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Den of Thieves
Season 2, Episode 21
Den of Thieves
Air date April 19, 2010
Written by Will Beall
Directed by John Terlesky
Episode guide
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Season 1   Season 3

Den of Thieves is the twenty-first episode of the second season of Castle.

Summary

An investigation into the death of a thief uncovers some painful parts of Esposito's past and results in Beckett making a connection with the handsome robbery detective, Tom Demming, assigned to help with the case.

Recap

At the precinct, Detective Beckett is working out, when a handsome man who is also working out offers to steady her punching bag. She accepts, but their new connection is interrupted by a phone call.

Meanwhile, Castle peers across the poker table at his beautiful and formidable adversary. Alexis levels her unreadable gaze back at him as she deals the final card. Castle's won again, but only at the end; Alexis is learning no-limit Texas hold 'em very quickly. Martha arrives, and quoting Casablanca, demands to be dealt in, even as Castle's phone rings. There's been a murder.

Paul Finch was an ex-con, but hadn't been arrested in years. Whether he'd been lucky or had gone straight, either way his thieving days are over. He had been bound with duct tape in his own car and tortured. His torturers attempted to electrocute him, but accidentally killed him instead. Castle notices, that to his surprise, that the victim's eyes had been closed; might the killer have had an attack of guilt after the crime? Beckett notices a strange piece of metal in the car. Neither Beckett nor Castle can figure out what it is.

Finch's wife doesn't know either. She reports that her husband really had gone straight... up until a few weeks ago. Then he had told her that he'd needed to do one last job for a friend to whom he had owed a debt of honor. Beckett gets a lead on what that job might have been. Manhattan Mutual had reported a break-in two days before. A bank job like this was right up Finch's alley.

The robbery detective working the case stops by to brief them in on the case, and it turns out to be the dashing detective that Beckett had seen the night before. But she's not the only one to recognize him. Esposito greets him warmly, and reports that Tom Demming was one of the best detectives at the 54th precinct, where the two had served together. Demming explains that this heist involved drilling into a safe deposit box, and had to have been a two man job at least. The robbers hadn't been after money—they'd left stacks of cash untouched. He loved weird cases like this, and requested it specially. Demming and Beckett flirt openly as they discuss the case, and Castle, Ryan, and Esposito all note their instant chemistry. She puts Ryan and Esposito on going through Finch's records while Demming and Beckett interview the box's owner. Castle can wait at her desk.

Fred Cana seems more like a mob enforcer than a stamp collector, but he insists that the safe deposit box had held his stamp collection. It's hard to put a price tag on such a thing, but it had considerable sentimental value, and the only people who knew about the box were a select group of other stamp enthusiasts. It quickly becomes apparent that Fred knows little or nothing about philately, and in fact he's exactly what he seems to be: a bag man working for notorious mob boss Victor Racine.

Detective Esposito storms into the room and it's immediately apparent that the two have a violent history. Racine is all but untouchable by the law. Fred reminisces with a smirk that Esposito and his old partner learned that the hard way. After Cana is marched out, Esposito explains that back when he was at the 54th, he'd worked the Organized Crime Task Force. When he'd gotten too close, Racine had his old partner, Ike Thornton, killed. His body was never found, just his shot up car, filled with blood. Without a body, they couldn't pin it on Racine. Internal Affairs had claimed afterward that Thornton had been working for Racine all along.

Beckett's next step: interview the real robbery victim: Victor Racine. Castle can't believe that Racine would tell them anything useful, but Beckett's got a plan.

Racine is striking golf balls when they come in. He's a soft-spoken but menacing man, with an air of barely suppressed violence. Sure enough, Racine doesn't admit to anything. But Beckett and Demming tell Castle that Racine did give something away. He'd asked why they weren't attempting to find Finch's associate, and that was a dead giveaway that Racine hadn't tracked down the other robber or his stolen property yet. If Beckett and Demming find and arrest Finch's partner, then Racine's jailhouse connections would put that partner is Racine's power.

Lanie, meanwhile, has fumed the body for prints. She asks Beckett whether there are romantic possibilities for her with Demming, something that Beckett deflects. Lanie admits that she'd put money on Beckett hooking up with Castle, and that had never happened, so perhaps this wouldn't happen either. Finally, the fuming is done. While the murder scene had been wiped down, there was a one recoverable print: on the victim's eyes, which the killer had closed. There was only one problem: the prints belonged to Ike Thornton, Esposito's old partner.

It appears that Thornton faked his own death, and is now working for Racine as an enforcer. Esposito simply doesn't believe it. He and Thornton were best friends, and Esposito would have taken a bullet for his partner. But the print is damning evidence, and Montgomery brings in Lieutenant Holliwell from Internal Affairs. Holliwell explains that Racine had always been one step ahead of the police, and was clearly getting inside information. They finally got an informant who outed Thornton as the mole, but before they could arrest him, Thornton disappeared. Holliwell immediately begins asking Esposito questions; was Esposito in on it? Ryan leaps to his aid, and Montgomery tries to slow things down, but Holliwell gets Esposito to agree to a polygraph test. Which he passes. To Holliwell's disappointment.

