With its future still up in the air, ABC's Castle seems to be tying up as many loose ends as possible.
In a season that has already wrapped up the long-running 3XK serial killer mystery and finally saw Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) tie the knot, there's just one little plot thread dangling: What the heck happened to Castle when he went missing for two months? That question will be answered in Monday's episode (10/9c, ABC).
"We always knew that the missing time was not going to stay a mystery for the entire season," executive producer David Amann tells TVGuide.com. "We felt like we owed the audience more than just a tease on what happened in that missing time, and we feel like we deliver a fairly coherent and complete accounting of what happened. There are some outstanding questions that remain at the end of all this, but the primary question of where he was and what he was involved with are largely answered by the end of the episode."
When Castle begins having strange recurring dreams, he visits Beckett's therapist Dr. Burke (guest star Michael Dorn) to try to piece together the dreams' meaning. But even when he begins to suspect they are connected to his "missing time," Castle puts on the brakes. "Initially, his reaction is one of not really wanting to deal with it," Amann says. "His life with Beckett and things in his professional life ... are all going pretty smoothly, so he actually doesn't really welcome this intrusion. But as he starts looking into it, he really feels like he has no choice but to move forward and try to find answers. ... And Beckett tries to help him understand what's going on."
Although Amann would neither confirm nor deny if viewers would once again see Matt Letscher's "Henry Jenkins," the man who seemed to hold all the answers earlier this season, he did suggest that these major revelations won't prove devastating to the Castle-Beckett relationship. "It's very much reaffirming the strength of the relationship — his commitment to her, her commitment to him," he says. "It confirms that the events of those two months were largely out of his control."
Regardless of whether "Henry Jenkins" shows up Monday, the show's season finale will perhaps address that character's reference to Hollander's Woods, which just so happens to be the finale's title, and what that means to Castle. "We get some answers as to why Castle became a mystery writer," says creator and executive producer Andrew W. Marlowe, who co-wrote the finale. "It centers on an event that happened to him when he was 11 years old. We get to go way back into Castle's backstory in a case that has eerie similarities to something he dealt with when he was a kid. So, it opens up some old wounds and leads to a bit of an obsession as he starts exploring some of the issues surrounding the case."
Marlowe, who this season handed over showrunning duties to Amann, admits writing this finale was extra tough because of the uncertainty surrounding the show's future. Although Fillion has signed on for an eighth season, the show still has yet to be officially renewed, as the other actors continue to negotiate new contracts.
"Writing a season finale, not knowing if the show is coming back, is always a challenge," Marlowe says. "[We] were looking for something where we could craft a story that if for some reason it ended up being the last Castle, we have some sense of conclusion. But the show also opens up a lot of avenues of storytelling with some of the dilemmas within the character as we head out of the season."
One of those dilemmas will perhaps involve Beckett, who in recent episodes has been preparing to take the captain's exam and considering her professional future, as well as the possibility of having a family with Castle. But those issues will come to a head in the finale when Beckett wrestles with "some very interesting choices as far as her career is concerned," Marlowe says. "It's more complicated than just issues within the NYPD."
Although Amann and Marlowe are optimistic ("We're very hopeful that we'll be coming back ... as the show that everybody knows and loves," Marlowe says), both men are also pleased with how much story they've managed to wrap up this season. However, Marlowe remains emphatic that the Season 7 finale isn't the end of the story as far as he's concerned.
"We think we've achieved what we set out to do this season, but I think we all feel like there's a lot of great storytelling ahead of us if the story gods allow it," Marlowe says. "I wouldn't call [the finale] a traditional cliff-hanger, but there are very specific unresolved issues about our characters that will allow us a fascinating springboard into a next season. We have more important stuff to get to if we're allowed to get there. If we don't, I think the characters have arrived at a really interesting point."
Castle airs Mondays at 10/9c on ABC. Do you want another season of Castle?