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Season 4, Episode 15
Air date February 13, 2012
Written by David Amann
Directed by Bryan Spicer
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Season 3   Season 5

Pandora is the fifteenth episode of the fourth season of Castle.


Castle and Beckett find out that the killer they are pursuing is part of an international conspiracy with, for once, real CIA involvement; Alexis starts a new internship assisting Lanie in the medical examiner's office.


In an apartment building at night, we hear the sounds of fighting. Lots of fighting, as well as smashing furniture, punches, and low-key grunts of exertion. Suddenly, a body sails out the window and falls to his death on the car below. A man looks out, concerned but calm, and surveys the scene dispassionately as the car's alarm blares in the distance.

Meanwhile, back at stately Castle Manor, Martha and Rick are sharing some good-natured banter. Martha had a wonderful reading at her acting studio today, and Castle is cooking dinner for Alexis. Only Alexis won't be there tonight. She has a new internship, which has Martha's full approval, but it's also a secret. What kind of internship keeps out Alexis at 9pm? But Martha won't say, and is saved by the bell. Beckett's calling with a murder.

Castle's still complaining about the internship as he arrives at the scene with Beckett. She suggests that maybe this one will somehow bring the two of them together, but Castle is skeptical.

The body presents all kinds of surprises. Cause of death is, well, lots of things. He plummeted to his death from a fourth story window, but was also shot, stabbed, choked, and has a pencil jammed in his neck. Any of those would have been fatal. There's no ID on the body and neighbors have no idea who he is. Castle offhandedly greets his daughter as he heads inside.... and does a double-take. Alexis? Her internship is working for Lanie. So far, it's been "equal parts gross and cool," which Lanie agrees with wholeheartedly. She kept it a secret because she was worried that Castle would feel like she was threatening his turf. He scoffs loudly at the very notion.

Beckett (who's known all along) thinks he's overreacting when Castle explains that she's threatening his turf. But the conversation is cut off when she finds a blood trail. Witnesses had seen the killer limping out; he must have been bleeding profusely. A pool of blood suggests he waited on the corner for a while. Perhaps traffic cams got a view of him? Ryan reviews the footage, and sure enough, he took a woman hostage as she got in a taxi.

Cut to the apartment, where the hostage sits with the killer. He's calmly eating a sandwich and his gun rests on the coffee table. He doesn't even flinch as the police break down the door and burst in. They demand that he put his hands up and, after taking one last bite of his meal, he does so. He surrenders peacefully enough, but the whole time he's been cool as a cucumber. And his name is Thomas Gage.

Gage stays calm and collected in his interrogation. He's aware of his rights and won't be needing a lawyer. He has nothing to say because, he warns them, "Everything you have on me, or think you have, is going away." With that, he's done talking. In the observation room, Ryan reports that his ID is fake and his prints aren't in the system. They've got no idea who he is. As a uniform leads him out, he looks Beckett in the eye, right through the one-way glass.

The kidnapping victim reports that Gage stayed cool the whole time. He was terse, maybe even laconic. After they got back to her apartment, he had her patch up his leg. He told her he'd gotten slashed while killing a guy, but that the guy doesn't exist. Lanie agrees. His prints aren't in the system, any system. He's got a long list of past injuries: gunshot wounds, knife wounds, broken bones, calluses from martial arts training. So where's the criminal record to go with the violent past? As they walk in to look at the body, they find something curious. The body's gone. Beckett decides to take another run at Gage. Only there's something curious about him, too. He's gone, too.

They lock down the precinct, but Gage is long gone. At home, Alexis blames herself for losing the body. Castle's glad she'd stepped out; the people who stole the body might have killed her. Gates, on the other hand, blames Esposito, who was supposed to have custody of Gage. She is white-lipped with rage as Esposito and Ryan show her a picture of Gage walking right out the front door in a stolen police uniform. Gates orders them to check security camera footage to find out what else he'd done while he was running loose in the precinct. They soon find out: he'd used the opportunity to hack into their database to find an unlisted address. It's for one Tracey McGrath, a scientist at a research foundation. Was getting arrested part of Gage's plan from the beginning?

Her phone's going to voicemail, so Castle and Beckett head over to her house. The door's already ajar when they arrive, and her body's on the floor. She's been dead for a while. Beckett calls it in and then searches the house. In the kitchen, she finds a steaming hot cup of coffee... the killer's still there! Returning to Castle, she finds him standing stock-still, a black bag over his head. Before she can react, there's a gun at her head. They take her gun and bag her, too.

Lanie and her new sidekick arrive on the scene, beating the uniforms as usual. As they walk in, Lanie has to keep reassuring Alexis that it isn't her fault that the body was taken, and that bodies never just go missing. This is a one-time freak even that nobody could have anticipated. They go in, to find that this body has gone missing, too.

Beckett and Castle are unmasked, to find themselves in an elevator with a stoic man in a suit with an earpiece. They're going down, way down. Fifteen stories underground, they arrive at some kind of control center. Castle has no idea what they've walked into, a fact that Sophia Turner appreciates. They recognize one another instantly, and she welcomes him to the CIA secret underground headquarters.

