The following contains spoilers from Castle‘s Season 8 fall finale, which aired on Monday night.
This Monday on the fall finale of ABC’s Castle, Rick enlisted Hayley to investigate the cryptic text that Kate had received, and what he came to discover was that his wife was still very deeply involved in the Bracken/LokSat mystery.
That set the stage for a pair of difficult conversations — first, Rick chastising happily “broken” Kate for boxing him out, and then later, when Kate sought to make things right but was met by (some) resistance from the husband she pushed away.
In the end, Rick and Kate agreed to keep their public “break-up” intact, while privately reconciling. Here, Castle co-showrunners Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter open up about the past six episodes, the one thing that might have changed, Season 8’s numbers and more.
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TVLINE | A couple months ago you ripped off the Band-Aid, you’ve now put it back on. And you took some knocks along the way. Was it all worth it?
ALEXI HAWLEY | I think so. We’ve enjoyed the storytelling. We feel like we’ve given ourselves some challenges, and it’s allowed us to do some fun stuff and also to challenge our characters and our actors to go to some emotional and unexpected places.
TERENCE PAUL WINTER | We went down some roads that we were unable to go down if we didn’t make the choices that we made. It’s funny that you ask that question, because Alexi and I were just talking about this the other day — we’re really happy with how the first third of the season has gone. And we’re excited about what the next third’s going to be, and also how we’re going to take it to the end of the season.
TVLINE | In retrospect, would you have done anything with this storyline differently?
HAWLEY | I don’t know…. No, I don’t think so…. I feel like ultimately…
TVLINE | I was thinking that if you had even one extra act in the fall finale, would you have left Rick angry for a bit longer?
HAWLEY | Yeah, we probably would have. It was very important that he had a moment when she comes to him in the loft where he didn’t just say yes, because she did hurt him — even though I know the audience, when he says, “It’s not that easy,” might throw stuff at the television, because it looks like we might not put them together….
TVLINE | No, but I was glad he said that.
HAWLEY | Because she did hurt him, even though she was doing it with the best of intentions. Yes, if we had more time, we might have let [Rick’s hurt] last a little longer. But the 42 minutes of network television being what it is….
WINTER | The reality is that we put Beckett in a situation where there was no easy right answer. And that’s life. Just like when we came up with this season, we didn’t want it to be simple, we didn’t want it to be easy. We wanted to challenge our characters and our staff with the storytelling.
HAWLEY | It was also very important for us to address some of Beckett’s emotional issues. When Castle tells her, “You like being broken” — which is why it never occurred to her to get him involved in the conspiracy, so to speak — we thought that was really valuable to her character and to their relationship. Because at the end of the day, he’s calling her on her s–t in a way that we don’t get to do that much.
WINTER | And there will be vice versa as we move on through the season. Because the reality is that the show is a romantic comedy at its core, but Castle and Beckett over the past eight seasons have gone through some pretty difficult things — serial killers, threats against the city, their lives — and that’s got to take a toll. That’s something we want to explore.
TVLINE | Now that they are in this “break-up” together, for how much longer will they be “apart”?
HAWLEY | What we love is that now that we’re twisting it so that they’re in it together but the public face of them is separate, that allows the audience to be in on the joke with them — in the sense that they can “fight” in public, but the audience knows that it’s just an act. It is pretty delightful, having seen several of the episodes coming up.
WINTER | In fact, in the first episode back [airing Feb. 1], which is called
“Tone Deaf” “Tone Death,” there are a couple of great sequences that we have never been able to on the show, because Castle and Beckett are hiding the fact that they’re together again.
HAWLEY | It gives us the energy of fighting in public and doing that other thing in private.
TVLINE | At least one of my readers called out what they saw as “conception” imagery during last week’s love scene. Is a baby anywhere in your game plan at this time?
HAWLEY | No.
WINTER | No, there are no plans for a baby.
HAWLEY | This was a question that came up at the beginning of the season, and for us, at least right now, we don’t know how the show would work like that. I understand that other shows have done that, but for us, because Beckett is so “boots on the ground,” kicking ass and taking names, it’s hard to imagine what a pregnant Beckett solving cases looks like.
WINTER | And we have to ask ourselves: How is it helpful to our storytelling going forward if and when she gets pregnant? It’s not off the table, but there’s nothing planned for anytime soon.
TVLINE | I wanted to talk about ratings. When Season 8 premiered, the show admittedly returned down versus last year. But even since then, it’s been hovering at or around lows. Are you feeling under the gun to win back some disenfranchised viewers and nudge the numbers back up?
HAWLEY | Here’s the thing: We returned at a number that we have basically done every episode since. And once you factor in the DVR numbers, we’re doing around 9 to ten million viewers a week, which is a really healthy number these days for network television.
TVLINE | But that number a year ago was 13 million.
HAWLEY | I know we used to be 13 [million], I understand that. Even Quantico, which is a hit for ABC, is doing seven to eight million a week [with DVR playback]. Obviously the 18-to-49 demo number is not as strong as we’d like it to be, but all we can do is try to tell really good stories and hope that people want to watch them.