I believe it was the Fox procedural Bones that once said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.”
Isn’t that always the way things seem to go on this show — and, hopefully, the way things will go in next week’s series finale? Not everything works out perfectly, but everything works out. Cam and Arastoo want a nice quiet first day as a married couple. They aren’t going to get it. But Cam and Arastoo need their wedding to go off without any interruptions (or is it that I need that for them? It’s so hard to tell), and it does. One murder-free night coming right up.
We open the penultimate episode of Bones at Cam and Arastoo’s wedding reception — almost. First we open, menacingly, on a bomb’s countdown clock: 20, 19, 18, 17 — and then it’s 24 hours earlier, and we’re at the reception. Cam has never looked happier. Her dress is gorgeous. Her husband is gorgeous. She’s not changing her name. (Not one of the lead women on this show has taken her husband’s name. Nasty women unite.) I want to say, just because it’s finale time (and at finale time you tell the truth), that I appreciate this show for pairing the hot kickass black female coroner-boss with the hot sensitive Iranian poet-doctor. And for letting them exist in the first place.
Their wedding seems like a real party. After everyone’s been dancing for a while, Cam’s daughter Michelle toasts the happy couple, and then the bride and groom share a first-dance-style slow dance while everyone watches. So either Cam and Arastoo saved their first dance because they wanted to let their friends get straight to partying, which is very cool, or they’re just periodically making everyone drop everything to watch them dance together, which is the coolest.
In addition to being the only person capable of, to paraphrase Michelle’s toast, sweeping Cam off her feet, Arastoo is also the only person who can get Cam to stop working. The newlyweds are apparently taking some kind of amazing six-month vacation that might be extended further. “I don’t know where the next chapter of my life’s going to take me,” Cam tells Brennan, looking excited. The ladies then exchange knowing nods about the “obvious choice” to replace Cam as administrative head of the Jeffersonian. It’s probably not Goodman.
Anyway, has marriage made Cam chill or what? Christine marches right up to Cam and asks if she can wear her veil, and Cam just hands it over like it’s not a precious keepsake she was hoping to save for the rest of her life. (But she does draw the line somewhere: Christine calls most of her parents’ friends “auntie” and “uncle,” but Cam is “Dr. Saroyan.” Cam will have the respect of your children.)
The next morning, Cam wakes up at 11 a.m. and gasps, “Eleven! I have to — I have to do nothing!” The honeymoon lasts as long as it takes her to check her phone. In addition to eight voicemails, Cam has a text from Michelle letting her know that she saw her purse on a chair in the tent and grabbed it, which is a suspicious detail, especially given that some waiter at the reception told Cam that he’d moved her things from the changing area to her car. Wouldn’t her purse have been among those things? Or did she have it with her at her table? In any case, I’m on purse watch.
Now back to those eight voicemails. Cam and Arastoo both got a dramatic amount of anxious calls from their colleagues, who greet the newlyweds with even more drama when they roll up to the lab, looking very off-duty and sporting their “what could possibly be more important than all of the sex we were planning to have today” faces. Cam can’t even swipe her way onto the platform — she doesn’t have her key card; it’s IN HER PURSE — to see the dead body the team is examining. Arastoo has to swipe in for her. And when Cam asks what’s wrong, Brennan gets uncharacteristically vague: “Everything.”
All of this happens before the opening credits.
We come back from the break to… the wedding reception! What a gift. I wasn’t ready to leave the party. As it turns out, this episode is doing a season-4-of-Arrested-Development thing (or Lost, if you prefer — the font is very J.J. Abrams), following one character at a time to piece together the 24 hours that separate the party from the bomb. Cam got the pre-credits sequence. Next up?
Everyone’s favorite bug-and-slime guy is mixing drinks in beakers and test tubes; in a shout-out to David Alan Grier’s season 6 appearance as a Bill Nye-type science guy, Karen calls the setup “very Bunsen Jude.” But that’s not even the best callback in this paragraph. Hodgins teases his wife by offering (with a wink) to whip up a special drink just for her: the Pookie Noodlin. When you say Angela’s real name three times in public, a teacup pig gets adopted.
