The final season of Bones is here, and the first episode of Season 12 was an action-packed thriller.
The season premiere picked up moments after Season 11's cliffhanger with Bones (Emily Deschanel) being kidnapped by Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) in the basement of the Jeffersonian. In the short while it took Booth (David Boreanaz) and team to piece together where Zack had taken Bones, the forensic anthropologist was able to piece together that Zack is not the person the team has been looking for.
That sixth sense of Bones is really coming in handy — because it turns out that Zack is not the Puppeteer serial killer the team has been looking for over the past few months. It turned out that it was Zack's therapist at the sanitarium who was committing the gruesome murders and framing his client for the crimes. The revelation that Zack was not the killer not only cleared him of this crime, but opened up a lot of doubts in Booth and Bones' mind that Zack was guilty of killing the lobbyist either, meaning he could have been wrongfully stuck at the sanitarium this entire time.
Reopening the investigation will be a season-long project that will inevitably affect every person on the team. TVGuide.com got a chance to talk to executive producers Jonathan Collier and Michael Peterson about the Zack reveal and what's in store for the Jeffersonian team as they try to find out what really happened 10 years ago.
What made Zack such a great red herring for the Puppeteer killer?
Michael Peterson: Part of it was we left it open in our own minds when we went off on hiatus of whether or not he was. There was part of us that was still arguing it out. Should we make Zack actually the killer? At the end of the day, it was our final decision to not make him the killer. We hope it was done with the best intentions, which was to be respectful to the fans. In talking with Hart Hanson about his original hopes for the character — he's just a character that we personally love and the fans loved as well. What we were looking for was a resolution of not only is he innocent of this crime, but maybe there's a possibility that we're going to in a way vindicate him for the previous murder of [the lobbyist]. That was the ultimate goal. [Jon and I] wanted to get him to a place where we're optimistic about Zack's future by the end of this series. This was the starting point of him finally coming out and saying, "I didn't do it. I am not capable of murder," and admitting this to Booth and Brennan.
Previously, he'd only ever told Sweets about that. That's a big moment for Zack to finally realize more about himself. There's a lot left to be told in that story, because it's not the easiest thing to get released from a sanitarium once you have falsely confessed that you actually did do a crime. We're going to actually have to find evidence to prove Zack's innocence. That's pretty hard to do with a 10-year-old crime.
Now that the case is being reopened, how much can we expect to see Zack in the final season?
Jonathan Collier: He's keenly present and there's things that wouldn't be happening if he weren't.
Peterson: The thing is that Zack's storyline is not just his storyline. It's going to affect Hodgins, Booth, Angela. His storyline is present throughout the season, especially as they are fighting for his future. Eric himself will be present in two episodes — the premiere and Episode 11.
The investigation also brings Sweets back into the picture in a way. Is reopening the case going to bring new information about Sweets to the group, or how much can we expect from that?
Collier: We're involving the character, definitely. We're going to access Sweets in some of his writings.
Peterson: That's a big part of where Stephen Fry is going to come back as Gordon Wyatt. Sweets, in a lot of ways, took over for [Gordon] when he first started at the FBI. [Gordon] went off and became a chef, but for Booth, the only person he would trust with Sweets' notes is absolutely Gordon Wyatt [Fry]. That will be the introduction of his character to see what they can find out from Sweets' notes and his visits with Dr. Addy, to hopefully getting Zack released.
Another big revelation in the premiere is that Zack has been the one trying to help Hodgins get feeling back in his legs — and it won't work the way everyone was hoping it would. What is that going to do to Hodgins' progress in accepting his condition?
Collier: I think we've dealt with it in a tough, realistic way. The actor totally embraced this. The character will go through a lot. It's not without its challenges to [Hodgins] and his marriage with Angela.
Peterson: There are definitely challenges to come. He went through a lot of it last year already. He's looking at it through different eyes. Last year, he really pushed Angela away and she said, "No, I'm with you no matter what." Having already gone through that, he's not going to go through the exact same sort of arc. He's not going to relapse in the angry lows, but he's going to go through a different version of acceptance of what's happening. For him, the hope of the impossible is gone, but that doesn't mean that hope is gone. This is something that real people have to deal with. There are changes to your life. You can be in an accident. You can lose your legs. That doesn't mean you can't have a rich life. We're definitely going to try and put him a place where he can accept that, but there's a journey still ahead.
Is Angela going to be on the same page, or will there be more friction there?
Collier: There's going to be complications. I think they end up in a very good place, but it will be an adventure getting there.
Bones had a moment of being very suspicious of Karen [Sara Bibb] that didn't pan out, but it still seems like there's more to Karen than we see on the surface. Can we expect to see some skeletons come out of her closet this season?
Collier: She is a delightful, rich character and a terrific actress, so I would say there are twists and turns to her.
Peterson: Watch her carefully, but also enjoy her for her comedy. Just because we can have suspicion doesn't mean we can't enjoy the the other aspects of her character. She plays the single white female very well, so look out for that.
What are you most excited for fans to see this season?
Collier: The general arc of it, I think. It's a big season. It's a compressed, active season because we did 12 episodes, not 22. That gave us the opportunity to really take people on a sort of wrenching roller coaster ride.
Peterson: The whole season builds to a great place. We're finished here, we just wrapped up, but there was something about Episodes 11 and 12, which is a two-parter, that I am really looking forward to the fans seeing them. Prior to writing them, I was nervous as hell about fan reaction, but now I'm actually excited. I think we did justice to the characters. We play around. It is not business as usual. There's some changes in basic storytelling that we do in Episode 11 where it's not as linear as you might expect.
By [Episode 12] we're really going to challenge the fundamentals of who these characters are and how they define themselves. I'm excited about it. It came together in a great way. There was something so rewarding and exciting about bookending the season with Emily directing the season opener and David directing the finale. It made it so I was no longer nervous. This is the way it was supposed to be done and we hope fans will agree.
Bones continues Tuesdays at 8/7c on FOX.