Properly ending a TV show is no easy task, even if the series in question only runs a season or two. After all, it's hard to please any fanbase completely, and it's rare for any of us to feel eager about seeing something to which we've dedicated so much time come to a close. When you think about it that way, it's hard to imagine how you can properly execute the final episode of a show -- and even moreso, one that's run for 12 seasons.
That's exactly what the writers, producers, cast and crew of "Bones" pulled off, though. The show's final episode, "The End in the End," is about as perfect a goodbye as fans of the show that ran for 264 episodes, in a variety of time slots, could ask for.
In the end, the beauty of the episode is in its simplicity. It's a more or less standard episode of "Bones," with some extra twists and a lot of nostalgia thrown in for good measure. The show's penultimate episode ended with Season 12 baddie Kovac (Gerard Celasco) blowing up the Jeffersonian institute, leaving our heroes in peril.
Luckily they all survived -- and the act only emboldened them in finding the madman, though it wasn't without a few bumps in the road. In the course of the explosion, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) received a brain injury that left her temporarily unable to help solve the mystery. While seeing Bones confronted with the possibility that her genius mind might be permanently damaged (it wasn't) was difficult to watch, it did make way for the first wave of nostalgia, as the squinterns coming together to fill in the blanks.
While five of the best surviving squinterns were able to make it into the episode, putting the knowledge Bones taught them to work, our one regret is Colin Fisher (Joel David Moore) wasn't there to lend a hand. Still, he appeared earlier in Season 12 and that's enough for us.
Seeing these younger forensic anthropologists use what they'd been taught by Dr. Brennan over 12 seasons of "Bones" was, in its own way, the perfect love note to fans -- some of whom have gone on to study the lead character's chosen field of expertise. As they pieced together facts Brennan had previously discovered and forgot, it was a strong tribute to not only her genius, but how much she's truly imparted on those she's met along the way.
Focusing on the squinterns, working hand-in-hand with Brennan and her team, is exactly the right way for the science side of this show to end. As in all the best "Bones" cases, it's a team effort that brings down the villain, ending with Booth (David Boreanaz) and Bones seeing to it that Kovac goes out in a literal blaze of glory.
From there, it's time to tie up loose ends. In the aftermath of the Jeffersonian bombing, the team packs up what's left of their personal belongings, reminiscing about those they've lost, before clearing out of the building temporarily. It's then that Cam (Tamara Taylor) reveals she and her husband are adopting three sons, while Hodgins (TJ Thyne) and Angela (Michaela Conlin) admit they'd written a children's book together about life at the Jeffersonian. And Hodgins is named interim director of the lab during Cam's family leave!
That's right -- at long last, Hodgins is finally King of the Lab, and we couldn't be more thrilled.
It's also a great moment for us to look back on the characters that were lost over the years, including Vincent Nigel-Murray (Ryan Cartwright) and Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley): "He was right about us," Brennan tells Booth of Sweets. "He was right about a lot of things, actually." It's the kind of vindication Sweets would have loved to hear, were he still around.
It's this quiet, nostalgic note "Bones" ends on -- not with a sense of finality, but instead the idea that just because the show is over that doesn't mean the characters are. All too often, a series finale is portrayed as the end of the story, whether it's with a time jump or a major event that permanently changes the show's norm. Instead, "Bones" leaves us with the comforting thought that life at the Jeffersonian Institute will go on. Even if we don't see it on TV every week. In an age where viewers form such strong bonds with the shows they choose to watch, there's no better gift we can imagine.