Crime Dramas tend to be serialized, unless they’re not. Yes, that sounds incredibly silly, but it’s generally true. The majority of crime dramas, whether of the soap opera variety or the serialized drama take the Dragnet/Law & Order tack of one case per episode, and it’s wrapped up at the end. Starting in the late 90s we finally started seeing much more serialized procedurals which would stretch a case out over several episodes, to a whole season, to even multiple seasons – with the most notable example of this being Homicide: Life on the Street.
Why am I bringing thus up with a Forensic Detective series that I’ve already reviewed the first two seasons of? Well, that’s because the first two seasons stayed in the standard episodic vein. This season, however, shifts gear to our first serial storyline. Specifically, the case of the cannibal, secret-society hating serial killer the Gormogon. This review will contain some spoilers. This is your warning.
While the last seasons of Bones had something of a series of plot arcs, they were very limited. The romance of Hodges and Angela was pretty much limited to B-Plots, as was the hunt for Angela’s long-lost ex-husband. While the hunt for Bones own father, and several murders he committed defending Bones and her brother did find their way into the A-Plots, they took up less than a handful of episodes. This season’s plot arc, on the other hand, set a mood that was felt throughout the whole season.
That said, I’m not sure what I feel about this plot arc. On the one hand, I found myself riveted by every episode that featured the Gormogon killer. The cases were very suspenseful, and the inclusion of the Gormogon’s vault of various ancient treasures–which was wisely saved only for episodes involving Gormogon–also helped give those episodes a unique visual feel. However, the arc concept just didn’t feel right. While it’s entirely conceivable for a forensic anthropologist to be involved in hunting down a serial killer (and that was even the plot for the first Temperance Brennan novel), something this current feels out of place.
Additionally, I didn’t like the big reveal about Zach. It was sudden and abrupt, and felt almost Russo-riffic. A well executed twist teases that it’s coming. It might not be obvious the first time, but by the second time you can see the clues almost a mile away. The classic example of this being in The Sixth Sense, with the use of the color red as a hint that Bruce Willis’s character was a ghost. Here, we have nothing to really give the hint that something isn’t right about Zach. So, when the reveal comes, it’s abrupt and out of nowhere, with nothing to let you know that it might be coming, either on the initial viewing or on repeat viewings. That’s actually not good writing. That’s cheating. The writing after the reveal is well handled, but I still feel that everything leading up to the reveal could have been done considerably better.
However, Bones is still a good show. While I’m torn about the Gormogon arc, there are enough good episodes and enough good acting performances to save this season from mediocrity. I definitely give this season a recommendation.