We don’t usually peg Castle as a traditional family show, but this episode makes us rethink things. Alexis is researching her family tree and there’s one glaringly bare branch. As Beckett says, “Castle is famously fatherless.” But it doesn’t seem to bother him. Castle says, “That’s the beauty of the mystery. Right now, my father could be an astronaut, a pirate, a humanitarian, winner of the Nobel Prize…” Yes, Castle loves a good mystery, like all those unsolved murders he gets to investigate. CUE A CALL FROM BECKETT!
Legendary pro baseball player Cano Vega is found dead at a Spanish Harlem field he built. Cause of death: a baseball bat to the head. Vega’s wife, Maggie, says he wasn’t the same after a recent trip to Cuba; his first time back since defecting. When he returned to America, locals in the neighborhood dubbed him a traitor, due to the unflattering editorials of newspaper publisher Alfredo Quintana.
Quintana cites his first amendment rights and, despite a weak alibi, Castle and Beckett can’t hold him. Esposito tracks a blood trail at the crime scene to a car registered to Anton Wade, a loan shark known for using a Louisville Slugger to get his point across. Wade admits to being at the crime scene to collect on a loan of two hundred grand. But Vega was paying on time, so Wade had no reason to take batting practice on his head.
Vega’s agent, Bobby Fox, doesn’t know his client’s motivations for the loan or his trip to Cuba. At the morgue, Perlmutter shows Beckett and Castle fist-sized bruises indicating Vega was in a fight. The punches came from someone with a ring. A championship ring, just like one Vega’s teammate, Tommy Zane, has.
[break] At his club, Zane admits he got into it with Vega, who mistakenly thought he was sleeping with his wife. The irony is that Vega may have been the one seeing someone on the side. Maggie Vega knew about the affair, but home security cameras give her an alibi. She shows our team a note she found regarding a meeting between Vega and his girlfriend, Lara, the day before he was murdered. Coincidence? Doubt it.
Tommy Zane had a picture of Vega with a woman, but it’s not Lara. It’s Ana Rivera, a waitress who told Vega there’s a man who can get people out of Cuba for a price. Beckett realizes that the loan shark money and the note Maggie found point to Vega hiring this man to get his new girlfriend into the States. Who is this guy? It’s the newspaper man: Alfredo Quintana, who admits to smuggling Lara out of Cuba. But he’s not the killer.
Lara’s apartment is empty save for a dusty footprint, and a smudge of blood. Perlmutter confirms that our murderer went to the apartment after killing Vega. After a surveillance team spots Lara entering the Cuban consulate, Beckett strong-arms a diplomat into producing her. We’re finally face-to-face with Vega’s mistress and killer. But Lara is neither of those things. She is actually Cano Vega’s daughter.
Lara was the daughter Vega never knew he had. She only met him once, the night she came to America (thanks to Vega). The next night, Lara ran in fear when she discovered another man at her apartment. When she describes the guy to Castle and Beckett, they realize their killer is Vega’s agent, Bobby Fox.
[break] When Fox first recruited Vega from Cuba, he lied and told Vega that his girlfriend wanted to stay behind. All these years, Vega never knew that she was actually imprisoned. If he had known, there’s no way he would have stayed in the States as a cash cow for Fox. Vega was going to expose the slimy agent. Beckett tells Fox that they found Vega’s blood in his car and on his shoes. It’s game over for this guy.
Back at the Vega home, Castle and Beckett introduce Lara to her father’s wife. Maggie is stunned to find out that Lara is her husband’s daughter, but still welcomes her with open arms. This family sentiment spills over into the Castle home where Alexis has a little surprise for her dad. It’s a couple of baseball mitts and a ball. She feels bad that her dad never got to play catch with his father. She offers to pinch hit for her MIA grandpa in a little "Field of Dreams" moment right there in the apartment. Castle is touched, though he has a lousy curveball.
This show has a lot going for it. The murder mysteries are cool. The banter/flirting/teamwork between Castle and Beckett is always top notch. But at the end of the day, it’s often about family, both the one Castle plays ball with at the precinct and his team at home. In other words, it’s a total home run.