Sophia brings them coffee and explains. More than a decade ago, Castle had followed her around to get an inside view on the life of an undercover CIA agent. She was his muse, and the inspiration for Clara Strike, the sexy superagent of the Derrick Storm series. Rick stays very, very quiet, especially at the questioning look from Beckett, who is for the first time realizing that she isn't his first muse.

Sophia explains that the chief of detectives, Ted McQuinn, has already approved of Beckett and Castle cooperating with the CIA on this mission, and wants Beckett to brief her on what she's got so far. Beckett won't say a word until Sophia briefs her. Sophia gives her a bone-chilling warning about divulging top-secret national security secrets, and then her partner Danberg starts talking. Thomas Gage was one of their best field agents, but he recently went rogue and appears to have been working to trigger a national security crisis. Castle quickly realizes that the victim was CIA, and Sophia confirms that Gary Harper was an agent sent to catch Gage. They were monitoring the precinct, which is how they found out about Tracey McGrath. They have no idea why Gage killed her.

Ryan and Esposito had been questioning McGrath's boss. He has no idea who would want to kill her; she was just a statistician working on climate change models. Though she did disappear from work for two hours the day before, and hadn't been willing to explain what she was doing. The boss logs into her foundation computer account from the precinct to pull down a copy of her files and records for Ryan and Esposito. The only notation for her trip was one word on her calendar: "Pandora". They call Beckett and are itching to know what "special mission" the Chief of Detectives has put them on, but Beckett cuts them off. When Esposito says, "pandora," the CIA agents share a look. That was the code word for Gage's rogue mission. Danberg doesn't like it, but since the CIA can't do domestic investigations and bringing in the FBI would be a time-consuming security risk, Sophia makes Beckett an offer: Beckett finds Gage, and the CIA shares information with Beckett, but the two must keep things totally quiet otherwise. Beckett doesn't like it either, but Castle agrees for her.

On the trip back, Castle is thrilled to be working for the CIA. It's like a Jason Bourne movie, except that the CIA are the good guys and Gage is the bad guy. They've even got custom icons on their cells to call the CIA in case of trouble. Beckett expresses her misgivings. And she has loads of questions about Sophia. Castle explains that he never mentioned Sophia before because she's an active undercover agent and his time with her was classified. He also points out that Nikki Heat is a much richer and more nuanced character than Sophia. Beckett is mollified, but still not happy.

Gates is even more not happy. After giving Beckett a direct order to explain what's going on (which Beckett refuses), Castle explains sweetly that this is on a need to know basis and that Gates doesn't need to know. Castle savors the moment, but then has to deal with the fact that Esposito and Ryan are also angry to be left out of the loop, but still running errands for Beckett. She agrees but can't tell them anything.

At McGrath's house, Castle finds an owner's manual and some car keys for a classic muscle car—something her boss had said she'd had an interest in. But the car itself is nowhere to be found. EZ-Pass records show she was near Newark Airport on the day she was killed. Her credit records connect her to a parking deck near the airport. Castle and Beckett head over there. They find the car, covered in dust. It looks like the trunk's been opened recently. Popping it, they find a briefcase. Popping the briefcase, they find a military grade cellphone and scrambler.

They also, surprisingly, find Thomas Gage, who's standing behind them. He orders them to drop their weapons and put his hands up. Beckett realizes that he's unarmed, so she pulls her gun and orders him to put his hands up. Instead, two seconds of Israeli martial arts wizardry later, he's holding her gun and she's standing, totally dumbfounded. They hand over their cellphones, which he smashes, and get locked in the trunk.

In the trunk, the two bicker good-naturedly, until Beckett realizes that Castle had somehow managed to push the CIA panic button on his phone before Gage got it. She scrambles to escape, not wanting to be rescued by Castle's girlfriend. They get out of the trunk just in time for a CIA agent to show up with a pair of black bags. At the CIA, Sophia returns Beckett's gun and compliments Castle on finding the car. Castle points out modestly that he can't take all the credit for finding it. Beckett points out that he can't take any of the credit, since Detective Ryan was the one to find it.

Sophia and Castle spend a moment building theory together; it's cute how they finish each other's sentences. If the phone was so important, then they need to figure out who she called. But without the phone, they don't have either the incoming or outgoing number. Sophia uses her CIA computer wizardry to just list all the calls from the right time period and location, and starts narrowing down from there. She ends up with a video from a surveillance camera of a man making the call from a payphone, using a scrambler. Facial recognition shows that it's a man with CIA ties. Dr. Nelson Blakely was a mathematics professor, specializing in triggering global change using minor, inconsequential events to trigger domino effects. He'd worked for the CIA until 2002, when he died. He was on with McGrath to schedule a meeting, but used a code based on chess moves. The CIA can't figure it out, and sends Castle and Beckett out the door. Gage isn't a priority compared to Blakely, but Sophia somewhat believably agrees to let the NYPD know if they find him. Beckett isn't happy: Castle is clearly on Sophia's team, not hers.

