This week’s episode of Bones, “The Bullet in the Brain”, was one of the best they’ve ever made. For longtime viewers, the infamous Gravedigger (Deirdre Lovejoy), a serial killer who once buried Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) alive, made her fourth and final appearance. Her screen time in her final episodes was brief (she was gone before the opening credits), but more than memorable. In fact, she not only had a profound effect on some of the cast, but also kicked off a brand new ongoing arc that will play out this winter and spring.
The most effected by the whole incident, in which the Gravedigger’s head was graphically blown off, was probably Sweets (John Francis Daley), who was shaken inside and out. His suit was a mess from the splatter, but the biggest problem was what the Gravedigger had said to him before she was killed. Sweets replayed those words over and over again to himself, though, as a trained mental health professional, he should have known it was a bad idea. Her words seeped into his brain and took root, shaking his confidence in himself and his abilities. Thankfully, Ms. Julian (Patricia Belcher) was able to get him out of his funk.
It makes me wonder, though, how much of the effect she had was multiplied by her sudden death. Did the traumatic experience of standing a few feet from her during the assassination make Sweets more vulnerable? Brennan and Booth (David Boreanaz) have criticized him on plenty of occasions, especially when he first joined the team, though that has lightened up over time. He had to have had a thick skin then to not be wounded. Now, after his talents have proved invaluable over and over again, he was so deeply moved. There was obviously more going on in his head than just some mean comments. I was worrying he might do something drastic, but am so happy it didn’t come to that.
I mentioned Ms. Julian above, and she is one character I can never get enough of. I hope this new arc provides her with plenty of episodes to be in. But another character I love is Max (Ryan O’Neal), Brennen’s father. Initially a suspect, until it became apparent just how skilled the assassin was, Max rushed to town to reassure Brennan of his innocence. He was first introduced as such a scoundrel, I’m always touched at how he has evolved into a decent dad. His stint in jail helped that, and now a visit from him is welcome. Though he was on the suspect list, I doubt any of the main characters really considered him the most likely to have done it.
This was a spectacular Booth episode, as this whole arc apparently will be. We know some things about Booth’s past, but his expert sniper skills were driven home when a very short list was made of everyone that could have made the kill, and he was on it. I’m relieved that the writers saw fit to put Booth near the Gravedigger, so that he wasn’t seriously suspected for the entire episode. However, some of Booth’s past remains a mystery, and while surely the entire team will be involved in hunting the killer, Jacob (Arnold Vosloo, The Mummy, 24), who escaped, this is clearly a showdown between Jacob and Booth. They have a complicated past, as Jacob is someone Booth clearly admires, and Booth resisted even considering him in the crime for awhile. It’s nice to see Boreanaz keep getting material worthy of his time and talent, as Bones has so often provided him.
Another interesting story going on was Angela’s (Michaela Conlin) disgust with Hodgins’s reaction to the assassination. Hodgins, who was almost killed by the Gravedigger, was genuinely happy that she died. He explored those emotions with both Angela and Sweets. It was a look at another side of the issue, that of a victim who feels justice has been served, and that sometimes murder is acceptable. In a society where the morality of the death penalty is debated, it was a poignant, relevant line of inquiry.
While I’m writing about the show, I’d like to mention that I am fascinated by just how well adjusted Brennan has become by this seventh season. She has admitted her romantic feelings for Booth, though he is currently involved with someone else. She allows herself to trust her father. She is starting to be able to relate to her friends. Her social skills have improved markedly, as evidenced by how quickly she bonded with new friend Hannah (Katheryn Winnick). She is so much more of a person than the odd bird we first met. The other main characters have grown, too, but as Brennan is the title character, and half of the central heart of the show (along with Booth), her maturation cannot be understated. Seeing how she’s gotten better brings pleasure and satisfaction to me as a fan of her and of the show.
The series also stars Tamara Taylor, who, despite a very limited presence this week, is a very valuable part of the series.
The rest of this season of Bones will surely have cases of the week, which is the main format of the series, but also a really exciting story as Booth and Jacob face off. Be sure to tune in Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on FOX. That’s right after American Idol, in case you’re curious, which has given it a welcome ratings boost.