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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

On America's favorite dance reality show, A Night of Dance, 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 is nowhere to be found. Exasperated, an assistant producer runs backstage and opens the dancer's dressing room door. Odette Morton is there, all right, but she is now dead.

In the apartment that Richard Castle shares with his daughter Alexis Castle and his mother Martha Rodgers, this last walks in on her son while he is attempting to write. Martha had 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 the acting school she is attempting to establish. Castle is skeptical; Marconi's last encounter with Martha had resulted in a ruinous review back in 1983, and while she claims not to hold a grudge, Castle is less certain, reciting the exact words from the review which his mother spent months ranting about around the apartment.

At the studio, Dr. Lanie Parish is examining the body. She finds a single gunshot wound to the heart; though the area had been cleared before taping had started, it comes as a surprise that no one had heard a gunshot. The opening pyrotechnics might have covered the sound...but how the killer could have timed things so precisely is unknown. Detectives Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito are already handling the canvassing and data collection. Dr. Parish proves to be a wealth of information, being, as she is, a fan of Odette and the show. Odette Morton had been a wealthy heiress and party girl gone wrong, but having almost died in a train accident had shocked her into becoming a better, more substantial person. Odette had been a lock to win the entire competition, and Dr. Parish suspects one of Odette's backstabbing rivals on the show of having been the killer.

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 had left at eleven AM that day and disappeared for a half hour. Another dancer, Chantal, had covered for her, but had not known where she was going. Even more ominously, while Chantal had flirted with Detective Esposito, she had utterly ignored Detective Ryan. Esposito lets Ryan in on the secret that, now that he wears a wedding band, he has ceased to be visible to single women.

Paul Morton is Odette Morton's brother. He explains that Odette had taken the death of her wealthy grandfather very hard. She had quitted school and broken up with her boyfriend to become a wild and dangerous party girl. After the train derailment, Odette had just barely survived. She had turned her life around and had begun dance training. The people in her past were gone. Paul does name one man in her present with whom she was having trouble, a certain Eddie Gordon.

Max Renfro is the executive producer of A Night of Dance. Along with the senior staff, he promises Detective Kate Beckett total cooperation. Eddie had been cast as a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, but he had brought the drama off the stage as well as keeping it on the stage. When he had been eliminated the week before, he had become rude and threatening. In his exit interview, he explicitly mimed shooting her with a handgun after her "betrayal." But Eddie does not go--not any longer. Now that Odette is dead, by the rules of the competition, the last eliminated dancer returns to take her place. He has already returned to the studio; indeed, he was seen there on the afternoon when Odette was murdered.

Unfortunately for Eddie, he has a criminal record to match his threats, and Beckett opens his interrogation of him by pointing this out to him. Eddie's alibi is a meeting with his agent across town. He does, however, have some information for them. Odette had been making easy mistakes and disappearing in the ladies's room for long stretches, and Eddie had actually witnessed her giving a large stack of bills to a man in the alley outside the studio, raising the question of whether Odette had been involved in drugs. But Eddie's alibi holds up, and Odette's credit-card records support the theory. She had suddenly maxed them all out, or employed each of them for spending till they had all been brought to their respective credit limits, approximately one month ago.

Samuel Lynchberg was Odette Morton's business manager and the executor, first of her grandfather's estate, and now of her own. All Odette's money goes to the Graham Morton Charitable Foundation. Regarding her spending spree, Lynchberg gives some insight. After her grandfather had died, she had also gone on a money binge. She would drink heavily, frequently becoming intoxicated, and squander money buying cars, apartments, and rather frivolous items for her friends, even paying for one friend to receive 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, however, Beckett notices two details which strike her as odd. First, all the clothes she had bought were in size four, which is not the size Odette Morgan wore. Second, none of the clothes she had bought were at her apartment. Castle suspects it of being a variation on an old trick he had learned about in boarding school. Odette would buy the clothes for someone else, who would give her cash off the books. She would then be able to use that cash for quickly paying off a guy in an alley. Later, she would be able to repay her credit cards's outstanding balances from the Foundation's monthly stipend. As the cards are now all at or have exceeded their respective credit limits, he reasons that this time, she lacked enough cash, and that whomever she owed had killed her.

