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August 17, 2015 at 05:22 PM EDT

Get ready to meet the new investigator in Castle’s life!

Neighbors alum Toks Olagundoye makes her debut as free-spirited and quick-witted independent investigator Hayley Shipton in the Castle season premiere — and EW has the exclusive first look.

“[Toks] plays a really dynamic, fun character,” executive producer Alexi Hawley tells EW. “It’s a voice that the show doesn’t have. What’s great about her is Castle [Nathan Fillion] has been investigating cases police-adjacent, so it’s always about doing things the way police would. She doesn’t do things that way, so that fun dynamic of, ‘No, we break in rather than get a warrant,’ is kind of fun.”

Even though she doesn’t follow the rules, Hayley’s not quite the same renegade as Detective Ethan Slaughter (Adam Baldwin) — who will be returning this season. “She’s a little easier than Adam Baldwin [was] on him, but there’s definitely an energy about her which is a lot of fun,” Hawley says.

Though Castle will be working with Hayley more now that Beckett (Stana Katic) has become the new captain, the newbie serves another purpose in season 8. “We like the idea of her as a mentor to Alexis [Molly Quinn] in a way that Beckett has been, but because she’s also Castle’s wife, ultimately Hayley can play a little bit more of an older sister,” Hawley says. “This season is really about growing Molly up. She’s been playing the child for seven seasons and now she’s 21 years old. She’s a grown up. This year, she’s going to be more sophisticated. That relationship with her father will change because she’s not a little girl anymore.”

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Castle returns Monday, Sept. 21 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.


From now until our huge fall TV preview which hits newsstands Sept. 10, EW is bringing you 50 scoops in 50 days. Follow the hashtag #50Scoops50Days on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the latest, and check for all the news and surprises.

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