Post Mortems
Bones Recap

Bones Star on Surprise Comeback, Dark Twist: I Hope I'm Not the Killer

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Thursday’s season finale of Bones

A beloved figure from Bones history made an unexpected reappearance during Thursday’s Season 11 finale. But has the returnee crossed over to the dark side during their absence?

At the close of the episode, former squint Zack had kidnapped Dr. Brennan, suggesting that he might be — or at least have a connection to — The Puppeteer serial killer who has been tormenting the Jeffersonian team. (Co-showrunner Jonathan Collier offers some insight into the twist and what’s ahead in Season 12.)

With nothing certain, Eric Millegan is at least hoping his character isn’t a murderer — as are his co-stars, who are “going to bat” for the squint’s innocence, the actor reveals in our Q&A.

TVLINE | When did they first approach you about coming back?
January. I got an email from my agent saying that they wanted to know if I was available for two episodes at the end of Season 11. I think at that point they were not sure if there was going to be a Season 12 or not. Maybe a month or so later, they said, “You’re going to have a scar on your forehead, so we want you to go to a makeup studio and have your head measured.” So I did that, and then I just waited for the scripts and official offer, which came around the end of April, and we shot the [finale] at the end of April/beginning of May.

Bones RecapTVLINE | Something clearly happened to Zack if he has this scar.
Yes, but I have no idea what it is. The next episode I’m shooting [the Season 12 premiere], Emily Deschanel is directing. She texted me a few days ago and said, “You’ve got some great stuff. I’m looking forward to working with you. You’ll get a script next week.” I have no idea what’s going to happen at all.

TVLINE | What was it like being back with the old gang?
Oh, it’s great! The only other actor I worked with in that scene was Emily, but David [Boreanaz] directed. David’s a great director. The last episode I did was the 100th episode, and he directed that. He’s so much fun, he’s very smart, and he makes good directorial choices. It’s funny, Emily and I kind of worked together. When they did Emily’s close-up and when they did my close-up, we actually had to look at a piece of tape. So I never actually acted with her. We were like, “I look forward to the next episode when we look at each other.”

TVLINE | The final scene must have been so tricky to play, because you don’t entirely know his motivations yet.
David came up to me and said, “You’re not evil here.” I can’t remember if those were [his exact] words, but he didn’t want me to be… Not “too creepy.” What’s the right word? “Don’t play it sinister.”

TVLINE | Do you think that Zack has it in him to do any of the things that The Puppeteer did? Has enough time passed that maybe he’s gotten worse?
I hope not. I’m going to go whichever way the writers tell me to go, but I had lunch a couple months ago with Tamara Taylor, who plays Cam, and she was saying how much they really don’t want me to be the killer and that she and T.J. Thyne talked to [co-showrunner] Michael Peterson and said, “You can’t make him the killer! You have to make him the hero! He has to save us. We’ve already done the he’s-the-killer plotline. We can’t make him the killer again.” So they were going to bat for me to not be the killer. But like I said, I’m going to go whichever direction they tell me to go.

Bones Zack ReturnsTVLINE | Are you surprised at the unwavering fan love for the character?
Yes, I am. When I was doing the show before, I would always read the messages boards to see what people said about the episode. But when I was all done with the show, I said, “I’m not going to read the message boards anymore because I don’t want to watch them forget about me.” So it’s been very surprising that they haven’t forgotten about me. People tweet me every single day saying, “When are you coming back?” or they tweet @BonesOnFox saying, “We want Zack back.” Friends of mine who go to Comic-Con and go to panels say that someone always asks when he is coming back. That’s amazing, because we haven’t seen Zack in real time since 2008, [and] we haven’t seen him at all since 2010. It’s really exciting that they still want me back.

TVLINE | Why do you think the character has resonated so much with fans?
Hart Hanson did a really good job of creating and writing the character. Sometimes early on when we were working on the show, I was like “Really?” with stuff they would give me, and he was always right. In the first season, there was a moment where you find out Zack can’t drive, and I was like, “Really, Zack can’t drive?” Zack didn’t know what “Take a hint” meant, and I was like, “How doesn’t he know what ‘take a hint’ means?” But Hart was right. He created this really real, interesting, fun, very likable character.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sarah says:

    I seriously hate it when tv shows announce there is going to be a “shocking twist” because I might have been surprised by this if they hadn’t announced it. As soon as they showed the burned hands, you could see the “twist” coming a mile away. Hardly shocking any more – ruined what would have otherwise been an awesome surprise!

