Around the Water Cooler: “Bones” – Season Nine and Season Ten Reflections and Progress Report – Where Are We Now? (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Reviewed by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Bones” currently airs on network TV, specifically on FOX, Fall to Spring Thursdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Bones,” a black comedy/procedural about forensic anthropologist Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel), her work, her colleagues, and her relationship with partner and lover, FBI Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz), who she assists in solving grisly murders by examining skeletons and bones for forensic evidence (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/bones/summary.html).

When: Season Nine aired from September 16, 2013, through May 19, 2014.  Season Ten aired from September 25, 2014, through June 11, 2015.

Where: The show is set in Washington DC and surrounds, primarily at a fictional institution, the Jeffersonian Institute, and the FBI.

Why: I initially tried watching this show because I love David Boreanaz, formerly known as Angel the vampire on his self-titled show and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I couldn’t get into it at first and stopped watching after two or three episodes because the crime procedural, which this program largely emulates, is not my cup of tea (I do not enjoy shows like Law and Order or CSI).  Yet, the show became very popular with friends and respected television critics and seemed to have some longevity, so a few years ago, when the show was made available on Netflix instant, I caught up, muscling through the first few episodes of the first season, which, in fact, are uneven, and learning to enjoy the unusual chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz.  Once the show found a solid cast and also explored story arcs with serial killers, not to mention toying with the sexual tension between Bones and Booth, it became a mainstay of my fall to spring television viewing.  All of the characters are lovable and engaging.  Except for Daisy the Squintern.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

When CPU! last visited Bones (starting a podcast can be time consuming), it was shortly after the ninth season had premiered, and the primary question before this viewer at the time was how much life did this program actually have left in it.  As I sit to type this post currently, in April 2016, an entry which promises to be one of strained memory and strange reflection on the ninth and tenth seasons, given that the show is currently halfway through airing its eleventh season, I now know the answer to that question. Earlier this winter, Fox announced that the twelfth season of Bones would be its last.  Plus, it would be shorter than usual, with the purpose of “wrapping up” story lines and character arcs.  My reaction to this announcement is a mixture of a complete lack of surprise and the insurmountable sense that the series finale is long overdue – in fact, I’m sorry to say, there was a certain relief in that announcement.  After watching through the end of the tenth season, to which this viewer is currently caught up, I felt very much that Bones had run its course but for all the new and interesting ways one might find mangled skeletons of murder victims, a conceit that could on its own, theoretically, last forever.

Don’t get me wrong.  What renders Bones endlessly watchable is its characters and the chemistry within its cast, from the easy but awkward banter between Brennan and Booth to the lovable support staff at the Jeffersonian, including the squinterns (even Daisy, at times).  It’s a magical mix of pleasant scientific discussion, dark humor, and quirky characters, and the actors, by this time, likely care deeply about each other. There’s a comfort to tuning in and watching the same formulaic episode amble by: a grotesquely destroyed skeleton is discovered, the Jeffersonian team with Dr. Brennan in the forefront concludes that the skeleton is the victim of foul play, and Bones and Booth mix time in the lab and in the field, piecing together clues to solve the murders.  These basic events are punctuated or highlighted by the personal crises of our main characters, but there is never an episode that doesn’t observe this pattern in some form.  It’s tried, and it’s true, but it doesn’t exactly make for compelling, appointment television viewing after nearly eleven full years on the air.  A point which will be discussed heavily when CPU! finally gets around to addressing the classic sitcom Cheers – but I digress.

Of course, complicating matters, the series leads have each filed lawsuits against the network, claiming that they were, essentially, cheated out of monies owed as executive producers and so forth.  To this viewer, then, the proof is in the striations on the L3 vertebrate of this set of skeletal remains.  It’s time for Bones to go, and I think a shortened twelfth season designed to be a long but loving goodbye is just the ticket.

