Castle 5-9: Secret Santa

Nothing makes it feel like Christmas like a murder. (Okay, I’m actually reading a mystery set at Christmas time right now, and I’ve read plenty of others over the years.) Despite this being season 5, this is the first Christmas episode we’ve gotten of Castle, and it was a fun one. As my roommate will attest, I was laughing at lots of the lines over the course of the episode.

The episode opens in a not so nice way as a family is in a park making snow angels when Santa falls from the sky nearby dead. Talk about trauma for the child.

The victim had ID on him, and according to this, his name is…Kris Kringle. Yeah, it’s going to be one of those cases. Fortunately, his boots were custom made, and they are able to track down his identity and address from that. His neighbors let them in to search his place for clues, and they talk about what a great guy he was and how helpful he was in a lawsuit they had going against the mortgage company that swindled them out of their home.

Lanie has determined that the victim actually didn’t die from the fall – he was shot.

But a couple of days before he died, someone was pounding on Santa’s door threatening him. Turns out, that man was a fellow Santa. Yes, the guy was angry and threatening him. (Here’s a tip – never publicly threaten to kill a murder victim before they die. It always makes you a suspect.) But they’d work it out. And this guy had taught our vic everything about being a Santa. Helped him turn his life around from a low five years ago. This guy does own a small plane which would explain Santa falling from the sky, but he hasn’t flown it in over a month.

Next we talk to the ex-wife who misses the vic even though he walked out on her 5 years ago Christmas morning with no explanation. (At this point, I feel a bit like this is A Christmas Carol since everything revolves around Christmas.)

In tracking his movements the night of his death, they find a small helicopter that has blood in it – obviously the murder scene. But the owner is in Hawaii and the chopper had obviously been broken into.

They also figure out his gig was at a company Christmas party where he stole a clock. It was worth about $30K. And there’s a heliport on the top of the company’s building. But why go to all the trouble of stealing the chopper for just a clock?

Meanwhile, we’ve circled back around to the other Santa as the suspect. He finally admits to stealing and flying the copter, but he says someone was shooting at them from the roof, and that’s who killed our vic.

So let’s go back to those neighbors. Guess who owned the company that swindled them out of their home. Our vic. The husband and father died in an accident while working three jobs trying to keep them afloat. And he died…you guessed it – 5 years ago at Christmas. The oldest son has just found out who their neighbor really was, and he was following our vic the day he died, but that was just to help with a little breaking and entering.

And the party? Well, the owner is the vic’s former business partner. And he had all the files from their old company stored there. The vic was trying to break in and steal them to help with the lawsuit. But the former partner didn’t do it, and he finally fingers the real killer.

The ex-wife did it. As part of turning his former partner in, our vic was going to have to surrender all his ill gotten money, money that the ex-wife was still using to support herself rather lavishly. So she killed him to keep that from happening.

And thus ends the mystery portion of the recap.

But we had lots else happening. Gates was always muttering about how her mother-in-law was driving her crazy. I love how they are giving her more comedy this year and really developing her character.

Esposito is disappointed to learn that Ryan is going to cancel on their video game tradition on Christmas Eve for time with his wife. He goes to Lanie, who shoots him down for a holiday hook up but says call me if you are serious after the new year. I’d love to see them get back together, so that’s interesting.

And Jenny is talking to Ryan about making babies, which freaks him out a little considering how dismal the world is. But it’s Esposito who convinces him that babies make the world a better place.

Meanwhile, poor Castle is dealing with the loss of tradition. Instead of spending Christmas Eve together, his mother and daughter are making other plans, including a date with a new boyfriend for Alexis. In classic Castle fashion, he freaks. It’s not helped by the fact that Beckett backs out of spending time with him for her normal tradition – working Christmas Eve. As she explains at one point, her mother died right after the first of the year. When they packed up Christmas that year, it was like they packed it away forever.

But in the final scene, Martha and Alexis have canceled their plans to stay with Castle. He, however, has decided he needs to go spend the holiday working with Beckett. And just as he is leaving, she shows up at the door. She’s decided it is time to start a new tradition.

Meanwhile, we’ve learned that the clock the vic stole belonged to his neighbors. Esposito goes and returns it to them, and the wife, touched at the return of her husband’s family heirloom, invites him in for dinner.

It was a fun episode. Typical mystery, but the banter was great and the character development was good.

Looks like things will be interesting when the show returns on January 7th. Castle is going to need to stand up or it will destroy his relationship with Beckett. (And I’m already on her side just based on the previews.)