As I wrote in my last ‘Castle’ recap, the show’s first episode back from the holidays was one of its most entertaining ever. While last week’s follow-up, called ‘Poof! You’re Dead’, isn’t quite up to that same level, it’s pretty fun in its own right.
You can probably surmise from the episode title that the murder-of-the-week case finds Castle and Beckett investigating a magic act. The victim was the owner of a magic shop, who was once a pretty successful magician. He was drowned in one of his own prop water tanks, and the scene was staged to look like a suicide. Beckett and Castle see through that pretty quickly, of course.
The investigation brings them through the expected red herrings, in this case rival magicians who might have motive to kill. One is named Chuck Russell (Chadwick Boseman, the soldier from ‘Persons Unknown‘). I assume that’s a deliberate reference to the director of ‘The Mask‘ and ‘Eraser‘, who’s probably a friend of one of the writers or something. The other suspect at this point is a big-time magician by the name of Tobias Strange, described as “the Johnny Depp of magic.” He’s played by ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant and flagrant penis flaunter Gilles Marini, which is sure to appeal to the ladies in the audience. Naturally, those leads don’t pan out.
While snooping around the victim’s secret warehouse full of magic props, Castle and Beckett encounter his identical twin brother. Castle immediately finds this fishy, and concocts a host of theories about swapped identities and “an evil twin in a magic murder.” However, it turns out that the alleged twin brother really is the twin brother, and the victim’s body was exactly who it was supposed to be.
What really happened is that the victim was hired by an unscrupulous billionaire businessman who was under investigation by the SEC for running a ponzi scheme. The magician helped him fake his own death in a plane crash. (The plane went down over the ocean with a mannequin in the pilot’s seat.) Then the supposed dead man bumped off the magician to cover his tracks. Beckett and Castle catch him wearing a disguise to attend his own funeral. Beckett also uses the twin brother to stage a ghostly apparition that scares the killer into confessing.
As all this is going on, we discover in a side story that Esposito and Lanie have been having a fling. They don’t want anyone to find out, and go to ridiculous lengths to concoct alibi stories so that no one will suspect them. In the last scene, it’s revealed that pretty much everyone in the station figured it out a long time ago and have just been playing along.
As I said, ‘Poof! You’re Dead’ isn’t quite as hilarious as the previous episode. But the magic setting makes a good fit for Castle, and this is a solidly entertaining episode all around.