The twelfth and final season of “Bones” started with a bang, exonerating Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) and resolving the Hodgins (T.J Thyne) paralysis story for the most part.
In addition to attempting to save Brennan (Emily Deschanel) from a demented serial killer, Zack has also apparently been chatting with Hodgins’ doctor about treatment methods and a possible cure for his paralysis. Just when we thought Hodgins would finally have a hope of walking again, Zack revealed that his research found that the new treatments would likely only give him that — hope. Science, on the other hand, says his paralysis is permanent.
While hope is a powerful factor in any recovery process, it seems like “Bones” has definitively decided not to give Hodgins a miracle cure, and we’re 100 percent okay with that.
We’d never wish pain or suffering on any of the “Bones” characters (Hodgins least of all), but we can’t deny that this storyline is one that needs to be told in a specific way. “Bones” has a great opportunity to depict a disability not as something to be surmounted, but accepted.
Too often, TV shows incorporate paralysis into a character’s storyline only to miraculously cure or overcome the disability after it provides the necessary amount angst. Most recently, we had a bone to pick with “Arrow’s” incredibly short paralysis storyline for Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). After being shot and paralyzed in the mid-season finale, Felicity went through the various stages of grief while adjusting to her new life before getting a miracle cure in the form of a bio-chip which restored her to full function. This entire story arc lasted a total of five episodes.
“Bones” has the opportunity to deviate from this predictable path and keep Hodgins in his wheelchair permanently.
Hodgins and Angela (Michaela Conlin) have already proven that they can adapt to this new way of life and overcome its challenges without endlessly pursuing treatments and miracle cures. Sure, they’ve both had a tough time adjusting, but that’s a story that needs to be told. Rather than endless stories of fighting through the pain and regaining the ability to walk, we’d love to see a TV show delve into the struggle behind acceptance and the realization that a disability isn’t the end of your life. It’s just the start of a different one.
Just like representation matters for people of color and the LGBTQ community, representation of mental and physical disabilities is important to a large group of viewers who almost never get to see themselves in the glamorous characters on their screens. Instead, they’re forced to watch paralyzed men walk again and terminal diseases cured at the last minute, while fans celebrate that their favorite character is no long “broken.” To be frank — that’s not just delusional, it’s wildly offensive.
We can only speculate at this point whether “Bones” final season will give Hodgings the ability to walk again or not, but at this point, we’re kind of hoping for the latter.
Depict disabilities — don’t erase them.
“Bones” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.