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#323 : Mort d'une Miss

 

Résumé : Au beau milieu d'une répétition générale pour un concours de beauté, Miss Illinois est retrouvée assassinée sur une barre métallique. Castle et Beckett débutent leur enquête mais comprennent que cet univers est bien particulier, des rivalités entre jeunes femmes aux caprices du présentateur, en passant par des organisateurs du concours bien plus touchés par les caméras que la mort de leur candidate. L'équipe convoque de nombreux témoins, mais les pistes se multiplient...
Parallèlement, Alexis traverse une période difficile avec Ashley lorsqu'ils doivent faire un choix pour leur avenir..

Popularité


4.17 - 12 votes

Titre VO
Pretty Dead

Titre VF
Mort d'une Miss

Première diffusion
09.05.2011

Première diffusion en France
16.01.2012

Vidéos

Sneak Peek #1

Sneak Peek #1

  

Sneak Peek #2

Sneak Peek #2

  

Sneak Peek #3

Sneak Peek #3

  

Sneak Peek #4

Sneak Peek #4

  

Plus de détails

Fiche technique

Réalisation : Jeff Bleckner
Scénario : Terri Edda Miller

Distribution Principale : 

  • Nathan Fillion : Richard « Rick » Castle
  • Stana Katic : lieutenant Katherine « Kate » Beckett
  • Jon Huertas : inspecteur Javier Esposito
  • Seamus Dever  : inspecteur Kevin Ryan
  • Tamala Jones : Dr Lanie Parish
  • Ruben Santiago-Hudson  : capitaine Roy Montgomery
  • Molly Quinn : Alexis Castle, la fille de Castle
  • Susan Sullivan : Martha Rodgers, la mère de Castle

Distribution Secondaire: 

  • Michael McKean (Victor Baron)
  • Sasha Roiz (Bobby Stark)
  • Teri Polo (Kayla Baron)
  • Ken Baumann (Ashley)
  • Arye Gross (M.E. Perlmutter)
  • Bellamy Young (Candace Ford)
  • Jonathan Slavin (Justin Hankel)

The host, Bobby Stark, and contestants practice the dress rehearsal for the production number.

Bobby Stark: Okay. Cue the chandelier. Yeah, yeah! Whoo!

The contestants freak when they catch sight of Miss Illinois's dead body laying on the lighting truss.

At Castle’s loft.

Alexis: Illinois? That's like five hundred miles from Manhattan. No, I know Northwestern is closer than Stanford. I'm just saying that's not where you want to go.

Castle: Alexis?

Alexis: Hold on, Ash, my dad's talking to me. What?

Castle: Don't you have school?

Alexis: Yes. Look, Ash, I know you and I think you need to get away from home. I mean, we all need to get away from home.

Castle: Hey.

Alexis: I gotta go. We'll talk about this later. Love you, too. Bye.

Castle: We all need to get away from home?

Alexis: No. I should never leave. We can be the father daughter version of Grey Gardens.

Castle: Ew. You look like you didn't get any sleep.

Alexis: I didn't. I mean, Ashley got his college acceptances. He got in everywhere.

Castle: Well, that's great! That's not great?

Alexis: I looked up statistics for high school sweethearts when one of them goes to college out of state and the other stays in high school. The odds are not in our favour. I mean, I want him to go where he wants, but I don't want him to leave. And he doesn't want to leave, but I don't want him to resent me for not going where he wants and… I don't know what to do.

Castle: Well, do what I do. Look at the odds as a challenge.

Alexis: Says the man who always loses in Vegas.

Castle: Relationships are hard. Odds are you'll figure it out.

Castle's cell rings, Alexis hands it to him.

Alexis: Odds are someone's dead.

Castle: Thank you. Castle.

In the V.B. Tower.

Castle: You've got to be kidding me. A murder in the theater of the V.B. Tower Hotel, Victor Baron's place? It's not the Baron, is it?

Beckett: No. But you won't be disappointed. This one's right up your alley.

Castle: Why's that?

Beckett: Because our victim is a contestant.

Castle: Death of a Beauty Queen. Scandalous.

Beckett: Yeah, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

Castle: Is that America's Dad, Bobby Stark? What's he doing here?

Beckett: He's a pageant host. Oh, please don't tell me that you watch his sitcom.

Castle: Family Foibles? Half of what I know about being a father I learned from watching that show.

Ryan: Hey, Beckett.

Beckett: So, what's the story?

Ryan: Well, according to Candace Ford, our pageant manager, the victim is twenty- one year old Amber Middleberry. The contestants were rehearsing the production number. When they brought in the lighting truss, Amber was tangled up inside of it.

Castle: Must have been a show stopper.

Beckett: Hey there, Perlmutter.

Perlmutter: Detective. Writer.

Beckett: Cause of death?

Perlmutter: Choked from behind with her own sash.

Beckett: Hm.

Perlmutter: Probably between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Castle: How did she end up on the lighting truss?

Ryan: Near as we can tell, the, uh, lighting truss was left onstage after yesterday's rehearsal. Killer probably thought he'd buy some time by dumping her on it and raising it up to the rafters.

Castle: So, whoever it was must have known how to use the stage equipment.

Ryan: No, the lift controls, they're on touch screen. Pretty easy to operate.

Beckett: When was she last seen alive?

Ryan: Last night. Contestants, they all went to a dinner to honour Victor Baron. 10:30 the party wrapped and they were all limoed back here to the hotel. Amber used her key card at 10:43 p.m. to get into her hotel room. After that she, uh, wound up here.

Perlmutter: Detective, there's something you should see.

Beckett: A black sequin?

Perlmutter: Part of one. I found it in her hair.

Beckett: Okay, so the killer might've transferred it when he strangled her. Let's find out who had access to this ballroom last night and let's also talk to the pageant manager. I want to see if any of the girls' outfits match with this sequin.

Ryan: Will do.

