Penny Johnson Jerald, Stana Katic
Castle's recent string of rosier episodes is about to take a nosedive into much darker territory.
On Monday's episode, "In The Belly of the Beast"(10/9c, ABC), Beckett (Stana Katic) gets pulled into what is supposed to be a simple undercover operation. But naturally, things quickly get much more complicated — and dangerous.
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"Beckett thinks she's pretending to be one person, but discovers that [the criminals] think that she's somebody else completely," creator Andrew W. Marlowe tells TVGuide.com. "She has to navigate those waters and figure out who she's supposed to be. And any misstep could get her killed."
Taking a turn for the dramatic is nothing new for Castle, which for many seasons has featured a high-stakes midseason two-parter. But because Season 6 opened with a two-part episode, Marlowe decided to take a different approach. "We wanted to have a big episode really had a chance to showcase the talents of one of our actors," he says. "This year is an opportunity for us to showcase Stana as a complete and formidable actress and to take her on a journey in 42 minutes. The colors that she plays in this are really remarkable. We wanted a big jeopardy episode that was compelling, that allowed us to look at our characters in a different way and put them into an organic predicament where the stakes just kept getting more and more heightened."
And Katic was more than up for the challenge. "I was excited. It's a fun story to play," she says. "It really takes the character through the hero's journey. This character is facing one of the greatest injustices of her life."
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And she doesn't just mean the harrowing ordeal Beckett goes through during the botched undercover operation. The story takes several twists and turns, including the return of some faces that will be familiar to fans who have followed Beckett's series-long investigation into her mother's murder. Katic says this new chapter shows just how far Beckett has come throughout the series — and how much her relationship with Castle (Nathan Fillion) is responsible for her growth.
"The transition for the character over the six seasons is that she moved out of being an individual who reacts from emotion," Katic says. "She's become more lethal [because] she's capable of accessing a situation, maintaining her cool ... and finding justice within the confines of the law. Part of the reason that she's willing to do that is because she's falling in love and she has something to live for. She has someone to try to build a future with."
But why then would Beckett risk that future by taking on this undercover operation? After all, as seen in the clip below, Captain Gates (Penny Johnson Jerald) gives Beckett the option of bowing out.
"No matter what, she's always going to fight for the greater good and for the victims," Katic says of Beckett's choice to trudge on. "I think in that case, it seemed like it was going to be an easy fix. She felt like she would be home for dinner, as she says over and over again. And it turns into something a lot darker, without her even being able to foresee it. You can't change your driving force. If she did something different, then she wouldn't be the Beckett that Castle fell in love with, and she wouldn't be the Beckett that the audience fell in love with. She'd be someone else."
But after the events of the episode, Beckett could indeed be a changed person. For Marlowe's part, he says he will always enjoy dipping back into the well of Beckett's past in order to carve a new path for the future.
"Beckett was always initially the character with the secrets and the character with the backstory," he says. "It was the thing that defined the character in the beginning — the reason why this character became a cop, the reason why this character does what she does. I've always had the sense that we had some really great mythology to play with. It's been a really great journey for us, and it's really fulfilling to continue to explore that."
Castle airs Monday at 10/9c on ABC.