Yes, this was well worth the wait, it is beautifully crafted and imaginative. The look of the thing and the way it was shot was so striking, with such interesting choices to highlight the lives of the various characters as we pieced the story together from individual experiences. There have been few episodes where the visuals have received such tender care - some of the finales, maybe, to evoke a particular period or a dreamlike atmosphere (occasional flashbacks to The X-files and Moonlighting for me, with touches of the weirder Buffy eps), and some of S1, where the lab was made to look so stunning and the framing was so evocative (I never forget the Man In The Fallout Shelter moment - no, not that moment - where we see Angela's elfin shoe tapping impatiently; it completely embodied her personality and the fluffy humour of the scene).
I'm a sucker for good b/w used well, qv my love of Shuffle's visuals, so the way it was used to move from one POV to another was really interesting to me, really effective. I loved the familiar faces - Caroline doing her thing as only Caroline can, Ms Lauper back for her moment in the sun, Karen and Jessica together in an instant of hilarity and mischievous misdirection (especially as Jessica had caught that bouquet - I think I'd like to have seen her day too!), Michelle present, thriving and ambitious.
Incidentally, regarding Avalon, it is as well to bear in mind that the Death card rarely represents actual death. It can be one of the most positive cards, representing as it does the ending of a major phase of life that may herald the start of something more valuable and important. So Death not as a physical experience but a transition, a moving on. Temperance is also generally positive, indicating balance and occasionally the need for self-reflection before embarking on something new ( I learned some of this from a Tarot reader I knew in France many years ago). So I am a little baffled as to Avalon's warning, though I suppose the vision of Max must have prompted it to an extent.
The real underlying themes here - and it's been a while since I've traced a theme, hasn't it? - are teamwork and the bondings which create it. The very fact that all these stories coalesce into one symbolises the togetherness of the team, which is very appropriate to celebrate at this point in the series. The fact that they are in fact a family is firmly underlined by the studies of real family life we see; Booth and Brennan with their kids. We are also given generous helpings of private 'pair' scenes; Angela and Aubrey, Aubrey with Jessica, Angela with Brennan in a lovely nod to the very first scene of the pilot, Hodgins and Angela, but also Hodgins and Brennan, as she calms him after his furious reaction (ah yes, anger issues) to the outcome of Zach's court appearance. I do wish we'd seen more of Booth with team members other than Aubrey, though - he doesn't seem to have been as integral a part of the team of late. Cam reminds us with her interactions that we have not one but three really strong women in the forefront of this show, with frequent visitors like Caroline further emphasising the positive and dynamic female image.
As usual I'm not entirely convinced either by Kovac's miraculous escape or his dramatic ability to get in and plant not one but 2 bombs in the Jeffersonian. I'd also like to know exactly what part the other guy (or even Kovac's wife, who doesn't ring true to me either) played in the escape and what happened afterwards. But maybe Brennan can explain all that next time!
There is a wealth of knowledge, tools, artefacts and carefully recorded histories going up in flames and I think the team are going to feel devastated about having to start from scratch again and, probably, split up. But hey. This is a grand exit of deserved magnitude which also harks back to all that we've loved about Bones over 12 seasons. Roll on the finale and Kovac's capture; I now trust the writers to produce a fine last hurrah for the group.
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"We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love." - Angela Montenegro