Beckett points out some problems with Castle's theory, though, the largest being the actual identity of 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 which he has seen before. As Jasmine, the assistant on the show, has already been identified by the store clerk as the size four beneficiary of Odette Morgan's generosity, her denial falls flat. She tries to claim that Odette was just being generous, but Beckett and Castle have a better idea, that of blackmail. More denials follow, but when Beckett offers to arrest Jasmine, she breaks. She had witnessed the show's host, Brad Melville, and Odette in what had appeared to be a serious dispute, when they were even forbidden to speak to one another. Jasmine had followed them, and she had even managed to record the tail end of the conversation. Then she had confronted Odette, threatening to tell everything to chief producer Max Renfro. Jasmine had been bluffing, as she had had no idea what Odette was trying to hide. But Odette had paid her the blackmail money. Whatever the secret she was attempting to hide was, it was an especially serious one. The recording catches Brad threatening to kill Odette if anyone finds out about their deal. Everyone assumes that the two had been having an affair, and that if Max Renfro had found out, then Odette would be expelled from the show and Brad would be dismissed from his hosting duties.

Brad is quick with an explanation. He had caught Odette shooting up one morning at the studio. He had believed in Odette Morton, he says, and he had been thunderstruck to find her back on drugs. He had confronted her, and she had promised to quit. Then he had caught her again. He had planned to go to Max, but she had, in turn, threatened to tell Max that he had let her off the first time. As Max would then have dismissed them both, Brad had kept his silence. Sure enough, Ryan and Esposito do indeed find a hidden compartment concealed in her jewelry box, and it does contain syringes. But Dr. Parish calls at the same time and tells them that she has found no evidence of drug use. The possibility arises of the syringes being used for some exotic drug for which forensic laboratories do not normally screen.

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

At the precinct, Beckett offers sympathy to Castle, and with it a tasty tidbit; uniforms had discovered that Odette Morton had gone to a cafe on the morning when she had slipped out for the half hour. The mystery date has been identified as Suzanne Steiner, an old friend of Odette's. They had shared a coffee and talked about old times. Apparently, that had been it.

Another piece of information comes in; Odette Morton was on a drug all right, but the drug had been an insulin preparation. Her doctor denies that she has diabetes, but he admits that it has been over a year since he has last seen her. This leaves the reason for her not telling Brad that it was not narcotics, and her payment of the blackmail money, unexplained. Esposito has still more information; the CSU found only one set of prints in Odette's apartment, but the prints were not those of Odette Morton herself. They instead belonged to Barbra Landau, a stripper with a troubled past who had been killed in the same train collision which had almost killed Odette. Esposito pins a picture of Barbra Landau on the murder board--she resembles Odette Morton exactly.

Castle sees the implications immediately. He theorizes that Odette Morton and Barbra Landau had been twins separated at birth, the one adopted by a rich grandfather and the other shuffling between foster homes. Eventually, they had coincidentally met on a train that had been bound for Miami, where they had gotten to know each other, and Barbra had figured that she could have done better in Odette's place. Beckett sarcastically asks if Barbra had purposely caused the derailment with her Wiccan powers. Though admitting that it would make a good story, Castle reasons instead that when the accident had happened, Odette had been killed, but Barbra had survived, and had used the opportunity to steal Odette's identity; he then asks if "Odette" was killed for being Odette, or if was related to Barbra's own past. However, Ryan and Esposito come up to explain that blood tests prove them not to have been related. Castle forms a plan to go to the strip club and find out, which Ryan and Esposito foil by explaining that they are doing this one on their own, sticking him with Beckett re-interviewing Paul Morton, whom neither he nor Beckett can believe had never been suspicious.