Beckett: So, does Amber Middleberry have any family?

Ryan: Yeah. Just her, uh, dad.

Ryan points to the man that the pageant manager is comforting next to the stage.

Beckett and Castle sit at one of the tables with Dan Middleberry, the victim's father.

Dan Middleberry: She started when she was nine. Little Miss Wholesome. I was against the whole idea at first, but Amber's mom had a bug about it and, uh, then after her mother died... I think it just helped her feel closer to her.

Beckett: Did your daughter have any enemies that you know of?

Dan Middleberry: No, of course not. Everybody loved Amber.

Castle: And what about the other contestants? Were there any rivalries?

Dan Middleberry: She went way back with some of these girls. Even after she made it to the semifinals everybody was hugging her and they were… They were calling her the frontrunner and, uh... This pageant, this one was her dream.

Beckett: When was the last time you talked with her?

Dan Middleberry: Yesterday morning. I, uh, I tried to call her last night. I knew that dinner thing was over. I wanted to wish her luck, you know, but... She didn't answer the phone.

Beckett: And what time was that?

Dan Middleberry: Little before eleven. I, uh... I thought she must have gone to sleep, but she must have left her room and come down here for some reason.

Victor Baron: Dan! I am so sorry. Gonna get the bastard who did this, you have my word.

Dan Middleberry: Thank you, Mr. Baron.

Victor Baron: Detectives, a word upstairs, if you don't mind.

Castle and Beckett follow Victor Baron into his suite where his wife, Kayla, and a video crew are waiting.

Victor Baron: This is a dark day. A sad chapter in the history of Baron's All-American Beauty Pageant.

Kayla Baron: Victor, this is just awful.

Victor Baron: My wife, Kayla. You might recognize her as Baron's All-American Beauty 1995.

Castle: Yes, of course.

Beckett: Nice to meet you.

Kayla Baron: Nice to meet you, yes. This is just devastating. For us, and… And for the girls. We're like family.

Castle: How well did you know her?

Victor Baron: Um… Sh… She was a sweet girl. A hell of a violinist.

Kayla Baron: Yes, she was.

Victor Baron: Mark my words, I am putting the entire weight of the Baron empire behind this investigation. Anything you need, just say the word. Detective, I know, uh, you have to do your thing. Uh, I'm just hoping, uh, since we are airing the pageant live this Friday, if we could minimize the press. You know, to be fair to the other girls.

Beckett: We're gonna have to be fair to our victim first. And, speaking of press, can we get rid of the cameras? This is, after all, a murder investigation, not a reality show.

Victor Baron: We, um, we film everything. The behind the scenes at the pageant. We like to catch the girls talking about each other. We let them confess their hopes and fears. You get the glamour but you also get the underbelly. People love the underbelly.

Kayla Baron: Yes, they do.

Beckett gives Victor Baron a look.

Victor Baron: But maybe this isn't the time.

Victor motions for the camera crew to leave.

Beckett: So, were all the girls staying at the hotel?

Victor Baron: That's right.

Beckett: Okay, I'll need access to Amber's room. We'll also need hotel security tapes. Now, were those cameras recording last night's dinner?

Victor Baron: 'Course.

Beckett: Okay, we'll need the footage. We'll also need to interview all of the pageant contestants.

Victor Baron: I'll have Candace give you anything you need.

Beckett: Great. Thank you very much. It was nice to meet you.

Kayla Baron: Come again. Oh, no, we don't…

Victor Baron: We don't want them to come again.

In the elevator.

Castle: Small town girl comes to New York for the fairytale, ends up with a horror story.

Beckett: Pageants aren't fairytales. They're demanding, high pressure competitions that bring out the very best and the very worst in people.

Castle: That is the voice of experience. Oh my God, you were a beauty queen!

Beckett: No. I had a roommate freshman year, Debbie Winaker. It was like living with Elle Woods on steroids.

Castle: Well then, this ought to bring back some memories.

Castle and Beckett step out of the elevator to a precinct full filled with contestants in their glittery dresses, and their mothers.

Uniform: Alright.

Pageant Mom: You're slouching. Winners never slouch.

The mom shuffles her daughter down the hallway while the Uniform takes a photo with another contestant.

Beckett: Castle, they're everywhere!

Castle: It smells like a perfume counter at a department store.

Esposito: Beats the usual lowlifes and nut jobs.

Beckett: I don't know if you can say that nut jobs and beauty queens are mutually exclusive.

Esposito: Yeah, but none of them connect to the murder. I checked the sequin against all their dresses…

Castle: I bet you did.

Esposito: And none of them are a match.

Beckett: Okay, look at the footage from the dinner. Let's make sure that the dresses we checked are the ones they actually wore.

Esposito: Hm. Watch a parade of beautiful women in evening attire? Yeah, I can do that.

Castle: I bet you can.

Ryan: Hey. So, I've been interviewing these ladies…

Castle: I bet you did.

Ryan: About their alibis last night. Anyway, there's someone you should talk to.

In the conference room.

Ryan: So, tell them what you told me about what happened after dinner.

Sascha: When we got back to the hotel, I wanted to work out a couple of my dance moves. I'm one of the semifinalists, so I get to perform in the broadcast.

Castle: Congratulations.

Sascha: Thanks. I'm doing an interpretive dance to J-Lo's I'm Into You.

Beckett: And then what happened?

Sascha: I changed into sweats and went to the stage and... That's when I heard it.

Beckett: You heard what?

Sascha: A fight. It was coming from the dressing room. It was Amber and some guy.

Castle: Did you see the guy?

Sascha: The door was closed. It started getting loud, so I bolted. But now I wish I had done something. I mean, maybe he's the one who killed her.

Beckett: His voice. Did you recognize it?

Sascha: No.

Castle: What were they arguing about?

Sascha: "How could you do this to me? You have no right. Who do you think you are?" Stuff like that. It kind of sounded like he was her boyfriend.