NEXT: Zack can learn anything
Bright and early the next morning, it’s time for Zack’s trial, and would ya squint at that: Zachary Uriah Addy is representing himself. He’s come a long way since Cam worried about putting him in front of a jury. He’s king of the courtroom. The evidence is on our team’s side — the blood on the sleeve of Gormogon’s previous apprentice is a match for the lobbyist Zack once confessed to killing. But a certain “fierce vision by the name of Caroline Julian” is Zack’s opposing lawyer, and she is good. When Hodgins loses his cool during Caroline’s closing arguments, he’s thrown out of the courtroom, leaving Brennan to face the verdict by her protégé’s side.
Before Hodgins can so much as snap a rubber band, Aubrey calls with a distraction: a dead body with a gunshot wound to the head. The victim is wearing a prison uniform, and two inmates recently escaped from the closest prison. One of them was Mark Kovac — the same guy Booth and Brennan recently arrested for killing Max. As you may recall, Kovac is the son of a war criminal Booth sniped in his Army days, and he’s got a bit of a vendetta. Angela does a facial reconstruction and determines that the body in the lab is the other inmate. Kovac’s on the loose.
Back at the wedding, Aubrey is anxious about asking Jessica to move to L.A. with him (oh right! They’re a thing), and he’s dealing with his problems by double-fisting drinks. The fact that the bouquet lands directly in Jessica’s arms does not help. The next morning, Aubrey wakes up, hungover, in Karen’s bed, but it’s not what you think: He just got so “wasty face” that Karen offered to host both him and Jessica at her place. Also, there’s a fluffy pink stuffed creature in the bed with him, and it is blessedly never explained.
On location with the dead inmate, Aubrey asks Jessica to move across the country; her response is a rousing “I don’t know.” Later, at the Bureau, she tells him that she isn’t ready to take this step with him, which makes her think the only step she should take is a step back. “I’m saying I don’t think there’s a future for us,” Jessica explains. “Not in L.A. or anywhere.” I’m still not sure how I feel about this pair, which in this case means I’m feeling Aubrey’s sadness and Jessica’s sweet clarity simultaneously.
In other news, Kovac and his fellow prisoner blew their way past a storm grate with a high-grade explosive you can’t exactly get in prison, so they must have had someone on the outside. Aubrey brings in Kovac’s wife, Jeannine, last seen being awfully shady when the agents turned down her coffee. Jeannine claims to want nothing to do with her husband.
Like Google Earth, Angela is always taking pics, but her gig as Cam and Arastoo’s wedding photographer is interrupted when Avalon shows up. This is Cyndi Lauper’s fifth Bones appearance! She’s not just here to have fun. (Sorry.) Angela’s psychic says she had a vision, and she’s desperate to talk to Booth. Ange finds him doing the sprinkler, which, as seen at Brennan’s high school reunion, is his one move.
Booth grumbles about missing “this whole party and all this dancing” (it’s gonna take, like, five minutes, Booth), but he agrees to see Avalon, leaving Angela and Brennan alone on the dance floor. The friends link arms and look back on all those times when Ange would pull Brennan away from her work for a night at the club (sure, one of those nights ended with a mummified body in a wall, but Brennan was cool with that too). Brennan thanks her best friend for getting her out of the lab every now and then, and when Angela points out how much things have changed — they’ve got husbands and kids now — Brennan’s response is one of my favorite lines of the hour: “But that doesn’t make our relationship any less important.”
Bones has always done female friendships proud, even if later seasons didn’t dedicate as much time to Angela and Brennan as they could have. It feels like the show is coming back to its roots here by insisting that the love between these two women doesn’t matter any less just because they’re not the central will-they-won’t-they couple. Or, in Brennan’s words, “What is it they say? Female friendships before male romantic partners?” Absolutely, yes.
Angela and Brennan toast to their friendship, and Brennan winces that their drinks are too strong. Ange just smirks: “Not for me.”
