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Poof! You're Dead
Season 3, Episode 12
Air date January 10, 2011
Written by Terri Miller
Directed by Millicent Shelton
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Nikki Heat
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Poof! You're Dead is the twelfth episode of the third season of Castle.


Richard Castle and Kate Beckett investigate the murder of the owner of a historic magic shop found dead in a Houdini's water torture tank. Meanwhile, Lanie and Esposito struggle to keep their relationship secret and Castle ends his relationship with Gina.


A woman opens a magic shop and starts setting up and opening a curtain, only to see a dead man in the torture tank, and she screams.

In an apartment, a couple lay covered in a sheet on the floor together, their heads down. A phone chimes and Lanie reaches up and reads the message then says she has to leave. Another phone chimes and Esposito reaches up to check his messages. He says he has to leave too. They kiss, Esposito gets up, and Lanie tells him not to look, smile, or wink at her at the crime scene.

Esposito takes a photo of Lanie, agrees, then walks out. Lanie sighs and falls to the floor.

Castle, walking to the crime scene, was on the phone with Gina, his ex-wife/girlfriend/publisher, and arguing. Esposito shows up as he hangs up, asking how he was. Castle tells him never sleep with a co-worker. With a panicked expression, Esposito asks what he means. Castle tells him it doesn't end well.

Esposito, clearly thinking Castle knows about him and Lanie, asks him who knows about it, and Castle said that everyone knows. Just then Beckett appears, asking what everyone knows, and Castle and Esposito both say "Nothing". Beckett looks at them and Esposito pretends to hear a call, going inside.

Beckett notices Castle look upset asks him what's wrong, but he tells her that he's fine and changes the topic to the crime scene: Drake's magic shop. Castle says he's been coming to the store since he was thirteen and it was a paradise for boys. Beckett tells him that the magic shop isn't just for boys because her grandfather was an amateur magician, and she came to the store every Sunday when she was a teenager. Castle asks her if she know any tricks and she tells him she does this thing with ice cubes before leaving him to go inside. Castle places his hands on the window with a frustrated look in his face.

Inside the store Ryan explains the victim is the owner of the store, Zalman Drake. His assistant Eliza Winter came inside the store to open, and she found him upside down in the water tank. There are no signs of forced entry. Lanie comments that she doesn't think things like water tank tricks are all that entertaining. Castle explains that those tricks were the breakthrough entertainment that had real life or death consequence.

Lanie tells them that the body has been in the tank for 8-10 hours and he did drown. However, there is nothing to indicate that he struggled to get out. She thinks he was dead before he went into the water.

Esposito finds a suicide note but Eliza says that he didn't kill himself. Despite the fact that the note states he was going to lose his shop, Zalman told her that he had worked everything out. She doesn't know how though. Beckett points out that there's no signature on the note and tells Esposito to run prints on the note and the tank.

Outside, Beckett and Castle continue the interview. Zalman left the shop the day before in the middle of the day, but he'd done it before several times. However, over the past month he was gone a lot and told her he was working on something, but not what it was. A month ago, a guy attacked him and told him to watch his back, or he was going to sue him.

At the station, while Beckett is on hold on the phone, Ryan and Esposito say that they have spoken to someone who saw a white van pull up to the shop around 1 am and the gate was opened. Beckett tells them to check on it and to find out where Zalman was disappearing to so often. Drake had only one surviving relative, a brother in Poughkeepsie.

Ryan and Esposito are talking at their desks and Ryan states someone has a secret. Esposito is again shocked when Ryan says everyone knows. When Esposito asks how he found out, Ryan says it was on page 6 of the paper. Esposito grabs the paper to see an article talking about Castle and Gina arguing and how they're on the rocks. Ryan says he doesn't understand why Castle would hide it from them since they're like family. However, Esposito comments, obviously not just about Castle, that he might just be worried about what everyone thinks.

Back at Beckett's desk, she found out that there was a lawsuit filed by Jerome Aspenall, but the judge threw out the case the day before.

Jerome is brought in and states he was suing Zalman for Slander, defamation of character and ruining his life. Beckett asks how he did that, and Jerome tells them that he read his mind in front of 300 people at a charity ball. He told everyone, including his wife and in laws, that Jerome had been in Atlantic City the previous weekend with someone named Rita. Now Jerome is living in a motel, and even Rita won't return his calls because his wife called her. However, when told that Zalman is dead, Jerome says justice was served.

