I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Twelve years ago, Booth and Brennan began their journey together in a rose garden, full of spark and snark and hope. 246 episodes later— spoiler alert?— they finish in the same way, a little older and wiser and battered and bruised, but as ready for their next adventure as they were in their youth.
Serial killers run amok, and the Jeffersonian is in shambles, but you know what? The center still holds, the way it always has, and the squints prove that they won’t let a little thing like near-death or serious head injuries get in the way of their superpowers.
Series finales are so fraught, outside of the usual my-show-is-leaving-forever crises, because there’s so much pressure to wrap everything up in a way that is true to the characters and satisfactory to the fans. I’m here to say right now that Bones pulled it off, at least in all the ways that count. I’m not even going to touch upon the conclusion of the Sad Little Homicidal Albanian Boy plot, except that the fact that his ill-fated getaway car was an open-topped Jeep Wrangler may be my favorite dumb-criminal-death on TV ever, so there’s that. (Also, there’s Meryl Streep “He’s my brother! He’s my husband!” joke in there somewhere, but we have precious little time tonight.) At the end of the day, this was never a show about high-stakes drama; it was about damaged people finding the good in each other, and helping to make the world a better place so everyone else could find that for themselves, too. Luckily, that was infused in ‘End’ to its core.
I didn’t know what to expect from Brennan’s convenient head injury, although I did wonder if we were about to get another amnesia plot as a callback to the last ‘End’ in season 4. Instead, we got to see Brennan grapple with her identity in a way that makes me wish we could have seen this in a season arc at some point: who is she if she isn’t the smartest person in the room? Emily Deschanel perfectly portrayed her alter ego’s frustration, at once as encyclopedic as ever, yet not being able to place together the different puzzle pieces in her mind to get her thoughts out, let alone crack this case. As I mentioned, I could have watched this play out over months, and I think it would have been a riveting journey, not unlike the one she went through in season 6.
Yet we didn’t have a dozen episodes, but just the one, so every scene had to count, and boy did it ever. Each memory with an intern, or comforting moment in the wake of explosion with a worried friend, or panicked discussion with her partner was dripping with emotion, and this was certainly all of these actors’ (and particularly Deschanel’s) finest work of the year, hands-down, as their stories all coalesced into the final act. I loved the visuals of the Original Four trapped together in the wreckage of the Jeffersonian using their wits to get out (a mix of “Man in the Fallout Shelter” and “Aliens in a Spaceship”, anyone?), but the bookend with our beloved lab rats musing on what comes next for the Institution really got to me.
These are all the grown-up versions of the closed-off genius, artist-with-wanderlust, angry conspiracy theorist and independent-to-a-fault leader we met a decade ago, but this Breakfast Club ends with nothing but love. Because Angela can finally merge her art and her science in a children’s book (I need this ASAP), Hodgins officially becomes King of the Lab (my heart!), Cam and Arastoo are adopting teenage foster kids (MY HEART), and Brennan is on the road to recovery to who she is again. Some things will change, some will stay the same, but these squints will always be there for each other. The hope of it all overwhelmed me, and I definitely felt all gooey on the inside leaving them on the steps of the platform like the kids they were in the pilot.
Last but not least, Booth and Brennan cap off the episode with their own nostalgia trip. Jasper the pig even made a final appearance to tell us all that we were going to be okay, just like his owners. In a season that has been so up-and-down emotionally and tonally, it was heartwarming to watch the two leads simply be for a few minutes, side-by-side on the bench in front of the place that started it all. The continuity of it all floored me, in the sense that the final scene reaffirmed that life does go on: like our protagonist mused ages ago, the sun will still rise in the morning and that is a beautiful thing. In an era where so many shows are determined to up the ante in its closing minutes for the shock value, I love that Bones did what it did best: showing us that Booth and Brennan will always be Booth and Brennan, no longer chasing each other in gardens but walking steadfastly side by side, living on to fight their fight another day, in the safety of knowing who they are and who they love. It’s simple and stunning at once, and I am so thankful that this is what we waited for.
I don’t know how these writers did it, but they managed to encapsulate the entire ethos of the show in ten captivating minutes. I’m going to miss checking in with the squints every week, but thanks to this finale, I know that somewhere out there, the gang’s going to be all right. It’s all I could have asked for as a fan, and I owe a huge round of applause to everyone involved over the years. Thanks for the laughs and the love, Bones, because no one did it quite like you.
(And thanks to all of you here at Gotta Watch It for hanging out with me these last four years! It’s been such a pleasure sharing my nerdiness with you.)