Knowing that Pelant would be back for the finale, and expecting another typical Pelant episode full of byzantine clues and computer hacking magic, I had pre-written in my head a brief spiel comparing him to the Batman villain The Riddler: Both The Riddler and Pelant harbor a desire to mock their respective nemeses through puzzles, to prove their superiority. They both feel a burning need to be noticed by the only people they think worthy of their massive intellects. I might've kept it if the last few minutes of the Season 8 finale hadn't just so utterly made my eyes roll right out of my head.
I've never been super invested in the Brennan/Booth relationship, but I do like them more together than apart, if only because Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz have a great deal of chemistry, and I'd rather see that channeled into depictions of a happy couple than endless unresolved sexual and romantic tension. So the developments with Christine and the couple's cohabitation led to something that's a bit rare in primetime dramas: a happy, healthy relationship between two consenting adults. They don't have huge fights, and they're capable of working through their differences because they love each other and complement each other's strengths and weaknesses as people.
Because of that, the beef jerky and talk of "attraction cycles" at the start of the episode were delightfully couple-y without being too much. There was an authenticity to it that only comes from the the build-up this relationship has had and the chemistry between the two actors. So for the beef jerky to come back as an engagement ring of sorts was exactly the type of thing that the overly-logical-but-still-trying-to-behave-in-an-emotional-way Brennan would do. It was very sweet, and really the kind of engagement you'd expect from these two characters who have danced around one another for so long but who also understand and respect one another.
Which is why the ending of this episode was so ridiculously stupid.
It was entirely consistent that Booth would sacrifice his and Brennan's happiness for five complete strangers. He's all about the greater good, and Pelant was clever to use that characteristic to control Booth, to forge a victory out of the burning wreckage that was his least interesting scheme thus far. While Bones has gone to great lengths to make Pelant this all-seeing master hacker, I refuse to believe that, had Booth just slid a piece of paper across the table to Brennan that explained the situation, and then burned that piece of paper, and then flushed the ashes down the toilet, that Pelant would know, and that Brennan wouldn't have understood what needed to be done. That's all it would've taken, really, as convoluted as I made it sound.
So the canceled engagement thing just rings as contrived, as false, as a desire to insert conflict into a stable relationship. That, sadly, is par for the course. Writing unhappiness into a TV relationship may make for "better" drama, but it seems like such an easy thing to do. Sure, writing and depicting a happy and stable couple is probably harder to keep interesting, but wouldn't that also just be a nice change of pace on television? People generally want to be happy, after all. As a result, my frustration isn't just rooted in the hollowness of this development, but also in how wearisome it was.
What did YOU think of Pelant's plot in this episode? I struggled to find it very interesting after we discovered that the dead FBI agents weren't as connected to Booth as I thought they were going to be; I had assumed that after the first one, who was Booth's first partner in the Bureau, the deaths would be pretty targeted toward Booth. So it just became another Pelant-designed race to figure out his scheme. The videos of Anna's father from beyond the grave were sort of neat, I guess, but I was amused that Pelant was undone by the bird in the video being wrong.
Mostly though, I'm just annoyed that Pelant is still at large. He's not a very engaging long-running villain, but maybe that's because I find his Hollywood hacking skills to pretty outlandish in a show that stretches science but never feels like it reaches a breaking point, and Pelant's skills go too far for me.
In all, it was a very much a low note to end the season. But I suppose the benefit of being a procedural is that Bones can still have weird and interesting cases in Season 9, even if the character arcs aren't exactly compelling.
NOTES FROM THE MASS SPECTROMETER
– Thank goodness they didn't kill Sweets. I would've been more upset about that than this marriage silliness.
– I don't need Booth and Brennan to get married. Truth be told, I like that Bones has shown that two adults can be in love and committed to each other without being married. If the show wanted to move into codifying their relationship so it could have some episodes about wedding planning, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and then the eventual wedding, that's fine. I imagine those episodes would've been (and likely will be) pretty entertaining, actually.
– Did you have a favorite episode this season? Looking over them, nothing really stood out for me as particularly memorable beyond the "Brennan talks to her dead mom" installment, but that was for negative reasons, not positives ones.
What'd you think of "The Secret in the Siege" and this season as a whole?