Sara Cutler, the head writer of the long-running soap opera Temptation Lane, is found dead on the set with an axe in the back. Castle wonders, "Why would anyone want to kill a writer?" Beckett can think of so many reasons.
Lance Hastings (guest star Corbin Bernsen) and Mandy Bronson (guest star Rebecca Budig) are the stars of Temptation Lane. Both seem devastated by the death of the woman who put words in their mouths. Of course, they are actors. The beautiful Mandy paints a vivid picture of the bubble bath she was in at the time of the murder, much to Esposito's delight. Lance also claims he left the set long before the murder occurred.
Vince Powers, the director of the show, was married to the victim. Beckett's interview with the hubby is interrupted by a very dramatic lady who recently revealed that she was Sara's birth mother. Gloria Chambers (guest star Jane Seymour) threatens to sue the city if her daughter's killer is not brought to justice.
Vince tells Castle and Beckett that his wife recently booted an obsessed fan off the set. Sara's assistant, an aspiring writer named Reese, provides them with the name of a woman who felt Sara was ruining the show. This daffy lady alibis out, as she was at home with her folks. After the interview, Castle figures something out. It has nothing to do with the case though. He realizes that Beckett is a closet fan of Temptation Lane.
Esposito learns that Sara made mystery appointments in her planner and Ryan discovers that the victim and her hubby were separated. Vince Powers has an alibi though. He was at a hotel with Mandy Bronson, who left after getting an email from Sara. Mini-bar charges verify that Vince stayed behind. Script pages in the attachment from Sara's email indicate that she was planning to kill off Mandy's character. Sounds like she had motive!
Mandy admits that she confronted Sara regarding her character's untimely demise, but had no reason to kill her. After all, Sara's second in command, Peter Connelly, is the writer the network really trusts. Mandy used her sexy powers of persuasion to get the guy on her side. Peter verifies that Mandy was with him during the murder timeline as he scrambles to put together a show while down a scribe. He promotes Sara's assistant, Reese, to the writing staff. He even asks Castle if he's like to jump in and pen a few soap scenes.
The mystery appointments Sara was keeping occurred at a coffee shop. A waitress is devastated when she learns about the murder. She's now lost her big break, as Sara had offered to read her screenplay. Castle promises to peruse diner girl's script if she gives details about who Sara was meeting. It was a private eye who discovered that Gloria Chambers wasn't really Sara's mom.
Gloria Chambers is a con artist, but no killer. She points the team toward Lance Hastings, who recently gave Sara some expensive earrings. Castle and Beckett track down Lance as he's holding a knife to Martha's neck. Relax; this guy's no killer either. He and Martha used to be an item on and off the show. They were just acting out a scene. Lance gave Sara the earrings so she's let him out of his contract to do a movie. He says Sara was upset because she felt someone had betrayed her.
Castle thumbs through the screenplay he got from the waitress at the diner. Suddenly, he knows who killed Sara Cutler. On the set of Temptation Lane, Castle convinces Beckett to hold off on making an arrest until they do the scene he wrote for the show. It may just help them get a confession. Castle's scene is about a writing piece done by a coffee shop barista that someone else passed off as her own. It parallels what Sara's assistant did to further her career. The jig is up for Reese. Her story of betrayal and murder does not have a happy ending.
Back at the precinct, Castle learns the reason why Beckett is a fan of Temptation Lane. She used to watch the show while cuddling up with her mom as a kid. Seeing the show now always makes her feel safe and at home. Good to know.