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.

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4 responses

23 02 2013
dmfant

funny in dramas where we draw the line around the writers going too far, there does seem to be a limit to the arc of a story that once past leads nowhere good but clearly it’s not a universally drawn line in the sand.

24 02 2013
absurdbeats

It may be possible for a show to last beyond its original arc, but to do so it needs to develop a new arc. I don’t know how often that happens.

Anyway, the real reason these shows stick around is because good-enough can still bring in pots of cash.

6 07 2013
Janine

That’s nothing. A couple of episodes later, they introduce an intern with several postgrad degrees (including a physics PhD) who believes that if someone dies with an “abundance of energy”, that “energy” can “imprint” itself in the corpse’s surroundings. For a physicist, he sure has a poor understanding of what energy is and how it works. He also spouts a fuckton of other cockamamie, including how he believes in the possibility of logically impossible things (logically impossible = a thing cannot be “A” and “not A” simultaneously). Basically the guy’s a moron, could never have earned all those degrees in real life with his defective brain, and was created to pander to the undereducated masses who think crystal healing is legit and want to see a “genius” character justifying their own irrationality. MY Bones could have easily called out the glaring flaws in his reasoning (hell, *I* could, and I’m not half as sharp as she’s supposed to be), but THIS season’s Bones just went, “Eh, seems legit. Guess he’s smarter than me.” WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO MY HEROINE?!

THAT episode was when Bones really jumped the shark for me. The coma episode had me fuming but this one was where I drew the line for sure.

7 07 2013
absurdbeats

And yet, as I noted in a May 18 post on the finale (which I only skim-watched and hated anyway), I’ll almost certainly watch season 9.

I am a sucker.

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