It feels like instead of writing a recap in this space we should fill it with a smiling portrait of our favorite forensic psychologist and frame it against a black backdrop of wretched sooty grief.
It's been a rough week for Bones fans after last week's shock to the heart in the form of Dr. Lance Sweets' horrific and completely unexpected death. Viewers still reeling from the blow braced themselves against tonight's episode "The Lance to the Heart." The beauty of being a writer with press credentials is having the honor of previewing the occasional episode in advance of the rest of the world so we can write about it. The ugly of that is that we have to mourn alone when something tragic occurs since we are the only ones who saw the cat crawl out of the bag (box?). In essence, we live inside the uncertainty of Schrodinger's box along with his dead/live cat for a whole week. That's a bittersweet honor, to be sure, but we pride ourselves on our ability to be keepers of the networks' secrets, however much it may torment us. Needless to say, it is a relief to finally open up a dialog about the death that shook the Bones universe heralding a new era and a caliber of drama and entertainment that has already surpassed last season's -- though who, but the Bones Fairies, knew that was even possible?
Outstanding Authenticity From the Lance to Their Hearts
The stage is set for a fairly intense episode (though lower key than the premiere) from the moment we see Booth and Brennan in their new home frantically speaking on the phone to the hospital and the Jeffersonian attempting to track down any possible evidence, any possible lead on the identity of Sweets' killer. Sweets informed Booth only hours before the first scene of "The Lance to the Heart" that he'd drawn his weapon and plunged a bullet into his attacker. Leave it to Sweets to go out kicking, right? He was a fighter, our Sweets.
One of my favorite emotional Booth scenes in Bones history is from "The Male in the Mail" when Booth learns that his father has died. It's not the scene at the end when Brennan insists he face what Ed Booth left for him in his little wooden box. Booth's reaction as he looked up at the stadium chairs and shed a tear was a bit forced. However, however, in the scene where Pops visits and gives Booth that cigar box, David Boreanaz allows himself to give us Booth quietly and powerfully and completely undone in the way that grief only comes for those who have experienced it authentically in their own lives. Along side that scene we now have Booth, voice cracking, eyes glistening, as he calls Sweets family. Many times Boreanaz says it best when he says nothing at all, this time it is when he says just enough. #ThankYou
As an aside ... that scene with little Christine was devastating, but what an adorable kid, and she delivered her line well.
As for Emily Deschanel, it's almost embarrassing to even discuss how good her two most prominent scenes in this episode were. First, her confrontation of Booth as he's arming himself to the teeth. This Brennan was fierce and loyal and undeterred, while remaining rational and respectful. She gave just enough so we knew she was rattled, but not out to shame or alienate. Her words, tone, and demeanor exuded support and love -- steadfastly. It was as if she was letting him know he was not the enemy. His resignation and anger were the enemy. Finally, he relented, and from there was able to pull himself together and get back to fighting the way he fights best.
Secondly, her closing soliloquy ... well, we'll get at that at the end of this recap.
Also, not to be stepped-over without comment was Carla Gallo's impressive performance as bereaved Daisy Wick. Daisy was at her best as unsinkable forensic anthropologist and Jeffersonian squint who does the same as her idol, Brennan, by thrusting herself into her work to get through the devastating experience of dealing with the loss of her soulmate and father of her unborn baby. Her best scene is the one in which she's reviewing Sweets' chicken scratch from his notebook and the words, "Seeley, Seeley, Seeley," appear on the screen. The small "Eep" that escapes her throat as she holds back her emotions was so genuine and wrenching. It was a bit surprising that she called The Jeffersonian team her family because of how infrequently we saw her there, but perhaps this is foreshadowing an increase in the frequencies of Gallo's appearances on Bones going forward. Now that she's mellowed a bit, this would be a welcome surprise for many -- though I never minded her from the beginning -- so bring it, Bones Fairies.
Dr. Lance Sweets' Final Case
Like all other Bones episodes before it, "The Lance to the Heart" is about a murder investigation. What is different than all other episodes is that this case revolves around the murder of one of the Avengers and is also conducted, posthumously in part, by that same Avenger. There are no smoke and mirrors. We don't have Sweets haunting anyone in a dream or speaking through Harmonia. There's nothing other-worldly about this episode, except that the depth of feeling created in the wake of this loss and the completeness of the bereaved's intimacy with the victim is not only palpable but kept in the solving of not only this case, but of a decades-long FBI conspiracy. One might even say that the deceased, our Dr. Lance Sweets, is the one who breaks this case wide open through his notes discovered with his remains.
