'Bones' Series Finale: The Showrunners Break Down the Hour's Big Moments
Bones came to an end on Tuesday night, but in many ways, it was a new beginning.
Though the Jeffersonian was in ruins post-blast, the team struggled to free themselves from the rubble. Angela (Michaela Conlin) was able to confirm her pregnancy was safe after the trauma, but Brennan (Emily Deschanel) found herself unable to use her intellect (much to her frustration).
The confusion led to touching walks down memory lane with the team and Booth (David Boreanaz) once they were able to escape. The team was able to take down Kovac (Gerard Celasco) and his accomplice—the woman the team thought was Kovac's wife was actually his sister…and an injury to Booth was the key to helping heal Brennan's mind.
In the aftermath of the explosion, the team went through their old items—which allowed for nice hat tips to departed characters like Ryan O'Neal's Max and Ryan Cartwright's Vincent Nigel-Murray—Cam (Tamara Taylor) had another bombshell to drop: Her "honeymoon" trip with Arastoo (Pej Vahdat) was actually to pick up the three brothers they were hoping to adopt…and in her absence, she wanted Hodgins (TJ Thyne) to run the lab. (King of the Lab, until the very end.)
Bones showrunners Michael Peterson and Jonathan Collier broke down the Bones series finale's big moves with TV Insider.
The lab always had to change.
Bones creator Hart Hanson previously shared that he had promised in Season 1 that the lab would be destroyed by the end of the series. After the showrunners pitched a potential Season 12 to Dana Walden, chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group, they realized the lab should be blown up.
"The lab is so much a character of the show, but the show is about the people," Collier says. "And it's about them being together, and maintaining their relationships and strength and support from each other even without the building."
Altering Brennan's capability to do her job—a constant for the series—via the explosion allowed the writers to explore how far she has come since the series started.
"What we wanted to do was say, 'What was the most important thing that was set up for Brennan at the beginning of the show?'" Collier notes. "She was someone who was fantastic at science, absolutely brilliant, and her issue is she can't relate to people. What we wanted to do was strip away the science, strip away what she's always leaned on to define her, and show she's gone on an emotional journey over the 12 years.
"[Her intellect] is not the single most defining element in her life. And it's about her relationship with Booth and her friends. It's about her family. She was a woman without a family at the beginning of the show, and she has a very strong family at the end of it."
As Booth was talking Brennan through their history and what she meant to him, he mentioned a number of key moments they shared throughout the run of the show. One, a comparison of the duo to The X-Files' Mulder and Scully, garnered confusion from Brennan in the pilot. Now, after all their years together, Booth pointed out they're better than The X-Files' partners…but it almost didn't make the cut.
"We kept taking it in and out," Peterson says. "We certainly didn't want to throw shade at Chris Carter or The X-Files or anything else. It was [acknowledging] a moment in the pilot. And finally, we did one last meeting and David [who directed the finale] really wanted it. And he's earned his place at the table, very much so. We put it in there. I think it works. It's a nice callback for everyone that's been watching since the beginning. When he gives that speech, it's one episode after another of these moments…hopefully for these fans, you get these flashes of memories of various episodes."
Brennan also shared meaningful moments with the rest of the team, and Collier applauds Boreanaz's leadership in those emotional moments. "David did a wonderful job directing those scenes," Collier says. "Everyone brought something to it; everyone weighed in on their character. It was as it should be."
Fans finally found out the significance of 447.
Bones teased the mysterious recurring number "447" for years, and the finale revealed it as the time of the explosion at the Jeffersonian—though it was a different plan than what Hanson originally had in mind when it first appeared in the series.
"We came up with [our take] pretty near the beginning of the season," Peterson says. "Hart had a smart idea…He told us what it was, but we couldn't write it as well as he could, and he couldn't write the finale. We knew it was something he could deliver if he wrote it, but it felt like it would be a cheap trick without him. It was such a personal thing that we tried multiple versions and it didn't quite work. We had to write the best version we could."