Near the bullpen.

Ryan: So, that was Amber's dad. He said he didn't know anything about a boyfriend. Neither did any of the other girls.

Castle: Maybe she was keeping it a secret.

Ryan: They said if anyone knew what was going on in Amber's life it was, uh, Justin Hankel, Amber's pageant consultant.

In the interview lounge.

Justin Hankel: I coached her on her routine, interviews, oversaw stylists, makeup, clothing, violin lessons, glamour shots. Everything she needed to win.

Beckett: The two of you must have spent a lot of time together.

Justin Hankel: That's what it takes. And today's pageants are not just about beauty. They're about brains, talent, social issues, and - what, with the money and the exposure at stake - winning one of the majors can launch a career.

Beckett: What about a boyfriend? Was she in a relationship?

Justin Hankel: No boyfriends. That is a rule for my clients and Amber was no exception. She knew that she needed to focus one hundred percent of her energy on the pageant.

Beckett: You know, the night that she died, she got into an argument. Any idea with whom?

Justin Hankel: No. The last time I saw her was before her dinner. But, like I told that other detective, something was going on.

Beckett: How so?

Justin Hankel: She'd been off the last couple of days, upset. And I went to pick her up for a costume fitting and it looked like she had been crying.

Castle: Did you ask why?

Justin Hankel: She said that someone was trying to take advantage of her. I asked her who but she said she would handle it. It ju… It wasn't like her not to confide in me.

Castle: Could it have been one of the other contestants?

Justin Hankel: There's a lot of pressure on these girls to win. I mean, it can get really...political between them.

Near the bullpen.

Castle: Do you think it's possible political turned deadly?

Beckett: I don't know. Winning means fame and fortune. No one remembers the runner up. Besides, people have killed for less.

Castle: That still doesn't explain who she was arguing with.

Esposito: Guys, I got something.

Beckett: One of the girls?

Esposito: Just watch.

Amber Middleberry: Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed about...

Esposito: This is from Baron's dinner last night.

Amber Middleberry: ... Pageant...

Esposito: That's our victim, Amber.

Amber Middleberry: And I just feel so very honoured to be here...

Esposito: She's laying it on thick for Victor Baron.

Amber Middleberry: ... I want to thank the Baron...

Esposito: But that's not the interesting part.

Amber Middleberry: ... For making all my dreams come true.

Esposito: Now watch this.

When Amber finishes her speech, Bobby Stark takes the mic, put his arm behind her back, and whispers something in her ear and her smile falters.

Esposito: Ah. There. See that?

Castle: Look at her face.

Beckett: Looks like whatever good guy, sitcom star, Bobby Stark said, she didn't like it.

Esposito: Don't just look at her face. Look at his tux.

Beckett: Black sequins.

Esposito enters with the black sequin blazer.

Esposito: Yo. Bobby Stark's blazer, courtesy of the costume lady at the pageant.

Beckett: And the broken black sequin?

Esposito: Perfect match.

Castle: Bam, said the costume lady.

Ryan: Ooh. She's not the only lady saying bam when it comes to Bobby Stark.

Beckett: Does he have a record?

Ryan: Uh, no criminal charges, but Mr. Stark has quite the reputation. Three women filed restraining orders against Bobby Stark in the last year. All for unwanted advances.

Castle: How come I didn't hear about this on TMZ?

Ryan: Oh, word is, Stark paid quite a bit of cash to make it all go away. Oh, it gets better. I was talking to Candace Ford and a couple of the other girls. They said that Bobby Stark had started paying quite a lot of attention to Amber.

Castle: Maybe it was unwanted attention.

Beckett: Maybe Bobby didn't know how to take no for an answer.

Bobby Stark strikes a pose in front of the one-way glass as Beckett and Castle enter.

Bobby Stark: You lookin' at me? Hm? You lookin' at me?

Beckett: Mr. Stark, I'm Detective…

Bobby Stark: Nobody else around, you must be lookin' at me.

Beckett: Mr. Stark?

Bobby Stark: Mm?

Beckett: Have a seat, please.

Bobby Stark: Yeah. You like that bit? It's my, uh, Bobby De Niro.

Castle: Playing a homicidal maniac.

Beckett sits down at the interrogation table and Stark sits down next to her.

Bobby Stark: Sold it though, right? See, I got this range as an actor. You probably don't know about that, because I'm always typecast as Mister-Nice-Guy dad.

Beckett: Yeah, well, I don't think you'll have that problem now that you're a murder suspect.

Bobby Stark: Murder suspect? Is she joking? You joking?

Beckett: What was your relationship with Amber Middleberry?

Bobby Stark: Oh, come on. You serious? I didn't kill her. If anything, I was trying to recruit her.

Beckett: Recruit her? For what?

Bobby Stark: Yeah, for my, uh, goddess train.

Castle: The goddess train?
Bobby Stark: Yeah, it's my own little private pageant.

Beckett: And how did Amber respond to this oh so enticing offer?

Bobby Stark: You know what? She hadn't seen the light yet. She was coming around. I could always tell the innocent act when I see it. Besides, who wouldn't want to ride the Bobby Rocket?

Castle: Everyone, from what we hear.

Beckett: Mr. Stark, here's what I think happened. After dinner, you invited Amber back to your dressing room and she had the bad sense to agree. And that's when you decided to make another pitch to get her on board your goddess train.

Castle: When she shot you down, you flew into a rage and you strangled her.

Beckett: You were rehearsing on that stage all week. You knew all of the equipment.

Bobby Stark: Stop. Would you jus… Just sto… You guys are crazy, you know that?

Beckett: Okay. Well, then maybe you can explain why we found this broken sequin from your jacket on her body. Where were you between 11 and 1 a.m. last night?

Bobby Stark: Uh... I don't know. I'm a little foggy in that, actually. I was, uh... Partying pretty hard.

Castle: Who were you with?

