And it’s gone, gone, gone

23 02 2013

Stick a fork in it already.

Bones done gone jumped the shark.

Two cliched metaphors: too much? No, not really; quite apt, actually.

Dr. Temperance Brennan has held to her atheism throughout the entire run of Bones, even as the show’s creators have given space for Booth’s religious beliefs and various other supernatural phenomenon (i.e., the episodes with Cindy Lauper’s character Avalon).

I don’t particularly mind those flights into fancy, if only because they represent the beliefs of the flight-y characters. These representations can be done well (the first Avalon appearance) or not so well (the second Avalon appearance), and they can, as with Booth’s dead comrade’s appearance at the end of a Gravedigger episode, come off as both playful and poignant.

But the key has been that the show allows for both belief and unbelief. Even if Brennan is characterized as arrogantly rational, they’ve allowed her to score real points against supernaturalism, and to have some fun doing so. (See, for example, the episode “The He in the She” in which she comments on the fashion choices of the Pope.) The viewers are offered a menu without being prodded into picking a particular item.

That, along with everything else, has been slowly disintegrating in the past two seasons (again, season 6 isn’t worth mentioning), but last night [actually, last week’s episode, the latest one free on Hulu] it all fell apart.

First, there was the cliched Brennan-gets-shot-almost-dies bit. Yes, the show has put its characters in mortal danger before, but usually in service to some larger storyline. Last night, the reason why Brennan got shot was a sideline: the whole point was for Brennan to die so that—wait for it—she could experience an afterlife. With her dead mother.

Awww, shit, really?

At first, Brennan dismisses the experience as a neurochemical response to trauma, but by the end the game is given away: Brennan’s mother tells her something  no one else would know, a telling confirmed upon Brennan’s waking.

Superficially, this is akin to the dead soldier’s appearance at the end of that Gravedigger episode, but as the soldier was a manifestation of Booth’s consciousness—and that Brennan didn’t know who he was—it worked. Belief and unbelief bumped into one another, and both went on their way.

This time, however, we were pointed on the way, and whether or not Brennan tries to make sense of this latest experience—which, if handled intelligently (and which, given the writing of late, I doubt will be), could be intriguing as a character study, that tension between the natural and the supernatural went slack.

I’m one of those people who aren’t bothered by spoilers, and who like to re-watch old shows. I don’t know why I enjoy watching things I’ve seen before—there’s a kind of comfort in it, I guess—but having seen something three times in no way interferes with my desire, after some lapse of time, to see it a fourth.

Thus, I watch and re-watch old episodes of Bones. In fact, last night, after having watched the latest free episode on Hulu, I went back and watched a couple of old shows on Netflix. There were from the third season.

I don’t know that I’ve re-watched any episodes from season 7, and when season 8 hit Netflix, I might pass those by, as well. It’s not that the show is terrible, it’s just that it’s not what it was. It’s gone flat.

And last night? It pancaked after flipping over that shark.