As they walk out of the interrogation room, Castle wonders how Zalman figured it out so quickly during his act. He comments that Zalman must have picked Jerome's pocket. Beckett holds out Castle's phone and says, "Like this?" Castle is amazed she did that without him knowing. Suddenly Gina calls. When Beckett shows it to Castle, he takes it and sends the call to voicemail.

Despite her confusion, Beckett asks Ryan if he's made any progress. Ryan states that Jerome's alibi checks out because he was at a bar the entire night. Also, there were no fingerprints found on the tank except Zalman's. Esposito shows up and states that they found fingerprints all over the note though. They belong to a Charles "Chuck" Russell, a street magician who was reckless with pyrotechnics in his act and someone got hurt. Zalman had him thrown out of the American Magician Guild and Russell hasn't been able to book a gig since.

Russell is found on a pedestal performing street acts. Beckett and Castle walk up as he's making a watch disappear. Castle drops a dollar in the hat, and Russell sarcastically comments on it. Beckett pulls her badge and tells him they need to discuss Zalman and Russell disappears in a puff of smoke. While Castle is amazed, Beckett rolls her eyes, goes over and opens the pedestal, pulling out Russell.

Back at the station they present Russell with the suicide note. He has no idea what they're talking about. They tell him about Zalman being dead and he's surprised he committed suicide. They want to know why Russell's fingerprints are all over Zalman's note. Russell is silent until they threaten to walk out, and he admits he gave Zalman the note. Beckett clarifies that Russell gave him a suicide note, and he tells them no, the other note on the paper. They need to hold the paper under a blacklight. After Beckett gets one, they find out it's an invoice for C4. Zalman promised Russell he'd get reinstated in the guild if he got it for him.

Beckett states that whoever grabbed the paper probably didn't realize it wasn't blank. Beckett wants to know what the C4 was for because it's enough to blow up half a city block. However, Russell doesn't know, he thinks it might've been for a magic trick. When Beckett shows doubt, Russell explains that Zalman wasn't just a shop owner, and corporate magician, but he also designed intrinsic tricks for other magicians, specifically Tobias Strange, who Castle says is the "Johnny Depp" of magic.

They meet up with Esposito and Ryan who state that Tobias is an awesome magician. Esposito comments he went to a show a couple of weeks prior, and "we loved it". Ryan asks who "we" is, and Esposito makes up a lie about a buddy named Ray going with him.

Beckett tells them to hold Russell on explosives trafficking and that her and Castle are going to see if Tobias knows why a trick would need so much C4. They walk into an auditorium to find Tobias practicing his act. He stands inside a box with swords in it and tells his assistant to wait 30 seconds to release it. However, Beckett calls out to them, and the girl releases it early. The stagehands and assistants all rush to get to him, only for him not to be in the box. Instead, he's behind Castle and Beckett demanding to know how they got in there and saying it's a private rehearsal.

They talk to Tobais who tells them that Zalman was poached, and he stopped working for him a month ago. Despite the fact that Zalman had been designing Tobias' tricks for 15 years and created so of his most famous tricks. Tobias tells them that C4 is too unpredictable for magic tricks, which means it kills people. Tobias asks them if they've checked his workshop, but they haven't found one, though it's probably where he disappeared to all the time. Tobias doesn't know where it is, but they'll probably find what he was working on there.

After Beckett comments that they still don't even know if it was murder or suicide, she suddenly gets a call from Lanie. They arrive to find her in a cocktail dress ready to go out. Castle asks who the lucky guys is, and Lanie comes back with wanting to know what's going on with him and Gina. Castle changes the subject to the victim when Beckett starts asking questions about his and Gina's fight.

Lanie tells them there was no water in the lungs, which means it was definitely murder. He was asphyxiated which can present the same way. Some held their hand over his nose and mouth, then put him in the tank afterwards. Beckett comments that they gotta find his workshop.

Castle goes home to find Martha and Alexis sitting on the couch reading. Martha admonishes him for not telling them about his issues with Gina. She wants to know if he's spoken to her since the fight at Le Cirque, but he admits he's been avoiding it. Alexis asks what they were fighting about, and he states they were fighting about how much they've been fighting. He reaches over and pulls out a coin from Alexis' ear saying he wants to change the subject. Alexis states she's not six, and as she grabs the coin and magically turns it into a $20 bill.

The next morning Castle is waiting in the hallway when Beckett walks by and grabs the coffee he brought for her, telling him to keep up. He asks where they're going and, to his surprise, she tells him to Zalman's workshop. They found a soggy metro card in his wallet. Ryan checked the travel information and he always got off at the last stop of one of the trains. During a power outage a couple weeks prior, he hired a town car with his credit card, and they had his address.