Cut to Angela slinking out of the bathroom at Zack’s trial, looking ill. It plays like she’s eating her words (or she would, if they’d stay down), but we’ll find out soon that when she tells a worried Brennan, “This is not my first rodeo,” Ange isn’t talking about hangovers. She’s pregnant. It’s not exactly a shock — she got emotional at a mattress commercial last week — and when Caroline mentioned seeing Angela run to the bathroom in Hodgins’ segment, the writing was on the wall. And don’t worry: Hodgins was mixing his wife virgin drinks all night (hence the custom Pookie Noodlin).
NEXT: Angela’s advice column
The last time Angela was pregnant, she and Hodgins found out mid-blizzard that they’re both carriers for a recessive genetic disease that causes blindness. Of course, that means the new baby is at risk, too, and the expectant parents are on edge waiting on a call from the doctor, though it’s not clear what exactly the doctor can tell them at this stage.
But a talk with Aubrey helps put Angela at ease. When Ange stops by the Bureau to clone Jeannine’s phone, Aubrey worries about whether Jessica will say yes to the move. The fact that this plays out after we already know her answer only makes Angela’s advice to “live for right now” more bittersweet. Later, she tells Brennan that her conversation with Aubrey helped her realize that life always works out: “Even if this baby ends up not being able to see our faces, we’re gonna be okay. We’re gonna be great, even.” This is the kind of maturity that comes from weathering your husband’s paralysis. There’s more than one way to be okay.
Also, whoever stole that explosive took way more than it would take to blow open that storm grate. About a thousand times more.
At the start of Brennan’s segment, we flash back to her friendship toast. These drinks are too strong for her. “Not for me,” Ange smirks. Nice one, Bones.
Angela goes to get a third piece of cake (how did Brennan miss the signs?!) while Brennan tells her daughter, now wearing Cam’s veil, that she looks like a very beautiful illegal bride. Then, over Angela’s pleas for one more dance, she takes the kids home. Okay, so it goes sleepy children, then female friendships, then male romantic partners…
The next morning at Zack’s trial, after Hodgins has already been kicked out, the judge offers Zack a chance to make a closing statement. In true Zack form, he says he’d rather let the evidence speak for itself. So Brennan speaks for him, offering a short defense of Zack’s character: He helped her catch a bunch of murderers, and he tried to cure his friend’s paralysis while institutionalized. “It’s true he made mistakes,” Brennan says, “but I still believe in my heart that the world would only benefit from his return to society.” The judge, on the strength of the team’s new evidence, reverses the conviction and overturns Zack’s life sentence.
But the team can’t take Zack to a celebratory diner lunch just yet. Since he did assist a known murderer, he’ll have to finish up the last 13 months on his sentence for that crime. It’s been a decade already. How this poor boy still has 13 months left for, like, telling a murderer where to find a guy, I’ll never know (I mean, obviously telling a murderer where to find a guy is BAD, but there are rapists roaming free because they know how to swim, and I just want to see Zack breathe fresh air). But he’s happy.
And they never could have done it without Caroline. Bones likes exploring the sticky issue of how someone might work within the system to outsmart it when personal loyalty and professional obligations are at odds. We’ve seen this a lot from Cam, who follows the rules so her friends can break them, and today, Caroline made sure to mention our team’s “compelling evidence” 19 times. Brennan counted. “Sometimes, not often,” Caroline says, “I underestimate you, Dr. Brennan.”
Zack thanks Brennan again, and they hug. It’s belated, but it’s closure. Justice for Zack Addy.
Back at the lab, Brennan and the squints aren’t exactly solving their usual murder. They already know who died, who killed him, and how he died — most weeks, this case would be closed. But to find Kovac, Brennan needs more, so she shoos Arastoo out of the room and does her thing alone with the bones. She tells Cam that she’s close: “There’s something I’m missing. It’s like I see it, but I just need more time.” So when Booth shows up in a panic, Brennan is a little less patient than usual. She doesn’t want to hear about what Avalon told him; she just wants to solve this case.
