|The Mistress Always Spanks Twice|
|Season 2, Episode 16|
|Air date||March 8, 2010|
|Written by||Kate Sargeant|
|Directed by||Tom Wright|
The body of Jessica Margolis is found covered in caramel sauce hanging from playground equipment in a park, prompting the team to venture into the world of bondage and fetish clubs, and plenty of playful banter between Castle and Beckett.
A jogger is racing through Central Park. She stops at a park bench to take her pulse, and her eyes wander over to the jungle gym. Hanging from the monkey bars is a dead woman in her underwear, strapped in with leather cuffs. And covered in... caramel?
Meanwhile, at stately Castle manor, Alexis is practicing her cheerleader routines—she'll be trying out for the team. Naturally, Castle immediately recognizes her as a lifelike imposter, but Martha suggests that this might be the real Alexis. She reminds Castle of the time he had wanted to be a hockey player; he'd lost his two front teeth before he realized that it just wasn't him. She suggests that he let Alexis figure this out for herself.
Lanie is looking over the body. What surprises her isn't the sexual fetish, but the stickiness of it. She prefers slippery to sticky, and starts going into detail about the things she's tried. Castle and Ryan share a TMI moment, but then Beckett accidentally trumps Lanie when she points out that bondage cuffs with that kind of leather and pattern of stitching had to have been custom-made. So how exactly did Beckett become an expert in this area? Before Castle can plumb these depths, Lanie continues with her analysis. The victim died of suffocation in the evening. She stayed in a fetal position for several hours before being hung up, suggesting she was killed elsewhere, and the body staged. A strange pattern of bruises on her legs suggested that she'd been restrained. Ryan points out some wheel marks that would match a suitcase—this is no doubt how the body was transported.
Back at the station, while Ryan and Esposito do some research on fetishistic bondage websites, Kate gets off the phone with Lanie. The contradictions, while subtle, are starting to pile up. The cause of death suggests a crime of passion, but the elaborate staging is more consistent with premeditation. Despite the sexy staging, there is no evidence of any actual sexual activity on the body. Did the killer have a performance problem? Meanwhile, Ryan and Esposito point out that a position they see on one of those websites shouldn't be physically possible to get into, but Beckett assures them that it can be done. Castle and Esposito also make sure to get in some much-needed ribbing on Ryan for "Jenny", his probably non-existent girlfriend, but Ryan doesn't want them scaring her off.
The victim's prints aren't in the system, so identifying her is the first step. Ryan takes a break from his research to field a call from one of the bondage shops he and Esposito had canvassed. Beckett and Castle grab the cuffs from evidence and run down to the Love Shackle. Barry, the owner, recognizes the cuffs as having been bought by a Tyler Benton for his girlfriend. Barry is horrified by the picture of the crime scene, but the victim is definitely the girlfriend.
Benton recognizes the crime scene photos as well and is heartbroken by them. It's Jessica Margolis, his girlfriend. He had been just about to propose that next week, on their one-year anniversary. Benton is an intern who was working an 24 hour shift at the hospital the previous day. Jessica was a doctoral student in sociology, studying bondage as an academic project. Benton is convinced that one of her research subjects killed her.
Jessica's roommate and best friend are next. Danielle and Jessica had been roommates since freshman year. They were best friends—practically sisters. Jessica had left that morning and never come home. Danielle assumed Jessica had been working on her thesis at the university all night, something she often did.
But at the university, her advisor tells Castle and Beckett that she hadn't been there. He'd been at school until 11pm that night grading papers, and hadn't seen her. He had been working with Jessica on her thesis, so he was familiar with her research. Her principal informant was a dominatrix named "Mistress Venom".
Jessica had been up for a Kellerman fellowship against other students in the department, and couldn't leave her notes lying around. Another doctoral student, Kelly, summons a janitor to unlock her files, so Castle and Beckett can review them.Kelly explains that they all work long hours, but that Jessica would often pull all-nighters and visit Tyler on his breaks. The hospital was nearby, making that easy. Matt, another doctoral student, comes in talking about the killing, and is surprised to see the police already there. He was up for the same fellowship for his work on AIDS treatment in inner-city clinics. While Jessica was a rival, he described the relationship as civil. Kelly reports that someone didn't like Jessica, though. She was getting harassing calls at her office. Matt suggests that, in contrast to the socially important work he and Kelly were doing, Jessica was doing trendy, frivolous work on sexual fetishes. It didn't surprise him that someone in the department would take umbrage at that.