They get to the workshop, and it looks like a dead end. However, Beckett notices footprints that walk into a wall. She pushes on a brick and the door opens. They do inside and find all of his magic tools, as well as some wheelchair tracks from the day he died. Just as Becket finds some cut in half plans, a man enters from a sarcophagus behind them. It's Zalman's twin Edmund Drake.

At the station, Edmund explains Zalman called him and told him he needed somewhere to hide some illegal money he was getting paid. Castle is suspicious. He thinks the man is Zalman and he switched placed with Edmund. Either that or Edmund is the "evil twin", like from the movies. Beckett asks if Edmund would be able to look through Zalman's plans to see what he was doing, but Edmund doesn't have the same skills. Castle is upset when Beckett lets Edmund walk out without charging him with something.

Espo calls and tells them that the only prints in the workshop are Zalman's. But they did find traces of C4 on the workbench. Also, they're hunting down the make and model of the wheelchair. they visit Lanie who found rabbit hairs in his through. She's certain the body is Zalman which blows up Castle's switched twins theory. She also found organophosphates in his nose and throat, which is found in jet oils, insecticides, nerve agents, etc.

Esposito saunters in talking sexy to Lanie, not knowing she's got Castle and Beckett there. He sees them and Lanie says she ran the tests for him, then narrows her eyes. Beckett asks what test, and he states it's for the case. He also lets them know that the wheelchair tracks come from only one brand of electric model. They got a match to a man named Thaddeus Magnus, a government protester, and he drives a white van. He gives them the address and they leave. Lanie comes in and her and Espo kiss.

The duo goes to visit Magnus and he tells them he worked for Zalman not the other way around. He built specialty parts for Zalman's tricks. To his chagrin, Castle keeps playing with all the mechanical items around his home. Magnus tells him to stop, then mentions a group of men that Zalman met up with. Magnus did build a mechanical arm that could flick any switch, including a bomb. Magnus tells them he thought Zalman was joking because he said he was getting a fortune to get away with murder.

Back at the station, Ryan and the duo discuss what Zalman was planning. They've requested information about all of the people who have died in an explosion to try to figure out who was murdered.

The next morning Castle is talking to Martha about how many explosions there are in New York on a weekly basis. Gina calls again and Martha moves the phone towards him. She asks if he's going to answer it and he makes the phone vanish. Martha tells him that won't make the problem disappear. Martha asks what's really going on between him and Gina and Castle explains that their relationship is too ordinary. He wants magical. As Castle tells Martha they're just not in love, he sees a picture on his computer of a man standing in front of a small plane and realizes the organophosphates found in Zalman was jet oil. He tells Martha he has to go.

Castle rushes into the station saying he knows who Zalman was paid to kill. Before he can say who, Beckett says it was billionaire philanthropist Christian Dahl. Castle asks how she knew, and she points out the jet fuel link on their murder board. Dahl took off trying to break a speed record and, instead, his plane exploded in midair. Castle states that whoever wanted Dahl dead probably killed Zalman to cover up the murder. Beckett points out that it's all just conjecture though, and they have no proof, just theory. Espo shows up and tells them the FAA is sending the footage of the takeoff.

In the video, while Dahl is doing his preflight, a white catering van pulls up in front of the plane, blocking it from view. Beckett notes that the logo on the van is the same one they saw in Zalman's workshop and the driver who gets out is Zalman himself. They watch as he unloads a meal crate and realize that's when he is planting the explosives. After the van pulls away, Dahl gives the crowd a thumbs up.

Later, while the group is discussing Dahl's luck in how he made his fortune, Ryan comes and tells them about Naomi Dahl. She was caught cheating and because of their prenup she would've gotten nothing. However, with Dahl dead, she now inherits the entire fortune.

Naomi comes in and tells them that she didn't kill her husband. She thought when his plane disappeared, he had been murdered though. However, despite the fact that she broke the prenup by having an affair, she does well enough to take care of herself. They insist that she still could have done it to get his fortune and she states the joke would've been on her. All of Christian's accounts have been frozen by the district attorney's office and they wouldn't tell her why.

At her desk, Beckett hangs up the phone and tells Castle that, at the time of Dahl's death, he was being investigated by the S.E.C. They thought he was stealing his money because all of his stock returns were falsified. It was all a Ponzi scheme. They were only a couple of weeks from indicting Dahl for massive fraud. He was facing 50 years in prison, so he hired Zalman to make him disappear.