So, in view of that, this is truly Lance's final case. The end of this episode presents the definitive reality that as this case is put to rest, so too is Sweets. This creates a tension unrealized until almost the closing act of the episode: that while the Avengers rush to avenge Sweets, they are also running headlong into a final goodbye. This is abundantly clear after Booth confirms for Daisy that it is really over. Her response, "Then it is time to say goodbye." Gulp. We'll get to all of that in a moment. First, let's do what we always do and review the case.
Who Killed Sweets?
The Jeffersonian team uncover crucial information about the assassin as they each do what they do best to examine the remains. First, the assassin was a trained killer, someone who knew what he was doing when he crushed the life out of Lance Sweets. Second, fibers from the assassin's shoe point to a Mercedes Designo Edition car which is a high end vehicle. That leads Booth and Aubrey to a lot where the stolen car was left. Following a trail of blood and Booth instincts about expert operative behavior, Booth and Aubrey go to the rooftop of a nearby building and find Kenneth Emery, an ex-navy seal, deader than a doornail and being gnawed on by rats. Just desserts, right? Absolutely. However, Emery was a trained gun. The true douche bag behind Sweets' murder is further up the food chain.
Who Hired/Killed Emery?
Daisy, Brennan and Clark figure out that it wasn't Sweets' bullet that finally killed Emery -- though way to go, Sweets, for nailing your man against all odds -- but it was some kind of knife which had been thrust into the bullet wound to cut Emery's artery and ensure his death. The files that Sweets had been killed for were no longer with Emery's body, so they knew it had to be someone else, not just Emery doing his own triage trying to save his own life by removing the bullet. No trace left of Emery's killer. Dangit.
Back to the Sanderson Box
Booth can't get the files back from Sanderson because he says he doesn't have them anymore and he's willing to bring the full force of the world down on Booth if the Department of Justice is brought into the fray. So what does Booth do? He takes Aubrey with him and confronts Sanderson himself. Why? Because, Booth explains, "pissed off people act irrationally," and Booth knows Sanderson will trip up eventually.
Sweets Speaks From Beyond the Grave
Together Hodgins and Angela have come up with a theory about the conspiracy organization being like a huge organism. Angela begins putting together all the intel she has about each individual mentioned on the chip, their spending habits, associations and anything else she can find in order to begin diagramming the conspiracy organism. Meanwhile, Hodgins finds and cleans a notepad of Sweets' found with his remains. Angela then takes the cleaned notepaper and can recreate what Sweets had written on the pages.
Sweets' notes are then deciphered by Daisy who explains that there was more to be learned from Cooper's remains, and that there was some kind of religious fervor involved in this whole mess. She also reveals that Sweets wanted to name their son, "Seeley." Wow. Did I mention that they figure out Cooper was poisoned to death rather than dying of cancer,or did we figure that out last week? Anyway ... there's more to that as well. When Daisy and Brennan examine Cooper's marrow, they learn that someone else's cells and DNA were injected along with the antacid that killed Cooper. However, the DNA found doesn't match anything they have on file.
Angela also discovers that Durant and Cooper knew each other a long long time ago. Durant is linked to Cooper because he falsified Cooper's medical records. Sanderson was linked to Cooper because the chemical used to kill Cooper was made by Sanderson's company. Is this confusing enough for you? You might have to watch this episode a couple of times before it all becomes clear.
So, Booth confronts Durant who identifies the old guy from last week as the one he took orders from way back when. What? Booth goes back to visit the deluded old guy in the nursing home who now seems quite coherent and gives Booth the major blow off. Now Booth is pissed.
In the meanwhile, Hodgins and Durant head over to Hoover's heir's old house to see if they can find the FBI files there that should have been destroyed when Hoover died. Those files are the source of all the blackmail information at the center of the entire conspiracy. While there, Aubrey finds a wire recording of President Kennedy and it's spooky and they figure out that someone stil has those Hoover files and has even added to them to perpetuate the conspiracy.
