In order to solve the murder of a treasure hunter, Castle and Beckett had to journey back in time to 1947 in this week’s fantastic noir themed episode, “The Blue Butterfly.”
I want to start off by saying that I love the old-fashioned glamour and beauty of Hollywood noir so I’ve been looking forward to this episode for weeks and it did not disappoint. The modern day portion of the mystery begins with treasure hunter, Stan Banks, shot to death in what was once the Pennybaker Club, a hotspot in the forties for jazz musicians and local mobsters. As Castle and the detectives begin to investigate Stan’s life, they learn he was seeking a specific treasure, the blue butterfly. Amongst Stan’s personal effects, Castle discovers the journal of a private detective that sheds some light on what the blue butterfly is and why it was so important.
The episode flashes back to New York City 1947 and the main characters assume the roles of people described in the journal. Castle becomes Joe, the PI hired by a young woman named Sally (Alexis) to find her missing sister, Vera (Beckett). Joe ends up at the Pennybaker and when he locks eyes with Vera, it’s love at first sight despite the fact that she’s involved with a mob boss, Tommy Dempsey. The blue butterfly, it turns out is actually a necklace, made up of tiny blue diamonds and worth a small fortune. As long as it’s around Vera’s neck, she’s flanked by two of Dempsey’s men (Ryan and Esposito) and they make it clear to Joe that he needs to back off the boss’s dame. But Vera and Joe are in love and they make plans to run off together and then the journal ends, leaving Castle and Beckett hanging.
But it turns out that the blue butterfly is not the only connection to Stan’s murder; the ballistics report matches an unsolved double murder from 1947. Castle and Beckett learn that Joe and Vera were the victims and it was widely assumed Tommy killed them, but it was never proven. While Castle and Ryan check out the evidence from the original case, they find a statement from Joe’s secretary (Martha) detailing a conversation she overheard between Joe and Vera when they were plotting to run away and steal the blue butterfly. It was also revealed that Vera told Joe that she doesn’t have a sister so they have no idea who Sally is or why she hired Joe in the first place. Castle was hilariously intrigued by this as Ryan fired questions at him, Castle’s smile growing wider each time he said he didn’t know the answer. Have I mentioned I love episodes where Castle gets excited about the case they’re working on?
Beckett and Esposito receive a tip that someone has broken into Stan’s room. Hoping to catch the murderer in the act of going through the victim’s belongings in search of the blue butterfly, Beckett and Esposito are shocked when the man turns around and it’s Tommy Dempsey. Castle is amazed by the resemblance, calling him a doppelganger (am I the only one who has grown to hate that word?) for his great grandfather. Tommy III explains that he realized Stan was lying when he came to him pretending to be a novelist when he saw him at the funeral of a woman who used to sing at the old club (played in flashbacks by Lanie). He mentions that he saw Stan talking to an older man, Jerry, who Castle figures out, was the old bartender at the Pennybaker and the last living link to the blue butterfly.
Castle and Beckett meet Jerry and his wife, Viola, along with their caretaker, Frankie. Jerry remembers Sally, but he explains that she actually showed up in the Pennybaker in 1946. It turns out that Sally was the daughter of Tommy’s girlfriend before Vera and her mother committed suicide when the mobster dumped her for Vera. Castle realizes the entire thing was a setup by Sally to get back at Vera. Jerry tells Castle and Beckett that when Tommy died of a heart attack a few months later, Sally returned to the Pennybaker, slammed down a whiskey and declared herself free. But the whereabouts of the blue butterfly were still unknown.
As Castle and Beckett consider that the murderer might have been another treasure hunter, Castle still feels like their missing something, mainly how Sally was connected to all of this. Beckett says they may never know but when Castle muses over a passage in Joe’s journal, Beckett makes a connection to the shoes Joe described and the shoes in the 1947 crime scene photo. They realize that it wasn’t Vera who died, but Sally and as they try to figure out why the bartender would lie to them about seeing her, Beckett and Castle come to the conclusion that Jerry and his wife are actually Joe and Vera.
The elderly couple confesses that they have been living a lie and once more the story flashes back to 1947 as Joe and Vera make their escape. But Sally and her boyfriend stop them and as they struggle for the gun, Sally and her boyfriend end up shot so Joe puts them into a car and sets it on fire. Vera declares the blue butterfly cursed and attempts to throw it into the fire, only for Joe to stop her and hide it in the wall of the club so Tommy will suffer the loss, having no idea it was right under his nose the entire time. Stan had figured out the truth and threatened to expose them unless they told him where the butterfly was, which they did, only for it to be stolen by Frankie, their caretaker and the person who had killed Stan.
While the caretaker twist was lame, as was the revelation that the blue butterfly was a fake, everything else about this episode was perfect. The costumes, the accents, the twists and turns in the case and of course getting to see Castle and Beckett kiss again, even if it was as Joe and Vera in a flashback.