An epic tale deserves epic consideration. Fix yourself a glass of your favorite poison—be it diet Coke, kelp slushy or 30 year old single malt—and find a comfortable chair. Reading this may take a while … as it certainly should after such an epic experience. #ThatIsAll
Riveting. Disquieting. Masterful.
Leaving viewers stunned and relieved in equal measure, this year’s Bones finale, “The Recluse in the Recliner,” was possibly the most riveting hour of entertainment in Bones history. Booth took no prisoners, Brennan kicked radical patootie, and the two fought mightily for each other. No surprise, as David Boreanaz’s forays into directing are action-packed more often than not, and always rife with emotion. This finale was even more so without going a centimeter overboard. How do they do that?
The final hospital scene was a gut-wrenching heartbreaker; the Mighty Hut massacre was an impressive tableau rivaling Guernica. Booth (Boreanaz) and Brennan’s (Deschanel) mounting anxiety was palpable, yet somehow stealthy, creeping up on us until we found ourselves in over our heads and gasping for air. In the center remained the steadfast love of one man and one woman willing to sacrifice their lives for each other; and one sentinel soldier’s the loyalty to and faith in his country which he would go to the mattresses to protect even if he be the last man standing. All this leapt right out of the screen to land heavy on our hearts in dewy, angsty sentiment. Throughout, Booth is the embodiment of integrity, courage and sacrificial love while Brennan exemplifies steadfast commitment, truthfulness at all cost, and tremendous fortitude.
Despite being emotionally saddle sore from the ride, fans around the world nod their collective approval. Why? I’ll tell you why: Booth is alive and he and Brennan are solid. That is what matters most to Bones fans. As long as B&B are alive, they will prevail.
“The Recluse in the Recliner” was clearly Booth’s episode, but Brennan’s star sparkled in her portrayal of a woman we have rarely, if ever, seen so startlingly convicted and on the verge of flying apart. It was amazing. She was amazing. On top of her pull-out-all-the-stops desperate scenes as she verbally sparred with Booth, she also, as mentioned above, brought back the gun-wielding ‘stop-or-I’ll-kick-you-in-the-testicles’ attitude we rarely see post Christine’s birth.
Many aspects of Bones’ highly satisfying finale deserve notice, but most unexpectedly gratifying, other than the obvious fantastic action and phenomenal performances, were the energetic though not frenetic pace which didn’t sacrifice plot, and the cliffhanger that demonstrated the frightening power behind the FBI conspiracy without killing or permanently maiming either beloved protagonist or their relationship. Thank you, Bones fairies. (Hand on my heart) This was a welcome surprise after the last two cliffhangers left the key relationship in massive turmoil as was hinted by in the previews for this one as well.
Post Dramatic Stress
Are fans ready to rehash that mind-numbing, magnificently-executed, phenomenally filmed, even-paced, heart-rending, breath-stealing, Bruce Willis-Meets-Charles Bronson in a remake of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly-esque Bones finale butt-kicking? Viewers still linger unsteadily in front of their flat screens and handhelds fingering their remotes or keypads wondering if they have the energy to re-watch “The Recluse in the Recliner” one more time. Why? Because the condition of our psyches in the aftermath of the Bones apocalypse mirrors the decimated combat zone that the Mighty Hut has become after what Nathan, Hanson, Deschanel and Booth, er, Boreanaz … put us through with last week’s hour of crime-u-tainment. A week later and my cheeks still flush crimson just thinking about it. >.<
Quality Over Quantity
In keeping with the Bonesian formula, “The Recluse in the Recliner” delivers a particularly nasty death, a super cool memory chip in a titanium-quality nipple ring, and the most dangerous kind of assassin: A team of government-trained Delta Force operatives. Surrounding the drama, thanks to a two day time jump and a flashback, is the full-circle trauma-drama depicting an unconscious bullet-and-blood-riddled Booth (!) being rushed into emergency surgery as Brennan hysterically (understandably) screams his name from the hallway. Two minutes in and we’re already sweating bullets. Holy crap on a cracker, people. Spfh–wow.
