In the Monday, Feb. 11 episode of "Bones" season 8, episode 15, "The Shot in the Dark," Brennan (Emily Deschanel) was able to help the team solve a case even while in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound. But that wasn't what everyone will be talking about.
What "Bones" has done over the past seven and a half seasons is establish Brennan as a very rational character, but what she experienced in "The Shot in the Dark" was something even she couldn't explain. We always knew it would have to be something big that forced Brennan to question everything she believed in, and there's nothing bigger than seeing her dead mother (played by Brooke Langton) and a moment that couldn't be explained away with science. But even as the series tackled something very difficult to cover on a procedural drama, it didn't lose what is, at the heart of it, that essential "Bones" quality that keeps us tuning in each week. All in all, "The Shot in the Dark" was everything it needed to be and more, from start to finish.
Even though there was something off about the security guard Hal (Richard Augustine) from the beginning—it seemed just a bit obvious as he checked in with Brennan as she worked on the bones that he was connected in some way—the way the case played out meant that it didn't really matter. And while the introduction of ice bullets ("When you eliminate the possible, you are left with the truth, no matter how improbable," Hodgins said) was expected once they couldn't find any bullets in Brennan or the dead Hal and Brennan described the wound site as cold, they didn't stop there. Instead, they added a twist—blood bullets, using the shooter's blood—that allowed Brennan to be key in putting the evidence together. It turned out that Hal, the original victim Johannes Groot (a sales rep for a jet-leasing company), and the shooter were in business together, and they were looking at a bad deal. Hal had tasered Groot, causing a cardiac arrest, and then threw him off a bridge to cover it up. And while Brennan was key in the shooter's arrest, it was what they found in a head wound of Hal's that led them to the shooter: slivers from a 12th century Cretan icon of the archangel Gabriel from the Jeffersonian. Only one person could restore it: the Chief of Restoration, Dr. Batuhan (Harry Von Gorkum). They were looking at at least 11 fake artifacts, and Dr. Batuhan made a big mistake—he went after Brennan.
In case it wasn't clear this was a different episode from others, the beginning showed just that. The victim's remains were already back at the lab, and Brennan went home to spend time with Christine while she waited for the bones to be available to her for examination. And while Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan did fight, a conversation that began with a disagreement about a family vacation and ended with her thinking he was calling her a bad mother (a moment that showed that try as she might, Brennan can't be rational all the time), was that fight a blessing in disguise? Brennan had been planning to head into the lab anyway, and if they hadn't fought, he may not have went to see her at work, and she could've been left there, bleeding out. So in the end, that fight was a good thing for a couple of reasons: things can't always be hunky-dory for Booth and Brennan and it may have been what saved Brennan's life. The series may have thrived after it got its leads together, but for things to stay that way, they have to deliver solid storylines. This was one such case.
But the best parts of the episode came when Brennan saw her mother in an experience that couldn't be explained away. Brennan being Brennan, she said she was just hallucinating, but we still got something we never have before: mother-daughter moments that offered what may be the greatest insight we'll ever get into Brennan. Though Brennan fought it, protesting she didn't believe in God, we saw a gradual change in her as she spent more time with Christine, whom she told about Booth and her daughter ("I'm honored," her mother said when she heard her name). While Brennan wanted to explain it away, Booth just said what mattered was she came back. He did think it was possible she saw her mother. Speaking of that insight into Brennan, Christine remembered the last time they saw each other. They had had a fight about a boy Brennan was changing herself too much for.
"I told you that you were too dreamy and emotional, making decisions on what you felt, instead of using your brain," her mother said. "Maybe that's why you took my advice and you never changed yourself for another person again. So you'd never be hurt. You tucked your heart away, and you used your brain. …The advice I gave you back then—use your head, be rational, don't let your heart lead you, use your brain—that allowed you to survive. And it held true. But I have another piece of advice for you. It's time for you to find some of that little girl you locked away so deep inside yourself. …Because it's not about surviving anymore. It's about flourishing. It's about living a full life." —Christine Brennan
We also got some touching father-daughter moments as Max (Ryan O'Neal) joined Booth at her bedside, along with a moment between Brennan's father and mother through her. "We were very happy, all of us, weren't we?" Max told Brennan as they spoke of what she saw. "I miss that so much. So much." But the most important moment came as Brennan said goodbye to Christine ("If this was real, I'd tell you I love you"), who told her to tell Max she always knew the first gift he gave her was stolen. "Nobody knew that except me. Nobody," Max stated. Now that was something that couldn't be explained rationally. We've always loved it when O'Neal stops by as Max, and this may have been his most emotional episode yet. (It also made us want to see more of Max in Brennan's life, and not just when someone's in danger.)
Overall, "The Shot in the Dark" showed that "Bones" can do more than just the straight drama/comedy mix we're used to seeing each week. It allowed them to explore a different side of Brennan and therefore shine the spotlight on Emily Deschanel in a different way. As expected, it was an emotional hour, and because of that, some aspects were only addressed briefly—and rightfully so. While looking in the victim's apartment, Sweets (John Francis Daley) and Agent Sparling (Danielle Panabaker) briefly talked about their failed relationship; they went on a few dates, slept together once, and it didn't work out. And for a show that usually balances drama and comedy pretty well, this was almost exclusively a serious hour, as it should have been. There was a moment that was more light-hearted than the rest—learning Clark's (Eugene Byrd) middle name (Thomas) made him Thomas Edison.
"Bones" season 8 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX. What did you think of "The Shot in the Dark"?