Smile, you're on Castle Camera! A band called Holy Shemp (these guys must love the Three Stooges) is the focus of a documentary film. Recent footage contains images of their lead guitarist, James Swan, dead in his trailer. One of the roadies, Hank Rogers, lets Ryan know that the cameras have permission to film. Esposito gets similar information from the mayor's office. As Beckett works the crime scene, Castle works the camera to let everyone know that Frozen Heat is in stores now. Gotta love product placement!
The victim has the word "observe" tattooed on his arm. The murder weapon was his classic guitar. A pretty groupie named Butterfly was passed out when the killing took place, but she heard the sound of horse hooves crunching in the snow at one point during the evening. More on that later. The team learns there was some tension amongst the band members and a white van was in the area. The band claims that James was paranoid that someone may have been following him lately.
Documentary footage shows James talking about a mentor who meant a lot to him. A bearded man can be seen in the background. He's been photographed at other band events, too. One shot has him leaning against a white van. Esposito mugs for the camera as he and Ryan arrest the stalker suspect who has rope and duct tape in his van. Espo goes hard at beard man during the interrogation, but the guy's no killer. He's just Butterfly's worried father who was just trying to rescue his little girl from the groupie life. The desperate dad lets the detectives know where the victim was just before his death.
James Swan went to a bank and an abandoned building before he was killed. Lanie learns that the victim never had any of the standard immunizations everyone gets as kids. A stop to see a suspect who was suing the guitarist over a song doesn't pan out, but it leads Castle to believe Swan was planning to go solo. This would likely tick off the other band members like Keith, whose boots make sounds like horse hooves walking in the snow. Keith denies killing James, but says his band buddy hasn't been the same since a gig they did in Ithaca. A video showing Keith having sex with a groupie gives him a really raunchy alibi.
Ryan learns that James was raised in a cult located in Ithaca. That explains the lack of vaccinations. It also sheds light on the "observe" tattoo on the victim's arm. It originally read "serve." James added the extra letters after he escaped. He was likely worried someone recognized him when the band played in Ithaca. The cult's violent leader, John Campbell, did 10 years for murder before starting a church that doubles as a marijuana farm. He was also in town the day James Swan was killed.
Castle and Beckett are caught on camera in a very lovey-dovey way. Not good. They'll have to worry about that after they interview another cult victim. She heard Campbell swear he'd get revenge on Swan, who may have been trying to buy his freedom for $25,000. Beckett goes at the cult leader hard, but she has no evidence to arrest him. The bad news continues when she learns that Captain Gates will be going through all the precinct footage shot by the documentary film crew. Gulp
The team learns that a guy named Buck Cooper went missing the day after the band played in Ithaca. He was Swan's best friend. He's also the same guy who was passing himself off as roadie Hank Rogers. Swan was trying to buy his buddy's freedom from Campbell, who actually didn't murder anyone. Castle and Beckett learn that Buck was the mentor James Swan had mentioned. The plan was to bring him into the band which means someone else was on the way out. That would be the less-than-talented bass player Zeke, who killed Swan when he learned he was going to be replaced. Case closed.
Captain Gates makes sure she looks good on camera as she commends the team on a job well done. She then calls Castle and Beckett in to reprimand them for what she saw in the precinct footage. Gates missed that lovey-dovey moment because she is only upset because Castle was goofing off behind her during a speech. There's more fun taking place as Ryan and Esposito join some band members for an impromptu precinct concert. As for the seemingly camera-shy Beckett, she invites the film crew behind closed doors for an exclusive. Actually, she locks them behind the closed door of the janitor's closet. Love it!