'Bones' Boss on Returning to "More Confrontational" Days of Booth and Brennan

Showrunner Michael Peterson talks with THR and breaks down the season 11 premiere.
Rick Mickshaw/FOX

Bones kicked off season eleven on Thursday with a high-stakes mystery that has Booth (David Boreanaz) fighting for his life and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) questioning how much of their new life has been a lie.

It's clear that Brennan is the only one who can run the Jeffersonian lab when she determines it wasn't Booth's remains found in the burned-out van, but coming back to her old life isn't going as seamless as she thought it would. Here, executive producer Michael Peterson tells The Hollywood Reporter how Brennan and Booth will get back in the game, and how the original plan for the premiere will affect the rest of the season.

What made you land on this Booth mystery and why did it need to be him to bring them back into this world?

The other premiere we were looking at is going to be our midseason finale. It's going to be our other opener that we were playing around with. At the end of the day it felt like a great story and one that we want to explore later on, but when you get to episode ten it works better as a Angela (Michaela Conlin)/Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) story and not so much the quintessential Booth and Brennan story to bring them back. I know that's a little cryptic but it was ultimately keeping our eye on the ball and the focus on Booth and Brennan.

Did you always think that someone would have to be in danger to have to bring Brennan back to the lab?

A lot of my favorite episodes are ones that are more subtle than that. It was just something that sprang up organically in the room. We wanted to differentiate it from last year's season opener where we killed Sweets (John Francis Daley). We wanted to have the element of danger but we did not want to duplicate ourselves in any way.

What is it that makes Brennan realize this is the job she needs to be in?

A lot of that comes out in episode two. It's not even really about her. She realizes that because Booth has essentially gone back into the fray for the sake of his brother when he was supposed to have quit, to have retired. Booth is not the guy that can retire. Superman does not retire. Superman even if he did retire would still save people in his spare time. He can't help being who he is. That was true for Booth in this scenario. [Brennan] is seeing things through Booth's eyes and what's necessary for him along with being back in the lab and seeing how essential she is. Things changed while she was gone. The Jeffersonian is not the country's premiere forensic anthropology lab anymore. She recognized that this is the pinnacle of where she wanted to be and she has to go back to it. She has to go back and be true to herself.

Brennan struggles with there not being someone at the lab that is as competent as her. Will she be trying harder to find someone that can one day fill her shoes?

Brennan is still a very young character. She's not worried about replacements right now because she's more in the mindset of she's going to stay with this job until she dies. It was wrong to try and replace herself. This is her destiny. This is what she's meant to do so she's not really looking for a replacement or a retirement. She will be more diligent in training people to go off to other jobs and making sure they are up to the challenge.

What have Booth and Brennan learned in their time away that will change their perspective when they come back?

We're having fun with that right now. It wasn't so much what happened during the time away but the realizations they are going to make. Their time away, in a weird way, was very blissful. It was a facade. It was not who they really are. We are going to address a lot of what happened while they were gone and how it impacts them moving forward. One of the great things is that when John and I took over is that David Boreanaz said, "Go back and watch early seasons and see the dynamic between Booth and Brennan which was more confrontational." We are going to see a return to that, but in a very healthy way for their marriage. It's just going to be a little more challenging and they are going to embrace that challenge. Sometimes when characters get married they can start getting along too much and we found a nice way to make sure we get the good repartee between them.

What did you think of the Bones premiere? Sound off in the comments below.

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