Season 5, Episode 9 (90)
Original Air Date - December 3, 2012
As Christmas draws near, Castle and Beckett investigate the suspicious death of a man wearing a Santa suit who fell from the sky into Central Park. Meanwhile, Ryan contemplates having a baby with Jenny, Captain Gates suffers through a visit from her mother-in-law, and when Alexis and Martha announce that they have other plans for Christmas Eve and Beckett has to work, Castle frets that he'll be alone for the holiday.
- 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
- Dakin Matthews - Dave Dunne
- Leslie Hope - Gwenn Harwin
- Steven Eckholdt - Michael Case
- Tembi Locke - Beth Cabot
- Titus Makin, Jr. - Tim Cabot
- Andrew Borba - Mr Mudge
- Christine Lucas - Denise McKay
- Laura Parker - Mom
- Emily Sandifer - Receptionist
- Luke White - NYPD Cop
- Hannah Swain - Little Girl
Castle: There are certain aspects to this that are time-honored, the beating heart behind the Christmas holidays. And now Santa is dead! When will it end!?
Beckett: I hate to break it to you, Castle, but there is no Santa.
Castle: Not anymore.
Ryan: Santa…lying there dead. You gotta ask yourself, what kind of world do we live in?
Beckett: A world in which there is no Santa and people don’t fall out of nowhere. Can you check with Air Traffic Control and find out what flights were in the area?
Ryan: Sure. Bah humbug.
Ryan: They have no record of anyone flying over the park during the time our guy hit the ground.
Beckett: How is that even possible?
Castle: Santa had his sleigh in stealth mode.
Capt. Gates: My mother-in-law is a licensed pilot, as she keeps reminding me, part of a larger effort to make me feel inferior. I’m sorry. Did I just say that out loud?
Ryan: Sounds like she’s staying with you, Captain?
Capt. Gates: One day soon, your in-laws will visit too and when they do, think hotel. Lord, I hate the holidays.
Castle: Yet another quality she has in common with The Grinch.
Beckett: And that is a .38. Do you still think he fell off his sleigh, Castle?
Castle: No. Clearly, he was shot out of it. Talk about a war on Christmas.
Beckett: Or he was just shot in an aircraft and pushed out. So we have anything else?
Lanie: Just this, embedded in his suit: a chip of paint or some kind of enamel, cherry red.
Castle: From a sleigh.
Lanie: I don’t know yet. I’m sending it down to the lab for analysis.
Castle: Probably from a sleigh.
Suspect: This is crazy. I did not kill Edmund.
Castle: Trust me. You’re going to have to do a lot better than that to convince her.
Suspect: Maybe it’s time to hang up the fluffy red jockstrap.
Castle: Is...is that a metaphor or do you really…
Beckett: That’s the same guy?
Beckett: What happened?
Castle: Dedication to his craft.
Esposito: Like De Niro in Raging Bull.
Beckett: To be a Santa?
Ryan: You make that much as a Santa? Maybe I should switch jobs, huh?
Esposito: What? Gain 200 pounds and have a bunch of rug rats sitting on your lap with dirty diapers?
Ryan: Yeah, thanks for that visual.
Beckett: He might have been robbed.
Castle: Uh, robbed and then launched into space?
Beckett: And how is that less plausible than your sleigh?
Castle: I think you mean less Clausible.
Esposito: Early Christmas present from Jenny?
Ryan: Something like that. Would you mind not touching it?
Esposito: (pulls out a piece of Christmas lingerie) Ooooh, well, well, well. Now I see what you and Jenny got planned for Christmas Eve. Y’all gon’ be getting’ busy. Ho! Ho! Ho!
Capt. Gates: Uh…I take it this is your idea of working the Santa case? Detective Esposito, you’re supposed to be digging up that ATM footage and you are?
Ryan: Chasing down that lawyer that our victim had been calling, Sir.
Capt. Gates: Ok, then. Let’s finish up this hoochie-coochie thing and get on with it.
Ryan: So busted.
