I sort of feel like I owe Hart Hanson and the Bones writers an apology.
Bones has its next chapter in the Pelant arc on Monday. (Note – there are no spoilers in this post beyond that one, which was revealed in last week’s promo.)
“Pelant” is a power word in the Bones fandom. Say it, and a lot of people immediately lose their, uh, feces. (Don’t believe me? Check out the comments section of any TV site discussing the promos, sneak peeks for the upcoming episode, or the show in general.)
Some of them hate the arc because of its effects on Booth and Brennan, but many others see Pelant himself as the problem, that he’s an omniscient, omnipotent cartoon villain, capable of hijacking missiles, shutting down power grids, and stealing billions of dollars with the touch of a button.
I shared some of those opinions for a while. I loved The Crack in the Code, but all I could see in The Past in the Present were what struck me as enormous plot holes that left me assuming that everyone but Brennan had been taken over by aliens – which seemed just as likely to me as did supervillain Pelant.
I’m hardwired to enjoy what I watch for entertainment, though, so I kept coming back to the story and picking at it, looking for a way to make it make sense to me. And I finally hit on it about the time The Future in the Past aired: Hart & company had deliberately stepped outside their usual mostly-grounded-in-reality stories to tell a superhero tale.
It’s not as unreasonable as it sounds. The show has touched before on the team being superheroes, from Brennan telling Zach that intelligence was his super power, to Brennan fancying herself as Wonder Woman. At its heart, the show is about a team of people combining science, courage, heart, and off-the-charts IQs to catch bad guys, and until Pelant showed up, they always succeeded. The writers wanted to tell the story of how it affected them not to succeed, (at least not right away), to face someone who actually might be more powerful than them – the basic plot line of every superhero film ever written.
It’s not a bad story. If it was, superhero films wouldn’t be so popular. So why shouldn’t Bones, which has always acknowledged, in a tongue-in-cheek way, that they’re telling a story about people who are so smart, they’re sort of like superheroes to the rest of us, tell a story of them going up against someone who might be smarter than them? And what would that villain be like, if they did?
Come on – be honest. Can’t you sort of picture the story that way? Six people, each with their own particular superpower, going up – and presumably eventually winning – against an all-powerful psychopath? (It’s possible I’ve been amusing myself lately by visualizing the team in a comic book – excuse me, graphic novel. We have Bug Guy, Artist Girl, and Boy Shrink…but I’m stuck on good identities for Booth, Brennan, and Cam. Caroline is obviously their human liaison.)
I’m not saying viewing the story that way works for everyone, not at all. Only that once I framed the story that way, it was okay that Pelant was a supervillain. It was okay that he was doing impossible stuff.
Only it turns out, he’s not. Well, yeah, he is, but the gap between Pelant and reality may not actually be all that different from the usual gap on the show between science and reality. (i.e., you don’t get DNA results back in seconds.)
A few weeks ago, Forbes.com posted this article on their website. I skimmed it when Natesmama posted the link on Twitter, but didn’t really have time to read it in detail until today. (And then I lost the link, and it took Laffers, with her searching superpowers, to find it for me.)
Read that, and tell me you don’t think of Pelant?
Our biggest problem may not be the exaggeration of the abilities of a villain on a crime procedural, but rather that there could be a genius psychopath out there with the ability to exploit the weaknesses discussed in the article.
I hope somewhere there’s a real team of superhero cyber security folks who are one step ahead of him.