Back at the station, Castle notices a few things. The notes on Mistress Venom's sessions were incredibly detailed. She used code names for her research subjects, but perhaps one of the subjects discovered he was being studied and killed her to hide his sexual fetish? Mistress Venom apparently worked at a bondage club in "dungeon alley" but her notes don't list which one. Fortunately, Esposito's cell search helps them on this. The day she died, she placed two calls to Lady Irena's House of Pain. Beckett hatches a plan to make sure they can connect with her: she calls and arranges a dominatrix session with Mistress Venom with her boyfriend Ricky. He's been a very bad, bad boy.
At the dungeon, Kate is simply dying to make Ricky squirm, and (just to maintain her cover) plays the part of the domineering girlfriend to a tee. But Mistress Venom isn't available. Lady Irena, the owner, denies that there was ever a researcher observing Mistress Venom's sessions. That would have been a breach of privacy for her clientele. The dominatrix had been working there for six months and quickly became one of her most requested doms. She's never heard of a Jessica Margolis—but she recognizes her photo immediately. Jessica is Mistress Venom.
This explains the bruises on her body—she wasn't restrained, they were just marks from her costume. Irena says that while all her clients were obsessed with her, they were subs and so couldn't have been murderers. Beckett is skeptical and asks for a list of her clients. As a former high-power corporate attorney, Lady Irena knows her rights. She's promised privacy to her clients, and without a court order, she won't breach that privacy.
Blocked, Beckett leaves. But as she goes, another dominatrix pulls Beckett aside to quietly tell a strange story. Last week, a first-time client had left within minutes of arriving for a session with Mistress Venom. Later, Mistress Sapphire found her crying in the locker room. The only thing she noticed about this mystery man's appearance was that he was wearing scrubs. Had her boyfriend discovered her secret identity?
Tyler Benton is sweating bullets. He's outraged at Beckett's accusation. When Beckett throws down the photo of Jessica as Mistress Venom, Tyler is stunned and emotionally crushed. He hadn't known. Beckett suggests that he had, and the betrayal had lead him to kill her. But he'd co-signed a lease with her three days before. That was after the mystery client, but before the murder. So if he had known, why sign the lease?
Castle formulates another theory. Jessica's research proposal stated that she had been inspired by her own real-life experience with a dysfunctional and dangerous co-dependent relationship. In her notes, Subject A wanted to leave Subject B, but was afraid to say anything because the relationship had become a dangerously codependent. Is Benton really Subject B?
Castle is still busily doing web research on bondage and discipline when he's surprised by Alexis. She's wearing a costume of her own... a cheerleader uniform! She's borrowed it from a friend while she waits for tryouts next month. She kind of likes the idea of doing something, being something, totally not like Alexis Castle. And hadn't Castle himself done something like that when he killed off Derrick Storm to become Jameson Rook?
At the precinct, Beckett reports that Benton had been at the hospital the entire day, according to the security footage. Focus shifts back to Jessica's clients. Esposito and Ryan find one description of an "SAM", a "smart-assed masochist". This personality type masquerades as a submissive, but uses his subordinate position and passive aggression to inflict pain on the people around him, sometimes resorting to threats to get what they want. One such threat includes a reference to a sub who'd told Mistress Venom that she was the one who should be punished, and then graphically describes the crime scene. It's more than enough for Judge Markaway to sign a court order, and now Beckett can get at Lady Irena's client list.
William Carraway is the man who made the threat. He's a senior VP at a global consulting firm. Beckett decides to interrogate him alone, and puts on her best dominatrix act. Her best is very, very good. Carraway can't believe that Mistress Venom was taking notes on his sessions. He's stunned that she's dead. Beckett isn't buying it, the staging is exactly like the threats he'd made. But he has a rock-hard alibi—he was with his wife at their anniversary party all night.