Castle: Why does a man watch a Christmas movie then walk out on everything to become Santa? Unless the key to Edmund’s story is It’s a Wonderful Life. You remember in the movie George Bailey tried to commit suicide on Christmas Eve and was by an angel.
Beckett: Which in our story is David Dunne.
Castle: Weird casting choice I know, but what if Edmund was trying to jump off a metaphoric bridge? You know, to start over?
Beckett: As a Santa?
Castle: Yes. Yeah, that’s where it falls apart.
Castle: Speaking of It’s a Wonderful Life, I was thinking tomorrow night, perhaps we should have a Christmas movie marathon or some other kind of marathon that makes life wonderful. (Leers at Beckett)
Castle: Looks like our Santa was a little more naughty than nice.
Beckett: Given everything that we know about this guy, this is completely out of character.
Castle: Well, sometimes people do inexplicable things.
Beckett: There’s an explanation for everything.
Castle: Is there? You volunteered to take Eldin’s shift. Don’t pretend. If you aren’t ready, why not just tell me?
Beckett: I’m sorry, Castle. I didn’t mean to-
Castle: You didn’t meant to what?
Beckett: Christmas means something different to me that it does to you.
Castle: It’s Christmas. I mean how can it be different?
Beckett: Castle, every winter, as soon as that chill rolls in, I’m right back there in that alley. January 9th and we still hadn’t taken down our Christmas decorations down. And by the time my Dad and I did, it was like we were putting Christmas away forever. We haven’t opened those boxes since.
Castle: I didn’t know.
Beckett: That’s why every year my Dad goes up to his cabin and ever since I became a rookie, I have taken the Christmas shift because I know that there are families out there that are celebrating together in their homes and I am keeping watch and that is my tradition. And that is important to me. It’s as important as your tradition is to you. And I’m sorry, Castle. I thought I could let that go, but I…
Castle: I understand.
Ryan: (pulls his gun on a fleeing suspect) Merry Christmas to all…
Esposito: (pins the suspect up against a wall) And to all a goodnight.<br.
Capt. Gates: Oh, speaking of people having a home stolen…
Beckett: Is that your mother-in-law again, Sir?
Capt. Gates: Detective, if you happen to receive a report of a homicide tonight at my address, do me a favor, ignore it.
Castle: Whether there is a Santa Claus or not, that’s not why I love Christmas. When I was a kid, no matter how bad things got, my mother always managed to make Christmas Eve magical. Every year she would put on The Nutcracker Suite and I thought, if she could do that in our tiny apartment when money was tight and we were alone, it gave me hope that things could get better. I love that feeling, that sense of hope. It’s crazy, you know, on the shortest, darkest days of the year, people of all faiths celebrate the light. Plus, who doesn’t love presents!
Esposito: Yo, what you still doing here? Shouldn’t you be at home stuffing your wife’s stocking?
Ryan: I don’t think I’m ready, Javi.
Esposito: For what? Sex?
Ryan: No, for what sex leads to. We were putting up the tree the other day and Jenny says to me ‘It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without kids.’ She wants to try. But I come to work, I watch the news every day, it seems like the world’s falling apart. How am I supposed to bring a kid into that?
Esposito: The world’s always falling apart, bro, since the beginning of time. But having kids, making a family, that’s what keeps it together. So go home, make a baby. You’re ready.
Ryan: Thanks, bro. Merry Christmas.
Esposito: Yeah, Merry Christmas.
Castle: I love you both so much that you would do that for me, but I was wrong about tonight. There’s someplace I need to be.
Castle: Uh, I was just coming to see you.
Beckett: I was coming to see you.
Beckett: What about your family tradition?
Castle: Um, I was just thinking it’s time for a new tradition.
Beckett: Me too.
- This is the show's first Christmas-themed episode.
- The opening title in this episode featured a candy cane swooping down instead of a pen, the letters in the title backlit with red and green shadows, and red and green lights hanging from the Brooklyn Bridge. The opening theme music also featured a Christmas bell.
