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Castle 5×09: Secret Santa: Recap and Review

Written by Alexander Tucker   // 12/04/2012



Castle 5×09: Secret Santa: Recap and Review

by New TV Film News Author

Cecelia Lawshe

Castle 5×09 Secret Santa Summary“When a bearded, rotund man in a red Santa suit with an ID reading Kris Kringle falls from the sky in Central Park, Castle and Beckett are on the hunt to find the person who killed Santa. But everything isn’t holiday cheer, as they discover St. Nick may have been more naughty than nice. Meanwhile, Castle and Beckett prepare for their first Christmas together.”

Guest Cast on Castle, episode 5×09,  Secret Santa: Dakin Matthews as Dave Dunne, Leslie Hope as Gwenn Harwin, Steven Eckholdt as Michael Case, Tembi Locke as Beth Cabot, Titus Makin, Jr. as Tim Cabot.

The song “Let It Snow” is playing and it’s a beautiful, clear winter night in New York as a father, mother, and daughter laugh and walk down a snow covered walkway.  They see a fluffy pile of snow and plop down to begin to make snow angels.  As they gaze into the sky, a body begins to fall toward them.  “Santa” falls out of the sky and lands at their feet as the daughter screams.

Castle, Alexis, and Martha are decorating their 15-foot Noble Fir Christmas tree.  Castle finds the cookie angel Alexis made him, but she now thinks it’s gross!  Alexis tells Castle she plans to go ice skating on Christmas eve with a new boy she met, and Martha is planning on going caroling with some friends after their Christmas Eve dinner.  Castle’s upset as he mentions they’ve always had a tradition.  Alexis tells him she thinks he’s over-reacting.  Tree decorating is called by “Santa’s” untimely demise.

At the scene of the crime, Castle grumbles about Alexis and Martha having other plans.  He lifts the yellow tape for them to pass under.  As they reach the body, they stare at “Santa” lying spread eagle, face-up in the snow.  Castle decries, “Santa’s dead?”  Beckett says, “Hate to break it to you, Castle, but there is no Santa.”  “Not anymore,” says Castle.  Ryan looks at “Santa’s” wallet and discovers the name in the wallet is “Kris Kringle,” address the North Pole.  Lannie mentions with that beard and belly the victim looks like the real deal.  She says that it looks like Smith fell out of the sky around 9:30.  Since there’s no frostbite on his nose or anywhere he didn’t fall from a very high height, and the family didn’t hear a plane.  So far she hasn’t identified the cause of death, but it looks like he may have been dead before he landed. Beckett asks Ryan to check with air traffic control for any flights.  Beckett notices Smith’s boots are custom made from a leather shop in Queens where she had previously bought some motorcycle boots.  They might have the real name of “Kris Kringle.”

At the precinct, Ryan says air traffic control has no record of any flights over the area for that night.  Captain Gates says there’s a Manhattan corridor that doesn’t require pilots to radio in if they fly under 1300 feet.  Turn’s out Gates’ mother-in-law is a pilot and likes to keep reminding her as a way to make her feel inferior.

Esposito reminds Ryan that it will soon be Christmas Eve and wants to know if they’ll get together to do their usual six-pack and Patton on the big screen.  Ryan tells him that he and Jenny have other plans this year.

Down at the morgue, Lannie has pulled out a 38 slug so it looks like he was shot and then pushed out of an aircraft.  There was also a chip of cherry red enamel paint embedded in his suit.  Castle suggests a cherry red sled!  Esposito shows up and says the victim’s name was Edmund Smith and he lived in the Bronx.  Beckett is surprised he came all the way to the morgue to tell them that.  He reminds her that she said to keep her posted.  Obviously he has ulterior motives.  Castle and Beckett take the hint and leave, after which Esposito suggests to Lannie that maybe they can spend Christmas Eve together.  But Lannie has plans with her girl friends.  She doesn’t want them to be one of those sad holiday hookups, so she suggests that after the holidays if he still wants to get together he can give her a call.

At Smith’s apartment they discover Smith was a professional Santa.  A neighbor, Beth Cabot, said he helped out at the rec center, helped kids with their homework, and was even helping them with their lawsuit they had against Sunco who was responsible for them losing their house.  He wasn’t a lawyer, he just wanted to help.  She says they had heard a man pounding on Smith’s door and cussing.  The guy told her son, Tim Cabot, that when he saw Ed to tell him he was going to kill him.  The son points at a picture and says it was the guy that was standing by the plane.

