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A Dance With Death
Season 4, Episode 18
A Dance with Death
Air date March 12, 2012
Written by Moira Kirland
Directed by Kevin Hooks
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A Dance With Death is the eighteenth episode of the fourth season of Castle .

Summary

When Odette Morton, a contestant on the hit competition show "A Night of Dance," is found murdered in her dressing room, Castle and Beckett must navigate the case's many twists and twirls without stepping on each other's toes. But as they delve into Odette's past, they discover that this reality starlet was harboring a shocking secret that may have led to her death.

Recap

It's America's favorite dance reality show, "A Night of Dance", and two contestants are about to go head-to-head to avoid being eliminated. The music starts and one dancer comes out and begins his number, but when he motions to the other to begin her number, she's nowhere to be found. Exasperated, an assistant producer runs backstage and opens the dancer's dressing room door. Odette Morton is there, alright, but she's dead.

Meanwhile, back at stately Castle manor, Martha walks in on her son while he's trying to write. Martha bumped into Oona Marconi earlier, and has decided that words of support from the fearsome theater critic would be perfect to building the reputation of her acting school. Castle is skeptical; Marconi's last encounter with Martha resulted in a ruinous review back in 1983, and while she claims not to hold a grudge, Castle isn't so sure, reciting the exact words from the review which his mother spent months ranting about around the apartment.

At the studio, Lanie is examining the body. A single gunshot wound to the heart; although the area had been cleared prior to the start of taping, it's surprising that no one heard a gunshot. The opening pyrotechnics might have covered the sound... but how could the killer have timed things so precisely? Ryan and Esposito are already handling the canvassing and data collection, but Lanie turns out to be a wealth of information. She's a fan of Odette and the show. Odette was a wealthy heiress and party girl gone wrong, but she almost died in a train accident, and this shocked her into being a better, more substantial person. Odette was a lock to win, and Lanie suspects it was one of Odette's backstabbing rivals on the show.

Her rival on the day's show was Santino. One of them would be eliminated that day. Santino explained that of course both had been edgy all day. He was stunned when she left at eleven AM that day and disappeared for half an hour. Another dancer, Chantal, covered for her, but didn't know where she was going. Even more ominously, while she flirted with Detective Esposito, she utterly ignored Ryan. Esposito lets Ryan in on the secret: now that he's wearing a wedding ring, he's invisible to single women.

Paul Morton is Odette's brother. He explains that after their wealthy grandfather died, Odette took it very hard. She quit school and broke up with her boyfriend to become a wild and dangerous party girl. After the train derailment, Odette had just barely survived. She turned her life around and began dance training. The people in her past were gone. Paul does name one man in her present who she was having trouble with: Eddie Gordon.

Max Renfro is the executive producer. Along with the senior staff, he promises Beckett total cooperation. Eddie was cast as a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, but brought drama off-stage as well as on. When he was eliminated the week before, he became rude and threatening. In his exit interview, he explicitly mimes shooting her with a handgun after her "betrayal". But Eddie doesn't go, not anymore. Now that Odette is dead, by the rules of the competition, the last eliminated dancer returns to take her place. He's already returned to the studio—in fact he was seen there on the afternoon that Odette was murdered.

Eddie's got a criminal record to match his threats, and Beckett opens his interrogation by pointing all that out. Eddie's alibi is a meeting with his agent across town, but he does have some information for them. Odette had been making easy mistakes, disappearing in the ladies' room for long stretches, and Eddie saw her giving a man in the alley outside a big stack of bills. Had Odette gotten involved in drugs? Eddie's alibi holds up, and Odette's credit card records support the theory. She'd suddenly maxed them all out about a month ago.

Samuel Lynchberg was Odette's business manager and executor of her grandfather's estate (and now hers). All of Odette's money goes to the Graham Morton Charitable Foundation. Regarding her spending spree, Lynchberg gives some insight. After her grandfather had passed away, she had also gone on a money binge. She'd get drunk and blow money buying cars, apartments, things for her friends, even buying one friend a nose job. Her latest spending habits seemed to be a return to the bad old days. Most of the money had been spent over two days at a single department store. Reviewing the receipts, Beckett notices something odd. All the clothes she bought were in size four—which is not Odette's size—and none was at her apartment. Castle thinks it's a variation on an old boarding school trick. Odette buys the clothes for someone else, who gives her cash off-the-books, which she can then use to pay off a guy in the alley in a hurry. Later, she can pay off her credit cards from the Foundation's monthly stipend. The cards are maxed out, so maybe she didn't have enough and whomever she owed killed her.