Full Episode Recap
A family walks through snowy Central Park at Christmas and decides to lie down and make snow angels. As they lay there, the body of a man in a Santa Claus outfit falls from the sky to the ground in front of them.
At Richard Castle’s loft, his daughter, Alexis, is busy decorating their large Christmas tree when Castle’s mother, Martha Rodgers, tells him she plans on going caroling after the family’s Christmas Eve dinner and it is revealed that Alexis has plans with friends from college. This news hurts Castle as it is typically the family’s tradition to open presents that night.
As he and Detective Kate Beckett approach the crime scene, Castle insists he is not overreacting, but Beckett tells him he should be more open to changing traditions. He reminds her how he invited her to join them and she promises that she will if she doesn’t have to work. She further demands that they not exchange presents to reduce the stress of the holiday and Castle agrees.
As he muses over how some Christmas traditions are sacred, he is more despondent when he finds that the dead body is Santa Claus. Medical Examiner Lanie Parish agrees with Castle that the victim’s resemblance is striking, but Beckett continues to proclaim that Santa doesn’t exist. Lanie shows her lots of candy cane wrappers found on the body and the man’s wallet which identifies him as Kris Kringle. She adds that time of death was around 9:30 and rules out a fall from a commercial airplane since she found no evidence of frost bite. Detective Kevin Ryan joins them to report that the family didn’t see or hear any planes flying overhead when the body fell, leading Castle to suggest that turbulence caused Santa to fall out of his sleigh. Just as Ryan thinks about the cruel world that would kill a Santa, Beckett tells him to find out what flights were in the area. Lanie goes on to say that the fall looks to be the cause of death and promises to look closer at the morgue. Beckett then sees a logo on the dead man’s boots and recognizes them as coming from a leather shop in Queens where she got some motorcycle boots.
At the precinct, Beckett smiles as Castle writes Kris Kringle’s name on the murder board. Ryan arrives and says air traffic control has no record of any planes in the area at the time of death, so Castle guesses Santa’s sleigh was invisible. He then suggests that the body could have fallen from a sight-seeing helicopter and begins to recall a flight with a Latin woman when Beckett’s look stops him. Captain Victoria Gates joins them and agrees with Castle, explaining that air traffic flying within a Manhattan flight corridor don’t have to radio their presence if they stay at a certain altitude. She goes on to say that her mother-in-law is a pilot and grumbles about how nothing she’s done in her career is good enough for to please her. She finally admits that the woman is staying with Gates and her family and Gates advises Ryan to put his in-laws in a hotel whenever they pay a holiday visit. Detective Javier Esposito arrives and says the owner of the boot shop is checking his sales records for the man’s name. Beckett’s phone beeps and she sees a message from Lanie. She and Castle head to the morgue while Esposito notices that Ryan seems to be taking the case hard. He begins to wonder what the death portends for the future, but Esposito distracts him by asking if their Christmas Eve tradition of playing video games is still on. Ryan reluctantly tells him that his wife, Jenny, has other plans in mind.
In the morgue, Lanie shows Castle and Beckett a bullet she pulled out of the dead man’s back, but Castle merely adjusts his theory to be that Santa was shot out of his sleigh. Lanie also shows them a red paint chip which Castle identifies as coming off the sleigh. Esposito arrives and gives Beckett and Castle the man’s name: Edmund Smith. When Beckett asks why he came all the way to the morgue to pass on such simple information, he brushes it off, but makes noticeable eye contact with Lanie. Beckett and Castle leave hurriedly and Esposito turns to Lanie. He flirts with her, but she sees through his act, saying she has plans for Christmas Eve with some girlfriends and further, doesn’t want to be just a holiday hookup. However, she promises him that if he still wants to get together after the holidays, all he has to do is call.
