Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Castle and Beckett investigate a case that might have you rethinking that idea.

We open on a young swimmer, about to dive head first into a competition pool. And, judging by how dark it is in the facility, it appears to be an after hours swim. The swimmer dives in and makes a full lap at lightning speed before taking a break, only, as he’s about to break the surface of the water, the dark figure of what appears to be a man in a hooded jacket approaches the edge. We cut to Castle reading a passage with a similar description from a book written by his new protege, Alex Conrad (guest star Brendan Hines). Castle, and his ego, likes the idea of being a mentor to this up and coming writer. In fact, Alex is in town and he’s invited him to tag along with he and Beckett…without actually asking Beckett first. Castle is sure Beckett will be fine with it.

Beckett is so not fine with it. At least, that’s what Beckett leads Castle to believe. She actually looks rather amused before turning her attention to the case at hand. The victim is Zack Lindsey, competitive swimmer. Lanie explains that the killer put a rag over Zack’s mouth, soaked in chemicals, and once Zack passed out from the fumes, the killer threw his body into the pool to let him drown.

Castle and Beckett talk to Zack’s coach, Coach Rome (guest star Erik Palladino), about the type of kid Zack was. Coach Rome describes Zack as a fierce competitor, one of their best. Zack was being raised by a single mother who had to take a job in Atlantic City, leaving him in the care of the coach, and he was only able to attend thanks to a partial scholarship. The interview doesn’t lead them to any suspects, but Esposito is able to find a night janitor who remembers seeing Zack at the pool with another man, “Rocket” Rob Tredwyck.

“Rocket” Rob is an Olympic swimmer. He grew up with a similar background to Zack and was willing to mentor the younger swimmer. Rob tells Beckett that Zack had just broken up with his girlfriend and that both were having a tough time with Zack’s decision. When Beckett asks Rob where he was the night of the murder, he says at a party until dawn with plenty of witnesses.

After Zack’s mother comes to ID his body, Captain Montgomery asks her about Zack’s girlfriend, Bridget McManus. It’s always nice to see Captain Montgomery but it seems a little odd for him to be doing the ID and interview with the victim’s mother. Zack’s mother reveals he and Bridget had been an item since high school. Zack had never been in trouble and wanted nothing more than to make something of himself.

Beckett and Castle interview Bridget next, who thought Zack was cheating on her as he’d been secretive and distant lately. Bridget even went so far as to follow Zack, but she didn’t find him with another woman. Instead she saw him arguing with a man who had a strange, heavy accent she couldn’t identify. Then again, Bridget thinks anyone outside of Brooklyn has a strange accent. She’s not able to give them more than that but she is able to describe the man to a sketch artist.

Lanie’s tests confirm Zack was knocked unconscious with a chlorine soaked rag, which is fitting seeing as how he died in a pool. Esposito’s research into Zack’s financials uncover something fishy. Zack’s mom was living paycheck to paycheck and NCAA rules prohibited Zack from accepting money from anyone outside his family, yet Zack still managed to cover the half of his tuition his scholarship didn’t cover and buy his books. Zack didn’t have a job, nor did he take out student loans, so where did the money come from?

Castle and Beckett take a visit to Zack’s apartment to find it’s been completely ransacked, only, everything of value was left behind. Castle finds some strange medical equipment, a blood pressure cuff, plaque scraper, but nothing that screams of any wrong doing. It appears the culprit wasn’t there to rob the place but was looking for something specific. But what? Castle wonders if the culprit found what he was looking for just as a slamming door causes a well timed gust, which ruffles a poster on the wall. Behind the poster there’s a hole in the wall. Castle reaches in and pulls out a bag of vials containing what he believes to be anabolic steroids. Beckett reminds him that Lanie’s tests confirmed Zack was clean, so why would he have steroids?

Another consultation with Lanie proves Castle was right, the vials do contain steroids. But these aren’t just any steroids, these are designed to be virtually untraceable. Even with this new information, Lanie’s tests still prove Zack was clean. Lanie has heard rumors of such drugs being developed in Eastern Europe, which prompts Castle to remember Bridget’s description of the man with the hard to identify accent.

Several theories are thrown around, the most prominent being that Zack was a drug dealer, but there’s nothing to substantiate that theory. Castle and Beckett seem to be stuck until Castle’s new protege, Alex Conrad, appears. Alex throws in his two cents, even if they didn’t ask for it, suggesting the steroids are nothing more than a red herring. Maybe the steroids have nothing to do with the case, maybe they’re doing nothing more than distracting them from the other pieces of the puzzle. At least, that’s the way Alex would write it. Beckett thinks he’s right, maybe they’ve been looking at the case all wrong. One bright idea and Castle is ready to rush Alex out the door, but Alex is more interested in asking Beckett a few questions for his own case, as long as Castle’s alright with it. And why wouldn’t he be? Except, he’s not and Castle barely manages to disguise his jealousy. Beckett gives Alex her number and tells him to call her when he’s done with Castle, she’d be more than happy to answer a few of his questions.

