past
As Castle prepares to accept a lifetime achievement award in a few days, he and Beckett are called to their latest crime scene. The last victim of the season is a Jane Doe who had been attacked in the woods and ended up getting hit by an 18-wheeler while running away from her assailant. When they take a look at Jane Doe’s body, Castle notices some unusual cross shaped cuts on her face that leave him visibly shaken. When the truck driver then mentions seeing a dark figure wearing a porcelain mask, Castle looks nothing short of petrified and says “It was real.”
Castle reveals to Beckett that in 1983, when he was 11 years old, he had stayed at a friend’s house located next to a forest called Hollander’s Woods. While there, Castle got lost in the woods and stumbled upon a dead body. The woman’s throat had been slit and had the same crosses carved into her face as this week’s Jane Doe. When he tried to examine the body, he was confronted by a dark figure in a porcelain mask. The figure threatens young Castle saying if he tells anybody what he saw in the woods that he’ll kill him before letting him go. By the time Castle had called in an anonymous tip to the police, the body was gone and there was no evidence that a crime even took place. After a while, he began to wonder if he imagined the whole thing (thus explaining why he never Beckett or the audience about this before now) and further explains that the incident in the woods was why he became a mystery writer.
Meanwhile, Ryan finds out that Jane Doe had visited the same coffee shop several times in the days leading to her death, though according to a cashier, she would spend several hours just staring out the window. Also, Esposito is able to discover that Jane Doe had been staying at a motel in Queens for the last two weeks. When the detectives look into Jane Doe’s motel room, they are finally able to positively ID the victim’s name as Emma Malloy. When Castle and Beckett report the bad news to Emma’s father, he’s devastated but not particularly surprised since she was doing something dangerous. He says that Emma came into the city to look for her friend, Zoey Addison, who had disappeared two months ago. He adds that Emma was able to find out that Zoey was last seen getting into a white Sedan and had come to New York to track down the car. When Castle states his surprise that nobody has heard anything from Zoey in two months, the father admits that Zoey didn’t really have any family and without Emma nobody would’ve even known she’d disappeared. With this, Castle figures out that the killer targets people who can disappear unnoticed, which is why he let Castle live in ’83. Beckett than decides to ask Ryan and Esposito to look into police records from ’83 for abandoned and ticketed cars near Hollander’s Woods. They agree to do it, though not without voicing their skepticism (which is getting pretty old at this point).
Tech is able to track down a white Sedan registered about a block away from the coffee shop Emma went to the last several days. This causes Castle and Beckett to realize that Emma must have had believed it to be the mystery Sedan and that she had been doing surveillance on it. The weird thing though is that the car is registered to a senior citizen named Connie Lewis. Castle and Beckett go to Mrs. Lewis’s residence to question her about the car but when they get there they find her dead (and I’m talking Norman Bates’ mother level dead).
According to Lanie, Mrs. Lewis has been dead for about three years. Beckett calls Mrs. Lewis’ son Noah to inform him of his mother’s death when they hear his cell phone ringing inside the house. When the detectives go to investigate the noise, Noah starts shooting at them and flees the scene. Some digging from Esposito reveals that Noah’s mother had him institutionalized four years ago and according to his therapist he has borderline personality disorder and exhibits violent tendencies.
Ryan also comes in with a new development in the case. Back in ’83, the day after Castle found the dead body, a parking ticket was given to an abandoned pickup truck. The truck’s owner was a farmer who loaned the truck to a young female migrant worker named Rosalita Campo to buy some supplies and when the truck was found abandoned, the farmer assumed the woman ran off. He also didn’t bother to report her missing out of fear that he would get her in trouble with Immigration. When Castle looks at the missing woman’s photo, he immediately recognizes her as the dead body he found in the woods.
Noah Lewis is caught a few hours later and Castle and Beckett bring him into the interrogation room. Noah denies everything and even going so far as to claim he’s the victim. Things get worse for the detectives since not only are they unable to find anything connecting Noah to either Zoey or Emma’s murder but his mother’s death was revealed to be natural causes.