Before CPU! or the viewing public can say a proper goodbye, though, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on some of the highlights of the last two seasons and bring the CPU! loyal (I hope you exist!) up to speed on where the show has been since we last checked into it here.  It should be noted that I suggested Bones as a possible podcast show before writing this post, but I had zero takers in terms of panelists. I have said before, notably in the review of Sleepy Hollow recently published, that our podcast is something of a microcosm of TV ratings.  I can tell just how well a show or program is doing by how much interest I have in starting a podcast panel.  While there was some mild but loyal interest from casual viewers when the show was discussed in social media, no one volunteered to join this loyal viewer in discussing it.  Really, given its story patterns and length of life, the lack of anything but mild yet uncommitted interest in this show does not instill surprise.  Bones is a quality program, particularly for fans of mysteries and procedural crime shows, but what else is there to cover?  What else is there to explore? What other ways are there to shock? What other jokes can be cracked?  Bones has nearly covered it all to date in its nearly full eleven season run, which is really why the show’s inevitable conclusion is long overdue.

This review will not zero in much on any particular case investigations or episodes, because that would be both time consuming and probably boring to read – not to mention detract from the need to watch it, I would think – but will momentarily reflect more globally on the serial strands of the plot, those continual story lines that formed umbrella arcs for each season.  After all, Bones is a mixture of episode by episode/case by case forensics and how Dr. Brennan’s (and the others’) work affects their lives and vice versa. The thin but guiding umbrella plots of Bones, the attempts at real story, will be the focus of CPU! because that is what we always focus on when we talk about our shows – in case you haven’t noticed. 😉

Season Nine

As of the ninth season premiere, Bones and Booth, as well as the team at the Jeffersonian, were still under threat of Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds), the hyper-intelligent computer genius and serial killer who saw Dr. Brennan as his most formidable adversary, as well as a perverse object of affection.   He wanted to best her as much as he wanted to have her, and he may have been the most frightening of the serial killers the FBI/Jeffersonian partnership has investigated in their time together, even if he wasn’t necessarily the most interesting.  I say this because Pelant was something of an arrogant, egomaniac type of psychopath, and his outlook on life and Brennan grew a bit tedious. Fortunately, his presence on the show was temporary.

Pelant threatened Booth in the Season 8 finale by indicating that he would murder five innocent people unless Booth told Bones, who had proposed to marry him after long declaring the institution of marriage to be a pointless construct for her own rigidly scientific and anthropologically ordered life, that he couldn’t marry her.  The premiere dealt with the aftermath of Booth’s retraction, indicating that in the three months between seasons, Booth doggedly searched for Pelant with the intent of killing him, while Bones puzzled through Booth’s consummate rejection of her proposal, which was a cataclysmic personal step for her.

The team eventually caught Pelant, devising a scheme that allowed them to be steps ahead of him rather than the other way around, though his legend continued to loom large for much of season nine.  As a result, Booth and Brennan finally married, with a fairly traditional wedding, no less.  This viewer recalls the wedding being equal parts touching and anticlimactic.  After all, this marriage was a long time in the making due to Brennan’s repeated rejections of typical sociological customs, preferring anthropological theory and the tried and true traditions of primitive but longstanding cultures to things like religion and weddings.  Booth and Bones will never agree on religious significance or a belief in God, yet they make it work, and we discover that Brennan has come a long way to at least accepting that people have these beliefs, even if she does not share them.  She wears a white wedding dress, and the whole affair is steeped in bells and whistles.  Funnily enough, Bones and Brennan go to Buenos Aires for their honeymoon, only to get caught up in a murder investigation, which they both seem to enjoy more than having an actual vacation/post-wedding week of bliss.  Oh, they are the strange but lovable couple.

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It is also in season nine when the viewer learns that Squintern Wendell Bray (Michael Grant Terry) has contracted life threatening lymphoma, which places his future in question.  The team rallies around him, including Brennan, who later admits that she sees Wendell as one of the most promising of her current interns.  My question: why does she need six interns? Where do the interns go when they are not guest starring in an episode? Also, they’re all pretty smart.  What makes them promising to Brennan nowadays? Wendell’s illness goes into remission in season ten, but it was heartbreaking when the announcement was made, nonetheless.  Wendell has the best rapport with the staff at the Jeffersonian, particularly Hodgins (TJ Thyne).