Booth throws Avalon’s cards on the table: Temperance and Death. This seems like a good reason never to give your kid a name that doubles as a Tarot card.
We’re back at the wedding again, and Booth has just stepped outside to talk to Avalon. After some balking, he picks The Cards, then tries to brush them off because “Bones can take care of herself.” (Good boy.) But Avalon knows that Booth knows she isn’t a fraud. “Look for the signs,” Avalon calls. Booth goes back inside to do the sprinkler.
When you’re expecting signs, everything has a way of looking like a sign. The next day, Booth finds Michelle waiting in his office with Cam’s purse (Pursewatch 2017 continues) (the purse is my sign) because she was going to be at the Bureau anyway for her final-round interview for Quantico. That comes out of nowhere, but good for Michelle, I guess! She hasn’t told Cam yet; she’s waiting until she knows she’s in so Cam won’t have to worry about the interview process and will instead be able to skip right to worrying about her daughter getting shot. When a bird flies into Booth’s office window, Michelle thinks it’s a bad omen, but Booth tells her it’s nothing.
But he can’t shake it off so easily, especially after Hodgins calls (Booth calls him “Bug Boy,” like old times) to say that he found a black witch moth — a harbinger of death in some cultures — with the inmate’s body. At the news that Kovac is on the loose, Booth brings his kids into the office, where Christine hands him one more sign: a photo of Brennan with her face obscured. Sure, it’s just Christine’s finger in front of the lens, but try telling Booth not to drive straight to the lab now.
We pick up with Booth at the Jeffersonian after he’s literally laid his cards on the table. As he and Brennan hug, Ange interrupts to say that they’ve got a trace on Kovac’s phone. SWAT is on it, but Brennan thinks Booth should go make the arrest. “This is what we do,” she says. That’s usually his line.
Booth is on his way out when Cam asks to tag along; she’s got her purse back but can’t find her ID, so she thinks it must have fallen out in the car. Something clicks into place. Booth, frantic, tells Angela to check Jeffersonian security, which says Cam’s key card was used to swipe onto the platform at 2:42 a.m. Cam was dancing then, maybe, or in bed with her hot husband, but she was definitely not at the lab. The bomb is here.
Booth hits a big red button to sound the alarms, and everyone starts evacuating. Brennan fights her husband for an extra minute to grab the evidence; she’s finally had her big epiphany, and she knows how to find Kovac. Booth is more worried about the bomb. While they argue, Angela and Hodgins are also a little behind schedule, partly because Hodgins can’t run with everyone else and partly because he was probably trying to save that moth or something.
The doors to the lab start to close automatically, and Cam’s override code isn’t working. Arastoo, literal Disney prince in human form, holds the doors open with his body, but as someone rushes past, he’s knocked out of the way — leaving Booth, Brennan, Hodgins, and Angela trapped inside. Booth’s gut reaction, like always, is to shoot the doors, but these doors are bulletproof, probably because Booth keeps shooting them. Somebody should tell the Jeffersonian that Booth only shoots doors when he has a good reason.
The Bones Four head for the basement, but since Booth didn’t get to shoot that door, he has to find another way to be heroic. He heads to the platform to look for the bomb; Brennan takes the opportunity to make a run for her evidence. Hodgins knows a thing or two about bombs, so he stays by the platform to help, and Angela won’t leave his side. No one is making it to the basement today.
By this point, the music is starting to sound like the Stranger Things theme. Hodgins tells Booth to check the hatch beneath one of the light tables, and, sure enough, there’s a bomb in there with 23 seconds until it blows. Booth starts whispering a little pep talk to himself and cuts the wire with one second to spare.
But the bomb is on an electronic repeater, which means there’s more than one. “We gotta get to the basement!” Booth yells, jumping out of the hatch and running from the platform. Now he gets it. But he’s too late — the whole Jeffersonian goes up in flames. And the four people who’ve been here since the very beginning are here at the end: together, getting blown up. How sweet.
To be continued, one last time.
Head here for showrunner Michael Peterson’s thoughts on the hour, as well as what’s to come.