Castle 5×08: After Hours: Recap and Review

Back at the precinct Ryan says that according to the tail number the plane is registered to David Dunn, and the guy has priors of disorderly conduct.  When they go to the address associated with the picture, it turns out to be a Santa School, “Where they make magic!”

At the precinct, Dunn insists that he didn’t kill Smith.  At 9:30 last night he was at the Harlem Youth Club handing out candy to kids.  As he talks he hides a pouch of pipe tobacco.  He says he taught Smith everything he knew about being a Santa and then Smith took his Cartier gig from him. He said five years ago when he met Smith that Smith was at a low point in his life and Smith wanted to turn his life around.  Dunn had turned him into a world-class Santa.  Now he was upset cause Smith was taking his other gigs.  Dunn said he didn’t know if Smith had anything last night; they have to check with the Bells and Holly Agency.

Ryan confirms that Dunn’s plane has been parked in the hangar for a month and that Dunn was at the Youth Center at the time of Smith’s falling.  Ryan also confirms that Smith didn’t have a Santa gig when he died, so what was he doing in his suit and how did he end up dead?

Esposito reports that five years ago James Edmund Smith was a private equity manager that used to make $500K a year, but as a Santa he made 1/10th of that.  On the night he was killed he withdrew $2K from his ATM, called some lawyer, and the last call he made was to his ex-wife, Gwen Harwin.

When Beckett questions his ex-wife she says she was hosting a food bank benefit at 9:30 the night other night.  After 12 years of marriage, give years ago, they went to a Christmas party, came home and watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” after which he left and never came back.  He had called her the other night and wanted to drop by.  When he came he said he wanted to apologize for the way in left.  She hardly recognized him he had changed so much.  He wanted to make amends in case anything happened to him.  He seemed nervous and on edge.  After he left and got in a cab she said a guy in a motorcycle followed him.

Esposito finds a red flimsy negligee that Ryan is wrapping in a box.  Now he knows what Ryan and Jenny have planned for Christmas Eve!

Castle and Beckett wonder why somebody would all of a sudden turn their life upside down after watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  Ryan reports that the lawyer he called was working on a class action lawsuit for the Cabots’ and 43 other families who lost their homes to Suncove, a predatory lender. The lawyer, working Pro Bono, was going to drop the case, but Smith asked her to wait a few more days until he could help turn things around.  The lawyer said the only thing that could turn things around was $25K.  Suncove was a fly-by-night who got their money and then folded.

Castle suggests that he and Beckett could have a movie marathon for Christmas Eve, but she tells him that she has to work Christmas Eve.  She couldn’t say anything to Captain Gates because Gates doesn’t know they’re together.  Disappointed, Castle leaves to do some Christmas shopping.  Beckett reminds him that she doesn’t want him to get her anything.

Esposito reports that the cab dropped Smith off at Hocus air field, after having the cab stop to pick up somebody else. At the air field they discover a cherry red helicopter with fresh blood oozing out of the seat cushion. Cherry red like the paint chip. They found their crime scene.

At the air field they ask Mr. Mudge about the helicopter. It turns out the air field is unrestricted and anybody could have taken the helicopter.  All you needed was a helicopter license.  You didn’t even need a key to start it.  He checks the log and it turns out the helicopter had a full tank when it was signed out.  So they can check where it flew by how much was left in the tank.  It was down about 1/5 of a tank, so it flew about 45 miles.

Castle gives Captain Gates a Christmas present and suggests that Beckett should have Christmas Eve off.  She tells him that Beckett volunteered.

One of the helipads that could have been within the 45 mile range of the helicopter is Case Commerce, an investment service.  When they go there they question Michael Case who tells them they had a robbery.  When they show him the picture of Smith he identifies him as the Santa they had hired for their party the night they were robbed.  They had never seen Smith before that night and all that was stolen was a clock that had been appraised at $30K.   Nothing else appeared to be touched.

Esposito reports that Smith’s agency hadn’t booked him for the Case party.  In fact, somebody supposedly from Case called a week before and cancelled their Santa order.  So “Santa” Smith was technically an uninvited guest.

