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May 02, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT

In the wake of news that Stana Katic won’t return for a potential ninth season, Castle fans probably shouldn’t expect a happy ending in the finale. But the question remains whether tough detective-turned-captain Kate Beckett will meet a grim fate.

In the season ender, Beckett and Castle (Nathan Fillion) will come up against the mysterious string-puller only dubbed LokSat. (More on that here). But an unforeseen twist will put the case, and their lives, in jeopardy.

Ahead of the news that Katic would exit the series, EW posed the question of whether viewers should expect death in the finale. “There is death in every episode of Castle,” executive producer Alexi Hawley said. Pressed as it pertains specifically to the main characters, the co-showrunner stayed mum. “We don’t want to get into that too much. There’s definitely danger.”

“Their lives are in jeopardy pretty much from [the] jump,” Hawley continued. “What we wanted to do was keep pulling the rug out from under them. Things get dangerous very fast. Ultimately, it’s a back-and-forth between being the hunted and being the hunters all the way through the finale.”

Castle has not yet been renewed for season 9, but if Beckett does die in the finale, that would certainly give the show a new avenue for storytelling — Castle on the hunt for his wife’s killer, for example. Earlier this TV season, when reports speculated the loss of a co-lead on a well-established drama, the producers promised they had no plans to kill anyone off. However, that was long before news of Katic’s exit, and therefore could still be on the table.

How the finale ends, however, all depends on whether Castle gets renewed. “If we hear that we’re not coming back, we have shot something that we can put at the end of the episode as a way to put a button on everything,” Hawley said. “Obviously that would be a bad thing because it would mean no more. We did it in order to try to protect the fans, because you can’t end the series on a cliffhanger.” Added fellow EP and co-showrunner Terence Paul Winter: “The hope is that it never sees the light of day.”

Either way, longtime Castle fans will get some closure — which also allows the producers to start a potential ninth season with a clean Katic-less slate. (Tamala Jones will also exit.) “There will be no more loose ends at the end of the season,” Winter said. “Everything will be answered; all mysteries from previous years will be wrapped up.”

“We wanted to turn it to 11, so to speak, and really challenge the characters and our actors and our director,” Hawley said. “We really gave them a dynamic episode that’s scary, it’s funny, and it’s emotional. That’s the finale — we figured we’d go big.”

Castle airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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