Season 5, Episode 13 (94)
Original Air Date - February 4, 2013
When U.S. Senator William Bracken, the man responsible for Beckett's mother's murder, is the target of an assassin, Beckett is faced with an impossible choice: protect Bracken or let the killer succeed.
- 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
- Jack Coleman - Senator Bracken
- Michael Dorn - Dr. Carter Burke
- Brett Rickaby - Robert McManus
- Erin Krakow - Julie Rogers
- Matt Kaminsky - Evan Howard
- David Grant Wright - Ben Moss
- Kristin Carey - Sheila Bracken
- Darren Dupree Washington - Security Aide
- Aaron Norvell - Officer
- J. Anthony McCarthy - Hotel Manager
- Michael A. DiBacco - Store Owner
- Elizabeth Pan - Reporter #1
- Bryan Okes Fuller - Reporter #2
- Hart Boykin - Homeless Man
- Ann Hu - Audio Tech
- Brittany Buckner - Melanie Rogers
Beckett: So what makes you so sure that Alexis isn’t serious about this guy?
Castle: Well, I haven’t met him or approved of him yet, so it can’t be serious. All suitors must be met and intimidated by me personally before they can be considered for official boyfriend status.
Esposito: You know I was really hoping the next time I saw this guy would be down the barrel of my gun.
Beckett: I was gonna finally put this guy away, Castle. And now I’m protecting the man that murdered my mother.
Senator Bracken: A man doesn’t get to my position without upsetting people along the way. Most of them aren’t crazy enough to want to try to kill me, present company excluded.
Beckett: You know, Senator, I’m not the one that you should be worried about right now.
Senator Bracken: It’s just us here, Detective. A shooter on the loose, me in the crosshairs, must be a dream come true for you.
Beckett: In my dreams, I’m the one that gets to pull the trigger, but you know what? If you’re not comfortable with me leading this investigation, you’re welcome to step outside and tell everyone why. (Senator Bracken settles back in his chair, conceding Beckett's point) Well, then I guess we’re stuck with each other. So then let me make one thing clear. This man killed Melanie Rogers and when someone commits murder, whoever he is Senator, I will bring him to justice no matter how long it takes.
Esposito: I’ll tell you something, if I’m her, I’ll sit in there shuffling papers till whoever it is puts a bullet in Bracken’s head.
Ryan: No you wouldn’t ‘cause that would make you no better than he is.
Esposito: The guy murdered Beckett’s mother, Captain Montgomery, who knows who else. Bracken’s got it coming to him, so I say, let him come.
Castle: Considering what he’s capable of, you would think Bracken would have more formidable enemies.
Beckett: Oh, obviously you never saw the letter that I sent him.
Castle: Oh, I did actually. I liked the way you dotted the “i” on kill with a little heart. Nice touch.
Beckett: Well, I was trying to give it a personal feel.
Castle: Well done.
Beckett: Go. I’ll call you if I need anything ok?
Castle: You really are remarkable, you know that?
Dr. Burke: Well, as a police officer you must have faced similar dilemmas.
Dr. Burke: Why is this time different?
Beckett: Because this time it’s feels like there’s no right choice.
Dr. Burke: Maybe the right choice is the one you can live with.
Beckett: I almost suppressed evidence. I was gonna burn that letter.
Castle: But you didn’t.
Beckett: I didn’t miss McManus. I looked him in the eye and I saw his pain and I couldn’t take that shot. What if I wanted him to get away, wanted him to go through with this, then what does that make me?
Beckett: He had a rifle, Castle, a rifle, a bomb. If he detonates that thing tonight at the conference and innocent people get hurt?
Castle: Ok, this is not your fault.
Beckett: How is it not my fault? I’m a cop. I had a job to do and I didn’t do it. I’ve gotta make this right. I’ve gotta find that bomb and save Bracken’s life.
Esposito: What makes you think he’s gonna talk to you?
Beckett: ‘Cause I know him.
Beckett: I know what it’s like to lose someone that you love, to live with that pain, to feel the rage towards the person responsible for it. Towards Bracken. He took someone close to me. He killed my mother and then he went after my friends. He even tried to kill me.
