Season 4, Episode 9 (67)
Original Air Date - November 21, 2011
A sniper is on the loose and seems to be killing indiscriminately, causing Beckett's post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to return with a vengeance. While the gang races the clock to find the killer before he claims more victims, Castle struggles with how to help his partner.
- Nathan Fillion - Richard Castle
- Stana Katic - Kate Beckett, Detective
- Susan Sullivan - Martha Rodgers (Castle's mother)
- Molly C. Quinn - Alexis Castle (Castle's daughter)
- Jon Huertas - Javier Esposito, Detective
- Seamus Dever - Kevin Ryan, Detective
- Tamala Jones - Lanie Parish, Medical Examiner
- Penny Johnson Jerald - Victoria Gates, Captain
- Michael Dorn - Dr. Carter Burke
- Scott Michael Campbell - Lee Travis
- Alexis Carra - Julie
- Marcus Choi - EMT
- Tony Elias - Chris Nunez
- Christina Ferraro - Sarah Vasquez
- Natalie Lander - Marie
(Beckett hangs up her phone as Castle approaches)
Castle: Who was that?
Beckett: Personal business, Castle.
Castle: Really? Who was it, inquiring minds want to know.
Beckett: Well if you must know, his name is Roger.
Castle: (chuckles) Roger?
Beckett: Don't make fun. Do you know what he has that few men have?
Castle: A Josh Groban CD? Hummel figurines?
Beckett: No, not even close. Roger has the most incredible... resistance band.
Castle: (eyes widen) A resistance band? What is that, is that what I think it is?
Beckett: For strength training. He's my physical therapist.
Beckett: You guys, you don’t have to avoid the word on my account.
Esposito: What word?
Castle: (to Lanie and Esposito) Even I noticed.
Lanie: We weren’t avoiding anything.
Esposito: It was her [Lanie's] idea.
(talking about Beckett getting abnormally scared by a police siren at a crime scene)
Castle: You know, it was just a startled response. It could happen to anyone.
Beckett: Well, I’m not anyone.
Castle: No, I’m just saying.
Beckett: Just don’t!
Beckett: No! You don’t understand! I need to be ok.
Dr. Burke: It’s not always a choice, Kate.
Beckett: Listen, people are dying out there. I don’t have time to get all weepy over a couple of scars.
Dr. Burke: OK. So what’s the alternative? Walking around feeling like you have crosshairs on your back? Thinking every glint off a window is a sniper’s scope?
Dr. Burke: Well, for one, I think you should consider stepping away from the case.
Beckett: You don’t think I can handle this?
Dr. Burke: I’m saying you don’t have to. You’re not the only cop in the city, Kate.
Castle: How worried should I be about Beckett? She’s never snapped at me like that before…and meant it.
Castle: We’re gonna catch this guy.
Beckett: Yeah, like we caught the guy that shot me.
Beckett: What is that?
Esposito: It’s the rifle that shot you.
Beckett: You are way out of line.
Esposito: Just look at it.
Beckett: No! What the hell are you doing?
Esposito: I’ve been where you are. I know what you’re going through.
Beckett: Javi, I’m fine.
Esposito: You’re not fine! You’re just trying to act like you are. This is just a tool. It’s a hunk of steel. It has no magical powers and the person that fired it is not some all-powerful God. He’s just a guy with a gun just like the guy we’re hunting now. And like every other bad guy he’s damaged goods.
Beckett: So am I.
Esposito: That’s right. And that’s okay. You think it’s a weakness. Make it a strength. It’s a part of you. So use it.
Beckett: I know what it feels like to be in those crosshairs, to feel the bullet burn through my chest. I know what it feels like to have my life leave my body. And I think you do too, that’s why you keep leaving those paper dolls behind because you’re looking for somebody to help you find another way.
Lee Travis: There is no other way. Not anymore.
Beckett: No, no, no. There’s always another way.
Beckett: If you’re gonna shoot me, you look at me in the eyes. OK? And you look hard, ‘cause I am not your enemy. I can’t be. You and I have too much in common.
Beckett: What are you doing?
Castle: Just waiting for my partner. Maybe you’ve seen her. Pretty girl, thinks she can leap tall buildings in a single bound, carries the weight of the world on her shoulders yet still manages to laugh at some of my jokes.
Beckett: She sounds like a handful.
