Bones puts the cap on a decade of episodes with “The Next in the Last,” a case that revisits Pelant’s reign of terror and has Brennan and Booth seriously questioning the safety of their professional lives as their family grows. Angela becomes conflicted about some of her and Hodgins’ life decisions and finally finds clarity after she solves one of the major Bones mysteries left open-ended from season 9. Lots of questions left unanswered, folks, but we’re preparing another article all about that, so stay tuned.
Bones is famous for its hysteria-inducing season finales, but season 10’s final hour experienced some extenuating circumstances that resulted in a finale that pales in comparison to its predecessors. The character deliveries and case were as interesting as ever, but the storyline logic was loosely assembled as if time ran out before the whole story could be told. Key Bones staples were omitted and abrupt decisions were delivered without the emotional investment we are accustomed to with our Bones characters. After the season that gave us so many stellar plots and performances, what happened?
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Logical Concerns. Not Enough Time to Process. That’s What Happened.
Let’s blame any unfortunate discontinuities on the tenuousness of the series’ renewal for messing with ample finale preparation. The crew had to figure out a way to write and produce an ender that wasn’t just a season finale, but a series finale. That’s a pretty dang tall order leaving way too much on the table to be cleaned up in one 43 minute blast. As a result, some matters occur as rushed, others as inconsistent with the characters we have watched develop over the last decade. Read on.
Booth Is Back Home, But Brennan Wants a Life That Won’t Get Her Killed
Booth is nonplussed when he finds a stack of job offers with Brennan’s Post-it notes all over them. He’s at the breakfast bar at The Mighty Hut 2.0 when he queries Brennan about it. The danger inherent in the work they do as crime-fighters has given the pregnant mother pause and she’s been considering safer professional options for both of them. “Haven’t we been through enough already?,” she asks. Booth wants to discuss these things together, of course. Booth seems deflated and uncomfortable, a fish out of water in his own home. The abruptness of her idea disconcerts him.
More importantly, however, is the issue of renewed cohabitation with Brennan and Booth. Has Booth already moved back into the house? The final scene of “The Life in the Light” had Brennan asking him to spend the night with her. It was a step toward reconciliation, but not a full shebang move-back gesture. At least, that is how it seemed to this viewer. This is one of the discontinuities I was refering to above.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
When “The Next in the Last” opens, something is missing. What happened to Booth’s emotional recovery work? Where is the heart-crushing acknowledgement of how carelessly he put his family in mortal danger? Where is the humility, the tearful apology, the forgiveness as seen in the final scenes of episodes such as “The Partners in the Divorce” (We are more than psychology). Remember Brennan in “The Secrets in the Proposal” when she apologized for letting her faith in him falter? Having been privy to those quintessential Brennan-Booth moments in the past, their absence in “The Next in the Last” courts the hairy edge of dis-ingenuousness.
Can we blame this crucial omission on Booth not being one for apologies? No. In “The Sense in the Sacrifice,” Booth explained Pelant’s manipulation of their engagement and humbly asked Brennan to marry him. So, where’s our emotional redemption now? We have to assume that all occurred off screen. We Bones fans are greedy; we want to see it all. Snap.
Perhaps we’ll get some of that next season. I’m crossing my phalanges but, as the Rolling Stones aptly put it: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you might find … you get what you need.” What we needed most of all is B and B back together. We got that. So maybe … enough said.
The Victim is Skewered On an Ancient Egyptian Obelisk
A fully articulated (except the hands) and de-gloved corpse is found in Adams Park skewered through the gut and slid half way down a carved Egyptian obelisk with a chiranthodendron flower shoved in his mouth — just the kind of thing Pelant used to do. The meaning of the chiranthodendron: Be warned. We haven’t seen a corpse like this since Agent Flynn was posed as Prometheus in “The Sense in the Sacrifice.” Even grosser, this corpse wasn’t just poked through the middle like a hunk of Teriyaki chicken on the barbie, he was actually cut to order. How cool, er, I mean, gross is that? When it comes to corpses, nobody does remains the Bones Fairies. #KingOfRemains
Booth and Brennan are the first to say it out loud: This looks like Pelant’s work. Is that socially-marginalized narcissist with delusions of grandeur and a malignant antisocial personality disorder back among the living? Say it ain’t so! Maybe it’s a copy cat. Perhaps a rabid Pelant fan? (I distinctly recall advising and/or screaming at Brennan and Booth to check Pelant’s corpse after Booth shot him. But did they listen? Of course not.) But wait, Cam reveals that she performed his autopsy herself and they all witnessed it. (Pfew! I hope they stuck needles in his eyes and stapled his testicles to his forehead as well. Too much? Nah, not for Pelant. Sick bastard.)
