When Bones left off last season, Brennan was on the run with Christine after being framed for a murder that was actually committed by über-hacker Christopher Pelant. Booth, Sweets, and Caroline were all removed from Pelant’s case, but luckily the team found a freaky, written-in-saliva message from Pelant’s latest victim (Ethan Sawyer) that could prove Brennan’s innocence.
Enter tonight's Season 8 premiere: It’s been three long, non-murderous months in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Booth is a desk jockey, Clark has been promoted to head of the Jeffersonian’s anthropology lab (though he is probably not king of the lab), and Brennan's been hiding in various places with truly horrible blonde hair. I mean it. It’s dreadful. It really washes her out. So glad she got rid of it at the end of the episode.
Anyway. The shortened season last year (due to Emily Deschanel's pregnancy) largely short-circuited a lot of the menace Pelant might’ve brought to the table as the seasonal Big Bad. So when the finale aired and he had worked a bunch of computer magic to frame Brennan, it all felt kind of, well, lame. (It doesn’t help matters that hacking and other computer-related activities are really hard to make exciting—who cares about realistic—no matter what cool gadgets Angela gets in her office.)
But the other problem was that Pelant just hadn’t had the time on the show to develop a personality beyond the black hat hacker villain, and “The Future in the Past” didn’t do much to fix that. He’s still this blank slate of motives. I mean, there’s revenge, but that’s only so compelling (unless you’re killing rich people in the Hamptons) in the absence of personality. He’s just... boring.
As a result, Pelant felt more like an obstacle to overcome than a character with which to do battle. His bag of tricks, particularly the security camera doctoring, were quickly undone after Brennan tracked down the remains of Pelant’s long-dead high school guidance counselor. This, coupled with Sweets finally deciding to stop by to look at the saliva triangle, gave everyone the necessary clues to finally crack the new case, clear Brennan’s name, and restore order to Bones' narrative universe.
Except not so much. Despite kind of loathing the ease with which all this computer stuff has happened on Bones, I thought Pelant’s last-ditch effort to escape federal prison—by erasing Christopher Pelant entirely and turning himself into an Egyptian citizen as far as the world’s computer systems are concerned—was a nice way to both move on from Pelant and keep him lurking in the shadows. I don’t think it’ll solve the Bones' Pelant problems, but it does offer the opportunity to flesh the guy out a bit more.
Beyond the dangling villain problem, the Season 8 premiere was a perfectly Bones-y episode. I thoroughly enjoyed not only Clark’s emphasis on the white binders but the fact that Brennan loved them as well! It’s one of those Type-A flourishes that you know Brennan wishes she'd thought of sooner, and will, hopefully, refine as the season progresses. (Note: I do not expect to hear from the white binders ever again.) I’ll be sad to see Clark go on as the Jeffersonian’s chief research anthropologist (“I hate crime and I love serious research!”), but maybe it’ll bring a new intern into the rotation.
The rest of the episode was built on little touches, from Booth’s happiness at seeing Christine again to his description of Brennan’s books (“They’re thick. They’re... really heavy.”) or Sweets’ knowing eyebrow arch at Hodgins’ confession at almost choking Pelant to death. It’s those small bits of business that make Bones a comfortable ensemble procedural. Even when many of the characters are spread apart from each other, the show makes the time for those sorts of moments that demonstrate the strength of its cast. It’s the characters we tune in for each week, not the gruesome murders (though those are fun, too!).
NOTES & QUOTES
– Brennan’s awesome throw/takedown of Booth was awesome.
– Seriously. That blonde hair. I kind of can’t get over how awful it was. AND THAT ONE MENTIONS IT. Argh.
– “Then you have trust issues stemming from...lots of psychological crap.”
– "As an FBI agent, it's my sworn duty to arrest Dr. Brennan. It's so good to see you, by the way. It's been too long."
– "Blank is Angela's thinking face."
– "It's like lumbar nirvana." I wish I had a chair that was like lumbar nirvana. But I also want a standing desk, so what do I know?
– What did you think of the Bones premiere?
– Did Hodgins’ violent act surprise you? (It didn’t surprise me; he’s been very protective of people ever since being buried by the Gravedigger and Zack’s affiliation with Gormogon.)
– Do you think Max is going to go on a globe-trotting stalking spree to take down Pelant?
– And, perhaps most importantly, what was with Flynn picking up the marigold at the end? It was a little creepy, right?