'Castle' Preview: Fanning the Flames of 'Nikki Heat'
'Castle' Preview: Fanning the Flames of 'Nikki Heat'
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Castle returns from its midseason break on January 3 with matchmakers, doppelgangers and movie stars. And things get very interesting, very fast.

The murder of the week -- featuring a dead matchmaker left in an alley -- is actually pretty interesting. But it's hardly worth caring about when compared to the arrival of Natalie Rhodes, the actress set to portray Nikki Heat in the upcoming film adaptation of Castle's novel.

Since Heat is based on Beckett, the actress shows up in New York to shadow the police during an investigation. As played by Laura Prepon (of That 70s Show fame), Natalie is the star of several slasher films, including Knife 2 and Hallow-Scream. She's known for her in-depth character research as well, having spent a full month living in a crawlspace for her role in the aptly titled Hell's Crawlspace.

It's Castle who initially resists Natalie's shining presence. This is probably because she doesn't recognize him, never having read the "Nikki Heat" books. Beckett, on the other hand, is both flattered and amused by the actress' presence.
Then things get interesting. Natalie steals Beckett's coffee. She cocks her head at the murder board. There's some hair dye and new, Beckett-style clothing. And then Natalie actually reads Heat Wave and picks up on the "fictional" sexual tension between the book's leads. Cue a seduction of Castle for "research" purposes. As the actress tells Beckett: "When I'm done, I'll do you better than you."

Beckett doesn't like Natalie Rhodes so much after that.

Oh, and there's a marriage proposal in the works as well. Just don't get too excited -- it's Ryan who's proposing to his oft-mentioned but rarely-seen girlfriend. Of course, Castle makes it all about himself, first pretending to consider accepting Ryan's proposal and then jokingly offering the ring to Beckett (awkward! awesome!).

Will Beckett get jealous of Natalie's influence on Castle? Will Natalie go full-on Single White Female? Did you even remember that Ryan had a girlfriend? Let us know in the comments section below!

(Images and video courtesy of ABC)