By Aaron Broder
I can’t help but feel like last year’s “Bones” finale wasn’t the game changer I thought it was going to be. I mean, it could have been; it should have been. I thought their choice to resolve Booth and Bones’ sexual tension off screen and only let us see the aftermath was a brilliant one, since that integral moment is often so poorly handled it cheapens entire relationship. Adding the baby was a risky move–they have a tendency to derail TV shows–but it definitely made the reveal more dramatic. Resolving an arc that had been integral to the show’s chemistry, however, left one question on every “Bones” fan’s mind: will this ruin everything?
So I’ll start off with the good news: I’ve seen the first two episodes of the season, and so far, Booth and Bones’ relationship hasn’t ruined the show. But it hasn’t really pushed the show forward, either. The couple hasn’t spent any of the gap between seasons getting over the problems that all “will they, won’t they” couples tend to go through during the first months of their relationships. In this case, the relationship has actually sent Bones a few steps backward socially. Both of the first two episodes have subplots that basically boil down to her being insensitive about how Booth feels. While some of the decisions seem in character, as I watched how many missteps she made in the “The Hot Dog in the Competition,” the second episode of the season, I couldn’t help but feel that she’s grown past this. Sure, she’s still awkward and misunderstands a lot of nuance in day-to-day interaction, but her evolution since the beginning of the show is a major part of why they were finally able to get together in the first place.
And even with a baby between them, it doesn’t really seem like Booth and Bones’ relationship has changed at all, at least beyond the superficial. That’s always the way it is with procedurals, isn’t it? No matter how dramatic the events around the characters are, you never see as dramatic a change in the characters themselves. This problem is systemic; it’s not just limited to the starring duo. You wouldn’t know that Hodgins and Angela had a baby in last season’s finale if they didn’t occasionally throw in an extra scene featuring their son to remind you about it. That’s why I was so impressed by their decision to kill off the intern, Nigel-Murray, last season. No matter how much I liked the character, the fact that the writers actually changed the structure of their show (though admittedly the interns are a little interchangeable) blew me away. I was slightly less impressed when I found out it only happened because the actor was off to Syfy’s “Alphas,” but the definitiveness with which they ended his tenure was still fairly bold. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see as bold a decision with the starring cast.
Maybe I expected a little bit too much from “Bones.” The episodes are as entertaining as they’ve always been, and saying that the relationships haven’t changed isn’t really a bad thing; after all, isn’t that what brings us back every week? If you’ve always enjoyed “Bones,” then as far as I can tell, you will continue enjoying it into the future. I’m just a little upset with how the writers are misusing this opportunity. They have a chance to really see how this relationship and this baby would change who Booth and, in particular, Bones as people. Of course, there are still a few episodes until the baby’s born and who knows what will happen after that. In the meantime, last season’s “game changer” was anything but.