So masterfully balanced are the three story lines — that of the unfolding murder investigation, the congressional process surrounding Booth’s promotion, and the burgeoning FBI conspiracy/Delta Force battle — that none is subverted to subplot status. Perhaps we could call the occasional though short-lived emotional tussle between Brennan and Booth a subplot … though it’s more of a device to define their mutually intense anxiety over their plight and their fear for each other’s safety.
Finally, the dialog pace, scene changes and cinematography advanced the plot and the action at a decent clip, yet were deliberate enough that no details were lost along the way–an incredible feat when cramming all that activity into 43.7 minutes. Especially impressive was the stealthy build of dark intensity during the last fifteen minutes, from Booth’s shocking confirmation hearing to the final hospital scene. Let us have a moment of silence for whatever we felt as we watched that final hospital scene. Words cannot express … Was anyone else surprised how shallowly you’d been breathing? I almost passed out from oxygen deprivation.
The Malice in the Manicure
As this Bones finale is the continuation of a complex storyline involving Pelant, the Ghost Killer, and gross wrongdoings within the FBI and beyond, it’s important to briefly review the facts.
- Stephanie McNamara, assumed Ghost Killer, was found murdered by Dr. Herman Kessler, the man expeditiously framed and locked up for Stephanie’s murder of Maya Zinko 18-20 years prior.
- Kessler spent his years in prison pouring over classified documents about the McNamaras which were provided to him by an unknown FBI source.
- Stephanie’s many murders had been covered up by daddy Giles McNamara (Wonder if she killed him too?)
- The SEC investigated McNamara eight times though never convicted
- McNamara funded congressional campaigns and God only knows what else
- Deputy Director Victor ‘I’m-bascially-clueless’ Stark (Sterling Macer Jr) made it clear that powerful FBI suits want the McNamara business dealt with swiftly, judiciously, and quietly
- Booth is being vetted for a much deserved yet suspiciously-timed promotion to head of the Berlin FBI field office
Though Kessler has been captured and Stephanie is dead, several questions remain.
- Who was Kessler’s contact inside the FBI?
- Where is Kessler now?
- How deep does the FBI corruption go?
- Is Stark part of the conspiracy?
By the end of the finale some of these questions are answered, others … well … they’ve been saved for season ten.
La-Z-Boy Swan Song
“The Recluse in the Recliner” opens with a bloody and badly wounded Booth heading into the OR and a frantic blood-smeared Brennan running in after him. You’ve got our attention, Bones fairies. What’s next?
Flash back two days. Booth receives an anonymous call from an informant teasing proof about McNamara, an FBI conspiracy, and government corruption. Before Booth can get to him, the informant has been blown to pieces, Molotov cocktail style.
The victim, Wesley Foster, was held down, tortured, administered CPR until his ribs broke, and then tortured again, this time to death without giving up the goods to his three assassins who turn out to be nameless Delta Force ‘bastards’ whose identities we never learn. Wesley ‘Molotov cocktail’ Foster’s killers ministrations blew off the top of his head; charred, splintered and splattered viscera and bone all over the interior of the mobile home, and fused his remaining skin to the vinyl of his recliner. Now, that’s nasty. Even for Bones. #Excellent
Conspiracy Theorists Justified
The memory chip in the nipple ring reveals emails, bank records and documents proving corruption among businessmen, politicians and foreign officials. Booth asserts that whomever is at the top is so well insulated that the victims probably don’t even know who is blackmailing them … not for money, but for power.
Booth is stunned by the sheer volume of proof and its implications. Only one viable option makes sense: pretend they know nothing, declare Forster’s death an accident, and covertly investigate everything before involving anyone else.
Brennan is not at all happy with this option at first. It’s not rational, she spits. Her anxiety is palpable. The level-headed anthropologist so rarely looses her cool that it’s startling when she does. She knows Booth’s life will be at risk if he goes up against people who have Delta Force, who Do. Not. Take. Prisoners, at their beck and call. She’s frightened as hell and her usual calm is cracking under the strain.