Bobby Stark: Um... Not sure, but whoever it was, we were definitely using strawberry oil.

Beckett: Okay, so let me get this straight. You don't remember where you were or what you were doing last night?

Bobby Stark: That's bad, right?

Near the bullpen.

Beckett: That guy's dropped more pills than a three fingered pharmacist.

Castle: I just can't believe that someone who's given so much great fatherly advice on TV could be guilty of murder.

Beckett: Well, he's a drug addled predator who left physical evidence on the body.

Castle: Well, when you put it that way.

Beckett: Hey, Esposito.

Esposito: Yo.

Beckett: We need to reconstruct Stark's evening. Check his phone records, double check security cameras at the hotel. We need hard evidence to place him at the crime scene.

Esposito: I got something that might help. Amber had her violin with her at dinner, but it wasn't with her body or anywhere at the crime scene.

Castle: So, where'd it go?

Beckett: Well, we know Amber went to the hotel. So, maybe she dropped it off there.

Esposito: Except uniforms inventoried the room. It wasn't there and her dad and consultant didn't see it either.

Castle: So, maybe she had it when she was killed.

Beckett: And Bobby Stark disposed of it. Check trash cans, dumpsters, and sewer drains by the hotel. If someone saw him ditch the violin, we can connect him to the murder.

Esposito: Right on.

At Castle’s loft.

Martha: Oh, beauty pageant intrigue. Some things never change. Ah, oh! Here it is!

Martha and Castle chuckle.

Castle: I didn't know you competed.

Martha: Well, that's because I didn't win.

Castle: Ah.

Martha: But I can tell you, the women I competed against? Just as cutthroat as they are now.

Castle: What was your talent?

Martha: The way I wore a sweater.

Alexis enters.

Martha: Hi, honey.

Castle: Hey, Alexis. What's wrong?

Alexis: Ashley made his decision.

Martha: Uh-oh.

Castle: Stanford?

Alexis: No. He decided to go to school here in New York.

Martha: What's not good about that?

Alexis: Stanford was his dream. I don't want to stand in the way of that. He'll just end of hating me for it, and this could be the most important decision of his life. So, I made a decision, too. I broke up with him.

Martha: Oh, baby. Oh, it's okay.

Near the bullpen.

Beckett: Well, she's right, you know. I mean, odds are it won't work out. She's just being practical.

Castle: Relationships aren't math problems. You don't solve them by being practical. I mean, what happens when she meets her soul mate, but she doesn't risk it because it's not practical?

Esposito: Okay then, what about Hawaii? Earrings? Ooh. Lingerie.

Castle: Things you buy a woman! Used to kill in Pyramid.

Montgomery: It's my 30th anniversary.

Beckett: Oh, sir, congratulations.

Castle: Thirty years of marriage and you don't know what to buy her?

Montgomery: If you stayed married long enough, you'd know it's hard to stay original after the first ten.

Castle: That's fair.

Beckett: So, what's the secret to your success?

Montgomery: There's no secret. Just... Keep showing up.

Beckett: Any luck on Bobby Stark?

Esposito: Yeah, but you're not going to like it. Paparazzi snapped photos of him going into the Tribeca Grand Hotel at 11:30 with a brunette wearing Jackie O glasses. At 1 a.m. he left, at which point he relocated to a gentleman's club to watch mud wrestling.

Beckett: Amber left her room at eleven. Where was he between 11-11:30?

Esposito: In a cab, on his way to Tribeca.

Beckett: And... We know this for a fact?

Esposito: Yeah, he was tweeting photos of his manhood along the way.

Castle: And that's how you trend on Twitter.

Beckett: So, the sequin must have broken off onto Amber after he bumped up against her. Cut him loose. He's not our guy.

Esposito: Alright.

Beckett: Which means we are dead in the water.

Ryan: Uh… Wouldn't go that far. Her stolen violin? We found it.

Beckett: Where?

Ryan: Dumped in a garbage bin behind the hotel.

Castle: Disposed of by our killer, just not we killer we thought.

Beckett: Did we get prints?

Ryan: Yeah. Amber Middleberry's and one other set belonging to the lovely, the talented, contestant from Georgia.

Castle: Which one was…? Oh!

In the interrogation room.

Joy Jones: Amber and I have been friends since Little Miss Spangles. Why would you think I killed her?

Beckett: Because your prints were all over the violin case, Joy. And she had it with her when she came back from dinner last night.

Joy Jones: I held it for her while she fixed her tights.

Castle: They were on the violin, too.

Joy Jones: She wasn't even supposed to be a semifinalist. And then she nailed all her pageant questions. It was supposed to be her weakness, but she blew everyone away. She was going to win.

Beckett: So, then you killed her and you dumped her violin.

Joy Jones: No! That is not what happened. Last night when we went back to the hotel I saw her go into her room, drop off her stuff, and then leave again. But she left so fast her door didn't close all the way, so I went to shut it. That's when I saw her violin. She just left it there. It was like a sign. I thought, "Joy Jones, how badly do you want this?"

Castle: How badly did you want it?

Joy Jones: More than anything. I'm twenty five. I'm old. This is the last year I can qualify. I thought, if I took her violin, it might throw her off enough in the talent finals that I could beat her.

Castle: But that wasn't enough for you, was it? You thought, why not just take Amber out of the contest completely?

Joy Jones: No! All I did was take her violin. And when I found out she was dead, I panicked. I thought someone might find out, so I threw it away.

Beckett: That's a pretty good act, Joy, but judges just aren't buying it.

Joy Jones: No, I swear! I didn't have to kill Amber to get her out of the pageant. I found something in her violin case. Something awful.

Beckett: And what did you find?

Joy Jones: The reason she was murdered.

In the V.B. Tower.

Joy Jones: If these got out, it would've ruined her. She would've been kicked off the circuit for good.

Joy hands Beckett a manila envelope. Beckett pulls out some photos.

