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'Castle' Recap: 3x20 - 'Slice Of Death' Combines Pizza, Drugs And Film Noir

Laura Crook Laura Crook
April 5th, 2011 2:07pm EDT

“Slice of Death” opens with a body reveal worthy of Bones. A man and woman stumble into a restaurant, kissing passionately. The woman squeals a requisite “I have to tweet this” to inform us that the man she’s currently making out with is some sort of celebrity. She refers to him as “Terrific Nick,” but he corrects her: “Authentic Nick.” Seeing as this is New York, they can only be one place: a pizza restaurant. The girl comments on the (wonderful) smell in the restaurant. They investigate and discover (gross) a body in the pizza oven. Cut to (grosser) Castle frying bacon for Alexis.castle-becks

The B plot is simple: one of Alexis’ friends went insane and publicly uninvited sweet, adorable Alexis from her birthday party. Alexis is understandably hurt, but she makes Castle promise not to interfere. She wants to handle it herself

At the crime scene, Castle and company spend way too much time confusing all the pizza restaurants that use the name Nick. There’s Authentic Nick’s, Terrific Nick’s, Authentic Terrific Nick’s and (I think) Terrific Authentic Nick’s. Too complicated, losing interest. The Nick from the beginning is Authentic Nick Jr., and his father was the first Authentic Nick. None of these Nicks (except perhaps Nick Jr.) are actually named Nick. They’re all stereotypically Italian--loud, showy and obsessed with pizza. Thanks for defying stereotypes, “Castle.” I knew I could count on you.

Lanie dashes everyone’s hopes and dreams because she is unable to get fingerprints from the crispy critter. This is where we need Bones to show up and tell the world that the 40 year old male broke his collarbone when he was five and narrow down the search perimeters significantly. However, since Bones is in DC, they have to rely on missing persons reports and dental records.

The theory that Castle latches onto is that the pizza wars among all the Nicks have gone horribly, horribly awry. Beckett shuts this down in a heartbeat--all the pranks pulled by the Nicks are harmless “frat boy” pranks like flaming bags of poop. Beckett seriously doubts that they would escalate to murder.

During the autopsy Lanie discovers surgical steel plates (with registration numbers!) where the victim’s shin bones should have been. After a  requisite Terminator reference from Castle, Lanie reveals that the victim’s name is Gordon Burns (haha) a war correspondent for the New York Ledger. They look over his personal effects and discover a half-burned picture of a beautiful woman.

Castle and Beckett visit Burns’ editor. The editor reveals that after Burns’ 10 year old daughter died he became an alcoholic. The editor tells Beckett that he assigned Burns a puff piece. Can anyone guess what it was? That’s right. The “Nick” pizza wars. According to the editor, Burns thought he was onto something big--bigger than pizza.

Ryan ran a trace on Burns’ phone (which wasn’t found, melted or otherwise), but there’s no sign of it. The gang goes to Burns’ apartment to find clues. The apartment has been completely trashed--all his papers and notes are gone. Esposito comes through in the clutch: Burns told his neighbor he would be going out of the country.

Ryan finds Authentic Terrific Nick’s fingerprints all over the crime scene’s oven. Beckett brings him in for questioning. Authentic Terrific Nick did break into the restaurant, but only to steal the oven. He claims that Authentic Nick is using the restaurant to launder money for the mafia. Authentic Nick points to Authentic Terrific Nick (who alibi-ed out). 

Burns’ neighbor tells Esposito that one of the Nicks (Terrific Authentic, I think) got into a huge argument with Burns, at which point Nick yelled “if you print that I’ll kill you.” The “incriminating information” Burns was going to print was simply that Nick used real cheese in his fat-free pizza. Nick does do one useful thing: he leads Beckett and Castle to the motel where Burns was hiding. They discover his laptop with a draft of his decidedly non-exposé article. Next to the laptop is a notepad with a name and a time. After running the name on a brand new police issue smart phone app, Beckett discovers the name belongs to the beautiful woman in the half-burned photo they found with Burns. The plot thickens.

The beautiful woman is Monica--a real estate agent, and Burns’ ex-girlfriend. She tells Beckett and Castle that Burns had gone to the hall of records. What he found there, no one knows. Esposito found something strange in Burns’ financial records--he tried to take cash from an ATM, but the transaction was never completed, so the ATM ate his card. Beckett orders them to pull the surveillance.

Back at the loft, Alexis tells Castle that she crashed her crazy friend’s party, so said crazy friend took Alexis’ boyfriend Ashley up on stage and kissed him. What is this. I was not this cruel when I was seventeen.

Beckett returns from the hall of records. Burns was pulling records from a murdered drug trafficker from 2003. While this is going down, Ryan and Esposito arrive with the surveillance camera from the ATM. They watch, helpless, as Burns is attacked by a man with a knife. A man who is none other than Harley Romero--the “murdered” drug trafficker Burns was investigating.

Castle and company return to Burns’ editor, who tells them that the only story Burns never finished as a heroin ring. Castle connects two other names on Burns’ note pad--Johnny Farrell and Swede Anderson--as characters from film noir movies. The heroin ring used code names from noir films. They still can’t connect all this to the pizza wars, but Beckett and Castle are certainly on to something.

Burns was chasing Cavallo--a supposedly fictional drug lord who caused the accident that killed his daughter. According to Ryan (former narcotics cop), stories of Cavallo started up in 2003, which was right around the time that Harley Romero “died.” Using computer magic, Castle is able to imitate Burns’ hand movements to replicate the words that Burns was trying to write before he died.  They discover a heroin processing house!

Back to Alexis! Crazy Lauren scratched Alexis, so Alexis punched her. I know that last week I said I wanted Alexis to get some sass, but this wasn’t exactly what I meant. I’m pleased--don’t get me wrong--but it’s a little random.

While casing the drug lab, Ryan and Esposito discover Burns’ phone. On the phone are... pictures! Of Monica, the beautiful real estate agent. They go to Monica’s apartment where they find her bleeding from a scratch on the head. She claimed Cavallo attacked her. You know what I think? I think that Monica is Cavallo. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Harley is apparently Cavallo’s right hand man--he was the one who attacked Monica. Monica tells Beckett that the noir names change each week. This week: The Maltese Falcon.

Even though my money was on Bridget O'Shaughnessy or Joel Cairo, Castle went with the obvious: Spade, Sam Spade. They go to Terrific Authentic Nick’s and pick up a pizza under the name of Spade--sure enough, it’s heroin.

They take Terrific Authentic Nick in for questioning. He makes the call to Cavallo to tell him that he’s out of product. Beckett picks up Harley, who refuses to talk without a lawyer. It all seems to be wrapping up nicely, but Castle just can’t let it go. Something is wrong. He only has one lingering question: why did Burns throw away his phone? Beckett points out that he wanted the evidence to be found. Castle argues that “it’s not like it had a picture of Cavallo on it.” Beckett agrees: all he had was a picture of...

Cue the trail off. Monica walks down the corridor. She’s about to pull a “The Usual Suspects” when Beckett thrusts her hand into the elevator and hauls Monica (who is really Cavallo, just as I thought!) back into questioning. They lay the evidence against Monica--culminating with Castle pointing out that all the noir films that Monica was referencing had one thing in common: a femme fatale.

I told you the drugs should have been under the name Bridget O'Shaughnessy.

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