Bones is back for its eleventh season, and boy is it back with a bang!

Last season found our favorite team of forensic experts broken up. Brennan and Booth were expecting a baby, felt they’d had enough with the dangers and pitfalls of their jobs, and decided to sit this one out.

Just happy times at the Booth & Brennan household
Just happy times at the Booth & Brennan household

The opening scenes of the season premiere let us glimpse their lives outside the Jeffersonian. Temperance is spending her time raising her daughter Christine and newborn son, while Seeley is off training new agents at Quantico. Angela, Hodgins and Cam are still holding down the fort, with Cam desperate to fill Brennan’s position and debating whether it’s right – ethical, even – to hand the job to her significant other, Arastoo. Suddenly, as is usually the case, they’re called away to a crime scene.

(As an aside, let me just point out how gorgeous Cam and Angela look. It seems they get better and better with age. Go girls!)

Seven minutes in, the truck holding an incinerated body our protagonists are called to identify traces back to none other than our favorite agent Seeley Booth. So does the melted gun, fused to the charred skeleton’s ankle. A frantic hunt ensues to find out if it really is Booth lying in the truck bed, now transported back to the Jeffersonian.

(Another aside: I can’t help but notice how much younger and slimmer Brennan and Booth look in the flashbacks as Temperance is examining the bones, hoping for an inconsistency that will prove the love of her life isn’t the one burnt to a crisp, lying dead on her table. Maybe it’s just the juxtaposition of those two against Cam and Angela, but I find myself missing their hotter counterparts of earlier seasons.)

Upon examing the bones, Brennan comes up with a significant clue: an old bullet wound Booth had suffered is inconsistent with her findings in the skeleton. A piece of scapula should be missing, but isn’t. Booth is alive, praise the Lord! Still, with Booth missing and a dead body on the table, there’s no time to rejoice. They need to find the clues that will lead them to the dead guy’s identity, and possibly Booth’s location and an explanation as to what the hell is going on.

Meanwhile, back at the FBI, Caroline and the new guy whose name I keep forgetting because I’m distracted by his nostrils continue the investigation on their end. But it can never be as simple as that, can it? A new agent shows up to throw a spanner in the works, announcing Booth is now a suspect, to the dismay of his friends and loved ones. (I didn’t catch her name because I was similarly distracted by her nose). New Agent won’t have Brennan, the suspect’s wife, anywhere near the case, and apparently Brennan is the only one baffled by the fact that this makes actual sense.

Cut to the Jeffersonian, where Arastoo is taking his supposed inadequacies really hard. Ever since the pilot episode, we’re meant to believe that Brennan is superhumanly smart and can detect clues everyone else will miss, but somehow the fact that she was able to discover two separate findings that prove the dead guy on the table isn’t Booth is crushing Arastoo’s confidence. Enough, in fact, to prompt a heart-to-heart with Hodgins (in the middle of trying to solve this murder, mind you) about how he intends to pop the question to Cam but is now disheartened by his shortcomings as a top forensic anthropologist. Eh, I’ll buy it. Shonda Rhimes built her entire career on scenes like this, after all.

(cue a completely invalid basketball analogy by quirky Dr. Hodgins. Eh, I’ll buy that too)

Angela and Agent Nostril figure out a weird code based on Booth’s missed calls, and now we’ve got a new clue: Booth wasn’t working alone.

More bone examination leads to discovering cause of death, and that leads to the victim’s identity: it’s still Booth, but not Seeley. It’s his younger brother Jared, who had popped up a few seasons back never to be heard from again.

More clues emerge from the phone records, we meet Jared’s ex wife, who tells Agent Miller (aka agent Nose) and Brennan that a friend was helping Jared. At the Jeffersonian, Arastoo inadvertently spills the beans about the proposal to Cam, because of course nothing about their personal lives can progress unless it’s done during office hours. But it was a funny scene, so let’s let that one slide. Agents Miller and Nostril talk to Jared’s friend Kevin, and I guess it’s unanimous: no one likes the new gal or her insinuations about the brothers Booth.

Finally, 31 minutes into the season premiere, Seeley Booth comes on our screens. Severly wounded in some decrepit building, but most definitely alive. Not that anyone is surprised, really. It would have been a pretty crappy decision to kill of your hero before the season has even taken off.

More FBI investigation, yet more bone examination, shards of glass found in Jared’s skull and Seeley’s dodgy financials lead to Virginia, where Booth might be held captive by a criminal who probably is responsible for Jared’s murder. An FBI tac team storms a mansion, and in one of the rooms they discover a blood bath but no Booth. Miller is hell-bent on pinning this on Seeley, but his loyal friends won’t have it. Looks like the crime scene points to a robbery gone wrong.

Meanwhile, at the Jeffersonian, Brennan is struggling to understand why Booth didn’t keep his promise not to see his brother. I can’t begin to explain what’s wrong with this sentence, but Brennan being Brennan, we’re expected to rationalize that an anthropologist with an extremely high IQ but no semblance of an EQ is unable to understand the bond between brothers.

Caroline discovers that Agent Booth is not the only one missing. In fact, Agent Miller’s partner vanished four days before. I guess this explains why she was being such a bitch to everyone.

And finally, Cam can prove that not only Seeley was at the scene, but he was wounded there. We don’t know how much time he has. In the final scene, we see Seeley, Jared’s friend Kevin, two more guys playing cards, a duffel bag full of cash… and a promise for the story to be continued.

So is our favorite FBI agent breaking bad? Was this just a heist gone wrong? Whatever our questions, next week is sure to provide some answers.