series has a pilot and twenty-one more episodes, and to cover this series five
years later you have to consider two things: the content of the episodes, or
their subjects, and the characters and plot treatment.
subjects are always limited in one episode and they are often dealing with
immediate reality. There is thus no surprise to find one essential subject is
war in 2005. This subject comes back in several episodes and these show that
the war itself was not very clean and they reveal one attitude only: anything
unjust has to be redressed. It has to be redressed because the victims of this
injustice have the right to know and because the author of the injustice is a
plain criminal, murderer most of the time. This attitude is all the more
emphasized and even dramatized because Agent Booth is a veteran of the Kosovo
war and has seen, experienced and suffered some such episodes.
second thing you have to keep in mind with this series: Agent Booth is an FBI
agent but also a Kosovo survivor. He merges a very military dynamism, extremely
precise work, a great sense of logic and deduction, total commitment to
fairness and truth. This is also very important when they deal with the case of
illegal immigration and more or less clandestine and illegal refugees from the
Central American countries that have been ridden with civil wars most of the
time supported on the wrong side by the US. On the wrong side, I will say
because of what we know today, since today in most countries the left-leaning
insurgency has politically recovered and electorally re-conquered power. In
other words the US
support and at times intervention was wasted and badly advised. And that has to
do with Iraq
where such an ill-advised intervention was going on at the time.
main character is Doctor Temperance Brennan. She works for the Jeffersonian
Institute and she is a bone specialist in all fields where bones have to be
scrutinized, analyzed and reconstructed as to what they may tell about what
happened to the person they belonged to once. She is assisted by three people. First an
art-trained person is there to recreate places and bodies from the remains or
the memory of witnesses thanks to highly specialized software. Then another
doctor trained in physics, chemistry and biology who has an extremely high
level of knowledge in his fields and can analyze any matter, stuff or whatever
that can reveal the circumstances of the death of a “patient”. Finally a young
intern who is working on his doctorate thesis and is also extremely and sharply
specialized and informed in the physiology of the body or the skeleton of any
person. The boss of the Jeffersonian institute is a Black man who used to be an
archaeologist but who remains discreet on scientific matters.
series avoids any kind of over-learned language that we wouldn’t be able to
understand. Nevertheless it uses a lot of the paraphernalia of software and
computer assisted and aided visualization to make laboratory scenes palatable
and even interesting.
great point of this series is the very careful study of the relations between
these people, administrative, authority, personal, even intimate relations and
problems, knowing there are two women and three men and they all have personal
lives. But the series insist on the background of Agent Booth but also of Dr
Brennan: her parents disappeared when she was a young teenager, her brother
abandoned her when he was 19 and is on probation for some crime. At the end of
this first series the body of the mother is found, her death is clarified, Dr
Brennan gets to some kind of reconciliation with her brother and the father
remains alive, talkative on the phone but absent physically, in fact escaping
justice as he would deserve due to his criminal past. That’s where the plot sickens for the second
second season is exploring new ways and avenues where bones are of course
multiplying at leisure and for our best pleasure. Yet this second season is
quite new in several aspects.
foremost the season is widely open to personal matters and it explores the
private, and at times not so private, relations between the members of the
team, after the boss has been changed to a woman, which rebalances the sexual
ratios. Bones herself is courting and going out with an FBI agent who has
temporarily replaced Booth while he was sort of suspended and deprived of a gun
after shooting a clown on top of an ice-cream vendor’s van. But in the end she
will not go through the process completely as far as leaving the Jeffersonian
for a life of full leisure and farniente.
manages to get his doctorate and to be hired in the job he was holding as an
intern because he goes to Angela and begs for help on his look and manages to become presentable, which
means he can now stand in court and testify seriously in a deportment that can
carry the agreement of the jury. So far he is no longer obsessed by sexuality
but he encounters a great difficulty: he is summoned by the White House to go
But this time this reference does not lead to any political dissertation or
even cogitation on the subject. Political questions are systematically and
carefully avoided in this second season.
Angela are finally realizing they love each other and even decide to get
married and they finally find themselves in front of a priest (in fact a black
priestess) in some church for the last step when the State Department steps in
and reveals Angela is already married in some kind of broom stick over-jumping
ceremony. More later, I guess.
entangled in the hands of a British shrink after his shooting the clown on the
ice-cream vendor’s van and he is a perfect sucker, building a full barbecue for
the shrink under the shrink’s blackmailing procedure of retaining the document
he must sign. This same shrink will also step into Bones’ psyche as some kind
of private counselor. Agent Booth and Doctor Brennan will not be able to
establish some kind of personal relationship, especially since Temperance’s
father reappears in her life and even saves the situation a couple of times.