They watch the FAA video again and this time notice that it's not Dahl who is taxiing the plane. Instead, there's a dummy there and the mechanical arm is what was used for all movement after he was taken off the plane. Zalman used the catering box to bring the dummy on board, then used it to remove Dahl from the plane. Dahl went through all of it, but Zalman was a loose end. Because he can't risk anyone knowing he's alive, he kills Zalman himself. Beckett says that he's probably in a non-extradition country by now, but Castle thinks that Dahl likes to do everything publicly, so he has an idea.

The duo wait at Christian Dahl's funeral, trying to see if he is stupid enough to attend it. While Castle tells Beckett what to look for, she spots Dahl in makeup, with long hair and a beard. Becket goes and shows him her badge. He turns to run, but Espo and Ryan are standing there with their guns drawn.

At the station, Beckett and Castle go over what they know happened with him. However, Dahl just laughs it off and asks if they just make up stories when they can't solve a crime. Just as he starts to ask to see his lawyer, he suddenly begins to see an apparition of Zalman. He demands to know Castle and Beckett are making it happen, but they state they have no idea what he's talking about. Dahl jumps up and sees Zalman in the mirror and states that he can't be there because he killed him.

After Dahl is led out of the room in cuffs, Tobias and Edmund come out of the back room, Edmund made up to look like his dead brother. Beckett thanks them for their help. Tobias states it's a pleasure and Edmund is glad he helped find his brothers killer. Also, Tobias and Edmund are going to try to keep Zalman's magic shop alive.

Ryan comes up and hands Beckett some paperwork to sign. Beckett asks where Esposito is and Ryan tells them to take a guess. Both Castle and Beckett say "Lanie." Ryan tells them that it's amazing that they still think that nobody knows about the two of them. Castle's phone rings. It's Gina. He tells Beckett he has to take it and steps away. Beckett goes and gets a drink, just in time to hear Castle tell Gina that it's over. She rushes out and back to her desk. Castle comes out and sees she's getting ready to head out to "Motorcycle Boy", which she wishes he would stop calling him that. Beckett tells Castle that Josh is on duty that night.

Beckett starts to walk away then stops and asks Castle if he wants to come with her to the comfort food truck. He happily agrees. As they are walking towards the elevator, he thanks her for not mentioning the news article about his fight and not asking him what was going on. Just after they step into the elevator, she pulls out a bouquet of fake flowers and tells him it wasn't a problem as she hands it to him, making him smile.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]


Lanie: Javier Esposito, when we get to this crime scene, do not wink at me, do not smile and do not even look at me with those puppy dog eyes. Got it?
Castle: I never pegged you for a magic fan. You know any good tricks?
Beckett: I do this one thing. With ice cubes.
Castle: Hey, X-ray specs. Got ‘em at the magic shop. I can see you naked.
Beckett: Really? How do you like my navel ring?
Beckett: Zalman Drake was murdered last night.
Jerome Aspinall: Justice is served.
Castle: When he read your mind, did it take him very long?
Jerome Aspinall: No, it didn't, no.
Castle: No, didn't think so.
Beckett: Alakazam, Jackass.
Lanie: That...was close.
Esposito: No, this... is close.
Lanie: Mm.
Beckett: So... where's Esposito?
Ryan: Huh. Take a wild guess.
Castle and Beckett: Lanie?
Ryan: Can you believe they still think that none of us know?
Castle: Oh, let's let 'em keep thinking that a while longer. The bubble bursts soon enough.
Beckett: Not if you're in it with the right person.

Featured Music[]

  • "Loaded" - Zack Tempest (plays during Tobias Strange's first rehearsal and Also is the Theme Song of WWE SuperstarsMatt and Jeff Hardy, A.K.A The Hardy Boyz).


  • Castle and Gina break up in this episode. Although the relationship began at the end of season two, Gina appeared only once after they got together.
    • As with the episode where they get together, a recurring theme is Castle ignoring repeated calls from Gina.
    • In the newspaper, Gina's surname is written as Griffin instead of Cowell.
  • Lanie and Esposito are now romantically involved. They believe the relationship to be a secret.
  • We see Lanie's apartment for the first time, briefly.
  • Beckett reveals to Castle that her grandfather was an amateur magician and that she and him visited Drake's Magic Shop every Sunday when she was about thirteen years old.
  • The Magician Tobias Strange says that C-4 explosives are unstable and volatile, which is not the case as C-4 is very stable and insensitive to most physical shocks and only a combination of extreme heat and a shockwave will detonate it. [1]
  • Castle revealed that he wants magic in a relationship, in which he stares at her later until she asks him "what?", hinting that he feels magic with Beckett.