Castle: Oh, my God. She is absolutely, totally…

Beckett: Naked.

Joy Jones: There's a note on the back of that one.

Beckett: "You know my price. Pay up or I will destroy you." So, she was being blackmailed.

Castle: Looks like somebody made good on their threat.

Near the bullpen.

Castle: Beauty queens and naked pictures. It's American as socialites and sex tapes.

Beckett: Amber dreamt of winning this pageant. Why would she take those photos? I mean, she knew the chance that she was taking.

Castle: Well, just because you're smart and beautiful doesn't mean you have good judgment. I didn't mean me.

Esposito: Just got off with Amber's father. That was a tough conversation.

Castle: You mean, he didn't know about the photos?

Esposito: And Amber didn't tell him about the blackmailer, either. Or try to borrow money.

Beckett: Well, maybe she paid off the blackmailer on her own.

Esposito: Not an option. Any money Amber did have went to paying for shoes, gowns, and spray tans. She only had fifty bucks in the bank. And she didn't have any recent withdraws, either.

Castle: Justin said that she was upset. Maybe that's because she didn't have the money to make it go away.

Beckett: Yeah, but then why kill her? I mean, a smart blackmailer would give her the time to get the cash.

Castle: Not if she threatened to go to the police, forcing him to take deadly action. Deadly Action. That's a good title.

Esposito: I rechecked her phone. There's no record of any unusual calls. I figure the blackmailer contacted her though a hotel phone, that way he couldn't be traced.

Beckett: Castle, have you taken a look at these photos?

Castle: Only insofar as it pertains to the investigation.

Beckett: Look at the lighting and the composition. Whoever took these knew something about photography.

Castle: A professional?

Beckett: I mean, it happens all the time. Girl gets a session with the pro, they finish, he offers to take a few art shots, she's desperate for the cash, he promises he'll never show it to anybody.

Castle: Until she makes it big, in which case they suddenly surface.

Beckett: Esposito, let's get a hold of the pageant consultant. Let's get a list of all the photographers that Amber's had sessions with. One of them might be our blackmailer.

Esposito: Alright.

In the V.B. Tower.

Justin Hankel: This must have been what she was so upset about. She knew, if the pageant found out, it would have all been over. It is all over. God, why didn't she just tell me?

Esposito: Do you have any idea who might've taken these photographs?

Justin Hankel: With that hairstyle it must have been six months ago. I'll have to check my calendar.

Near the bullpen.

Beckett: So, uniforms talked to the pageant girls that Amber was closest to. She didn't tell them about the photos, either.

Castle: Well, she probably thought they'd use it against her.

Montgomery: Beckett, you're a woman, right?

Beckett: Sir, I have no idea what to get your wife.

Castle: Still no luck on the gift?

Montgomery: Keep coming up empty.

Castle: The best thing to give a woman is something she said she wanted when she didn't think you were listening.

Montgomery: What if I wasn't listening?

Castle: Gift certificate?

Beckett: Beckett.

In the V.B. Tower.

Esposito: So, according to her pageant consultant, Amber was in the city about six months ago for a photo shoot. He thinks they were taken around the same time.

Beckett: And who was the shoot with?

Esposito: A photographer named Dax Lattimer.

Beckett: Does he have a record?

Esposito: Negative. But I asked around and the guy's no stranger to dirty pictures. On top of headshots, he also freelances for adult magazines.

Beckett: Well, sounds like our guy. Where is he now?

Esposito: He's got a studio in the East Village. I'm heading there now.

Beckett: Okay. I'll have Ryan meet you.

At Lattimer's Studio.

Dax Lattimer: Sure, I remember Amber. Very sweet gal. I took some headshots for her.

Esposito: You take anything else while you were at it? Maybe some snaps of her wearing nothing but a smile?

Dax Lattimer: Amber wasn't the type. She was all about the glamour. So, what's this about?

Ryan: She was murdered.

Esposito: And we think whoever killed her took this picture right here.

Dax Lattimer: Yeah, well, I didn't take this. I'm not that mediocre.

Esposito: Really?

Ryan: These were shot around the time you worked with Amber. We all know you do more than just pets and families.

Dax Lattimer: Hey, we all have to pay the bills.

Esposito: And with Amber's star on the rise, that photo's worth some serious coin.

Ryan: Pretty girl like that? Alone here with you in the studio...

Dax Lattimer: Hey, you have to believe me. I didn't take this photograph. Besides, we weren't alone. She was with someone.

Ryan: Who?

Dax Lattimer: Some boyfriend. Guy was a real creep, too.

Esposito: Amber didn't have a boyfriend.

Dax Lattimer: Well, she did when she was here. In fact, he fancied himself a photographer. Kept telling me I should shoot Amber in natural light.

Esposito: This boyfriend have a name?

Dax Lattimer: Jerry, Jeremy, something like that.

Ryan: Mr. Lattimer, where were you night before last between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.?

Dax Lattimer: At home with my wife. Trying to rock my colicky son to sleep. It's a doorman building, so you can check.

Near the bullpen.

Beckett: Okay, thanks. Amber's dad said that she used to have a boyfriend, Jeremy Keiper.

Ryan: Keiper? Was he creepy?

Beckett: Yeah, well, her dad thought so. As far as he knows, they broke up late last year because she realized that he was holding her back. The dad thinks that the boyfriend's still in Illinois.

Castle: Well, that's the beauty of blackmail. You can do it from anywhere.

Beckett: Blackmail maybe, but not murder. Why don't we find out if Keiper paid her a visit lately.

Ryan: On it.

Beckett: Bad boyfriends and pageant queens? This is like Debbie Winaker all over again.

Castle: You having flashbacks?

Beckett: It was my own private Vietnam. Our place smelled of hairspray, perfume, and cigarettes. I'm surprised that we didn't spontaneously combust.

Castle: I love the smell of hairspray in the morning. It smells like... Victory.