There are some problems with this theory, though. The biggest is this: who's the size four woman with all the cash? Beckett recites the receipts, and Castle's memory for detail pings on one: a faux rabbit purse. He's seen it before. Jasmine, the assistant on the show, has already been identified by the store clerk as the size four beneficiary of Odette's generosity, so her denial falls flat. She tries to claim that Odette was just being generous, but Beckett and Castle have a better idea: blackmail. More denials, but when Beckett offers to arrest her, she breaks. She saw the show's host, Brad Melville, and Odette in what appeared to be a serious dispute. They weren't even allowed to be talking. Jasmine followed and even managed to record the tail end of the conversation. Then she confronted Odette, threatening to tell Max everything. Jasmine was bluffing, she had no idea what Odette was trying to hide, but Odette paid the blackmail. Whatever it was, it was serious. The recording catches Brad threatening to kill Odette if anyone finds out about their deal. Everyone assumes that the two were having an affair and if Max found out, Odette would be kicked off the show and Brad would be fired.

Brad is quick with an explanation. He'd caught Odette shooting up one morning at the studio. He believed in Odette and was thunderstruck to find her back on drugs. He confronted her, and she promised to quit. Then he caught her again. He was going to go to Max, but she threatened to tell Max that he'd let her off the first time. Max would have fired them both. So he'd kept his silence. Sure enough, Ryan and Esposito find a hidden compartment in her jewelry box with syringes. But Lanie calls at the same time and found no evidence of drug use. Some exotic drug they don't normally screen for?

At Castle's home, the family is enjoying an evening with Oona Marconi. She shares a charming story about a devastating cut-down she'd delivered to Sir Laurence Olivier. Martha finally broaches the idea of Marconi reviewing her acting school. She happily agrees, and then off-handedly delivers a cut-down at Martha's acting ability. Martha can't bear to let the slight go unchallenged. Things escalate, ending with Marconi walking out. Martha is distraught, all too late realizing what she's done.

At the precinct, Beckett offers sympathy to Castle. And a tasty tidbit: uniforms discovered that Odette went to a cafe that morning when she'd slipped out for half an hour. The mystery date was Suzanne Steiner, an old friend of Odette's. They shared a coffee and talked about old times. At that was, apparently, it.

Another piece of information comes in. Odette was on drugs alright—an insulin. Her doctor says she isn't diabetic, but that it's been over a year since he saw her. So why not tell Brad that it wasn't narcotics? Why pay the blackmail? Esposito has still more information: CSU found only one set of prints in Odette's apartment, and they were not Odette's. They belonged to Barbra Landau, a stripper with a troubled past who had died in the same train collision which had almost killed Odette. Esposito puts a picture up on the murder board. She looks just like Odette.

Castle sees the implications immediately. He theorizes that Odette and Barbra were twins separated at birth, one adopted by a rich grandfather, the other shuffling between foster homes. Eventually, they coincidentally meet on a train bound for Miami and get to know each other and Barbra figures that she could do better in Odette's place. Beckett sarcastically asks if Barbra purposely caused the derailment with her Wiccan powers. Though admitting that it would make a good story, Castle reasons that the accident happens, Odette is killed, but Barbra survived. She used the opportunity to steal Odette's identity. So was "Odette" killed for being Odette, or was it related to Barbra's past? However, Ryan and Esposito come up to explain that blood tests prove that they were not related. Castle decides to go to the strip club and find out, but Ryan and Esposito are doing this one on their own. So he's stuck with Beckett re-interviewing Paul Morton, who they can't believe hadn't been suspicious.

Esposito asks Ryan why he didn't want Castle along for the strip club trip, but Ryan's got a plan. Is it Ryan's ring, or something about him, that's not exciting the ladies anymore? Ryan's other married friends insist that the wedding ring makes them more attractive, not less. If Castle had been along, then all the girls would have been coming on to him. But now Ryan and Esposito can do an identity switch of their own. Javier agrees, reluctantly, to wear Ryan's wedding ring. Now, which one will the girls at the strip club notice?

At the club, another stripper remembers "Barbie" quite well. She had always dreamed of being a Broadway dancer. Two years before, she'd gone so far as to have gotten a nose job, even though her nose was fine already. The dancer immediately recognizes the police sketch that Eddie Gordon had provided. It's Jason Bagwell, a ne'redowell from Alphabet City. He'd done nothing, but scam her, but she had fallen hard for him and stayed with him anyway. The evidence is conclusive: the women are still flirting with Esposito and ignoring Ryan. Oh, and Javier can't get Ryan's wedding ring off.

