Question: Anything positive for Castle‘s Caskett fans after this week’s “events”? —Mandy
Ausiello: As dire as things might appear for Rick, Kate and their marriage, you should find more than a little solace in the fact that Episode 7 — airing Nov. 16, during the heart of sweeps — is titled “Mr. & Mrs. Castle.” “It’s going to be a great episode,” co-showrunner Terence Paul Winter told Matt Mitovich. “For the fans who right now are going, ‘What the heck and Terence and Alexi [Hawley] doing?!,’ when they see that episode they’ll understand and see what we’re going for.”
The following contains spoilers from Part 2 of the Castle Season 8 premiere.
ABC’s Castle this Monday wrapped up its two-part Season 8 premiere by not only revealing where Beckett had been, but also suggesting where she is headed. And, shockingly, husband Rick won’t be a part of her immediate journey.
As detailed in our recap, Kate — having pulled at a new, especially nasty thread in the larger Bracken/Vulcan conspiracy — had her passion for obsession reborn, and now she is resolved to identifying the sinister senator’s partner in drug-running aka the powerful federal official behind the LOCKSTAT code name.
But to do that, Kate was strongly advised by Rick’s (classified!) stepmother Rita to not put her husband in harm’s way. And thus — as foretold by TVLine’s June 30 Blind Item — she tearfully broke up with him in the episodes closing scene.
In this exclusive interview, Castle co-showrunners Terence Paul Winter and Alexi Hawley shed light on this sure-to-be-scrutinized storytelling decision, survey what the long-running procedural will look like from here on, and dangle before fans the idea that Caskett “2.0” could produce more sparks than ever.
TVLINE | It’s Monday at 11 pm – have you deactivated your Twitter accounts yet?
ALEXI HAWLEY | [After both laugh] Here’s what we’re hoping, that the audience sticks around long enough to see next week and realize that this is just the beginning. We’re using this to actually put the spark back in, and the stakes back in, which give us the fun and the juice… Obviously there’s some heartbreak in it as well, but it makes it much more emotionally impactful every week, because there are stakes now.
TERENCE PAUL WINTER | There are things we’ve been able to do in the following episodes that we would not be able to even broach, now that we’ve created this new paradigm in their relationship. And it’s created some really fantastic results. We’re really excited about what were able to give Nathan and Stana to play. It was a bold choice, it was a tough choice, but I can say this — and I speak for both of us: The characters of Castle and Beckett both mean a lot to us, and their relationship means the world to us as well. So we have a real plan for how to guide through this new path, and we really do believe it’s going to be something that will be satisfying overall. If people give us a chance, they’re going to really — hopefully — appreciate the journey that we’re going on.
TVLINE | Obviously, Rick suspects that something unsaid is at play here. Does that make him more bothered by the situation, or less?
HAWLEY | Ultimately he’s concerned about why this is going on. In the episodes immediately following, we are playing it a bit like he isn’t quite sure why she’s doing this; she really isn’t giving him a whole lot of information. I do think he might suspect deep down that there’s something more to it, but he has no frame of reference. The way he’s approaching it is: “No matter what, I’m going to win her back. She needs me.” So he puts a very positive spin on it … rather than get too heavy with his suspicions or fears.
WINTER | And the thing about it on Beckett’s side is ultimately she’s doing this out of love, she’s doing this because she wants to protect Castle. But for us, we came into this season talking about the threads that have been laying out there, and one of the big ones was: What does it do to you to have an obsession for all your adult life? You put Bracken in jail but can you really just move on, or have you been affected on a DNA level? Last season, Beckett tried to be the happy wife and great detective, but what the case that launches this season did is make her realize that there’s something a little “broken” inside of her. Hopefully by solving this, she will come face to face with what she needs to get out of it. She has those lines toward the end of Episode 2, saying that hopefully by doing this I can then own it and it can go away.
TVLINE | I felt like she was almost speaking to the audience at that point. Like, “Put down the pitchforks, everyone….”
HAWLEY | Look, the most important thing for us is to A) tell a compelling dynamic story, but B) protect these characters. When we first started talking about doing this, the thing at the forefront was: How do we do it in a way that hopefully nobody gets mad at the characters? They can get mad at us, but… Beckett is doing this for the right reasons in her head, which is, “I have this obsession that I don’t know how to deal with yet, but if I go down this road with Castle, he could get killed.” We’ve just seen what happens when these people know you’re looking into [LOCKSAT], so she makes a conscious choice to do it without him, because she knows that no matter what she says to him, if he knows what’s going on he’s going in there with her — and she can’t have that.
TVLINE | And just to be clear, Rick was never looped in on the stepmother Rita of it all? He also believes Allison Hyde was in fact leading all of this?
HAWLEY | Correct. He thinks that it’s over. But he knows that it opened a door that Beckett had closed inside of her. Now she’s obviously trying to close it again and he wants to help her, but he doesn’t know that she’s got a new obsession. He just knows that it all blew up in his face.
TVLINE | Here’s the trickiest thing, as I see it: We know that Kate has pushed him away because she’s got to pursue this thing. So, how often will you re-establish that she is in fact pursuing it? Is it every other episode, are there just little hints…? Or are we to just assume she’s doing stuff?
