[This post contains SPOILERS for the Castle series finale.]

As far as series finales go, the final episode of Castle is something of a special case. It’s not entirely unheard of for programs to go into their last hour without knowing whether or not it will be the actual end of things; so naturally, there being some loose ends to be tied up in either case, two endings to the series were shot. After all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that unfolded over the last few weeks regarding Stana Katic’s contract not being renewed by ABC, it seemed as though the long-running procedural was headed into a ninth season that would fundamentally alter the landscape of the show and likely its place in the hearts of its devoted fan base. In other words: the prospect of a Beckett-less season of Castle had all the makings of a somewhat depressing affair.

After all, in addition to starting out life as a fun, sometimes silly procedural with a witty lead in Nathan Fillion as the James Patterson-like crime novelist Richard Castle, the series was increasingly built around the idea that its two leads were in the midst of a long, “epic” romance. Given all that had transpired between the two over the course of eight seasons, it’s reasonable to suggest that Castle itself was really a love story built inside the framework of a typical procedural. That’s likely a big part of why the show’s fan base was so loyal for so long and why the possibility of the series signing off with a truncated final season that would ostensibly put its title character in mourning sounded like a rather odious proposition.

This romance – or Caskett, as it had become known – wasn’t a Moonlightingesque will they or won’t they question that, once answered in the affirmative, ruins the dynamic of the show. Castle was clearly built to move its characters through this sort of progression, something that was made clear with the show eventually moving past the usual stage of heavy romantic tension and unrequited, unspoken feelings that begin to feel mechanical after a while, and into a fully realized relationship that progressed all the way to marriage. So, in that sense, Castle is something of a special case: a television romance that manages to keep the viewers’ interest and devotion long after the initial spark of attraction has turned into the gently roaring fire of genuine affection and love.

Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion in Castle Season 8 Episode 22 Castle Series Finale: A Fitting End to a Love Story For the Ages?

Given the level of importance the series finale ‘Crossfire’ puts on the notion of Castle and Beckett’s feelings for one another, and the “epic romance” they share – as Mr. Flynn puts it while interrogating Castle as part of the show’s amusingly outlandish storyline involving spies and the CIA and especially the mysterious LokSat – the thought of Beckett not surviving her injuries in the final moments doesn’t just sound like a massive misstep, it sounds like it would have been aggressively insensitive and nasty towards the show’s audience. And so, the decision to end the series and to give those who’ve likely been around since the beginning a hasty but nonetheless optimistic send-off becomes a sort of welcome consolation.

Therefore, the scene in which Caleb emerges from nowhere to shoot Castle in his kitchen, only to be gunned down by Beckett who is also (seemingly) mortally wounded in the exchange, definitely doesn’t care how much the seams are showing. It very clearly sets up either ending – Beckett dies or they both live – in such a way that, even if the contract disputes and the back-and-forth regarding the series’ continuation hadn’t been part of the public conversation prior to the finale, something close to the truth definitely would have been theorized at some point.

Of course, the dreamy and very brief look at Castle and Beckett’s child-filled future will likely spawn plenty of theories on its own, but taken at face value (which it really should be) the ending does register as the truest in tone with regard to the essence of the show. To see Castle and Beckett happy, seemingly fulfilled and living their best life makes the most sense and, mercifully, isn’t a slap-in-the-face finale like so many other shows try to pull off in their final moments. It may feel a little perfunctory and it definitely lacks in nuance, but there’s genuineness to it that suggests showrunners Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter had a difficult assignment in finding a way to close the door on the show in a definitive manner (without necessarily locking the door – you know, just in case) and that they did their best given the less-than-optimal conditions they were working with.

Stana Katic as Beckett and Nathan Fillion as Castle in Castle Castle Series Finale: A Fitting End to a Love Story For the Ages?

In a full statement released by the showrunners and made available by Deadline, the two thanked the show’s loyal fans and series creator Andrew Marlowe. It reads:

“While we’re still trying to process all the emotions stirred up by recent events, the feeling that stands head and shoulders above all else, is gratitude.

“Eight seasons. A hundred and seventy three episodes.

“None of it would have been possible without you — our loyal and passionate fans. You are the reason this show survived and thrived. Without you carving out “Castle Mondays” every week, we would never have been able to make the show we love for as long as we did.

“So thank you.

“And thanks to Andrew Marlowe for creating such a delightful world, centered around a love story for the ages. It was an honor and privilege to shepherd the story of Castle and Beckett this season.

“And finally, thank you to our cast and crew, who have been our family for these last eight years. Who elevated every script by investing the best of themselves into each episode. We will miss you profoundly.”

Nathan Fillion and Gerald McRaney Castle Season 8 Episode 22 Castle Series Finale: A Fitting End to a Love Story For the Ages?

It is a good bet that Hawley and Winter would have liked more time to devote to the individual stories of not only their principle characters but also the supporting cast as well. As it turns out, ‘Crossfire’ had its hands full answering the identity of LokSat with Gerald McRaney and presumably making the world safe enough for Castle and Beckett that they felt the need to put three more people in it. Still, the hastiness with which the series wrapped up left Detectives Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Ryan (Seamus Dever), as well as Castle’s mother Martha (Susan Sullivan) and daughter Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) without a definitive end to their ancillary but still important arcs.

‘Crossfire’ gets a pass because it is able to deliver the one ending that really matters. The fact that it is feels so rushed and only has time to focus on a scenario that might as well be H.I. McDunnough’s dream of a family-filled future from Raising Arizona is less the result of a creative gaffe and more the consequence of contract negotiations forcing the narrative into an ill-fitting corner. In the end, this was the hand the creators were dealt, and at least they managed to shine some light on an otherwise unfortunate situation.

What did you think of the Castle series finale? Let us know in the comments below.

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