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Postmortem: How Will Bones Go On After That Ending?

How different will the show be in Season 11?

Adam Bryant

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from the Season 10 finale of Bones. Read at your own risk.]

Bones didn't have a big cliff-hanger in its Season 10 finale, but there will still be some significant changes to work through at the beginning of Season 11.
While investigating a murder committed by a protégé of dead serial killer Pelant (Andrew Leeds), the recently reunited Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) decided that perhaps it was time for a career change. Although the duo debated the ramifications of walking away from the Jeffersonian and the FBI throughout the episode, in the end, they said their goodbyes to their long-time colleagues and walked off toward their uncertain future.

Why the Bones finale will feel like the end of the series

Had this episode actually been the impromptu series finale it was written as, it would have worked as a fitting and emotionally resonant ending for these characters. However, Fox did order an 11th season. So, just how different will the show be next season given Booth and Brennan's decision? Not much, actually.

"We know Booth and Brennan. This is what they do," executive producer Stephen Nathan says. "So, the challenge now is: How do we reintroduce them into a world and a family that they have bid farewell to?"Below, Nathan elaborates on that challenge, including how being pulled back into this world might change their perspective on the work. Plus: Will Season 11 beBones' last?

This episode obviously had to double as a series finale. But what happens now that the basic premise of the show has seemingly been exploded?
Stephen Nathan:
These characters clearly get to Season 11. We're not going to go to the Jeffersonian for 22 episodes without Booth and Brennan. The challenge is: How the hell do we get these two people back while being true to everything that made them leave? That's what will be interesting and surprising about the top of Season 11, and that's why doing these big moves is always so interesting to us and so much fun. It forces you to see the characters in a new way. It forces you to realize that there are expectations that always fall short of reality.

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Did you guys consider seeing things through and following Booth and Brennan in new pursuits instead of bringing them back to their old jobs?
Nathan: Realistically, no. We never for a second thought that because there are too many important pieces. Would we keep Booth and Brennan and forget the other regulars? That doesn't seem like something anybody wants to do. We don't want to turn our back on our supporting cast, which is loved by us as well as the audience. The actors are too wonderful and too great at their jobs and add so much to the mix, and they are part of this family of the show. It's why the audience tunes in to seeBones. All of the characters make up this show. You can't really pull one thread without undoing the whole sweater.

Since Booth and Brennan did walk away, will they approach their work differently when they are pulled back in?
Nathan: Well, the present is always informed by the past. So, whatever they've been doing in this time when they have left the Jeffersonian will allow them to see their work there and their future work in a unique way -- probably in a way even they had not expected.Do you envision a time jump between seasons?Nathan: There'll be a time jump. I don't think that they can make such a big choice and [not] enjoy doing some of it. The amount of time remains to be seen, but they've been driven to this [choice] and they have to be able to enjoy it somewhat.

On the flip side, Angela (Michaela Conlin) and Hodgins (TJ Thyne) decided not to leave the Jeffersonian. What do you think that says about the two different couples?
Nathan: It shows Booth and Brennan truly are on the same page and Angela realizing that she and Hodgins are not really on the same page. I think she re-examines that and realizes what her relationship means to her no matter where they are. It's really a testament to this couple. And again, it's about puncturing the expectations we have for these characters. ... In life, there are people that you know and love and that they do things you would never expect them to do and you have to see them in a new light. You have to either accept them more or reject them.

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Since the decision went down the wire this season, will the creative team perhaps plan and prepare for Season 11 to be the show's last?
Nathan: I don't think we really know to be honest. The demise of Bones has been predicted for many, many years. While I believe that this looks as if it could be the last year, I am not willing to say that it is because that's been predicted too many times and it always seems to have more life in it. So, I would not be surprised if the show were to go on for another few years. I really can't say. There's just so many variables and also the landscape of television is changing so quickly. In a year there might be some Bones internet channel and the show will go on for another 20 years. [Laughs] I have no idea.

Either way, you are handing over showrunner duties next season. What's next for you?
Nathan: I'm just starting to work on some other projects, and I do hope to go back to Bones in some capacity to consult or just to see how everything is going. The huge, huge upside is the fact that the show's in superb hands. John Collier and Michael Peterson are wonderful, wonderful writers and producers, and they're going to do a spectacular job. I have no doubt whatsoever. Any help I can be, I would like to help, but they probably don't need my help.

But perhaps like Booth and Brennan you will be lured back...
That's right. There might be a murder they need me to solve. [Laughs]

What did you think of the Bones finale? What are your hopes for Season 11?