Bones 12×03 ‘The New Tricks in the Old Dogs’: She’s got spunk. He hates spunk.

BONES: L-R:  Guest star Jack Plotnick, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz in the "The New Tricks in the Old Dogs" episode of BONES airing Tuesday, Jan. 17 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

It’s Bones with a retro twist!

Some of TV’s most lauded stars grace our screens this week, creating a thoroughly confusing web of indiscretions masking a killer’s true identity. Back at the Jeffersonian, our squints’ own shenanigans raise more eyebrows, and our key couples have some big decisions to make about their futures.

With Oscar-nominated June Squibb and Emmy winners Hal Holbrook and Ed Asner rounding out the cast of shifty octogenarians at the center of this week’s mystery, ‘Old Dogs’ really was an embarrassment of riches in legendary talent. The story itself wasn’t particularly noteworthy — it is standard fare for procedurals — but in the short time we got to spend with these folks, they sure left their mark, not unlike John Ratzenberger and Millicent Martin in their memorable turns as conmen (conpeople?) a few years ago. (I wouldn’t mind an update on Bill and Evelyn. I hope they get conjugal visits.)

Asner played the go-to man of ill-repute with typical aplomb (I’d be lying if I didn’t say he reminded me a little of Max, though), and Squibb as the focal point of the senior-citizen love triangle was amusing— she’s right, you don’t mess with a granny and her bridge time. (This has been made clear to me in no uncertain terms, grandchild visits be damned.)

Source: FOX

Source: FOX

Holbrook’s portrayal was the one that struck me the most, though. Granted, the writers telegraphed his guilt early on with Booth’s immediate kinship with the army vet (because, Booth) and melodramatic “fall” when the agent’s prying questions hit too close to the mark, but that only made his eventual arrest all the more painful. I found his confession scene in the hospital heartbreaking, demonstrating rare gravitas amidst the absurdity in the rest of the story. The sorrow in his face was palpable as he admitted his anger over his former friend’s misdeeds, and we are so lucky to be able to get performances like these in one-off roles this late in the game.

The B-story in this episode certainly left us with some food for thought about the show’s long-term couples. It felt like old times watching Brennan instantly deduce that her best friend was late for work not due to a “wheelchair malfunction,” but rather for an early-morning tryst, just like Angela has gleaned from her in the past. Curiously, Angela revealed not only that she and Hodgins were the best they’d been since his accident in the bedroom department, but that they’ve also put the family expansion card back on the table. I’m glad that we’re returning to some of these threads that have been dangling for the last few seasons, and it’s a natural step given how things have calmed down for everyone recently.

Sources: FOX

Sources: FOX

I also liked that it led Brennan to consider whether she and Booth wanted to have another baby, as once more it appeared like a realistic offshoot when your circle of friends are in their childbearing years. That being said, I found the vasectomy argument between the Bs a little off-putting, because I felt like I was watching a ‘90s family sitcom and not a show often noted for some of its progressive attitudes. Booth vehemently standing against having the procedure, despite the fact that he and Brennan were in agreement over being done with adding to their brood, absolutely jarred, since his reasoning effectively amounted to “just because.” Frankly, I found the agent’s attitude to be downright immature on the subject, and I was a disheartened that it seems like everyone sided with him, including Angela. (I’m with Brennan— did he think the doctors would actually be cutting something off?!) At least Brennan nipped that in the bud by reminding her that she and Booth did plenty of sinning before marriage so he can’t be that hung up on the religious justification.

On the other hand, despite my personal dislike for the message being conveyed (by a grown man who should definitely know better), I did like that it made Brennan analyze her motivations, and question whether she was really ready to call it quits on the baby-making after all. She isn’t so much “not not trying,” since she’s decided to still use birth control, but I can appreciate that she didn’t want to make a rash permanent decision, though I admit that I could see how it could seem like she was “giving in.” Her closing words on the matter, though, displayed quite a zen— that all the best things in her life, like her friendship with Angela, her partnership with Booth or her subsequent family happened without being planned, so she’s okay leaving this one up to chance (or fate), too. Those are heady words coming from the Brennan we met in season 1, who relied on controling her life instead of living it, so maybe she was onto something last week about this wisdom coming with age.

Source: FOX

Source: FOX

Lastly, Cam and Arastoo also faced some heavy discussions of their own regarding their family planning. Cam was famously and adamantly child-free, until she adopted teenage Michelle when her father died in season 4, and she’s been content with their life. However, I think it was important that the show acknowledged that Arastoo is now in the mix, and his dreams of becoming a father needed to be addressed too. I like that Cam maintained that she didn’t want to give birth, but when Arastoo voiced that he wished to adopt, specifically given how many orphan refugees need homes these days, I thought it demonstrated why these two finally feel like a real couple. Again, while I would selfishly love to see a child-free couple exist on TV without the need to be “fixed,” I recognize how important it is to show individuals having these kinds of conversations maturely and thoughtfully. I hope for their sake that their plans work out, too.

Bones seems to be drawing the roadmap beyond the airwaves after its finale. As usual, I’ve run out of space for this week’s callbacks, of which there were a multitude. (Should that be a weekly feature?) Which ones did you catch?

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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