At the end of the season, Booth is offered a promotion to a higher position within the FBI, which places Bones and the Jeffersonian team under scrutiny as part of the background check leading up to that promotion.  Booth must also consider whether or not to accept the job when he and Bones have already spent considerable time during the season mulling over how their dangerous jobs place them at risk in terms of being a family unit, totally alive and able to care for their daughter, Christine.

Bones and Booth also confront a new serial killer, dubbed the Ghost Killer, who threatens Booth’s job prospects and his very livelihood.  The Ghost Killer essentially concocts a scheme that causes Booth to be wrongfully imprisoned, under suspicion and accused of being the Ghost Killer himself.  What’s more, it’s evident that the Ghost Killer may be working with – or may actually be – a high ranking official within the FBI, part of a larger FBI conspiracy to discredit certain officials in order to deflect suspicion from him/herself. By the end of the season nine finale, Booth is sent to prison, and Brennan, along with her friends at the Jeffersonian, resolve to clear Booth’s name and to get him out of lockup.

Season Ten

Season Ten, in turn, begins with a devastating loss.  Other than Bones, no one is more hellbent on saving Booth than Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley), the psychologist and friend to Booth and Brennan who sees Booth as something of a brother and best pal.  After Brennan engages in some questionable blackmail to spring Booth from the slammer (questionable in that it does not seem to come back to haunt her; she’s kind of lucky that way), everyone races to find a lead on who might be behind the conspiracy and the Ghost Killer. Sweets takes upon himself the task of serving a warrant to their best suspect.  The viewer learns before he does so that while Booth was in prison, Sweets sought solace with longtime on/off again girlfriend Daisy (Carla Gallo), which becomes important at the end of the episode.  While Sweets attempts to serve the warrant, he is shot in cold blood and dies tragically in Booth’s presence in the season ten premiere.  What’s more, we learn that Daisy is pregnant with Sweets’ kid.

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Apparently, Daley was involved in some other projects as a director and whatnot that required significant time off from Bones.  Rather than work around his schedule, the production team elected to invite his character to exit stage left to the big TV cemetery in the sky.  In this viewer’s opinion, the absence of the character Sweets was a devastating loss to the show. Though Daley and his character were later entries to the Bones cast roster, he was a valuable source of comic and tension relief, particularly with his unrelenting psychological scrutiny of Brennan and Booth and their opposites-attract relationship.  This scrutiny irked both of them equally despite their opposite personalities, just as the enduring analysis and faith that Sweets placed in the couple endeared him to them. Plus, they so often acknowledged Sweets to be one of their family; in many ways, he felt like the heart of the show, the voice of the every-man in this unusual world of murder and off-color coping humor, who could see through Brennan’s consummate clinical detachment and Booth’s unique displays of machismo and manly discomfort with emotion.

Thus, as season ten wore on, Bones felt a bit flatter without Daley, even as all of the characters were fundamentally dealing with his loss.  The show also assigned a new agency partner to Booth, a Special Agent Aubrey (John Boyd), who proved to be likable enough but never as endearing or as accessible as Sweets.  Let’s face it – it must also have been tough for this new actor to walk into this situation, as what was tantamount to a replacement to Daley. Character changeover like this usually signifies the life or death of a show depending upon how well it can recover; after all, it requires the viewer to suspend disbelief more and to remind him/herself that people die in real life too.  There’s always part of the television aficionado’s brain, however, that can’t quite stop saying in these instances, “But it’s a TV show.  They didn’t have to kill him!”  In this viewer’s mind, Bones has years of solid foundation to survive into later seasons with, but the cast dynamics and what made Bones work for so long were fundamentally changed by the loss of Daley, and not for the better, in this viewer’s opinion.

