After a few mediocre episodes in a row, Bones gives its fans proof that, with the right script, it's still capable of heart-stopping entertainment.
Right from the start, viewers are thrown into the chaos of a lab about to receive a potentially dangerous set of remains and director Chad Lowe amps up the tension using quick cuts and a score with a fast tempo as opposed to streams of dialogue. This pace only quickens as the episode progresses, making the final moments that much more explosive.
'The Pathos in the Pathogens' also utilizes the chemistry of the show's actors to present a solid ensemble piece. Each member of the team - from Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Angela (Michaela Conlin) in the lab to Sweets (John Francis Daley) and Booth (David Boreanaz) over at the FBI - has something vital to contribute. One of the best scenes is a small one between Hodgins (TJ Thyne) and Brennan where the forensic anthropologist stuns her colleague by offering to help find a herbal solution when modern science is failing them.
It's also the first time that the romance between Cam (Tamara Taylor) and Arastoo (Pej Vahdat) feels more organic than forced. Cam is a strong character and she manages to maintain that composure right up until the very end when it looks as if she will have to let Arastoo go. The emotions evoked are similar to an older episode, 'The Man in the Cell' (2007), in which Cam herself was the victim of an inhaled pathogen and her life depended on the team to discover the antidote.
The music is also a key player in this drama. From the up-beat montage at the beginning (depicting the team working feverishly to discern what could have killed the victim and whether or not it's an act of bio-terrorism) to the soothing notes that play over sweeping night shots of Washington once Arastoo is in the clear, the score sets the perfect tone throughout.
Another strength of this episode is Booth's presence. For far too long the writers have focused on Brennan and the squinterns that rotate in and out of the lab and one of the main characters to pay the price was Seeley Booth. Over the years, Booth slowly became more and more docile and more willing to rely on the science to solve crimes than his own gut. Not that this is inherently a bad thing, but it loses something of the original flavor of the show and the dynamic that drew people to watch in the first place.
If nothing else, this season has seen a resurgence of Booth as a man of action and a cop willing to do whatever's necessary to bring down the bad guy. It should be interesting to see how that culminates in next week's season finale.
All in all, this was yet another fine ensemble work by the cast and crew of Bones. Lowe delivers a clean, crisp story that the actors infuse with an energy and chemistry that comes from working together for so many years. Meanwhile, the score tells a magnificent story that dovetails perfectly with the many twists and turns of the plot.
This episode is proof positive that the right case can drive character development without sacrificing too much in the process. Let's hope this is also the case for the much-hyped season finale, featuring the return of serial killer Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds).
Bones airs Mondays @8pm on FOX.