Warning: The following contains spoilers for Thursday's season finale of Bones
A beloved figure from Bones history made an unexpected reappearance during Thursday's Season 11 finale. But has the returnee crossed over to the dark side during their absence?
At the close of the episode, former squint Zack had kidnapped Dr. Brennan, suggesting that he might be — or at least have a connection to — The Puppeteer serial killer who has been tormenting the Jeffersonian team. (Co-showrunner Jonathan Collier offers some insight into the twist and what's ahead in Season 12 here.)
With nothing certain, Eric Millegan is at least hoping his character isn't a murderer — as are his co-stars, who are "going to bat" for the squint's innocence, the actor reveals in our Q&A.
See photos of Eric Millegan through the years:
Eric Millegan of 'Bones'
Eric Millegan of 'Bones'
Harold Perrineau Jr., Vanessa Ferlito, John Fleck, Eric Millegan (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - APRIL 24: Actor Eric Millegan attends the Seventh Annual Gen Art Film Festival Opening Night - 'Love in the Time of Money' Screening on April 24, 2002 at Loews Lincoln Square Theatres in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
NEW YORK - JUNE 27: (U.S. TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Co-stars from the film Harold Perrineau, Eric Millegan and Josh Hamilton attend the opening night party for the film 'On_Line' at the Coral Room June 27, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 9: (U.S. TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Actress Estelle Parsons and actor Eric Millegan attend the world premiere of 'Harold and Maude: The Musical' after party at Martini Bistro & Bar January 9, 2005 in Millburn, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: 'Bones' cast (L-R) actors Eric Millegan, Jonathan Adams, David Boreanaz, actress Michaela Conlin and actor T.J. Thyne arrive at the 20th Century Television Fox Emmy after party held at Spago on September 18, 2005 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by J. Emilio Flores/Getty Images)
Eric Millegan during 'American Idol' Season 5 - Launch Party in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 28: Actor Eric Millegan poses prior to the opening night performance of Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas' at the Pantages Theatre on November 28, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Eric Millegan at the Guys North in Studio City, CA (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
Tamara Taylor and Eric Millegan during 2006 FOX TCA Summer Party - Arrivals at Ritz-Carlton in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
Eric Millegan during 'Monster House' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 16: Eric Millegan attends the Launch of Fox Home Entertainment?s DVD 'Ice Age: The Meltdown' on November 16, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chad Buchanan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: (L-R) 'Bones' actor Eric Millegan, actress Emily Deschanel, actor David Boreanaz, actress Michaela Conlin and actress Tamara Taylor pose in the portrait studio during the 14th Annual Diversity Awards Gala held at the Century Plaza Hotel on November 19, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. 'Bones' is honored with the 2006 Most Compelling Television Drama Award. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
Eric Millegan and guest during Kari Feinstein's Style Lounge Presented by Budweiser Select - Day 1 in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jordin Althaus/WireImage for Kari Feinstein PR)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 24: Actress Arielle Kebbel (L) and actor Eric Millegan present the best Teen Program award onstage during the 11th annual PRISM Awards at the Beverly Hills Hotel on April 24, 2007 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Eric Millegan during Access Hollywood 'Stuff You Must...' Lounge Presented by On 3 Productions - Day 2 at Sofitel LA in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by M. Phillips/WireImage)
Eric Millegan during Ultimate Laker Fans Get the Inside Scoop on the Los Angeles Lakers From Phil Jackson at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by M. Tran/FilmMagic)
Eric Millegan, Tamara Taylor and TJ Thyne during The Fox All-Star Winter 2007 TCA Press Tour Party - Red Carpet and Inside at Villa Sorriso in Pasadena, California, United States. (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage for Variety Magazine)
Eric Millegan (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Actor Eric Millegan arrives at the FOX Fall Eco-Casino party held at Area on September 24, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for FOX)
Actor Eric Millegan attends the Paley Center Bones event at the Paley Center on April 9, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Eric Millegan attends the Fox Emmy Party after the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Spago on September 16, 2007 in Berverly Hills, California (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 13: Actor Eric Millegan attends Point Foundation's 'Point Honors' Benefit at Jim Henson Studios on September 13, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - AUGUST 16: Actor Eric Millegan attends the 3rd annual 'Hot In Hollywood' event at The Avalon on August 16, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Eric Millegan attends the Broadway Sings for Pride 2nd Annual Gay Pride Concert at the Main Stage Theater on June 25, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Simon Russell/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 27: Actor Eric Millegan poses for portrait at A Day Of Talent At The Starving Artists Project on April 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 06: Actor Eric Millegan attends the American Idol Top 12 Party at the Pacific Design Center on March 6, 2008 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Makeup Artist Jade Martinez powders actor Eric Millegan at A Day Of Talent At The Starving Artists Projecton April 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 22: (L-R) Actors T.J. Thyne, Tamara Taylor, Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Eric Millegan, Michaela Conlin and John Boyd attend Comic-Con International 2016 'Bones' press line at Hilton Bayfront on July 22, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Dave Mangels/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 24: Eric Millegan and My Thanh Kim attend the premiere of 'Beautiful - The Carole King Musical' at the Pantages Theatre on June 24, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)
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TVLINE | When did they first approach you about coming back?
