This summer, Bones creator Hart Hanson did something he hates doing: He gave viewers a huge spoiler.
At Comic-Con in July, Hanson told thousands of gathered fans that — despite the Season 8 cliff-hanger that saw Booth (David Boreanaz) turn down a long-awaited proposal from Brennan (Emily Deschanel) because of a threat from serial killer Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds) — Booth and Brennan will be getting married this season. "It was a sad enough season-ender that we wanted to tell people, 'You know what? This works out alright,'" Hanson tells TVGuide.com.
Fall Preview: Get scoop on your favorite returning shows
As such, crafting the Season 9 premiere (Monday at 8/7c, Fox), which takes place a few months after where the finale left off, became a bit tricky. After all, before that happy day comes, Booth and Brennan have to work through the consequences of Booth's lie. "We had to figure out: 'How do we continue telling the story of these two people in an honest way?'" executive producer Stephan Nathan says. "The only way we could do that was have them face this most painful situation and get them to the brink of almost breaking up. What is that thing that allows them to stay together? Hopefully that will be that thing that allows them to get married."
Indeed, the season premiere finds Brennan in a very fragile place. After finally getting to the place of asking Booth to marry her, will his rejection cause a setback? "She's in a lot of pain," Deschanel says. "It's devastating for her. I think there are definite moments that she regrets having opened up, but I don't think she's going to regress completely."
Adds Hanson: "She retreats to rational science when she's threatened. She has a very biochemical take on love. She thinks you start out with these endorphins and you hope that you can create a bond that can live past that. She's thinking, 'Oh, we didn't make it.'"
Fortunately, Brennan has a strong support system, including Angela (Michaela Conlin) and Cam (Tamara Taylor), who convince Brennan not to give up on love so quickly. But Angela also goes a bit further, attacking Booth for breaking Brennan's heart. And just because Booth and Brennan are working toward their happy ending, the bad blood between Booth and Angela could last a while.
Keck's exclusives: Bones wedding guest list — who's coming and who isn't
"I think they will continue for a while as they work out a lack of trust that exists between them," Nathan says. "Angela is Brennan's best friend. She loves her, and you become ferociously defensive of someone you love. She's gotten no satisfactory answers from Booth, so she has to operate from that standpoint."
And even though Booth can't open up to Angela or any of his colleagues about the real reason he turned down Brennan's proposal, he will be able to open up to an old friend named Aldo (guest star Mather Zickel), a former preist-turned-bartender. "It's very tough for Booth, who is an honest, good man to feel like he's lying to the woman he loves every day," Hanson says. "He's not a happy man. That is the thing that drives him to seek out his old spiritual adviser. But Booth gets challenged by this man who is angry at God. In a way, Booth is more religious than Aldo. This is a character who believes in God but is furious at him."
During the course of a murder investigation in the premiere, Booth will also reconnect with another person from his past: CIA agent Danny Beck (Freddie Prinze Jr.) "They have a mysterious past but are obviously friends," Hanson says. "One went into the FBI because he believes in hands-on justice, and the other went to the CIA because he believes in America out in a difficult world. It's not far off from the theme of our season, which is: Do you interact with the community or do you interact with single individuals?"
Exclusive: Bones books UFC star Chuck Liddell for guest spot
In Booth's case, he's lying to Brennan to protect five innocent lives Pelant has threatened. And ultimately, Booth determines that the only way he can regain happiness with Brennan is to kill Pelant. But can he actually go through with that? "That's tough on Booth," Hanson says. "He's not a murderer or an executioner; he's a good, just man. But we're going to push him to the brink. ... Pelant gets dealt with. We're moving fast this year, we're not stringing things out."
Of course, Hanson and Nathan are already crafting another villain that could put the death in "'til death do us part." "I can tell you without question there's another baddie out there," Nathan says. "It will become evident very quickly. There'll be a hint within the first five episodes and will certainly build throughout first quarter of the year."
But before things get scary again, the early part of the season promises a guest star-fillled wedding — and a murder-filled honeymoon in Argentina! — that should give fans plenty to look forward to. But once the couple gets their happy ending, what does the show look like?
Postmortem: Bones boss on Brennan's "wound" and what's next for her and Booth
"The essential difference between these characters is not going to change and that's the engine that drives the show," Nathan says. "What we're trying to do is put them in the most challenging situations possible to test their relationship and this new marriage. The cases this season [and] the situations they will confront at work and with their friends are going to be much more contentious and involve many more conflicts than we've seen in the past. That's the only way to see how solid this marriage really is."
And don't worry: Nathan promises that — spoiler alert! — the relationship is plenty strong. "We don't want to put these two in a situation that we dreamt about for nine years and then imply that the relationship is in jeopardy," he says. "This is a relationship the audience has been rooting for [for] almost a decade, and we're going to honor that relationship."
Bones' ninth season premieres Monday at 8/7c on Fox.