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Season 1, Episode 8
Castle Ghosts.jpg
Air date April 27, 2009
Written by Moira Kirland
Directed by Bryan Spicer
Episode guide
Home Is Where
the Heart Stops
Little Girl Lost
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Season 1
March 9, 2009 -May 11, 2009
Season 1 is now available on DVD  

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This is the first season Season 2

Ghosts is the eighth episode of the first season of Castle.


While unusual circumstances are practically usual, a body drowned in a bathtub of motor oil has the team scratching its collective head. But the mystery only deepens when investigation shows that the victim may have been involved with a crime more than 20 years old and was working with (or being stalked) by a true crime writer. Behind the scenes, the relationship between Castle and Beckett finally rears its truly competitive head during a high-stakes poker game involving New York's legal system elite.


The opening scene shows a tub of motor oil, from which the face of a woman comes up to the surface. Then the action switches to Castle's house, where the Castle along with his mother Martha and Beckett, as well as EspositoRyan and Captain Montgomery, are playing poker. Castle lets Kate win, which Martha Rodgers notices. A call comes, and they rush to the hotel where the opening scene was. They find an empty can of motor oil and a glass containing wine laced with sleeping pills.

They contact the husband Michael Goldman who tells them that his wife, Allison, went twice a week to the city to work for a flower shop. When contacted, the flower shop owner denies knowing anyone called Allison.

Michael later comes by the precinct, informing Beckett that his lawyer had faxed him a death certificate for an Allison Porter, his wife's maiden name... or so she claimed, revealing that she stole the identity of a three month old baby that died in 1963. While going over her email, they find she had contact with a true crime story writer, Lee Wax.

At Wax's home, Castle and Beckett learn that Wax was penning Cynthia Dern's memoirs. Allison was actually a fugitive who had been on the run for 20 years, as she and two of her environmentalist friends had blown up an oil tanker, while the captain was still on board. One died, and the other was sent to prison for 15 years.

The two visit the captain, Sam Pike's, house. They find that Wax had been in contact with them and were unaware that Dern was living so close to them. Their son Adam Pike tells them that he was at a club on Tuesday night.

Following Esposito's revelation that Dern was the one who tipped off the FBI to Jared Swanstrom's location, they visit Swanstorm. He claims hadn't realized that he'd been betrayed by Cynthia Dern. It turned out that he felt it was his fault that Susan Mailer died, as the bomb went off too early for her to escape. But contrary to Dern's claim, that she and Susan argued over setting off the bomb while the captain was in the ship until she was forced to flee to save herself, Swanstrom states that Dern came back well before the bomb blew up.

Castle later discusses Swanstrom's account of events with his family and note the inconsistencies between his and Cynthia's versions. As a writer, he knows when to give or withhold information in his stories, but with Wax being a ghost writer, she only know what Cynthia told her.

He later approaches Beckett, informing her that he spoke to Wax's publisher, who told him that Cynthia had full approval of how the book would turn out. However, the publisher didn't like her version of events, as it sounded like a bunch of remorseful garbage and they were getting ready to cancel the book. But now that Cynthia's death is all over the news, the publisher has renewed support for the book, so long as it takes on a more captivating story.

Beckett finds it hard to believe that Wax would murder Cynthia to save her own book. She then gets a call, informing her that Adam's alibi had fallen through.

Adam is then brought in for interrogation. Initially, Adam denies Beckett's accusations, only to break when she reveals that Michael had confirmed that he had seen him stalking his house. He admits that he only wanted to talk to Dern about 'blood money'. When pressed, he reveals that when he first learned of Cynthia's identify and whereabouts from Wax, he went to his mother for a course of action. His mother then revealed to him that every month since the bombing, a money order comes to his family, and the first one twenty years ago ended with, 'Please forgive me'. She assumed the money to be from Cynthia, as Mailer was dead and Swanstrom was in jail. Though she could've contacted the authorities all those years ago and had them track down Cynthia, the financial crisis the Pikes were forced to endure had her keep her silence. Adam only wanted to confront Cynthia and tell her that she hadn't earned his forgiveness. He followed her to the hotel and just as he had worked up to the courage to face her, a lady went into Dern's room. Castle, watching from behind the two-way mirror, starts tapping on it, telling Beckett that he believes the woman Cynthia was meeting was Lee Wax.

Wax is brought in and interrogated. Castle reveals that Wax's publisher was going to throw out their contact, because Cynthia's story seemed like a pack of lies. Wax counters that she told them that she knew Cynthia was lying, that every tear she made during their interviews was self-serving. Beckett doesn't believe it, mentioning the cash deliveries to the Pikes, but Wax claims Cynthia never mentioned this. She also provides an alibi. The night Cynthia was killed, Wax was at dinner with her publisher till after midnight.

They conclude that it couldn't have been Dern who was giving the money, as she would have told Wax to generate some more sympathy. But Swanstrom was already in jail, and Mailer was dead. Short of leads, they play poker with the Mayor, Judge Markway and Montgomery. The Mayor and Judge Markaway suggests that since Dern's own ghostwriter doesn't trust her, they ignore Dern's whole story as they endeavor to reconstruct what happened. They all build a theory together, this time assuming that it was Mailer who'd wanted to defuse the bomb. Dern leaves while Mailer tries to defuse the bomb, which went off as expected and killed her.