Esposito asks Ryan why he had not wanted Castle to join them on the strip-club trip, but Ryan has a plan. It is to see whether it is Ryan's ring, or something about him, that now fails to excite the ladies. But Ryan's other married friends insist that their wedding band make them more attractive, not less. Had Castle been present, all the girls would have been coming on to him. This, however, means that Ryan and Esposito can conduct an identity exchange of their own. Javier agrees, reluctantly, to wear Kevin's wedding band to help determine which one of them the girls at the strip club will notice.

At the club, another stripper remembers "Barbie" quite well. She had always dreamed of being a Broadway dancer. Two years before, she had gone so far as to have undergone a nose job, even though her nose was fine already. The dancer immediately recognizes the subject of the police sketch that Eddie Gordon had provided as Jason Bagwell, a ne'er-do-well from Alphabet City. All he had done was scam her. But she had fallen hard for him, and had stayed with him anyway. The evidence is conclusive; the women are still flirting with Esposito and ignoring Ryan. But soon, Esposito finds that he cannot remove Ryan's wedding band from his own finger.

Castle figures out the true story, having, for once, even done some leg-work and gathered all the evidence. Odette Morton had paid for Barbra Landau's plastic surgery. The surgery had not made Barbra look more beautiful, but it had strengthened her resemblance to Odette. He also recalls Lynchberg having mentioned Odette paying for a nose job for a friend. He has spoken to Lynchberg's assistant, who has confirmed that Odette did indeed pay for Barbra's surgery, plus expenses. Asked for an explanation by Beckett, Castle shows Beckett two photos; the one is of Odette working in a soup kitchen for her community service hours while the other is her at a bridal shower with friends. The two photos were allegedly taken at the same time. Barbra Landau was a body double for the real Odette Morton. As Odette's wealth and carousing had led to a long list of obligations and responsibilities, Barbra had handled those in Odette's stead, while the real Odette enjoyed life in the fast lane free of any responsibilities. As Castle phrases 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 had been what both had been doing on the train together at the time of the fatal accident, and that had been how Barbra Landau had pulled off the deception so perfectly--she had been trained by the real Odette Morton herself. Seeing her chance in a tragic accident, Barbra had slipped effortlessly into the role of her erstwhile understudy. This raises the question of what could have happened if someone from Barbra's past had known what was going on with her. On cue, Barbra Landau's past arrives in the form of Jason Bagwell himself. Beckett and Castle interrogate him, voicing their theory that he had recognized Barbra when he had seen her on TV and had attempted to cash in, but when she had refused to be taken advantage of any longer, he had killed her. Jason denies this, stating that he would have come in earlier to tell the truth had he not feared that he would be suspected in his ex-girlfriend's murder. He admits that he did know what was going on, but that Barbra had approached him. She had been lonely and had wanted to be with him, but also was scared about skeletons from the real Odette Morton's closet that had been coming back to haunt her. Whatever this secret was, Barbra had felt that she could have used it to her advantage if she could find out enough, but apparently she had failed to find out enough in time.

The afternoon Barbra-as-Odette had spent at the cafe with the real Odette's old friend Suzanne Steiner comes to mind, and the question of what Barbra had discussed with her arises. The two had grown up together, and even Steiner had failed to realize that the "Odette Morton" with whom she had spent the time was actually a doppelganger. Steiner's father, Charles Carson, had been Graham Morton's butler, and "Odette" had been particularly curious about the details of the day of her grandfather's death. Suzanne had not been there, but her father had, along with Odette. "Odette" had asked for the butler's number so they could catch up.

Charles Carson, Suzanne's father, had been to the studio on the day of the murder. But no one remembers having seen him after he had arrived before the show. A visit to the M.E.'s office confirms a dark possibility. Alexis, Dr. Parish'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. Dr. Parish has more news; the records clerk has informed her that "Odette" had also requested the file earlier in the week.

