A new promo for the season 8 finale of Castle has fans wondering—perhaps dreading—the possible circumstances by which Stana Katic’s character will leave the show. The co-star’s contract was not renewed and the May 16 episode will be her last.
The finale episode also has two endings at this point, according to co-showrunner Alexi Hawley, because the series is still waiting on a renewal from its network ABC. Creators are prepared to end the season on a cliffhanger, or wrap up the storylines with a series finale if they haven’t received a renewal by the air date.
The promo season 8, episode 22, titled “Crossfire,” is far from subtle, opening with an obvious villain character (speculated to be the mastermind behind this season’s LokSat project) warning a tied down Richard Castle that “Kate Beckett is going to be dead by the end of the night and there is nothing you can do about it.” For those who don’t follow the show regularly, Beckett and Castle finally cemented their attraction into full-fledged emotion during season 4, and married in season 7, so Castle really doesn’t want to see Beckett die.
Through the promo Castle opines, “There’s no reason this has to end in tragedy,” and is met with the response, “Everything ends in tragedy. Even an epic love story like yours.”
Fans of the show certainly felt that way a few weeks ago when news of Katic’s departure was released. Tamala Jones, who plays medical examiner Lanie Jones was also released by non-renewal of her contract.
It seemed an odd and risky move for the ABC show which was built largely around the playful dynamic of its two lead characters. Speculation was that the decision was a move to cut costs, and season 8’s storyline slowly started to try and shuttle the romance aside and shift the show’s focus to a hard-boiled detective drama. Ratings have suffered, though they began to rebound as the season wore on.
The network may have been waiting for that ratings uptick before considering a renewal at all, though Deadline reported the renewal delay has been the result of contract negotiations. So far star Nathan Fillion and Seamus Deaver, who plays detective Kevin Ryan, have season 9 contracts locked. If the show doesn’t receive a renewal by Friday, May 13th, however, they plan to air the series ending episode the following Monday.
Series creators Andrew W. Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller have been through this drill before, creating the same multi-purpose season finale last year while they waited on a season 8 renewal. Referring to that process Marlowe told TV Line “We were trying to craft a finale where we had a satisfying conclusion if it is indeed the conclusion, but also some really interesting, compelling springboards into next season’s storyteliing — if the gods shine upon us and we’re allowed to continue.”
Hawley and co-showrunner Terence Paul Winter seem to be taking the delay in stride, with Hawley commenting, “We think the show has a lot of life in it, as do these characters.”
Winter added “Andrew and Terri wrote it as if it was the series finale and there’s a very good chance that we’ll most likely be doing that here. We hope to come back for Season 9, but we have to act as if [we might not].”
Of course even if the show returns the biggest mystery of all has yet to play out. Will a heartbroken Castle be enough to draw viewers back, or has ABC brought on the end for this once beloved show?