Capt. Gates: Is she talking about Bracken?
Castle: She’s just trying to get through to him anyway she can.
McManus: He killed my son. No one cared.
Beckett: I care.
McManus: He needs to pay.
Beckett: Not with a bomb, Robert. You and me, we’re not like him. We don’t hurt innocent people.
Castle: Any reason why he’d suddenly want you dead?
Senator Bracken: I assume because someone paid him a great deal of money.
Castle: You don’t seem shocked.
Senator Bracken: There’s another world out there, Mr. Castle, one that most people don’t see run by money, influence, power and the people in it will do anything they can to stay on top. But I assume that you already know that.
Castle: I wouldn’t have done it, you know. What she did. I’d have stood and watched.
Senator Bracken: Let me guess: untraceable wire transfers bounced through shadow accounts in Switzerland, the Middle East.
Castle: Just like you would have done.
Senator Bracken: You saved my life.
Beckett: Yeah, well, you can’t win ‘em all, can you?
Beckett: McManus’s son, was that you?
Senator Bracken: If I said no, would you really believe me?
Beckett: He’ll slip up eventually and when he does, I’ll be ready.
Full Episode Recap
A homeless man seeking warmth approaches a barrel with a fire burning inside, but instantly recoils when he sees a burned body in the bottom.
Detective Kate Beckett and Richard Castle arrive on the scene and find Medical Examiner Lanie Parish who briefs them on where the body was found and doubts that identification can be made. She does say that the body is that of a woman about 5’ 4” tall who had been shot in the head and whose teeth were all knocked out, meaning to Beckett that someone was determined that the victim not be identified. Detective Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito join them saying the other homeless men in the area didn’t see anything since they were panhandling all day. Beckett gives them what they know about the body and tells the guys to look through missing persons reports, but Lanie stops them, having extracted a screw from the victim’s jaw.
At the precinct, Ryan tells Beckett, Castle, and Esposito that the screw traced to Melanie Rogers, a doctoral student from New Jersey who was studying environmental engineering. Esposito reports that her phone records showed 6 calls to the same 202 phone number within a 20 minute period and Castle recognizes the area code as being that of Washington, D.C. Beckett tells him to get a warrant for the number and Esposito adds that Melanie made one other phone call around 4p.m. to her half-sister Julie. Beckett tells him to bring her in.
In the break room, Julie says she suspected Melanie was seeing someone since they had dinner a few nights ago and she said she planned on meeting someone later, but couldn’t give the person’s name. She denies speaking with Melanie the day she died, but checks her cell phone and finds a voice mail from her.
In the conference room later, Beckett and Castle sit with a tech and listen to Melanie’s last voice mail which records her own murder. She mentions an “XT3,” that someone is after her, and then is killed. Beckett guesses she was in a parking garage and Castle that she read off the license plate of the killer’s car. Beckett asks the tech to play the ending where she thought she heard something odd. The tech isolates the sound which Castle identifies as a Zippo lighter being clicked. Beckett now thinks they have a psychopath on the loose. Ryan interrupts saying whoever Melanie called after meeting her sister is in New York since a cab driver told him he drove her to the Standish Hotel, which is known for catering to the wealthy and powerful looking to be discrete about a liaison.
At the hotel, after some prodding, the concierge says he saw Melanie with Senator William Bracken, the man responsible for Beckett’s mother’s death. A little later, Beckett says Esposito confirmed that the number Melanie had been calling is Senator Bracken’s cell phone, meaning Bracken killed her to keep the affair quiet or something else Melanie stumbled upon. Beckett proclaims to Castle that this is the opportunity to bring Bracken to Justice that she had been looking for, only Castle tells her to be cautious since he’ll likely clam up if he sees her coming for him.