Castle goes home to work on the chess code. Martha's pleased that Castle is fine with the internship, which he isn't, and comforts him about his fight with Beckett. Only, how did Martha know? Beckett talked to Lanie, Lanie talked to Alexis, Alexis talked to Martha. This is precisely what Castle feared would happen. Mentioning the chess code, Castle can't say much, but he says enough that Martha has the key insight that reveals the secret.

At the precinct, Esposito found a link between McGrath and Blakely. He was her advisor when she was a mathematics student. They went on a white water rafting trip with some other students and that was when he died. His body was never recovered. Castle walks in and tells Beckett the solution to the chess code. Why hasn't he told Sophia? Beckett's his partner, not Sophia. The meeting is in half an hour, and the two head over to the park to catch Blakely. At the park, Castle offers to tell Beckett about his relationship with her. Beckett refuses, but then changes her mind.. and is interrupted by Blakely, who's just arrived.

He insists on being driven to Pier 32, but won't explain anything until he gets there. Castle asks why he faked his death, and he explains that he'd had moral qualms about his CIA work but wouldn't have been allowed to just quit. Tracey kept his secret and steered consulting work his way, while he used his super-math powers for good: reducing cholera, triggering the Arab Spring, etc.

At the pier, Blakely starts to explain. He was hired by a think tank to identify weaknesses in the US international position so they could be protected. He found one, an economic weakness that would transform the world and cause untold devastation. But the think tank was a fraud—their goal had been to find the weakness so they could use it. Beckett and Castle ask what that linchpin event is, but just then he decides to jump out of the car and run off in a panic. He gets about five steps from the car before he's shot in the back of the head.

Suddenly, a black car with tinted windows rams Beckett's car. There's nowhere to go but off the edge of the pier. Blakely's dead, and Castle and Beckett are sinking into the water. 



Main Cast

Guest Cast


Beckett: And the good news?
Castle: At least this time we’re not handcuffed together.
Castle (referring to the app on his phone): Hey. Why is mine a "Panic!" button?
Castle: I found something.
Beckett: Shouldn't you be telling Sophia about it?
Castle: She isn't my are.
Ryan: Hey, pretty cool about Alexis’s internship. Or not.

Featured Music

  • "Pier 32" - Kim Planert


  • Castle points out that Alexis working for Lanie would be like him showing up at her school and teaching. Nathan Fillion was one semester shy of being a full schoolteacher before he was an actor. He did student teach.
  • Although credited as "Sophia Conrad", Castle refers to her as "Sophia Turner". She goes by this name throughout the episode and in the next episode, and therefore appears to be a script error.
  • In his death report, Dr. Nelson Blakely's name is listed as Dr. Michael Blakely.
  • Despite Beckett's orders not to say anything about the case, Sophia's "panic button" on Beckett's phone is the CIA logo. Not terribly stealthy.
  • Like Beckett, Sophia was Castle's muse, the inspiration for one of the characters in his Derrick Storm series: Clara Strike. It is not known if she knew Agent Gray, who Castle had previously identified as a source for his CIA characters.
    • A recurring theme is Castle's prior relationship with Sophia, and Beckett's jealousy. Castle and Sophia finish one another's sentences while building theory, she gets him coffee (though hands the second coffee to Beckett), and clearly has some chemistry with him. While Castle trusts Sofia implicitly, Beckett is suspicious of her (and the CIA's) motives.
  • Thomas Gage's profile shows black belts in judo, tae kwon do, and krav maga. Krav Maga does not have a belt system. It also shows that he speaks German, French, Spanish, Greek, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin, Urdu, English, and two other languages not visible. Visible parts: Por[tuguese], Ca[ntonese].
    • The CIA claims he was recruited from SEAL Team Six. While intelligence agencies often recruit from elite military units, Gage's language skills are more typical of Army Special Forces (the "Green Berets")-- troops like Esposito. The SEALs are commandos; Special Forces soldiers like Esposito are intended to organize and train local insurgents using specialized infiltration, language and cultural skills.
    • The best example of his skills is how, with him unarmed and Beckett holding a gun on him, he almost effortlessly takes her gun and points it at her. This is a highly dramatized version of an actual Krav Maga move.
      • This type of move is also precisely why nearly all police officers are trained to never hold a suspect at gunpoint within arms reach, especially with any shooting stance that extends the arms forward. Beckett violated this very basic rule when she aimed her sidearm at point-blank range instead of backing up or keeping her weapon close to her body.
  • As with the other two-part "event" episodes, this one involves a federal agent. Like Agent Shaw (an FBI profiler of serial killers) but unlike Agent Fallon (who stops WMD attacks), Sophia appears to have an unlimited budget and an army of highly trained assistants.
  • Alexis Castle is now an intern for the medical examiner's office, reporting to Lanie.
  • In "A Deadly Affair", Castle stated that the law of averages predicted his numerous CIA theories would eventually be correct. Eventually, he was.
  • It was stated in this episode that the New York chief of detectives is a man named Ted McQuinn.