But he has to be arrested by Booth and be brought to court for his ancient
crimes, including the attack against the deputy chief of the FBI, though this
one was crooked to the utmost, his lips kissing the heels of his shoes or
something like that.
reestablishes for a short while a relationship with the new boss of the
institute, Dr Camille Saroyan, with whom he had had a liaison some time ago in
another life. But that cannot last more than one or two episodes. This is
characteristic of all these people: they are unable psychologically or
administratively to build balanced and normal relationships. Is it a side
effect of their jobs or professions, we can wonder, or simply personal immaturity?
of the season blurs out the various crimes and cases they examine and solve.
And these cases do not deal with political issues or even with immigration,
except one case about some strange Chinese practice of burying the bones of a
man with the bones of a woman so that the man has some company on the other
side of the road. Most cases are plain simple crimes in America and
among Americans. But they often deals with social problems like the mother of a
severely handicapped girl: what can the mother do to help her child the genetic
victim of a deadly disease that keeps her retarded, even if it is only for a
short time before she dies? Some of these questions are crucial: do we have the
right to experiment on human beings new treatments that would enable astronauts
to reinforce their bones that get highly decalcified due to prolonged sojourn
the cases are plain vicious crimes and it is fun to catch the killers who are
most of the time not at all the one or the ones we were expecting. Suspense is
always with us even if the personal and more sentimental level of this season
makes that suspense not as intense as I would personally prefer it to be.
season was shorter than the previous ones, but it was particularly hefty in
events and closures. And it is these closures that have to be examined.
one is the integration of the psychiatrist and profiler Dr. Lance Sweets.
He officially comes to help Dr Brennan and Special Agent Booth deal with the
stress in their relationship due to the extreme tension their work is bringing
in and imposing onto them. He is some kind of relation counselor. At first they
took it badly but little by little they accepted to consult him and to follow
his advice. That brings some clarification in the warped relationship that
develops between the two people concerned. Little by little too he is
integrated as a profiler in some of their cases and even later in all of them.
This is a new development for the series.
The second closure is really a closure. It
concerns Temperance’s father and by ricochet her brother. He is finally brought
to court for his killing of the FBI deputy head. Dr Brennan is not even called
as a witness whereas all her laboratory friends and Special Agent Booth are.
She stands with the defense and she holds her position well. The tactics of the
defense is simple. Let the prosecution put down all their cards and then let’s
deal with the jury’s most intimate conviction. In other words let’s give the
jury some alternative hypotheses as who could have done the killing. Here Dr
Brennan plays an essential role to save her father and set him free. Can such a
flawless scientist accept to be doubted and even negatively represented even if
it is to save her father’s freedom?
The third closure is Zack. He had been
sent to Iraq
at the beginning of the season but his absence had not held one full episode.
He was brought back to Washington
DC because of his disruptive role
in a military team due to his inability to integrate. But his attitude and role
is becoming overbearing with everyone. Some would say that he must be slightly
autistic and that would be a mistake. He is a very fragile personality who
compensates his weakness in character with over-competence in his scientific
field. He is irreplaceable. Yet he can become the prey of any strong
personality he would encounter. His enhanced scientific competence is
over-normal but it is a way to hide his brittleness. This season will bring
Zack to his doom but you will have to be discovered it by yourself.
The fourth closure is also contained in
this season. It starts at the beginning of it and ends with its final episode.
It is the story of a serial killer that appears in some episodes. This serial
killer is obviously imitated from Dexter and his viciousness is even worse than
anything you may examine. Of course he tries to penetrate and infiltrate the
Jeffersonian Institute and he will succeed for a time, though his agent will
not be the best he could have found. He is a cannibal, the heir and continuator
of an old practice against secret societies. We can hear there an echo to some
of Dan Brown’s cogitation about old secret societies and free masons. That
serial killer will be destroyed and will finally exit the series under a
nickname, Gormogon. He is nameless.
