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Castle 5-11: Under the Influence

While it’s hard to argue with the fact that Castle is the star of the show (his name is the title after all) with Beckett right behind him, every so often, they do give the rest of the cast chances to shine. Last night’s episode was definitely a showcase for Esposito. Gates, Martha, and Alexis didn’t even appear. And the plot had some breaks in formula as well.

It started out like any other case. The opening scene is at a music release party, but the star is being upstaged at her own party by a young upstart who not only crashes but is releasing her own album the same day. After we witness this, we float to the DJ who puts a flash drive in her computer and then heads out after someone.

The next scene is of Castle and Beckett arriving at the scene of the DJ’s murder. She’s been dumped in a dumpster, but Lanie is quick to figure out that this wasn’t the murder scene. And during the autopsy, she discovers peanut oil and synthetic fibers on the body. Interesting clues.

The detectives start following the normal parade of suspects. The DJ had no family or boyfriend, although someone had been seen pounding on her door and threatening him. He turns out to be a notorious rapper (who brings his own lighting guy for the mug shots). The DJ had worked a party at his place, and valuable jewelry had been stolen during the party. They discover that this has happened at 7 of the parties she’s worked in the last year.

The DJ has an assistant who sets up and takes down her equipment. But he wasn’t working the party the night she died. At the last minute, he’d been told to step aside for a relative. It’s happened seven times over the last year. Naturally, Beckett and Castle immediately make the connection, and they ask him which parties he didn’t work. Yep, the ones with the robberies.

Thanks to a finger print on the DJ’s equipment, they find her other assistant, a poor orphaned 14-year-old living with his uncle. They bring him in, and he’s cocky and assured – until asked about the murder. Suddenly, he clams up and is scared.

And this is where Esposito enters the mix. He sees himself and his past in this kid and tries to loosen him up. Of course, the kid sees right through all his tricks. This includes when he attempts to bond with him at his apartment overnight. The kid makes a run for it. Esposito catches him, and they show up the next morning handcuffed together so the kid doesn’t run away again.

Meanwhile, they’ve made another connection between the DJ and this kid – the same man bailed them both out of jail in the past. For the DJ it was long past since she has straightened her life around. Esposito goes and arrests the man to bring him in for questioning, but this man is silent. They know he is the one who got the teen into stealing, but how to prove it? He drives a car with fibers that might match those on the DJ, but his car has met with an unfortunate accident that day and been completely burned. Obviously, the teen tipped him off.

They are returning to a production facility they visited earlier when they notice a Chinese restaurant across the ally. The source of the peanut oil on the vic? Sure enough, they find blood spatter on the wall.

The producer and the production facility in question are the studio where the rival singer records. Anyone see where this is going? The producer’s phone went missing for a few hours at the party. He’d told the DJ he wanted to meet with her the next day to potentially hire her for his studio.

The producer didn’t think much of the phone being missing until he remembers it has the key card to open the studio. Suddenly, he worries that someone has come in and stolen files. And sure enough, the masters of the rival singer’s songs were opened during the party when no one was supposed to be around.

After some more, off screen detective work, they determine that the killer was the singer holding the party. She had hired the thieves to get the phone so she could break into the studio and steal her rivals record, release it early as a bootleg, thereby hurting the rivals’ sales and boosting her own. And they have put together some evidence off camera to prove it. The DJ went to stop her since it would hurt the studio that was going to give her a break into the business.

Unfortunately, they can’t prove anything against the leader of the thieves, so they have to let him go, but not before Esposito threatens him if he ever tries to use kids to commit robbery again.

And then Esposito takes the teen home, promising to check up on him, make sure he’s going to school and staying out of trouble. He also reveals his own criminal past to the teen.

The mystery got a little lost in favor of factoring in the character stuff for Esposito and the teen, but I didn’t mind that for a change. And yes, they had their typical twist at the end with evidence they’ve gathered off screen, but it was also interesting because not all the criminals were caught.

Esposito’s past sounded a little familiar, although I must admit I wouldn’t swear to knowing this before or not. Did we?

I found the twists on the familiar refreshing and liked seeing one of the supporting characters taking the lead. What were your thoughts?