Fox’s Bones on Monday night demonstrated how even nine seasons in, a TV procedural can still drum up high, palpable stakes as it serves up the semi-obligatory annual cliffhanger finale.
In fact, the choice to open the episode in media res, thus telegraphing that Booth will come out of the coming hour much worse for the wear, drove home that point early on, leaving us to wonder just how horrifically things would spiral out of control.
Then flashing back to “two days earlier,” Booth’s bloodied, ER-room fate was contrasted with much lighter fare, as Brennan labors to school him in some German, in preparation for his new assignment in Berlin — if he passes muster with the review committee. But that “interview” is just a formality, right?
Maybe not. Maybe, it later is revealed, the Berlin position is but a means to an end.
The first step on the curious journey comes in the form of a cold call, on Booth’s secure line no less, from a disgraced journalist who these days runs a conspiracy blog. But before Booth can meet up with this Foster guy — to discuss “[Trent] McNamara and the FBI” — the writer is killed, having been force-fed enough alcohol to make him explode during an Airstream inferno. All the evidence suggests murder, that Foster was held down by two Delta Forces operatives as he was tortured for information they didn’t get — because, the Jeffersonian team discovers, his damning intel was stored on a memory chip inside a nipple ring.
Accessing what they can of the damaged data, Booth, Bones et al learn that during a janitorial stint at one of McNamara’s companies, he had accessed a mother lode of blackmail photos and documents, used by someone at the FBI to compel people to do very bad things.
Before Booth can delve much further into the root of this mystery, he goes before the senate review committee and is promptly blindsided by a “friendly,” Congressman Hadley, who reveals during the session that Booth killed an American citizen while serving in Pakistan. Booth is unable to confirm or deny the obviously classified report, and thus is labeled an “assassin” before and then by the press. Booth manages to confront Hadley in private and warn that he’s got all of Foster’s files, effectively putting a target on his back. Booth then fortifies himself up the wazoo back at the house and sends Brennan and Christine off to Max’s, knowing that some highly trained killers surely are en route.
Meanwhile at the Jeffersonian, Hodgins manages to salvage the rest of the memory chip’s contents — just before “someone” on the outside starts to hack their computers. Luckily, Angela had an “alert” installed, affording them time to safeguard their files while leading the hacker to believe their file dump was successful.
All of which brings us to the shoot-out at the house, which was wonderfully directed by David Boreanaz, using shafts of light, shadows and the close quarters to amp up the intensity. Booth was able to fell several of his attackers, thanks to firepower and a couple of booby traps, though he takes at least one bullet in the early exchanges. One surviving attacker lands another bullet in Booth just before Brennan shows up guns a-blazing. Down but not out, Booth saves Brennan from a knifing, by sweeping an attacker’s leg, but in the scuffle that ensues his injuries get the best of him, and next we see Booth is being wheeled into the ER, in critical condition.
Later, Brennan, the Jeffersonian team and Caroline gets the good news — Booth survived surgery — and then a hint of bad. Brennan rushes to see post-op Booth, only to find him handcuffed to the hospital bed, surrounded by G-men. Deputy Director Stark explains that Booth has been arrested for killing three FBI agents who merely showed up to “serve a warrant” (uh-huhhhhh) — and when Temp protests this bald-faced lie/cover-up, she too is taken into custody.
As Emily Deschanel had warned, this finale “changes everything — not only between Booth and Brennan, but also with Booth’s job, possibly Brennan’s job – I mean, everything.” So when Season 10 arrives (Thursdays at 8, remember!), with Booth in the brig and Brennan also in federal custody, will it be up to the Jeffersonian team to save the day, using the salvaged files?