This last element is surprising in such a
series because the series is hyper scientific and tries to reject and even
rebut all superstitions, mythologies, beliefs and even religions. Dr Brennan
should know that the unnamable, the one who does not have a name, the one whose
name is unutterable us also the one who was, the one who is and the one who
will come. To keep a criminal nameless is to deify or at least magnify that
criminal just as if he were some kind of divinity.
That’s the last remark I will make on this
third season. It deals with social cases more often than criminal cases, and
the crimes in each case are the result of weak people who cannot cope with the
stress of life. Gormogon is the exception. In one word the series gets better
as for its thrilling, even frightening atmosphere and it analyses in fair and
fine details the relations between the various members of the team, of the
laboratory, of the people who have dedicated their lives to fighting against
season is the season of all come-backs. The attempt to bring Zack back, but
that is too artificial in a way, does not work beyond one single episode. Of
course he is particularly brilliant but with this brilliancy that is so bright
it dazzles us. We need someone more evanescent in this laboratory, someone who
is never the same and always a come-back again on some rotating basis. So the
extra lab-worker is the ever going project to bring back someone that cannot be
brought back, hence the character that can experiment all kinds of profiles:
English, Japanese, simple intern or certified doctor of something, Moslem or
happily paired with a woman and not interested in the constant sexual innuendo
in this lab, etc.
come-back is that of Temperance’s father as some kind of museum science guide
for visiting children. That one is hard on Temperance who considers her father
as a criminal and has not yet forgiven him for abandoning her when a teenager
in the custody of her unworthy brother who left and sent her to a foster home
in a way. But that ex-science teacher has the knack it takes to have contact
with young teenagers and make them like what is in many ways forbidding and
austere, or at least can be if you do not know how to make it an adventure. He is
a genial awakener for Agent Booth’s son Parker and Temperance has to yield to
come-back is the British psychologist but in a less flashy role now his
barbecue is built. His main role is to set Dr Sweets, the FBI profiler, in perspective,
a Dr Sweets who is so shy and so flippantly uncatchable. But he is so efficient
and efficacious with the criminals who have to be discovered and caught.
come-back is that of the Gravedigger, and this time for the finish of that
case. The grave-digger manages to kidnap Agent Booth himself and to bury him in
a navy ship just before it is blown down into the sea by the navy itself. The
point that appears little by little is that the gravedigger has inside
information and must be from inside the justice department or the FBI or some
other Home Security agency. And that’s how they find out that serial killer. At
the other end Agent Booth experiences a comeback of a completely different
nature. On the ship, while he is trying to escape he is helped by some ghost
from deep in his mind, the corporal who was killed practically in his own arms
and who he took back to base. Strange come-back but quite natural for all of
us: we find help in someone in our minds who makes us keep our cool and find the
move to the come-back of Agent Booth’s younger brother who is a pain in the
back because he is not able to do anything right without the help of his
brother and he fails in some situations systematically just to get that help. A
come-back and a good-bye too since he goes to India for a motorbike tour, but
alone without his big brother. Good riddance in a way and good morning Vietnam in
another. But the little boy has to grow one day.
of this series remains the vast array of cases that bring up a vast selection
of social and cultural situations that are all explored in some fine details
revealing the horror of this society of ours. Of course there are a lot of
winks to other series in the genre. The main wink is to Stephen King who once
wrote: “If you can’t terrify your audience, then horrify them. And if you can’t
horrify them, then gross them out.” And you can be sure the cadavers, corpses,
bodies, bones and other dead remnants of human beings are gross to the utmost.
We can of course see here and there an allusion to Dexter, or another one to
Crime Scene Investigation. But the style is original and personal.
season finally is very rich to reveal the deeper selves of the characters, with
some strange a priori idea that Dr Temperance Brennan, Dr Lance Sweets or Agent
Seeley Booth, just like Dr Zack Addy have had a youth of suffering and want on
the loving side of life. And that would be why they are great in their present
positions. That’s too easy. And the characters that are kept in second position
like Dr Camille Saroyan, Dr Jack Hodgins or Angela Montenegro cannot qualify at
that level. In other words it is a
cliché that one can only be great if they have suffered in their infancy and
youth. But it definitely gives the characters some density on the screen.
episode is a complete reversal due to some brain tumor and I must say
Temperance as the manageress of a club that has more to do with a brothel and
an opium den than with a café is quite a change of perspective.
This fifth season is the saddest of them all
because it has to bring the series to an end, though it will have to keep some
door open for further reviving. We know from the very first episode that it is
going to be so, that we are going to move to a close.
