[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Monday's episode of Castle. Read at your own risk.]

Christmas came a little early for Castle fans Monday.

On the ABC drama's midseason finale, Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) finally talked out all the issues surrounding their recent separation. On the heels of a little anniversary hookup that was interrupted by a text from Vikram (Sunkrish Bala), Castle enlisted Hayley (Toks Olagundoye) to hack Beckett's phone to make sure she wasn't in some sort of trouble.

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But then Castle got much more than he bargained for. He eventually figured out that the separation began right after Bracken and Allison Hyde were murdered and that Beckett must be helping Vikram investigate those deaths. When Castle asked Hayley to hack Vikram's operation, Beckett ordered Vikram to stop Castle from getting in, even if it meant destroying Castle's entire computer system. Realizing that Beckett would stop at almost nothing to keep Castle at a certain distance, he finally confronted his wife about her lies.

Beckett explained everything, including that she pushed Castle away because of her fear that if LokSat knew she was investigating the murders, he would kill Beckett and all of those she loved. But Castle insists that Beckett should have just trusted him with the truth from the get-go. "The fact that you even think that breaks my heart," Castle says. "You want to know what hurts the most? You could have come to me with everything, broken us up just like you did, only it would have been a cover and together, in secret, we could have taken this guy down. Only, that thought never even occurred to you because, deep down inside, you like being broken and you need this obsession. No matter what I do, I can't change that. Only you can, Kate."

After Kate gets another clue — Caleb Brown (guest star Kristoffer Polaha), the public defender in the fun, if otherwise meaningless drug murder on a cruise ship case of the week, is actually a former corporate lawyer with ties to LokSat and Kate's best lead in finding her nemesis' true identity — Beckett heads over to Castle's place to make amends. "You were right," she says. "Our breakup could have been a cover so that we could bring down LokSat together. I'm here now. So, let's do it."

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But Castle isn't so easily swayed. "[You thought I] would just take you back, in spite of what you put me through?" he asks. "You hurt me, Kate, and what's worse, you lost faith in me." But once Beckett pleads that she now truly understands how much she needs Castle and begs him to "don't make me do this without you," Castle obliges, and the couple sneaks off to the bedroom for their second round of "naked time" in as many episodes.

So, are Castle and Beckett officially back together? What's the next step in the LokSat investigation when the show returns in the new year? TVGuide.com chatted with executive producers Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter about all that and more. Plus: Do they think the separation story was successful?

So, based on that ending, are Beckett and Castle officially reconciled?
Alexi Hawley: Yeah. What we're setting up for when we return is the idea that they're fighting in public, they're broken up in public, but in private, they're canoodling and they're secretly together. That allows us to have a lot of fun when we come back with that public-versus-private relationship. We get to have them fighting in front of the boys, but now the audience is in on it in a way that's a lot of fun.
Terence Paul Winter: And we get to find some territory that we've never been able to do on this show. In the first episode back, the audience will get a taste of what it will be like in this new dynamic that we're promising at the end of this episode.

Will Vikram still be in Beckett's ear warning against the danger she's putting Castle in, or is she pretty much committed to this decision?
Hawley:
She's committed to the decision. What Castle brings up to her in that interrogation room scene is a painful moment of self-realization for Beckett. [Castle says] that because of what happened with her mom, because of her obsession-based personality, part of her that likes being broken and likes to be the martyr a little bit. And once she realizes that he's actually right and sees her in a way that she can't even see herself, it allows her to make her peace with that and move on. That's what the end of the episode is about: her going, "You were right. We could have done it this way. Let's do it this way." That's a really good moment for the two of them and I think that makes their relationship grow.

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How much will she actually tell him about what she's up to? Will she enlist Castle's help in the LokSat investigation?
Winter:
She's going to be open and honest with him — that was the declaration at the end of the episode. But moving forward, she knows that the investigation of LokSat is still incredibly dangerous. So, they are going to make the decision that Castle is not going to be involved in it. They're going to keep the fact that they're back together a secret, and she's going to move forward with it to protect Castle. Will it continue to be that for the rest of the season? Probably not. We're going to keep twisting that dynamic as we move on in the new year.
Hawley: She's keeping in the loop as much as she can. There's nothing actionable for him to be doing when we come back, and that's the state of the investigation. When there's something that Castle can do, I think she'll absolutely put him in the game. That's our operating premise going into the middle third of the season.