Castle and Beckett decide to question Noah’s therapist Dr. Van Holtzman to see if he can provide some insight on Noah to help their case. When they start talking to Dr. Holtzman, Castle immediately recognizes his voice as the man who threatened him back in ’83 and realizes that he’s the killer. Castle does his best to play it cool during the interview but there are a couple of points where the conversation gets more than a little cryptic. When Castle relays his suspicions to the other detectives they are as usual skeptical when it becomes clear that no one believes Castle, he walks out of the precinct. Considering the number of times Castle’s theories have been proven correct, you would think they’d stop being such condescending pricks whenever Castle has a hunch
Luckily though, Beckett comes around not long after and does a background check on Holtzman. She finds out that Holtzman owns some farmland with a barn just a few miles from where Emma was killed. Castle immediately wants to start searching the barn, but Beckett points out that they would never be able to get a warrant. She suggests that Castle could break into the barn to look for the evidence himself since anything he finds would be admissible since he’s not technically a cop.
Castle and Beckett drive over to the barn with Beckett staying behind in the car while Castle searches the place. Before long, Castle finds a white Sedan hidden under a tarp that looks exactly like Noah’s right down to the license plate number, proving that Holtzman was trying to frame him. Castle also finds the porcelain mask and a photo album filled Holtzman’s past victims. It’s at this moment that Holtzman shows up to attack Castle (how he got inside the barn without Beckett seeing him is anyone’s guess). Holtzman is on the verge of killing Castle when Beckett hands him her gun and Castle is able to kill him.
Later that night, Castle goes with his friends and family to his award ceremony. After an introduction from Michael Connelly (best known for his Harry Bosch and Lincoln Lawyer novels), Castle gives a surprisingly good speech and makes a point to thank Beckett, Martha, Alexis and all of his friends at the 12th precinct. Though there is one moment where he calls Ryan and Esposito his brothers-in-arms which I found to be a little weird considering their support of him this year has been spotty at best (especially Esposito, though I’ve done enough complaining about that this season). This week alone they practically called him crazy and we never even see them apologize for that. Nevertheless, it’s a nice moment and afterwards Castle calls a toast saying “To us.” The moment is cut short however when the detectives are called in for another murder.
During the case, Beckett has been anxiously awaiting the results of her recent Captain’s Exam. Less than coincidentally, she ends up being called into 1PP for a surprise performance review. Beckett has a bad feeling about this and at first those fears appear to be well justified.
The guy in charge of the meeting immediately accuses Beckett of openly disrespecting the law, citing a couple of her admittedly dubious investigations (in particular her vendetta with Senator Bracken and her trip to L.A. in season 3) and calls her relationship with Castle into question. Not only does he believe her to not be captain material but also states that she’s not fit to be a detective. Not surprisingly, Beckett takes exception to all of this and insists that she holds the utmost respect for the law and that she is proud to be Castle’s wife and partner. As it turns out though, the third degree was simply a test to see how well Beckett defended herself under scrutiny. The men running the meeting reveal that they want her to run for New York State Senate (and incidentally she aced her captain’s exam).
Beckett talks the news over with Castle to decide whether or not to run for office. She warns Castle that if she does decide to run, then everyone associated with her would be put under heavy scrutiny. It’s at this point I feel I should point out that Castle would likely be the easiest target for a smear campaign since he’s less than a year removed from a suspicious and well publicized disappearance that drew heavy criticism for being an apparent publicity stunt. Nevertheless, Castle says that whatever Beckett decides, she will have his full support though her decision is left up in the air for next season.
If the series had ended on this episode (and I get the feeling the writers understandably saw that as a very realistic possibility), I would’ve been perfectly okay with that. Between Castle solving a mystery that was nagging at him for over 3 decades and Beckett’s apparently bright future as either a state senator or precinct captain shows our two main characters truly moving forward with their lives. Now that we know for sure there’s going to be a season 8 though, I wonder how the writers plan to keep the show going, especially with Stana Katic’s future with the show still undecided.
The one problem I had with this finale is that it felt a little rushed. This was a very personal case for Castle and this one felt like it should have been a two-parter even if I admittedly find them to be hit or miss on this show. To me the pacing probably would have worked better if episode one went as a relatively standard investigation and then part two could’ve been Castle trying to get into Dr. Holtzman’s head (kind of like the 3XK saga earlier this season). Despite that complaint, I still found it to be a strong episode.
I’m not going to mince words here, I wasn’t a huge fan of this season. The big problem I had with it is mostly a lack of consistency in the show’s tone. One week we would get an episode that takes itself too seriously (with very mixed results) and then the next week would be the standard episode we’ve come to expect from Castle, though even some of those were beginning to feel rather gimmicky (invisible man episode, the craptastic alternate universe, etc.). There were certainly some highlights to the season that I’ll gladly watch when they go into reruns on TNT but they felt few and far in between. However, since I’m still a lover of all things that star Nathan Fillion, I’ll put this one on a curve and give it a B-.