During Bones' seventh season, Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) survived becoming a couple, cohabitation, and childbirth. But is their biggest test yet to come?
After Brennan was framed for murder by hacker/serial killer Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds) in the Season 7 finale, she took baby Christine and left Booth for parts unknown with her former convict father Max (guest star Ryan O'Neal). Although Brennan seemed to have a good reason — if she stays off the grid, she can perhaps prove her innocence without Pelant using his digital prowess against her — how will Booth feel about being abandoned?
Looking back at last season, how hard was it to craft a cliff-hanger that measured up to the baby bombshell the year before?
Stephen Nathan: Every season, we build to a conclusion that hopefully is going to propel us into the next season with fans either very excited or really pissed off. Both outcomes are usually good. But it's hard to top "I'm going to have your baby." So, we had to figure out something that was going to really exploit this new relationship that they have and the new family that they have, as well as really get our show back on track as a murder show. This kind of gave us the best of both worlds.Was having Brennan leave Booth to go on the run always the endpoint you envisioned for the season?
Nathan: As we were crafting the season, we really found so much fodder in Pelant. ... We got to a point where [we thought,] "What is the most untenable situation imaginable for these two people who have just gotten together? What is the worst situation they could be in, and the worst situation we could put all of their friends and the two organizations that they work for in?" We've managed to explode the FBI, the Jeffersonian, Booth and Brennan, and their relationships with all of their friends. It's certainly a good place to start putting the pieces back together again [in Season 8].
Bones finale: Will Pelant pull the Jeffersonian team apart?
How does Booth really feel about Brennan just up and leaving him?
Nathan: From a practical standpoint, [Booth knows] Max was right. [Brennan leaving] was the only logical thing she could do. Pelant is a guy who's controlling the system, framing her, trying to bring her down. He's getting rid of the one person he believes can expose him. So Brennan, being rational and logical, realizes this is the only way to deal with this. Booth has to work within the system. We wanted Booth to remain a good man, to be the man he wanted to be for his daughter and for his son. To put him on the run compromises his character and his job.
What will Booth and Brennan's reunion be like?
Nathan: When Brennan does return, he is still the honorable man that he has been for seven seasons. However, he's furious. He's furious at Max, but he understands. He's furious with Brennan because [he thinks], "Wasn't there some way that she could include him? Why didn't she trust him with that information?"
Will Booth perhaps feel that Brennan believes he can't protect her?
Nathan: I think she realizes the only way that he can keep her safe would be to do something illegal like taking out Pelant. Which is something that he might [still] have to do. We certainly have not seen the last of Pelant.
How much help can Booth and the Jeffersonian team be, if they are forced to stay within the bounds of the law?
Nathan: I think we saw in the finale that Cam is going to have to be completely above reproach. She is going to have to maintain that position so that the Jeffersonian can also be above reproach. All of those people are going to be doing their jobs so that none of the evidence is tainted. That will continue.
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I understand there will be a time jump between seasons. Will Brennan have been in touch with the team at all?
Nathan: She's been gone, but she's been working. It will be revealed what kind of communication there has been from Brennan. I can't tell you who's been communicating with her, but somebody's been communicating with her. There has been some movement in the case.
Will Brennan still be on the run for much of the beginning of next season?
Nathan: [The premiere] is all about trying to clear Brennan, bringing her back in and finding something that will put Pelant away. When we come back, that's the first order of business. Whether they're successful in all of those pursuits remains to be seen. I can't imagine they will be successful in all those pursuits, but we certainly want to see Brennan come home.
Given his involvement in the cliff-hanger, will we see more of Max than usual this season?
Nathan: That really remains to be seen. He certainly is an integral part of this portion of the story. We want him to continue to be important in this part of the arc.
How afraid should viewers be of what Pelant was doing inside Booth and Brennan's house?
Nathan: [Laughs] Well, I'm a little afraid. I think you should be appropriately afraid. Pelant is an evil genius. He is somebody who tries to cover himself for any eventuality.
Will you guys reveal exactly what he was doing pretty quickly in Season 8?
Nathan: We'll see everything pay off eventually. [And] we'll be seeing Pelant's strengths and weaknesses when we come back.
What else can you tell us about the new season?
Nathan: We do have the four bonus episodes that we shot at the end of the season that we'll be sprinkling through the first part of next season. This season, since we do have a full order, we're going to be able to do more with the supporting cast than we were able to do last year. Last year was orienting ourselves toward the new relationship and toward the baby. I think we're going to really get back on track with keeping the show, as it has always been, primarily about murders.
What types of stories do you plan to tell with your supporting cast?
Nathan: We're going to be exploiting the personal lives of all of our people. We want to get Cam involved in a new relationship and see what's going on with her daughter. There is the start of something with Angela [Michaela Conlin] maybe getting a little bit antsy. One of the four bonus episodes that we shot really kind of focuses on Angela and her domestication and how comfortable and uncomfortable she is with that.
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I've heard Sweets' home life might also see some changes...
Nathan: Sweets' life will take a turn. He's been very complacent. He thinks he has a very secure thing going on with Daisy [Carla Gallo], but I think we're going to try to shake things up for Sweets.
Should we expect any new faces?
Nathan: We're going to try and find somebody for the FBI. We're also going to try to add new squinterns. We love all the squinterns that we have. The issue with them, as always, is what other shows they're going to be taking off to do. But it's our intention at this point to have our group come back, and if we can add some more people or bring back other people that we weren't able to bring back this year, that would be great. We'd love to have David Alan Grier come back. He's just phenomenal.
Are you willing to say how much we'll be seeing of Pelant this season?
Nathan: He'll be around next season. Believe me, [clearing Brennan's name] is only the first hurdle that the team will be crossing. Pelant is by no means gone. He is going to surprise the team — and us — at every turn. I can guarantee that. Pelant's [story] is going to unfold in a way that I don't think anyone will foresee.
Does that spell more bad news for Brennan and Booth's relationship?
Nathan: It's definitely going to have its impact on them.
Bones' eighth season premieres Monday, Sept. 17 at 8/7c on Fox.