Castle's Stana Katic: A Traumatic Case Will Bring Beckett a 'Huge Step Closer' to Being With Rick

This Monday on Castle (ABC, 10/9c), the manhunt for a New York City sniper hits a bit too close to the heart for Beckett, who almost instantly has memories of her own, near-fatal shooting jostled anew.

Beckett being Beckett, she labors to put up a brave front. Meanwhile, team members unsuccessfully go out of their way to not utter the S-word — sniper — in front of her. But it only takes a startling squad car siren or a harrowing night terror to make her acknowledge that she’s still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

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In the gripping hour, titled “Kill Shot,” “We see a different Beckett,” Stana Katic tells TVLine. “We see somebody who’s not as in control as she has been in previous episodes. She’s dealing with something huge, something that a lot of people out there deal with – post-traumatic stress. And from what I’ve read and discussed with people, that is something that is a problem but is not necessarily talked about and not necessarily admitted to, because the people that get it are often people in authority who have to keep the ball rolling. There’s no time to be off your game.”

In a bid to stay on her game and thus hopefully suss out the shooter before he ends more seemingly random lives, Beckett turns to her psychiatrist, Dr. Burke (played by Michael Dorn). But it may be the counsel of a longtime colleague, Detective Esposito (Jon Huertas) — a onetime sniper with the Army Special Forces — that best helps Kate come to terms with the specter of the man who nearly took her own life.

“We know that the boys and Beckett have a great relationship, but this episode in specific showcases the Esposito-and-Beckett relationship — how much they care for each other, and how much of an asset he is to her,” Katic previews. “Beckett’s able to rely on [him] as a friend and as a person that can mentor her through that experience. It’s a deep, dark fear, a big demon she has to face down.”

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The two detectives’ interactions, including a compelling scene where Esposito confronts Beckett with the very rifle that shot her, afforded Katic and Huertas the opportunity to act together in an extra-meaningful capacity.

“It was a really special experience to be able to play opposite Jon,” the actress shares. “In so many cases you’re only as good as your partner, and he brings it this episode. Plus, it’s such a sweet development to their story.”

Watch a sneak peek from “Kill Shot,” then read on for more:

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Partly because of the progress Beckett’s team makes in finding their man, but also because of a pivotal session that she and Burke have, Katic says the ordeal will prove to be cathartic for her alter ego – and mark a major move in the direction of pursuing something with Castle, whom in the season opener she deemed off-limits until she could put her mother’s murder behind her.

“[Beckett] realizes that some of the choices that she’s made haven’t necessarily been leading in a direction where she’s choosing to live her life as fully as she could, so she has to step outside of that destination and say, ‘You know what? This choice I’ve made hasn’t let me enjoy all of the wonderful gifts I could be enjoying – one of them being a relationship with Castle,'” says Katic. “This episode brings her one huge step closer to diving into that relationship, which is something that people who are invested in that love story I think will enjoy seeing.”

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In fact, just as three words played a key role both in last May’s finale (Rick professing, “I love you”) and this season’s premiere (Kate revealing, “I remember everything”), “Kill Shot” closes with Beckett saying three words that hint at the launch of a new arc for the lady cop.

“As we continue this season, it’s a different direction for her,” Katic confirms. “I know they’re going to develop that [Beckett/Castle relationship], but I don’t know how yet. I’m with you guys, riding that journey out.”

As for being served such rich material to play in “Kill Shot” – on a show that at first blush any actor could have easily written off as a standard-issue procedural — Katic counters, “I don’t expect anything less. I expect that everything that I work on, and everyone I work with, is always going to be full-force, balls-to-the-wall. I really lucked out in being able to kind of collaborate with [series creator] Andrew Marlowe, [executive producer] Rob Bowman and the group of creative executives, producers, directors, actors and writers that they brought together.”