‘Bones’ premiere delivers for longtime fans
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 03:10
Over the course of its nine seasons, Fox’s “Bones” has progressively edged towards the extremes, with the silly episodes sillier, the gruesome human remains more graphic and the villains even darker. At the same time, the constant ups and downs of the characters’ personal lives have made “Bones” seem almost soap opera-esque, while the ridiculousness of the cases has sometimes transformed the show into a pseudo-sitcom. Yet there is something endearing about “Bones” that has managed to keep viewers hooked for this long, and the start of season nine — in all its cheesiness — proves just why “Bones” fans have kept watching through thick and thin (or skin and bone).
Premiering in 2005, “Bones” is a crime comedy-drama about the personal and professional relationships between FBI agent Seeley Booth (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” David Boreanaz) and forensic anthropologist Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel). The brilliant and hyper-rational Bones works with her colleagues and friends, including forensic artist Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin), entomologist Jack Hodgens (TJ Thyne), psychologist Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) and pathologist Camille Soroyan (Tamara Taylor) in the fictional Jeffersonian Institute. Here, she studies human remains to solve murders with the help of partner — and, as of season eight, boyfriend — Booth. The show has the crime-scene and anatomical lingo of “NCIS” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” the dark subject material of “House” and the humor of a sitcom, all wrapped up in one.
Season nine picks up where the series left off, with the team investigating both the usual murder cases as well as focusing its attention on catching serial murderer and “hacktivist” Christopher Pelant, who has been Bones’ long-term bad guy since the seventh season. Pelant seems to have eyes everywhere, and scattered throughout the episodes are reminders of his Big Brother-like presence. Although “Bones” fans have seen their share of super-villains — with names like Grave Digger and Gormogon — Pelant is by far the most terrifying. His extreme intelligence and computer skills make him untouchable, and it is his smoke-like ability to just fall off the grid that makes hunting him so frustrating. Though he never actually appears in the first two episodes, his presence fundamentally changes the mood of the show.
The first episode of the season begins three months after Pelant warns Booth that he will kill innocent people if Booth marries Brennan, causing Booth to act reluctant to wed. The dramatic tension between the heartbroken and distant Brennan and the guilt-ridden Booth is hard to watch — in the best way. After seasons of sexual tension building between the then-platonic pair, to see their romance so short-lived is yet another dangling carrot. Still, the nuances of the strained relationship prove that “Bones” is more than just a crime show. The audience cannot assign itself to a side, and one feels a special connection to the characters and becomes invested in their happiness. Though the crime portion of the episode gives structure to the plotline, “Bones” has become more about human relationships than forensic anthropology. More often than not, the viewer remembers an episode for the Booth-Brennan development rather than the case being investigated.
Though the second episode has the levity of previous trademark silly episodes — in one particular scene, Brennan and Booth go undercover to a marriage retreat — it is disconcerting that the two are not pursuing Pelant because it means he is still at large. The viewer becomes paranoid — every victim could be Pelant’s, and every phone call and e-mail could be from him. Though extended villain-based episodes are not the norm on the show, it is now impossible to imagine a “Bones” world in which Pelant wasn’t present — he is both ephemeral and terrifying. With Pelant, the show has become darker in the best of ways, and it will be interesting to eventually see “Bones” immerse itself into a world without this villain.
Viewers don’t watch “Bones” for the accuracy or realism of the cases. “Bones” is about the lives of brilliant, surprisingly real and vulnerable people. And as long as the viewer goes in expecting character development over realistic crime-scenes, season nine will not disappoint.