Castle and Beckett are on a bizarre case of fairytale-style murders in “Once Upon a Crime”(“Castle” Season 4, Episode 17). They find the first victim, Little Red Riding Hood, slain in Central Park with a wolf claw mark gouged into her cheek. In forensics, Castle and Beckett discover the animal attack is a fake. Someone used a wolf claw to inflict the wound, but the murder was committed by a person. Little Red Riding Hood is Amy Morgen, who suspiciously withdrew $50,605 from her bank account before she died.
The next victim is Snow White who also is found in the park with “White as snow. Red as blood. Black as Ebony.” carved into the victim’s chest. Snow White happens to be Kristina Curtis. The coincidences get weird when Curtis was discovered to have withdrawn the same hefty sum from her bank account. Curtis also had the same toxic amount of drugs in her blood.
Castle and Beckett try to track down the killer from the costumes and discover the charge and costume orders were made to a Jaimie Isaacson, a sweet if strange old lady who collects creepy dolls and has no idea of the murder or the purchase of the costumes. Castle and Beckett try a different lead to discover the next victim through the bank of the withdrawn money. They discover Charlotte Boyd who is in her 20s, successful and beautiful – the perfect next victim for Sleeping Beauty.
They arrive just in time to Boyd’s appartment who has been drugged and is in her bed dressed in the Sleeping Beauty costume. Boyd is taken to the hospital and will live. Meanwhile a suspicious photo resurfaces which has Amy, Kristina and Charlotte dressed in the respective fairytale costumes. The date of the photo is 5/06/05, the same number as the withdrawn cash. There’s a menacing blackmail note on the back to pay or all will be revealed.
Castle and Beckett discover that Amy, Kristina and Charlotte went to a rave 7 years ago where their friend, Owen, took an overdose of drugs and was ditched on the side of the road after he became violent. Owen then was killed in a hit-and-run while he walked on the side of the road. Owen’s older brother, Darren, blackmailed the women. Darren is connected to the crime by a security camera video, the blackmail money in his locker and Darren’s absence during the time of the murders.
In a flaw of the episode with too small a pool of potential suspects, Darren also happens to be married to Amy’s sister. So Darren didn’t mind blackmailing someone in the family? It seems an odd choice. It’s as if the writing team realized they didn’t have enough introduced characters in the episode and decided to tack the blame on to a character introduced earlier during the investigation of Amy’s murder.
Darren claims he blackmailed the women to make them pay for his brother’s death, but swears he’s innocent of the murders. Beckett is satisfied with the investigation wrap, but something doesn’t sit right with Castle. When Castle is tying the back of his mother’s apron, Castle realizes the bow didn’t match on the last potential murder victim, Charlotte. Castle and Beckett visit Charlotte in the hospital. Charlotte claims Amy was at the wheel 7 years ago and that Amy accidentally hit Owen and left.
Beckett doesn’t buy it and tells Charlotte she believes Charlotte was the one behind the wheel as Charlotte paid for the repair of a dented fender on Amy’s car. Charlotte’s bow on her back in the Sleeping Beauty costume was vertical instead of horizontal, which she only could have tied on herself. Charlotte also had half the drugs in her system, not the lethal dose in the victims’. Charlotte supposedly killed her friends to keep them quiet about the hit-and-run and to save her reputation. She also used Isaacson’s credit card to place the costume orders and pick them up without Isaacson knowing about it.
Thankfully Charlotte didn’t have the big gut-spill scene like Darren had which seems unrealistic and insults viewers’ intelligence. “Once Upon a Time” is a bit silly and awkward due to its narrow pool of potential suspects to place the crime on. I’m glad the full blame of the crime wasn’t placed solely on Darren. It seemed far too tidy somehow. The victim-turned-murderer Charlotte was a nice and satisfying little twist on the case.
Dance with Death