Bones: “The Bullet in the Brain”

I worry sometimes that Bones is going to exhaust itself, that it will die a slow, painful death because it just can’t seem to come up with anything new. Alternatively, I worry when the show tries new things that are just so ridiculous or awful or uncalled for that it seems like cancellation would be a mercy to all of us. But alternatively again, sometimes Bones truly outdoes itself with moments of sheer brilliance. And maybe that inconsistency is really the best way for a show to survive? Gotta wonder.

I mention this series of worries of mine because they all surfaced while and after watching the latest episode, “The Bullet in the Brain.” It all started with the word “Gravedigger.” My initial reaction? Seriously? The Gravedigger? Can’t we, like, move on? I mean really. The Gravedigger’s been around since freaking S1. Isn’t it time to put this to rest? Thankfully, the answer to that last question was a resounding “yes!,” as indicated by a sniper assassination that is possibly the most disgusting thing that Bones has ever done. Seriously. That was disgusting. Slime? Sure. Rotting flesh? Absolutely. That half-dissolved body in the second part of the episode? Totally in favor. But the exploding head and residual brain matter goo puddle was just…eesh. I actually almost wanted to be sick.* I guess the special effects team deserves some congratulations.

…back to the subject- not brain-matter at hand. The pertinent point of all this is that they did finally get rid of the fricking Gravedigger. That absolutely had my approval. I’m even a supporter of Heather Taffet’s final act of completely throwing Sweets off his game. Deirdre Lovejoy gave a last, fantastic performance of absolute creepiness. And we all got to see Sweets go through some personal growth and development that didn’t involve Daisy. Plus, we were treated to not just another appearance by Caroline Julian (Patricia Belcher) but a moment that was so uncharacteristically touching and yet totally believable, the character may have finally crossed the threshold into multi-dimensionality.

So much for the good news. As far as the Gravedigger issues, the Sweets moments, and the procedural content of the episode are concerned, “The Bullet in the Brain” is a fabulous episode. The sadly short-lived but exciting appearance by Arnold Vosloo was a particular highlight for me**. Unfortunately, that is all secondary to the true main element of Bones which is, as we are all well aware, the Brennan and Booth relationship.

Frankly, as of this season, I am starting to get tired of it. I have my limits as far as how long I am willing to be strung along. Brennan’s refusal to give in to feelings last season was absolutely heartbreaking. I won’t deny that I did feel a certain about of emotional crushing, especially when they whole team parted ways at the end of the season. That said, unlike many Bones fans*, I’m finding Hannah, the character herself and her function as a way to totally interrupt the B&B will-they-won’t-they nonsense, to be an absolute godsend. I love her. I love the development. I love the way that it has been pushing the characters and actors – Brennan/Emily Deschanel especially – to explore different depths. I would actually be genuinely delighted if Hannah/Katheryn Winnick became a permanent fixture.

But as I said, the Booth and Brennan relationship is the lifeblood of the show and I’m afraid that “The Bullet in the Brain” was an indication that the end is near. The strongest hint came from the appearance of Brennan’s father. Of course I am always delighted to see Ryan O’Neal as Max Keenan. However, the inclusion of him on the suspect list for a crime that he was obviously incapable of is a sadly thin premise on which to bring him in so he can ask the awkward questions about why Booth and Brennan aren’t together and bring the concept of “they are not but they ought to be” back to the front of all our minds.

That heavy-handed harbinger moment was more than enough, thankyouverymuch. But, sadly, it was not all. The worst (read: most disappointing) thing for me came in the very final moments of the episode via Booth staring out the window at happy Brennan with intense-non-specific-emotion-vision. Since the episode was directed by David Boreanaz, I don’t think I am making an unreasonable cognitive leap by seeing that shot as a Very Strong Hint straight from the innerworkings of Booth’s mind. The message? Booth, despite all his denials, is not over Brennan. At all. And yeah, we knew that, no surprise there. Doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.

A return to the old routine of Booth and Brennan skirting around each other carefully while the rest of the characters and millions of fanshippers pant with anticipation was pretty much inevitable. I know that. I will just have to get over my disappointment that the day has finally come. Disappointment aside, I am still worried. Very worried, that Bones is going to get boring again. That we’ve reached the end of the track and now we’re just going to loop right back to the beginning and do it all over again. Will it make me stop watching the show? No. I watch Bones for reasons other than the B&B relationship, so even intense displeasure with developments there won’t really diminish my enjoyment of or dedication to the show. I’ll keep watching. I’ll just have to resign myself to occasional moments of critical displeasure.

*Recall that I’m the gal who gets a huge kick out of nasty gooiness most of the time.

**Especially since there was maybe sort of a slight indication that he might be coming back.

***I’m only guessing this is true. But I’d be willing to bet.


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