At Edmund’s apartment, his neighbor, Ms. Cabot, says she last saw him leaving the night before around 5p.m. with his costume bag on his way to a job as a professional Santa. She goes on to say that he was good man and even helped her and her son sue to try to get their house back. The week before, she recalls hearing someone cursing outside his front door, but otherwise says he had no enemies. Ms. Cabot’s son,Tim, says the man threatened Edmund, but when he told him he said not to worry. Tim then sees the man in a picture, standing next to a small plane. They call Ryan who identifies the plane owner as David Dunne, a man with a violent past.
Castle and Beckett arrive at Dunne’s place of employment and marvel at the Christmas decorations. Castle brags about his own decorations and Beckett hesitantly says she can’t wait to see it all. An employee leads them into a classroom where David is teaching a group of Santas in training. David claims to have nothing to do with Edmund’s death, says he hasn’t flown his plane in weeks, and gives his alibi as being at a youth center handing out gifts. Beckett sees him rolls some tobacco for his pipe as he admits that he was upset at Edmund for taking away his job as Cartier’s favorite Santa. He explains that when he met Edmund five years ago, he was at a low point in his life and he helped him turn his life around.
At the precinct, Ryan verifies David’s alibi and his story about not flying his plane, but adds that Edmund’s agent told him he had no jobs scheduled for the night he died, which makes no sense since he was last seen wearing his Santa suit. Esposito jumps in and hangs up a picture of Edmund from five years ago when he was working at a high-paying job at a private equity firm. He also found that on the night he died, Edmund withdrew $2,000 from his bank account, yet Castle remembers that his wallet was empty. Beckett tells Esposito to look at the ATM camera footage, suspecting he was robbed, but Castle doubts the theory. Ryan puts in that Edmund’s last phone call was to his ex-wife Gwen, who he hadn’t called in the last three years.
Later on, Castle and Beckett interview Gwen in the break room. He gives her alibi as hosting a charity benefit and explains that Edmund wanted to see her to apologize for leaving her. She says that five years ago on Christmas Eve they stayed up to watch It’s a Wonderful Life on television and the next morning he left with nothing but the clothes he was wearing. When he saw her before he died, he seemed nervous, so she watched him get into a cab outside and saw a man on a motorcycle following him.
Later on, Esposito finds Ryan at his desk and asks about the white box sitting in front of him. He opens it, despite Ryan’s protests, and finds Christmas-themed lingerie inside. He holds it up and begins to dance a little dance to poke fun at his partner, who he now knows has romantic plans for Christmas Eve, but Captain Gates catches him and tells both to get back to work.
At the murder board, Castle wonders if the story of It’s a Wonderful Life caused Edmund to walk away from his wife and career, but can’t make a worthy theory out of it. Ryan joins them and says the lawyer Edmund had been calling had gotten Edmund’s neighbors, the Cabots, into a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit against Suncove Funding for predatory loan practices, but she was on the verge of dropping the suit since she was working it pro bono. When she told Edmund this, he begged her to give him a couple more days, saying he could give her information that would turn the case around. Ryan adds that Gates is working with a friend at the Securities and Exchange Commission to dig up more information on Suncove. Meanwhile, Beckett tells him to ask the Fraud Division for any information they have. He leaves and
Castle begins making plans for Christmas Eve, but Beckett finally tells him she has to work and lets him believe that she had no choice. While upset, he understands and leaves to go meet Alexis to finish Christmas shopping. As he heads for the elevator, Esposito, who had been lurking nearby, gives Beckett a still photo of the ATM footage which shows Edmund was alone when he made the withdrawal, but also that he hailed a cab which took him to an airfield in New Jersey. The cabbie said Edmund made him wait at the airfield, he returned to the cab and he drove Edmund back to Long Island City.
Later on, Esposito and Beckett arrive at the New Jersey airfield where he brings up Beckett’s working the Christmas Day shift. She tells him not to eaves drop then notices a red helicopter in a hangar. They investigate and find the lock tampered with and blood on the inside. Later on, Esposito reports that the blood is a match to Edmund, but the cockpit was wiped of fingerprints. The airfield manager says the helicopter belongs to man who has been on vacation in Hawaii, but that his log shows that the gas tank was full when the helicopter was stolen.
