Bones actor Eric Millegan has a secret. If he tells anyone about it, it could put his career at risk.
He knows what's going to happen on the Bones finale tonight, which has promised to be a real shocker. For anyone who has been following the show (like I have), the subjects at hand would certainly make for a seriously suspense-filled season ender. (I'll talk more about those at the end, complete with actual spoilers from Eric Millegan -- so consider yourself warned! UPDATE 5/20: Eric Millegan's post-finale interview with TV Guide)
It's that dreaded part of the year for those of us who make special appointments during primetime (or with our Tivos on weekends) to watch the shows that we love, only to see them leave us wallowing through the dreck of summer programming. And what is common practice this time of year? Cliffhangers. Those bastards. You know they're coming. And you know that you're dying to know what happens to your favorite characters. Some of us love the suspense and will happily wait until September to see what happens. But some of us want to know what happens NOW.
We are spoiler junkies.
It's the latest Web addiction, and it's now a huge part of Internet communities, spawning fan-fiction, speculation up the yin-yang and angry, distraught, worrisome and vocal fans. The television production spigot tantalizes us with teensy drops of the vaguest hints week after week, teasing the most die-hard fans - no, torturing. This is Chinese water torture.
But Millegan knows exactly what is going to happen on Bones. He and his character, Zack Addy, have been the subject of some very wild theories because of the spoilers that have been leaking since early this spring. So, what does it feel like to be privy to this sort of information?
"It's horrible not being able to tell people," he says. "I mean, it's fun on one hand, because I think it will shock people, and that's always exciting, but I haven't even told many of my very close friends. I've carried this secret around for two months now and I can't wait for everyone else to be in on it."
The point Millegan is making is that the shock will be the ultimate payoff. No doubt we're concerned about the identity of Gormagon, the cannibalistic serial killer, why they're hiring a new forensic anthropologist (the position Zack holds - for the moment...?) and what happened after Booth (David Boreanaz) was shot in last week's episode. But rather than wait for that payoff when "Bones" airs tonight, theories have been abound on IMDb, the show's official forums on Fox.com, the main fan site Searching Bones and several others, featuring everything from media clips to leaked sides (audition scripts).
So, why are we going out of our way to spoil the fun for ourselves? Whatever happened to suspense, the element of surprise? Or, I don't know, good old-fashioned patience?
It depends on who you ask. Some of us are vehemently anti-spoiler, all about saving it all for the moment it was meant to be seen. But some of us don't feel like spoilers ruin the storytelling - they enhance it.
Andy Page, who runs Spoiler TV, says, "For me, I love to know what's going to happen in advance...I then enjoy seeing it played out screen and can often appreciate it more."
Spoiler TV evolved from a "Lost" page (ironically one of the two shows from which I abstain from spoilers, the other being "24") to track the mythology and theories of the show to an all-around spoiler site for over 150 of the most popular shows on TV. Page told me that he receives spoilers from industry sources and people who work on sets and/or post-production, as well as industry Web sites that post sides and casting calls. Obviously it's no secret (heh, bad pun intended...) that spoilers are a hot commodity.
Page believes the online discussion is what helps to fuel a show's popularity. And certainly, a theory-loaded show such as Lost is open to quite a bit of discussion. That's why Page believes that a large part of the spoiler culture is due in part to the show. "The Internet has had a massive impact [on the show's popularity], and I'm not sure Lost would have been as successful without it. So many fan forums, blogs, web sites have exploded after 'Lost,' and it's really a first of its kind, in my opinion. This naturally gives rise to more people being able to access and view spoilers, trailers, promotional photos, etc. more than ever before."
But what about the other side of spoilers, the side on which Eric Millegan resides? The side trying -- damnit! -- to keep it all a secret? Well, try as they might, information will be leaked, though there are measures that are taken. Actors, writers, any crew are likely subject to non-disclosure clauses in their contracts. And often, images that are the property of a studio can be pulled. (Page has had to pull about 20 images from his site due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which states that dissemination of copyrighted materials can be considered a crime.) Other methods of spoiler prevention include printing scripts the day of shooting (so the actors don't even know), printing them on paper that can't be copied or -- what I like to call the "Choose Your Own Adventure" tactic -- shooting several alternate scenes or endings of a script and waiting until the last possible minute to put it all together. ("Who Shot JR," anyone?)
The little gifts we junkies get from the studios are certainly enough of a fix, such as this photo from an episode of "Bones" a couple of weeks ago, which was leaked about a week before the episode aired:
How does that not pique your interest?
Obviously, spoilers are geared to the most hard-core fans of shows. Casual viewers may not have all that much invested in a show's characters, their relationships or their fates. But man, what a hobby spoiler-hunting can be. And how much better do you feel about yourself when you find out you're, in fact, not the only one completely cracked out on a TV show? So much better. So very much better. (By the way, hi, Fox and IMDb "Bones" boards! I've totally been lurking!) Sometimes, in this current moment of environmental tragedy and back-stabbing politics, you need to find a place to escape, and taking some time out to imagine possible courses of storytelling is just the relief you need. Especially when, like me, you just get too damn angry at the news sometimes.
So, as promised, I will share with you some of the spoilers that Eric Millegan was kind enough to share with me, and it is "his job" to tell me absolutely nothing more:
*Someone will die in the season finale.
*The identity of Gormagon - the cannibalistic serial killer who has Freemason ties and is collecting 206 bones from victims to build a whole skeleton - will be revealed, and it is someone very unexpected. (According to fellow cast member John Francis Daley, Gormagon is a "very nice mean man/woman." Gormagon is also not Naomi from the paleontology department, Zack's "little red-haired girl" at the office.)
*Millegan's character, Zack Addy, is not Gormagon. The speculation is that he is definitely a suspect, however Millegan says "Absolutely not. Gormogon rides a motorcycle. Zack can't even drive." (However, Gormagon has been training an apprentice who apparently has access to the Jeffersonian museum where they all work...)
As for next season, Fox has released an official press release including a cast list. Some people in question are on it, and some people are not...)
The season finale of "Bones" airs Monday, May 19th (tonight!) at 8:00 PM on Fox. Here's the promo, courtesy of Spoiler TV:
If you're a spoiler junkie, watch it! If you're a casual fan, watch it! If you've never seen the show before (and where have you been, anyway?), watch it!
By the way, I will be live-blogging the season finale - most likely using a lot of colorful language - at my own blog, Flummoxology. I'll see all two of you there!