May 20, 2014

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “Bones”


Like a middle schooler suddenly realizing that final exams are around the corner, the mostly tired 9th season of BONES went into overdrive tonight to deliver a super-dramatic season finale.

The season had inherited a bummer of a cliffhanger from Season 8:  Booth (David Boreanaz) was blackmailed by petulant recurring serial killer Pelant (Christopher Leeds) into breaking his engagement with true love Brennan (Emily Deschanel), and not allowed to tell her why.  Brennan being a genius and all, it wasn’t long until she figured out something was up, and a few episodes into the season, Pelant was finally dispatched–but not before he could provide hints to Brennan of another foe, the Ghost Killer.  Bones seemed to have very little interest in that Ghost Killer plot once it was introduced; for a long while, no one would even believe Brennan that the killer existed, and then the murders were abruptly solved.

With just about all the show’s central characters in stable romantic relationships, much of Season 9 was a more standard procedural than Bones has historically been.  The writers put some work into the Jeffersonian’s interns, including an oddly dark (although inspirational) storyline in which Wendell (Michael Grant Terry) contracted a usually deadly form of cancer.  A pair of new interns were tried out for size, Fuentes (Ignacio Serricchio) and Warren (Laura Spencer), with the latter seemingly more likely to hang around, since she was immediately put into a romance with Sweets (John Frances Daley).  The rest of the time, although the easy chemistry among the ensemble remains strong, the series struggled to find something new or interesting to say about any of its characters, with contrivances like Sweets leaving the squad for a while to work as a street therapist and Cam (Tamara Taylor) as the victim of identity theft.

The season finale, written by Executive Producers Stephen Nathan and Jonathan Collier, and directed by Boreanaz, returned to an angle of the Ghost Killer plot, which was the surmise that someone at the FBI had been covering up those murders for years.  This re-emerged as likely after the slaying of an ex-reporter who’d been about to leak secret information to Booth about the Ghost Killer’s wealthy family, and led to the reveal that Navy SEALs had killed the reporter, and that someone was blackmailing just about everyone (including a gay Congressman) to derail Booth’s upcoming promotion to a job in Berlin (which obviously was never going to happen anyway, since it would have disrupted the future of Bones).  After some hugger-mugger about top-secret intel being stored on the victim’s nipple ring–which luckily survived his not-so-spontaneous combustion–Booth deliberately leaked the fact that he had all the damaging information the reporter had gathered.  The result was one of the biggest action scenes Bones has ever featured, creditably directed by Boreanaz, as the SEAL assassination team came after Booth in his and Brennan’s house.  He was shot several times, and although he survived his wounds, the cliffhanger had both him and Brennan arrested for defending themselves against the assassins, who they were told had merely been FBI agents delivering a warrant.

It all certainly left a situation with bigger stakes than last season’s cliffhanger, and it’ll be interesting to see just how deeply Bones will be willing to delve into 24-type government conspiracy plotting next season and depart from its usual lighthearted murder-of-the-week format.  The series has definitely needed something to liven it up–it’s just not clear whether this path is the right one.  Alternatively, the show could hastily resolve the storyline in the first few episodes next fall and move back to its more comfortable track.

Bones has been a valuable series for FOX, because although it’s not a blockbuster hit, it has a loyal audience that follows it just about anywhere on the schedule, and as other longrunning series on the network like Glee, New Girl and American Idol have been socked with ratings declines, its numbers have remained fairly stable.  In the fall, it makes yet another move, opening up Thursday night against heavy competition (first the NFL and then Big Bang Theory on CBS, and Grey’s Anatomy on ABC) as lead-in to FOX’s dark new crime drama Gracepoint.  That’s going to be a challenge, and Bones will need to have a big start, or the heavily serialized Gracepoint won’t have any chance at all.  It’s quite a burden for a 10-year old series to carry, and next season will likely determine whether Bones is vital enough to continue indefinitely, or if this will be the start of the show’s road to retirement.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."