    • Chuck Yager says:

      No one forced you to read about it. Maybe you should steer clear of ANY news about a series that you follow.

      • Sarah says:

        Kinda hard to do, since most shows announce it in commercials, previews, entertainment “news” shows (that you can avoid, but still get the last few minutes caught at the beginning of recording another show).
        Point being, you don’t have to seek this out for shows you watch – they make a point of making sure anyone and everyone knows, because they think it adds “mystery” and “suspense” and more people will watch… Except that people are unlikely to start watching a show at the season finale (when they usually have the announced “shocking twist”), and all it does is ruin the surprise for regular viewers.
        Besides… Word of mouth from fans about a “crazy, unexpected ending” always works better for increasing movie audiences than pre-announcing a twist… why do TV shows think it will be the opposite for them?

    • Laura says:

      I didn’t read about it or anything, but the moment I saw the hands… it was obvious it was Zach. I so hope he isn’t a killer. Since he didn’t kill before there is a slight chance, but w/ Sweets gone, who knows. I’m still pissed about them killing Sweets.

  2. I still love Zack and will never forget this character. I hope he does get to be the hero.

  3. Mark says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Zack at one point tell Sweets that he wasn’t actually crazy and they made it out like he was perfectly fine? If so, I don’t see how he would turn into a crazy serial killer.

    • madbengalsfan85 says:

      He told Sweets he never actually killed anyone. I don’t think he is the killer here either, but it begs the question: what is he doing?

  4. jr says:

    The cigarette in his ear, made no sense to me. Don’t believe Zack ever smoked and kept a cigarette there. Believe if they would have let the psychiastrist finish his session with Dr. Brennan, believe she was just about ready to recognize who the puppeter really was. Think Zack was probably sneaking out and watching over his friends to make sure they were safe, and trying to stay connected with them. And he figured our Dr. Brennan was in danger, and rescued her in this episode from the real killer. But Zack will now be presumed to be the killer, and his friends will have to prove his innocence.

    • Dgregg says:

      Watch Season 4’s The Perfect Pieces in the Purple Pond.

    • Little bean says:

      The cigarette behind the ear was pointing to Wendell. Then they later stated that Brennan seeing Wendell was just a symbol. He represented it being a squint and someone within the Jeffersonian when her mind wouldn’t shown here the true identity.

    • Jaz says:

      He only told Sweets that he never killed any one but he believe he would have and Sweets never told that to anyone else

    • sonica says:

      I agree he is on a rescue mission but is also complicit in some of the crimes committed by the real killer, otherwise how would he know Brennan is in danger?

  5. kmw says:

    It was a terrific episode but despite the fact that Bones wants us to believe he is the killer I don’t think he is. Wasn’t the killer living with his victims for six months and then discarding him. That wouldn’t fit with him being in the institution. I think there is more to the story but unfortunately we have a long wait to hear it. No matter if you saw it coming, Brennan,s nightmares were really creepy and Emily Deschanel did a terrific job with it. Nice season Bones now the wait for your last season

    • B-RaD_76 says:

      Good point about the killer living with the bodies for up to 6 months, I had forgotten that detail. It pretty much clears Zack as the puppeteer. It would be hard to suspend disbelief if he were sneaking off to the institutions boiler room every so often to play with his meat-puppets.

      • I think that bones was great the fact they brought zack back was very interesting.As soon as I heard booth say so it’s someone worked in the lab, I immediately knew it would be Zack. The part I didn’t understand was that why would Zack be the puppeteer, he loved Brennan and she loved him to and she showed that in the hospital. I think that they made it seem like he was going to kill her but he really just wanted to talk.

