By Mandi Bierly
Updated September 17, 2012 at 05:55 PM EDT
Beth Dubber/Fox

Bones returns tonight (Fox, 8 p.m. ET) for the start of its eighth season. The premiere is about getting Brennan (Emily Deschanel), who has been on the run for three months with daughter Christine after she was framed for murder by serial killer/hacker Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds), back with Booth (David Boreanaz). What else do we have to look forward to this season (besides seeing Brennan as a brunette again by episode 2, thank God)? Here are 10 teases from creator Hart Hanson.

1. Booth and Brennan’s love story will have its ups and downs. “At that age, a baby really does go through a lot, and Booth missed it. So one of the things we’re contending with in our second episode is what did Booth miss and how does he react to that,” Hanson says. In episode 2, they’ll also be investigating the murder of a high-profile divorce attorney. “You know that old saying that once one of your friends gets divorced, all the sudden a bunch do because it becomes possible? Booth and Brennan are plunged, at just the worst possible time, into a world where people separate for good and for bad reasons. It’s just a tough for them,” Hanson says. “I’m interested in the idea that just because everybody does the right thing doesn’t mean there isn’t some anger and resentment involved, even if there was no choice…. Is love enough? Just because two people adore each other, what other elements in the world contrive to drive us apart? How does love overcome those things, if it does? That’s sort of what we’re gonna look at this year now that they’re together.”

2. More serious episodes. With Pelant “hovering”over the season, appearing in at least four episodes, Hanson says, the show will have a slightly darker tone than in recent years. “Everyone’s favorite shows, including our audience, seem to be the shows that are a little bit more serious. And we thought why not up the number of those,” he says. Yes. Season 4’s circus-themed “Double Trouble in the Panhandle Recap” episode with Booth and Brennan riding a motorcycle and sidecar was a little too goofy for us, we confess. “It’s funny, when we talk about what shows are too goofy, we all disagree,” Hanson says, with a laugh. “I wasn’t nuts about the Weekend at Bernie’s episode. Some people liked it. Even the bowling episode for a Season 6 finale — a little bit goofy. But we just want to not feel that way and see how that goes. So far so good.”

3. Booth and Brennan will go undercover in the world of ballroom dancing. “It’s still a crimedy,” Hanson says. When we talked to him over the summer, his biggest question was whether David and Emily could ballroom dance, which would determine whether Booth and Brennan are good or bad at it in the script. Our biggest question: Will Boreanaz’s shirt be unbuttoned? “You know what? That guy is in such good shape, that yes, you gotta get his shirt off every once in a while, if you can.” Good answer!

4. Cam gets a love interest, and we already know him. For years, we’ve been wanting Cam (Tamara Taylor) to get more screen time. Perhaps this season will remedy that: ”We thought we should service [Cam] so she’s more than Michelle’s mom. And the minute you start thinking, ‘Well, who should she be involved with…?’ If it’s a guest star, somebody who just shows up every once in a while, then it won’t happen: Who are you going to cast? What are the stories? They’re completely separate from the crime unless she’s involved with someone from the crimefighting team. Once I figured that out, I knew instantly who it should be. We’ll see if America agrees,” Hanson says. Look for that around episode 5.

5. Sweets has a difficult year. Early in the season, he’ll meet an FBI agent (recurring guest star Danielle Panabaker), who, according to Hanson, “is somewhat confusing to Sweets and sets one of the stories — what’s gonna happen to Sweets and Daisy this season — in motion.” They’ll work together on a case involving a mad bomber. It’s all a part of maturing the character. “He’s no longer just a wunderkind. [The season] just calls into question every aspect of his life,” Hanson says.

6. A murder involves a crime scene cleanup crew. “There are people who are pros at going in and cleaning a crime scene up so that it doesn’t look like anything ever happened there so people can continue to live there. If they’re in on a murder, they really know how to hide the evidence. So you have the ultimate crime-finder-outers up against the ultimate crime-cover-uppers. It will probably be the episode during which we have less evidence to work with than ever before in the history of the show. That’s the idea anyway,” Hanson says.

7. Booth and Brennan solve a Neanderthal murder. Hanson has wanted to do this since season 1. “The Neanderthals are extinct, and they’re still going to solve this murder mystery,” he says.

8. A modern-dayJack of the Ripper. “There are pockets of people in this country who are so hipster that they go back to that time. They dress like the 1800s,” Hanson says. “Whoever this is, is doing a pretty good job at mimicking Jack the Ripper. One of the possibilities is that by solving this, they may come up with a very good theory of who Jack the Ripper really was.”

9. “Murder by tiger.” In an episode about animal smuggling, someone dies from a tiger attack. “How is that a murder? We really like that one,” Hanson says. We can’t wait to see that body!

10. The mystery of the alarm clock Pelant placed in Booth and Brennan’s bedroom will be solved… Not in the premiere. “But this season,” Hanson promises.

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