As crazy as I am about Bones, I occasionally react to spoilers with, ‘oh, I wish they wouldn’t do that. I don’t see how it can work.’ And part of why I’m crazy about said show is that I’m almost invariably wrong when I say that. I said it about the gambling relapse, which turned out to be one of my favorite arcs; I said it about Zack’s return, and this episode pretty much hit every note for me. (Yeah, there were a few nitpicks, but I’m not going to get into them here due to space. I’ll probably go into them in more depth over at Bonesology.)
Although I often list things I love about the show (I know I do) the big three are Booth and Brennan’s relationship, the team-as-family, and the way the show’s allowed the characters to grow and change. I think the fact that the end of the series has allowed them to focus a bit more on the latter two is why the show’s only continued to get better for me. (I accepted a long time ago that I’m not in any majority among fans with that particular breakdown of priorities, by the way.)
Don’t get me wrong: I loved watching what was developing between Booth and Brennan in the early seasons, and loved watching Brennan in particular grow as she navigated her relationship with her family. But even while accepting that the show couldn’t give me everything I wanted due to time constraints, I often lamented not seeing more interaction between Booth and Hodgins, or Booth and Cam, or yes, Booth and Zack. (And to a lesser degree, Cam and Brennan, but it was five in the Lab vs. Booth in the FBI…and yet it was his team, too. “We’re the center.”)
So setting up a Zack story that not only makes sense to me in terms of how the truth would come out in the absence of the only person who knew it, i.e., Sweets, but does so in context of Zack and Booth’s relationship…well. Yeah, I’m still grinning.
I’m seeing a lot of theories about what led to the estrangement between the team and Zack, as well as the changes we saw in him, so I’m going to toss out mine:
We’re not told when they stopped visiting him, but it must have been well before Sweets died, because by then, he was established as the only person still doing so. And I wonder…was it a gradual thing, as their lives changed with marriages and babies, and his didn’t, and it became – probably unintentionally on their part – possible to miss a week, and then two or three, without even realizing it? But Zack did, and perhaps the wedding was a capstone for him in respect to what it meant for their relationships with him?
(Speaking of the wedding…did Zack actually cut up the wedding photo, or, given his blackouts, was that part of Roshan’s frame-up?)
It’s not that they stopped loving him, but when your life is moving on and away from someone whose life is standing still, it gets harder to keeps those connections, no matter how well-meaning you are.
Second, I thought Zack’s character changes made perfect sense. What are the effects on a brilliant, non-mentally-ill but socially compromised individual who is committed to a sanitarium with the genuinely mentally ill, medicated, and gradually abandoned by his friends? It might be something like this. And then, whether Roshan was telling the truth about the origin of Zack’s scar or not, he sustained a head injury of some kind, which can also lead to personality changes.
What I particularly liked in all this, though, was Booth. Was he prepared to shoot Zack when he thought he was going to inject Brennan in the opening scene? Absolutely. And he was still assuming Zack was guilty in the conversation with her in her office, when she was raising doubt. But Booth’s gut started having trouble adding things up (to merrily mix some metaphors) about the time it came out that Zack had tried to help Hodgins.
He never stops investigating, never stops looking for ways to get to the bottom of what’s going on. But Booth’s also listening to the instincts saying that Zack didn’t kidnap Brennan and threaten to inject himself with truth serum if his goal was actually to kill her.
I don’t think Zack was wrong, entirely, about he and Booth not being friends, certainly in the way Zack and Hodgins were (which may have been Zack’s standard) but Zack was one of Booth’s people, he knew him, and given that, I like finding out that Booth has always had doubts about Zack as murderer.
Musing on that led me back to one of my favorite lines from S4’s The End in the Beginning, when ‘Vincent’ said to ‘Zack’: “Because you’re the type of moron who goes to gaol for a murder he didn’t commit, and I am not.”
I wonder…has that line always meant that either Booth or Brennan had doubts about Zack’s guilt? (Brennan told the story, but Booth dreamed it, so I’ve assumed that meant they both contributed to it, with the major plot points of the nightclub caper coming from her.)
Anyway, getting back to the current reality, Booth saves Zack, in time to see Zack’s realization that he’s not capable of taking a life, both of which points I found satisfying.
Zack and Booth weren’t all I loved in this episode, though.
Brennan and Wendell
I thought that quiet moment between Brennan and Wendell, when he comes to tell her he’s finished with the bone shards, was wonderful. She asks if he’s found anything that will either exonerate or convict Zack, and I think it’s a sincere question on her part – she’s desperate for answers, enough so that she’s wavering on one of the foundations of her life: follow the evidence where it leads, and no more.