Castle confronts Beckett and asks her why she volunteered.  If she wasn’t ready she could have just told him.  The reason she volunteered was because of her mother.  Whenever this time of year comes she’s right back in that alley.  By the time they put the Christmas decorations away it was as if they were putting Christmas away forever.  Every year her dad goes to his cabin, and every year she takes the Christmas shift because there are families celebrating Christmas and she feels she has to keep watch to keep them safe.

Ryan reports that on the helipad there was trash all around; candy wrappers and an empty pouch of pipe tobacco.  Ryan and Esposito go to arrest Dunn at the Santa School and end up having a fight with the Santas.  Ryan shows his badge and the fight ends.

At the precinct Castle and Becket question Dunn.  They ask him about the clock they found in his apartment.  He says that Smith gave him $2K to fly the helicopter.  Smith wanted to know how much weight the helicopter could hold, so whatever he was after wasn’t a clock.  When they left somebody opened fire on them and Smith was killed.  So it looks like somebody at the Case party killed Smith.

When they check elevator pictures from the Case party they see that Tim Cabot with a motorcycle helmet was in the elevator.  So Tim was on the motorcycle.  Captains Gates reports that Smith was a signatory to the incorporation of Suncove who bilked the 43 families out of their homes.  Five years ago, Tim Cabot’s father was killed in a car accident after falling asleep at the wheel because he was trying to work 3 jobs just to pay the inflated Suncove mortgage.  The same five years ago that Smith walked out of his cushy life.  So Smith was trying to dedicate his life to helping the Cabot family.

When they question Tim Cabot he confesses to knowing who Smith was.  Smith had asked for his forgiveness and asked him to help by slipping into the party and jimmying the locks on the storage room where the original unaltered Suncove client files were kept so he could steal them and fly them away in the helicopter.  It was the evidence he needed to set things right.  Since he wasn’t able to take the files, they must still be at Case Commerce.

Beckett and Castle question Michael Case who says there’s nothing in the files that can connect him to Suncove.  Beckett knows that he and Smith were business associates.  It turns out the $30K clock was collateral for the Cabot mortgage and when the Cabot’s defaulted Case kept the clock and that connects him to Suncove.  When Case saw Smith that night and realized what he was up to Beckett suggests it was the motive for Case to kill Smith because Case would lose everything in the lawsuit.  Motive and opportunity are enough for any jury to convict him.  He says he knows who killed Smith; Gwenn Harwin.

Becket and Castle confront Harwin with the evidence.  Her ex-husband, Smith, didn’t come to apologize to her for leaving; he came to tell her he was going to take away the one thing he left after the divorce; her lifestyle, paid for by Suncove profits.  She slowly sinks into a chair.  She knew where he was going and why and so she followed him and then she shot him.  They have a witness to her being there.  Harwin explains that at first she was happy to see Smith.  When he left her he had told her he didn’t want to hurt her, but that’s what people say right before they hurt you.

As Castle and Beckett walk to the elevator the pass under the mistletoe.  They look up. They don’t kiss. Castle walks into the elevator and the doors close.

Ryan confesses to Esposito that Jenny told him that Christmas just isn’t Christmas without kids, so she wants to try. But he doesn’t know if he’s ready to bring a child into this world that’s falling apart.  Esposito assures him that having kids and making family is what holds it together, so he should go home and make a baby.

At Christmas Eve dinner Alexis and Martha tell him that they cancelled their plans to stay home with him.  He tells them that he appreciates it but he realizes there’s someplace else he needs to be.  He picks up his coat and opens the door, and there’s Beckett.  They both decide it’s time for a new tradition. They look at the tree and kiss. She tells him Merry Christmas.  He tells her he didn’t get her anything. She says, “What?”

Esposito goes to the Cabot’s apartment and gives them back their $30K clock.  He tells her that her husband had put it up for collateral for their mortgage. Beth Cabot tells him that the clock had been handed down in her family for generations. That’s why Smith took it, because he wanted her to have it back. As he turns to leave, she invites him in and he accepts.

Cecelia Lawshe maintains several NASA JPL web sites and has won a Webby award for her work. Cecelia wrote today’s recap. You can see one of Cecelia’s NASA sites at








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