Ashley: Excuse me, Mr. Castle?

Castle: Ashley.

In the precinct.

Ashley: I'm sorry to bug you at work, but Alexis established a… A no calls, no contact policy.

Castle: She told me.
Ashley: Look, I… I made a big mistake. I thought if I chose Stanford, Alexis would think that I was blowing her off. Instead, she's mad at me because I chose her over where I want to go to school. So, now I'm going to Stanford, which is where I wanted to go in the first place, but…

Castle: But if you call her and tell her that, she'll be even angrier with you for ignoring her boundaries.

Ashley: Exactly! Look, I think Alexis and I can make the whole long distance thing work, I really do. Would you tell her that? Would you talk to her for me?

Castle: Ashley, I… I appreciate it was probably very hard for you to come down and talk to me today, but... I just don't think it's very appropriate for me to…

Ashley: Mr. Castle, have you ever been crazy about someone who is determined to push you away?

Beckett: Hey, Castle… Oh, sorry guys.

Castle: Uh. No. It's okay… Um… Ashley, I'm sorry, I… I do have to go.

Ashley: Please just, um, think about it, okay?

Castle: Okay.

Beckett: What was that about?

Castle: He wants me to advocate for him.

Beckett: Oh. Well, that's sweet.

Castle: Yeah.

Beckett: And awkward.

Castle: Mostly awkward.

Ryan: Yo, Beckett! Just got off the phone with Jeremy Keiper's mom. Turns out Jeremy moved to New York last month, said he was going to make something of himself.

Castle: Looks like he made himself into a blackmailer and a killer.

At Jeremy Keiper's apartment.

Beckett: Jeremy Keiper! NYPD! Open up!

Beckett turns the door handle and it opens.

Beckett: Mr. Keiper? Anybody here?

Castle: Beckett?

Beckett looks over at the Amber Middleberry photo collage on the door.

Beckett: Looks like someone had a hard time letting go.

Castle taps a photo and the door moves a little. Beckett moves in with her gun.

Beckett: Castle!

Beckett nods for Castle to open the door. Jeremy's body is hanging on it by his neck.

At Jeremy Keiper's apartment.

Castle: This is a classic murder suicide. Jeremy blackmails his ex-girlfriend, not because he needs the money, but because, clearly, he's obsessed with her. Amber rejects him and his schemey schemes. He flips. He snaps. He kills her and then, faced with the reality of what he's done, hangs himself.

Perlmutter: Only one problem with your theory, Castle.

Castle: Which is?

Perlmutter: This wasn't a suicide.

Beckett: This wasn't?

Perlmutter: If he'd hanged himself, the marks on his neck would angle upwards.

Castle: Yes, which they do.

Perlmutter: Yes! But if he was strangled the marks would go straight across. This guy's got both.

Beckett: So, then the hanging was a cover-up for the strangulation.

Perlmutter: Well, there's also perimortem bruising on the arms and across the ribs. I'm guessing there was a struggle.

Beckett: Estimated time of death?

Perlmutter: Well, judging by temperature and lividity, he was killed half a day before Amber Middleberry.

Castle: Before Amber?

Perlmutter: Yes! Before! Now, can you please move? You're in my light.

Castle: This doesn't make any sense. If he didn't kill Amber… How do a blackmailer and his victim both end up dead?

Esposito: Yo. Check this out. His hard drive's been wiped.

Beckett: That's our connection, Castle. It's the one thing that Amber and Jeremy had in common. Those photos. Someone didn't want them to see the light of day.

Near the bullpen.

Beckett: Amber's dad had no idea this was going on with his daughter. She didn't even mention Jeremy's name in the last six months.

Castle: Is there anything else that Jeremy and Amber could have been involved with while there were together?

Beckett: No, not that he can recall.

Castle: These pictures, by today's standards, are-- are downright tasteful. How do these get you killed?

Beckett: It can't be about naked pictures. Something else must have been going on.

Castle: Unless...

Beckett: Unless what?

Beckett goes to put on her jacket to leave for the night.

Castle: Unless Jeremy wasn't the only blackmailer. What if he had a partner? I mean, we know Amber was arguing with someone the night she was killed. We know it couldn't have been Jeremy, because he was already dead.

Beckett: Why would the partner kill Jeremy?

Castle: Maybe they had a falling out. Maybe Jeremy decided he couldn't hurt Amber, but the partner still wanted his payday.

Beckett: So, he takes out Jeremy and decides to go after Amber himself?

Castle: But Amber decides to call his bluff. She says she's gonna contact the police. Now the blackmailer has no choice. He has to kill her and get rid of all the evidence of blackmail.

Beckett: Ryan? Get me everything you got on Jeremy Keiper.

Beckett drops her keys back on her desk. Ryan pauses on his way out, on the phone with Jenny.

Ryan: Sorry, baby.

Castle: Oh, it's late. I'll leave you to it.

At Castle’s loft.

Castle: Hey.

Alexis: Hey.

Castle: Whatcha looking at?

Alexis turns her laptop to show Castle a photo of her and Ashley.

Castle: You really miss him, don't you?

Alexis nods.

Castle: You know I… I hate to interfere...

Alexis: Since when?

Castle: Point taken. Ashley dropped by the precinct to see me today.

Alexis: He did? Why?

Castle: He wanted me to intercede on his behalf.

Alexis: What'd he say?

Castle: Well, he looked about as happy as you do. And he wanted me to tell you that he's decided to go to Stanford.

Alexis: Oh.

Castle: And he wants to give a long distance relationship a shot. He thinks it could work.

Alexis: What do you think?

Castle: I think that nothing is certain. And you could be ending something that could have worked, if you'd just given it a little more time.

Alexis: What if I'm just cutting my losses on something that was never meant to be?

