We flash back to Beckett’s meeting with Senator Bracken.
Back to the present day, a homeless man stumbles upon a body burning inside a barrel.
It’s a young woman, burned beyond recognition. She has a bullet hole in the back of her head and all of her teeth were knocked out. Lanie finds the remains of a titanium screw; the dental implant gives them a name – Melanie Rogers, an engineer from New Jersey. Her phone records show that she called the same Washington DC number several times shortly before her death.
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Beckett and Castle notify her half-sister Julie, and she says the two of them weren’t especially close. They met for dinner a few nights ago and Melanie mentioned something about meeting someone after dinner.
Melanie’s phone records say that she called Julie at 4 p.m. and left a voicemail. In it, Melanie tells her to remember “XT3,” and they hear the shot and flick of the lighter before the call ends.
Melanie’s cab driver dropped her off at the Standish Hotel at 7 p.m., and the concierge hesitates to mention that he saw her at the hotel last night. And he saw her with Senator Bracken.
Esposito confirms that the Washington DC number is the Senator’s cell.
Beckett is excited to finally take him down, but Castle is concerned that she’ll end up like everyone else that’s crossed him.
Esposito and Ryan question Bracken about Melanie’s disappearance. He claims their relationship was strictly professional and he has an alibi for the time of Melanie’s murder.
The techs have analyzed the voicemail and recognize the sound of a TC501 tower crane to narrow down the location of the parking garage Melanie was killed in. Only 12 sites use that crane.
They’ve confirmed his alibi; he attended a conference at the Widmark Hotel with Melanie, but she left at 3:45 and made the call at 4 p.m., meaning that the parking garage must not have been far.
The Widmark Hotel is right next to a parking garage, and in it, they find a car with the “XT3” license plate; it was reported stolen a few days ago.
In the trunk, they find surveillance photos – all of Senator Bracken along with a rifle and the plans for the hotel.
Hotel security say they stopped a Caucasian male with baseball cap and large gray duffel bag from entering the hotel the night before.
Captain Gates urges the Senator to postpone his speech, but this address is simply too important for his environmental campaign.
Beckett, the lead on the investigation, must speak with Bracken privately. She asks him about any enemies he might have, outside of this room, of course. He will have his assistant send her the many threatening letters he’s received.
As they go through the letters, Beckett says she’ll treat this like any other case and sends Castle home. But she’s hiding something. She finds a letter matching the suspect’s handwriting and toys with the idea of destroying it.
The next morning, before Beckett can bring up the existence of the letter, Esposito and Ryan have matched the motor oil on the receipt found in the duffel bag to a service station upstate. The owner of the station identifies the shooter as Robert McManus, a paranoid schizophrenic.
The detectives find his current residence, but he’s nowhere to be found. As Beckett goes to check in on the manager, she bumps into McManus in the hallway. He flees, and she fires two shots only after he leaves.
Afterwards, she tells Castle about the letter from McManus; in it, he blames Bracken for the murder of his 24-year-old son. He worked as an intern for Bracken and they found him hanged right before he was to speak with a reporter.
They searched his apartment and found the makings of a bomb, making Beckett feel even worse about letting McManus go.
Fortunately, Esposito and Ryan find McManus hiding out, but he’s not talking. She confides in the suspect about the death of her mother and her mutual desire to take him down. Gates hears this and Castle chalks it up to Beckett trying to gain his trust. And at first, she does, but it doesn’t last long.
Feds found the bomb inside a rented box wired to a vest and she no longer needs to hear it from McManus.
Bracken thanks Captain Gates for her work and saves a special thank you for Beckett; he knows about the missed shots she fired.
Something is still bugging Beckett about the case: the vest he supposedly made seems to have been done by an expert, and the lighter heard in the voicemail wasn’t found on him. Beckett suggests that McManus was framed to cover up for the real killer and is concerned that there is another bomb out there. She calls for the evacuation of the Widmark Hotel, deeply upsetting Bracken; he thinks she orchestrated this to ruin him.
As he walks away, Beckett hears the familiar switch of the lighter. (As far as he was from them, I don’t know this was possible, but let’s go with it.) Beckett runs to protect Bracken from the blast and catches him just in time. She sends Castle after the driver that set it off.
Noah Charles, Bracken’s driver for the past five years, says he was paid to do it. They find a bloody glove in his apartment and a beard and glasses that matched McManus’s appearance.
Bracken is now in Beckett’s debt; however, nothing has changed for her.
Bracken’s team tracked the source of Charles’s increased financials to Benjamin Moss, and Bracken only has him arrested. How odd.
Bracken makes for a nice complex character. Something tells me we’re going to see more twists and turns into bringing Beckett’s mother’s killer to justice. I liked this episode and Beckett’s new hairdo. (See above pic.) I like the new look on the detective; it’s very commanding. Till next week!