Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Ryan, Beckett, and Esposito Lead the Way in Season 4, Episode 3: “Head Case”

A bright light from outer space comes crashing down into the streets of Manhattan, a van pulls away into the night, and we're left staring at a big ol' pool of blood … and so begins another epic episode of Castle!

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Cut to Richard Castle's apartment where Alexis finally gets her much-anticipated letter from "Mr. Stan Ford." As she tears open the envelope, we can't help but fear the worst, and the heart-wrenching look of sadness in Alexis's baby blue eyes is all the confirmation we need — she’s been rejected by Stanford.

Back at the bloody, body-less crime scene, the only clues left behind are some tire treads, two different sized footprints, and an imprint of a box or case in the blood.

Luckily, Ryan tracks down some witnesses who saw an unmarked white van pulling away from the scene just after 7 a.m. Nearby residents heard gunshots about 20 minutes prior, meaning the killer let the victim bleed out before snatching up the body … which rules out Castle's quick-strike assassin job and walking dead theories.

Back at the precinct, Captain "Iron" Gates is not pleased. The pressure is on to find another lead, but where do you start when you don't have a clue who the victim is? Ah-ha! You follow the van's tire treads to a creepy storage facility full of frozen vegetables bodies.

Cold As Ice

Beckett takes charge like her PTSD never existed and barges in on a team of doctors pushing a dead body into a freezer. They all work for Passage Way, a cryonics company. After a client croaks, the docs are notified immediately and then track the body down using GPS technology so they can get the brain on ice as soon as possible.

Dr. Harry Weiss, the CEO of Passage Way, tells Beckett she can't take body because the victim — Dr. Lester Hamilton, a bio professor who studied life extension technology — signed an ironclad agreement to have his body preserved after death. Looks like someone's going to need a warrant!

Beckett returns to the precinct empty-handed, but she does get some new details: The cryogenics technician said that Hamilton was shot in the chest twice with a large-caliber bullet and his money was still in his pocket, so this is not just a random mugging.

Also, his office at Hudson University was broken into and the computer was smashed. Was he hiding something there? Or perhaps whatever the killer was looking for was in his briefcase, which his wife Cynthia saw him carrying when he left that morning …

According to Mrs. Hamilton and Dr. Phillip Boyd (his esteemed colleague of 20 years),  Lester was working on something called the Ambrosia Project, a pharmaceutical implant that would extend lifespan by 10 years. It could potentially be worth billions … and it was in his briefcase.

Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Beau Randolph in Season 4, Episode 3: “Head Case”

Cut to Bo Randolph, the mastermind behind College Girls Gone Crazy, who was funding Lester's research. Could this "defiler of co-eds" be their guy? He owns a gun and he had breakfast with Lester just 10 minutes before he was shot and killed, so it's not lookin' too good.

But Bo swears he didn't do it — he was simply seeking an injunction after Lester took $100,000 from their account to move forward with illegal human testing. As for the gun Bo fired that morning? He was simply shooting at noisy pigeons on the roof. Because that's normal.

Off With His Head!

Meanwhile, Gates is about to put down her iron fist and call the D.A. She wants the body, and she wants it now. Dr. Weiss offers up a compromise — they'll hand over the corpse as long as Passage Way can hold on to the head. Seems fair enough, except …

The brain contains all the info they need. Doh! Lanie also tells Castle and Beckett that Bo's gun isn't a match — the bullets that killed Lester came from a .38.

Luckily, Ryan emerges with some news about the break-in at Hamilton's office. Disgruntled college student Eddie Peck's fingerprints were found on the smashed computer, but he's not their guy. He was looking for some help with his grades when he spotted Lester sneaking around the seedy 130th Street Inn.

Ryan and Esposito head over to the hotel and find a makeshift operating room. No, Dr. Hamilton didn't have a secret fetish for role playing; he was conducting illegal human testing … on himself! But why?

Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Castle, Beckett, and Lanie in Season 4, Episode 3: “Head Case”

Lanie examines the body for more info, but without Lester's head, they're sh*t outta luck. Beckett finally gets a warrant, but it's too late — his head has gone missing!

Security cameras catch Dr. Phillip Boyd, Lester's dear friend and esteemed colleague, taking the head from Passage Way's storage facility in the middle of the night.

And they're off! Castle and Beckett bust into Boyd's apartment and follow the head stealer in a dramatic chase down the fire escape. Beckett tackles him to the ground while Castle does a little dumpster diving. "I got Hamilton's head!" he shouts!

Credit: SleuthDog100/Tumblr Photo: Nathan(?)'s Big Stunt Sequence

Just Like Romeo and Juliet

So why would Boyd steal his bestie's brain? To protect his rep. Turns out, he was trying to save Lester, who’d been diagnosed with a Stage 4 brain tumor. They kept the whole thing on the d/l because it was an illegal operation funded with money from College Girls Gone Crazy. Unfortunately, the treatment failed.

Meanwhile, Castle assures Alexis she did not. Rejection isn't failure, failure is giving up, he tells her.

Back to the investigation: Boyd's alibi checks out and the MRI confirms that cancer would have ravaged Lester's brain if he had lived any longer.

And this is where Castle's genius comes in: The killer was actually trying to save Dr. Hamilton's life by killing him before the disease destroyed his brain so he could be cryogenically frozen and brought back to life. A crime of love, not passion, according to Beckett.

Enter stage left: Mrs. Lester Hamilton, our cold-blooded, love-stricken murderer.

After stealing his termination contract with Passage Way, she shot her husband and stashed his briefcase — all because she wanted to spend eternity with him. Aw, how romantic!

But it gets even better. Just as Passage Way’s Dr. Weiss is about to head home, his GPS death beeper goes off and pins the flat-lining client right inside the building.

They run over to Mrs. Hamilton's cell and find her lying dead on the floor with an empty vial of cyanide.

And that's what the great love stories are about — beating the odds.