As Ryan and Esposito are talking, Esposito reminisces about the past. After showing Ryan his only souvenir from those days, Ryan realizes what that strange piece of metal was: a broken-off part of a keychain that officers in the 54th precinct all carried. It's this that causes Espo to finally start to realize that his friend really was a dirty cop and a murderer. Heartbroken, they decide to bring in Thornton's wife. There's no way Carol couldn't have known.

She tries to claim that she didn't know, but Beckett isn't buying it. Thornton died with a warrant out on him; she hadn't gotten a pension, death benefits or even any recognition from the department. Castle points out that she'd never remarried, and somehow was still making her mortgage payments. Carol replies that if he was alive, then she and Ike would still be married, and thus she couldn't be forced to testify against him. With that, she went silent. Beckett assigns a policeman to keep an eye on her in case Thornton tries to visit her.

Demming and Beckett have another round of flirting, and after she leaves he pulls Castle aside and asks if he had anything going on with Beckett. When Castle says there isn't, Demming asks if it's ok if he pursues Beckett, and Castle says that this would be fine. Demming is thrilled, but Castle immediately regrets it and curses his poker face. Later, with Alexis, his luck holds out. She's just demolished him in a poker (they were playing for chores), and finally notices how dejected her father is. When she asks what's wrong, he replies, "I'm not used to losing."

Carol Thornton has another interview with a cop, one she can't turn away so easily: Esposito. She can't tell him what's going on, but she denies that he's killed anyone, and begs him not to track down Ike now, when they're so close. "So close to what?"

The next morning, Demming and Beckett are reviewing the bank's surveillance tapes. Perhaps Finch's accomplice had cased the bank with him. Castle shows up with coffee, but Beckett turns him down; Demming already got her some. Castle is left awkwardly holding the extra cup, but notices Finch in the video, along with his surprising accomplices. Finch's wife is one. Ike Thornton is the other.

They bring in Finch's wife, and Beckett and Demming start the interview. Monica Finch doesn't believe for a moment that Ike Thornton killed her husband. Ike had arrested Finch and his brother on a small job. Finch had gone away for five years, but Ike had given his brother (who had had a clean record) a break. Finch had never forgotten Ike's mercy. Beckett and Demming keep pressing her, pointing out that Thornton must have gotten greedy and tried to take Finch's share of the loot, but it's Castle, standing awkwardly in the back of the room, who gets her to reveal what the "loot" is. It's a ledger, an accounting book of all of Racine's businesses: the legal ones and the illegal ones. Only the safety deposit box had been empty.

The case makes no sense. Why kill Finch if the hadn't gotten the ledger? Why go after the ledger in the first place. Either way, Lieutenant Holliwell arrives with some news: Victor Racine has put a price on Thornton's head. Esposito immediately realizes that Carol Thornton is in danger and rushes off to find her. But when they arrive, she and her son are gone. The surveillance team never saw what happened.

Ryan rushes off to canvass the neighbors, but Esposito stays for a moment, and is confronted by Thornton, who's holding a gun. Ike spirited his wife and kids away to protect them. He claims he's never worked for Racine. There was a mole in the NYPD, but Racine implicated Ike to clear his own man while taking out a potential threat. There was so much faked evidence against him, Thornton felt he had no chance. He couldn't go to Esposito, because then Racine would have implicated him, too. He couldn't fight the charges, because the moment he went to jail to await trial, Racine could use his prison connections to have him killed. So he faked his death and started working to clear his name.

Racine somehow found out about Finch's involvement in the robbery. His enforcers had tortured and killed Finch; Thornton had arrived too late to save him, but closed his eyes in grief for the friend who had given his life so Thornton could get his name back. Thornton tells Esposito he knows where the ledger is, and asks for one more day to get it. But there's one final bombshell. Esposito pulls out his keychain, and Ike shows him his. It is intact. Esposito immediately realizes that not only is Ike telling the truth, but that the mole served in the 54th, who'd broken off part of his keychain while killing Finch. Thornton suggests the mole might be part of their investigation. One name comes to Esposito: Demming.

The team, minus Demming, discusses their plan of attack. Racine had gotten instant information, and Demming was too smart to use the precinct phone, so he must have been using his cell. But how to get Demming's cell away from him to check? Beckett spars with Demming, mixing violence and romance in their fight, while Castle, Ryan and Esposito break into his locker and steal his phone. Demming and Beckett beat each other to a pulp, but Demming's figured out that they're suspicious and confronts her directly. His phone checks out, and so does his alibi: coaching a basketball team for underprivileged children. Castle is especially disappointed that this lead doesn't get them closer to closing the case. Esposito, frustrated, walks out.

Ryan follows and immediately guesses that Esposito will help Thornton grab the ledger tonight. He offers to help, and is even a little hurt that Esposito isn't taking him into his confidence. Esposito insists that he'll need Ryan to watch his back if things go wrong. Ryan reluctantly agrees and Esposito goes off to help his partner.