Aubrey, as a character, does prove that he is good for a few things; he agrees to help Booth look deeper into the conspiracy that resulted in his frame-up, but it turns out that the “Ghost Killer” is really a somewhat random doctor and self-described patriot who was attempting to acquire power by allowing the rich to run amok and killing anyone who threatened to expose him.  His name was Doctor Durant, and he appeared to be cooperating with their investigation only to hide his true motives.  Early in season ten, it is extremely unclear as to how exactly he fits into the overall conspiracy or why there was a conspiracy intimated at all, other than the arrogance of the doctor and his attempt to undermine government.  Maybe there was an explanation, and I missed it; I think they incarcerate the FBI insider, a superior of Booth’s, but as I recall when watching it, the reasoning behind the conspiracy was thin, and the resolve was a bit too quick for the heaviness of such a story line, and its potential long-term ramifications on our characters, to be a satisfying conclusion to this viewer.

Notably, season ten also features the 200th episode, which was directed by David Boreanaz.  The episode itself is one of Bones’ stranger offerings, as it features our beloved characters in 1950s Hollywood, pretending to be other versions of themselves, solving the murder of a wealthy socialite in Hitchcockian fashion.  It bears absolutely nothing on the overall show’s overarching plot, but it was an interesting, stylized distraction very much in keeping with Boreanaz’s sense of humor as perceived in interviews; plus, I may or may not be following him on Twitter.  Hey!  He was Angel!.

Speaking of Twitter, one of the most memorable episodes of the tenth season, and possibly more memorable than the 200th episode, featured Squintern Jessica (who may be more grating than Daisy and is played by Laura Spencer) teaching Bones how to promote herself and her books on social media at her publisher’s request, particularly Twitter, and the art of the “selfie.” As it turns out, Brennan is just as susceptible as anyone to the addiction of gaining thousands of followers; in fact, Jessica creates something of a monster in Brennan, which produces some laughable reactions from Booth, Cam (Tamara Taylor), Angela (Michaela Conlin), and the rest of the staff at the museum.

Halfway through season ten, the team investigates the murder of a high-stakes gambler, which eventually necessitates Booth having to go undercover and play in an underground poker game in order to suss out the murderer.  This is problematic because Booth is a recovering gambling addict, and the traumas of the year weigh heavy on him, from his wrongful incarceration, which was particularly rough on him given the separation from his family, to the death of Sweets.  In the last half of season ten, Booth starts gambling in secret again, even as Brennan discovers that she is pregnant with hers and Booth’s second child together.  As Booth’s addiction resurfaces, Brennan finds herself in a position to ask Aubrey to protect her and Christine from Booth’s bookie, who starts showing up at their house with the stereotypical threats and postures.  Brennan subsequently requests that Booth move out until he gets help, which does provide him impetus to get better.

In addition, Squintern Arastoo (Pej Vahdat), who has remained romantically involved with Cam, is called back to Iran to save his brother, after years of his family being in political exile under threat of death.  He agrees to go under the risk of being caught by the Iranian government.  As it turns out, an Iranian parliament member baits Arastoo back with information that was meant to be more of a threat than an actuality in order to solve a murder potentially involving his grown child.  This causes Cam and Booth to fly to Iran themselves, risking their lives, in order to help Arastoo; if I recall correctly, the incident and Cam’s great personal risk eventually results in a proposal of marriage from Arastoo. In any event, the Iranian parliament member agrees to smuggle Arastoo and the others out of the country again after the team brilliantly analyzes the forensic evidence.

And if you’re wondering what has been happening with Angela and Hodgins this whole time, they remain supportive and true friends to everyone else with very little contribution to the overall story, at least until Hodgins invents a polymer that is virtually indestructible while experimenting in the lab (he’s always “king of the lab,” you know).  He patents it and gains back the wealth he lost when his family fortune evaporated.  This new-found wealth and the trauma the Hodgins’ have faced themselves cause them to seriously consider leaving their jobs at the Jeffersonian; in fact, Angela wants to move to Paris, after a period of time growing dissatisfied with her job as a digital recreation artist, developing ennui, opining that she is tired of being confronted with death each day, and yearning to return to her artistic pursuits.

