Since Bones saw the demise of Dr. Lance Sweets in its season 10 premiere, we felt the need to hold our own little love fest in remembrance of all the good stuff that only his character could have (and did) provide for the Bones universe. Without Sweets, where would Brennan and Booth be today? I don’t even want to think about it.
The character of wunderkind FBI psychologist and profiler Dr. Lance Sweets inspired a great deal of humor, informed compassion, and emotional/psychological clarity in the Brennan-Booth relationship before his life ended, but his presence on Bones was a subject for great debate among those who follow the show religiously. Why? Because Sweets took precious screen time from the dynamic duo, especially in the later seasons as he began to train under Booth as a field agent. Bones is at its best when Brennan and Booth share the screen. The equation is simple: Booth + Brennan = Solid Gold — so don’t mess with it, right? Wrong. And was the sacrifice worth it? Indubitably. I present to you: seven reasons why Sweets was good for FOX’s Bones and why we’re going to miss the heck out of that guy.
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#1 Sweets Successfully (and Sometimes Painfully) Disrupted the Pattern
Before Sweets arrived, Booth was cocky and disdainful on the outside though his gooey center made him highly sensitive on a myriad of levels and topics. Brennan was emotionally unavailable, far too direct, and oblivious to the impact her behavior had on those around her. If not for Sweets, Brennan and Booth might have killed (euphemistically, of course) each other in the third or fourth season and the show could have taken a swan dive straight into the toilet like so many of their predecessors. Remember what happened at the end of their first case “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole”? There was a shouting match and a smack down. It wasn’t pretty. Besides, the straight and narrow path of doing the same thing over and over gets stale.
In “The Secrets in the Proposal” Brennan told Booth, “I believe in patterns and sequences, and this sequence doesn’t end well unless something disrupts the pattern.” So, how do you disrupt old patterns (of pissing each other off) while simultaneously ensuring that emerging patterns are an improvement over the old? Introduce a character who leads them in a direction they never would have gone without his influence. Sweets catapulted the couple into stressful, game-changing situations and made them face their relationship with their eyes wide open, no matter how messy.
Sweets’ knack for challenging Brennan and Booth to go beyond their comfort zones and for putting voice to what they (and we) couldn’t always see or understand will be greatly missed. His character provided great insight into the emotional complexity of their relationship.
#2 Sweets was a Catalyst for the B&B Relationship
Sweets’ presence in their lives created diversions from any straight path toward romantic bliss (though B&B themselves were fairly adept at creating their own roadblocks and diversions) but was also key in advancing that relationship as a result. If Sweets hadn’t written that book (favorite line: “My book is crap!”) and forced the issue of the two being in love with each other, Booth wouldn’t have taken the gamble and sent Brennan fleeing to the opposite side of the world to suss out her feelings for him. Then, Booth wouldn’t have fallen into bed (or was it under a tree … and with great frequency?) with She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Later, if Sweets hadn’t gotten drunk and sworn he didn’t want to end up old and alone like Booth, the sniper probably never would have bought that big honking diamond for Hannah. Total catalyst, our boy wonder. Inadvertently or by design, messy and painful (like real life) or smooth sailing, Sweets affected these changes, or at least influenced them greatly.
Because of his area of expertise, Sweets was very good at understanding the psychology behind the complicated B&B relationship. He could decipher what each was feeling based on their pasts, their personalities, their fears, and their coping mechanisms. Based upon that intel, Sweets was able to guide or counsel them to confront their own reality in a zone of safety which he created for them.
Sweets will be missed as the voice who explain to the couple, as well as to viewers, what is going on emotionally between Booth and Brennan and provide a context to normalize their situation, bringing it down to a level where they can deal with their issues without damaging the relationship.
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#3 Sweets Had the Tenacity of a Rottweiler
Sweets is nothing if not doggedly tenacious. He knew Booth’s dismissive attitude was a facade to cover up a very tender and lonely heart. Sweets understood that Brennan’s emotional distance when it came to intimacy in any form, was a protective shell keeping her safe from possible harm. And when Sweets entered the picture he had to contend with the great affection for Dr. Gordon Gordon held by both Booth and the fans. Those were some huge Notty shoes to fill. A lesser man would have packed his Spiderman lunch box and gone straight home. Sweets, however, is not easily daunted.
Sweets will be missed for his habit of poking his nose in Brennan and Booth’s business and allow us to be voyeurs to that interaction. We learned a lot through him!
#4 Sweets Needed a Family Just as Much as They Did …
… and so he invested a lot of energy and time into helping Brennan and Booth develop into a family themselves. He saw the chemistry and love between them and couldn’t stand to see it not brought to the light. Despite the continual barrage of disparity piled upon him like so many pounds of German Shepherd poo, Sweets persevered with Brennan and Booth. He saw something there that he wanted for himself as well. As we saw in later episodes, Sweets was not always the most perceptive when it came to himself, so perhaps he didn’t realize it was family he was seeking, but something inside him was forcefully attracted to the chemistry and dynamic between the two alphas. Sweets did indeed imprint on them like a baby duck, and that ended up a very good thing for all three plus Christine. Thank God for that — or, wait — maybe we can just thank the Bones Fairies for it? Yes. Let’s do that.
