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Friday, October 11, 2013

BONES "Sacrifice" Rings Hollow

Article first published as BONES "Sacrifice" Rings Hollow on TheTVKing.

The characters in FOX's Bones have long been battling a super-smart, ruthless villain named Pelant (Andrew Leeds). That all ends in last night's episode, "The Sense in the Sacrifice," in which our heroes face Pelant for a final time, determined to stop him.

The beginning of the episode, in which the Jeffersonian team works up a plan to draw Pelant out of hiding, imitating his murderous style, only to be tricked by Pelant himself, who kills Agent Flynn (Reed Diamond), is brilliant. This is the kind of great writing the Pelant arc has highlighted on the show. They have created a bad guy who can anticipate everything, and can never be defeated, and it's amazing to see how he will stump the main crew next.

Which may be why, when they do defeat him, it feels hollow and doesn't quite work.

Pelant doesn't make mistakes. We've seen this over and over. But I buy Flynn managing to give the team a clue, giving them an opening. The problem comes when Angela (Michaela Conlin) and Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) use computers to figure out where Pelant is, and then Cam (Tamara Taylor) calls Booth (David Boreanaz) to relay that information, since it has been established that Pelant spies on everything electronic they do. They know it will only be a matter of time before Pelant discovers their progress, and given the precautions put in place to stall him, they might buy themselves a slight head start, but there's no way he misses all of this, so why don't they go off-line to avoid him learning anything at all?

What I really don't understand is how Pelant underestimates that time so poorly so that Booth has a chance to get in range and kill him. Yes, Pelant is waiting on Brennan (Emily Deschanel), whom he gave a separate set of clues to, and so doesn't want to run off too quickly. But Pelant hasn't played with Brennan nearly enough to think he could have swayed her yet, if he ever could. He's too smart to believe a single mystery would draw Brennan to his side, romantically speaking. And, knowing the team as he does, he should be able to better estimate both her rejection and when Booth can or will arrive.

It would be far more satisfying if the team outsmarted Pelant using novel, old-fashioned methods. By going back to their typical computer style, they open themselves up to vulnerabilities that surely Pelant would be able to exploit. Maybe the writers didn't leave Pelant enough weakness to truly have a satisfactory take down, but "The Sense in the Sacrifice" feels lazy, like they weren't even trying to anticipate the holes that could be poked in it.

This is echoed in the sequence in which the team, including Ms. Julian (Patricia Belcher), spy on Booth and Brennan in Pelant's lair. They want to see if their friends are OK, and I don't even blame them for lingering too long on the smooching couple, as until they see Pelant's body, they may worry about lurking danger. But without sound, how do any of them know Booth is sort of proposing? He doesn't get down on one knee. It's an unnecessary leap.

Bones is a solid series, for the most part, and has delivered many excellent stories. There are great elements in "The Sense in the Sacrifice," such as when Sweets (John Francis Daley), who is on leave from his job, is drawn back in because of his ingenious idea for stopping Pelant, the moment Mrs. Julian finds Booth heading out for a revenge killing, and when Brennan talks to Aldo (Mathew Zickel) in the bar about whether Booth will shoot Pelant.

Yet, the quality isn't consistent throughout the hour, unfortunate for a special installment that should long be remembered, a departure from the normal case-of-the-week. The show has done better in the past, and hopefully will do so again. It's just so disappointing that it falters now, at a time when all eyes are on them. Bones doesn't make many mistakes, but this episode is sadly one of them.

Bones airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

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