Before I get on with this week’s episode recap, I’d like to apologize for not writing one for “Hunt”, especially considering that it was quite possibly the best episode in the entire season so far and one of the best episodes in the show, full stop. But that was a brutal week for me, and regretfully, I couldn’t get to it until Sunday. By then, I figured that it was fairly pointless – better late than never is one thing, entirely too late is another. But now on to the latest episode, and the recap that I did write.
I started watching yesterday’s episode of Castle knowing nothing about the episode except that it was written by Shalisha Francis, the woman who just so happened to write one of the most hilarious episodes of the season – “After Hours”. Knowing this tiny piece of information, I prepared myself to enjoy a fun episode, and “Scared to Death” didn’t disappoint.
When Val Butler is found dead from no apparent cause in her apartment, her face frozen in a look of horror, the clock still marking midnight and several books about urban legends spread throughout the apartment, Castle quickly concludes that she was expecting to be killed by a spirit. His theory is further supported by the call she made to 911 minutes before her death, during which she said “it’s coming for me.” Not he or she, it. As per usual, Beckett and Esposito don’t waste any time letting him know he’s wrong, while Ryan, as per usual as well, works as some sort of middle ground.
The victim’s roommate Amanda tells Beckett that Val was afraid of her ex-boyfriend, Freddie Baker, against whom she had presented a restraining order. The team thinks they’re on the right track when the surveillance camera places him at the crime scene the night of the murder. However, when interrogated, Freddie denies everything: he claims that Val had called him, saying she wanted to get back together, and then had accused him of sending her a package. Upon hearing him deny it, Val had panicked and said “it’s real.”
Castle and Beckett march back to Butler’s apartment in search of this mystery package. They find that it contained a cursed DVD, one that Castle accidentally watches. The DVD consists in a series of images and the words “you saw; the night of the third day, you die.” Never one to turn a superstition down, he becomes convinced that he will be dead in three days time. Not exactly braver, Ryan and Esposito refuse to watch the tape, so Beckett takes up the task. While she admits that it is creepy, she maintains that the murderer is not a spirit but a regular human being. Castle, on his side, now believes that they’re both going to be dead three days later.
But wait! The plot thickens. They find out that the package was sent by a man named Jason Bennett. Do we have our killer yet? Nope. We don’t. It turns out, Bennett is dead too. He died in exactly the same way Butler did, three days after receiving the same DVD. Desperate to find a way to counter what he thinks is the spirit, Castle calls friend and real life horror genius Wes Craven, who made a guest appearance in the episode, to consult on a case for a script he allegedly wants to write. After being told to do research on the spirit, Castle tweets the images and waits for his followers to share anything they might know. And it works! One of the images in the video belongs to an inn where both Val and Jason once stayed in order to serve as witnesses for a murder trial. Beckett’s initial theory that the man they testified against, Nigel Malloy, is responsible for these deaths too runs into a dead end when they find out that Malloy has been dead for years. Or doesn’t it?
Apparently, Malloy was a sort of Muggle Voldemort and claimed to have taken steps towards immortality. Since they have no way of proving this, not that Beckett believes it anyway, they focus on Nigel’s brother, Leopold, who’s locked up in a mental asylum. Leopold seems all the more suspicious when he lets it slip that he knows about both victims, instead of only the one Beckett and Castle were asking him about. But there’s no evidence, so they focus on the only other witness of that trial who received a copy of the DVD in question. Only, he kind of panicked and took off to a cabin in the woods. Of course, Castle and Beckett being Castle and Beckett follow suit.
Once in there, the lights go out, everything is exactly as it was in the other two murders and Beckett sees someone outside. While she’s out chasing who turns out to be Leopold’s nurse, the witness tells Castle the story of how all he, Val and Jason have blood on their hands: before the police caught Malloy, they wrongly accused an innocent man and pressured all three witnesses into identifying him. On the night of his third day in prison, this man electrocuted himself.
It all wraps up neatly shortly after: this man’s daughter – oh so surprisingly (not really) somebody we had already met, in this case Val’s roommate – was set on revenge, and killing the people who IDed her father the same way he killed himself.
We got few but wonderful snippets of relevant interaction between the characters, especially between Castle and Beckett. His bucket list, the one he pulled out when he first thought he was going to die and was about to put away at the end of the episode, includes, among other things, “be with Kate”. It’s the number one thing in the list, written three years ago. Both Beckett and the audience melted – quite like the ice cubes she intended to use to tempt Castle into breaking his horror movie-inspired decision not to have sex again until the three day deadline was over. It was a nice callback to her S3 line, “I do this one thing. With ice cubes,” that left Castle looking dumbstruck both times.
What did you think of the episode?