Sweets will be missed in his role as brother, son, and uncle to the Brennan-Booth family.[Spoiler Alert: There’s a scene in “Lance to the Heart” that involves Christine that will bring this particular aspect of their lives into focus. Grab your hankies, people.]
#5 Sweets was Academic Enough to Spar with Brennan
This could only have worked if Sweets was able to gain Brennan’s trust. Despite her continual discounting of his entire field of study, Sweets knew how to reason scientifically and objectively with Brennan. He could speak to her on her, well, okay, not exactly her level, but he could sure speak to her closer to her own level than Booth could. What Brennan and Booth needed for their relationship to grow and deepen was someone who could interpret what was happening between them and explain (without being condescending) the root of their difficulty so that they could have a deeper understanding of each other. Yes, they fought it. Yes, they snarked about him, his youth, his inability to grow a manly beard, and his psychology. But they listened to him, they learned and they grew closer.
Sweets will certainly be missed for his ‘laisse fair’ delivery of complex psychological explanations and literary/historical references that Brennan comprehends. He had a way of explaining things that spoke to Brennan’s academic mind so she could process them logically and rationally. That was cool. For example, he was able to explain the mythology behind lying to children about Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny in “The Santa in the Slush” to her satisfaction. He was also able to rationalize not informing her that Booth hadn’t died from Pam Nunan’s gunshot at the end of “The Wannabe in the Weeds.” His rationale was that Brennan was rational himself and capable of compartmentalizing Booth’s death — which he later explained in “The Pain in the Heart.” Brennan accepted Sweets’ rationality as a professional decision, despite having already outright railed against Booth’s for his explanations for both.
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#6 Sweets Provided a Mentoring Opportunity for Booth
A man like Booth could easily get bored with work if the challenges of his job didn’t get more interesting as time went by — even though he had a phenomenal partner. Booth has a need to nurture which was exercised in his relationship with Sweets. He was served well by having someone invested in him other than as his partner, someone not as emotionally attached to him as Brennan was, someone who presented very little risk. And he needed to be pushed to look inside his own square little box of his usual way of doing things. Sweets challenged him, learned from him, and looked-up to him. That had to feel good for Booth.
Booth needed someone to counter any feelings of intellectual inferiority he may have had from spending lots of time with the Jeffersonian brain trust. Sweets was perfect for this because Sweets understood Booth in ways Booth didn’t even understand himself and he knew when to tread lightly and when to push (usually). Sweets was, in essence, Booth’s squint!
The psychologist was also bright enough to use his understanding of Booth to his own advantage as well, which he did regularly and sometimes with disastrous results (Do the words “It’s gotta be you, because you’re the gambler. For once, make that work for you,” and “I don’t want to be old and alone like you,” ring any bells?) But, such is the nature of friendships – we see the strengths in those closest to us and we lean on them expecting comfort and acceptance. Sweets and Booth, in a very masculine way of course, eventually provided both of these things for each other.
Sweets will be missed as a vehicle for us to watch Booth mentor/father a son figure. But, then again, now we have Aubrey. So, a whole new element awaits us here of which we know not the gravity and won’t until the Bones Fairies show us.
#7 Sweets was Great Humor and the Perfect Scapegoat/Buffer
When Sweets arrived in season three with “The Secrets in the Soil,” he provided substantial comedic relief as he attempted to manage a hard-headed agent and a brilliant over-confident forensic anthropologist who feared no one and nothing, except perhaps relationships.
With dry wit and a great deal of compassion, Sweets bore Booth’s snarkiness and Brennan’s offensiveness with aplomb. Booth could be intimidating as hell. Brennan’s candor could cut a person’s ego to the bone (pun intended). But, being the smart guy that he is, Sweets processed their behavior and interpreted it objectively. That’s not to say Sweets never felt hurt or left out – but he was fairly good at absorbing Brennan and Booth’s snarky comments without harm. Also, as a result of Sweets’ understanding of the nature of partnership, intimacy and fear in regard to how it’s expressed, he was both a buffer and a scapegoat for Brennan and Booth to take their frustrations with each other out on — which was safer than directing them at each other.
And who could forget the wonderful Valley Speak which peppered his vocabulary. Phrases like “Mega dangerous,” “Wicked stressful,” “Fierce wretched,” and “Like, totally,” peppered his vernacular on a regular basis. And who could forget his wonderfully candid comments such as “Children are still forming their sense of ethics at this age. Like I said, they’re basically sociopaths,” and “That was a backhand full of knuckles with that compliment?”
Dr. Lance Sweets, You Will Be Missed
Who would have thought that this fresh-faced orphan with black curly Heidi, Girl of the Alps hair and pouty red lips would one day become the brother Booth never had? And who would have thought this kid would be the key to softening the shackles around the iron-clad fiberglass-wrapped heart of another orphan whose past was nearly as troubled as his own? Who would have thought? Apparently, the Bones Fairies did. And, God bless their metaphorical little hearts for that, because without it, we might not have a season 10 of Bones.
Bones airs Thursday nights at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV