Castle | Monday, 10-11 p.m., ABC The ''I love you'' uttered by Castle (Nathan Fillion) to Beckett (Stana Katic) ?as she lay injured from a gunshot in…
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Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC; Jesse Grant/Getty ImagesSPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen tonight’s episode of Castle, do not read the Q&A below. You’ve been warned.

Three-and-a-half seasons of build up led to tonight’s heart-tugging episode of Castle, in which Beckett and her handsome devil of a partner sealed the deal in an alley — as part of a decoy. Well, at least it started off that way. As you’ll read in my interview with episode writer Will Beall (who recently signed on to pen the new Lethal Weapon movie) and creator/writer Andrew Marlowe, the repercussions of the pair’s long-awaited smooch will be just as real as that second kiss was. (Cheers here.) Read below for more on this highly anticipated episode (that I know you’re already re-watching) and sound off below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Now that it’s aired, how do y’all feel about the episode?

ANDREW MARLOWE: Speaking for me, I’m not feeling nervous about the episode. I think Will did a tremendous job scripting it. We feel that we’re giving the audience what they want from the Castle/Beckett relationship without pushing the relationship too far, too quickly. Certainly you know the circumstances of the kiss having seen it, but what was important to us was that both characters react to it. You know, it starts off as a diversion, but you can see in the midst of it, it becomes real and both of them have to wrestle with their emotions afterward. So we don’t feel like we’re cheating the audience or like it’s a wink like we’ve seen on other TV shows. We feel like the audience will understand that both of these people have to wrestle with the consequences afterwards. So I think that was what Will’s intention was. Do you want to jump in Will?

WILL BEALL: We’re really happy with the way the kiss turned out. And there are other aspects of the episode I’m really pleased with too.

AM: We think that we had a really great opportunity with this also to develop the Beckett’s mother’s murder story, and touch on a deeper conspiracy that will be satisfying to the audience in that they’ll get some answers, but those answers lead to more questions. That’s the best kind of storytelling for this kind of episodic TV, where you get some sort of resolution and you still have some stuff to look forward to.

Exactly. So you can confirm that the second kiss we saw was, in fact, not a decoy?

AM: Yeah. Absolutely. They get caught up in the midst of it and you can see when they both pull away. They both have to process what happened — it’s all over their faces.

They did such a great job with that scene.

WB: Yeah. They were fantastic.

AM: And then the escalation of it, where you go right from that to Beckett being in danger and Castle having to do something extraordinary to save her. The depth of his emotion when he starts beating up on the bad guy — I think everybody in the audience will get what they’re silently communicating to each other. It’s an extension of what they’ve been communicating to each other the whole time.

That was another great moment in the episode.

WB: I feel like early in the episode, there’s a great scene where Martha [Rodgers] sort of takes Castle to task and asks a question that everybody wants answered. And even though our characters never answer it directly, that’s one of the ways Castle — there’s something declarative about that act of courage that I think is a way of answering the question that everybody in the audience has been asking in some way for a couple of years.

AM: I think we’re at the point in the series — we’re approaching 50 episodes — where we have to get a little more insight into where Castle’s behavior is coming from and why he spends all this time down at the station. I think our loyal, core audience has that understanding. These two people are doing a dance. But to have Castle acknowledge it, I think, even if they have the same relationship going forward, it puts it on a whole new level. There’s a lot of tension.

How is that going to play out in the next few episodes?

AM: I think now that we’ve touched on it, it’s inevitable that our fans will approach the material feeling that they’re trying to wrestle with their emotions. Beckett is currently in a relationship and how does she process that? How does she feel about that? And Castle is looking for a relationship, but he knows Beckett is in a relationship. So we sort of play with that idea, and as we come into our sweeps episode, we play with it even more as we get into the explosive two-parter at the end of February. It’s something we continue to play with, but I think the recognition between the two characters — that there is this thing between them — it’s something they’ve tried to deny for a number of episodes. Now, they no longer can deny it and they have to figure out what they’re going to do about it, whether they’re too scared to do something about it, what other obstacles are out there. That’s all part of great relationship storytelling.

Well, we took three-and-a-half seasons to get a kiss. So, they’ll be in bed in the season 7 finale?

