The following story contains sizeable spoilers about Tuesday’s Bones premiere — proceed at your own peril. And we repeat: Stop now if you have not seen the episode yet.
The twist in the opener: As many Bones fans suspected/hoped, Zack was not pulling the Puppeteer strings after all.
In the Fox procedural’s final-season premiere on Tuesday, it was revealed that Eric Millegan’s beloved alter ego kidnapped Brennan to protect her from the marionette-obsessed menace (who, for the record, turned out to his now-dead doctor Mihir Roshan).
The Season 12 kickoff also answered a big question with regard to Hodgins’ health, as Angela’s paralyzed other half received confirmation — from Zack of all people — that despite experiencing some feeling in his legs he will likely never walk again.
Below, co-showrunner Michael Peterson reveals why he and his fellow producers decided not to throw Zack under the proverbial bus in the series’ 12-episode final season. Additionally, the EP explains why he chose not to bless Hodgins with a medical miracle, and previews Booth and Brennan’s last, possibly biggest threat yet.
TVLINE | Did you ever consider having Zack turn out to be the killer?
MICHAEL PETERSON | I was a fan of the show before I was a writer on the show. I watched the first three seasons and then I started working on the show in Season 4. And I love Zack. [Series creator] Hart Hanson loves Zack. But we were leaving it open in our minds as far as how we were going to resolve [this arc]. So, in talking to Hart and talking to others, we all agreed that we adore Zack and we didn’t want him to be remembered as a killer. We wanted to have fun with the storyline, but our [ultimate] goal was to put the past to rest for him. Because, at the end of the day, he did not kill [the lobbyist in Season 3]. He certainly would be considered an accomplice, but he was an innocent, sweet person who was manipulated. And I would rather that be the legacy of Zack than for him to still be locked up in an insane asylum. There was a feeling of closure that I really wanted to get to and that Hart really wanted to get to. We wanted to repair the past and kind of say, “He’ll be in a better place by the time the show ends.”
TVLINE | How many more episodes will Zack be in?
He’s in one more — Episode 11.
TVLINE | And that episode is about Booth and Brennan getting him sprung?
It’s complex. Saying he is innocent is different than actually proving it. It’s very odd for someone to admit to something and then 10 years later to say it differently. So it’s about how do you exonerate somebody who has at one point confessed and is now reversing that confession? There’s some redemption that has to happen there. But, yes, that is largely what Episode 11 is about.
TVLINE | The premiere also seemed to dash any and all hope that Hodgins might walk again. Is all hope gone?
Largely it is. I watched Downton Abbey, and when Matthew ended up walking again I was like, “That’s not real.” There were moments where we played around with [the idea of Hodgins] possibly walking again. But this just felt more genuine to people who do have handicaps. It’s okay [to be paralyzed]. Handicaps are real. You can still have a wonderful and fulfilling life. To do anything less would be disingenuous. So we resolve it by saying he’s going to stay this way and his life is going to be fantastic. He went through his dark patch and got to the other side.
TVLINE | You previously stated that a new serial killer arrives in Episode 4. How will this villain be different from previous Bones villains?
This one is a little more action-oriented, more military-based. And this one is born out of revenge more than any other storyline. This is a coordinated attack and it is directly aimed at Booth and Brennan, and that was the intention from the very beginning.
TVLINE | Lastly, the premiere marked Emily Deschanel’s directorial debut. How’d she do?
Just wonderful. There is nobody who knows the show better. She’s the daughter of an Oscar-winning cinematographer [Caleb Deschanel]; she knows how to move a camera around. She did a fantastic job. This premiere was a really claustrophobic episode, and she opened it up in some great ways.