With the absence of a Bones panel at Comic Con International 2011, this year’s presentation was standing room only, with a long line forming to ask questions of stars David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel and executive producer Stephen Nathan.
After showing a brief sizzle reel, moderator Mary McNamara kicked off a discussion about Season 7, which was shortened to 13 episodes to accommodate Deschanel’s pregnancy. "It was a short season, but it was an intense season,” she said.
The pregnancy was worked into the series, leading McNamara to say, "Everyone wants to know how come we never saw the bedroom scene" Boreanaz replied, "It may be in there, who knows. … Maybe we will see it, a flashback …" Deschanel added, "Maybe some flash forwards to future babies?"
"I think less is more,” Boreanaz concluded. “I mean, how much do you really want to see?"
McNamara asked about the "Moonlighting curse" of playing the potential for a relationship too long in a show.
"It was six seasons of 'will they or won't they,’” Nathan said, “and everyone talks about that Moonlighting curse, and we found a way to avoid that, I think, because of Emily's [pregnancy]. It always felt to us that if you have them just together as a lovey-dovey couple, it's sort of like a couple you go out to dinner with. … This way we kept the tension alive, the sort of tension that we had for six years."
"I think it was done correctly," Boreanaz added.
"I don't know, maybe we will see things later?” Deschanel said. “But I think it was handled in the best way at the time.”
Addressing where Bones goes from here, Nathan said, "They've been separated for three months, who knows what happens? She will have been gone for three months and everyone has been trying to find a way to get her back … and everyone has been on their best behavior to not compromise any evidence. But at this point everybody's patience has grown very thin. And I think Booth is finally at the end of his patience, he's angry enough, and I think he's no longer going to be a good boy."
McNamara asked where Brennan has been. "That's a big reveal," Nathan replied. "You know she took off with her father. She hated the life that her father gave her, and now she's depending on her father to give her the same life that she hated. So they've been hiding and running for three months."
Asked how it was to have a baby both on the show and in real life, Deschanel said, "Brennan and Emily have never before been as similar as they have been since having a baby, because there are certain things that are universal. I'm going through it, and I read a script and I go, 'Wait a second, that's how I feel,’ or 'That's what I'm going through.’ I thought that was very cool. … It's nice, because I can relate."
Boreanaz said having a child changes the dynamic between Brennan and Booth. “I think it just gives an opportunity for stories about two characters trying to figure things out,” he said. “Here they are, thrust upon them is this new child … it allows the characters to just move in and sort of just drop all their stuff … and figure out where it all goes. The relationship has always been so important to the two of us, to kind of keep going back to that. Booth is very stubborn, blue collared, wants to get married. Brennan is … more realistic about certain things, she has her questions, and I think that tension will always be there…you examine that, and it creates moments."
"It's the same relationship but the stakes are higher,” Deschanel added. “And now we are responsible for a little human being. When we have disagreements, the repercussions are much bigger than they were before."
McNamara asked Boreanaz what his character thinks about Brennan leaving him behind. "It's really difficult for him," he said. "I think he deep down understands it, but he didn't get a chance to hear it from her. If he was in on the plan, he possibly would have probably gone through with it, and maybe assisted in it. But he's now going to be thrust into the position where he's going to have to deal with the bureau asking him questions, like, 'Were you part of this whole set up?' and 'Where is she?' and 'Do you have answers?’ And … I think he's the man of action, and rather than sit around and wait … he'll go out and find her himself, and when he does find her, it's going to take some time to understand why she did what she did. I think he'll -- well, she's gonna pay. He's got some questions.”
Nathan confirmed that Ryan O’Neal, who plays Brennan’s father, will return in the Season 8 premiere. “It was a big deal for Brennan to go on the lam with her father,” he said. “Booth has to accept that there was no other choice. She had to go off the grid."
He also addressed this season’s super-villain, saying, "We have a villain this season that we've never really had before. Our people had always been one step ahead of every criminal, and now we have someone who is one step ahead of them. Every time that they think they have him, it's not that he runs away, but he completely turns the tables on them."
As to how long that villain will last, Nathan said, "We'll see him start with the first episode, and will stay with us through Season 8. He will be a cloud that really hangs over their heads, and everyone in the Jeffersonian Institute. It's going to be a bit darker this year."
He went on to discuss the differences between the previous season and Season 8. "The end of last season, everything was kind of great, everyone was very comfortable,” Nathan said. “And the last episode blew that all apart. And I think Season 8 is going to be dealing with that difficulty, with can we put the pieces back together again. It's not just Booth and Brennan having difficulties, it's Hodges and Angela, and Sweets and Daisy … and everyone. Also Cam and her daughter."
Summarizing the theme for the new season, Nathan said, "I think this season will be where we see whether they can survive what's happened to them. It's sort of the 'Is Love Enough' season. The cases, hopefully, are going to be better than they have been, just more bizarre, world's we've never seen before, and more difficult cases to solve. And it's going to create greater tension between everybody."
Deschanel addressed the disgusting body parts so prominent in Bones. "He [Nathan] gets great pleasure out of the most disgusting dead bodies,” she said. “The more disgusting, the more glee."
"I do, I do," Nathan agreed.
"I think I've become completely desensitized,” Deschanel continued. “Although ever since having a child, that made me more sick watching it. So after having my baby, I just turned it off.”
Asked whether viewers will see genius villain Pelant again, now that he’s been released from prison, Nathan teased, We'll see him in the first episode. He'll be a major force throughout Season 8. He will come back in ways you won't expect."
On the topic of future undercover jobs for Booth and Brenan, Nathan said, "We have one undercover planned. You might be ballroom dancing. But don't tell anybody!"
Asked whether they have the plot for the 150th episode, Nathan said, "Uh, no. We're late 130s now, but we don't have the specific episode for the 150th yet." He later added , "Last season we shot four bonus episodes. They are four episodes that we will be airing this season, scattered throughout the season. And they are all sort of out of the box and very different."
"There's one from the perspective of the skull," Deschanel said.
"That was cool,” Boreanaz added. “You know, you're really going to enjoy that episode. That episode was fantastic.”
Bones returns Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.