AM: By the end of season 7, and the TV gods allow us to get there, we know we have to continue to evolve the storytelling. I think the greatest fear someone has in my position is that if you don’t capitalize on the relationship, the characters can start to feel like brother and sister — the romantic tension goes away. For us, we know we have to try to keep that romantic tension there. We also know that we have to satisfy the audience from time to time. I think there are enough complexities in the human relationship that people don’t really live happily ever after. There’s a hell of a lot of storytelling after that so we will take our time, pace ourselves but also be true to these characters and honest about their emotions.

Speaking of emotions, Beckett is coming closer and closer to solving her mom’s murder. As she finds closure there, how is that going to affect her relationship with Castle? They seem to correspond…

WB: Yeah. I definitely think there’s a correlation. It’s that aspect of their partnershipand the show will sort of come to a head in the season finale.

AM: One of the things Will has done extraordinarily well for the show is developing all their guys as really great cops, but hand-in-hand with developing the Castle/Beckett relationship. Our most significant episode before this one was last season’s “Sucker Punch” that Will wrote. And the very last scene, after Coonan is shot and killed in the precinct, there’s a nice moment Beckett accepts Castle as being her partner. I think the vulnerability and depth of emotion that Beckett has for this case allows her to recognize Castle’s genuine nature. As we touch on this case, this is Castle at his best. He’s not a jackass, he’s not poking too deeply because he knows how sensitive this area is. In a lot of cases, this case draws out the best in Castle at the time when Beckett is most vulnerable.

So is it safe to say that as this case rolls toward resolution, that she’s going to be more free to move on in other aspects of her life? If you know what I mean…

AM: I think that’s going to be complicated. When you’ve had so much of your life defined by a particular choice in your life in response to a moment, I think the moment she has resolution in this, it’s going to challenge her as to who she actually she is. I think there’s a lot of interesting storytelling to come after it. I don’t think it’s as simple as “Now I can move on.” I think she has to wrestle with who she is as a cop, why she’s doing what she’s doing. The strength of Beckett is that she’s always the one who carries the torch for the victim because she knows what that’s like. She’s been on the other side. So once she has resolution there, what happens to her passion? I think that there’s some real identity issues that once we get to the resolution in this story, that she’ll have to wrestle with. But when we get to a resolution with this story is a question for another day.

Tell me about the decision to let Ryan and Esposito really take the heavy weight of this case in a very Castle/Beckett-centered episode. I thought that was interesting.

WB: Part of it was I wanted to see Ryan and Esposito exercise in a way we haven’t really seen before. And the case, obviously, her mother’s case exercises Beckett and Castle in a different way. In some ways, I think one of the most interesting aspects of her mother’s murder is, like you said, is the way it acts on their relationship. That was something I wanted to explore between Castle and Beckett and that gives Ryan and Esposito to carry some of the procedural weight.

Speaking of that exploration, I’m curious about the decision to make the kiss a decoy. Were there ever discussions about making it straightforward and traditionally romantic?

AM: We always like things with a twist. The thing about Castle and Beckett’s relationship is that it’s always surprising and always seems to sneak up on them when they’re not looking. And so to go into something like this, which is something they’ve been denying, and put them in a position where they’re forced to embrace it and then have that moment where they sink into it; it felt like the most authentic version of their relationship. For us to build up to that, where it was a pure, straightforward, romantic out-and-out relationship kiss, carried with it too many consequences in terms of a change in storytelling. Like I said, I think the audience will see it as the next step in the relationship because they both acknowledged what it meant to them in their reactions afterwards. It’s not like they move on from it. It’s a real moment for them. It starts as one thing and ends with another. You see that they’re both wrestling with it, even in that scene of the aftermath in the ambulance where she’s adjusting his bandages. There’s a moment there where they’re back on either side of the divide and pining and trying to figure out what this means to them. But there’s also that unspoken undercurrent that they’re dealing with that I think ends the episode on a really delicious note.

Will it become spoken any time before the end of the season?

AM: It remains to be seen at what level this becomes spoken. Beckett plays her cards very close to her vest, and this is such important territory to the Castle character that he’s not going to tease her about it because then he’s going to know he’s giving away everything it meant. So, yes, we will be dealing with emotional aftermath and how they feel about each other as we roll toward the conclusion of the season. I don’t know if they’re going to address it directly. They may. There are a couple of key episodes in their relationship that we’re working on and breaking right now. But it’s certainly going to form the relationship as we move forward.

On Twitter: @EWSandraG

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