Castle: Tell me about it. Anyway, if you do see her, tell her she owes me about a hundred coffees. (gets up to leave)
Beckett: Castle? Thank you.
Castle: For what?
Beckett: For not pushing and giving me the space to get through this.
Beckett: I wanna be more than who I am, but I don’t know if I know how to do that without letting my mom down.
Dr. Burke: She’s dead, Kate. You can’t let her down. The only person you can let down is yourself. Her death is a part of you and you’re gonna have to make peace with that just like you’re going to have to make peace with the scars of your shooting. But it doesn’t have to limit you.
Beckett: How am I supposed to let go?
Dr. Burke: I can help you. But the question is are you ready?
Beckett: Yeah, I think I am.
- B-Bang - Unreleased" performed by B.et.a and the Neon Panthers
- This episode won a 2012 PRISM Award (Drama Series episode - Mental Health category) for its depiction of Beckett's post-traumatic stress disorder. Stana Katic and Jon Huertas won individual awards for their performances. The PRISM Awards are annual awards organized by the Entertainment Industries Council to recognize the accurate depiction of substance abuse disorders, addiction, and mental health issues in various entertainment formats.
Full Episode Recap
Two women walk down the street talking about one’s upcoming wedding. All of a sudden, one of the women falls dead, with her blood splattering all over her friend, who screams for help.
Richard Castle and Detective Kate Beckett approach the scene as Beckett ends a phone call. After Castle inquires, Beckett tells him it was Roger, her physical therapist, who she still has to see for another few week. She greets Detective Javier Esposito who fills them in on their victim: Sarah Vasquez, who was leaving yoga class with a classmate when she was killed. Beckett immediately identifies the cause of death as a bullet wound straight to the heart and Esposito says nobody nearby heard a shot or saw a shooter. Medical Examiner Lanie Parish puts in that the bullet’s trajectory angle suggests it went through Sarah from front to back. Esposito says yoga was a regular thing for Sarah, and Beckett tells him to look at any enemies who might have known she was there.
Later at the precinct, Beckett interviews Sarah’s fiancée, Chris, who remembers her telling him about a strange guy she saw lurking outside her work and outside yoga class on separate days, but he can’t remember a description.
At Beckett’s desk, Detective Kevin Ryan says Sarah’s yoga class was common knowledge to her friends. Beckett’s cell phone rings as she asks him to look at co-workers of Sarah’s. She answers and Esposito says Lanie found something.
At the morgue, Lanie and Esposito imply that the bullet that killed Sarah was fired by a sniper, but don’t use the word out of concern for Beckett. Esposito brings up a map of the area and points out several buildings as possible nests. Beckett then tells them to stop avoiding the word, so Esposito moves on, saying the shooter is as good as any he served with when he was in the military and that none of Sarah's friends know anything about a guy following her as her fiancée said. Castle wonders if, in this case, there is no motive and that Sarah was targeted randomly.
Later when alone in her apartment, Beckett fingers her scar and begins having flashbacks to her own shooting. Meanwhile, the next morning, the sniper targets another victim and fires.
At the crime scene, Esposito tells Beckett and Castle that their latest victim is Henry Wyatt and it looks like the same shooter killed him. Beckett now has trouble focusing, with loud noises, like slamming car doors distracting her. Esposito continues that the sniper aimed for Wyatt’s head this time, meaning he is getting more confident. Lanie shows Beckett the bullet, saying it is the same caliber, but that the angle of entry is different, meaning the killer shot from a higher elevation, causing Beckett to be distracted by every glint of sunlight off the surrounding buildings. Beckett shakes off Lanie’s question if she is ok. Esposito says the shooter most likely scouted out his location so he could factor in all the variables that could affect his shot then finds a green flag hanging off a nearby sign and says it would make the perfect wind gauge. Beckett says they should try to pull traffic camera footage in hopes it caught the shooter’s identity, but drops to the ground immediately when a squad car pulls up next to her and blares its siren. Esposito, Castle, and Lanie all look at each other with concern.
At the precinct, Captain Victoria Gates briefs everyone on the situation, but Beckett has trouble concentrating. Ryan explains that Wyatt liked to walk to work, meaning he had a predictable routine like Sarah Vasquez and Esposito says their canvas of nearby buildings has come up empty for a possible sniper’s nest. Castle, having seen Beckett’s worried look, tries to reassure her, saying the squad car would have startled anyone, but she snaps at him, getting everyone’s attention. Gates asks Beckett for possible links between both victims and she says they haven’t found any. As Gates wraps up the briefing, Beckett steps away, merely telling a curious Castle she has something to do. Ryan stops her, saying they succeeded in finding footage of the shooter on a traffic camera, but she walks away.
