By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated April 02, 2012 at 11:23 PM EDT
Karen Neal/ABC

Richard Castle’s hurting — and it’s not easy to watch. In fact, it’s downright heartbreaking.

After learning in last week’s episode that Beckett (Stana Katic) remembered everything about being shot (including, you’ll recall, Castle’s confession of love), Castle (Nathan Fillion) is looking for a way to deal with an influx of disappointment. His solution? Apparently flaunting a blonde in front of Beckett in tonight’s episode! But there’s so much more underneath his playboy guise, says executive producer and creator Andrew Marlowe.

“I think he feels like if he confronts her, it’s just gonna be a big ego blow, so it’s better for him to swallow it at this point, which gives us a little bit of drama in the next couple episodes,” he says. And with only four episodes (including tonight’s) left in the rest of the season, the drama will come fast and furious, stemming first from the fact that poor Beckett has no idea why Castle is giving her the cold shoulder. But her confusion and — in a way — her sense of loss from his apparent “drifting away” could prompt Beckett to make some bold actions. “She’s wondering if she needs to declare herself, and she’s feeling ready…but then he’s acting out. So his behavior is going to be a little challenging to her, and it puts us in an interesting place for the next couple episodes,” Marlowe says.

Interesting, but difficult, considering the Beckett/Castle relationship and banter is the bread and butter of the show’s appeal. “I gotta say, the show is really easy to write when the two of them are getting along, because that’s the DNA of the show — when they’re giving each other s–t and they’re locked in the banter. When they’re on the outs, it’s always been a challenge,” he says. But “since we know where we’re going, I don’t think that we have the anxiety that a lot of the fans do.”

Luckily, a guest star in next week’s episode is likely to diffuse a little of the fan tension: Fillion’s Firefly co-star Adam Baldwin, who guests as Castle’s new creative inspiration, Det. Slaughter. “Because of where he’s at with Beckett, [Castle] is feeling a little uninspired. So he sees this guy on the news, who’s a larger-than-life figure, and he thinks, ‘Well maybe I need a different muse. Maybe I need to go in a different direction for a bit,'” previews Marlowe. But might Castle be biting off more than he can chew? “He gets in a little over his head because Det. Slaughter is not the same kind of cop Beckett is. And so he finds himself in more challenging situations and wonders whether the grass is greener.”

The episode, adds Marlowe, allowed the writers to deal with the Castle-Beckett relationship in a unique way. “It’s all about the Castle-Beckett relationship, and Beckett ends up being very much a part of it,” he assures. “The two of them are going to be challenged and learn some new things, and it’s gonna be interesting as we get to the conclusion.” (That finale, by the way, is whimsically titled, “Always.”)

But before the finale, everyone has to survive the zombies. Yup, zombies. “Our second to last episode, despite the fact that we’re dealing with Castle and Becket being in a rocky place and dealing with those issues, we wanted to have a little fun. We’re tackling zombies since they’re so much in the zeitgeist. Zombie killers.” We assume he’s talking about costumes. Right? “Well, you got to tune in to see.”

Castle airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET

(Marc Snetiker and April Daley contributed to this report.)


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