But the staging really is too perfect. If it wasn't Carraway, it was someone who knew what Carraway had said. Someone at the dungeon who'd heard? Someone at the university who'd sneaked a peek at her notes? Ryan and Esposito head back to Lady Irena's to interview the dominatrices, while Castle and Beckett return to the university to talk to the grad students. Castle doesn't like this plan, but has no choice, but to comply with Miss Beckett.
At the club, Ryan has no trouble canvassing the ladies. There's a rumor that Jessica was working off the books; which would have enraged Lady Irena (who takes a 40% commission). Meanwhile, Esposito quickly develops a "relationship" with Mistress Sapphire... and her riding crop.
Kelly can't believe that she's being accused of having looked at Jessica's files. She hasn't, and has an alibi for the murder. It couldn't have been anyone else, either. Other than Jessica and Kelly, the only people who can get in are maintenance. Though Kelly did loan the keys to Matt last week... Castle's been poking around all this time, and he finds Matt's thesis proposal. It includes a picture of him doing his work at that inner-city AIDS clinic. He's wearing scrubs.
Matt's brought into the interrogation room, and Beckett and Castle have done further digging. Phone records show that he's the one who made those harassing phone calls. Matt caves. He was the mystery client who'd confronted Jessica the week before. He needed the research funds that came with the Fellowship he was competing with Jessica over to fund his AIDS project. His work on important social issues threatened to grind to a halt in favor of Jessica's work, which didn't even read like real data. Matt originally just went to Lady Irena's to discover if Jessica's data was even real. When he discovered that she was her own key informant, he threatened to tell her boyfriend if she didn't withdraw from contention for the Fellowship. And she agreed. She had already withdrawn, and Matt had already returned his copy of her data the day before she was killed. Blackmail? Sure, but that eliminates his motive for murder.
The gang circle up and review. If Jessica was moonlighting from Lady Irena, phones and financials don't show it. And Matt was telling the truth—she'd already withdrawn. That's when Castle notices something. If Matt brought his copy of her research back to Jessica's apartment, then what did she do with it? It wasn't at the university, and she wouldn't have thrown it out. Did Matt lie about returning it? Roommate Danielle never saw any of it in their apartment. But she did find something odd the day after Jessica's body was found. In the dishwasher was a wineglass with an oddly-colored lipstick smudge on it. Castle and Beckett recognize it immediately: "Mistress Red"—the shade that Lady Irena wore.
In the interrogation, Lady Irena is uncooperative. Castle and Beckett point out that lip prints are like fingerprints, so they can positively identify her. Plus they have a record of her driving service dropping her off at Jessica's place only a short while before she was murdered. Irena had claimed not to know Jessica's real identity. If she had known, and realized that her clients were being studied without their permission, she might have been furious at the scandal. She smiles, claims they're grasping at straws... and quickly lawyers up.
Ryan and Esposito return from Jessica's apartment with the news. No blood or trace evidence, the place had been scrubbed too thoroughly for that. But around her bed, CSI had found traces of bleach from the cleanup, and a pillow with traces of saliva from where Jessica was smothered. No wonder the research was gone, Lady Irena took it to protect her clients. They arrest her.
Castle goes home to suffer some home cooking from Martha. Alexis has decided not to do cheerleading. It conflicts with too many of her other activities, and it just isn't her. When Martha asks someone else to clean up, it hits him. Who cleaned up the crime scene? The pillow had saliva, but the pillowcases didn't. So who laundered them? If it had been Lady Irena, then Danielle would have been home by the time the laundry was done.
It was Danielle. She was Subject B. When Matt left the files at her apartment, Danielle read them, realized that she was the dangerously co-dependent person who Jessica wanted to leave. The pain of reading Jessica's clinical analysis was too much, and then on top of that she told Danielle that she would be moving out to live with Tyler. It was too much. Danielle admits it. She hadn't meant to kill Jessica, but her cruel words and the thought that she would lose her best friend and sister caused a fight that resulted in Jessica's death. It was a crime of passion after all; Danielle used the notes she'd read to stage the crime scene to throw suspicion on her dominatrix clients.
They release Lady Irena. She had been so uncooperative because, well, she's a lawyer and a dominatrix.
