Castle’s enjoying a trip down memory lane via a sex romp with his ex-wife Meredith—until she blurts out that’s moving back into the city. Talk about a mood killer!
But there’s more that’s suddenly dead than Castle’s libido: In an abandoned building downtown a man has been found in a ritualistic death scene—he’s laid out on a sheet on red flannel, holding a burning candle next to a glass bowl filled with blood. Castle recognizes the setup as being part of a Vodun ritual.
We see Castle and Beckett go to his loft to meet Michelle, an attractive African-American woman who happens to be Castle’s expert source on Vodun. Michelle explains to us that the symbol is a vever, a representation of the one who can open the crossroads to the spirit world. The charm is an offering to a Vodun saint, in this case Ogun—who is usually called upon to help find something that’s been lost. Apparently the man was murdered because he had something the killer desperately wants.
Just then, Beckett gets a call from Ryan. They found Darcy Cho, a young female lawyer, murdered in the same ritualistic fashion. Studying Darcy’s pose, Castle is sure the murderer is still asking the spirits to guide him. In other words, he didn’t find what he was looking for. And, we realize, he’s not going to stop until he finds it.
A match on the first victim’s fingerprints comes in from the INS database. We find out that he was a Nigerian national named Jamal, who was enrolled as an exchange student at NYU. His student visa had expired a year ago, but he’d secretly decided to stay. Esposito hands over Jamal’s cell phone number, noting it’s billed to an address on East 3rd street—right near Darcy Cho’s law firm.
The address leads to what we’ll dub as a ‘sketchy’ apartment. Beckett and Castle hear music and muffled voices speaking in a foreign tongue coming from inside. An African man in his 20’s answers Beckett’s knock, but tries to slam the door shut after she identifies herself as NYPD. Beckett bursts in with her gun drawn. Castle notices a piece or telltale red flannel peeking out from under one of the beds.
Castle and Beckett interrogate the men, both Nigerian immigrants, who reveal that a man named Charles Oni owns the apartment and the business where they work. Furthermore, Oni showed them how to invoke the spirits using the Vodun objects. Now we’re cookin’!
Just then, Meredith barrels into the precinct. She’s allegedly there to drop off Alexis, but she’s really there to get a look at Castle’s latest inspiration—Beckett. On the murder board, Meredith sees a photo of the purse Cho was carrying and notes that the bag is a knock-off. This helps Beckett put it all together: Cho most likely bought her knock-off purse in a stall owned by Charles Oni on Canal Street, the same stall where the first victim worked.
We watch the team descend upon Canal Street with a search warrant for Charles Oni’s stall. They find it ransacked, and Castle recognizes a red chalk Vodun symbol on the floor, which means Charles Oni has been marked for death.
Amongst the wreckage, we see a bunch of shredded purses with their linings cut out.Looks like somebody was trying to smuggle something in the bags, but what we wonder? The only person who could say for sure is Charles Oni. Beckett has Esposito and Ryan call and put Oni’s name on the No Fly List.
Castle notices an electronics store across the street with video cameras broadcasting the Oni stall on a large flat-screen TV. The store manager tells them he can’t show them the video from the previous day because someone came in and bought the camera in the window. But luckily, we find out he has a surveillance photo of the guy.
Across the street, Esposito gets a call—the TSA just pulled Charles Oni from a security line at JFK, where he was trying to flee to Nigeria.
At the precinct, we listen in as Beckett and Castle interrogate Oni. He initially refuses to talk until they can offer him protection. Oni offers a name: Mukhtar Baylor, a former Nigerian secret police officer known as the Butcher of Benin. He traffics in drugs, women and whatever makes him money. Baylor is looking for counterfeit passports and visas hidden inside the linings of the fake purses. He needs the documents to get his brother out of Africa before he’s arrested by Nigerian officials for drug trafficking.
Our heroes head to a downtown warehouse where Baylor runs his operation. Beckett leads a TAC team inside the warehouse, where they find Vodun ritual objects and, more curiously, yoga brochures and schedules. What’s that all about, we ask? Castle also finds the video camera from the electronics store.
At the precinct, they scroll through the videotape. In the image’s background, we can see Oni’s stall across the street. Beckett notices Darcy Cho stopping by, after which Jamal disappears into the back and re-emerges with the purse. To think, she died for a knock-off!
As Beckett starts to fast-forward through the tape, we spot another woman stopping to buy a similar purse. She has a yoga mat and a cup of take-out coffee. Beckett regards the stack of yoga brochures they found at the warehouse and realizes that Baylor must be looking for this woman, too. They rush out to track her down before Baylor gets to her.
At the Blissful Buddha Yoga Studio, the manager identifies the woman as Diana Edwards and tells them another cop—Baylor— had come looking for her just a few minutes before.
They race to Diana’s apartment to find her safe but wary. Beckett empties Diana’s purse and rips out the lining to discover a passport inside. As Beckett is calling it in, Baylor bursts through the front door, armed with a handgun, and opens fire.
Trapped without a clear view of Baylor, Castle pulls out a champagne bottle, shakes it up and uncorks it. Is he planning to go out New Year’s style?
Baylor mistakes the loud bang for a gunshot and leans out to return fire. But Beckett is ready for him, and we watch her take him down with a shot to the shoulder and another to his leg. Ouch! Later, as the paramedics wheel Baylor out and the police take Diana Edward’s statement, Beckett begrudgingly admits to Castle that he saved her life.
At home, Alexis confides to Castle that Meredith is driving her crazy. Just then, Meredith enters with exciting news—she’s been offered a role in a new indie film! She’s saddened that she won’t be moving back to New York, but it was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down. We’re thinking that all worked out beautifully!
After Meredith sweeps out, Alexis gives her dad a look and Castle admits that his business manager offered him a great investment opportunity in a small, artsy independent film. Alexis nods, noting that raising one parent is hard enough—she doesn’t know what she’d do if she had to raise two.