How do you get out of jury duty? Murder a fellow juror! Though I wouldn’t recommend that method, especially since it would only open up a whole new can of worms. Thankfully, Castle and Beckett are on the case to prove why that’s such a bad idea.
We open this Castle episode not at a crime scene, but in a courtroom. The defendant is Otis Willams. He’s been accused of carjacking and murdering Lila Addison. The prosecution paints a very ugly picture. The defendant shot the victim, threw her body in the trunk, then decided to go for a joy ride. Just as District Attorney Lou Karnacki (guest star Bruce Davison) begins his impassioned argument, one of the jurors begins to shake violently. His hearing becomes fuzzy and he begins to turn red. It’s at this point that I begin to wonder if I’m watching House instead, but no, it’s indeed Castle. The distressed juror stumbles from the juror box and falls at the DA’s feet, gasping for help and collapsing right in front of him.
We jump to the Castle loft to find Martha in the kitchen, which is always a bad sign. She has Castle drinking some sort of healthy, very green and hideous looking breakfast smoothie. He hates it, and I can’t say I blame him one bit. Alexis joins the pair, reminding her father she doesn’t have school for the day. Castle is excited since “Forbidden Planet” is playing nearby, an old favorite of theirs, and this means they can go see it together.
Unfortunately, Alexis already has plans in the Village, or at least, that’s what it sounds like as she mumbles into her disgusting looking breakfast smoothie. She then dashes out the door, probably to avoid having to drink anymore of that smoothie, but Castle is certain it’s because she just lied to him. Alexis? Lie? I am shocked! Okay, maybe not shocked, but it’s not an everyday occurrence either. Martha doesn’t think Alexis is lying but Castle is sure of it because of the way she crinkled her nose. Apparently it’s her tell. He eventually drops it and invites Martha to the movies with him but she’s busy, too. He decides to go by himself until Beckett calls. Murder trumps movie any day.
Beckett is waiting for Castle at the morgue and the two head in to see Lanie together. Lanie informs them the victim, Juror #7, was killed by cyanide poisoning. Juror #7, aka Joe, likely ingested the poison at the courthouse, possibly in a cup of coffee, meaning their suspect could be anyone related to the trial.
Over at the courthouse, Ryan and Esposito fill Castle and Beckett in on the defendant’s background. The carjacking and murder were not Otis’ only crimes and he’s looking at major jail time, possibly even the death penalty. Sounds like good motive for murder, right? Only, Otis was incarcerated the entire time so he couldn’t have possibly poisoned Joe, but he could have an accomplice. The judge decides Joe’s death is enough to keep the other jurors from reaching a fair verdict and instantly declares the case a mistrial.
At the precinct, Ryan is going through surveillance footage from the courthouse. Esposito is running down witnesses. Juror #4 has been missing since Joe’s murder, making him highly suspect. Joe’s brother, Eddie shows up to talk to Beckett, who wants to know if the man had any enemies. While Joe did run a halfway house, Eddie can’t think of anyone who would want to hurt Joe.
The runaway juror, Juror #4, is found. He was afraid he was going to be the next victim and wanted to get out of Dodge as fast as humanly possible. The man he saw with Joe was the same man he saw staring at him in court, which was why he was worried he was the next victim. Beckett asks him to work with a sketch artist but his only description of the killer is that he was a “big, scary black guy.” His interview seems like a bust until, on his way out, he spots the “big, scary black guy” in question. Turns out the man is Wardell Williams, the defendant’s cousin, and Ryan has him on surveillance footage handing Joe a cup of coffee just before his death.
Wardell and Otis grew up together, practically brothers, and Wardell is adamant that Otis is innocent. Wardell is sure he’s being framed, just like his cousin Otis, and he thinks the only reason the DA is even trying the case is because he’s running for mayor.
In the meantime, Castle has other matters to worry about. He’s just downloaded a great new, and slightly creepy, app that allows him to track Alexis’ whereabouts via her phone at all times. However, while checking up on her he discovers she’s in Williamsburg, not where she said she’d be. Beckett gives him a lecture on respecting his daughter’s privacy while simultaneously giving him a look that says, “Is this what he’s going to be like when we have kids?” Or maybe she’s just creeped out by this new level of over protectiveness. You know, either way. The conversation doesn’t get any further since Lanie calls with some new information.
