‘Bones’ Season 8, Episode 9: ‘The Ghost in the Machine’ Review – 150

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Bones 150 Episode Review First Person Bones Season 8, Episode 9: The Ghost in the Machine Review   150

Do not adjust your computer screens. The above image captures the unique camera angle from which the 150th episode of Bones was shot.

At its essence, “The Ghost in the Machine” is a first-person narrative of what happens in and around the Jeffersonian Lab from the victim’s point of view.By virtue of its nature, the visual perspective is limited – and requires a dose of dramamine during the quick cuts – but that does not diminish the episode as a whole by any means.

The story is told through the eyes of Colin Gibson, a 14-year-old boy whose life was snuffed out too soon, his body stuffed in a greenhouse only to be uncovered by Brennan (Emily Deschnael) and Hodgins (TJ Thyne) two years later. Avalon Harmonia (Cyndi Lauper) returns to the show as Angela’s (Michaela Conlin) psychic, drawn to the lab because someone was “callin’” her. It’s her belief that Colin’s soul hasn’t moved on, which isn’t exactly an accepted concept inside the pristine house of reason and logic. Hodgins certainly misses no opportunities to mock her.

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However, Even Brennan cannot fully distance herself from this case. As the case develops, the emotions in the lab swell and overflow. The death of any child, after all, should never be an easy thing, and with two sets of new parents on the show, it would be a disservice not to explore how it affects them. Through the narrative we are able to see both Brennan’s major breakdown for the boy and feel the quiet reverence Booth offers as he prays the soldier’s prayer.

Angela, unlike her scientist friends, believes Avalon right away and addresses Colin from the moment his skull is placed in her care. There is no deviation here from her character in any of the other 149 episodes and one can almost imagine it’s something she does every time. Hodgins, while outwardly the biggest skeptic, also quietly talks to Colin, though his speech is far more technical than his wife’s. Cam also very quickly addresses the boy, requesting he let her mom know she’s 87% happy.

Toward the end, Brennan’s skeptic shell cracks briefly, though it’s more reminiscent of her discussion with Dr. Eames’ remains in “The Doctor in the Photo” than any true belief she has that Colin’s spirit is in the room with her. Perhaps one of the most poignant moments in the hour is when she discovers that Colin’s death was a tragic accident. The scientist in Brennan states that his frontal lobe wasn’t fully formed. The mother in Brennan chides him for being foolish. And like the empathetic person she often represses so as not to compromise her objectivity, she tells him that she wishes his decision had not been a fatal one. Proving that Angela was right way back in the Pilot – sometimes Brennan cares too much.

Bones season8 episode9 The Ghost in the machine Avalon Bones Season 8, Episode 9: The Ghost in the Machine Review   150

Modern-day milestone episodes on television are interesting. They allow showrunners and their writing staff to depart from the norm if only for an hour of a season. Certainly, this first-person point of view would not be ideal for Bones every week.  It’s slightly nauseating at times and there are only so many plausible excuses for carting skulls around everywhere the team goes. After a while, it loses the charm and feels gimmicky.

Just this once, however, it works. And for Colin – and the Bones fandom at large – that’s all that matters. Happy 150th, Bones, and may you run for exactly 56 more!


Bones airs Monday nights on Fox @8pm. New episodes resume January 14, 2013.

TAGS: Bones
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  1. Bone is a show that always entertain me with its unique ideology. I love the concepts that the makers use in each episode. ‘The Ghost In The Machine’ is one more interesting episode of small screen project. I was shocked, when I saw a psychic, who has joined the team, when they were investing the death of a little guy. More interesting situation arise, when the team allow him to do so! He wants to prove that the soul of that boy is not dead and is still alive. He may be right! It was a good call by the team to reveal the truth.

  2. I REALLY wanted to like this ep. I felt a spurt of tears when Bren teared up in the greenhouse and booth was very sweet. After that I just kept trying to like it. I think the show would have been just as touching or more so if it had been told from the regular perspective. Bones has done dead kids before, way better than this. Bren taking the skull home was ridiculous. Surely there is protocol. And having the skull in the FBI office with the kids, over 18 or not, was beyond ridiculous. I said it before, HH seems to think viewers are going to buy whatever he’s selling whether it makes sense or not or its in character or not. It’s insulting. I liked that B&B have a song. Hotblooded is a throwback to another ep. But I didn’t like that they only had 3 minutes together at the end.

    • Talking to the remains is something I would expect Dr. Donald Duckworth Mallard – from NCIS – to do, not the people at the Jeffersonian.
      & taking Colin’s skull home seems very unprofessional, even if one is dedicated to their work.
      On a gut level, it appealed to me, on a cerebral level, no, it didn’t.

  3. The Ghost in the Machine” is a first-person narrative of what happens in and around the Jeffersonian Lab from the victim’s point of view.

  4. I am a big fan of bones and I watch it regularly, but this episode was a big disappointment. The whole idea of an emotional bones does not appeal to me. I have always loved the subtle but strong emotions exhibited through objectivity of Dr.Brennan than the straightforward tears. Also the visual and the narrative was very disturbing and stressful to watch.Waiting for the next one. Hopefully it will be the much awaited Pelant epsiode where the Jeffersonian can put Pelant behind bars for good.

  5. Hate this epipsode!!!! I hate the first perspective! So stupid!!!

  6. I thought this episode was ok. It was different seeing from the victims perspective. I love how Booth comforts Brennan. Also love how Brennan is finding her emotions, she isn’t a robot!! Now that they have a daughter, I think she can only imagine how collins parents feel, so she’s emotional. Waiting for the next episode!!

  7. I hated this episode, it went against the grain of all previous episodes.

    Brennan is an atheist, and always before, reason was shown to be behind everything… whenever there was some weird supernatural thing, they found it had a scientific explanation (like Booth’s visions).

    But now, the supernatural view is shown to be “true”, there really is a spirit that Brennan just refuses to see… but then she finally “admits” it is real, if not verbally, then by her actions…. reason is “proved” to be wrong, and raw emotionalism and mysticism wins out.

    This was a total reversal of the themes of the rest of the series. There are very few shows that champion reason, so it is especially sad to see this one start to cater to the insipid crap that is modern superstition.