The victim turns out to be a rather sad sack, by the way: Franklin Holt, techno geek who calls himself an independent computer consultant so he never has to leave his home. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Thank you, Seinfeld). There is mention of Hodgins’ missing billions as a potential motive for someone creepily trying to get into Pelant’s head.
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A Suspiciously Technology-Free House and Our First Suspect Emerges
In rummaging through Holt’s house Angela finds not a shred of technology. This reminds me of season 9’s finale, “The Recluse in the Recliner” when they found data stored nowhere but on the guy’s nipple ring. But in Holt’s house there is absolutely nothing except for some leftover pizza. A propos, for a guy whose life was all about the byte, pun intended. What they do find is a lot of blood, indicating a struggle, and Holt’s Jiu Jitsu girlfriend, Leelah Strawn, who was ransacking the home for an unknown reason. Strawn points toward IT security specialist Owen Ellickson who Holt got fired from Kevin Dunlop Investments, a scruple-less firm who launders and manages money from drug lords and dictators.
Later, Holt’s data is finally found when Daisy notices a video tape of Strange Brew. That’s where Holt had hidden all of his secrets. This, of course, is a nod to Bones guest writer, Dave Thomas, who not only wrote and directed that film, but starred in it as well. Nice.
Is Booth Gambling Again?
Booth inexplicably skips dinner with Brennan and Christine. No call. No text. Not even an owl post. He looks guilty when he finally arrives home. (Doesn’t he understand that this is suspicious behavior for an addict who wants his loved ones to trust him? This scene’s opening made the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up.)
Brennan, however, gives him an easy out instead: He was worried about the case. Hmm. Do we believe him? Maybe if we’d gotten our humble, heartfelt apology during an emotionally fraught scene between the two, well, maybe then we’d be convinced that he’s truly clean.
Booth Decides This is His Last Case
Booth says Brennan was right about them needing to leave the jobs that could get them killed. He admits to having made bad choices in the past, but this feels right to him. In the face of their career options, he suggests that maybe it’s just time to have a new baby and be happy. Brennan smiles beautifully, and then the dang phone rings again.
This seems to come out of the blue for Booth. He seems sincere about it, but I’m not convinced his gut is on board yet. He’s still not back to 100% confidence since he started gambling again. He walks around with his tail on alert like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. This will be a huge change. Executive Producer Stephen Nathan warned us that Brennan and Booth would be working in a completely new way after the finale. I guess this is it.
Ellickson Is Goo Goo-Eyed for Hodgins” Stolen Billions
In the hot seat, Owen Ellickson admits to admiring Pelant for stealing Hodgins $4.6 billion. That money has to be somewhere, right? With Pelant dead, it’s fair game; that’s Elickson’s thinking. He says Holt fired him for endangering Dunlop Investments’ security, but he didn’t kill Holt.
Booth Tells Miss Caroline Julian That he’s Leaving
In one of the best scenes of the episode, Booth shares with Caroline that this is his last case. Her response is priceless and exquisitely delivered by Patricia Belcher. Booth is somber and you can see that he loves and respects the sweetness of Miss Caroline. And, dear readers, now he’s starting to sound committed to this move.
Not too much later, Cam overhears Brennan telling Angela that she and Booth are leaving as well. Cam is stunned. In another of the best scenes of the episode, Brennan struggles to tell Cam that she wasn’t sure how she would break the news to her superior because she is also her friend. The thought of hurting Cam was too difficult to bear.
Everybody Knows Aubrey Loves Cake
Aubrey, Booth and Caroline interrogate a smug and snarky Kevin Dunlop from the investment firm. When he gets cagey, Aubrey lets loose on the guy in another one of the best scenes of “The Next in the Last.” Aubrey brought his own father down, so taking down Dunlop will be a piece of cake. Best line: “And as my friends here can attest, I love cake.” I love aubrey. So. Much.