Lanie determines the cyanide was hidden in Joe’s prescription, not in his coffee as she first thought, making their original timeline invalid. Joe was poisoned an hour before the original time of death, meaning he was poisoned long before he ever arrived at the courthouse. This also means the killer had access to Joe’s medications, and subsequently, his apartment.
Ryan and Esposito head to Joe’s place to check it out and pick up his prescriptions as evidence. During the search of Joe’s apartment, they find more than they bargained for – a former resident of Joe’s halfway house named Hank. Hank remembers delivering an envelope to a woman as a favor to Joe, a woman who just so happens to be the court clerk involved in the trial.
Beckett talks to the court clerk and learns Joe specifically wanted on the jury in Otis’ case. Joe paid the woman to put him in the selection pool, but that was as far as she could get him. The fact that he actually made it onto the jury was simply luck on his part.
After calling it a night, Castle heads home to confront his daughter. He begins his inquisition as soon as Alexis walks through the door. Alexis sticks with her story, she didn’t venture outside of Manhattan, but Castle conjures up a story about his friend, J.J. Adams, seeing Alexis in Williamsburg. She’s busted but so is he. J.J. Adams is the name of Leslie Nielsen’s character in “Forbidden Planet” and Alexis knows it. If Castle is going to use the name of a movie character, he should at least pick one from a movie Alexis hasn’t seen so many times. It doesn’t take long for Alexis to figure out Castle has bugged her phone, his twitching nose giving him away, and she storms upstairs, leaving Castle to contemplate his actions.
The next morning he discusses the situation with Beckett. Beckett is on Alexis’ side, she had every right to overreact because Castle broke her trust. She reminds him he has “the best kid in the world” and now he’ll probably never know why Alexis really went to Williamsburg. All Castle can do now is win back Alexis’ trust.
We jump back to the victim’s case from the trial. Lila’s family goes down to the station to identify photos of possible suspects. The DA is also there, wanting this information firsthand. Though, it seems he’s more worried about politics than actually solving the case. No big surprise there. According to Captain Montgomery, the DA never comes down to the precinct so it’s a big deal.
The team can’t seem to find any connection between Joe and the victim, or Joe and anyone else for that matter, prompting them to wonder why he wanted on the jury so bad. Ryan finds a lead, a pay as you go cellphone Joe purchased a couple months back. But Joe already had a cellphone so why did he need a second one? Finally they have a lead, but Castle has a lead of his own, Joe was photographed at Lila’s crime scene. Why would Joe be at the crime scene? Does this make him both the victim and the killer? He’s not, but that would’ve been a cool twist.
Ryan finds Joe’s second cellphone. All the calls were to the same number – the District Attorney. They bring in the DA’s administrative assistant to ask if she remembers Joe calling. She does remember. Joe called anonymously, asserting Otis’ innocence but the assistant never took the calls seriously. She never put his calls through to the DA. However, she normally leaves work by seven o’clock so if Joe called sometime after that, he may have talked to the DA. Just when they ask what time the DA usually calls it a night, the DA himself comes bursting into the interview and he is not happy about it. Castle asks if Joe ever sent him any evidence that could free Otis but the DA threatens to get Castle kicked out of the precinct instead of actually answering. Beckett is sure the DA is hiding something and Captain Montgomery agrees. After all, why else would he come all the way down to the station to stop an interview instead of just calling? He didn’t want his assistant to talk.
Once they begin looking into the DA’s background, they realize Lila’s parents were his biggest campaign contributors. Did they ask him to prosecute in exchange for their votes? Did he say yes because it was an open and shut case? Did he kill Joe because he was the only one that believed in Otis’ innocence and he didn’t want to let Lila’s parents down? Or lose their votes?
Castle and Beckett decide it’s time to interview Otis again and hear his story firsthand. The one thing Otis remembers about stealing Lila’s car is having to adjust the seat before he could drive it. Lila was only about five feet tall so there should have been reason to move the seat backward, but not forward. Someone tall had driven it last. Thankfully the car is still in the impound lot, pending the trial, so Beckett has CSU dust the buttons for fingerprints.