When Beckett made that declaration, Castle looked on the fence about whether or not he could accept that. Was it ever a possibility that he might have been too hurt to just let her back in?
Hawley: It was very important to us that he didn't just roll over. Even with the best intentions, she did really hurt him and put him through a bad period in his life, and it was important to us that he make her very aware of that. The interrogation room scene was a very tough scene — he was tough on her — and when she said, "Let's do it," at the end, we didn't want him to just say, "Yes." But at the end of the day, if we had him say no to her and push her away, there would be people with pitchforks outside our office. [Laughs]
Winter: Also, the reality is he spent the past seven episodes trying to win her back. So, he had to wrestle with the reality of why she pushed him away, and... she did it because she loves him. Of course he's upset, of course he's questioning what's going on, but at the end of the day, when he thinks about it, he realizes this is the woman I was made for.
Hawley: That's why those moments with Lucy, played by Aubrey Plaza, are really important to set up his decision. He's basically standing up for his wife before Beckett even shows up. So he's already thinking about can he forgive her? The reality is, he knows Beckett and he knows here wasn't malice. Even if there was some dysfunction emotionally, there wasn't malice.

But will Castle be looking to see if Beckett falls back into those patterns? How long will his patience last?
Winter:
They've had challenges with secrets and lies in the past, both of them. But this one was about life or death. The end result for Beckett is that she realizes that no matter what the situation is, she can confide and trust in Castle, regardless of if she's trying to protect him. Moving forward, we're not planning on repeating ourselves.
Hawley: This was a painful journey to go through, and it needs to have meant something. Beckett really did come face-to-face with a part of herself that she wasn't really aware of, and I think for it to have value and meaning, she has to change. We're not going to go back to the "she's lying to him" well, and that's important.

If they're still pretending to be separate publicly, how will you involve Castle in the police work? More of what we've seen thus far this season?
Winter:
One of the delights of the second third of the season is finding new and different and interesting ways to get Castle and Beckett working together. Even with this whole ruse that they're separated, they try to stay away from each other but for whatever reason, they keep on being forced to work together.
Hawley: We like playing with that idea, and they're definitely going to be solving cases together. The challenge is how we make that happen, hopefully in a fun way.

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Kristoffer Polaha's character is now Beckett's best lead to LokSat. When will see him again?
Winter: The character is coming back pretty soon. Not in the first episode back, but soon after we're going to see more of that character. He comes back in a very surprising way because, again, Beckett and Vikram have to attack LokSat and Caleb Brown very carefully. When does return, we get a twist on who Caleb Brown is. It'll be a little surprising to Beckett and hopefully it will be surprising to our viewers as well, and it will set things up for where we're going in the back half of the season.

The separation story obviously upset a lot of fans. Now that they're basically back together, do you think the audience will accept that and come back next year?
Winter:
I hope so. We love our fans, and we love how spirited and opinionated they are and how much they care about Caskett. We care about Caskett too, and that's why, when we designed this first third of the season, we knew what the beginning, middle and end was going to be. Obviously, it was tough for some of our friends out there, and they let it be known that they weren't so happy, but at the end of the day, personally, we were very happy with it.
Hawley: Obviously the Twitter feed is a mix, but there have been a lot of the voices as well that are very energized by this season and feel there have been some really great episodes. They were having a lot of fun despite the relationship stuff and they appreciate the relationship troubles that our couple was having.

So, overall, you think it was worth it for the end result?
Winter:
I definitely think it's worth it. If weren't able to make these bold choices we made in Episode 2, we wouldn't have had the opportunity to explore where these characters have gone.
Hawley: "The Last Seduction" was their anniversary, and that became a really powerful episode. If it was just the first anniversary and they were happy and healthy, of course it would have been cute, but it wouldn't have had as much emotional weight. So, it does feel worth it to us.

Are you happy Castle and Beckett are back together? Will you keep watching?