Okay, I ended up posting this on the FOX board, but I figrued I ought to post it here too...
I've spent the last week sorting out how I feel about the episode. I do think it suffered very much from having to compress and resolve the Gormagon arc in only 2 episodes.
II think the Max Keenan arc had a better pacing and resolution in part because we are emotionally invested in Brennan's relationship with her father. Gormagon, OTOH appealed solely as a puzzle, much as with many of the procedural A-plots, what makes us care about solving the puzzles are how the characters evolve. There wasn't time to seed Zack's storyline, or build up to it logically, so we're not emotionally invested in the outcome until the denoument. So it feels out of whack and jarring, for structural reasons. But also in terms of characterisation. I think, had they had 8 episodes to explore what happened to Zack in Iraq, and how his relationships within the team changed both due to leaving and returning, but also the shift in dynamics once Angela and Hodgins fell for each other, it might have made more sense. The strike made that impossible, so they tried to compress the arc, wrapping it up in 2 episodes, losing the luxury of pacing and seeding backstory.
But I agree that while it's consistently shown that Zack reacts to strong personalities and is a follower and not a leader (Goodman and Hodgins recognised that fact in series 1, when they tried to force him to keep stalling and finish his doctorates, because he was too content to stay Brennan's lab assistant forever), I have difficulty believing he would willingly endanger Booth and Brennan the way he did in "The Knight on the Grid". The only way it works for me as a viewer is if Gormagon specifically targeted Zack after he failed to kill Booth and Brennan in "Knight". It makes no sense to me that Zack would have killed Ray Porter in the tag. Gormagon has only 3 goals in life: to recover the skeleton, to keep from getting caught, and to continue his work. Logically, picking the weakest link in the chain which would allow him to achieve all three makes sense.
Do I buy Zack could be convinced to help Gormagon recover the silver skeleton? Given the right set-up, yes. Absolutely. Zack's not good with abstracts. He trusts in absolutes. Given a convincing enough argument, and the assurances that no-one else would be harmed? I believe he would be naive enough to fake an explosion where only he would be in danger, as a diversion. I cannot really buy Zack setting Booth and Brennan up to be killed by an explosion with a teeth bomb. Sorry. I just think it's inconsistent, and not adequately supported by the story and what we know about Zack.
To Zack, Brennan and Booth, and Hodgins and Angela, and Cam are real, significant, and absolutes. I have a hard time believing he'd actively try and harm them--even if he believes they are wrong and being manipulated. I believe that he believes Gormagon because he believed Hodgins (which will have I'm sure emotional consequences for Hodgins next season), where the Illuminati & Co are concerned. But I still cannot make that leap of faith, where Zack is concerned. I can see him being convinced to kill a stranger, if he believed he had to. After all, the Army no doubt did their best to teach him the very same lesson, in sending him to Iraq. But I cannot see him being convinced to kill a friend and a mentor whom he respects more than anyone else in the world. Which is what the show asked of us, when they went from "Knight on the Grid" to "Pain in the Heart".
I can buy an anti-secret-society-secret society serial killer taking out Knights of Columbus, but not a Sith-Lord-There-Are-Always-Two-A-Master-And-Apprentice-Cannibal. They lost me, with that part. Genuinely lost me. I think it was OTT and not actually necessary to the plot, and almost all of my problems with the arc pretty much stem from the Sith-Cannibal part. I just can't buy Zack as the apprentice that way. Weak link in the chain, sure. But Gormagon's Apprentice Sith-Lord-Cannibal? Not as much.
And I hate that Eric was written out. But I just keep hoping Hart & Co will find a way to make it work that's satisfying for the audience, and be the right choice to further the story.
I mean, I miss Dr Goodman, but bringing in Cam was such a smart way to up the stakes by introducing internal tension into the lab. So I know how much it sucks to lose a fave character and actor, for the sake of the moving the story forward. And now I've come to love Cam and so glad she didn't die twice.
So I'm trying to keep faith.
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In a world full of Uma Thurmans, everyone has an inner Janine Garafolo who needs to be taken out dancing every once in a while.