As if Castle weren’t already occupied enough, Alexis shows up at the station. She lied to him for a very important reason. The last time she went out with a few of her friends, they shoplifted some items from a boutique. Alexis couldn’t bring herself to shoplift but her friends did. She felt so guilty that she took money from her savings and went back to the boutique, leaving money and a note on the counter before running out. Castle doesn’t know whether to be angry or proud, but he’s glad that she did the right thing, even if Alexis won’t tell him which friends they were or make them pay for what they stole. Alexis is such an honest kid and I love that, it’s so refreshing to see. After sharing a little heart to heart, Alexis heads home.
The CSU report comes in and the fingerprints belong to none other than Joe’s brother, Eddie. But he’s not the killer, Lila’s brother is. Both Lila and her brother were drug addicts who had Eddie drive them around to pick up some more drugs. Lila’s brother, Steven, was playing with his loaded gun in the car and when they hit a pothole, he lost control, accidentally shooting his sister in the process. Steven wanted to cover up the accident, forcing Eddie to help by threatening to pin Lila’s death on him if he didn’t. The two left the car in the ghetto to make it look like a carjacking gone wrong, but Eddie went to tell Joe the truth. Joe couldn’t stand the idea of leaving Lila’s body in the trunk, but by the time he went down to retrieve it, the police had already arrested Otis. Joe managed to find Steven’s bloody clothes in a dumpster nearby and sent them to the DA to prove Otis’ innocence. Too bad the DA decided to sweep the information under the rug. Unfortunately, without the actual evidence there is no way to tie the DA’s wrongdoing to the case.
Captain Montgomery decides to confront the DA about his involvement, and goes straight to the man’s office to speak to him. The DA offers Captain Montgomery a drink, having just gotten his hands on a bottle of 1875 St. Miriam scotch. This is such an excellent call back to “Last Call!” Who doesn’t remember Castle’s excited face and the way he spent the entire episode chasing after just a taste of the holy grail of scotches? The Captain doesn’t have time for a drink, or maybe it’s because he’s already had a taste of Castle’s scotch, who knows? The Captain keeps his eye on the ball and confronts the DA about burying evidence, wearing a wire in the process. The DA confesses until he realizes Captain Montgomery has recorded the whole thing. He bribes him with an appointment to Police Commissioner once he gets elected mayor, but the Captain is much too good for that. Although, if he’s willing to cooperate, Captain Montgomery does promise to put in a good word for the wayward DA.
Lila’s brother, Steven, is arrested for her murder, as well as being charged with Joe’s murder. Eddie is charged as being an accessory after the fact, with a promise from the Captain to push for parole, and the DA is no longer the DA. With the case finally solved, our dynamic duo can head home. Castle asks if Beckett has plans with Josh but she tells him Josh is on shift. Instead she’s thinking of going to see a movie – “Forbidden Planet”. Castle’s eyes go wide briefly before he plays dumb, asking Beckett what the movie is about. She asks if he’s ever seen it and he claims he hasn’t. Sly move there, Castle. Beckett insists on taking Castle to see it, her treat, but he claims to have plans. “Nope, not anymore,” Beckett corrects. She won’t take no for an answer. She looks thrilled at the idea of being the one to introduce him to the movie while he is grinning deviously behind her back. Castle wants to know if he can have candy and popcorn, and Beckett willingly agrees as she describes the movie to him in nearly the exact words he used to describe it to Alexis in the beginning of the episode. He decides to push the envelope a little further, asking if they can have burgers at Remy’s too. Beckett tells him he’s pushing it, but after a quick “just kidding” goes right back to excitedly explaining the movie to him as they step into the elevator, and we get one last glimpse of Castle’s mischievous smile before the doors close, knowing he’s just played Beckett like a fiddle. If that’s not a date, I don’t know what is.
Things We Learned From This Episode:
* Father and daughter both have the same tell. Aww!
* Richard Castle has a great Moviefone voice.
* In the writing world, you apparently must call “dibs” on high-profile murder cases.
* Ryan fancies himself a Renaissance man for memorizing and reciting one quote. Esposito disagrees and thinks the minimum is at least two.
* Alexis is the world’s most honest teenager.
* If it looks like a date, sounds like a date, and acts like a date, just because you already have a boyfriend doesn’t make it any less a date.
Written by Stephanie Guenzler.
Find her on Twitter @pure_believer.
Visit Small Screen Scoop and we just might take you on a fake date, too. “Forbidden Planet” sounds good!