    • Sarah says:

      Just to play devil’s advocate here (since I don’t actually believe Zack is the killer), they SAID he lives with them for 6 months, but they haven’t actually proven that he lived WITH them the whole time, just that he had them set up as a marionette for 6 months and occasionally “fed” and repositioned them. He could have set them up in a location he comes and goes from without actually living there. We already know Zack is capable of sneaking out, extremely intelligent, and probably not actually crazy, so he could easily pull off sneaking in and out at will without being detected.

    • Could still be him even with the living with victims detail… just because the killer was living with them doesn’t mean they were actually with them the entire time. he could have just been sneaking out as he clearly has before and again now to talk to brennan on a pretty regular basis, going and doing his crazy puppeteer thing for a few hours, head back. I don’t believe he’s really going to be the killer myself, just wanted to point out that detail doesn’t discount him necessarily. I actually believe he went to her to help… or for help. Leaning towards the serial killer being related to pelant and whatever brennan didn’t want to see on that tape or something. More than zack anyways.

  6. mooshki says:

    I’m one of the ones who never stopped missing Zack. I hope he’s a series regular for the last season. The chemistry he had with the other squints was magical.

  7. starrling says:

    I am angry at Fox for chewing up most of the show! *gasp* Trump accepted the nomination? Wow. What a surprise. (that’s sarcasm, by the way). I don’t subscribe to services where I can just watch any show I want at any hour of any day. So… I guess I have to wait for this episode to reach syndication. Lovely. I really hate Fox more all the time. I hate their politics and their lack of business smarts.

  8. Harriett Fazio says:

    I love Zach and was hoping they’d bring him back!! I’m with Eric, I hope he’s not a killer!!

  9. Beezers says:

    In my area, about 5 minutes after the show started, they cut in to air Trump’s acceptance speech. I surely hope they intend to replay that episode!

  10. william says:

    They announced that they were gonna kill of a major character. Do you think that they will kill off Zack in the next season? Remember that the interns were the ones that have been killed off.

  11. Nancy says:

    Great Episode! So many dreams mixed in, it was a little difficult to know what was real and what wasn’t.
    Good to see Zach! I say no way he’s the killer. The puppeteer left cash on the first of every month as rent for the puppet place. How could Zach be able to come and go that much? Killing people, making puppets and skeletons? Not to mention shopping at the thrift store to get Brennan’s clothes! I say he’s there to help Brennan. He likely knows the crazy person. My bet is the psychologist is the killer!

  12. Nikki says:

    I admittedly stopped watching a few seasons ago but when I saw they were wrapping it up, the first thing that sprung to mind was whether or not they’d finally have Zack back. I’m so happy they are and I really hope he’ll be vindicated in the end. Definitely going to pick up where I left off so I can tune in for the new season in when it starts!

  13. Andrew Hass says:

    I think Zack is going to be the hero of the story and rejoins the team in the end.So when the series ends next season all the characters will be back together.

  14. Doris C Gregory says:

    Does anyone think that the actress that plays Bones look like she is pregnant again?

  15. jgk2184 says:

    I think I figured it out. Booth and I both think it’s the latest victims psychologist. She doesn’t fit the bill though. The only reason is he killed the victim to get close to Bones. However, Zack took Bones when Booth was interviewing the psychologist. So who is to say it is the psychologist and one of his patients was also Zack. Zack figured it out because he has a huge IQ and saw his chance to take Bones to warn her because the psychologist was busy with Booth and can’t interfere.

  16. Steve says:

    Well, I am hoping that Zack is not the killer. The creators of the show already assassinated his character in a way that made no sense and in a way that they never would’ve done with Booth or Brennan or any other major character in the show. They just could not admit that they made a mistake in writing Zack out in that idiotic way, and often over the years as the fans kept complaining about it,, they were met with smug condescension from the creators because they wouldn’t “let it go.” Even the other actors are pressing for Zack not to be the killer. So I figure they will either do a twist that will redeem the character and themselves, or else they will double down on the previously mentioned smug condescension and make him the bad guy after all. I guess we will see what happens next season.

  17. Jeri says:

    I hate that they previously singled out the guy people don’t understand and made him a psycho. It’s what bullies want to believe. It wasn’t Zach, and he’s not a serial killer either. Please do the right thing.