Castle figures it out, and for once he's even done some legwork and gathered all the evidence. Odette had paid for Barbra's plastic surgery. The surgery hadn't made her look prettier, just more like Odette. He also recalls Lynchberg mentioning Odette paying for a nose job for a friend. He spoke to Lynchberg's assistant, who confirmed that Odette paid for Barbra's surgery, plus expenses. Why? Castle shows Beckett two photos. One is Odette working in a soup kitchen for her community service hours. The other is her at a bridal shower with friends. The two photos were allegedly taken at the same time. Barbra was a body double. Odette's wealth and carousing had lead to a long list of obligations and responsibilities. Barbra handled those, while the real Odette enjoyed life in the fast lane free of any responsibilities.

Or, as Castle puts it, "Odette would do the crime, but she didn't want to do the time, so she created a Faux-dette to do her dirty work for her."

That's what both were doing on the train together for the fatal accident. And that's how Barbra pulled off the deception so perfectly; she'd been trained by Odette herself. Seeing her chance in a tragic accident, Barbra slipped effortlessly into the role of her erstwhile understudy. So what if someone from Barbra's past knew what was going on? On cue, Barbra's past arrives in the form of Jason. Beckett and Castle interrogate him, voicing their theory that he recognized Barbra when he saw her on TV and attempted to cash in, but she refused to be taken advantage of anymore, so he killed her. Jason denies it, stating that he would've come in earlier to tell the truth but he was afraid he would be suspect in his ex-girlfriend's murder. He admits that he did know what was going on, but that Barbra had approached him. She was lonely and wanted to be with him, but also was scared about skeletons from Odette's closet that were coming back to haunt her. Whatever this secret was, Barbra felt she could use it to her advantage if she could find out enough, but apparently she hadn't learned enough in time.

That afternoon at the cafe with Odette's old friend Suzanne Steiner came to mind. What had Barbra talked about with her? The two had grown up together, and even Steiner hadn't realized that it was a doppelganger. Steiner's father had been Graham Morton's butler, and "Odette" was particularly curious about the details of the day of her grandfather's death. Suzanne hadn't been there, but her father had, along with Odette. "Odette" asked for the butler's number so they could catch up.

Charles Carson was Suzanne's father. He'd been to the studio on the day of the murder, but no one remembers seeing him after he'd arrived before the show. A visit to the M.E.'s office confirms a dark possibility. Lanie's intern has reviewed the autopsy files, and while the death had been ruled natural, the forensic evidence suggests that he was smothered with a pillow. Lanie's got more news: the records clerk let her know that "Odette" had also requested the file, earlier in the week.

Castle and Beckett go after Carson right away. He denies having anything to do with Graham Morton's death. But he did suspect foul play, and even that the old man had been smothered with a pillow. Odette had been seeing a man of whom her grandfather didn't approve. He ordered her to break up with him. Things had been very tense. The day of his death, Mr. Morton had asked Carson to prepare his bed for a nap. Morton preferred a flat surface to rest on, so all the pillows were cleared. While Morton slept, Odette was in the kitchen and had accidentally caused a fire there. Carson put it out and returned, to find Morton dead, apparently in his sleep, but with a pillow on the bed beside him.

Carson hadn't said anything. Odette had been with him the whole time, so she had to have been innocent. And who else was there? Castle points out that her kitchen fire was a distraction meant to drawn him away from Mr. Morton's side. She was an accomplice... but who was the killer? Whoever killed Morton had also killed Barbra when she'd gotten too close to the truth.

Castle and Beckett bring Samuel Lynchberg back in. Surely as financial advisor to the Mortons, he must know who Odette's boyfriend at the time was. But he doesn't. So Beckett refreshes his memory: Paul Morton already told them that Lynchberg was Odette's boyfriend and they planned on getting married. He'd conspired with Odette to murder her grandfather before he could cut her out of his will. But once her grandfather was safely out of the picture, Odette dumped Lynchberg and resumed her partying ways, now secure in her inheritance, and he couldn't do a thing about it without admitting to murder. Lynchberg says they can't prove he was involved in Mr. Morton's death. Beckett says that they can prove he killed Barbra as she produces the murder weapon, found in a dumpster behind Lynchberg's office, with his fingerprints on it.

