If you didn't already know that Bones will be back on Fox next fall, you certainly wouldn't be able to tell by watching Thursday's Season 10 finale.
The episode (8/7c, Fox) features the recently reunited Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) revisiting the work of dead serial killer Pelant (Andrew Leeds), when a new set of remains bears striking resemblance to Pelant's M.O. But as the gang searches for a possible copycat/protégé killer, Angela (Michaela Conlin) and Hodgins (TJ Thyne) make preparations for their move to Paris while Booth and Brennan also think long and hard about their own future.
However, the finale you will see on Thursday night was not what was originally intended. "We had actually planned a completely different end to the season, that of a far more traditional cliff-hanger and a situation that would get us into Season 11," executive producer Stephen Nathan says. "But the pickup, which we always expected, didn't come for numerous reasons that were out of our control. We were then told, 'This could be a series-ender,' we realized we can't disappoint or dismiss the audience and the fans who have been so important to us for a decade ... and compromise on an episode that very possible could be the last episode ever. So, we had to actually write a series finale that hopefully contained a vibe of a continuum. But the reality is this was the ending at this point in time."Indeed, expect plenty of reflections on the relationships that have been built over the course of the show as well as some tearful goodbyes. But, perhaps fittingly for an ending that isn't actually the end, the finale serves as a rumination on the larger idea of closure.
"We all talk about endings and you get a certain kind of finality, but in life, there's only one ending that's final, and that's death. Apart from that, it's just change," Nathan says. "What Brennan has always said is, 'There is no such thing as closure.' Everybody wants to wrap something up in a nice neat ribbon and say, 'OK, that's done. This will now begin.' Life doesn't work that way, and Booth and Brennan have pretty much proven that's the case."
But it is the specter of Pelant and his seemingly endless haunting of Booth and Brennan that forces the couple to really examine their position on the matter. "The issue of Pelant is somehow the most incomplete end to a character who has been so important to the show," Nathan says. "Do [Booth and Brennan] stay around for the next chapter of Pelant? What is something big enough for them to stay? Is there a loose end that will force them to change their plans? That is what we wanted to examine."
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The good news, of course, is that Booth and Brennan are riding off into their (temporary) sunset together after a prolonged separation earlier in the season due to Booth's gambling relapse. "It was important for us to treat this story honestly," Nathan says. "We had to see how these characters would really respond this very, very challenging situation. What we really did in the second half of the season is deal with the trauma of the past couple of years. Booth is always so strong and seemingly invulnerable, and while the audience might expect that, our expectations aren't always met. So, we wanted to see that he was a human that was strong, but also someone who was vulnerable — somebody who had to meet a challenge greater than any he's had before in a way because his relationship with Brennan means everything to him."
But through the process, Nathan says Brennan also learned a lot about herself — and that note is one befitting an end for the character. "The logic and rationale that has ruled her life for most of her life is now tempered with a love and acknowledgement that her feelings are often as important as her intellectual acumen," Nathan says. "We've seen her this year synthesize those two sides, one that's very new to her. If this occurred five years ago, she would quite logically and objectively say, 'This is not a good situation for me to be in. I need to have a guarantee that my life will not be destructed again.' But now Brennan realizes there are no guarantees. Everything is change, and she has to find another way to salvage this relationship.
"Brennan has clearly not lost any love for Booth and I think that's an odd thing to her, Nathan continues. "Logically, you would think, 'This man has betrayed me. This man has done something that I would never have expected him to do. Therefore, he does not merit my time anymore [and] I should not love him.' But here she is still loving him even though he did this terrible thing. We see Brennan being something somewhat un-Brennan like, but something we all want her to be."
And as a result, Nathan, who is handing off showrunning duties on Bones next season, says the couple will be stronger than ever in Season 11 — no matter what they'll be getting into next.
Bones' Season 10 finale airs Thursday at 8/7c on Fox.
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