  18. Mandy says:

    If Zach is ‘The Puppeteer’ it would not be completely out of the realm of making sense. Zach’s character has always been the one who follows order and logic yet he has remained a ‘puppet’ of those who he deems as his intellectual superior. He has tried to be his own person but has done so in a manner similar to those he admired (Booth, Brennan, crazy serial killer guy). It feels like he has always constantly sought approval. Although he has shown a capability for greater emotion to override his need for logic to me it is not out of the realm of possibilities for him to become the puppeteer. Perhaps the injury on his head plays a role but the thought of everyone’s favorite little intern, the poor manipulated genius Zach, becoming the person they fear the most? Maybe it isn’t as ridiculous as people make it sound or perhaps more along the lines no one wants to believe a person so smart yet so lovable in the past could ever turn into a monster.

    • A y says:

      Sweets is the killer. He didn’t die, he faked it.. That would be the best ending since sweets had a violent childhood.he always wanted to be close to dr Brennan

      • A y says:

        Sweets was the only person to know Zack was not the formation so it was a set up for all to think Zack was put away as a killer with mental issues! Sweets set it all up

        • A y says:

          The cigarette is what sweets was burnt with by parents and foster parents when torchered by then!! All fits Sweets is the puppeteer!!!!!!!!!!

    • PHlossy says:

      I agree…thought I was the only one who noticed the scar on his head. Looks like he’s been experimented on by the hospital?

  19. blablaaas says:

    I liked the finale, but overall the season was the most poorly written in the history of the show. Did the writers or directors change? This season was almost teen level quality.

  20. PHlossy says:

    Anyone notice the scar on Zach’s head? Like he’d had surgery …maybe experimental? I keep reading where Seasons 1-3 are going to come back into play with this final season but not sure what that means. .. Only thing I can think of is maybe Sully comes back or Gordon Gordon Wyatt? Which definitely would play into some of the people’s theories of Sweets NOT being dead…so maybe it was a twin or plant? that was killed 2 seasons ago ? And he hadn’t told anyone – Cam didn’t do the autopsy(another person did), everyone was in a hurry to get the person who killed him..all this time he’s been alive.

  21. craig ison jr says:

    i have an idea for the show ok somehow you guys get access to old yankee or red socks stadium to dig the for bones then you find a few skeletons. then the mob starts getting involved then they say maybe it could be jimmy hoffas remains lucky luchano or something along those lines. you then get a brib from the mob amount unknown then it showes you guys upgrading houses boats cars luxery clothes like it didn’t say you took the brib but it is funny that you were offered a brib then next thing you guys got all new cars and houses and jewlery and stuff i think that be a show to watch.

  22. craig ison jr says:

    i watch the show all the time and have a good tip for a lot of money for you guys i was shown buy 2 people that steve job owes me $200 billion dollars in a structure settlement that actually reads $200 billion dollars by 2 people if found i am offering $4 billion dollars for the paperwork and check to match look for structure settlement under the name craig ison jr age 34.also look for business ownerships, property ownerships and wills

  23. sherrypatriot says:

    You’re all very interesting in your suppositions for Zack’s motivations, Sweets’ symbolic confessions that could connect him as the killer, along with the almost forgotten or overlooked facts about the killer. Don’t be surprised to see some of your considerations developing in the new season’s episodes as Booth’s and Jeffersonian staff explanations for Zack’s and Sweets’ plausable conjectionary suspects.

    Another allegedly dead baddie could be the culprit, especially that sick fellow that tried so hard to get Brennan. Or a female sickie, who’d be an easier 6 month roomie than a male, using her victimization lies to gain access to a person’s life and home.
    And what about Sweets mentor or psychiatrist, in that he had to reveal psyche stuff in order to complete his training? The killer manipulates the victims, directing their movements, in some type of control issue in which they have no choice but to comply.
    Or it can all be Brennan’s nightmarish dream, results of ingesting the stuff Booth claims smells like $%^@?

  24. dawn says:

    im really gonna miss bones. last episode was a trip. zack!. ive watched david since buffy then angel. when i saw previews of this new show bones and saw david ive seen every episode!!!!! david plays a terrific fbi angent. love it

  25. bobbie burress says:

    Oh yes Zack is back….. Please don’t make him a bad guy…