As Esposito and Ryan arrive at Bracken’s house, Esposito wonders how many deaths he’s ordered to get to his current position, but Ryan warns him to limit the questions to Melanie’s murder so he doesn’t get too suspicious. Inside, Bracken is in a meeting with powerful Political Action Committee Chair Ben Moss, who asks for Bracken’s help, but he refuses. Ryan and Esposito are led into the room and while Bracken thinks he recognizes them, he puts it aside when Ryan says they haven’t met before. In private, Bracken admits that Melanie was a sweet girl who had been helping him with the keynote address he will be giving later that week at an environmental conference to unveil an important piece of legislation. As Esposito presses him about his relationship with Melanie, he not only denies having an affair with her, but remembers that both of them work with Beckett and lawyers up.
At the precinct, Esposito suspects Bracken is guilty and gives his alibi of being at the environmental conference. Beckett says it’ll clear since he always sends someone else to do his dirty work and adds that an FBI analysis of Melanie’s voice mail picked up on the sounds of a construction crane in the background, meaning the parking garage where Melanie was killed is near a construction site. Ryan joins them confirming Bracken’s alibi and that Melanie was also at the conference, saying she was seen leaving at 3:45p.m. Ryan says the conference is being held at the Widmark Hotel and Beckett finds a construction site using the same type of crane as heard on her voice mail nearby, as well as a parking garage. A search of the parking garage turns up a stolen car with a license plate that begins with “XT3”. In the trunk, Beckett finds a duffel bag containing notebooks, floor plans for the Widmark Hotel, a high-powered sniper rifle, and photos of Bracken, meaning he isn’t their killer, but rather a target.
Back at the precinct, Beckett and Castle brief Captain Victoria Gates that they know someone was planning on shooting the Senator the next night at the environmental conference while he gives the keynote speech, meaning since they have no one in custody, Bracken is still in danger. Beckett says CSU is dusting the car and everything that was inside the duffel bag for fingerprints and they are looking into serial numbers found on the rifle. Castle guesses Melanie stumbled upon the shooter’s plot and was killed as a result. Gates leaves to take a call from the Mayor as Ryan comes up saying that the Widmark Hotel recently stopped someone from getting into the conference who didn’t have credentials and they provided a description. The man was also carrying a duffel bag matching the one found in the car and he was stopped around the same time Melanie left the conference, meaning she likely followed the man. Beckett tells him and Esposito to get a sketch of the man done and to circulate it ASAP. He leaves just as Senator Bracken enters the precinct. As their eyes meet, Beckett realizes how she now has to protect the man who killed her mother.
In the conference room, Captain Gates tells Senator Bracken how they can add additional officers to his protection detail, but that he really should cancel his speech. Bracken’s aide says the speech would get him noticed nationally and Bracken seals things when he refuses to be scared, no matter how ruthless the shooter may be. They stand to leave and when Captain Gates tells Bracken that Beckett is leading the investigation into Melanie’s death and his threat, he seems reluctant to cooperate, but eventually agrees.
In the break room, Beckett runs through the standard questions about threats and who might want to kill him, and Senator Bracken says his Chief of Staff keeps a file of all his threatening mail, but that most people aren‘t crazy enough to really want him dead. He supposes the whole situation is a dream come true for Beckett, but she corrects him, saying her dream is to be the one who shoots him. She also welcomes him to explain publicly why he doesn’t want to work with her and promises to do whatever is necessary to bring Melanie’s killer to justice. Getting the message, Bracken promises to send over the file of threatening mail.
Outside at the murder board, Esposito tells Ryan that if he were in Beckett’s position, he’d let Bracken be killed since he deserves whatever he has coming to him, but Ryan disputes this saying it will make him no better a person than Bracken himself. Captain Gates joins them for an update and Ryan tells her that the serial number on the rifle traced to a hunting store in New Jersey whose manager recognized the sketch of their suspect. Unfortunately, the address and contact information on the paperwork are fake. She tells him to canvas the area around the store with the sketches. Esposito reports that CSU found a receipt in the duffel bag with a partial fingerprint on it and that shows the purchase of a navy blue baseball cap which is reflected in the sketch. Also, the manufacturer is sending over a list of retailers who sell the hat, but it includes over 200 locations. Gates tells him to focus on the New Jersey locations first, since hopefully Beckett will have better luck with the threatening letters.