Castle: Well then, we can be the father daughter version of Grey Gardens. But life is a journey and there is no predicting the outcome. The only thing you can control are your choices and they'll-- they'll define who you are. I would just hate to see you so focused on the problem right in front of you that you completely miss the entire picture.

Alexis: That's pretty good advice.

Castle: Yeah. Yeah, actually it is, isn't it?

Alexis: Yeah.

Castle's looking over the nude photos with a magnifying glass.

Beckett: Remind me to get you a subscription to a girly magazine for Christmas.

Castle: Oh, that is so thoughtful. But I'm not looking at the naked girl.

Beckett: What are you looking at?

Castle: Everything but the naked girl. We were so focused on Amber, we almost missed the entire picture. What if Amber and Jeremy were killed, not because of who was in this photo, but because of where the photo was taken? Anything look familiar?

Beckett: Sure does.

Castle: You can thank me later.

In the V.B. Tower.

Beckett: Talk about a motive for murder. If these photos got out to the tabloids…

Castle: It would destroy everything.

Beckett: NYPD.

Pageant Coordinator: They're inside.

Kayla Baron: The memorial for Amber should be simple. Tasteful.

Victor Baron: And very, very classy.

Kayla Baron: Yes.

Victor Baron: Detective! Is there something I can help you with?

Beckett: Yes, we need to ask you a few questions.

Victor Baron: Ask away.

Beckett: Fine. Tell us about the blackmail and the murder of Amber Middleberry.

Victor Baron: Shut the cameras off! Go! Now!

Cameraman: Come on, let's go. Let's go.

Beckett: I thought you said that everybody loves the underbelly.

Victor Baron: This…

Kayla Baron: What's going on, Victor?

Castle: What's going on is we finally figured out who, aside from Amber, would be nervous about these photos.

Kayla Baron: What photos? Oh, my God! Oh, my God, Victor! Oh, my God!

Victor Baron: It's not what it looks like.

Kayla Baron: It's not what it looks like? This is this is our house in the Hamptons. This is our bed.

Victor Baron: Our vacation bed.

Beckett: Right underneath the two million dollar Picard that you purchased at the auction, which just happens to be the companion to this painting here in your office.

Castle: We read all about it on the spread they did on you in Today's Architect. Looks as though you were hoisted on your own Picard.

Victor Baron: I can explain.

Kayla Baron: We agreed, Victor. Never again.

Victor Baron: It was just a weekend.

Kayla Baron: Just a weekend? I have friends in the Hamptons. What if somebody saw? I won't be humiliated because you can't keep it in your pants.

Victor Baron: No one saw!

Kayla Baron: No one saw? No, you took photos so everyone could see!

Victor Baron: I didn't take those pictures!

Beckett: Here's what I think happened. Amber was being blackmailed, she couldn't pay, so she came to you for help.

Castle: Only you had a lot to lose. Those pictures, they have a way of getting out.

Beckett: So, instead of paying off her blackmailer, you killed him. And then you came back here and took care of her.

Victor Baron: It's not what happened!

Beckett: The cameras aren't rolling any longer, Mr. Baron. You can drop the act.

Victor Baron: It's not an act. Amber wasn't being blackmailed. The conniving bitch was blackmailing me.

Beckett: She was blackmailing you?

Victor Baron: She showed me the pictures. She told me that she had her boyfriend come and take them while I was away.

Kayla Baron: Wait, you left her alone in my house?

Victor Baron: I had a meeting in the city. I was coming right back.

Kayla Baron: How could you be so stupid, Victor?

Victor Baron: She said, if I helped her win the pageant, the photos would never see the light of day.

Castle: "You know the price, pay up or I'll destroy you." It wasn't to Amber, it was from Amber. She was still with her boyfriend. They were in it together.

Beckett: So, then what did you do?

Victor Baron: I slipped her the pageant questions. Why do you think she was doing so well?

Kayla Baron: You ass!

Kayla throws a vase at Victor. He ducks and it smashes against the Picard painting on the wall.

Beckett: Whoa! Hey! Hey! Mr. Baron, where were you between 11 and 1 a.m. the night of the murder?

Victor Baron: After the reception I had drinks with Councilman Bollinger. Uh... I got home at, uh, at 1 a.m. Kayla was with me. Weren't you babe?

Beckett: Kayla? Is this true? Were you with him?

Kayla fumes for a moment. Then admits.

Kayla Baron: Yes. Who else knew, Victor? Who do I need to be ashamed in front of?

Victor Baron: No one else knew.

Beckett: Well, someone else must have, otherwise two people wouldn't be dead.

Victor Baron: The only other person I told was Candace. I told her what Amber was trying to do to me, to the pageant. I… I told her to take care of it, make the problem go away.

Castle: Maybe she did.

In the V.B. Tower.

Candace: I don't want to see any fingerprints on those glasses.

Castle: Being careful of fingerprints, are we Candace?

Candace: We want everything to be perfect.

Beckett: This pageant really is your baby.

Candace: You noticed? Seventeen flawless years.

Beckett: So, then you would do anything to protect it. We know that Mr. Baron told you about the blackmail. And we know that he asked you to handle it.

In the V.B. Tower.

Candace: Kill her? I wanted to kill Baron. Seventeen flawless years and he wants me to give her the answers so his little fling can wear the crown? But it was either that or that snake destroys everything.

Beckett: Where were you the night that Amber was killed?

Candace: Please don't.

Beckett: Ms. Ford…

Candace: I was with someone.

Castle: Who?

Candace: I can't.

Beckett: Candace, if you have an alibi…

Candace: Bobby Stark. I was with him at the Tribeca Grand. And the worst part is, he doesn't even remember.

Near the bullpen.

Esposito: Tribeca Grand confirms that Stark was with Candace at the time of the murder.

Castle: She did smell a little bit like strawberry oil.

Esposito: Baron's alibi checks out, too.

Beckett: Which leaves us without a suspect. Okay, get into it with Baron's lawyers. Just because Candace didn't kill them doesn't mean he didn't hire someone else to do it.

