Fool Me Once…
Season 2, Episode 4
Fool Me Once…
Air date October 12, 2009
Written by Alexi Hawley
Directed by Bryan Spicer
Episode guide
Inventing the Girl
When the Bough Breaks
Season 2
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Season 1   Season 3

Fool Me Once… is the fourth episode of the second season of Castle.


While he's dropping playful hints to Beckett about the plot of Castle's first book based on her, the two investigate the murder of Steven Fletcher, a con man posing as an Arctic explorer for school children. The case takes several interesting turns, fascinating Castle and infuriating Beckett, when they suspect that the victim was actually a CIA operative and may have faked his own death. But when an old CIA contact of Castle's disputes that the victim was ever a spy, everyone wonders just who is being fooled.


In an upscale elementary school, a teacher calls his class to order. The kids are thrilled because today they'll be getting a message from intrepid arctic explorer Dr. Fletcher! He comes on the TV screen, larger than life, telling the kids about the huge blizzard he's in now, on his way to the North Pole. As he talks, a shadow passes across the back of the tent. Then, suddenly, Fletcher looks up, off camera, and begs for his life. There're a struggle, a shot, and the camera falls over... to show the inside of a New York City apartment.

Castle faces a similar surprise. Dylan is Alexis's new violin instructor. Her young, very sexy violin instructor. He is going to Julliard and is a musical prodigy, so when Alexis's old instructor Olga retired, Alexis got lucky to get him. For his part, Castle's worried that Dylan will get lucky with Alexis. Despite his best efforts, Alexis leads Dylan into her room for some private tutoring.

Castle arrives at the school wondering where the body is and is fascinated when he realizes that his victim is a fraud who died in an undisclosed location. The teacher, Mr. Wheeler, is flabbergasted. He shows them Fletcher's brochure. He was a Yale Ph.D. who was making a one-man trip to the North Pole. Some local private schools funded his trip, and in exchange he transmitted regular reports to the kids, giving them a unique educational experience.

While Mr. Wheeler talks, Ryan has passed around a picture of the view from Fletcher's window, caught for a moment on the webcam. He hits pay dirt; one of the uniforms recognizes the building, at 79th and Amsterdam. At the apartment, they find a makeshift sound stage for Fletcher's "Arctic reports". The door was unlocked, so either Fletcher had left it unlocked or the killer had a key. They approach the body, Castle putting on his gloves and admiring his hands of blue. Fletcher was shot once with a large-caliber bullet that pretty much eradicated his face. Did his killer hate him that much? Also in the apartment: a box of passports and IDs-- "Fletcher" was probably running several cons at once.

Back at the station, the usual suspects are running multiple cons of their own. Castle is eager to hear what Beckett thinks of Heat Wave, especially since it was so hard for him to get her an advance copy. Beckett claims that she hasn't had a chance to look at it yet. Esposito has to haul all the evidence boxes up, since Ryan (winking at the guys from behind) hurt his back.

Sure enough, "Stephen Fletcher" is a fake name. The real Dr. Fletcher is a 300 lb Hawaiian who had no idea that his identity had been stolen. Another of Fletcher's aliases conned a violently insane woman, Patty Schultz, out of her life savings about a year ago. The woman had been forcibly detained in a psychiatric hospital several times. Might she have tracked him down and gotten revenge?

Schultz is a bust. She has a rock-solid alibi, and so while all she cares about in this world is her cats and killing Stephen Fletcher, it's clearly not her. She assures Castle that just because she was insane didn't make her an easy mark. On the contrary. She has paranoid personality disorder-- she's even more suspicious than a normal person. Fletcher, who went by Stephen Miles with her, was the first person in years who made her feel safe. Until he made off with $60,000 that she paid to cryogenically keep her and her cats. "That man could sell sand to camels," she said, half-admiringly. Beckett turns down her request to see Fletcher's corpse.

Fletcher's next con is as Stephen Lambert. He was engaged to be married to Elise Finnegan, heir to the Finnegan fortune of over $100 million. Elise flat-out doesn't believe it, and damn all the evidence. She breaks down into tears while her parents and best friend comfort her. Stephen had given no signs of being a con man, and in fact was even paying for the wedding himself.