HAWLEY | We’re carrying it through more so than Castle has traditionally done in terms of serialized elements. We definitely nod at it in Episodes 3 and 4, and then come back to it in 6 and 7…. They’re not big parts of the episodes, but they do keep it alive. It’d be unfair to the audience to not at least engage her in this. The last thing we want the audience to feel is like we’re manipulating them, so we’re trying to play fair with what the characters are up to and what they think at all times. This is not an easy thing for Beckett, and you’re going to see over the course of the next several episodes that she is struggling with this choice, with this path — and Castle isn’t making it any easier, because he wants to win her back.
TVLINE | What does the show Castle look like moving forward? Kate is captain, Rick is off doing the P.I. thing, we now won’t have scenes of them home together…. How different of a show will it feel like? Will it in many ways resemble last season’s P.I. arc?
HAWLEY | The gag that we launch starting in Episode 3 is having Castle figure out different ways to get involved with the cases — because to win her back, he needs to solve cases with her. That’s how they fell in love, so that’s what his plan is. We actually have a lot of fun in figuring out different ways for him to get involved.
WINTER | In every single episode, they do end up working together. They end up building theory together. They have all those delightful put-togethers. The sparks between them are electric if not more than ever, and that’s one of the main reasons why we made this bold choice.
TVLINE | It sounds like it will almost feel Season 1-y.
HAWLEY | Season 1, and 2, and 3….
WINTER | But there’s a new layer now because they have this rich history between them. And they are still in love, and they know each other so well, so it’s a different kind of energy. It’s a “2.0” version of them, which is kind of exciting.
HAWLEY | Just even sitting in the editing room working on the next couple episodes, I was happy to see that I was feeling the same way about that relationship that I used to, that it makes you lean forward and you’re rooting for them again. You want them to get back together and all that stuff, which is a much more dynamic thing than just “They’re happy” — which is of course our goal but at the same time it’s not as dramatically interesting as rooting for them.
WINTER | Here’s the thing: The end of [Episode 2] is a whopper. I mean, the way Stana and Nathan played it was amazing. And we both understand that people are a little leery now of what the show is going to be, and they should be. But if they [stay tuned] and see what we’re doing and see how that energy comes back, I hope they’ll be pleasantly surprised about what opportunities are in store for us now that we’ve made this choice. This thing is going to constantly evolve, which is something we promised when we took over the show. It’s not just going to be this dynamic from here to the end of the season. By the time we get to the end of our fall finale, there’s another shift and change that’s going to happen that’s incredibly dynamic. And that will lead us into even more interesting storytelling that will bring them together in a fun way.
TVLINE | So, we don’t have 20 episodes of angst ahead of us.
HAWLEY | No, no, not at all. As hard as it might be to believe, Episodes, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 are a lot of fun. We’re doing the standalone cases, we are keeping continuity with Beckett’s journey, but we’re also putting Castle and Beckett in situations together that have electricity to them, and we’re having some fun guest characters. As Terence said, by the time we get to our fall finale we’re shifting the dynamic again, so the audience is along for something of a ride, but one that ultimately is really fun.
Those Castle fans that were worried that newcomer Haley Shipton (new series regular Toks Olagundoye) would somehow come between Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) had it all wrong.
That’s because somebody else has their eye on Haley: Esposito (Jon Huertas)! “She is pretty cute, and I think Esposito has noticed that for sure,” Huertas tells TVGuide.com. “He’s admiring the scenery right now.”Does that mean that Esposito might have some awkward interoffice moments with on-again-off-again love interest Lanie (Tamala Jones)? “Lanie hasn’t necessarily noticed, but … a triangle is a huge possibility and something I think we’re definitely going to see this season,” Huertas says.
Although executive producer Terence Paul Winter wouldn’t commit to pairing Haley and Espo — “we’re open to see where the natural progression of these characters go, but there is an obvious flirtation between the two that’s come up in a couple episodes,” he says — moving Esposito away from the relationship with Lanie seems like it’s in the cards.
“There’s always a chance that might come back, but we’ve been down that road a few times,” Winter says. “So it’s just a matter of, ‘What’s the honest version of that story?’ so we’re not just throwing them together to throw them together. They’ve had a beginning, middle and end, so what’s the next step for them? Is there a next step?”
New showrunners Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter are rarin’ to “shake things up” as the drama enters Season 8. To that end, Beckett is now captain, a promotion that will “add some drama” to her and Castle’s marriage, though Hawley maintains, “The show has always been and will always be about their love affair.” That said, Kate will deal with a blast from the past “in a way that impacts their relationship.” Seeing Beckett rise in the ranks will light a fire under both Ryan and Esposito, putting that bromance “at odds, but in a fun way.” As for new series regular Toks Olagundoye (The Neighbors), as Scotland Yard officer-turned-security specialist Hayley Shipton, “She brings a fantastic adrenaline shot to the show,” Winter raves. Adds Hawley, “She and Sunkrish Bala (recurring as tech analyst Vikram Singh) bring voices we don’t have, which is nice.”
BONUS SPOILER!: If you were hoping to see [SPOILER] resurface one day, we’ve got bad news — that character won’t ever be returning, for reasons made clear in the season opener.
RETURN DATE: Monday, Sept. 21 at 10/9c (ABC)
Question: Any scoop about Castle? —Fred
Ausiello: Not just any scoop, exclusive scoop! Actress/comedienne Stephnie Weir (The Comedians, MADtv) has signed on to guest-star in Episode 5, titled “The Nose,” as Mia Laszlo, a real character who begrudgingly helps Castle and Beckett via her unique ability to sniff out the mastermind behind a multi-million dollar heist.