Dunlop finally caves and admits that Pelant’s money is all gone. Every trace of the money and the account he had mysteriously vanished the day Holt was found skewered on the obelisk.
Holt and Ellickson Were In Cahoots
On the Strange Brew video, Angela discovers emails between Holt and Ellickson. Booth and Aubrey are all over Ellickson like white on rice. He admits working with Holt who was attempting to pilfer Pelant’s purloined billions, but insists he didn’t kill the guy.
Daisy, Wendel and Clark determine that Holt was shot, but the wound was removed when the killer cut out the victim’s mid section. A bullet blow-back mark on the scapula bullet confirms the cause of death. The cuts to the midsection show hesitation marks, but other than that are identical to Pelant’s. Man, it takes a special kind of evil to cut a person’s gut out like that. Dang.
Hodgins Goes Old School
Hodgins fulfills a fantasy by borrowing the calutron used to make a nuclear bomb in The Manhattan Project. He’s excited to use his mass spectrometer to determine if any particulates on the pizza box might provide clues about the killer. What do they find? Gun powder residue. The delivery man must have killed Holt. The team has also discovered that the killer has Radial-Ulnar Synostosis and can’t rotate his or her wrist.
The team watches the the pizza place surveillance tape, but the conniving killer’s face is never shown. Brennan figures out who the killer is but challenges the squinterns to do it for themselves to prove that she is a good teacher. Wendell figures out the killer is a woman. It’s Holt’s non-girlfriend hacker, Leelah Strawn, who was after Holt’s access to Pelant’s billions. Angela uses Holt’s tracking signal to find Leelah heading for the train station.
At the train yard Strawn hops a train car. For an intelligent woman with ass-kicking skills, Strawn doesn’t run very fast and she’s light on the stealth skills as well. Booth and Aubrey see her and hop on the moving train she’s jumped. She locks Booth in a car, tasers Aubrey twice and then tries to kick him out the door. He punts her in the gut and she falls over. When she attempts to use the taser on Aubrey again, Booth appears and shoots the taser out of her hands and they finally cuff her.
Hodgins Doesn’t Want His Rediscovered Billions
Angela finds Hodgins’ billions but Hodgins doesn’t want that dirty money. He says they have enough already. They will anonymously donate the money to cancer research and other worthy causes. Angela is aghast at Jack’s disinterest in recouping, but agrees to do it on the one condition that they will stay at the Jeffersonian. And that’s it. Fret not, Bones fans, the Hodgins family is staying.
Cam Finally Cries and Booth Says Some Goodbyes
Cam lets the tears loose after looking at the portrait of her and her little crime-solving Jeffersonian family. Arastoo shows up to comfort her. You can’t help but think that these actors must be wondering if these truly are their final scenes together.
Booth says goodbye to Caroline and Aubrey, takes bobblehead Bobby and leaves the Hoover.
Brennan Shuts Pelant Down Indiana Jones-Style
As Brennan packs, Angela appears with a disturbing video from Christopher Pellant. After listening to his first several sentences, Brennan abruptly turns the monitor off like Indiana Jones shooting the Cairo Swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Angela is stunned. “You really want to leave with this hanging over us?” Angela asks. One has to wonder if that line wasn’t intended for FOX as a question about the not yet sealed paperwork for season 11.
In typical Brennan style, the anthropologist responds to her best friend by turning to what she knows. “As humans we all seek closure, but closure is an illusion. Science shows us that the universe is constantly in flux. It’s what allows our friendships and our love to constantly surprise us.” Further, Brennan refuses to call Pelant to have influence over her family’s new life. Take that, you dirty rat.
The Booth Family Sails Off Into the Mystic
Hugs all around. Brennan. Booth. Cam. Arastoo. Hodgins. Angela. Clark. Wendell. Daisy. The Hodgins family is staying. The Booth family is leaving the Jeffersonian and the FBI. What next? Was this episode a clue that season 11 will feature Aubrey and these four squinterns? Will Brennan and Booth solve crimes from afar? We know they will be back; the question remaining is … how?
My favorite episode of this season is “The Murder in the Middle East,” followed closely by “The 200th in the 10th.” After that it’s hard to choose.
Bones airs Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)