In the conference room, Beckett and Castle go through the letters and Castle is surprised by the amount of threats coming from people who merely are crazy. Beckett jokes that she sent the Senator a letter and Castle teases back that he liked the hearts she used to dot the “i” in “kill.” Beckett finds a letter where the handwriting matches that in the notebook found in the car from the parking garage, but she hides it from Castle and, noticing his yawning, sends him home promising to call if she needs anything. He agrees and leaves.
Later that night, Beckett meets with her therapist, Dr. Carter Burke, and explains that while she has faced similar dilemmas in the past, this time is different because there doesn’t seem to be a right choice, but Dr. Burke suggests that the right choice is whatever she can live with. Later on at her apartment, Beckett lifts a match to the letter.
The next morning, Castle arrives at the precinct with his and Beckett’s coffees and asks Ryan and Esposito if they’ve heard from or seen Beckett since he hasn’t been able to reach her on her phone. Ryan says they haven’t seen her and that his canvas around the gun store came up empty. Esposito adds that he’s had similar bad luck with the stores that sell the cap. Beckett arrives then, but lies that she had no luck in searching the letters last night. Noticing she seems distracted, Castle asks if she is ok and she tells him she needs a minute. She retreats into the break room and sees Captain Gates comforting Melanie’s half-sister. Beckett pulls out the letter she almost burned and decides to show it to the guys. But before she can, Esposito says that CSU found traces of motor oil and brake pad residue on the receipt from the duffel bag, indicating that their suspect is a mechanic and may have bought the hat at work. Beckett promises to give the guys a list of service stations within a five mile radius of the gun shop to canvas.
Ryan and Esposito arrive at their next station and find it closed temporarily, but Ryan sees navy blue caps like the one their suspect bought on a display inside. They rouse the owner who recognizes their sketch as being that of a former employee. He pulls work orders and they find the name of Robert McManus, a schizophrenic who recently suffered an episode when his son died.
Back at the precinct, Esposito says every beat cop has McManus’s photo and cops are watching his apartment in New Jersey, but his neighbors say he has a history of disappearing for weeks at a stretch. Ryan adds that his financials show that he went off the grid some time ago. Captain Gates pokes her head outside her office and says that a desk clerk at an apartment building recognized McManus as staying in his building.
Beckett, guys, and a SWAT team bust into McManus’s apartment, but find it empty. Beckett leaves to go talk to the manager, but bumps into McManus on her way to the elevator. She pulls her gun and tells him not to run, but he takes off. Beckett fires at him, but misses even though it was a close range shot.
In the break room, Beckett tells Castle that she didn’t miss McManus, but rather couldn’t shoot him after seeing the grief in his eyes. She also tells him about the letter and how McManus’s son had been working for Bracken’s campaign, but was found hung after he met with a reporter, making Beckett think Bracken killed him. She goes onto say how she almost burned the letter and wonders what kind of cop she is becoming. Captain Gates interrupts saying they found evidence of bomb making in McManus’s apartment, but no bomb meaning either he has it or he’s already planted it. When Gates leaves, Beckett becomes even more fearful that more innocent blood will be spilled because she didn’t do her job. Castle then sees Ryan and Esposito lead McManus into the precinct, but they say he isn’t talking.
In an interrogation room, Beckett gives McManus a key to unlock his handcuffs and describes how she knows exactly how he feels since Bracken had her mother killed then came after her and her friends. Castle watches from the observation room and hides his worry when Captain Gates enters. Gates becomes suspicious of what Beckett is doing, but Castle brushes it off as her attempt to get through to McManus. However, McManus doesn’t buy it since he figures she should want Bracken dead, but Beckett tells him they can’t sink to Bracken’s level. Gates ends the interrogation and brings Beckett outside where she says they found the bomb.
Later on, Captain Gates tells Bracken how McManus had stashed the explosives in a vest which was stored in a post office box and how he had obtained credentials for the conference. Bracken thanks Captain Gates, but she gives Beckett most of the credit. She steps into her office to update the Mayor and Bracken tells Beckett that he knows she missed shooting McManus.
