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Ep309 Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind

11/15/10 Season 3 TV-PG D, V

They say in space no one can hear you scream. That could make it tough to find witnesses as Castle and Beckett investigate the murder of Marie Subbarao, a prominent astrophysicist whose body suffered from explosive decompression. Lanie explains it’s the result of being exposed to a zero pressure environment. Castle asks, “Zero atmosphere? As in outer space?” Do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do. You have just entered the Castle Zone.

The victim recently scored a grant from an institute devoted to searches for extraterrestrial intelligence. Marie’s assistant, Ayyana Holder, says her boss felt something life-changing had recently happened to her. Dr. Chuck Vaughn adds that Marie’s work involved an altitude chamber which could explain the explosive decompression. Unfortunately, the chamber is clean which has Castle imagining all sorts of otherworldly theories at warp speed.

Marie recently had a lengthy phone conversation with Ufologist Benny Stryker (guest star Lance Henrickson) who says she recently picked up a contact signal from outer space. Stryker suggests Marie showed signs of an alien abduction. He believes there’s been a cover-up. Castle is totally onboard with this theory. Beckett…not so much. But she may have to rethink things after government agents seize all of Marie’s equipment.

Marie visited an observatory in Jersey where she got a telescopic image-capture that may have explained the signal anomalies she was getting in space. All of the data was erased from the telescope hard drive. So what did Marie see? Castle and Beckett have no idea, but they may find out now that their car has completely conked out on an isolated road in the middle of nowhere as a bright light fills the night sky above. FLASH!

[break] Castle and Beckett are seated in separate, dark rooms. How they got there is uncertain. The men who question them know all about Marie Subbarao’s research. They want information that neither Castle nor Beckett can provide. FLASH! Castle and Beckett are back in the car sporting hickey-like marks on their necks from the injections they were given to render them unconscious. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like they were probed.

The team acquires an image CD Marie made before she died. It shows what could be an alien ship in space. Even skeptic Beckett won’t rule out the possibility. She uses the bugs found in her car to contact their mystery abductors. Agent Westfield (guest star Lyle Lovett) obliterates all extraterrestrial theories by stating that Marie intercepted classified security information. She was a spy who downloaded data for the Chinese and was likely killed by her handler. Westfield says they’ll never find this person. This case is over.

It’s time for Castle to meet the parents! By that, we mean Ashley’s parents. Alexis says her boyfriend’s folks are serious people, so Castle does his best to impress with intellectual conversation. It doesn’t last long once he starts wondering aloud about the murder case.

Castle calls Beckett saying that perhaps Marie wasn’t the real spy. The mention of international espionage and alien abduction during their chat leads to some truly puzzled expressions on the faces of Ashley’s mom and dad. You could say they are looking at Castle like he’s some kind of alien.

[break] Dr. Charles Vaughn forged Marie’s signature on requests that redirected the observatory telescope to places it wasn’t supposed to go. With Agent Westfield’s help, the team tracks Vaughn to a warehouse in Chinatown where he’s meeting his handler. Let’s call him the cigarette smoking man. And that’s only because he’s smoking Chinese cigarettes and should in no way be taken as a reference to a hit TV show of the past.

As for Mulder and Scully…er, uh…Castle and Beckett, they find the vacuum packer in the warehouse that caused Marie’s explosive decomposition. The team takes down both Vaughn and his handler. Ryan wonders if they’ll get a medal for this. Agent Westfield replies, “THIS never happened.”

As they wrap things up outside, Castle gets a call from Alexis who says Ashley’s folks found him fascinating. He’s jazzed about that but thoroughly bummed when Beckett won’t share the details of a private chat with Agent Westfield. Why? Well, that’s classified.

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