By Mandi Bierly
Updated September 18, 2012 at 04:01 AM EDT
Credit: Patrick McElhenney

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t watched the Bones season 8 premiere, stop reading now.

We break down the good, the bad, and the mildly confusing.

So we’ve known that Brennan would be reunited with Booth by the end of this episode, which means her name would have to be cleared. But we’ve also known that Christopher Pelant (guest star Andrew Leeds) will “hover” over the season, meaning he has to remain a threat.

How do you accomplish that?

You build a case against hacker/killer Pelant — and then he changes his identity so he’s no longer Pelant, he’s an Egyptian citizen. What does that mean exactly? We asked Bones creator Hart Hanson to clarify via email: “There is no digital record of Pelant left and, much more importantly, there is a very complete digital record, including finger prints and DNA, for Bassam Alfayat — so much so that his embassy is outraged on his behalf and gets him the hell out of Dodge,” he explains. “The name ‘Christopher Pelant’ does not exist in the digital world — he exists on paper alone. Law enforcement could do a very thorough analog search and find written/typed/paper evidence that he exists but by that time, using digital information, the man once known as Christopher Pelant will be out of the country and untraceable.”

The other big question we had after this hour: What was up with Special Agent Flynn (guest star Reed Diamond) picking up the marigold that Pelant had gifted Brennan on his way out after Booth tossed it in the trash can? The marigold, Brennan said, means pain and grief. Does that mean Flynn is in on this with Pelant? “It seems as though that might possibly be possible…,” Hanson says, cryptically. Now that Flynn is being transferred to domestic terrorism, that’s a scary thought. Hanson does confirm that we’ll definitely see Flynn again. (You don’t think he’ll be Cam’s new love interest, do you? It’s someone we already know…)

Let’s back up to the beginning. A blonde Brennan and Max spent the last three months digging into Pelant’s past looking at records and newspaper clippings. They learned that his high school guidance counselor went missing. Brennan located the body, excavated just enough to take some photos, and had Max phone in the tip where the FBI would find the remains. Brennan left snowdrop flowers, which represent hope, at the site. Angela, who’s been communicating with Brennan through flower drops at certain locations, interpreted that as Brennan saying that if they solve this murder, the charges against her will be dropped. Booth, meanwhile, somehow knew the snowdrop flower was code for him to meet Brennan at the Snowdrop Motel and do a little hand-to-hand combat as foreplay.

Angela cleared Caroline (guest star Patricia Belcher) by proving that her and Brennan’s electronic signatures were forged by someone who wanted it to look like Brennan had paid Caroline off not to arrest her. Even though Angela couldn’t tie that to Pelant, it got Caroline back on the case so she could enable Sweets and everyone else who probably shouldn’t be working on the case because it’s a conflict of interest. Sweets knew that Pelant was suspended in high school for hacking into the school’s computer to change a grade, but the letter of recommendation his guidance counselor wrote to Stanford didn’t mention that. Comparing that letter to others she’d written, and that letter to articles written by Pelant for the school newspaper, Sweets and Caroline concluded that Pelant wrote the recommendation himself and killed the guidance counselor.

Angela wanted to send Brennan a sign that they were making progress, so she had Hodgins deliver flowers to a grave. The most chilling moment of the hour was when Pelant stepped out behind Hodgins. For a minute, I thought Pelant might try to kill him, but that would have put too much heat on him, I guess. Instead, Hodgins threatened to kill Pelant if he came near any of them again. Pelant said he’d read Hodgins’ FBI file and psych evaluation, which said he posed no threat. Hodgins was too good a person to kill anyone, Pelant insisted smugly. Hodgins reached out and strangled him. I found that both awesome and believable. Decent people can be pushed to that extreme — and they remain decent as long as they pull back before it’s too late. Also awesome: Caroline’s dismissive smackdown of Special Agent Flynn when he threatened to arrest Angela if she didn’t flower-message to Brennan to turn herself in: “Oh cut that out now. You will not.”

Eventually, Booth snuck Brennan into the Jeffersonian so she could examine the bones herself to determine the murder weapon. Of course, that meant Cam had to order everyone — including the security guards — out of the lab. I understand that Cam is the boss, but it just seems like if the FBI was serious about catching Brennan, they might have someone watching the place who’d have found that strange. I did, however, like how they didn’t make a big deal over Booth trusting Sweets (a master-rated marksman) to protect Brennan while he took whatever information the FBI would need to prove Pelant hacked into the FBI email system to Flynn. (Way to set him up, Cam.) I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who ahhh-ed. It was a sweet, subtle moment, like Brennan’s reaction when Booth told her, “I would miss you, so I was reading some of your books. They’re thick. They’re really… they’re heavy,” and Booth’s smile after Brennan answered “I know” when Max said “Booth being here changes everything.” (Was that the top grin of the episode, or was it the one on Booth’s face when he and Pelant made eye contact at the outreach center?)

I’m certain that I wasn’t the only one who had no idea how Angela used the information that Hodgins told Sweets — Pelant had wanted Hodgins (or one of them) to kill him — to break that code of Ethan’s triangle and determine how Pelant added Brennan’s image to the damning asylum surveillance footage. It would give Caroline and I both a headache, so yes, just have her do that over a musical montage, and hugs all around.

Since Max had coffee with Pelant’s grandfather a couple of times, Brennan knew that Pelant was actually overweight in high school (as opposed to slim as in the fake photos he’d added to the online yearbook) and also that the grandfather had brought back a sword as a souvenir from his service in WWII. That was the murder weapon. Pelant was arrested, and you knew Max’s words, “This guy Pelant, he needs killing, Booth” meant something. Everything seemed great for a moment: Booth got his office back from Flynn, Cam gave Brennan back her job but created a new one for Clark so he could “pursue serious archaeological work,” Booth apologized for being angry with Angela and thanked her for getting his family home, and after everyone left, Booth and Brennan started to have sex on top of the washer or dryer. But then, Booth’s phone rang.

Presumably, it’s when they booked Pelant on the murder of the guidance counselor that his finger prints came back with the name Bassam Alfayat. His finger prints, DNA, work history, academic history, medical records, everything, now identify him as Bassam Alfayat. Caroline and Flynn said there was nothing they could do — an Egyptian official was there to take him home that night. Caroline tried to get “Pelant” to press assault charges against Brennan after she slapped him when he handed her that marigold, so he’d stay in the country and they’d have time to prove that he’d wiped out his old identity and created this new one. But he didn’t.

Your turn. Do you think Flynn is in on it? Are you excited to see how Bones handles Pelant, or nervous?

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