Michael Ausiello
September 16, 2010 AT 09:29 PM EDT

Image Credit: Mike Coppola/WireImage.comCastle is setting the stage for one helluva cat-and-mouse game, pitting Castle and Beckett against one of their most worthy adversaries yet: ex-Oz inmate Lee Tergesen.

Sources confirm that Tergesen has been cast in the potentially recurring role of Gates, a shrewd, hardened, and violent felon who becomes the prime suspect in this season’s big “3XK” serial-killer investigation.

Tergesen’s character turns up in episode 7 when Castle and Beckett ID him as the Triple Killer (a.k.a. 3XK), a serial murderer who strangled six women four years earlier and has now struck again. As coolheaded as he is cold-blooded, Gates is more than a match for Beckett and Castle.

“He’s going to be somebody that really ends up challenging Beckett and Castle,” reveals exec producer Andrew W. Marlowe. “Castle and Beckett have cracked every case that they’ve been on, and we want to introduce somebody who is more of a worthy opponent to Beckett’s police skills and Castle’s story skills.”

Season 3 of Castle kicks off on Sept. 20.

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