Two of my favorite showrunners—heck, two of my favorite people in Hollywood—recently spoke to the press about this season of Bones. Hart Hanson & Stephen Nathan are really great at balancing giving us just enough to whet our appetites, but little enough to leave us wanting more. So check out what they had to say!
On when we’ll see Pelant again
Hart: Well, Pelant will definitely figure in their lives quite heavily in the first few episodes. We will see him again. We’ll see him in a way we haven’t before. It’ll be a far more intense episode and it’ll be them confronting him in a way we haven’t seen before. That’s probably vague enough.
Stephen: You know they’re going to get married, and they can’t really get married until the issue of Pelant has been dealt with one way or another.
We’re doing all that fairly quickly. We’re not teasing this out through the whole season.
Hart: We’ve strung along the audience for eight years. Season 9 we’re starting to resolve things, not everything because there will be a Season 10 through 14, but at this point, we will be moving things along.
Jump with me to read more from these guys.
On Booth & Bones going undercover
Stephen: David and Emily love doing Roxy and Tony so much that it’s a little disturbing.
Hart: We haven’t seen Roxy and Tony since the second season.
Stephen: Yes, and they love Wanda and Buck Moosejaw, but man, they really like Tony and Roxy. What they’re doing is going to a marriage counseling retreat, which is ironic since, A, they’re not married and, B, they have this issue hanging over them. Tony and Roxy are louder than Brennan and Booth, so they get to work out some stuff undercover while trying to catch a murderer. It’s pretty fun.
Hart: Yes, their mouths are uncensored, so Roxy and Tony get to a lot of things that Booth and Brennan might not get to. It’s always great to see the two of them do these undercover episodes. It’s a hilarious situation they’re in. We have a phenomenal guest cast. Certainly having a couples retreat with various couples interacting with Tony and Roxy gives us a lot of great stuff.
Stephen: There’s a fat suit involved.
Hart: Yes, there is a fat suit that is sort is like a balloon.
On how much Booth’s ex-priest & CIA friend will be in this season
Hart: We’re going to have him back a few times, Aldo Clemens. It’s played by Mather Zickel. He’s an appealing guy and he has kind of a vibe that no one else on Bones has, so we’ve been seeing him at work and I think you saw, too, in the first one, he has pretty good chemistry with both David and Emily. We’ll have him back a few times, which I shouldn’t say, because there’s always a chance that people will be killed by Pelant, so now I kind of let that cat out of the bag. We’re going to have him back. Let me say this. He’s part of the wedding episode.
[As for Freddie Prinze Jr.’s character & the offer he made to Booth,] that’s a fun dynamic to play out is that he thinks that the CIA is the ultimate organization to belong to. Booth has belonged to the FBI for a long time. Those agencies actually have a bit of a rivalry and so we’d like to play that out a little bit as the season goes on.
On when we might see those fun, “out of the box” episodes
Hart: I’ll tell you something. We front loaded the season with, I’m going to call them obligatory episodes, things that we’ve set up that we have to do. The weirder episodes or out of the box episodes, if I’m hearing your question correctly, are going to happen in the back end of the season. I don’t even mean the back end. Let’s say after Christmas.
Stephen: We do have some planned that are odd and unique and aren’t necessarily just a regular Bones. We want to do it more and more the older we get the older the show gets.
Hart: It’s one of the great things about a show that’s going into its ninth season, you can do that. People are with you and you can be a little bit weird. We like them the most and they’re often I think our best episodes.
On balancing the show’s humor with the “real life” tones
Hart: That’s such a good question because we think it’s a good question, because we agonize about it. We agonize about the tone and grabbing the right—walking that tightrope. I’ll tell you it’s fun for us to write a drama that’s a little bit melancholy, but it’s also a lot of fun to bust back out of it into our usual world of the crimedy. That’s why we moved pretty quickly in the pilot to get out of the melancholy place. When we’re in editing or scoring it or even watching dailies and directing and we know the actors, it’s kind of sad, those scenes where Brennan and Booth are not connecting and we’re so used to seeing them connect that it’s odd when they don’t.
Stephen: I think it makes the show more enjoyable to see them go through real situations. We put them in a very difficult position at the end of last season and in dealing with that, they have to work through the misery before they come out the other side. I think that gives the audience something to root for. I think that’s why we care about these characters so much. It’s not easy. Life isn’t always easy for them no matter how beautiful they are, and they are beautiful.
On whether or not we’ll learn the significance of the numbers 447 & 735
Hart: Well, 447, we talk a lot about paying that off and there are two schools of thought and I won’t tell you who’s winning. One is that we finally pay it off in the final episode and the other is that we don’t wait that long. That being said, there are a few things that we are paying off fairly quickly at the beginning of this season. For example, what did Brennan write when she was buried alive with Hodgins? Who did she write to and what did she write? Stephen, what other, there are other things we’re paying off?
Stephen: We’re paying off a couple of things that we can’t really talk about—
Hart: What is Angela’s real name is another hanging chad that we haven’t paid off yet. There’s another one in my mind and it’s just seems to be gone. Then there’s always what is on page 187, which is Hodgins’ miraculous sexual technique. I don’t know if we could pay that off on network TV.
On the show’s next “big bad”
Hart: We—how do we say this, Stephen? Pelant actually is part of uncovering our next big bad.
Stephen: There will be someone else who looms over our people in a way we have yet to see on Bones. It’s someone who is far more ephemeral than any of our other big, bad guys. As Hart said, it’s somebody who comes to our attention because of Pelant.
On whether or not we’ll see a Christmas episode
Stephen: We have a really tough time doing holiday episodes because Bones is traditionally moved around a lot. I think we’re sort of like those movable missiles, so that we can’t be shot down. They move us all over the place—
Hart: Is Syria on your mind at all, Stephen?