The main change is in tone. The various
episodes are centered on the personal dimensions of the various characters.
Personal remarks and personal details are more important than the crimes under
scrutiny and the lab discussions are some kind of permanent interweaving of
small talk about personal matters and the real business at hand that is in many
ways kept at a respectable distance. It is not even rare that someone has to
call the lab back to order, i.e. to work. And the cases are often slightly
superficial and the conclusion hasty.
Then all current business has to be dealt with.
First Angela and Dr Hodgins will finally manage to get married but that will
have to be under duress, and I must say that was a good punishment for them
two. That poor Angela even created a panic with her pregnancy test. Pregnant?
Yes, you’ll have to find out and from whom.
Then a touch of nostalgia with the first case
on which Booth and Bones worked together, a long time ago. That brings Zack
back into the picture for a short cameo. A sorry case and yet quite a case that
made Dr Brennan punch a federal judge in the nose twice.
Then we have to deal with the little personnel,
those laboratory people who are only interns and live on precarious
scholarships. By the way it reveals how these younger people have it a little
difficult in life, getting from one job to another, being an intern for some
pittance, etc. This should be a good lesson to those who believe a scientist is
at the top two years after his or her PhD. That is absolutely false for one and
for two it takes many years of precarious and low-paid jobs while doing their primary
research for their PhDs.
Then small little bits of business concerning
Dr Saroyan who finds a good date in the gynecologist of her own daughter. Daisy
Wick will go on a one year mission in Indonesia on Dr Brennan’s
reference. Dr Sweets will stay behind and will be slightly abandoned.
The main changes are of course for Dr Brennan
and Special Agent Booth. But that, you will have to find out all by yourselves.
You must be big boys and bog girls after all.
On the other hand the Gravedigger is finally brought
to trial and convicted. The main witnesses and testifying experts are the very
victims of that gravedigger, Booth, Hodgins,
Brennan, which is a difficult situation in front of a jury: you have to
convince the jury that your evidence comes from your expertise and not from
your desire of vengeance.
Then a little tidbit here and another little
tidbit there and we are at the end of the season and the sad departure of
everyone to the four corners of the globe, if the globe has four corners. The
team is down. What will happen then? We of course know there is a sixth season
going on right now, but that will change the general outlook. They may even
bring in some fresh air, and the last case was a typical case of a completely
locked up hoarder’s den or lair with fans to move the air around. Five years is
a long time for a series. It needs some renewing. Check it on TV, if you can
To resuscitate a dead team out of their
scattered disappearance is not an easy task. Luckily the DA in Washington DC
is a powerful woman, stubborn and resolute, and she generally gets what she
wants. So she brought Agent Booth back from Afghanistan,
and Temperance Brennan, aka Bones, from the exotic place where she was trying
to get some archaeologically interesting bones with Daisy, Dr Sweet’s girl
friend, and Dr Sweet from his hideout somewhere in Paris where he was having a showbiz career as
a cabaret singer. They all come back, change clothes and back in the business
in a jiffy they all are. Angela and Dr Hodgins are also back though from not so
far away and Angela is pregnant. Don’t worry the delivery will go just fine,
and their fear of some handicap will be unfounded. They will celebrate at the
end of the season.
But this season is a lot more interesting than
just those circumstantial collateral disagreements or pleasure.
As usual one case per episode, clean and neat,
always dealing with a lot of bones, gross and dirty, soaked in a lot of
decomposed muck with a tremendous number of maggots, worms and other corpse
parasites. A series not to watch while eating anything more delicate than dry
The interest is first the relations among the
people in the series and these relations include some personal data on each
case. Dr Saroyan has the case of her daughter to solve who is supposed to start
her college years. The mother cannot cope with the idea of her following her
boyfriend to some community college in some county of some northern New England
state nearly in Canada but is it ethical to cheat the system and get her
accepted in Columbia University, if it is Columbia University (you can check
that one out), on a fake file? It is amazing what parents are at times ready to
do that is so absurd and goes against the grain of their profession and
personality. Will the girl accept to enter a top university on a fake file? That
is the real question. Will the daughter teach a lesson to her own mother? Not
Of course Angela and Dr Hodgins have a full
plate with the pregnancy and the delivery of the baby. For them that’s enough
and that will require some help from a friendly psychiatrist because it is hard
for the father not to become overprotective and it is hard for the mother to
accept the physical handicap this pregnancy may represent. Yet they decided
that working with the people they are used to work and live with was the best
thing for the pregnancy, the mother and the child. Angela was not alone at any
moment of her days or nights.