That night, Castle brings a bottle of wine to Beckett’s apartment and finds the case file spread out on her coffee table. She insists that McManus has been set up since the strings on the explosive vest were tied neatly, but McManus couldn’t even button his shirt, and that Melanie’s body was treated so carefully as to render identification impossible, but then they found the duffel bag with the gun inside relatively easily, and McManus doesn’t smoke so why would a Zippo lighter be heard after Melanie was killed. It all doesn’t make sense to her, and while Castle encourages her to let it go, Beckett remains concerned that if her hunch is right and the bomb goes off, she won’t be able to live with herself. Castle reminds her that if she’s wrong, Bracken will likely ruin her career. Nevertheless, Beckett calls for an evacuation of the hotel where Bracken’s speech will take place.
Outside the hotel, Bracken is furious about the evacuation and becomes even more so when Beckett can’t offer any hard evidence supporting her theory other than she suspects someone close to him who had access to the threats file is the one trying to kill him. When the bomb squad reports finding no explosives in the room where Bracken was to speak, he becomes even more furious, accuses her of deliberately plotting to end his career since she couldn’t let McManus follow through on his threat, and vows to end her career. Beckett wonders how she could have been so wrong then guesses maybe the killer couldn’t get the bomb inside and has it set to go off somewhere else where he knows the Senator would be. She then hears the clicking of a Zippo lighter and sees Bracken’s driver clicking one. As the Senator nears his car, the driver pulls out a detonator and Beckett runs to Senator Bracken, knocking him out of harm’s way as the explosion goes off. Beckett helps the Senator up and tells Castle to catch the driver, which he does.
The next morning in the precinct observation room, Bracken and Castle watch as Beckett finishes interrogating Noah Charles, Bracken’s driver for the past five years. He suspects someone paid him a good deal of money to try to kill him and chalks the experience up to his living in a world run by ruthless people obsessed with holding onto power. Castle adds that he wouldn’t have done what Beckett did. Beckett enters and tells them that a fake beard and a baseball cap like McManus’s in Noah’s apartment along with gloves stained with Melanie’s blood. Bracken guesses that Melanie recognized Noah at the conference, followed him, and got onto what he was doing, leaving Noah with no choice but to kill her.
Ryan brings them all outside and tells Bracken that they found a series of large deposits into Noah’s checking account recently. When Bracken guesses they came through untraceable off-shore accounts bounced through various locations Castle points out how Bracken would have done the same.
As they head for the elevator, Beckett asks Bracken to tell her who is behind the plot, but he won’t say and he promises that he’ll deal with it in his own way. When his aide tells him they are running behind in his schedule, Bracken asks Beckett to walk him out.
On the steps of the precinct, Bracken tells Beckett he owes her since she saved his life, but she tells him nothing in their arrangement has changed. He offers to help her out if she ever needs a friend then turns to face the press. Beckett asks him if he killed McManus’s son, but Bracken asks her if she would believe him if he denied responsibility.
That evening at her apartment, Beckett and Castle watch his press conference as well as a story about how the PAC Chair, Ben Moss, had been arrested for paying the would-be assassin. Castle notes that based on the tone of Bracken’s words he’d assumed he’d have him killed and make it look like an accident. Beckett disagrees, saying merely having him arrested makes Bracken look like a good guy who stood up to his more powerful but crooked colleagues and Castle points out that the story will enhance his reputation nationally and give a boost to his Presidential ambitions. Beckett reassures him that Bracken will slip up one day and when he does, she’ll be ready to take him down.
- Victim: Melanie Rogers
- Cause of Death: Gunshot wound to the head. All her teeth were also knocked out and her body was burned.
- Cause of Death: Gunshot wound to the head. All her teeth were also knocked out and her body was burned.
- Perp: Noah Charles, Senator Bracken's driver
- Motive: Revenge, greed: Noah was paid by a political rival of Senator Bracken to assassinate him and to frame another man for the crime.