Castle fans were in for a serious shock Monday when news broke that series star Stana Katic, better known as Captain Kate Beckett, would not be returning to the show next season (assuming the ABC procedural gets a ninth season, which is still up in the air). Not only that, but Castle will also be losing series regular Tamala Jones, with both exits reportedly not being the choice of the respective actresses.
We've had a few hours now to process, and after going through the stages of grief, we've realized that Katic's departure raises a series of rather confusing questions concerning the future of the series. While the program is called Castle, it has always been the Castle/Beckett show... and now it won't be. Given this, we have to wonder:
1. Is Beckett going to die? Yes, we want Beckett to ride off into the sunset like Jack Bauer at the end of 24's fourth season, but after this rather abrupt announcement, we have to wonder if Beckett is going to die because...
2. How does Castle remain on the show without Beckett? This season hammered into our heads that Castle is a straight wreck without Beckett and will follow her to the ends of the earth. If she's not dead, how can he possibly have any desire to remain working with the NYPD... or even serve as a P.I.?
3. Did the showrunners plan for this all along? Deadline's report indicates that Katic was never actually asked to re-up her contract with the show, while Fillion has been in back-and-forth negotiations all season. How far in advance did everyone really know Beckett wouldn't make it to season 9? Has this always been part of the plan... even with a reported cliffhanger ending?
4. Will this have an impact on the LokSat mystery? We always knew LokSat was going to be a mystery that began and ended with Season 8, but is that ending now compromised?
5. What about Castle's missing time? In the last few episodes, we learned that LokSat somehow ties into Castle's missing memories. Of course Beckett doesn't need to be there for him to solve the mystery, but again, will he even want to bother without Beckett there to help him?
6. Will Jones get a proper goodbye? If Law & Order taught the world anything, it's that medical examiners are a dime a dozen in New York City. So, will the good doctor receive a real exit, or will we just find ourselves watching a new examiner next season without any explanation (again, if the show even gets a next season)?
7. What will happen to Esposito? Parish and Esposito have always had a flirty relationship, but with only a handful of episodes to go, are they going to finally come together, so to speak? Or will the doctor leave without ever realizing a fan favorite dream hook-up?
8. What does this mean for Esposito and Ryan? With Beckett gone, we'll still need some kind of presence in the station. Is that role going to now fall on this dynamic supporting duo?
9. How will Beckett leaving affect Alexis? Losing Beckett means losing a part of Castle's life, and when things affect Castle, they also affect his daughter, Alexis. So what will become of her in the show's new world?
But, the biggest question of all...
10. Why is the show not just being cancelled? No Parish? No Beckett? With two key components gone, wouldn't it be more prudent to just let the show go out on its own terms? Showrunners Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter made it clear in an interview with TVGuide.com that a contingency plan was put in place should ABC not order a ninth season. Why is that contingency plan not just being enacted — unless their contingency plan was "break fans' hearts"?