Stephen: I don’t know. Wait a minute. I got to put on a Kevlar vest for the next question. We just don’t want to be caught in a situation where we have a Christmas episode that they want to air in February. We like doing the holiday episodes, but the scheduling is always a bit up in the air for Bones. We’re still not absolutely certain whether we’re on Monday or Friday around that time of year, so it’s a little bit of a crap shoot and we don’t want to disappoint the audience.
Hart: We don’t want to do a Christmas show at Thanksgiving or after Christmas, so we’ll have a greater sense of the schedule very soon and then we’ll know whether we’re doing one or not, but it’s tough for us.
On why they chose a wedding now & how that’ll affect the future
Stephen: The reason that we didn’t hold it off till the end of the series or something is that Booth and Brennan getting married is just sort of a natural extension of their evolving relationship. Now they’re not going to be all that much different. They’re still Booth and Brennan. Their differences remain and now they’re just going to settle into one aspect of their life while being tested all the more. We kind of wanted them to get married and then put them in the most extreme situations we possibly could for the remainder of the year to test that relationship.
Hart: Between the two of us, Stephen and I have been married for 50 years, so something we know is that just because you get married doesn’t mean that everything goes simply.
Stephen: Yes, and especially if we can come up with—
Hart: Not to each other, we haven’t been married to each other for 50 years.
Stephen: No, that’s only been like 40. The fact that what we’re trying to do is come up with murders that we’ve never seen before, crimes, motives, clues that will test them, that will sort of increase the tension in that marriage and to see how two people you love deal with that.
On whether or not there will be a honeymoon & murder
Hart: There’s a honeymoon and of course there is murder. Should we say more about it, Stephen?
Stephen: You know what, somebody did tease something about it, so it’s out there. They go to Argentina. They go to Buenos Aires on their honeymoon.
Hart: And, you know, Buenos Aires has a certain history that demands someone like Brennan and Booth. Also we’ll tease this one little thing that they do go on their honeymoon and it turns out that the entire country of Argentina is madly in love with Brennan’s books and it takes a turn that even Brennan didn’t see coming.
On the tension between Angela & Booth
Hart: They both love Brennan and don’t step between sisters, which Booth has done, and that’s going to take a while to play out because hurtful things were said and they don’t immediately fix themselves overnight.
Stephen: Best friends are relentless and they will defend a friend to the death. Booth has to get past that; Angela does, too, she has to understand what’s going on, but she doesn’t have the information yet.
Hart: Yes, Angela is the ultimate shipper.
On balancing the serialized episodes with long “serial killer” arcs
Hart: It’s a nightmare because at our essence we are an episodic show. We’re a network, 22 episodes a year episodic show where we solve a crime each week. When we go to more serialized stuff, it’s always difficult. You’re always juggling that. If it’s working for you, then we’re incredibly delighted. All I can tell you is that it’s a lot of discussion and a lot of input not only from the writers on the show, but from the network and the studio as to how to balance all these things.
Stephen: It’s much easier on one hand to do a serialized show, because you’re just continuing with one story with the characters; but to do a case that has to resolve every week is very labor intensive. Fortunately we have a great, great writer’s room led by Jon Collier, and they come up with astounding stories, but it is after almost 200 episodes. It’s very difficult to continue to give the audience murders that are worth their loyalty.
Hart: That they haven’t seen before, and clues that they haven’t seen too many times
Stephen: And bodies and all of that stuff, so it’s what is ultimately very, very satisfying to us and also when we’re on for so long now. Now we’re in Season 9, so at that point you are allowed to add a serialized element to the show, so we can have character arcs. We can have things that do sustain us and give a through line to the series, so it’s not just the case of the week.
On what precipitates Sweets’s reexamination of his life compared to Booth’s thoughts
Stephen: Oh, well, you know what? There are two things, I think. Certainly Pelant, all of his research, all of his psychological insights and discoveries in this relationship have been turned against him, that’s probably one of the main things; but also Sweets is a young man. Everyone in their 20s reevaluates their life choices that they’ve made and wonders whether or not there are other things out there. I think it’s a natural thing that occurs in a character like his to take some time and look at things before it gets too late.
Hart: We only have two characters who are doing what they set out to do, and that’s Hodgins and Brennan. Everyone else has been pulled into their orbit and Sweets, here’s a guy whose intention in life as a foster kid is to help people, to help actual human beings and instead he’s in a situation where he’s helping society. Just juggling those two things are tough for him. He has to figure out which direction he wants to go in. Do you help a lot of people a little or a few people very, very much? It’s a good thing for a guy in his 20s to deal with.
Stephen: On a very mundane level, these people never take a vacation ever and when you’re 24, 25 years old, you want to take a vacation. He wants to do—
Hart: Stephen, I so think that you are projecting our situation.
Stephen: …right now, my bag is packed.
Hart: I just think you’re really projecting. You’re revealing way—
Stephen: I’m getting the … out of here. My bag is packed. Oh my car is here. I got to go.
Hart: [As for Booth,] yes, how many times am I going to chase armed people down alleys now that I’m a family man? You’ve got to juggle these things.
What a good show runner would do would have Sweets face a situation or situations which somehow told him, which are signs to him which way he should go that gives him the most satisfaction. With Booth it’s the same thing, although in a way the corollary or the shadow of it, which is he has to face dangers that make him rethink what are his responsibilities to Christine.
That’s all, folks. Long, but entertaining and informative. These two guys are some of the most fun to speak to that I’ve ever encountered, so thanks to Hart & Stephen for the great call!
Don’t forget to tune in to new episodes of Bones on Mondays at 8/7c on FOX—and tonight, for the undercover ep!