Angela and Jack’s decision then causes Booth and Brennan to want a fresh start, given all they had been through in the past year.  By the end of the tenth season, Booth and Brennan, who reconcile after Booth seeks help for his addiction, decide to look for other jobs and to move away from Washington DC.  In fact, the tenth season finale feels very much like a series finale, with each of the main character’s fates seemingly decided and the band at the Jeffersonian breaking up as they pursue other gigs and other life journeys. This viewer expects that the Bones team did not foresee an eleventh season renewal (or more) and attempted to create a Friends-esque finale, where each of our close knit group of scientists, law enforcers, and friends grow up and away from each other.  The tenth season finale also was not plagued by a cliffhanger of some sort, really, when in years past, each season ended with uncertainty as to the fate of Brennan’s and Booth’s romance or under threat from a serial killer.

In fact, as with Bones’ and Booth’s wedding in season nine, the end of season ten felt anticlimactic, landing with a soft thud that felt like a goodbye but one that was both expected and possibly embraced by everyone involved.  While both seasons nine and ten offered some enjoyable cases, the individual case situations remained predictable and comfortable, even as the writers attempted to shake up the status quo with shocking deaths and the return of old demons.  It will be interesting to catch up on season eleven and find out how our team has re-formed again or if they did so at all. Either way, if the writers/producers have stories left to tell, hopefully they observe the routine enough to pay the necessary amount of homage prior to that series finale while shaking it up just enough to alleviate the growing ennui many viewers have expressed experiencing in internet comment forums.

I have to admit, I may be one of their number.  It’s hard to get excited about the idea of watching Bones anymore, if this viewer ever felt such excitement, but it’s still enjoyable when I finally do sit down to watch it.  Hopefully, the show will coast gracefully toward its series finale with the appropriate amount of fanfare, nostalgia, sincerity, and closure to leave fans satisfied, if enough of them haven’t been dissuaded by the events of the ninth and tenth (and beyond) seasons. Long-running shows of this measure are rare in today’s television landscape; still, some are better candidates for extended renewals than others. Likely time will tell if Bones was really one of the deserving ones or whether it should have ended earlier, in a stronger, less anticlimactic way.

CPU! will visit seasons eleven and likely twelve as we catch up to them rather than with any kind of regularity, given the waning interest in the show within the personal circle of your Chief Couch Potato, particularly as our podcast continues to develop. Speaking of our podcast, our next new episode will be released one week from today! Several panelists are undergoing huge life changes: new jobs, having babies, taking trips (it must be the moon phase), but we have a host of new offerings on our plate, including revisits for Downton Abbey, How to Get Away with Murder, and the X-Files miniseries, and we have new panels in the works (can someone say Jessica Jones and the DC Television Universe?). You won’t want to miss them!

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Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Where is Pelant, and how omnipresent will he be this season?  How quickly will this looming obstacle to Booth and Bones’ eternal happiness be resolved?

ANSWER: Pelant’s story line is wrapped up fairly quickly in season nine; Booth and Brennan are able to marry without the looming threats of the serial killer by the sixth episode of season nine after Booth finally shoots Pelant dead in the fourth episode. Pelant’s wily tricks included a sincere attempt to ensnare and seduce Bones; in fact, Pelant seems to solve the mystery surrounding a female serial killer that the team was investigating before Bones did, and he’s always held a protracted fascination for Brennan.  Brennan, despite all of her tough talk, is unable to put an end to Pelant’s life herself, even under threat to her own, and ultimately watches as Booth does what he always said he would do: protect the woman he loves.

2) Are all of the squinterns coming back?  Can Daisy just leave?