Agent Booth brought a journalist back from Afghanistan, a
sort of love substitute for Temperance. But will that not cause some problems,
like conflicting interests between the two professions? And Booth with his own
son is already very busy in life. Will that new woman in the picture be able to
cope with a child, what’s more the child of another woman? And the question of
marriage will come up sooner or later and how are the two going to react to
that eventuality? Probably not very well, maybe not too bad. A decision that is
always difficult to take for someone who is constantly in the field of police
investigation and for a journalist just back from a war zone and who may
consider Washington DC as another war zone. Do you get married
and build a home and a family when you are in a war zone?
There is of course the case of Booth and Temperance.
It did not work the first time, but will there be a second time? Why not? They
are both young enough to think about their independence and old enough to start
thinking about settling down in some kind of normal place. But of course Booth
is not free and temperance is mature enough to keep up appearances.
Then you have the interns still rotating, the four
of them. They are the surprise of each episode because they are so different
and they can be so funny, though at times they are just funny for us because
they are mismatched with what is happening around them, but that’s what interns
are all about. Unluckily one will end up very badly. That’s not the first case,
but so far none had ended up that badly. But a song will carry him through: lime
and coconut, sung in a chorus all together, mellow and heart stirring.
There will be a case that will run over the
whole season, the case of a sniper who had been a colleague and friend of Booth
in Afghanistan and who came back slightly berserk and decided that what he did
over there was good enough for the USA too and he started killing those who
were rotten, and those who were in his way for his type of justice and these
were only collateral victims for him, hence justified by the end. It will take
the whole team to stop him and it will bring a lot of suffering and even
mourning to that team.
Then there are 23 cases in this season and I
would advise you to watch them if you haven’t yet or watch them again if you
surprise after all. That’s what happens when you get married, at times even
when you don’t. Temperance got pregnant and this season we are going to see her
delivering a child. To bring the father back into the picture because the plot
needed it the baby is a girl? SO THAT Temperance is going to relive her bad
experience with her father when she was a girl and he abandoned her, and her
brother. But you all know that. They decide to name the girl Christine, I guess
in honor of the film and the book by John Carpenter and Stephen King
season knits together some cases that solved in one episode and a couple of
others that go beyond the episode structure. In that case even one that goes
beyond the season structure. Suspense requires such tricks. TV is a Trickster. My
favorite is “The Don’t In The Do” in which there is no Indian but a hair
fetishist who believe in scalping. Tie up your hair ladies, especially if you
uses of course many interns, rotating interns, which enables us to see some
faces only episodically from time to time but repetitively every two or three
episodes. That concentrates our attention on the six or so regulars and at the
same time that gives us some new blood that titillates our interest.
Temperance is even worse than the doctor Bones. She is anxious, afraid, over
protective, quasi paranoid, definitely on the verge of neurosis, which is
anything but rational, and she turns every one around her completely upside
down and crazy if they dare follow her along that line. You have to learn how
to let the mother rant and rave about all the dangers that menace her child and
hope one day she might let that child grow up, and some anxiety is needed to
grow up, some challenge some would say.
interesting part of this series is that the crimes are always extreme cases of
asocial behavior and at time sociopathic derangement. It is practically always
some hidden situation unknown of everyone that produces a reaction that brings
forward a dead body. But in this series they always choose the grossest way to
deliver the body, to wrap it up, to make it decay and rot, etc. There is no end
along that line. It is always possible to make a body look more disgusting than
what you have achieved in the previous episode. The rule is that you need to
see the bones and to deal with the bones. You have to feel it in your buns.
note will be about the follow up story that ends up unfinished this season.
Temperance Bones is at stake and is menaced. She was too often over positive
and over affirmative. It is her time to get challenged. First she is wrong
about the age of the bones of a body by fifteen years over and then she becomes
the main target. Luckily she has a daughter, a loving husband and a resourceful
father. What will be left of her integrity after that? At least the child has
been christened just in time.
is sure: this series tried to follow the antics of Supernatural this season and they have a dead body on the set of
the film that will come out next summer on Bones, “Bone of contention”. Real
crime in a virtual crime story. In fact virtual real crime in a virtual virtual
crime story. What reality is left after all that virtuality?