At her therapist’s office, Beckett insists to Dr. Burke that she needs to be ok to solve the case. He tells her she is exhibiting classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that it won’t go away until she deals with issues relating to her own shooting. She promises to do so, but demands to know how to make her symptoms stop. He says she needs to give it time, which she says she doesn’t have. He suggests the alternatives are stressing that the next sniper’s bullet is for her or taking take herself off the case. She refuses, pronouncing herself fine, and leaves.
Back in the precinct conference room, Castle asks Esposito how worried he should be about Beckett. He says the case could bring back any memory of her own shooting that doesn’t want to remember and that the only thing they can do is catch the shooter and give her space. On the video footage, they see a man in a hooded sweatshirt stick the flag to the sign, but never see his face. Ryan figures the guy knows where the camera is and Esposito says he is taunting them by choosing that location for his next target. Esposito then answers his ringing cell phone and hangs up after a quick conversation. He tells Castle that a uniformed officer found the nest from where Wyatt was shot.
They enter the nest and Esposito aims a scope in the direction that matches the trajectory of the bullet that killed Wyatt. He says that a better shot would have been from the roof since his sight line would be partially obstructed by a tree. Castle then notices a small paper doll with what looks like artwork printed on one side in a corner of a window. Esposito puts the doll in an evidence bag and recreates where the shooter would have stood to line up his shot. As a result, he finds a shell casing.
Back at the precinct, Beckett rides the elevator up to homicide, but has trouble breathing and controlling her shaking hands. She exits the elevator and her senses are assaulted by voices and cops running in all directions. Castle hails her and Esposito explains that the shell casing had a fingerprint on it that matched Marcus Ford, a former Special Forces sniper. He boards the elevator to go pick up Ford, but Beckett hangs back and Castle volunteers that they’ll review Ford’s background in preparation for his interrogation. Esposito agrees and casts Castle a knowing look as the doors shut.
In interrogation, Ford denies that he shot anyone, except while in the military. The more he denies the harder Beckett is on him, saying she thinks he should be on the other side of the scope and guesses that he liked killing in the service, so he decided to keep it up in civilian life. Castle tells him about his fingerprint on the shell casing and again he denies any knowledge of the shootings, which Beckett says is a lie. He then lawyers up.
Outisde, Esposito says none of his weapons matched the bullets and Gates says his alibi for both shootings checked out. Esposito guesses his fingerprint got on the casing when a new bullet was reloaded into it. Gates tells Beckett and Castle to get Ford’s help, but Castle doubts he’ll help them at all now. Esposito calmly volunteers to play good cop to get what he can out from Ford. Beckett heads back to her desk where she again begins reliving her own shooting until Castle’s offer of coffee breaks her thoughts. He tries to ask if she is ok, but she cuts him off, so he tells her about the paper doll, which he guesses came from a coffee table book of artwork since the paper stock is thicker than regular paper. Esposito returns saying Ford didn’t recognize the shooter. Beckett’s cell phone rings and she tells both that Ryan found the nest from where Sarah Vasquez was shot.
They enter the nest and Ryan finds another paper doll similar to the one found in the other nest. Castle notices the image on one side is different from the other, meaning they must have some kind of significance. Beckett angrily says the killer is just trying to taunt them. Esposito then finds some moleskin, which he says snipers will wrap around their weapons to absorb sweat so the weapon doesn’t slip out of their hands. Ryan hopes they can get DNA from the sample and Beckett sends them away to try. She then muses over how the shooter saw Sarah’s face before he shot her. Castle tries to reassure her that they’ll catch the guy, but she is doubtful, since the sniper who shot her is still free.
That night at her apartment, Beckett drinks hard liquor to calm her suffering, but it doesn’t help. She frantically closes the blinds in her apartment and breaks a glass top coffee table when the memories of her shooting come flooding back again. She scrambles over the broken glass, cutting her wrist, picks up her service revolver, and huddles in a corner, terrified.