ANSWER: Daisy will be around for awhile because she had Lance Sweets’ baby, and Booth was named godfather.  The only squintern that did not return from season nine to ten was Mr. Fisher, the perennially depressed intern, whose portrayer, Joel David Moore, got a part on the short-lived Forever, as a forensic scientist no less.  Bones picked up a couple of new interns along the way, though.

3) How are Cam and Arastoo doing?  I find that relationship charming, and there is so little focus on it.

ANSWER: Cam and Arastoo were still going strong in seasons nine and ten, though preliminary research tells me that life gets bumpier for them in season eleven.

4) Are Angela and Hodgins going to be given any interesting story lines this year?

ANSWER: Not really.  They play the supportive best friends and comic relief well, but throughout seasons nine and ten, they had no meaty story lines of their own, as Bones and Booth took center stage.  Even Cam and Arastoo’s relationship and some of the squinterns’ personal struggles, not to mention the heartbreaking death of Sweets, were given more focus.  They are likable but ultimately do not propel the story forward much, except in their contributions to individual episodes and case investigations and as stalwart friends to Brennan.

5) Will Sweets find love?

ANSWER: Apparently, he determined that Daisy was his soulmate, right before he died. That’s how TV works sometimes.  Ask Joss Whedon.

6) Bones told Booth, in the end of the premiere, that though she knows he loves her still (and Christine, their daughter), and though she knows they will someday get married, it will be his turn to propose to her.  How will Booth do it – because you know it’s going to happen this season?

ANSWER: You know, I think it was just Booth proposing to Brennan shortly after he shot Pelant.  Pelant was the final obstacle to their ultimate wedding, and with him out of the way, he asked Brennan to marry him.  Of course, she answered, “If I say yes, will it happen?” Or something like that.

New Questions

1) The only or biggest question that this viewer has about Bones anymore is where can the story possibly go after the tenth season finale?  It felt rather wrapped up in a neat little bow, but since it was renewed…

2) Will Cam and Arastoo get married?  If not, why not?

3) Will the Jeffersonian band get back together?  If so, how?

4) Whatever happened to Clark (Eugene Byrd), who was promoted from intern?  He occasionally helped on some cases and spent his free time on guest stints on Arrow, but what is he really doing with his time in the world of Bones?

5) How can there possibly be two more seasons left to this show?

PARTING SHOTS

Funnily enough, in this viewer’s last round of parting shots, I suggested that Bones should get pregnant again.  So, another lingering question: what will she do with two children to mold according to her unique beliefs?

Bones remains quality television with a dedicated team of writers, producers, and actors, but at the same time, this one feels stretched thin, like there’s really nowhere to go with it, like butter spread over too much bread.  It’s hard to imagine what is left to tell in the story of these characters’ lives, and CPU! and its lone viewer (i.e. me) is not exactly chomping at the bit to find out. The cases are still interesting, the remains (and particulates) still disgusting, and the chemistry among the cast still easy, but now, it feels too safe and too flat.  As Buffy sang, where do we go from here?  Are you a Bones fan? What do you think of the show nowadays?

LOOKING AHEAD:

Bones is currently halfway through its eleventh season, having been on mid-season hiatus since December 10, 2015.  It will return to Fox Thursdays at 8:00 PM with new episodes on April 14, 2016.  In the meantime, Fox has renewed Bones for a twelfth and final season with a reduced number of episodes, 12 as opposed to over 20, to wrap up story lines.  It has not been announced whether this new season will premiere in fall 2016 or at mid-season (such as winter or spring of 2017).  As always, CPU! will keep you updated! CPU! will continue to cover Bones; however, this show will not be covered as often or as in time as shows that we touch upon in our podcast episodes.  On the other hand, if you would like CPU! to podcast about Bonessend us an email at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com or comment on this post or in our guestbook (click the upper left dialog box in the picture of the TV watcher). We are always seeking new panelists and fans of TV; plus, we want to know what you want to listen to and/or talk about!  We take requests!  Until next time!

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One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · April 6, 2016

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