As Bones’ sixth season begins, Booth (David Boreanaz) is still smarting from his rejection by Bones (Emily Deschanel) last season. Fans of the show know these work partners are opposites who belong together, but still, they must be kept apart. The 23 September season premiere finds yet another way to maintain this tension, introducing a new love interest for Booth, who says he has “moved on.” With a new romantic roadblock in place, the story returns to a familiar focus on group togetherness.
Here, we pick up the narrative seven months after the entire team literally scattered across the globe. The opening scenes drop in on them in their new contexts. Bones and her intern Daisy (Carla Gallo) are in Indonesia, looking for a “missing link” in the history of humanity. In a flashy sequence, Bones goes into fierce woman warrior mode, as she battles a group of guerrillas. And Booth, now training soldiers in Afghanistan, uses his sniper skills to protect civilians. As they—and other team members—head in disparate directions, we get the message: they are also similar, altruistic and skilled in their pursuits. If personal relationships are fleeting or fragile, the broader world needs help.
Now, Cam (Tamara Taylor), working as a federal medical examiner in DC, is in trouble. She’s been speaking out about war veterans’ brain injuries, and getting flack her superiors and from the press, including questions about the murder case of an unidentified boy she’s having trouble solving. Federal prosecutor Caroline Julian (Patricia Belcher) warns her that she has to find an answer, or she’ll be fired. Of course the team reassembles to help her. Also of course, they revert immediately to their previous roles: so much for the fleeting and fragile nature of relationships.
While Booth is mostly eager to return (ever the conventional thinker, he’s been wondering why he’s in Afghanistan “fighting someone else’s war,” anyway), Bones needs more convincing. Caroline tells her they “had a good thing going” until Bones ran off to follow her own selfish desires. Bones is surprised to learn that when she left, everyone dispersed and, most upsettingly, hard-working intern Wendell (Michael Grant Terry) had to drop out of school due to finances. When she finds him in a mechanic’s shop, she offers him lots of money to return. He tells her he needs to know how long the job is for, because he has to “think long-term.”
Contrasting Bones’ supposedly “selfish” short-term research goals with Wendell’s entire career trajectory or Angela (Michaela Conlin) and entomologist hubby Hodgins’ (T.J. Thyne) plans for a family, the narrative nudges Bones towards commitment. If not to Booth, at least to her work family. She caves because she understands it anthropologically, telling Booth that, in any group, there’s a “linchpin” holding the group together. This person is not necessarily the leader or the loudest one, but the one keeping things intact, without whom the individuals splinter apart and the group fails. (She’s also the one whose name provides her series its title.)
Each member makes a case for his or her status as the team’s “linchpin,” allowing the rest of us to see a little more about all, rather than the series’ usual focus on Bones and Booth. A love letter to group synergy and the fruits of hard labor, the entire episode makes its own case for the team’s existence. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.
On Bones, the rewards usually involve a sense of justice and expertise. If Bones and her team are doing good work and excel at their jobs, performing a key service to others, they can ride out their occasional discontent with the tough work of solving murders.