The gang stays late that night trying to unravel all the cons Stephen was pulling. Someone once tried to con Stephen with a Nigerian email scam-- but Fletcher conned him instead out of $10,000. The boys are all impressed. They love a good con, and especially a con movie. What's Beckett's favorite? None. To their horror, she hates con movies. As they talk, a weird point comes up. Fletcher already had the money, and maybe he filmed the broadcasts to keep the school from finding out, but why bother writing personalized, well-researched responses to all the kids who had written him? Something's fishy.

Beckett leaves early, and Castle thinks her claim that she's not leaving to go on a date is fishy, too. Ryan and Esposito haven't heard anything. It's left to the viewer to see her steamy date. She goes home, pours a glass of wine, runs a hot bath, and settles down to read a good book by candlelight. Heat Wave, of course.

Alexis is practicing her violin with Dylan late at night when Castle gets home. Castle's suspicions are already riled up by the Fletcher case; he can't resist eavesdropping. When Dylan leaves, Castle tells Alexis he'll need to get a background check, maybe even a polygraph. Alexis walks out, fuming. But this gets Castle thinking.

The next morning, he calls Beckett out of her sparring session to tell her he'd cracked the case wide open. It's simply inconceivable to Castle that Gerry Finnegan didn't realize that his daughter was marrying a con artist. If he did know, perhaps his anger led him to murder. Beckett isn't buying it, but Ryan and Esposito ran gun registration records and Gerry Finnegan owns a gun whose caliber matches that of the murder weapon.

Finnegan's gun doesn't match. But Finnegan did know that Stephen was a fraud. Stephen had begged Mr. Finnegan not to expose him, insisting that he really did love Elise and was done with cons. He offered to sign any prenup that Mr. Finnegan wrote, cutting him out of the family fortune forever if he wanted. Finnegan, incredibly, believed him, and agreed not to say anything. Finnegan had had the detective hold onto the incriminating photos, but agreed to share them with the police. He hadn't admitted to knowing to Castle and Beckett in the first interview because Elise was there and would have been heartbroken.

Castle is starting to believe that maybe Fletcher really was going straight for the love of Elise, but Beckett doesn't buy it. She says that people never change, that they can't and won't. Period. Castle, a former playboy gone straight himself, looks wounded after the conversation.

The photos come in, and immediately Castle and Beckett realize that they need another talk with Jim Wheeler, the elementary school teacher. The photo was taken after Fletcher supposedly had left on his "arctic voyage", so why was he at a coffee shop passing envelopes to Wheeler? Wheeler falls to pieces. He admits that he'd figured out that the photos in the brochure were photoshopped and took a cut in exchange for his silence. He says that Fletcher's trip may have been faked, but the educational experience was real and the kids loved it. Facing jail if he doesn't cooperate, he has no idea who might have killed Fletcher. "But have you asked his partner?"


Up to now, there's been no mention of an accomplice. Wheeler helpfully points her out. It turns out that she's in the picture, too. Under the magnifying glass, they recognize her at once. Elise Finnegan. "Who's conning whom here?"

Elise had furiously denied that Fletcher could have been a con man, even the face of overwhelming evidence. Now it looks like she was sitting right there when he was pulling scams. After wrestling with her conscience, she comes clean. Fletcher was CIA. ("Best case ever!") The con man act was just that, an act intended to cover his real mission: infiltrating the International School. Most of the students there were the children of UN Diplomats, many from some of the USA's worst enemies. Fletcher, and fellow agent Jim Wheeler, were using the school to get intelligence from their parents. Castle totally buys it, but Beckett leaves amazed at how gullible Elise, and Castle for that matter, are. There's only one way to resolve it. Castle bets her a dollar that Fletcher really is CIA, and then calls his guy in the CIA.

"You have a guy in the CIA?"
"When are you going to learn? I've got a guy everywhere."