Then someone else arrives in the station. The lovely Jenny, who's real after all. She has lovely things to say about Castle, Beckett, and Esposito. They're all stunned at what a catch she is. No wonder Ryan has been so protective about her!
- Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle
- Stana Katic as Detective Kate Beckett
- Jon Huertas as Detective Javier Esposito
- Seamus Dever as Detective Kevin Ryan
- Tamala Jones as Dr. Lanie Parish
- Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Captain Roy Montgomery
- Molly Quinn as Alexis Castle
- Susan Sullivan as Martha Rodgers
- Amy Gumenick as Danielle
- Devon Gummersall as Matt Haley
- Dina Meyer as Lady Irena
- Keiko Agena as Kelly
- Tom Schanley as William Carraway
- Gil McKinney as Tyler Benton
- Azita Ghanizada as Mistress Sapphire
- Juliana Dever as Jenny
- Paul Schackman as Barry
- Mark Damon Espinoza as Professor Stevenson
- Angel Parker as Receptionist
- Vanessa Motta as Jessica Margolis (uncredited)
- Kimberly Whittaker as Mistress Amber (uncredited)
- Lanie: I can do the chocolate, I’ll even do the whipped cream bikini, but caramel? I prefer slippery to sticky.
- Castle: Does she know we can hear her?
- Castle: Only a handful of shops? What aren't you telling me?
- Beckett: So much, Castle. So very, very much.
- Beckett: Hi, my name is Kate, and my boyfriend has been a very bad boy.
- Patterns - Band of Skulls
- Beautiful Small Machines - Superconductor
- Both of the grad students in the Hudson program who were up for the Fellowship were guilty of breaches of academic integrity.
- Matt Haley harassed and later blackmailed Jessica into withdrawing from consideration. When discovered, he lost his funding and was expelled from the program.
- Jessica failed to disclose that she was the key subject in her own ethnography, an undisclosed conflict of interest that tainted the results of her research. Also, all human behavioral research (including sociology, and especially research conducted on subjects without their knowledge or informed consent) must be approved in advance by the university's research ethics board.
- Matt Haley threatened to reveal Jessica's secret to her boyfriend. Had Jessica's secret been revealed to the university instead, the scandal would have ruined her research, her degree, her career, and triggered an investigation of her entire department. Instead, Matt kept silent in the face of a major breach in scientific ethics; by any university's standards, his sin was that he didn't say anything once he found out what she was doing.
- In addition to betraying her university's ethics policy and her boyfriend, Castle points out that her research also betrayed the confidentiality agreements that she had (through Lady Irena) with her bondage clients.
- Jessica's many ethical woes helped solve her murder. Normally, depth interviews are gathered under an expectation of confidentiality; Beckett would normally have needed a warrant to get access to them, and the university would have fought them in court as a matter of course.
- If Danielle hadn't broken down, then she might have gotten away with it. The case against Lady Irena was strong. Suspicion on Danielle rested on the fact that Lady Irena wouldn't have had time to launder the pillows while cleaning the crime scene. But it was already established that she had left her prints on the wineglass in the dishwasher for the roommate to wash. Danielle could have claimed that, finding the pillowcases in the washer, she simply assumed Jessica had left them there and washed them herself.
- Castle mentions in passing that his safe word is "apples". He first disclosed this in the series pilot, Flowers for Your Grave.
- Hudson University is a fictional school that appears frequently in TV shows, though it was originally invented as a fictional university for the DC Comics universe. In Castle, it appears in "A Deadly Game", "Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind", "Head Case", and "Dial M for Mayor".
- First appearance of Jenny. She references Beckett's profile and picture in Cosmo. The interview took place in "Deep in Death".
- When Beckett calls Lady Irena's House of Pain to set up a session with Mistress Venom mirrors when Castle called to arrange a date with a prostitute in "Hell Hath No Fury".
- Watch for: When Castle asks Beckett if there hasn't been something she have wanted to do with her handcuffs besides arresting people she stares at his wrists for a few seconds before answering him in sultry tones.
- Dina Meyer, who plays Lady Irena, interestingly appeared in the CSI: Miami episode "Deep Freeze" which also had Stana Katic in it.
- Alexis considers trying out for the cheerleading squad, but decision to not trying out due to conflicts with her other activities.