It's been six whole months since we last had new Bones on our screens. The show's filming schedule was changed to accommodate star Emily Deschanel's real life pregnancy, but the shooting schedule wasn't the only thing affected. The last time we saw our dynamic duo, they were standing on a street corner with giant smiles on their faces, as Bones told Booth she was pregnant with his child. Season seven premiered last night, and the show has fast-forwarded five months in time to a point where Booth and Bones are now a full-fledged couple who have decided to raise their child together. "The Memories in the Shallow Grave" was gratifying in a lot of ways, but it was also frustrating.
Since its very first episode back in September 2005 Bones has first and foremost been a show about the conflicting partnership between the emotionally honest Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz), a man of faith and action, and the emotionally guarded Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a woman of reason and science. The procedural element of the show has always taken a backseat to the characters, which is one of the reasons it's so watchable, and the relationship between Booth and Brennan, even when it was at its most platonic in seasons one and two, has always been the center. In season three, the show finally gave in and began moving the two characters on the path of eventually becoming romantically involved with one another. The question with Booth and Brennan was never "Will they, won't they?" but "When?"
Back in May, executive Stephen Nathan did a post-finale interview with TV Line where he stated:
"The biggest problem we faced going into Season 7 was how to get these two people together while keeping the integrity of Brennan and Booth’s characters intact. By going this route, we didn’t have to have them go through the traditional love-dovey stage where everything was wonderful and they understood each other and they got past their differences. That’s never going to be the case. They now are together but are essentially the same exact characters. They’re going to disagree on everything they disagreed about before, including how to approach their lives together, religion, family and now how to approach having a child. So we lose nothing but gain a huge amount with the reality that they are now together sharing the biggest thing in their lives."
For the most part, I will tentatively agree that the tactic Nathan and showrunner Hart Hanson came up with has worked. They have managed to simultaneously maintain the status quo of the show, and yet move Booth and Brennan to a radically different place in their lives. The procedural element remains intact: seriously icky murders are still solved wittily and charmingly by adorable nerds and handsome men with guns, and Booth and Brennan's faith vs. reason schtick is still going strong. It's honestly become a bit of a predictable formula at this point (the show doesn't feel as imaginative as it once did, but that's a problem most shows as old as this one eventually face), but it remains fun and engaging despite that predictability. They've also managed to move the relationship between Booth and Brennan to the next level without disrupting the rest of it: Booth and Brennan still fundamentally disagree about everything. They still stare at each other moonily with large eyes and puppy dog faces. They are still completely adorable in every way.
If I might be allowed to wear two hats at once (fan and critic), there is still one aspect of the show that is missing, and it's problematic from both a fan's point of view and from a storytelling point of view. The show spent six whole years building up the delicious romantic tension between its two leads. There were stumbling blocks and silly rules about not dating co-workers and emotional issues and inconvenient boyfriends and you name it. And the show wasn't shy about these issues, either. This wasn't a show that made the romantic tension between its leads implicit and understated; this was a show that made it very, very explicit. Whole plots of episodes, whole arcs of seasons, were devoted to the potential problems that a Booth/Brennan romantic relationship would create. We watched them pine for each other, miss each other, and reject each other in turn. And after all that? All that extremely explicit (but not like that) overt romantic tension?
We get nothing.
Brennan's pregnancy was mostly a surprise in season six's finale, and unless you are really good at reading between the lines, or simply good at guessing what TV shows will throw at you next, you didn't see it coming. Why? Because that moment--that moment that the show had been building to for six years, explicitly and loudly and very centrally--was denied to us as viewers. In the penultimate episode of season six, "A Hole in the Heart," somewhere in between the death of a co-worker and the catching of the bad guy, Booth and Brennan finally gave in to their urges and did the deed. I was mildly disgruntled about this in May, but now after having watched the first episode of season seven, I can say with certainty that I am definitely fully disgruntled at this point. I feel cheated, like I was denied that one thing that I had been waiting for for six years. I gasped aloud when Booth and Brennan kissed in the opening scene of last night's episode, because it seemed to come out of nowhere. These are characters who kiss each other?WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? Oh, wait, I'm not exactly sure because I must have missed that part or something. It's like you finally finished your dinner, and somebody drops your pie on the floor, or getting married but skipping the honeymoon. It's like going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under a second. My head snapped back from the impact and I still haven't quite recovered.
Bones the show has not fundamentally changed due to the newfound relationship between its leads, which is a good thing for the most part, but I do hope in the future that storytelling shortcuts like that aren't taken again. I enjoy watching the show every week. I enjoy the chemistry between the characters, and I enjoy being grossed out by all the dead bodies. But I also enjoy feeling emotionally satisfied, and right now, I'm feeling kind of empty.
What do you guys think? Sound off in the comments.