[Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen tonight's episode of CASTLE, please stop reading and go watch it. Trust me. You won't want to read this post until after you've viewed "Always" because it will spoil a very important aspect of the hour.]
So, CASTLE fans, are you still breathing?
(Take a second, I can wait.)
After all, after four seasons of dancing around each other, Castle and Beckett took a major step forward in their relationship at the end of “Always”…one of those relationship-altering steps that has likely broken a couple of social media sites.
To get some dish on why the timing was right for the duo now, what fans can expect in a probable season 5 and more, I spoke with CASTLE creator Andrew Marlowe to get the dish…
It feels crazy to say it, but Castle and Beckett have now gone there. What made the timing right for these two now?
Andrew Marlowe: Because it was absolutely time. And honestly, this was a decision that became clear to us about 2/3s of the way through last season when we made the decision of how we were ending last season. It’s impossible for Castle to say “I love you” and leave that hanging in the air and have the characters know that that’s out there and wait much longer to deal with that in an interesting and honest way.
We’re 81 episodes in, we’ve done a lot of storytelling having not gone there. And my personal feeling is we were on the verge of creating very artificial mechanisms of keeping them apart. And we were on the verge of rehashing storytelling in their relationship and we were in danger of not moving forward. So we had always aimed for this as being the end [result] of this season. And when people look back on this season, they will see the rhythm and they will look at the moments where they were really frustrated and understand why we did it then and what we were going for, because we always knew we were going to end up here.
When you and I [last] talked and you said “Are you worried about strong fan reaction?” I said, “No, because I know where we’re going.” So, it really is time. And I have to tell you, it’s really exciting for all of us who write on the show, because this opens up a world of possibility in the storytelling. And this season has been a season of secrets, and I think that has caused the season — which I was very proud of, creatively, I think there were a tremendous amount of excellent shows this season — but we paid for some of the angst with a little bit of fun. Inevitably, when these characters are keeping secrets, it’s going to be a slightly more angsty year.
And there were opportunities for fun that we couldn’t take because of what the characters were each holding back from each other. And I think by doing this, what it allows us to do is re-embrace the core values of the show and embrace what CASTLE is all about — that Castle and Beckett relationship and the two of them having fun. Because it’s not like the challenges go away. He’s still going to be Castle, she’s still going to be Beckett. To a certain extent, there’s going to be a higher level of scrutiny that they each put each other under because of where they’ve gone.
Dealing with that is going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to open up new avenues of storytelling, not only for them, but for the people around them. When they decide to let people know, how long they decide to keep it a secret, and all that sort of fun stuff. How they both feel about it the next morning.
I know we’ve talked about this before, but I hear a lot — and I’ve heard a lot in the past couple of years — when are Castle and Beckett going to be in a relationship? And my opinion is they’ve been in a relationship for a really long time. This is just the next step in the relationship and it’s going to cause its own complications. We’re not arriving anywhere — we’re just getting to the next place in the journey. And the journey is going to continue. And it’s going to be fun and it’s going to be challenged.
Where are these two headed? Were all Beckett’s fears about being just another notch on his belt well-founded? Or is she going to be concerned about where the relationship is going given the fact that this guy has been divorced twice? Now that Castle has consummated the relationship, how is he going to feel about Beckett? There’s some really fun stuff for us to play with and we’re looking forward to it. We don’t think this resolves anything, we think this puts them into the next set of fun, friction-y, cool, storytelling that we’re looking forward to playing with.
How much is it a relief for you personally to not have to answer the “When are Castle and Beckett getting together?” question? Or have you not thought about that yet?
AM: I know how life is. And life is, when you’re in any sort of relationship, when you’re hanging out with somebody, your friends are like, “So when are you going to get together?” And then when you get together, it’s like, “When are you going to move in?” And then you move in and it’s like, “So when are you going to get married?” And then you get married and it’s like, “So when are you going to have kids?” The questions aren’t going to stop — they’re just going to become different questions.