Meanwhile, Dern pins the blame on Mailer, turns Swanstrom in to the feds, and goes into hiding. The poker game comes down to one hand, and this time Beckett lets Castle win. As the Mayor makes an offhanded comment on how Castle "rises from the grave", suddenly, it occurs to Castle: what if Mailer had survived and was also in hiding?

Tracing the money, they come across an accident victim in Pennsylvania, who turns out to be Susan Mailer. Susan claims that she had been the one who had tried to defuse the bomb and had been thrown overboard by the blast. Afterwards, she was nursed back to health by a med student, and assumed the identity of Mary Wright. Still feeling guilty over her terrorist past, Mailer had been sending checks to the Pikes for years.

Susan learned, from Lee Wax, that Dern was having a memoir ghostwritten where Dern cast herself as the hero and Susan as the villainess. Mailer contacted Cynthia and threatened to turn herself in and go public with the whole truth. Dern responded by inviting her to the hotel. It was Cynthia who had rented the hotel and filled the bathtub with motor oil. Cynthia planned on giving Susan the spiked drink, then drowning her in the motor oil and making it look like a suicide by a deranged villainess haunted with guilt. A situation which would leave Cynthia free to spin the story however she liked. However, Mailer refused the wine and became suspicious. When she found the motor oil in the bathroom, she realized Cynthia's plan. The two fought and Dern was knocked unconscious. Desperate to return to her hidden life, Susan drowned Cynthia instead. Susan confesses to everything.

As Mailer is led away, Wax comes in to get the story from Castle, but he refuses. He reflects on how odd it was that everyone who Lee contacted had somehow managed to figure out that she was in communication with Cynthia Dern. Of course, if Cynthia had been arrested, Lee would have been freed from her contract, allowing her to write the book she wanted, and not compelled to pretend that she believed Dern's self-serving version of events. The publicity of a trial would have made her book practically a guaranteed best-seller. Castle suggests that Lee was dropping hints intentionally, so that one of her other sources would tip off the FBI. Wax doesn't come out and admit it, but points out that even if Castle is right, there's nothing illegal about it. Castle agrees, but says it's also slimy. Wax's all-access pass has been revoked. Oh... and Castle intends to put her in one of his future books. Wax storms out, defeated.

Now alone, Beckett and Castle decide to have a fair poker game. Castle offers to play strip, but Beckett has a pack of gummi bears instead. Beckett starts dealing out the cards as the screen fades out.


Main Cast

Guest Stars


Martha: Well, frankly, I prefer strip (poker) because even when you lose, you win.
Castle: Someone say murder? Hold on, I'll get my coat!
Esposito: Look at him, all excited.
Beckett: Yeah, like a kid at Christmas.
Ryan: With a dead body under the tree.
(Castle, Esposito, and Ryan speculate about a possible backstory for the victum)
Beckett: You know, I feel so stupid. Here I am looking for evidence, and all I had to do was make something up.
Castle: Remind me, if I decide to write a memoir, to never write a memoir.
Beckett: Okay. (Castle continues to stare at her) Why not?
Castle: Because memoirs are about truth. And I'm not a very truthful person. It'd be too easy to make myself look good.
Beckett: Might be harder than you think.
Castle: All these years trying to do the right thing, trying to make amends and because of Cynthia's greed, she's going to end up in jail.
Beckett: If you're looking for a happy ending, you've come to the wrong place.
Castle: Next time, I guess I'll just try that massage parlor on 2nd avenue.
Beckett: What are we playing for?
Castle: Pride...or clothing.
Beckett: I think I got a bag of gummy bears.

Featured Music

  • "Move you" - Anya Marina
  • "Rich Girls" - The Virgins
  • "No Escape" - Civalias



  • During the poker game, Martha claims that when Castle blinks too much, that it means he is bluffing. But if he taps his finger, then he has a good hand.
  • Also during the poker game, one of Ryan's cards is a 9 of Clubs, the other is not visible.
  • The victim claimed to have been working at a boutique called Lahane's. Dennis Lahane is a mystery writer and one of Castle's poker buddies.
  • Early on, Castle speculates that perhaps the soccer mom was coming into the city to meet a secret lover, and weaves a (entirely false) story about a Long Island soccer mom forming an attachment from a chance encounter at a museum. This is precisely what happens in the Season 2 finale, "A Deadly Game".
  • Upon seeing photos of the victim and her husband at a potential suspect's apartment, Castle says, "Look who's stalking." This is a play on the title of the 1989 movie, Look Who's Talking.
  • Captain Pike's name is a Star Trek reference. Captain Christopher Pike was captain of the Enterprise before Captain Kirk. Both Pikes were permanently crippled in an accident aboard ship.
  • During the second poker game, the mayor folds to his own raise, completely bypassing Castle and Beckett.
  • Susan Mailer is identified because of her frequent mailings to the Pikes.


  • Cynthia's so-called dead body in the cold room was breathing, and her eyelashes wavered.
  • On the FBI WANTED Fact Sheet, Cynthia Dern's weight is listed as 14 lbs.
    • And the "information' section notes the date of the terrorist attack as March 6, 1989. Captain Montgomery said that the attack was in response to the Exxon Valdez spill. However, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on March 24, 1989.


External Links

Ghosts page at the - Castle site