They're still talking about Agent Gray, by far the most dangerous man Castle's ever met, when he materializes seemingly out of nowhere. He's already read Heat Wave and loves it, especially the sex scene between Nikki Heat and the roguishly handsome reporter who's helping her. Talk about steamy. Agent Gray quickly confirms that the CIA's never heard of Fletcher, and then vanishes in plain sight. That's when Castle is picked up and dragged into an interrogation room. Alexis has discovered that he called Julliard to check up on Dylan's record, and is insulted and furious. She points out how irresponsible he is and how responsible she's always been. How could he not trust her? She rips into him for a little while longer and then leaves Castle, broken. Beckett, who watched the whole thing in the mirror, tells Castle that Alexis took him down like a pro. Castle's been pushing her to break the rules and have fun, and now suddenly he freaks out. Beckett is playful about it until she realizes that he's genuinely heartbroken. Then it's back to work.

Elise and her friend Susan are just leaving when Castle and Beckett show up. But something's up. Finally, Susan gives them the good news: Fletcher is alive after all! ("Best case ever!") He just left a voice mail telling Elise that they're after him, and he'll call her later. So if Fletcher is alive, then who's the stiff in the morgue? Lanie isn't totally sure that the body is Fletcher. The prints are a match to the apartment, but they aren't in the system. None of his identities have dental records. They still don't know his real identity so they don't have anything to compare to what they have. Oh, and the face had been obliterated by the gunshot. And the webcam was knocked away right before Fletcher was shot, so they didn't see him die. ("Best case ever!")

Suddenly, Esposito walks up. The credit cards for his aliases are coming alive. Six different cards, each booking a different route out-of-town and, eventually, to a non-extradition country. They can't cover all that ground, but Beckett realizes they don't have to. If Fletcher is still pursuing Elise, then he'll have to make a run at her. They arrive too late-- Elise has already left. But Beckett spots a clue that blows the case wide open. On a table is their wedding album. Sue made it; she's a graphic artist, but Beckett and Castle realize it looks exactly like the arctic brochure Fletcher used to con the International School.

It's the Undercover Lover con. Sue met Elise about a year ago, developed a friendship, and learned enough about her hopes and dreams and desires to give Stephen a playbook to use when, six months later, he arrives on the scene, with an identity designed to be Elise's ideal man. It wouldn't have made sense to have faked his own death now, so close to the payoff. But what if Fletcher really had gone straight, as he told Gerry Finnegan? Then Sue stood to lose millions. She kills Fletcher in a way that ensures he can't be identified, then fakes a call from Fletcher to Elise. Somehow, she's still conspiring to get away Elise's money.

Meanwhile, at Elise's bank, Sue tells her that she's just spoken with Stephen. A million dollars of Elise's money will get the two of them out of the country. Stephen's got more stashed overseas. Elise rushes in to get the money. She comes out with a briefcase full of cash. She just missed Stephen's call to Sue. Sue is to take the money to the safe house while Elise packs, and then the two can be together forever. Elise hands her the case and thanks her best friend for helping the lovers make their escape.

Sue walks around the block, climbs into her car, and pops open the briefcase. Far from having money, it has the most worthless thing in the world-- newspapers! Castle and Beckett knock on her car window. She fell for the oldest con in the book: The Lazy Susan. They haul her off. A laptop in the trunk had the voice editing software that she used to fake Fletcher's phone call to Elise. The bank guard, who was in on Beckett's trick, shares a reference to The Sting with her. Castle objects that she hates con movies, but Beckett laughs at how easy a mark he is.

Elise has fallen apart. The whole thing was a lie from the beginning. But Beckett comforts her. She says that Stephen really had changed his ways, and was quitting cons because of his love for Elise. Castle, remembering their conversation before, is suddenly hopeful.

Still doing paperwork, and thinking Castle's gone for the day, Beckett sneaks off into the women's bathroom. As she hunts feverishly through the pages, Castle's head pops up over the stall she's in. Beckett, stunned, can't even speak. Castle smugly tells her that the sex scene she's hunting for is on page 105. He wishes her a good night, and leaves. Beckett is outraged, she's furious, she's humiliated... she quickly turns to the page, and her eyes widen in shock. Whoa....

Back at the stately Castle manor, the sounds of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star played very badly echo through the apartment. Martha is getting lessons from Dylan, and Castle can only hope that the two run away together as he apologizes to Alexis. They make up, and run off for dinner.