Caught red-handed, Lynchberg confesses that he found out that "Odette" maxed out her credit card paying the blackmail, he confronted her, saying that the two hadn't risked everything to get the money only for her to lose it all. She had no idea what he was talking about. Each had realized the other's guilty secret. Barbra thought that this would be enough to ensure Lynchberg's silence, but he couldn't stand the thought of a "dirty stripper" taking over Odette's life. So he killed her.

Ryan and Esposito still have a problem, but Beckett helps with that as well. Her silky hand lotion is just the thing. With a strong tug it flies off Esposito's finger and lands... somewhere. Ryan runs to find it, but at least he won't be sleeping on the couch tonight. And Esposito gets to go on his stripper date.

Castle heads home to find Martha has mended fences with Oona. Oona leaves after thanking Castle for his help, profusely. Martha has, on her son's behalf, committed him to reading, critiquing and forwarding to his publisher Oona's first novel. He should also be sure to be kind in his comments on this fine piece of "chick-lit". It's always been Oona's dream to be a novelist. Castle sighs, and for his mother's sake, he decides to try.

Promo

Castle 4x18 Promo "A Dance with Death" HD00:30

Castle 4x18 Promo "A Dance with Death" HD








Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Quotes

Lanie: When I was young, more than anything, I wanted to be a prima ballerina. If I wasn't dancing, I was thinking of dancing.
Castle: So what happened?
Lanie: The girls came along when I was 13. Not that many top heavy ballerinas out there.
Castle: Sounds to me like the old gas card scam.
Beckett: What do you mean?
Castle: Your parents put you on a strict allowance, but give you a gas card so you can fill your car. You fill your friends’ cars and they give you cash. Some of my buddies in boarding school nearly doubled their allowance.
Beckett: Uh-huh.
Castle: Not me of course. Uh...don’t tell my mother.
Esposito: So you didn't want Castle to come because...
Esposito and Ryan: All the women will flirt with him.
Ryan: I want to know if it's just the ring that's repelling members of the fairer sex.
Esposito: It's not the ring, bro. It's you. See, once you've been married for a little while and you're feeling a little bored and unsatisfied, the ring will get you love from the ladies. They'll want to take you away from all that. So you can be bored and unsatisfied with them.
Ryan: How can I tell my wife that I'm not wearing my wedding ring because I lend it to Esposito as an experiment to see if strippers would flirt with me? Maybe she'll see the humor in it.
Castle: Not a chance.
Esposito: You're a dead man.

Featured Music

  • "Who" - Danielle Calato
  • "Copacabana" - Mary, John Van De Van & Marty Und Das Orchestre

Trivia

  • In the teaser, Odette is absent for her dance number, having just been murdered. The song playing is Copacabana, by Barry Manilow. The song's famous punch line is "Just who shot who?", which describes the plot of this episode. Both the killer and the victim must be identified in the course of the episode.
  • Lanie Parish is a fan of A Night of Dance. As a child, Lanie dreamed of being a Prima ballerina; however, by age thirteen she realized that her voluptuous figure would be incompatible with a dance career.
  • In the United States, Castle typically airs right after Dancing With the Stars. Host Tom Bergeron would normally have been ideal to have guest-starred as the host of his fictional analog; in fact, this episode concept had been in discussion for several years. However, Bergeron had already appeared as murdered talk show host Bobby Mann, so he was already "dead" in the Castle universe.
  • As in several episodes, the killer's name gives a subtle clue about the nature of his crime.
  • In Flowers For Your Grave, Castle had speculated that an uptown girl like Beckett went to a good school and had options; she'd be far more likely to be a lawyer than a cop. In this episode, we discover that he was correct: Beckett went to Stanford and had majored in pre-law.
    • Stanford is Alexis's dream school. Her ex-boyfriend Ashley is already there.
  • Ryan's couch has a loose spring that's bad for his back. In Hell Hath No Fury, he'd revealed that he'd found the couch that he and Esposito played video games on 54th and Lex. This is almost certainly the same couch.
  • Odette Morton's name provides a subtle clue to the viewer that she isn't who she appears to be - Odette is the name of the woman transformed into the title character of Swan Lake, while 'Morton' is derived from the French word mort meaning 'dead'.
  • In this episode, two recurring characters revealed that in their youth their intended careers had been very different:
    • Lanie revealed that, up until 13, she'd been in training to be a prima ballerina.
    • Beckett had planned on being a lawyer, like her parents and was pre-law at Stanford. Hoping to be becoming the first female Chief Justice.

References

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