This is it, folks: season 10 might have had its ups and downs, but it finally concluded tonight. It almost was a series finale, but luckily it’s not, or else I would have been a blubbering mess.
In some ways, it seems like the season has been building up to this episode for at least the last dozen episodes. It’s obvious that the events of the previous year have been weighing heavily on the Jeffersonian team — not just Booth’s obvious shooting, incarceration, and gambling relapse, but Brennan’s solo efforts to keep their family intact, Sweets’ murder, Wendell’s illness, Hodgins and Angela’s financial reversal, and Cam’s increasingly difficult attempts to maintain morale at the lab. Quite frankly, these people have been heading towards a break for ages, and it’s only fitting that the return of their biggest foe would spark some life-altering decisions.
It’s funny; I would have expected my reaction to Pelant’s reemergence to be irritation, but maybe because I’ve been so desensitized to his appearances on this show, my take was mostly along the lines of “oh, it’s him again.” Thankfully, the writers didn’t do anything crazy like resurrect him, unless you count a video from beyond the grave. For some reason, I didn’t really mind the fact that the killer-of-the-week was a Pelant copycat, because it seems fitting that the case that would cause Booth and Brennan to question their life choices would come down to the man who has been hanging over their heads for nearly the entire length of their relationship.
If one thing was clear tonight, it’s that the burden of the last few years has just about tipped the scales for our favorite crime-fighters. We’ve seen Brennan go through this before (namely in season 5), but I was shocked at how quickly Booth was swayed by the idea of giving up law enforcement for good, after Brennan’s initial suggestion. Yet, it makes perfect sense: Booth was ready to quit after the season premiere, thanks to the FBI’s betrayal, and that resentment was dropped like a hot potato. So, I can see how now that their lives are finally in order, more or less, the idea of leaving it behind becomes appealing. Their jobs have always been risky, but they seem to have been inordinately devastating as of late, and evidently Booth and Brennan need a break from it all.
I’ve been wondering how the writers would make this disbandment of the squints different from the season 5 finale, and in some ways, it isn’t: Brennan’s looking for something safer which won’t put Booth in danger all the time, Hodgins and Angela convince themselves they want greener pastures in Paris, and Cam’s bereft at losing her team. But the ways in which it is different are pretty striking: Brennan isn’t stifling her emotions, she’s running with them and letting them run the show; Booth acknowledges that he needs a break from being a superhero; Hodgins and Angela realize that their real hearts are at the Jeffersonian, no matter how appealing their Parisian pied-à-terre may be; Cam still hates change, but she knows they all have to do what they have to do, and she’s got someone she can share those fears with now without lashing out.
As a season finale, I think ‘Next in the Last’ made sense, in that it fit with the tone of the season overall. After this year’s trauma, and the angst of the past handful of episodes in particular, it would have been a little disingenuous to have everything be perfectly happy. It wrapped up the threads that have been dangling — like the stress of Booth and Brennan’s jobs, or Angela and Hodgins’ self-assessment of what they want out of their lives — while indicating that they’ve still got work to do. And there were some satisfying nods to the past — like Caroline’s emotional scenes with Booth, or the crime-scene callbacks, or the collection of interns following teacher Brennan around like old times — to make me reminisce on the show’s history. For a season that, to me, felt definitively heavier than previous years, I think ‘Next’ carried on the somber note, for better or for worse. However, if this had been the series finale, as it could have been at the time it was shot, my opinion would have been entirely different.
It feels a little unfair of me to even mention it, but I would have been infinitely sadder if this had been our last impression of these people. Hodgins and Angela had a “happy ending” of sorts, becoming essentially Professors Emeritus of the Jeffersonian, but Booth and Brennan sadly exiting the lab, after a (sob-worthy) slow-motion goodbye to their friends set to “Into The Mystic,” would have felt anti-climactic to me. I know I’m contradicting Brennan’s statement that life never has any true closure, but a series finale has to have some sort of hope. Though I know they would have been okay, well, I want to see a little bit of them actually being okay before their real swan song, if that makes any sense. This would have been a little too heavy on the action sequences (as hilarious as Aubrey stuck with a train car full of fowl was), and a little too light on spending time with our central characters for a last hurrah. (If I’m being honest, that kind of represents my feelings on the season as a whole.)
It doesn’t matter, though, because we get another season with Booth and Brennan, where we’ll see their family grow and hopefully find happiness in the next stage of their lives. We’ll get to see Angela at peace with her job and Hodgins at peace with his (lack of) wealth. And maybe we’ll finally get a season without making Cam cry. In the end, I still want to read another chapter in this book.
I’d like to thank you all for watching along with me this season! Now, how did you feel about tonight’s emotional finale?