But his baffled response of “No. I didn’t find any such evidence. Nor was I looking for any. You always taught me to examine the evidence without any preconceived bias, and unless you say otherwise, that is what I’m going to continue to do,” does more than just remind her of that foundation, it reassures her that whatever went wrong with her first, much-loved intern, she’s raised the others well. (Mom-term used intentionally.)
And her smile is one of pride:
I’ve said before that I have a crush on his man, right? He continues to inspire me with his passion, his loyalty, and his courage.
He’s so angry with Zack at the beginning, when he tells Wendell, “If I’d been in that basement, this needle here wouldn’t be in evidence. Nope. I would have shoved it down his throat, made sure it punctured every one of his organs on the way down.”
I’ve been thinking about that anger, and it feels like a mix of things to me, ranging from betrayal to guilt. He believes Zack killed the lobbyist, but has also always believed he repented of that. That Zack knows it was wrong and regrets it. Now, assuming Zack has killed multiple times more, he’s confronted with another betrayal.
But some of that anger may also be due to guilt, if my earlier theory that they simply drifted out of the habit of visiting Zack is true. We know from The Perfect Pieces in the Purple Pond that for a while, Hodgins was his most regular visitor. Whenever and however that stopped, Hodgins may well be feeling some guilt.
Then, because he’s not already a mess of emotions, he learns that same friend has tried to help him. Misguided, illegal, ultimately a failure, Zack still tried. And why? To give his friend something Zack doesn’t seem familiar with himself: hope:
“I have been told, although it has not been proven scientifically, that hope can sometimes have the power to heal. Hope is what I was trying to give you. But my fear is that all I’ve brought you is pain.”
Hodgins doesn’t care. There’s no anger here over the deceit, only an awareness that Zack tried, that however it came about, it had allowed Hodgins to give even that last-ditch effort a best shot.
There’s courage in accepting a new life and looking to it for fresh sources of joy over fighting to regain an old life, and that seems to be what he’s saying to Angela: “I’m okay. I’m not in pain. I’m okay.”
He’s comforting her, and that’s beautiful to me…as is the fact that the show is apparently going to let him remain paralyzed. Real life obstacles seldom accommodate us by being reversible; it’s good when our heroes face the same kinds of things.
And Hodgins? Yeah, he is okay. Did you notice at the beginning of the episode how comfortable he was with Wendell pushing his chair so he could hold the Brennan-tracker-whatzit? No hesitation. He’s wholly focused on whatever it takes to get the job done – in this case, finding Brennan – including letting Wendell be his legs.
Booth and Brennan
I love the way their relationship has evolved. Do they still disagree pretty frequently on all kinds of things? Yes, they do, and they always will. But they’re also remarkably in sync with one another, despite those differences.
(Did you catch that they both say to the other at some point in the episode, ‘trust me’? And they do.)
Brennan never did agree with him on his freak out about her visit to the basement, but I think she understood where it was coming from. (Last night, I confess to thinking that maybe if she’d told him she was with Wendell at the beginning of the call, perhaps it would have helped, but…no, probably not. The memory of her kidnapping from the Jeffersonian is too fresh in his mind.)
And that comfort hug between them? I think it might be my new favorite of those types of scenes. Brennan’s better than she used to be at identifying her own emotions, but I think she still has times when she’s more rattled than she realizes, or at least, is less aware of what she needs to get back on an even keel (here, she was fixated on seeing the kids.) Booth, though, was quite clear that they needed to take a moment – him as much as her – just to be. “Stop talking,” he said. (And she did! LOL. Because as soon as his arms were around her, she understood.)
As I said, there were a few nitpicks (some of them occurring to me only during my second watch) but on the whole? This is probably one of my favorite premieres. Just the fact that I kept being wrong about the killer (Zack? Zack’s really, actually the killer? Wait! No, Crazy Karen? No! Faulk! No! Karen!) was sort of fun (probably because if either Faulk or Karen Delfs was my therapist, I’d commit murder and claim it was justified.)
Very satisfied fangirl here. Roll on, next week.
“I knew her life was in danger.”
“So why didn’t you just call her up and tell her?”
“I’m not well versed in social etiquette. But I believe, when dealing with accusations of serial murder, it’s best to meet face to face.” (Zack, Aubrey)
“He’s trying to help Hodgins walk. I mean, that’s nice when you think about it.”
“Doesn’t make him innocent. I’m sure Norman Bates was nice, at least when it came to his mother.” (Booth, Aubrey)
“It’s odd, but being perceived as a murderous cannibal does have some advantages.” (Zack)
“I do not get you, you know that? All the evidence points to Zack, even he can’t deny it, but now, you don’t think that he did it.”
“Look, it doesn’t matter, okay? It’s just a gut feeling, that’s all.”
“Well, maybe your gut needs a probiotic.” (Aubrey, Booth)