Episode Title: "The Blue Butterfly"
Writer: Terence Paul Winter
Director: Chuck Bowman
In 1947, a private investigator named Joe Flynn walks into the Pennybaker Club as Betsy Sinclair sings on stage. Flynn gets the bartender to look at a picture of the woman he's searching for before the bartender tells Flynn to turn around. Then Flynn sees the beautiful Vera Mulqueen and it's love at first sight. Unfortunately, Vera is on the arm of Tom Dempsey (Mark Pellegrino), a notorious mobster. In the present, the Pennybaker Club has seen better days, as the body of treasure hunter Stan Banks decorates the floor.
Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) speak to Stan's estranged widow and learn that he was obsessed with finding something called the Blue Butterfly. And among Stan's personal belongings, Castle discovers a diary belonging to Joe Flynn, whose story greatly interests him. Castle pictures himself as Joe Flynn, with Beckett as Vera and Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones) as Betsy. Castle also casts his mother, Martha Rodgers (Susan Sullivan) as his long suffering secretary, Ruth Hunsacker and his daughter, Alexis Castle (Molly Quinn) as a young woman named Sally who wants Castle's help finding her sister, Vera. But Sally insists that Castle not tell Vera who hired him.
After the meeting briefly glimpsed in the teaser, Flynn is harassed by two of Dempsey's goons who bare a striking resemblance to Detectives Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas). Flynn comes out the loser of that fight, but he wins the sympathy of Vera, who wears the extremely valuable, diamond-studded Blue Butterfly necklace on her neck. Back in the present, Castle explains to Beckett that the Blue Butterfly was a million-dollar necklace that was rumored to have been both cursed and secretly hidden in the Pennybaker Club.
While relating the tale of Flynn and Vera's courtship, Castle slips up and accidentally refers to Vera as Kate; which he unconvincingly claims to have meant "fate." Back in the past, Betsy kisses Flynn to keep Dempsey's men from beating him again while Flynn and Vera secretly pursue a relationship. Together, the two of them plot to steal the Blue Butterfly and start a new life. Although Castle and Beckett both hope that Vera and Flynn got away, they soon learn that the same gun that killed Stan was also the weapon that killed Flynn and Vera; whose horribly burned bodies were found in a car outside of the Pennybaker.
Along the way, two potential suspects for Stan's murder come up. Famed treasure hunter, Clyde Bellasco (Patrick Cassidy) and Tom Dempsey III, a dead ringer for his grandfather. They also learn that Stan attended the recent funeral of Betsy Sinclair, where he chatted up Jerry Maddox (Chad Everett), the former bartender of the Pennybaker, who later confirms to Castle and Beckett that Flynn and Vera were murdered by Dempsey in '47. Castle and Beckett also meet Jerry's wife, Viola Maddox (Ellen Geer) and their caretaker, Frankie Hunsacker (Darin Toonder). Jerry also mentions seeing Sally one last time after Dempsey died of a heart attack.
Afterwards, Castle and Beckett learn that Flynn's diary was sold by the granddaughter of his secretary, Ruth. They also discover that Flynn and Vera planned to slip away with the Blue Butterfly while Dempsey and his men were distracted by a prize fight on the radio. Castle and Beckett also learn that Vera doesn't have a sister and that the woman's body found burned in the car was actually Sally. This means that Jerry lied; which leads Castle and Beckett to conclude that Jerry and his wife were Flynn and Vera all along.
Confronting the now elderly couple, Flynn tells them that Stan figured out their secret and in return they told him where to find the Blue Butterfly. And when they ask about the gun that killed Stan, Frank the caretaker reveals himself as Stan's killer in addition to being the grandson of the woman who sold Flynn's diaries. Beckett makes quick work of Frank and she recovers the Blue Butterfly… before revealing to a disappointed Castle that it was a piece of costume jewelry all along and practically worthless.
Later, Castle and Beckett learn what happened to Sally the night that Flynn and Vera tried to escape. Apparently, Sally plotted against Vera because she replaced Sally's mother as Dempsey's favorite lover. Sally and her husband tried to rob Flynn and Vera, but in the struggle, both Sally and her husband were accidentally shot. Flynn and Vera burned their bodies to escape Dempsey, but they hid the Blue Butterfly to escape its so-called curse and prevent Dempsey from recovering it. Figuring that the murders were in self-defense, Beckett decides not to arrest them.
Beckett and Castle also decline to tell Flynn and Vera that the Blue Butterfly was a fake, preferring to let them keep the memory of their romantic sacrifice alive.
"Castle" has done a lot of gimmick episodes before, but "The Blue Butterfly" was definitely among the best. I loved the '40s flashbacks and the alternate personas for the characters. The show was actually a lot more fun in those 1947 sequences than it was in the present day segments. Although, Castle's "say Boyo" exchange with Ryan was really amusing. The same was true of Castle's Freudian slip about picturing Beckett as Vera. Castle is a great storyteller, but he's not a very convincing liar.
There would have been something profoundly dark and tragic about Flynn and Vera if they really had been killed by Dempsey and burned in the car as the early part of the episode suggested. But knowing "Castle" well enough, it seemed obvious that the couple was going to turn up alive at some point. For the most part, "Castle" doesn't do tragedy. Also, Flynn and Vera's romance functioned as a prototype for Castle and Beckett's relationship, so if the two heroes of this show are far from their own happy ending, at least their surrogates got to go off into the sunset together.
It was good to see Susan Sullivan and Molly Quinn play characters other than Castle's mother and daughter, but this episode was so tightly packed that Martha and Alexis didn't make any appearances as themselves. On a side note, Castle's realization that he was narrating his thoughts was a pretty hilarious and self-aware moment that I loved.
One of the most maddening aspects about "Castle" as a mystery series is that the writers can craft some intriguing turns; but when the time comes to unmask the killer it almost always feels like the writers said "Um… it was that guy who barely appeared in the episode!" Such was the case for Frank the caretaker. Dempsey the third and Clyde Bellasco may have been more obvious choices, but at least they had personalities! Frank was barely even in the scene in which he was arrested!
Also, the resolution of the episode asks us to believe that while Clyde laid in wait for Stan, somehow Frank got behind him and rendered him unconscious right before he killed Stan. Given how easily Frank went down to Beckett, it's hard to buy that he could have pulled that off. There's another thing that I'm unclear on. In the flashback, Flynn and Vera hid the Blue Butterfly outside of the club, but in the present, it seemed like the necklace was hidden inside the club.
Regardless, this was a very good episode that was enjoyable to watch. But then again, there are very few bad episodes of "Castle."
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.