Back at home, Castle thinks about ways to exact revenge on Alex for stealing his muse. Castle decides to remove his glowing review of Alex’s book from his website and replace it with cover art for his own new book, “Heat Rises.” (In a ploy of marketing genius, you can really visit Castle’s website at: http://www.richardcastle.net/) Thankfully, Alexis manages to talk some sense into Castle and makes him see he’s being a little immature about the way he’s handling the situation.

At the precinct, Castle is having a hard time keeping his jealousy in check when he learns Beckett spent the evening with Alex, strictly answering his questions, of course. Alex even sent Beckett a muffin basket as a thank you. Apparently Alex doesn’t know pancakes are the perfect, edible way to say, “Thank you so much for last night.” But before Castle’s immaturity can rise again, Ryan comes up with a hit after running Zack’s fingerprints. It turns out Zack’s prints were found all over a car stolen just two weeks before. Castle suddenly realizes what the strange medical equipment at Zack’s apartment is for. The blood pressure cuff and plaque scraper are, believe it or not, tools for breaking into cars, which leads them to Zack’s friend and fellow car thief, Tommy Marcone (guest star Andrew Lawrence).

As the duo heads to a bar, a favorite hang out of Zack’s, Beckett gets a text from Alex that makes her all giggly. Did she suddenly forget she already has a boyfriend named Dr. Motorcycle Boy? Again, this bothers Castle but, yet again, he manages to push it aside. The partners enter the bar to find Tommy. Tommy doesn’t have to much to say but while Beckett is busy interviewing him, the bartender slips Castle a name – Jimmy Lennon. Esposito runs the name and discovers Jimmy’s mug shot matches the sketch of the man Bridget saw arguing with Zack.

The team finds Jimmy in a chop shop but he’s not their killer either. However, Castle uncovers a car with the license plate SWM4GLD. The car is registered to Brian Morris, who is not only one of Zack’s teammates, but also his main rival. Upon further inspection of the car, Castle finds a vile of the same steroids found in Zack’s apartment.

This time Beckett has Tommy brought down to the station. Tommy caves and admits he and Zack stole Brian’s car to get back at him for spiking Zack’s food before a swim meet to make him sick. Zack won the meet anyway but knew Brian was behind the stunt and wanted revenge. After stealing Brian’s car, Zack and Tommy searched it for any unwanted surprises, which is when they found the vile of steroids and knew Brian was using. Tommy urged Zack to turn Brian in and get him completely banned from swimming.

Beckett brings Brian in for questioning, along with his overpaid lawyer, but Brian swears he was at home practicing at the time of the murder. Not only does he have timestamped video surveillance of his whereabouts, several of the staff and his family members are willing to swear under oath Brian was at home that night. Castle doesn’t think Brian looks like someone who would kill to exact his revenge, but he does think Brian looks like someone who would pay somebody else to do his dirty work for him. Ryan looks into Brian’s financials and discovers Brian had a savings bond worth $25,000 that he cashed out three days after his car was reported stolen, more than enough to hire a hit man. Just as this theory begins to hold water, Esposito comes back from a search of Tommy’s place with $25,000 in cash, each stack wrapped with a band marked Greenwich Federal Bank, the same bank Brian cashed his bond at.

Castle and Beckett question Tommy again. Tommy admits he may have gotten Zack killed but he wasn’t the one to kill him. Tommy posed as Zack so he could blackmail Brian, threatening to turn Brian in for using steroids unless he paid up.

A look into Brian’s phone calls shows he only made one call after receiving the threatening email. He called his father. In return, Brian’s father called a doctor named Dr. Calabro, suggesting the doctor not only knew about Brian’s steroid use but possibly supplied them as well. Dr. Calabro adamantly denies ever giving Brian, or anyone, steroids, but admits that Brian’s father may have called him to ask for ways an athlete could avoid drug testing. If an athlete is injured and withdraws from competition, he doesn’t have to undergo drug testing, and suddenly Brian has a shoulder injury and can no longer compete. How convenient.

Ryan is able to track the steroids back to a lab in Romania, but they still need to be able to connect Brian to the lab. Just as they reach a standstill for the day, Alex arrives to take Beckett out again, only this time Castle is not going to let his muse go so easily. While Beckett goes to grab her coat, Castle tells Alex what a shame it is he’ll have to miss poker night. Castle had planned on inviting Alex to sit in on mystery writers poker night since authors Michael Connelly and Dennis J. Lehane would be there, but he understands that Alex already made plans with Beckett. It takes Alex all of three seconds to change his mind and cancel his plans with Beckett so he can hang out with Castle, Connelly and Lehane instead. I must say, well played, Castle.

