“Bones” turns 150 on Monday, Dec. 3, and in honor of the occasion, executive Producers Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan promise they have a few special treats up their sleeves for longtime fans of the series.
“We don’t want to do a normal, run-of-the-mill episode,” Nathan tells XfinityTV.com in an exclusive interview. “We are not going to do a 150th episode where someone gets married, or somebody dies, or something like that. It is more in the ‘Bones’ nature to do something odd and strange.”
What makes the special anniversary episode, entitled “The Ghost in the Machine,” unique is that Hanson and Nathan decided to shoot the entire thing from the point of view of the murdered victim. So, from the opening frame until the mystery of why he is still here is solved, we see only what the empty eye sockets in the victim’s skull sees … and the victim is a 15-year-old boy.
When the bones are relocated to the Jeffersonian, psychic Avalon Harmonia (Cyndi Lauper) senses that the boy’s spirit is still on the earthly plane and can’t move on. Of course, Dr. Brennan (Emily Deschanel) scoffs at the idea, but she, along with everyone else, eventually shares her innermost thoughts with the deceased.
Preview the 150th Episode of “Bones”:
For more of the inside scoop on what to expect, read on to find out what Hanson and Nathan reveal!
When you sat down to plan the 150th episode, what did you hope to accomplish?
Hanson: We intend in our milestone episodes to wave to our very, very loyal fans. Do something that they will get a little extra out of, which is why we chose this episode to let our audience and loyal fans see our characters in a way they have never seen them before — in a little more intimate way.
In a procedural show, it is hard to find moments to reveal who the criminalists are, but by having them talk to the skull in this episode, we got new insights on them. How did that idea come about?
Hanson: It is one of those ideas I had from the beginning. You write down things that you think may be interesting. Often, those ideas take years to come to fruition. It took us years to get to the 9/11 episode.
Nathan: Actually, this year we have three episodes, which we have been talking about for 8 years: one was the 9/11 episode, this point-of-view episode, and the other one is solving a Neanderthal murder which is 30,000 years old. We are filming that one this week.
Hanson: We finally found ways to get those stories done. When you are on set watching the actors work, especially if they are in another room and you can’t see them with your naked eyeballs, you can see them on the monitor. If they flub and turn to the camera and do something — make a face or curse the writer for bad dialogue — when their eyeballs hit you in the monitor, it’s weird. It gives you a little jolt. I thought, “Man, there’s got to be a way we can do that on the show.” That is why we did it. There is a good connection that way.
Dr. Brennan seems to be more emotional now that she has a child, especially in this case where it is about a teenager. Is she going to be able to accept that aspect of herself?
Nathan: Last year and this year we have seen a big change and evolution in Brennan. We can’t keep her the same character she was in Season 1 and 2. I don’t think the audience would tolerate that, nor would we. It gets boring as writers. We have seen her open up because of her love for Booth (David Boreanaz) and having a child. She is now seeing the world in a new way. She is feeling things she never felt before. We are learning this year why she has been so closed off and we slowly see her opening herself up to new experiences and things she previously thought were impossible. In this episode, she is trying on for size dealing with the victim even though she doesn’t believe the spirit is really there. In another episode this season, we have her deal with a near-death experience, where she sees her mother again, Also, something that she doesn’t believe is possible, but she has to accept that there is something there that she can’t reconcile because of a little twist in that story. We are, hopefully, seeing Brennan slowly evolve into a recognizable human being.
Do you have an approximate date for the near-death episode?
Nathan: That will probably be sometime in February.
Will Brennan find out about the romance between Cam (Tamara Taylor) and Arastoo Vazir (Pej Vahdat) and if so, will she find it inappropriate because Cam is his boss?
Hart: Oh, yes. It is inappropriate.
Nathan: It is also inappropriate for Brennan to have an affair and now live with her partner that she is working with at the FBI. There is a lot of fun to be had in the hypocrisy and judgment…
Hanson: …what happens when you rush to judgment.
