In a season that was often uneven, and that came after a season that was so over-the-top gimmicky that its emotional epiphanies often felted tainted by the ridiculousness, Bones actually somehow managed to make a re-believer out of me. It felt like, especially in the second half of the season, the show was aiming to start dealing with the characters’ emotions in a much more real way.

Let’s start with the season finale and the many HUGE changes it brought with it. Or, more accurately, let’s start with what it didn’t give us: much like The Rolling Stones, Bones viewers can’t get no satisfaction. If, after the fantastically frustrating 100th episode, we thought that season’s end would finally make Brennan wisen up and return Booth’s feelings… well we were half right. I do think that her admitting that she worries all the time about Booth’s safety and what her relationship with him means is a pretty big step forward for her, so that in a weird way her decision to head to Maluku Islands is actually her accepting that she needs to change something substantial in her life to be happy because she can’t just stay in limbo with Booth forever.
The case of a crazy hoarder was slightly more on the nose, metaphor-wise, than Bones normally plays it (in fact, it was down right Grey’s Anatomyesque in its case-to-personal-life-connections). Still, it was interesting, and asked for a lot from all our principal characters (including Angela, whose computer-gadgetry is quickly replacing Sweets’ psychology as the go to magical crime solver when all normal means have been exhausted). In terms of a season finale that was much more over-arching than single episode criminal-of-the-week, it was serviceable.
But you can’t discuss this finale without dealing immediately with the ramifications. It ends with Booth off to Afghanistan (and was I the only one who thought it was a little over-the-top to have Parker say that he was responsible “for all those people dying” if Booth didn’t go?) and Brennan off to Indonesia for a year. Given that next season is set to begin right after that year, I sort of think this was a brilliant ploy. Rather than making the audience sit through another year of hemming and hawwing, it’s allowing our characters to grow and change and then come back, ready to deal with what all that growing and changing means. In a lot of ways, it’s the best possible ending/beginning. Plus it allowed Hodgins and Angela to take off romantically to Paris for a year, and Sweets to finally “grow the hell up.”
In fact, the finale in a lot of ways reaffirmed my faith in Bones. Despite appearances by ZZ Top frontmen and a sidestory that included stealing a classic car from a biker gang, this episode and the ones that preceded it were deeply grounded in the truth of the characters, their legitimate growth and affection for each other, and the ramifications of the intensity of those relationships. For the first time in a while, I feel like the people in charge of Bones REALLY get these characters and REALLY care that they get where they’re legitimately going.
That episode ending moment full of longing and regret was beautiful. Brennan in particular has really blossomed at the tail end of this season, dealing with the fact that because of who she is and how she sees the world, she can’t have what she wants, which we all now know is Booth. But she’s not there yet, not ready to be hurt and put herself through this yet, so it’s easier to head off to a jungle and send Booth off to a warzone than it is to give herself over to him.
More importantly, the show has done a great job of making me BELIEVE that these two aren’t ready to be together yet. As a somewhat-too-ardent Booth and Brennan supporter, I found the obstacles thrown in their path… annoying to say the least (when Booth woke up from his coma last season with no recollection of Brennan, I legitimately considered throwing my TV out the window in protest). But this season, they’ve done a much better job of making those obstacles more than just TV-created speed bumps, but legitimate character arch stuff that works on thematic, personal levels.
The season was uneven, that’s for sure, and sometimes frustrating, but overall it’s left my incredibly optimistic as to what the show runners are going to be able to do with their year-in-the-future return.
Some quotable highlights:
“the pyramids are better at change than you are. It’s a joke. I was being affectionate.” (Booth to Brennan)
“Mr. Adventure’s here, ready to kick some biker ass.” (how freaking cute was sweets?)
“I hope you find something that just changes the entire notion of what it means to be human.” (Angela to Brennan, but also a good summing up of the show’s game plan going into next season)
Season Finale Grade: B+
Season Grade: A-