Castle 2x04 Fool Me Once Promo

Castle 2x04 Fool Me Once Promo


Main Cast

Guest Starring



Esposito: Ryan hurt his back.
Castle: Yeah, but for a con man it's not just about the money. I mean, for them it's about the game. Th-the thrill they get from pulling a con... it's like a drug.
Montgomery: Con man was on drugs?
Beckett: No, sir. Castle is just giving us psychological insight based on his extensive experience as a fraud.
Castle: Meow.
Patty Schultz: Have you ever been duped?
Castle: I've been married twice.
Beckett: Don't be so impressed. the guy was a criminal.
Castle: Oh, no, there's something about a-a well-played con that just makes you want to tip your hat, though. And they have such great names-- the Spanish Prisoner, the Pig in the Poke, the Pigeon Drop.
Montgomery: Oh, I love a good con movie-- "House of Games," "Catch Me If You Can".
Esposito: Ocean's Eleven, baby.
Ryan: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Mother?
Esposito: "Not mother?"
Castle: For my money, it starts and it ends with "The Sting."
Montgomery: Oh.
Ryan: What about you, Beckett? WHat's your favorite?
Beckett: I hate con movies.
Castle and Esposito: What?
Ryan: Really?
Castle: Dear Mr. Fletcher, do penguins wear tuxedos?
Ryan: Penguins are south pole.
Castle: Yeah...I'm not sure. I mean, if you were really such a greedy monster, would you really bother writing back to all of them?
Montgomery: He's got a point.
Esposito: Yeah.
Beckett: Oh, now who's the sucker? Sir.
Montgomery: Sucker or no sucker, clearly there's more to this guy than meets the eye.
Ryan: Busted.
Beckett: Shut up, Esposito.
Beckett: Oh, do I detect some jealousy?
Castle: Me, jealous? Ha! Double ha!
Beckett: What if I told you that my date was with your book?
Castle: Really?
Beckett: No. God, you're easy. Give me your case-breaking information so I can get a cup of coffee.
Castle: Well, I went a little "Daddy Dearest" on Alexis, and it got me thinking. If I can go this crazy over a violin teacher, how crazy would I go if my daughter was about to marry a scam artist? Crazy enough to kill, maybe?
Beckett: That is--
Castle: --Inspired?
Beckett: No.
Castle: Brilliant?
Beckett: Mnh-mnh.
Castle: Genius?
Beckett: Unh-unh.
Castle: What?
Beckett: Thin.
Beckett: Shut the front door.
Castle: No time for dirty talk. Go get changed.
Beckett: I hate this case.
Castle: I know. Isn't it great?
Castle: Aha.
Beckett: Oh! Castle, what are you doing here?
Castle: I knew you were reading it.
Beckett: Uh, I w--
Castle: It's on page 105, by the way.
Beckett: What?
Castle: That sex scene you're looking for. And Agent Gray was right. It's steamy.
Beckett: I wasn't...
Castle: See you tomorrow.
Alexis: Dad! We need to talk.
Castle: Sweetie.
Alexis: Sit. Dylan called. Did you called Julliard and check on him?
Castle: Maybe.
Alexis: I can't believe you. After I told you how much taking lessons from him means to me?
Castle: Sweetie--
Alexis: No, no, quiet. Am I a trouble-maker, Dad? Do I get drunk, disobey authority, steal police horses...
Castle: That--
Alexis: naked? No. That'd be you. I seem to be the only person in this family blessed with good judgment, and yet, you don't trust me.
Castle: I trust you. It's just--it's a dangerous world out there...and people lied.
Alexis: You don't think I know that? I'm in high school. It's like the wild wild west with hormones, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job navigating it
Ryan: Flecter conned the guy out of 4 grand.
Esposito: Our boy was good.
Castle: Dawn good.
Beckett: There's a sex scene?