The next morning, Castle’s mother, Martha, finds her son in his office in his loft, having been up most of the night. His daughter, Alexis, joins them, and upon overhearing her father talk about the sniper, says she is skipping school. Martha worries about Beckett and Castle says she is acting fine, but he knows she isn’t and that the only thing he can do is to try to find the significance of the dolls. Alexis examines the one from the second nest and suggests possible painters who may have created the artwork. Castle searches online and comes across one painting called “The Persecution of Kings” which is a match.
Meanwhile, at the precinct, Beckett watches the video footage of the sniper putting the flag on the sign over and over again. Ryan tells her and Captain Gates that the DNA from the moleskin couldn’t be matched to anyone in their database, but the lab was able to narrow the identity of its owner down to males with light brown hair, leaving over 200 possible suspects. Castle arrives and begins breathlessly explaining how the paper dolls are a clue to where the sniper will kill next. The first one came from “The Persecution of Kings” and Wyatt was killed on King Street; the second was from a painting called “A Fall from Grace”, meaning there are about a dozen possible locations for the next shooting. Then every phone in the precinct rings.
Later on, Beckett arrives outside a large office building, the Grace Point Tower, where the third shooting took place. She is buffeted by cops and panicking people, but still looks upward, worried of another strike. Castle gets her attention and they hurry inside the building just as the next victim, Emily Reese, is being wheeled out, alive, but in shock. Beckett tries to question her, but she only begs to know why she was targeted. She grabs Beckett’s arm and becomes emotional, causing Beckett to lose control herself. She tells the paramedic to take Emily away then runs off into a secluded hallway where she strips off her jacket, badge, and gun. She bursts into tears and collapses to the floor.
Back at the precinct, Castle pleads with Esposito to help Beckett. They watch as Beckett exits the elevator and heads for her desk. Castle reminds him how he is the only one who has any idea about what she’s going through, so he is the only one who can really help her.
Beckett follows Esposito calmly into the evidence storage room where he slowly lifts the gun that shot her onto a table. Beckett recoils instantly and starts to cry, but Esposito persists, telling her he knows she is not fine, but that she is acting like she is. He tells her the weapon has no special powers and is, therefore, nothing to be afraid of. Beckett says she considers herself damaged goods and Esposito reassures her that such a feeling is ok, but she needs to make it a strength so she can catch their current sniper. Beckett steps forward and slowly takes hold of the rifle.
Outside, Ryan tells Gates he has no idea why Emily Reese was targeted since she has no known connections to the other victims, except that the sniper was following her. In the conference room, they and Castle watch security footage of Emily Reese’s office building and see her board an elevator then the sniper step into the frame. Esposito says the he failed to kill her because he used a type of ammunition that isn’t as effective when it has to travel through glass, meaning the he isn’t as experienced as he thought. Castle notices that the coffee cup the killer is holding has the same logo on its side as the one Emily was carrying. Ryan blows up the footage and identifies the coffee shop, of which Castle says only one location exists.
Back at the sniper’s nest, Beckett aims the gun that shot her out the window, trying to match the killer’s line of fire. She still cannot figure out why he shot from the window and not the roof, so she makes her way in that direction. However, she finds it impossible, given that she isn’t up to full strength, to climb the ladder to the roof while holding the rifle. She lowers herself as a realization strikes her.
At the precinct, Ryan and Esposito say the coffee is the link between all victims: it is close to Emily Reese’s work, it is across the street from Wyatt’s therapist’s office, and Sarah Vasquez stopped there before. Gates tells them to pay it a visit since the clock is ticking on the next victim.
At the coffee shop, the owner recognizes all three victims as regulars, but doesn’t recognize the sniper. He steps away to take a phone call and Castle listens to the other patrons celebrating various successes and realizes all their victims also had recent successes. Going by his psychological profile, the shooter feels alienated and alone and like all the success in the world is passing him by, so he targets those with good fortune out of revenge. Beckett then enters and she and Esposito exchange subtle grins. She explains that the shooter didn’t use the roof because he must be injured in such a way that he couldn’t climb up the ladder to access it. She adds that in the video there’s a hitch in his step, meaning he might be disabled. When the coffee shop owner returns, Castle asks him about a customer with a limp and he remembers a homeless guy with a prosthetic leg who has been hanging around.