And we’re really happy to have people asking those questions. And the reason why we’re really happy is because that means they’re invested in the characters. We want folks to continue being invested in these characters and we want them to continue rooting for these characters when they face challenges. And inevitably, they’re going to face challenges. Hopefully the next question is going to be, “What’s going to happen in the relationship? When is he going to propose? When are they going to get married?” Those kind of questions and the complications that inevitably arise and those things that happen between the two of them will hopefully carry us another 3, 4, 5 years.
While I’m not asking you to reveal your grand plan, do you see a show with them being married and taking that step? Or is that further down the pipeline than you’ve given thought to?
AM: That’s further down the pipeline than I’ve given thought to. And I wouldn’t want to advertise my intentions to fans. I want them to have something to root for. I want them to be rooting for these guys. If you take a look at any great Shakespeare play, even when characters are together, even when they’re sneaking off into the woods at night together and they’re trying to figure out how to conduct their relationship, crazy stuff happens. This is not the end of the Castle and Beckett fun. This is, by the way, not even the end of the tension between the two of them because one tension leads into another tension. These guys have a lot of work given the betrayal and given where we end up with, re-earning each other’s friendship and all that. So that’ll give us a lot of stuff to play with.
I know it was touched upon earlier in the season that Alexis wasn’t as comfortable with the relationship as fans hoped she might be. Will you guys be touching on that next season?
AM: Of course!
Well, given the fact that she was going to college, I wasn’t sure how much she would be around to object to that and playing into their dynamic…
AM: I think it’s an inevitable part of it. And it’s something I’m also very aware of being a stepparent. Both of my kids were really great when I came into their lives. When [Marlowe's wife and CASTLE writer] Terri [Miller] and I got together, the kids were 9 and I was in my mid-20s, and they were incredibly welcoming. But I also know that that can create some really interesting weirdness. [Laughs] So no doubt we’ll be dealing with that.
How was it for you and Terri to cowrite this episode? There are clearly some parallels between the two of you and Castle/Beckett and this was such a major episode for that relationship.
AM: Absolutely. And it was incredibly gratifying for me to have the opportunity to work with her on this one. This is the stuff we do so well together because she brings such a clear perspective from her point of view that is invaluable. And she also brought great clarity and perspective to the Castle and Alexis material in this, with Alexis facing graduation and dealing with the issues that she’s dealing with in this episode.
Given how the episode ended, are we going to be picking up immediately when the show returns next season? I know season 5 hasn’t been officially ordered yet, but I’m guessing you guys have thought some things out.
AM: We have given a lot of thought to how the next season is going to start and we have a pretty clear plan as to how to deal with all the stuff that is brought up in the finale and where we want to take the storytelling.
And as an overall season, one of the things we’re looking to do is re-embrace the fun of the show, so there will certainly be some heavy elements we are dealing with in the season finale, but I don’t want the audience to think that’s going to be the experience of all the fifth season. That’s not going to be the case. We want to deal with the issues that we’re dealing with in the finale openly and honestly, both in terms of the case that Beckett’s investigating and what happens in the Castle/Beckett relationship. And we’ll certainly be dealing with those aspects when we come back next year, but we do want to let our audience know that what they can expect is more of the CASTLE they know and love.
But is this technically the first part of a two-part episode?
AM: We don’t have a “to be continued” at the end of it, but we will be dealing with…when we come back next year, we will still be dealing with elements that are hanging over our heads from this episode.
Before I let you go, do you have any regrets about the season? Or any moments that stood out to you?
AM: You know, I’m really proud of the whole CASTLE team. I’m really proud of the cast — I really think they brought it this year. I’m really proud of the work the crew did; I’m really proud of the writers. Like I said, I get a lot of credit, especially for this past season, it was a great season — but it really is teamwork. There are a lot of dedicated folks doing a lot of hard work. In terms of regret? I don’t think we’ve done anything disastrous, and I really like the shows that we’ve done. Certainly, some are stronger than others and that is inevitable in any TV season. But I was really pleased with the way this season went. And I know some fans got frustrated at some points, but since I knew where we were going, it was never an issue for me. [Laughs] And they were supposed to be frustrated at those points. I just hope we can continue to bring the folks that are watching the show a really great hour of television, week in and week out like we have for the last few years.