At the precinct, Ryan calculates that the helicopter flew 45 miles the night Edmund died, which works out to almost exactly the distance from the airfield to Long Island City and back. Beckett tells him to check out all heliports in Long Island City.
At Castle's loft, Alexis reveals that her plans involve a young man named Max who will be going to London on Christmas Day, thus Christmas Eve is her only opportunity to see him. Castle gives his permission, but still feels let down when Alexis reminds him that he’ll still have Beckett to join him.
Later on, Castle arrives at the precinct and tries to flatter Captain Gates with a gift, but she sees through his plan. When he asks if Beckett could be let out of working on Christmas Day, Gates tells him she volunteered for the shift.
Meanwhile, Beckett and Ryan have narrowed down Edmund’s possible landing sites to five. Beckett then matches the candy cane wrappers to one of their possibilities: the Case Commerce Building and tells Ryan to find out why Edmund would want to land there. She sees Castle and invites him to join her to visit the building.
Inside, Castle grumbles slightly about the pervasiveness of Christmas, but claims he is fine when Beckett asks. They see some uniforms in an office suite and find out that a robbery took place the night before during a company Christmas party. The woman making the report identifies Edmund as the Santa who worked the party. Later on, Mr. Case explains that his company does asset management and investment services so they’d be a likely target for identity thieves, but all that was stolen was an antique clock worth $30,000. Neither person recalls hearing a helicopter land on the helipad, but they confess there was loud music playing at the party.
At the precinct, Castle and Beckett look at the murder board and wonder why Edmund went to so much trouble for a clock when he could have just hidden it in his sack and left. Castle spins some wild theories, but ultimately guesses that Edmund had worked the party before so he could get in and out without being noticed. Esposito ruins this theory by saying that another Santa had been booked for the Case party and someone called a week ago to cancel, but nobody from Case confirms this. Beckett tells Esposito to send a photo of the clock to pawn shops in case a partner of Edmund’s tries to sell it.
In the break room, as Castle makes her an espresso, Beckett continues to review how the case doesn’t make any sense given who Edmund once was. Castle then tells her how he knows she lied to him about working on Christmas and Beckett explains how she and her Dad haven’t celebrated Christmas since her Mom died. Ever since, Jim goes to a cabin and she works so that she can protect others from suffering through what she went through. She apologizes and says she just couldn’t let her own tradition go. He accepts her apology and they exchange smiles. Her cell phone rings and Ryan tells her that a custodian who went out on the Case helipad for a smoke break found a soda can, candy wrappers and an empty sleeve of pipe tobacco blowing around. Castle and Beckett now know that David Dunne was working with Edmund.
Esposito and Ryan go to the Santa training school to arrest David, who takes a swing at Esposito with a plastic candy cane then tries to flee with the help of his fellow Santas. Esposito is knocked down, but quickly recovers to help Ryan arrest David.
In an interrogation room the next day, David maintains his innocence until Beckett shows him the clock that was stolen from Case Commerce which was found in his apartment. She adds that the New Jersey airfield manager told her that David frequently rents the red helicopter from him. Beckett spins the theory that Edmund worked the Christmas party so David could steal the clock and upon getting away, David decided he wanted the score all to himself. Finally, David admits that Edmund paid him $2000 to fly him to the building, wait while he loaded something inside then take off. He didn’t know what Edmund intended to take only that he had asked how much extra weight the helicopter could handle. The night Edmund died, everything went as planned, except Edmund came running onto the helipad with someone shooting at them. Edmund was hit just as he got on board, but he couldn’t see who was doing the shooting. He yelled at Edmund to shut the door, but he was already dead. When he banked the helicopter, Edmund’s body fell out.