Meanwhile, Demming and Beckett are all out of leads. Montgomery stops by to ask if there's any progress, and that's when Castle figures out how to solve the case. If Thornton is innocent, then IA's source was lying to them. Find the source, and you'll know who the dirty cop is. Beckett and Demming are skeptical, not because it's a bad idea, but because Internal Affairs would never reveal the name of an informant. But Montgomery replies, "We'll see about that." and goes to work. Minutes later, the fax comes in. The informant was... Esposito? That means there was no real informant, which means the mole is Holliwell, in Internal Affairs. And it turns out that he also served in the 54th.

Holliwell is at Racine's office, where he's just walked in on Esposito and Thornton taking the ledger. Holliwell's job is to monitor other cops, so implicating Thornton was every bit as easy as GPS tracking Esposito's cell phone. Now all he has to do is kill both of them. Esposito will die a hero, murdered by Thornton, and Holliwell will get a medal for killing a turncoat cop-killer. But Esposito manages to get a shot off on Holliwell, who fires at the same moment. Thornton and Holliwell are both wounded. But when Holliwell tries to make his getaway with the ledger, Demming and Beckett are already there, with Castle and Ryan. Holliwell's keychain is broken, showing that he was one of the men who murdered Finch. As they treat the wounded Thornton, Esposito introduces him to his new partner, Ryan. And his other partner, Castle, who is suitably honored to be described that way.

Montgomery is pleased that they caught Holliwell, and that his testimony and the ledger will let them arrest Racine as well. Beckett explains that Esposito was with Thornton because he was responding to a robbery in progress call from an (anonymous) private citizen. Montgomery see through this instantly, and asks Castle to help him write a report with this story that sounds believable.

Ike Thornton is in the lockup, ready to face his charges. Esposito and Ryan walk him out, just in time to see them hauling in Victor Racine. The entire precinct erupts in applause as the furious Racine is marched into the lockup. Meanwhile, Demming is writing it up that Finch acted alone, and since Racine's lawyers are trying to claim that the ledger is fake, he's unlike to press charges himself. So Thornton, his name cleared, is free to go, and his wife and son arrive to bring him home at last.

Demming and Beckett lounge by the espresso machine, talking about their future together. Castle starts to walk in, sees them enjoying the moment, and stops. He watches the breakroom from the window, alone.

Promo

Castle 2X2100:31

Castle 2X21







Cast

Main Cast

Guest Stars

Quotes

Castle: Betrayal, lies, deceit-- sounds like my first marriage.
Lanie: What's with the handsome robbery detective?
Beckett: Demming? Oh, we're just working the case together, that's all.
Lanie: Mmm-hmm. But then again, you have been working with Castle for a year and not a damn thing has happened, so... We had a pool going. I lost a lot of money on you two.

Featured Music

  • "Unthought Known" - Pearl Jam
  • "Not Bad at All" - Steve McDonald and Anna Waronker

Trivia

  • Martha gets to deliver a Casablanca homage when she declares that she's "Shocked, shocked to discover there's gambling" in the apartment. Later, she says, "Here's looking at you, kid." Same quote was used in next season Last Call
    • The romantic subplot of Casablanca shares many similarities with this episode. Rick Blaine, like Rick Castle, acts the part of the superficially cynical and carefree playboy, but is a romantic and idealist at heart. Struggling with a heroic rival in romance, he eventually concedes victory to his opponent.
  • Another theme of this episode is loyalty to one's partner. Finch risks everything to help Thornton, who in turn had saved his brother from prison. Both of their wives steadfastly support their husbands. Esposito risks his badge and his life to help his partner, and Ryan offers to stand with Esposito, even in violation of the law. Finally, Castle's pride is evident on his face when Esposito introduces him to Ike as his "other partner".
    • This only highlights the fact that Beckett is distant and dismissive of Castle. Demming takes Castle's place in the interrogations, investigations, and arrests. When Castle is present at all, he's shunted to one side. Even when bringing her coffee he finds himself supplanted. It's left to Castle to comment to himself that only two weeks before he'd saved her life, twice.
    • Ryan and Esposito also notice her chemistry with Demming. Both appear to be uncomfortable with the turn of events, even Esposito, who is a good friend of Demming.
  • Castle and Alexis playing poker for chores is reminiscent of a similar scene in Nathan Fillion's previous show, Firefly.
  • Esposito offers to take a polygraph and passes. While polygraphs are often used by the police, their results are inadmissible in court, because numerous psychology studies have shown that they aren't much better at detecting lies than random chance (Source). They're still used as interrogation tools by the police because the person being questioned often thinks that they're reliable, and refusal to take a test is often construed as evidence that the suspect is lying. This is why Montgomery was so opposed to Esposito taking the polygraph; even if he was innocent, he might have been implicated by a false positive.
  • While Ike Thornton's name is cleared and he's free to go at the end of the episode, it's unclear whether he'll be reinstated in the police or have his pension restored.
  • Ironically, Racine's downfall comes because Holliwell obtained the ledger. The police confiscated the ledger from Holliwell as he tried to escape. It implicated Holliwell solidly, forcing him to cut a deal. Had Thornton or Esposito gotten away with the ledger, it would have been illegally obtained and therefore inadmissible in court, and Holliwell wouldn't have had any reason to testify against Racine.

References

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