Booth Stocks His Arsenal and Brennan Forces Him to Reevaluate
Brennan comes home to find Booth in possession of a bunch of illegal weapons. Booth is Freaked. Out. He's afraid Sanderson is going to come after him and his family again. Can you blame him? Brennan is pissed. She says she wants no part of what Booth is doing or who he has become now. But that's not the end, because Brennan is no quitter and neither is Booth. The two argue and it was a proud moment because they both fought fair. Clearly, Brennan was fighting for Booth. He was the one giving up, she screamed at him, throwing her keys to the ground (YOU. GO. BRENNAN!).
Brennan hits Booth right between the eyes with what she sees: the man she loves giving up on himself, losing his faith in his God as well as in his wife and partner. There is no absolute proof yet that Sanderson is the guilty party. He just appears wickedly guilty. But that's not enough. "How will you face your God if you have killed an innocent man? That would truly be the end of who you are, Booth." Oh, my God, she is so right. I love this woman, I do. He is so fortunate to have her as his partner A lesser woman would have jumped ship at the earliest convenience, but not Brennan. She doesn't intimidate and she doesn't give up -- certainly not on Booth. Fortunately, Booth is no slacker either and he hears what she has to say, realizing she is right.
Booth Gets Fierce and Channels Psychic Avalon Harmonia
Next, we're off to see Durant again. Booth confronts Durant once again and gets a scary speech about the founding fathers being basically white supremacists who despised Democracy. It's enough to make your blood run cold. When Durant gets flippant about Sweets' death, Booth clocks him right in the kisser. Well, now he's got blood -- and evidence -- on his hands. They can take that blood and compare it to the DNA found in Cooper's bone marrow.
Durant is the Mastermind Behind the FBI Conspiracy
The DNA matches. Durant is hauled off to jail, but the problem remains that as long as those missing files of Hoover's remain out there, Durant will be able to bribe his way out of jail in no time. So, the files have to be found. That is the only thing that will end the conspiracy.
Sweets Steps In and Solves the Case
Brennan and Booth meet at the Hoover and try to think like Sweets. Aubrey joins in and they figure out that the files must be hidden somewhere Durant considered to be sacred -- that's what Sweets notes meant when he referred to acolytes and the cross. The files end up being -- get this -- back at the Jeffersonian institution in the Hoover display! Hover's office had been replicated with all the original furniture and files, etc, but no one thought they meant anything.
Once the files are found, they can be reclassified, boxed up, and sent to Warehouse 13 where no one will ever have access to them again. The case is really over at this point.
It's Time to Say Goodby to Sweets
Daisy is the one who says it: once the case is closed, it's time to bid adieu to the man they all love. They gather at a beautiful vista where Daisy explains Sweets learned he was going to be a father, and daisy has the urn of Sweets' ashes with her. Gathered are Hodgins, Angela, Daisy, Caroline, Brennan and Booth. Daisy says, "He'd be happy knowing you were here," prompting the most beautiful soliloquy Brennan has delivered in all of Bones history, a soliloquy that deserves to be recorded here:
"I do believe Sweets is still with us. Not in a religious sense, because the concept of God is merely a foolish attempt to explain the unexplainable. In a real sense he's here. Sweets is a part of us. Our lives, who we all are at this moment, have been shaped by our relationship with Sweets.
Each of us is like a delicate equation and Sweets was the variable without which we wouldn't be who we are. I might not have married Booth or had Christine. Daisy certainly wouldn't be carrying his child. We are all who we are because we know sweets.
So, I don't need a God to praise him, or the universe he sprang from, because I loved him. I used to try and explain love as the secretion of chemicals and hormones. But I believe now, remembering Sweets, seeing what he left us, that love cannot be explained by science or religion. It's beyond that. Beyond reason.
"What I do know, loving Sweets, loving each other, that's what makes life worth while. Right now I don't need to know more than that ... Which is extremely embarrassing coming from a fact based person."
Booth then recalls Sweets' favorite song and they all sing "The Lime and the Coconut" as Daisy lets the ashes drift away in the wind.
I would curse the Bones fairies for making us all go through that emotional experience of Sweets' death, but it actually feels good, soothing, healing, to revisit the sweet pain of having loved so intensely. Brought to mind for me is my father who passed away almost three years ago -- an experience which shattered my soul almost beyond recovery. Other viewers have surely felt the same as they watched Brennan, Booth, Angela, Hodgins, Daisy, and Cam go through this transformative experience. Thank you for reminding us of how sweet we all are to each other, Bones.
Bones aires Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)