Bones, David Boreanaz, ...

Ahhh. The return of Bones is like catching sight of your favorite comfy chair at the end of a long day. The discovery of the remains of a body (this time in mud), the crime scene banter that often includes awkward moments and odd clarifications (that’s serious as a heart attack guys — not gas attack), lab challenges, tag-teamed interrogations — and, oh yeah, lovely contrived reasons for our favorite forensic anthropologist and FBI agent to interact outside of their work. I don’t know about you, but I settled back in pretty quickly.

The first new episode since last November didn’t pick up on any of the threads of ongoing story lines: nothing about Gormogon, the search for Angela’s husband, or Brennan and Booth’s spectacular mistletoe kiss. What we did get was the case of the skeleton in the mud pit that ended up being a champion motorcycle rider who had gone missing after a big win. His team owner’s son — a rival racer — and another driver he’d put in a wheelchair both came under suspicion very quickly, until the son was killed riding the first guy’s bike that had been tampered with.

Even though it was fun to get back into Zack and Hodgins’ King of the Lab competition as they tried to narrow down the murder weapon for mud-pit guy, I kind of felt that, as a group, they took way too long to figure out that the damage in the front of the head was caused by a fall that came after the victim was struck in the back of the head. By the time the victim’s blood-covered truck was discovered and Angela explained the choke-up on the prybar, it was pretty clear that the cool-as-cucumber sister was the culprit.

The guest turn by M.C. Gainey (Lost) as the Fitz familylawyer was a treat. As Gainey himself has said, at least according toIMDB, his face lends itself to questionable characters. That, combinedwith his role as one of those devious Others on Lost, was a cueto be highly skeptical of his clients. He managed to give hisperformance nice hints of humor between the doggedness (in explainingforensic evidence from his client: “Did you shake hands with him? Sitnext to him at the bar? Make out a little?”). I can’t say I had thesame warm and fuzzy feeling from the über-annoying, way-too-enthusiastic FBI motor tech (Darlena Tejeiro), who I feared was beingplaced as new diversion love interest for Booth. AThree Stooges theory of aggression? Really? If we’re destined to seeher again, lets hope they turn down the pushiness and toy with thequirkiness.

addCredit(“Emily Deschanel: Ray Mickshaw”)

The real highlight of the night though was the double date potteryclass excursion between Booth, Brennan, Seeley and his girlfriend,April. Sweets’ desire to get the two of them to talk aboutnon-work-related things made a sort of sense but it was probably justas much because he wanted to hang out with them as well. He’sdefinitely got a bit of hero-worship mixed in with his condescension toBooth. He did seek them out at the end of the episode to mope aboutbeing dumped.

Anyone surprised that Booth and Brennan’s “couple” behavior as shethrew pots and he sculpted a beautiful horse (??!!) was so natural andsupportive? Not me. As David Boreanaz has always said, their chemistryis the heart and soul of the show. As is the reliability that Brennanwill take a statement quite literally and feel the need to correctsomeone she thinks is mistaken. (People can’t breathe under water andfish colors are obviously a product of evolution — not evidence of theirsouls. Duh!) But not even that uncomfortable moment could hide thetension between Sweets and April and their breakup was inevitable, whatwith Sweets being pale blue and her a more vibrant color and all. It’sa good thing that Booth and Brennan could take him bowling with them atthe rink alley.

Those episode enders, usually with some sort of drink in hand,continue to be a great way to wind down the show, but the car scenesbetween Booth and Brennan have become even more nuanced and sheds light on the range of their relationship. Playfulness (the no-changies and no-take-backs brainstorming about the case), and honesty (rolling her eyesat him and telling him his plowing-the-field statement was”distasteful”) — let’s hope there’s even more of that in the finalepisodes of the season.

Favorite line: Booth pointing to his nameplate after the kid askshim how he figured out the name of the friend who showed him the mudpit: “Special Agent… Seeley Booth. Special.” Close second: Brennan’sresponse to April’s request to talk woman-to-woman, if possible: “Itis possible because we are both women.”

Much like Brennan, I was a little disappointed with the resolutionof the case, but the Booth/Brennan scenes kind of made up for that. So, arewe just happy to have our guys back or was something missed by havingthis as the post-strike episode? I’m pretty interested to see how nextweek’s episode about a dead college student — which looks like the oneoriginally pulled from last season’s lineup because of its proximityto the Virginia Tech tragedy — is able to fit into this season’sclimate. And word is that due to the writers’ strike the whole Gormogonwill now be wrapped up in just one episode. Do you think that will be enough?