Esposito: Right.

Castle: Blind naked ambition. I think even your Debbie Winaker would be appalled.

Beckett: Yeah, she would've. Debbie wanted to be a beauty queen because she believed in the ideals of beauty. She wanted to be beautiful on the inside and outside.

Castle: I thought you didn't like her.

Beckett: Well, deep down, behind all the makeup and the hair, she wasn't terrible. She was just a miserable person to live with. Unlike Amber, winning wouldn't have meant a thing to her if she had to cheat to do it.

Castle: Yeah, talk about choices that change your life. When do you make that choice? When does winning become more important than your soul?

Beckett: I don't know. You have to be pretty cold and calculating to make some of the choices Amber did.

Castle: Cold and calculating.

Beckett: What?

Castle: Amber was cold and calculating.

Beckett: Yeah. So?

Castle: So, all of those people we talked to about her? One of them was lying.

The contestants practice a dress rehearsal for a pageant memorial to Amber.

Justin Hankel: Tragedy struck the Baron's All-American Pageant with the untimely passing of our Illinois All-American, Miss Amber Middleberry. I was fortunate to work closely with Amber. She meant the world to me.

Beckett: Well, then why'd you kill her?

Justin Hankel: What? I didn't kill Amber.

Castle: You're lying. You've been lying to us the whole time.

Beckett: You told us that she was upset that she was feeling like she was being taken advantage of and threatened.

Castle: But she was the one doing the threatening. There was no reason for her to be upset.

Justin Hankel: You know you're interrupting a dress rehearsal, okay? I don't even know what you two are talking about.

Beckett: Oh, yes, you do. You got on to the blackmail.

Castle: You thought the old boyfriend was taking advantage of your prized client, so you confronted him.

Beckett: We ran your credit cards.

Castle: We know about the taxi trip you took to Jeremy's apartment.

Beckett: So, tell us, when you killed Amber's boyfriend did you know that Amber was in on the scheme?

Justin scrambles off the stage.

Beckett: Justin. Justin, stop!

Ryan, Esposito, and some Uniforms are covering the floor.

Ryan: Come here! Where're you going, huh?

Ryan, Esposito chase Justin backstage. He tumbles into a costume rack.

Castle: A word of advice, Justin? When the lady says stop, stop.

At Montgomery's office.

Beckett: Justin confessed to everything. His last three clients were losers. Amber was supposed to be his comeback and, if she didn't win, he was through. And, apparently, he found the same naked photos that we did and thought that her ex-boyfriend was trying to exploit her.

Castle: He was worried if they called the cops that her secret would get out and they'd both be ruined. So, he decided to handle it on his own. Unfortunately, Jeremy was drunk, he got violent, and Justin ended up killing him.

Beckett: And he staged it like it was a suicide. Once Amber found out, she threatened to turn him in and he killed her.

Montgomery: That's a whole pageant of bad choices. Good work you two.

Ryan and Esposito clear their throats in the background.

Montgomery: Uh, good work, you all.

Esposito: Thank you.

Castle: Mmm, I see a beauty queen worthy of a crown.

Evelyn Montgomery: Always the charmer, Rick.

Montgomery: Hey, what you doing here? You know I was just coming to swoop you up.

Evelyn Montgomery: Yeah, well, I know how you lose all sense of time when you're working. I figured I'd meet you here.

Montgomery: Mm-hmm.

Beckett: Do you guys have any big plans?

Evelyn Montgomery: Dinner and dancing with the best husband in Manhattan. Especially since he gave me that gift this morning.

Castle: Oh, what did you end up giving her?

Evelyn Montgomery: I followed your advice, Castle. I thought about some of the things Evelyn said she wanted the past couple of years. And my gift to her is next year I'm retiring from the force. We're going to go travelling. We're going to go to all of the romantic places.

Ryan: Wait, you serious, Boss?

Esposito: You really want to retire?

Montgomery: I haven't accomplished everything I wanted to on the job, but I've done enough. It's time for me to move on.

Evelyn Montgomery: Best gift ever. More Roy.

The Montgomery's kiss.

Montgomery: Mm-hmm. Look, I taught you guys everything I know about doing this job, alright? You're going to be fine without me. And, for crying out loud, lose the long faces. Smile, please. That's an order.

They all smile and chuckle.

Montgomery: Hey, you kids take care, alright? You guys behave now.

Esposito: You have a good time.

Beckett: Congratulations you guys. Goodnight.

Montgomery: Thank you.

Evelyn Montgomery: Bye.

Castle: Happy anniversary.

Montgomery: Goodnight.

Ryan: Goodnight, Captain. What the hell did you say to him?

Castle: Nothing. No, I… I just told him to listen to what his wife wanted.

Esposito: Damn, Castle.

Castle: How can you think… I didn't… There's no way…

Beckett: Castle, let me let you in on a little secret. Captain Montgomery retires all the time, just give it a week or two. He's like the Brett Favre of the NYPD. Trust me. He's not going anywhere.

Castle: Not going anywhere.

Near the bullpen.

Beckett: Hey, so, I've been meaning to ask you. Did Alexis make a decision about Ashley?

Castle: Oh, she did, actually. She decided it was, uh, worth the risk and she's going to just keep showing up.

Beckett: It's a good choice. See you tomorrow.

Castle: See you tomorrow.

At Castle’s loft.

Castle: Ashley! What are you doing here?

Ashley: Hey, Mr. Castle.

Alexis: Hey, Dad. Guess what?

Castle: What?

Alexis: I'm going to Stanford.

Castle: What?

Alexis: I'm applying for early admission. And since I've been taking extra classes each semester since my freshman year, I have enough credits to graduate in the fall.

Castle: What?

Alexis: Yeah. This way Ash and I will be together in January. In college.

Castle: What?

Ashley: That was actually her idea, sir.

Castle: What?

Kikavu ?

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