Order in the Court
Encouraged by a congenial lunch with Stark and Congressman Efran ‘I’m-a-douche-of epic-proportions’ Hadley (Peter Mackenzie), Booth attends his hearing with Brennan by his side. Hadley takes the floor and verbally attacks Booth about his military activities as a sniper in Pakistan and accuses him of being an anti-American assassin. Hadley escalates the situation, besmirching Booth’s name irreversibly.
Booth, never once cowed by Hadley’s inappropriate and boisterous attack, unflinchingly accesses his inner reservoir of honor and integrity, refusing to defend himself if it means revealing classified information. You see, Booth understands that two wrongs do not make a right and that he stands alone in front of his Maker to account for his behavior … no matter what anyone else does. Booth’s righteousness (and Boreanaz’s delivery of it) sends tingles down the spine and makes a person want to either cry or jump up and down cheering. Hear that guys? Integrity engenders some strong chemistry in the realm of serious, life-altering affinity. This is why we so, so, so love Booth. He is so damn good. Solid, solid good. He’s so much more than the fine Boreanaz face he shares with the outside world. The man’s got a cowboy heart of solid gold (I suspect DB does as well, but that’s really none of my business, nor is it yours #Fact). I digress …
As a result of the accusations and Booth’s refusal to stoop to Hadley’s level, the press swarms, yelling and screaming accusations. Brennan, her heart breaking for her partner, valiantly defends Booth as a decorated veteran and one of the most successful FBI agents ever, but Booth ends up getting fired anyway. Stark remains befuddled. More on this later.
Booth, brilliant man that he is, knows this means Hadley has been compromised. He also knows the public shaming was intended as a huge smack on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. The last thing the bastards expect is for him to turn around and smack them right back. Bazinga, bastards, take that.
Nolite Te Bastartes Carborundorum, or Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down
Seeley Booth is made of different metal than a lot of men are. He answers to a commander who outranks everyone at the FBI, the White House, and even the Vatican. That commander demands integrity, humility, and obedience in exchange for which He confers righteousness and discernment, or the ability to see clearly what is morally right in the face of impossible circumstances.
Booth has dedicated his life to a justice system he believes in wholeheartedly, but understands that sometimes even good systems suffer for the immorality of power-hungry people. Booth will not stand down while bastards with superiority complexes rape America of everything she (and thousands of men and women) has fought for. Neither will his wife and partner in everything.
Some have speculated about the effect this FBI betrayal will have on Booth’s faith in the country he’s loved and served for over 25 years. However, while he may question where his directives came from when he was in the field, it is more likely that he will view the current discoveries as a bruise on the face of a beautiful and worthy piece of succulent fruit. The failure is not in the institution, the spirit, or the souls of the many good people, but in the poison of the few. Fortunately for him, Brennan is an expert in the realm of humanity’s power struggles across antiquity and will support him along the way. That is her super power.
I-I Am An Excellent Shot!
God. In a heart-crushing scene back at the Mighty Hut Brennan watches in amazement as her husband, the center of her universe, assembles his arsenal of firearms, ammo and explosives. Her recent declarations ring, unspoken, in the air: ‘You and I are bound to one another. So much so that I don’t feel that I could survive without you. You nurture me, you protect me. You are my home.’ The fact that she could now lose it all is devastating for her and for us.
Sometimes the time to choose our words and tone judiciously is a luxury we cannot afford. Sometimes we need to be loud, aggressive, authoritative. Booth recognizes this as one of those times and commands Brennan to take Christine and leave for safety. This is Booth’s battle, he insists. Brennan understandably panics at his unacceptable command. “We are better together! I-I’m an excellent shot!” Gulp. But they have Christine to think of. Brennan is beside herself like we’ve never before seen her. When she says I hate you, she means, I love you with ever fiber of my being and walking away goes against everything I am. She hates that she has to leave him to fight his battle alone. She hates that she can’t protect him. She hates that he is her heart and she has no control. And she hates that she knows he’s right. Wow. Gulp again. The final I love yous and you better not dies are so … God … how do you describe them? Dang, that Emily Deschanel can rip our hearts out.
Yipee Ki-yay, Mothersuckers!
Booth, in full-on Ranger mode, hides firearms, ammo and explosives in odd places all over the house. He is scary prepared and wound up tightly. But why didn’t he call in the cavalry? Whom else can he trust? Who has the necessary skill set and experience? No one. Booth is the cavalry.