On some level, it seems as if Cam and Arastoo are really good for each other?
Hanson: Yes. Poor Cam. She is probably the most successful person there at separating her personal life from her work life but it is the nature of the place, the way those people work together, they interact so personally. They are doing important things. They are solving murders. We also want to discover how the two of them got together. We kind of popped it on the audience that they had been carrying on for a while. It is good for Cam, who has not been lucky in love, to meet this poet, who absolutely adores her.
Nathan: It is great for us to explore Arastoo’s character, first in the 9/11 episode and then in this to see this other side of him and where he came from. To find out that he is a poet, of all things, and is in exile and can’t go back home. He just has become more and more interesting. He is such a good actor and they are wonderful together. It is one of those things you try and don’t know if it is going to work. Then we saw them together and we were so happy.
Hanson: When we first met Arastoo, by the way, the longtime fans will remember that he affected an accent because he found that people, especially in the wake of 9/11, were more comfortable with a non-threatening Muslim with an accent than with a guy who talked as if he had been educated at Stanford. We just keep finding layers for all of our interns, but he has come the farthest.
And the bad translation of his poetry from Persian to English? Whose idea was that?
Nathan: I think I had been Google translating to answer a Tweet in French and realized…
Hanson: I wrote this beautiful poetry, by the way, and then Stephen wrote the [faux] Google translation of it. That is the way we work.
Why the smoke between scenes? Is it supposed to be heavenly?
Nathan: We had to find a way of moving between scenes and, basically, saying that this spirit comes and goes at times when he is supposed to be here and see something going on and then he will retreat. It is between his life and where he goes next. It was a way for us to have him transition from life to death from scene to scene.
Hart: The first time it happened it was fog, so we just carried on the motif.
At the end we find out that Booth and Brennan have a song. But she didn’t know it, so where did it come from?
Hanson: She had just forgotten. This is another thing that the long-time fans … the first time that Booth and Brennan danced together — and by the way, Booth got blown up shortly after — was to “Hot Blooded.” Booth is the kind of guy who remembers. The idea of having a song is something that Brennan would have to be reminded of.
Nathan: This is the third time that we have played it. The second time was in the rock ‘n’ roll college episode, where Brennan actually played “Hot Blooded” on the guitar. She doesn’t understand that a special song means anything.
Hanson: But she will dance!
Cyndi Lauper makes a fun guest turn as Avalon. Will she return? Any other guest stars?
Hanson: I love Cyndi Lauper so much that I look for every excuse to bring her back, but she is a very busy touring musician. She is working on a musical with Harvey Fierstein, but the answer is, yes. When we can get her, we will have her come back. We like having musicians on this show. We are having back Angela’s (Michaela Conlin) dad, who is played by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. I don’t think we will have the guys from Mötley Crüe back unless we do another alternat- reality show. We are not really a guest-star show because on our show, if we cast a big-name guest star, people will go, “That’s the murderer.” We are looking to cast a new squintern and we have a couple of people in mind who would be recognizable to the general public.
Nathan: We have Ryan O’Neal and we are looking for someone to play Booth’s mother.
Can you give us an ETA on the return of Christopher Pelant?
Nathan: He will be returning at the end of January. But it is up to the network and their mysterious scheduling. But at this point, we think Pelant will be returning at the end of January. It is one of our biggest shows. It is very bleak and dark and scary — all the things we don’t normally do. Every week, we do a show we don’t normally do. As fans, we enjoy Christopher Pelant because he can go toe-to-toe with Dr. Brennan.
Hanson: He is as smart as Dr. Brennan and has insight into the human condition as do Sweets (John Francis Daly) and Booth. But as you will see the next time we see him, it is pretty tough to go up against our guys.
Nathan: But he does somehow wind up getting the upper hand. When he returns, he is going to be a very different Pelant.
“The Ghost in the Machine” episode of “Bones” airs Monday, Dec. 3 at 8/7c on FOX.