Featured Music

  • "Factories" - Winter Gloves
  • "Can't Stop" - Mozella



  • Although Castle is well versed on criminal psychology and police procedures, Beckett explains some terms and concepts to him in this episode.
    • Beckett says she thinks the victim was a squirrel. This means that he would "hide his nuts for the winter", or rather his valuables, secrets, or anything anyone living a lie wouldn't want to be found.
    • The victim being shot in the face with a large-caliber gun indicates a deep anger in the shooter, and an attempt to erase what makes the victim a person.
  • At the crime scene, Castle says that he is reminded of the film, "Capricorn One" (1978). In the movie, astronauts are forced to act as though they have landed on Mars.
  • As oddball as Patty Schultz's interest in cryonic preservation was, Castle and Beckett, encounter the real thing in "Head Case".
  • As the group sits eating pizza at the Precinct, they discuss confidence scams. A confidence scam is commonly referred to as a "con", in which one person tricks another, usually for financial gain. [1] They also make references to several movies that involve con jobs. [2]
  • In the previous episode Inventing the Girl, Beckett asked Castle what Nikki Heat would do after a bad day. He replied, "She'd go home, pour a stiff drink, run a hot bath, read a good book." Beckett's "date" was exactly that.
  • Later, Beckett allows Castle to believe that she's been sparring with her mystery date. While this isn't the case, this foreshadows how she'll meet her love interest Detective Demming later this season.
  • Castle says that he went "Daddy Dearest" on Alexis. This is a reference to the memoir written by Christina Crawford, daughter of famous actress Joan Crawford. The book was later made into a theatrical movie. Both of which alleged that Joan Crawford was controlling, and mentally and physically abused her children.
  • Gerry Finnegan owning a gun at all is noteworthy, let alone one with a matching caliber. In New York City, it's virtually impossible to legally own a handgun. Castle's tried, and even with his money and connections he couldn't pull it off.
  • Jim Wheeler uses an "Elmo Visual Presentation" device to project the picture on the screen for Castle and Beckett. It is essentially a camera that projects what ever is placed under the lens.
  • Castle has a guy in the CIA. He also has a girl, Sophia Turner. It isn't until much later that Castle will acknowledge that he's actually followed CIA agents on missions. In light of that, Castle's claim that Agent Gray is "by far the most dangerous man I've ever met" is even more impressive.
    • Castle's coded phrase to have Agent Gray contact him is, "Thai food is pleasing to the tongue."
  • In his Nikki Heat books, the character Castle based on himself is named Rook. "Castle" and "rook" are interchangeable names for the same game piece in chess, although in British English, "rook" is the piece and "to castle" the action of repositioning a previously unmoved King and rook.
  • The building that Elise enters as her bank is actually the Pacific Center building at 523 W. 6th St. in Los Angeles, California.
  • The sex scene between Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook really is on page 105 of Heat Wave. It's steamy.
  • The violin song Martha is playing is probably "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". However, "Ba Ba Black Sheep" and the "Alphabet Song" have the same tune. The piano riff at the end is meant to segue from that song to something reminiscent of "The Entertainer", a ragtime hit by Scott Joplin famously used in the classic con movie "The Sting".
  • List of everyone's favorite Con movie:
    • Castle - The Spanish Prisoner, The Pig-in-the-poke, The Pigeon Drop and The Sting.
    • Montgomery - House of Games and Catch Me If You Can.
    • Esposito - Ocean's Eleven.
    • Ryan - Dirty Rotton Scoundrels.
  • Beckett is the only cop who hates con movie, which is a shock to Castle, Ryan and Esposito.
  • Watch for When Beckett ask Castle if he was jealous of her "mystery date", he said no with a ha. Though, you can tell he's a little jealous because he's a bit in love with Beckett. 
  • When Castle aske Beckett if she was reading his book, she said no, which left him annoyed and agitated.


  1. "The Spanish Prisoner" originated in the 19th century and involves a con-man asking a person for money to release another from prison with the promise of a reward once it has been accomplished. The "Pig-in-a-Poke" refers to a con that dates back hundreds of years, in which the victim buys a low-quality product because they were tricked into not thoroughly checking it out first. The "Pigeon Drop" is a con in which a person is convinced to give up a small amount of money with the promise of obtaining a larger sum of money.
  2. House of Games revolves around a woman who is conned into falling in love and taking part in a con, only to discover that a larger con has been pulled on her to pay money to get her boyfriend out of trouble. Catch Me If You Can is a true story of a man that assumed positions of authority and made millions forging checks. Ocean's Eleven (original 1960, remake 2001) is about a group of con men that plot and carry out a robbery of three Vegas casinos. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels centers on two con men in competition with one another, only to be out done by a third con artist. The Sting involves con men who play different parts to con a mob boss.