The combat preparation and action sequences were outstanding, riveting. Gun powder and dry wall dust, splinters all over the place, motes of detritus and gun powder plume in the shafts of light snaking through the blinds. You can taste the sulfur in the air and lots of ground upward smoke-filled camera angles intensify this breath-stealing sequence. Wow.
Booth picks off three of the five assassins before Brennan returns to find him bleeding on the ground. Taking up a gun, she aims and hits one of the advancing targets perfectly. When her gun runs out of ammo, Booth finds the strength to throw himself upon the final assassin, breaking the operatives neck and saving Brennan’s life before slumping over exhausted and wounded on top of his foe’s dead body.
The ensuing hospital scenes are heart crushing, but Booth is alive though guarded and handcuffed to his hospital bed. Thank God Booth is alive and out of danger! Can I get an Amen?
In the final moments of “The Recluse in the Recliner, Bones’ ninth finale, Brennan is carted off, thrashing and screaming, to be questioned by the FBI and Booth is headed to jail for three months. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot, Bones.
Booth, Buddy, What Were You Thinking?!
Booth had been stripped of his access to the FBI, his badge, and probably his gun. After that day, there would have been nothing he could do to get to the bottom of the conspiracy. Booth had to act swiftly after being ousted from his position.
Was it worth it? For the most part, yes. Time will tell about the rest. Failure is merely a lack of perspective, people. The FBI knows they haven’t seen the last of Seeley Booth. They also know that he has incriminating information against the bastards who have sullied the country Booth so dearly loves and endangered his family and millions of innocent people both at home and abroad. That gives Booth leverage. Brennan and the Avengers will continue to dig while Booth heals and faces whatever the FBI has planned for him.
But what gave Booth the courage to attack rather than pack it in and move to Italy? He truly loves his country; he’s fought hard and paid dearly for the freedoms that country provides him and his family. And he loves Brennan more than life itself and would do (has done) everything n his power to keep her safe … even if it means laying down his life. He’s said it many times, and his word is his pact.
Another thing, and it’s a big one: It’s that Commander Booth answers to. He gives Booth strength. As a man of faith, Booth knows that God tests us so that we more deeply appreciate what we have. Sometimes God uses the strong to protect His little ones. Sometimes God gives trials to the weak, so they can become strong. Other times He challenges the weak in order to help others be strong for them. No matter what, Booth always knows that his life is in God’s hands and that he will answer to Him one day. That’s what gives him the courage to lay down his life for his family and his country.
Well, Bones fans. There you have it. Only the Bones Fairies with Stephen Nathan at the helm (and Hart Hanson in his back pocket) know what’s in store for the Brennan-Booth Duo and The Avengers in season ten. I, for one, prefer to be surprised … something I’ve come to rely on in regard to the Bones troupe: a mastery of surprise which I can have faith in.
One thing is for absolutely sure: Bones has thrived (thriven?) for nine seasons and the tenth is in it’s gestational period. Maybe Bones will take us past the decade mark. Anything can happen in the world of make believe. With a humdinger of a finale like the one we just had, things are gonna be different next year. I’ve already purchased my ticket for that ride, kids. How about you?
As we wait out the long summer hiatus, I’ll be posting the occasional Bones article or slideshow on BuddyTV. The most recent postings are listed below along with my S9 episode and interview archive link.
(Images courtesy of FOX)
‘Bones’ Season 9 Article and Interview Archive >>>
‘Bones’: Why the Show is So Damn Good >>>
You Rock. Yes, you, Bones reader. >>>
‘Bones’ Quotes: The 43 Sweetest Things Booth Has Ever Said to Brennan >>>
‘Bones’: 37 of the Most Fabulous Dresses of Dr. Camille Saroyan >>>
‘Bones’ Season 9 Finale Cliffhanger Poll: What Fresh Hell Is in Store for Us this Time? >>>
Now everybody pray real hard that I get my very own FOX press credentials (I used ScreenSpy’s before) in the fall so I can resume interviewing the BONES Fairies and screening the big episodes so I can provide you with teaser articles again!