This past week, after eight thrilling seasons, ABC’s Castle came to a close. When the critically-acclaimed crime drama was not renewed for a ninth season, the Season 8 finale “Crossfire” became the series finale. The decision by ABC to cancel the series shocked many, though some fans preferred that it end here. And with good reason.
Last month, word came that Castle co-star Stana Katic was not going to return for Season 9. The news was met with heartbreak and outrage. Many fans vowed that they would refuse to watch the show without Beckett. If you’ve been with the show from the beginning (or even if you haven’t), you probably understand why. Beckett was an integral part of it and as key to its success as Castle himself. Fortunately, ABC understood this as well and made the decision to pull the plug.
Though confident that the show could go on, the writers filmed two endings for the finale in case they didn’t pick up Season 9. The backup scene (which ended up airing) wasn’t as much an alternate ending as it was an added epilogue. (If you’ve seen the finale, you know what I mean.) The original ending, leaving Beckett and Castle gravely injured, struggling to stay alive, set up how Beckett would have left the show. But instead, their story ends seven years after the fact, having breakfast with their three children. This last minute fan-servicing scene has garnered mixed responses from fans. But hey, Caskett babies had to happen eventually, right?
What might have happened, though, if the show was renewed? What if Season 8 left the couple lying wounded on the floor? What if ABC gave a Beckett-less Castle a shot? As I said before, it certainly wouldn’t be the same, with just one half of its crime-fighting duo. So what would Season 9 have been like?
Back to the Basics
With Stana Katic’s untimely departure in April, the show’s writers announced her last episodes would conclude the LokSat story (which was the prominent focus this season). Season 9 would then bring the show back into its original case-of-the-week format, without any overarching plot lines. It’s hard to tell how this would have gone over. On the one hand, some of Castle‘s best episodes are its standalone cases, away from any season-spanning story arcs. On the other, the show was at its peak performance during Seasons 4 through 6, as the “Beckett Conspiracy” kicked into high gear.
Of course, most of these longer-term stories focused heavily on Beckett, so maybe the writers thought removing one would negate the other. Season 9 reportedly would have been shorter anyway (about 13 episodes). Maybe a little wrap-up season could have served the show well after the craziness of Season 8. Even better than an epilogue with Caskett kids? Well, I’ll leave that one up to you.
Alexis’s Big Shot
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Alexis Castle is badass. Played by the impeccable Molly C. Quinn, her track record of case-working and wit rivals that of even her father. Her shining moments throughout the series have had fans thinking that she might have taken over as the show’s star. As awesome as she is, she was criminally underutilized in several episodes where she really could have stood much more screen time. That’s one of the very few reasons I actually hoped that the show would continue. With Beckett gone, Season 9 may very well have seen more of Alexis’s kick-ass crime solving. I’m not saying she’s a worthy substitute for Beckett, but come on! Get her back in the action already! Fingers crossed for an Alexis-centered spinoff.
The New Beckett?
Speaking of Alexis, our favorite red-headed junior detective made a new friend this season. Former MI6 agent Hayley Shipton was introduced in the Season 8 premiere as a key component to the LokSat story. She quickly bonded with Alexis and became a trusted ally of Rick’s. A very trusted ally. In fact, there were almost as many Alexis/Hayley bonding moments in this season alone as there were Alexis/Beckett moments in the entire series. When I combine that with how many cases she played a major role in, I can only conclude that she’d have essentially replaced Beckett as Castle’s experienced homicide-solving partner in Season 9.
Yeah, I have trouble picturing that too. As much as I like Hayley and Alexis, those are some darn big shoes to fill.
If I’m being totally honest, I’m glad that the show ended here, wrapping up the Beckett Conspiracy once and for all. We may still wonder, “What if the show went on without Beckett?” Even if there were more stories yet to tell, Castle ends on a fitting (however campy) epilogue that sums up the series for what it truly is: Castle and Beckett. That’s all we’re left with, and it’s enough.