I thought last week was going to be the return to form for Bones, but it turns out I was wrong. (See what I did there? Except I'm not joking.)
"The But In The Joke" was the third of the four bonus episodes filmed during Bones Season 7 and it had me asking "Can the real Bones Season 8 please stand up?" Tonight felt as out of place as the rest of this season and as a series-long viewer, this is getting frustrating.
What has always set Bones apart from other crime-solving procedurals are the season-long story arcs, or partial-season arcs, that draw us to the characters. The case of the week is a backdrop for character development that's ongoing and not contained within one episode.
Because of the four standalone episodes to which we've been "treated" so far, we're not getting a whole lot of that development we've come to know and love from this show.
Sure, we spent part of the season learning about Sweets' love life. Yes, tonight Booth had a slightly more prominent role than he's had in previous weeks. But nearly all of the focus of this season has been on solving the (incredibly gross) case of the week, not on actually developing the characters.
Aside from seeing Booth crack wise at the open mic night, the one good thing to come out of tonight was Angela getting her groove back.
We've heard her murmurs of discontent this season, perhaps more loudly than in years past. She's sad for humanity and the world. Woe is her! She only has "excellent technique." She's growing tired of the gore.
Truth be told, so am I. Gross-out for gross-out's sake is...well, gross. I'll never be able to look at peanut butter the same way again and Fear Factor would probably like its bugs back.
Tonight's Zed character helped Angela see herself as an artist again and not just as Angela, Worker of the Jeffersonian Mega Computer. Furthermore, it helped Hodgins see her that way, too. This is a girl who craves adventure and excitement.
At first I thought the writers were angling towards a Hodgins-Angela split. I'm glad it was just a hiccup in their relationship, room for them to talk and grow. Growth is good. Breaking them up for the sake of creating drama would be very, very bad.
Aside from the Angela story, the episode just felt sort of "meh." I guess that's what happens when four episodes created to air outside of a regular season are dropped into a regular season. I could barely come up with lines to post in the Bones quotes archive because of how bizarrely out of place this episode felt. So far, the only standalone to work well this season has been "The Patriot in Purgatory."
The joke's over, writers. We want our show back.
What did you think of "The But In The Joke?" Are you as tired of the four "bonus" episodes as I am?
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.