As they head back to the murder board, Beckett and Castle conclude that their killer had to be at Case Commerce’s party since the only method of accessing the helipad is through their office. Esposito joins them with a picture of Tim Cabot, holding a motorcycle helmet, and standing on the elevator to Case Commerce’s office, meaning he was the one Edmund’s ex-wife saw following him. Esposito tells them Tim has a record of breaking and entering just as Captain Gates comes up and says her contact at the SEC dug up that Edmund was a founder of Suncove, the company he was helping the Cabots sue. She adds that Tim Cabot’s father died on Christmas Eve 5 years ago when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car after working three jobs to pay the family’s inflated mortgage. Castle realizes that Edmund was out for redemption from the Cabots, but everyone else wonders if Tim found out who Edmund really was.
At the Cabot’s, Tim says that Edmund told him he was responsible for the family losing their home and asked for his forgiveness in addition to his help in getting information that could win the class action law suit. Edmund had asked him to sneak into the Case Commerce party and break into their storage room where original loan documents from Suncove were stored. Beckett now thinks that someone at Case Commerce knew Edmund from Suncove, and, upon seeing him at the party, knew he was going after the files, so they killed him.
Later on, Mr. Case from Case Commerce finds Beckett and Castle in the storage room going through old Suncove files. That night, Beckett guesses that Case is covering up his involvement in Suncove’s illegal activities as well as his murder of Edmund. When he denies any involvement in anything, she lets him know that the clock that had been stolen from his office belonged to the Cabots, who put it up as collateral against their mortgage, but when they couldn’t make the payments, Suncove took it, connecting Case to the company. Despite all the evidence against him, Case denies killing Edmund, but says he knows who did.
Later, in the precinct break room, Beckett and Castle question, Edmund’s ex-wife Gwen. They explain how Edmund came to her the night he died to warn her that he was going to blow the whistle on Suncove and that she’d lose all her money, so she went to Case Commerce, knowing where the files were, to stop him. Eventually, she confesses.
At the murder board, Castle, Beckett, and Captain Gates think on how the Cabots and 42 other families have a chance of recovering what they lost because of Edmund’s sacrifice. Gates’ phone beeps with a message and before she leaves to jokes with Beckett about ignoring any reports of a homicide at her address. As Beckett walks with Castle to the elevator, he explains that his love of Christmas comes from his mother’s effort to always make the holiday special for both of them no matter how poor they were and that it gave him hope. As he waits for the elevator, they both see they are standing under mistletoe, but don’t kiss. They wish each other Merry Christmas and he boards the elevator.
Meanwhile, Esposito finds Ryan at his desk studying his gift for Jenny. He explains that the case bothered him so much because Jenny wants to try to have kids and he worries about the world he would be bringing the child into and about his own parenting ability. Esposito reassures him that he is ready and that creating a family will only improve with the world. They wish each other Merry Christmas and Ryan leaves.
At Castle’s loft, he, Alexis, and Martha have just sat down to Christmas Eve dinner when Alexis tells him she and Martha both cancelled their plans to be with Castle. As much as he is touched by their gesture, he realizes he really needs to be at the precinct, so he gets up to leave with Martha’s encouragement. As he opens his front door, he finds Beckett standing there. She tells him she got Detective Karpowski to take her shift. Both agree that they need to start new Christmas traditions. Castle invites Beckett inside and she marvels at his tree. They kiss and Beckett quietly wishes him Merry Christmas again. When Castle whispers that he didn’t get her a present, she is initially surprised, but bounces back.
At the same time, Esposito arrives at the Cabot’s and returns their clock, explaining how they found it and how Edmund wanted to return it to them. Ms. Cabot tearfully thanks him and invites him inside for dinner. Esposito thinks for a moment and accepts.
- Victim: Edmund Smith
- Cause of Death: Shot with a .38 caliber bullet
- Cause of Death: Shot with a .38 caliber bullet
- Perp: Gwenn Harwin, his ex-wife
- Motive: Revenge: She killed Edmund because he told her he was going to right the wrongs he did as head of a mortgage lender that sold 42 families bad mortgages. By doing so, she would no longer have the wealthy lifestyle to which she had become accustomed.
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