[This is a review of the Bones season 11 premiere. There will be SPOILERS.]
FOX’s longest running primetime drama, Bones, has learned not to mess with a successful formula. The season 11 premiere plunges fans into another mystery that hits a little too close to home for the Jeffersonian crew. In classic Bones-style, there’s a body to identify, Brennan rules the team, and one of their own is in trouble. Again. But even while playing plot cards they’ve played before, Bones still has the same charm fans have followed for years.
The season 10 finale wrapped up with Brennan and Booth deciding to step down from their respective posts at the Jeffersonian and the FBI in order to raise their kids in a less risky atmosphere. Sometime in the last six months that plan was derailed, and Brennan and Booth are still in DC. Brennan is doing consulting work while Booth is training agents at Quantico. They’re a well-oiled machine of parenting and domestic bliss, as Booth heads off to work.
Back at the Jeffersonian, Cam is having a hard time replacing Brennan, though squintern Arastoo is in the running for the job, but life is moving along. Until a murder victim found in the charred remains of a van happens to have Booth’s gun seared to his leg. Telling clues point to Booth as the victim, a conclusion made worse once it’s discovered Booth has mysteriously gone off the grid since that morning. The team reels from the idea that one of their own could by on the table in front of them, while Brennan alone refuses to believe it could be her husband until she has some hard facts. Firmly taking over in the lab again, it isn’t long until she finds the facts she needs. Booth may not be dead, but something dangerous is definitely afoot and Booth is right in the middle of it. The mystery turns to putting together what Booth is up to and what could have lead to the murder of his close family member.
Guest star Kim Raver arrives at the FBI as an IA investigator determined to paint Booth as a murderer. It’s fun enough to watch a rattled Brennan go head-to-head with an unlikeable Grace Miller, who seems hell bent on pushing the facts where she wants them to go, while Booth is missing. Just when you’re wondering why a great guest like Kim Raver could be playing a seemingly one-dimensional investigator, a subtle reveal about Agent Miller at the end of the episode leaves audiences wondering about her overall role in Booth’s disappearance.
The first of a two-part season opener, 'The Loyalty in the Lie' sets the stage for another Booth secret kept from his nearest and dearest. It’s not new territory for Bones, but then again neither is making the team search for one of their own in trouble. Whatever Booth is mixed up in (hint: it involves guest star Roger R. Cross and lots of money), it seems to be the exact opposite of what he and Brennan wanted at the end of season 10. Hopefully, Bones will crack open why Booth has gone back on what he wanted last season or it’ll completely negate the season 10 finale. Whether this secret will cast a shadow through the season remains to be seen, but we can be sure it’ll throw Booth and Brennan back to work with the Jeffersonian.
Overall, the season premiere is a strong Bones episode that doesn’t deviate from the track much. One particularly funny exchange with Cam, Hodgins and Arastoo reminds audiences life has evolved for the squints and time continues marching forward. Although it may seem there's nothing new under the sun in such a long-running drama, there are a few things to look forward to this season, including a Sleepy Hollow/Bones crossover later in October. This episode demonstrates the value of having a good formula, and it's one that Bones has delivered on again and again. For that alone, there's reason enough to still be watching.
Bones returns next Thursday with 'The Brother in the Basement' @8pm on FOX. Check out a preview below:
Photos: Patrick McElhenney & Ray Mickshaw/FOX