Bones 11×22 ‘The Nightmare Within the Nightmare’: Return of the Squintern

BONES: L-R: David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel and Tamara Taylor in the "The Nightmare Within The Nightmare" season finale episode of BONES airing Thursday, July 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Season 11 finally comes to a close, revisiting the “Puppeteer” who thoroughly creeped us all out earlier this year. Yet we’re all in for a heck of a whammy when the team finally cracks the case about who their foe really is. And Bones proves that over a decade later, it’s still able to bring the goods with the best of them.

It’s been interesting to watch Brennan grapple with the guilt of leaving her job after last year’s finale, blaming herself for the murders that occurred in interval between her sabbatical and eventual return to crime-fighting. Though we all know that logically, it isn’t her fault, it’s also completely understandable that someone as passionate about her work as she is would shoulder the burden of the innocents’ deaths in their serial killer’s wake.

So it was both fascinating and heart-wrenching to see that guilt manifest itself through her utterly terrifying dreams; I consider myself pretty rational when watching TV, but I confess to jumping at her nightmares, because they felt so real. There was no jumping into abyss, or stylized slow-motion effects to tell the audience that this was definitely a figment of her imagination — instead, this was indeed her personal terror come to life. So it’s no wonder that her mind immediately jumped to protecting her family from the unknowable threat. After all, if there’s one thing her job has taught her, it’s that real monsters aren’t under the bed, but hiding in plain sight. (That being said: Brennan shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the feeling of being watched. She was being stalked by another serial killer for months a few years ago.)

Source: FOX

Source: FOX

That is why I felt the build-up of the killer’s (alleged) identity was particularly effective in this arc, because each additional snippet of information fit with the previous one, and it was neat watching Brennan’s subconscious piece it all together. This is where I give the writers props for their surprising continuity, which I’ve mentioned has been particularly strong this season as a whole. From not only reminding us of Brennan’s past — thanks to a heart-to-heart with her dad, or later a creepy visit to the victim’s psychiatrist — to other details like Wendell’s quirk of tucking a cigarette behind his ear (to remind him of his dad) when he first appeared on this show in season 4, or revelations about our suspect’s physical characteristics, it’s clear that a concerted effort was made to honor the show’s history with this particular story.

Which brings me to that surprising twist: while I began to wonder after reading this article about his return, the “Previously On” segment before the teaser really sealed the deal about his identity, and the hints throughout the episode made me yell “Wake up, dummies!” to the characters through my TV. That shocker, of course, is that our culprit appears to be none other than Zack Addy (Eric Millegan), the disgraced intern who hooked up with the Gormagon serial killer back in season 3, and hasn’t been seen on-screen since season 5.

Source: FOX

Source: FOX

Fans will remember that Zack’s betrayal (and subsequent admission into a psychiatric institute instead of prison for a murder he didn’t actually commit) led to our current crop of rotating squinterns (like Wendell), and that only dearly-departed Sweets knew of his innocence, a secret he presumably took to the grave. So when the characters started looking at the evidence, like the suspect being from Michigan (!), being brilliant and particularly skilled at anatomy  and robotics (!!), possessing intimate knowledge of Brennan (!!!), in his mid-30s, etc., it felt so obvious that we were about to get a visit from our long-lost socially-awkward forensic anthropologist that his reveal as Brennan’s captor was more “duh!” than “gasp!”

Don’t get me wrong, though, that in itself isn’t a bad thing. I actually think that the way those clues coalesced made sense, and may have been one of the better “puzzles” in recent memory. And while it took our team longer than I would have expected to figure it out themselves (at least consciously), I was impressed that the chase also served a secondary function in developing their off-screen lives. For instance, from Booth’s dash through the institution to find Zack’s room, we learned (without any overt exposition) that Booth and Brennan have been regular visitors to their friend, because the nurse knew who the agent was and reminded him that he couldn’t see “him” outside of visiting hours that night. It’s details like that that sets Bones apart.

Source: FOX

Source: FOX

Admittedly, I initially was annoyed at the fact that the show decided to bring Zack back at all after all this time, and more so that they used his return to further “assassinate” his character. Yet, given how blatant his guilt appears to be, I’m choosing to believe, for now, that there’s more to this story, and though I try not to let behind-the-scenes realities influence my writing here, this recent interview with the show runners seems to support the subterfuge as well. I’m betting that Zack is merely joining forces with the real Puppeteer (a former roomie at the “looney bin” perhaps?) to right some wrongs from his past and bring him to justice with the help of his former colleagues, but in this respect, I think she show is still unpredictable enough that this should leave us with plenty to watch for (and speculate about) in season 12.

As I said, I was never one to clamor for Zack’s return — both the actor and the story have moved on — but I am intrigued by where they’re going with this, because I feel like there’s an attempt to bring the series full-circle in its final (!) season. More importantly, I think the rest of the team needs that kind of closure, since we know his downfall weighs heavily on them, too. I’m definitely pumped to see how Brennan gets herself out of this tight spot (abducted again!), and the upcoming 12 episodes are sure to be bittersweet as they deal with the fallout.

Are you stoked about Dr. Addy’s reappearance in season 12?

is willing to talk about TV to anyone who will listen. She’s thought way too hard about her favorite shows, ever since her grade school days watching “Full House.” She likes to write a lot, about everything. She enjoys candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach… Whoops, wrong profile.

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