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.
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.
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.