During poker night, there’s a touching little tribute to the late, great Stephen J. Cannell, reminding us how much he’s missed. Once Alex takes a seat, and gets over being star struck, the game begins, along with a little good natured hazing. Poker night helps put Alex’s ego in check, just as Castle hoped it would, and all the talk about the case helps Castle to figure it all out. Maybe the killer is the person, besides Brian, with the most to lose. But who has the most to lose?

The next day in the interrogation room, Castle and Beckett question Coach Rome. Coach Rome insists his swimmers don’t take steroids, nor has he ever given steroids to any of his team. But it doesn’t take long for Beckett to link Coach Rome to Romania. Rome is adamant he’s only been to Romania to visit some of his wife’s family, but his story quickly begins to fall apart. Rome admits he originally came to coach at UNY because of Brian, only shortly after taking the position, Brian began to peak, losing the characteristics that made him a great swimmer to begin with. Brian’s father turned to Coach Rome for help, willing to do whatever it took to keep Brian swimming at the top of his game, even if it meant donating lots and lots of money to the swim program. But it wasn’t just about the money for Rome, this wasn’t the first time he’d used steroids to bring one of his swimmers to fame.

When Zack discovered the steroids in Brian’s car, he was conflicted about what to do, so he’d turned to his mentor for advice, “Rocket” Rob. As Zack explained the situation to Rob, Rob realized Coach Rome had given Brian the same steroids he’d given him back when Rome was his coach. If Zack turned Brian in, it would only be a matter of time before Coach Rome’s swimmers were all under scrutiny, and if anyone found out Rob had been taking steroids too, all of his medals and endorsements would be stripped away. The only way Rob could keep that from happening was to kill Zack and silence him forever, and with a party full of people to be his alibis, it was easy to slip out unnoticed.

While Castle muses about the mentor killing his mentee, Beckett wants to know just what happened at their poker game the night before. Alex told her the guys were all pretty hard on him, while Castle insists they were just having a little fun at Alex’s expense. Beckett thinks Castle was trying to teach Alex a lesson for spending so much time with her and calls Castle out on it. Castle starts to deny it but realizes it’s pointless and admits to being jealous. He doesn’t care if it makes him sound petty, the idea of Beckett spending time with another writer upsets him. Castle braces for Beckett’s reaction, but instead of agreeing with him, Beckett thinks it’s sweet that he’s so jealous and upset over her spending time with Alex. Beckett assures Castle he has nothing to worry about. From now on she’s “a one writer girl,” which instantly draws flashbacks to the Season 1 episode, “Nanny McDead” when Beckett tells Castle she’s “more of a ‘one and done’ type” when it comes to marriage. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely seeing a connection here.

Once Beckett’s words sink in, Castle starts to feel a bit guilty about the way he’s been treating Alex, but Beckett assures him Alex will be just fine. Just then, Alex walks up with Esposito and Ryan, who is telling Alex a story that sounds very much like what happened to them in “Knockdown” when they were held captive. Except, the line that Ryan feeds Alex as the punchline was actually said by Ryan himself while being tortured. That aside, the boys have a good laugh about it and stop to tell Beckett and Castle that they’re taking Alex to Rikers Island for a little research. Castle and Alex make amends, and Alex heads off with Ryan while Esposito stops to ask Castle if it’s weird for a man to be another man’s muse. Castle doesn’t think it’s weird. Neither does Beckett. But the moment Esposito walks off, Castle and Beckett both agree it’s a little weird. Alone again, Castle thanks Beckett, who answers with Castle’s usual reply of “always.” The pair share a smile before Beckett heads back to her desk, while a still smiling Castle takes his seat beside her and watches her work.

Things We Learned From This CASTLE Episode:

  • Beckett knows how to take time to stop and smell the roses…and check out the ultra fit swimmers.
  • Captain Montgomery not only has a son, but two daughters as well. Who knew?
  • Castle and Esposito’s bromance is starting to rival Ryan and Esposito’s bromance.Castle’s first apartment included cockroach races. How quaint.
  • Just as you don’t steal Beckett’s coffee, you never steal Castle’s muse. Some things are just off limits.
  • Beckett knows exactly how to push Castle’s buttons and she’s not afraid to use it to her advantage either.
  • Castle and Beckett have finally gotten past their phone sharing issues. No more ear twisting here.
  • Castle is a fan of Rocky and Bullwinkle. But really, who isn’t?
  • Sometimes one word can be just as important as three little words.
  • Beckett no longer seems creeped out by Castle watching her work.

Written by Stephanie Guenzler. Find her on Twitter @pure_believer.

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