The writers felt this version was a fitting end to the mystery, given what the characters went through in the episode. "All of these images of 447, they've been harbingers of this moment to come," Peterson notes. "It's the moment when their lives shifted for one last time. That's what this season was about. It really is the moment that each of them survived and moved on from the journeys they've been on since the very first episode."
Hodgins is King of the Lab!
Hodgins' running (quasi-)joke that he was "King of the Lab" came to a very real fruition when Cam handed him the keys to the soon-to-be-repaired Jeffersonian. "Hodgins goes on a journey," Collier says. "When you start the series, he is angry. He's an angry guy who is a bit unbalanced. He found this incredible balance in his life [with Angela and their family]. My feeling is he'd be a wonderful head of the lab."
And though the series concludes with this episode, "in an alternate universe where these characters continue to live their lives and work, Cam comes back to do more research and she's happy working for Hodgins," Collier predicts. He also suspects Hodgins wouldn't be pulling as many experiments if he was in charge of everything: "Potentially he's become the grownup. He's the new Hodgins."
Cam is going to be a mom (times three)!
"I think the fact that it's Cam, I think it works well," Collier laughs of Cam's impending full house. "I have no idea what those kids are like. We wanted her to adopt, we wanted her to have that family, and I think Karine Rosenthal, who is one of my favorite writers ever, she's the one who came up with the idea of three kids. And it just seemed right. She's not doing it halfway."
The writers wanted to showcase the main five actors in the finale, but admitted some of Cam's scenes ended up getting cut from what will air. "There were scenes we had to cut of her outside trying to get in; it was just a question of time," Collier says. "But it was [important] showcasing the five of them."
Booth and Brennan, bantering until the very end.
Naturally, Bones' final scene was Booth and Brennan, together, talking about life. And though the writers had the entire season to plot the ending, they were slightly impacted by Season 10's season finale, which had the duo leaving the Jeffersonian/FBI to move away. (The hour was crafted as both a potential season and series finale in case the show wasn't renewed.)
"We didn't want to repeat a move we had done before," Peterson says. "This is a chance to figure out what I and everyone who has worked on it, what we really wanted that last feeling to be. We like the idea that even if the show ends, the fans can rest assure that Booth and Brennan are out there somewhere solving crimes. I think that's the reassurance we want. We love that they're out there; it's comforting."
"I think they have each other," Collier adds. "I think it's now about rebuilding."
And finding the right song to play the show off was tough: An editor was the one who suggested the eventual tune, John Lennon's "Out the Blue."
"The fun of that is the first time you do a mix, you put in your dream songs, and later on they tell you you can't afford those," Peterson says. "I think one of our editors found that song, and it fit perfectly, and the studio/network watched it and said, 'This is perfect. We'll give you extra money for the song.' That's what this season has been like. To be given the final 12 episodes to tell this story. And to get the right moment and the right song…it's been very special."
As for Booth and Brennan's final words?
"I have not done a chart of exact percentages, but my guess would be 50-50" of improv versus scripted dialogue, Peterson says. "[Deschanel and Boreanaz's] relationship is so special, and what they bring in those kinds of moments is a hallmark of a show. It's the great thing of having two stars with such great chemistry who get along so well. David really requested it as he was directing: 'Write some stuff there, get some dialogue, but give us some room to let us do the thing that we do.' As usual, they did their job. I don't think it was scripted originally that Booth was going to let Brennan carry the box, but they worked it out and it worked."
And a message to Bones fans from the showrunners…
Peterson: Thank you. We tried to make this as much for you as humanly possible. I'm sure there are things they wish we had done. Maybe they'll bring us back in three years and we can do the things we should have done. Keep on tweeting and telling us what we did wrong and maybe we'll do it right next time!
Collier: I'm so grateful to the Bones fans. I've never been on a show that has this level of fan involvement, interest, of love for the show. I couldn't be more appreciative of that. And I really feel like I came to know the fans. So many of them, I've gotten to know online, through the forums. Even if we didn't write to them all, we certainly read their posts. Thanks for watching. Thanks for taking it as seriously as we do.