Using the new information about a disability, the gang narrows possible killers down to three. Castle picks out Lee Travis, based on a sketch generated by the coffee shop owner’s description. Later, Beckett briefs Gates on how Travis served in the Marines, but lost his right leg in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident, so he was honorably discharged, but the driver was never caught. His counselor said his depression turned into anger and that one of the low-paying jobs he took was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where his former supervisor said he spent lots of time studying the same paintings he used for the paper dolls. Gates asks about family and Ryan says Esposito is trying to track down his sister who lives in Queens.
Beckett and Castle interview Lee’s sister who admits he’s been very angry since the accident and that she gave up trying to help him since he didn’t want any. She last saw him a month ago when he asked if he could move in with her since he lost his apartment, but she refused out of fear for her family. She says she gave him her old car and writes down the license plate number as Beckett’s cell phone rings. Beckett ends the call quickly and says uniformed officers found the third nest from where Travis shot Emily Reese. His sister asks Beckett not hurt Lee, and she gives a small smile in response.
Castle and Beckett search the nest for the next paper doll, which Castle finds. He picks it up and gasps since it folds out to indicate that Travis is targeting a group of a dozen people.
Back at the precinct, Beckett tells Gates that patrol cars found Travis’ car and bullets in the trunk that match those used in the other shootings, but no sign of his rifle. Castle runs into the office saying the picture on the one side of the dolls was taken from a painting called “Lions in the Meadow” and Gates says the only meadow she knows of in the city is Central Park and tells Beckett and Esposito to go to the park and get in position for when they figure out the target and Ryan to find out what events are planned in the park for that morning. As Beckett gets on the elevator, she calls for Castle to join her, but he decides to stay behind and help Ryan. Esposito nods that he did the right thing and the doors close. In another part of town, Lee Travis sets up his rifle.
Castle and Gates narrow down the shooter’s best angle as being on the south end of the park due to tree cover. Ryan arrives and says one event planned for that area is a high school’s celebration for having won a state track and field championship. Castle then observes that the high school is three blocks away from the coffee shop and the team name is the lions, matching the painting on the dolls. Ryan adds that they should be headed into the park by bus right now. Gates gets on the phone to the tactical team and tells Ryan to stop the bus. As the students on the bus celebrate, and the driver fails to notice his ringing cell phone, Lee Travis waits with his finger on the trigger.
Beckett and her team arrive at the entrance to the building that has been identified as giving Travis the best vantage point into the park. Beckett steps off on one floor and slowly searches. She enters an empty suite of offices as Travis cocks his gun. She finds the inner office where he is posted, bursts inside, but is knocked to the ground by Travis and loses her gun. He pulls a hand gun of his own and aims it at her. She asks him to put the gun down, but he refuses, saying he has a job to do and that God took from him to bless his victims. Beckett reveals her own scar to tell him how she is no different from him and that she knows he leaves the dolls behind as a cry for help. She offers to get him help, but he refuses again and tells her to turn around. She refuses, saying that if he is going to kill her, he will have to look her in the eyes. He begins to lower his gun then changes his mind. He takes aim at Beckett’s head, then drops dead just before he pulls the trigger. Beckett looks outside a window and sees Esposito lower his own rifle and exhale a heavy breath.
Back at the precinct, Beckett approaches Castle who sits in the chair next to her desk. He says he is just waiting for his partner, who has gone missing lately and jokes that if she sees her, she should tell her she owes him about a hundred coffees. He stands up to leave and Beckett thanks him for giving her the space to get through the case and her issues. He answers “Always” and leaves.
Later on, Beckett has another session with Dr. Burke. She admits that she thought taking down Lee Travis would end her issues, but it didn’t. She also says she realized that the same issues have been there ever since her mother was killed and though that event and its resultant feelings have defined her and made her who she is, she wants to be more, but doesn’t know how without letting her mom down. Dr. Burke says she can only let herself down and that she will have to make peace with her mom’s death and with the scars from her shooting. He adds that doing so doesn’t have to limit her and that he can help her let go of it all, but only if she is ready. Beckett says she thinks she is.
- Sarah Vasquez
- Henry Wyatt
- Emily Reese (survived)
- Sarah Vasquez
- Cause of Death: Shot by a sniper
- Perp:Lee Travis
- Motive: Revenge: He was a former Marine and was honorably discharged after losing a leg in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident. The guilty person was never caught, so he sought to ruin others' lives just as his had been ruined.