Castle and Beckett go after Carson right away. He denies having had anything to do with Graham Morton's death. But he had suspected foul play, and even that the old man had been smothered with a pillow. Odette had been seeing a man of whom her grandfather disapproved. He ordered her to break up with him, and things had been very tense. The day of his death, Mr. Morton had asked Carson to prepare his bed for a nap. As Morton had preferred a flat surface on which to rest, all the pillows had been cleared. While Morton had slept, Odette had been in the kitchen and had accidentally caused a fire there. Carson had doused the fire and had returned, but he had returned to find Morton dead, apparently in his sleep, but with a pillow on the bed beside him. Carson had said nothing. Since Odette had been with him the whole time, she had to have been innocent. This raises the question of who else was there. Castle points out that her kitchen fire was a distraction meant to draw him away from Mr. Morton's side, making her an accomplice. The question of who the real killer was, once answered, could also identify whoever killed Morton, as that unworthy had also killed Barbra when she had come too close to the truth.

Castle and Beckett bring Samuel Lynchberg back into the station. Surely, he is asked, as financial advisor to the Mortons, he must know who Odette's boyfriend at the time was. When he says that he does not, Beckett refreshes his memory; Paul Morton already told them that Lynchberg had been Odette's boyfriend, and that they had planned on marrying. He had conspired with Odette to murder her grandfather before he could cut her out of his will. But once her grandfather had been safely out of the picture, Odette had dumped Lynchberg and resumed her partying ways, now secure in her inheritance, and he had lost his ability to do a thing about it without admitting to murder. Lynchberg denies that they can prove whether he was involved in Mr. Morton's death. But Beckett says that they can prove he killed Barbra Landau, even as she produces the murder weapon, which uniforms had found in a dumpster behind Lynchberg's office, with his fingerprints on it.

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

As Ryan and Esposito still have a problem removing Ryan's wedding band from Esposito's hand, Beckett also helps them with that; her silky hand lotion is just the thing. With a strong tug, the band flies off Esposito's finger and lands...somewhere. Even as Ryan runs to find it, he will not, at least, have to sleep on the couch that night, and Esposito gets to go on his stripper date.

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

Promo

Castle 4x18 Promo "A Dance with Death" HD

Castle 4x18 Promo "A Dance with Death" HD








Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

The subject of the photos that represented both Odette Morton and Barbra Landau, and the actress shown to be the decedent in Odette's dressing room, were NOT credited.

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 (At The Copa)," originated by Barry Manilow. The song's famous punch line is "Just who shot who?" This describes the plot of this episode--both the killer and the victim have to be identified in the course of the episode.
  • Lanie Parish is a fan of A Night of Dance. As a child, she had dreamed of being a prima ballerina; however, by age thirteen, she had realized that her voluptuous figure would be incompatible with a dance career.
  • In the United States, Castle was typically transmitted immediately after Dancing With The Stars. Tom Bergeron, the then host of Dancing With The Stars, 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 had gone to a good school and had had options; she would have been much more likely to be a lawyer than a cop. In this episode, his speculation proves to have been correct: Beckett had gone to Stanford and had majored in pre-law.
    • Stanford is Alexis's dream school. Her ex-boyfriend Ashley is already there.
  • Kevin Ryan's couch has a loose spring that is bad for his back. In "Hell Hath No Fury," he had revealed that he had found the couch on which he and Javier Esposito had played video games at 54th and Lex Streets. This is almost certainly the same couch.
  • Odette Morton's name provides a subtle clue to the viewer that she is not 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 respective youth, each of their intended careers had been very different from the ones that both had eventually actually pursued:
    • Lanie Parish revealed that, up to the age of 13, she had been in training to be a prima ballerina.
    • Kate Beckett had planned on being a lawyer, like her parents, and was majoring pre-law at Stanford, having hoped to become the first female Chief Justice.

References

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