It might be getting up there in years, but season 9 of Bones is proving to be more veteran show than a show past its prime. So on the heels of the Pelant (Andrew Leeds) arc and the eve of an episode that hardcore Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) fans have been waiting ages for, it would have been easy for 'The Lady on the List' to be a filler episode. Thankfully, it's not.
Instead, the writers go the route of contemplation, using not only the impending wedding, but the victim's story as well. Fans get to view all of the pre-wedding details like the menu and the dress and the ceremony being planned. There are the funny moments, like Booth's insistence that pigs in a blanket are God's perfect food. But also sentimental ones like Brennan asking Angela (Michaela Conlin) to be her Matron of Honor as well as getting to envision an 8-year-old little Brennan picking out her perfect wedding dress and saving the magazine cutting through all her years in the foster system.
Meanwhile, the victim's story makes them all think a little bit about life after death as he perished in the midst of fulfilling his bucket list. And so we discover that Booth wants to "meet" daredevil Felix Baumgartner; Cam (Tamara Taylor) wants a villa in Tuscany sans puking hawks; and Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) wants to visit the "real" Area 51. There is also a sweet moment at the end where Brennan draws a blank on what her own bucket list entails and Booth comforts her.
This episode also sees the return of Oliver Wells, the squintern who makes Brennan look like the most humble woman on the planet. Wells is brought to life with the delightfully dry wit of Brian Klugman, whose father Jack starred in Quincy, M.E.; one of the first TV doctors who used science to solve murders. Not as perky as the wannabe, Daisy (Carla Gallo), or dour as Fischer (Joel David Moore), Wells is somewhat reminiscent of an early Brennan, and in fact he seems to irritate her least of all. Too bad the one thing he connects with at the lab is hauled off, leaving him alone once again.
Speaking of VAL, the one subplot that does seem a bit misplaced is the deus ex machina between she and Sweets (John Francis Daley). Perhaps it's the timing. The writers never fully fleshed out Sweets' sudden hiatus - during which he never actually was missing during an episode. His equally swift return to staff shrink hasn't been explained either. So this plot feels like maybe it could have contributed to his reasons for leaving, rather than welcoming him back. Still, the diner scene between he and Brennan is hilarious, as is Booth pulling the plug and denouncing computers at the end.
All in all, this is another solid outing, leading up to next week's big wedding episode. Having seen the episode already, I can tell you that you do not want to miss this one. It's sentimental without going cheesy and ties in many classic Bones episodes to satisfy older viewers who have been waiting years to see these two tie the knot.
Bones returns next Monday with "The Woman in White" @8pm on FOX.