January. I got an email from my agent saying that they wanted to know if I was available for two episodes at the end of Season 11. I think at that point they were not sure if there was going to be a Season 12 or not. Maybe a month or so later, they said, "You're going to have a scar on your forehead, so we want you to go to a makeup studio and have your head measured." So I did that, and then I just waited for the scripts and official offer, which came around the end of April, and we shot the [finale] at the end of April/beginning of May.
TVLINE | Something clearly happened to Zack if he has this scar.
Yes, but I have no idea what it is. The next episode I'm shooting [the Season 12 premiere], Emily Deschanel is directing. She texted me a few days ago and said, "You've got some great stuff. I'm looking forward to working with you. You'll get a script next week." I have no idea what's going to happen at all.
TVLINE | What was it like being back with the old gang?
Oh, it's great! The only other actor I worked with in that scene was Emily, but David [Boreanaz] directed. David's a great director. The last episode I did was the 100th episode, and he directed that. He's so much fun, he's very smart, and he makes good directorial choices. It's funny, Emily and I kind of worked together. When they did Emily's close-up and when they did my close-up, we actually had to look at a piece of tape. So I never actually acted with her. We were like, "I look forward to the next episode when we look at each other."
TVLINE | The final scene must have been so tricky to play, because you don't entirely know his motivations yet.
David came up to me and said, "You're not evil here." I can't remember if those were [his exact] words, but he didn't want me to be... Not "too creepy." What's the right word? "Don't play it sinister."
TVLINE | Do you think that Zack has it in him to do any of the things that The Puppeteer did? Has enough time passed that maybe he's gotten worse?
I hope not. I'm going to go whichever way the writers tell me to go, but I had lunch a couple months ago with Tamara Taylor, who plays Cam, and she was saying how much they really don't want me to be the killer and that she and T.J. Thyne talked to [co-showrunner] Michael Peterson and said, "You can't make him the killer! You have to make him the hero! He has to save us. We've already done the he's-the-killer plotline. We can't make him the killer again." So they were going to bat for me to not be the killer. But like I said, I'm going to go whichever direction they tell me to go.
TVLINE | Are you surprised at the unwavering fan love for the character?
Yes, I am. When I was doing the show before, I would always read the messages boards to see what people said about the episode. But when I was all done with the show, I said, "I'm not going to read the message boards anymore because I don't want to watch them forget about me." So it's been very surprising that they haven't forgotten about me. People tweet me every single day saying, "When are you coming back?" or they tweet @BonesOnFox saying, "We want Zack back." Friends of mine who go to Comic-Con and go to panels say that someone always asks when he is coming back. That's amazing, because we haven't seen Zack in real time since 2008, [and] we haven't seen him at all since 2010. It's really exciting that they still want me back.
TVLINE | Why do you think the character has resonated so much with fans?
Hart Hanson did a really good job of creating and writing the character. Sometimes early on when we were working on the show, I was like "Really?" with stuff they would give me, and he was always right. In the first season, there was a moment where you find out Zack can't drive, and I was like, "Really, Zack can't drive?" Zack didn't know what "Take a hint" meant, and I was like, "How doesn't he know what 'take a hint' means?" But Hart was right. He created this really real, interesting, fun, very likable character.