“Bones” finally returns this week after a much too long hiatus. On Tuesday, April 12, executive producer/co-showrunner Michael Peterson spoke with reporters about what’s coming up with Hodgins’ paralysis, the newest serial killer and the team’s relationships – and even gave a few teases for season 12.
When “Bones” season 11 left off, Hodgins was paralyzed following an explosion at a crime scene. When they talked to TJ Thyne about it, “he could not have been more excited to really stretch his legs as an actor by not using his legs,” the EP shared, going on to say that they didn’t want this to be something that was “very quick and done.” Instead, they “wanted to make sure it affected everybody” and you’ll see how everyone reacts. For example, “Booth is much more about the hope and Brennan is looking strictly at the science of the situation, which is not so hopeful.”
Hodgins will be feeling “every different emotion that comes when you have this sort of a tragedy,” from denial to anger. “We didn’t want to shortchange this,” he explained. You’ll also get to see the world through Hodgins’ new point of view, at a different height and looking at all the things he can’t do now that he once took for granted. According to Peterson, “we got to understand his new perspective before really seeing him become angry, and I think it gave great empathy for him.”
Before Hodgins collapsed, he and Angela had been discussing having another kid, and while that is something they will explore, the focus first is on Hodgins getting to “a place of acceptance before he can move forward in any other capacity” and “a place where he is accepting of this injury and his new limitations.” Specifically, episode 14 is a big one for where the couple is going. What’s going on with Hodgins is “tough on everybody,” he said, teasing, “There’s going to be temptations for Angela, temptations for Hodgins, and hopefully we’ll do it all in the correct way, still showing restraint. It’s not an issue that’s going to be resolved easily.”
Also before the hiatus, Booth was having a bit of a midlife crisis, which led to that fun undercover episode. “We had a lot of fun with that episode, where they got to be strangers to each other and got to rekindle that old romance. I think that’s a lot of what midlife crises are,” Peterson explained. “It’s a scary time maybe for a guy, but it’s a chance to recapture some of those feelings that you had in your youth.” That’s not the last crisis Booth will have this season. He has “some other little crises that are worse than a midlife” one coming up, including one episode in which “he almost finds himself becoming something of a squint and [there’s] nothing more horrifying to Booth than to find himself behaving in a squint-like manner.” That said, what happened to Hodgins does help Booth “put everything into perspective.”
When talking about what’s coming up for Booth and Brennan’s relationship, Peterson spoke about her dealing with her guilt over cases from when she left and him “very much” putting himself in the line of fire. “We saw it at the beginning of the season when his brother was in trouble and what he did there,” he pointed out. “And we’re going to se it again. Episode 17 is a Secret Service episode, and quite literally Booth is in the line of fire, so the more that he is putting himself out there and putting himself in danger, that’s definitely going to have an effect on Booth and Brennan.”
Another episode to look forward to is the documentary-style episode 18, a cross between “Modern Family” and “Making a Murderer.” “What’s fun there is we do get to life up the curtain and see behind the scenes, so a big reason why I wanted to do that is to be able to get into some of this relationship stuff as far as our leads go,” he shared. You’ll get to learn more about their pasts. “It’s not a standard episode, and we really wanted to do it as a tribute to the fans, of just saying, there are some things people wanted to know about our characters, and here’s our opportunity to do a documentary-style episode where we can tell you a little bit more than usual.”
Then there’s the end of the season, which is “leaning towards a cliffhanger.” “That’s obviously going to be a big effect on Booth and Brennan, and it’s going to lead us strongly into season 12,” Peterson previewed.
Episode 13 introduces the latest serial killer, and it may be the creepiest episode of the entire series. Peterson wrote “The Monster in the Closet” and looked at Hitchcock (“Psycho” in particular), Ed Gein and “The X-Files” episode “Home.” “They do a great job in that episode of juxtaposing happy music with creepiness, so we do a little homage to that in there also.”
In happier news, Brennan’s father and Booth’s son Parker are both returning, the former in the season finale (directed by David Boreanaz) and the latter in episode 16. Also coming up is an episode with hockey elements, in which Jeremy Roenick will appear.
Another returning guest star is Sara Rue, who will appear in episodes 13 and 15. “She’s just been a breath of fresh air. David and John Boyd especially just love having the interaction with her. …She has some of the same characteristics as Sweets as far as her background goes, but in a way, she’s almost Brennan’s version of a psychologist, where she’s more of a behavioralist so it’s a little bit more of a concrete science than what Sweets was dealing with,” Peterson said. They’d love to get her back for season 12.
In possibly happy news, “we’ll see a lot more with what’s going on with [Cam] and Arastoo as the season progresses,” according to the EP. “We’re going to see some movements. But Cam, she definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. I don’t think her relationship with Arastoo is going to follow the model of Booth and Brennan or Hodgins and Angela. It’s going to move its own way. …There are a couple more twists and turns as far as that goes. But we’re going to see a lot more. At the beginning of the season, it looked like Arastoo might be gone, but his relationship with Cam is more important than anything else for him.”
Looking ahead to the final season, Peterson said, “We really want this to be a grand ride off into the sunset for the final 12 episodes. … We will bring back as many guest cast as humanly possible and whoever’s available.” That includes Cyndi Lauper and Betty White. “We have one episode in particular that we’re getting ready for for season 12. We’re already starting to look at how we’re going to break season 12 and we’d love to have her back for that,” the EP teased. Also on the table for next year is another undercover episode and they’d be open to possibly bringing back the Finder.
“[Hart Hanson] has a vision for how he wants the whole thing to end, which I am not privy to yet,” Peterson shared, adding later that writing the finale “will be on Hart Hanson’s shoulders, so my plan is not to mess it up ’til that point and then he’ll hit a grand slam at the end.” And as for how the final season will air, the hope is to “be as close to continuous as humanly possible.”
“Bones” season 11 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.