The Corpse in the Conspiracy (Fan Review)

What an amazing, powerful, and gut-wrenching hour of TV. It’s hard to know where to begin, so I’ll start here: it’s incredible to me that this show, starting its tenth season, can shake things up in such a way that it was trending everywhere last night, and that there were no tepid responses to it.

Although the episode is seriously jam-packed with great stuff, not starting with Sweets feels like I’m ignoring the elephant in the room. The difficulty is that although I was very much afraid that they were going to do exactly what they did in killing him, I’m still having trouble wrapping my brain around it. Or maybe more accurately, wrapping my heart around it.

I don’t know if it happens this way for others, and it doesn’t happen with every show I watch, but sometimes, characters become so real to me that emotionally, I respond to them as if they’re real. It’s not that I’m delusional, or don’t get that they don’t really exist, but emotionally, the connection is there. And I’ve known for a long time that’s true with this show, these characters.

I don’t always like what they do, and sometimes their choices are inexplicable to me, but they’re my people. Not mine to control, but mine to love, to care about, to respond to.

And Sweets? I’ve had a complicated relationship with our shrink, and yet, however bad of a psychologist he sometimes is (great profiler, frequently a lousy therapist), his heart is always in the right place. He feels deeply for others, especially Booth and Brennan, and wants to help. He always wants to help, and I can’t not respond to that, any more than I can the fact that their relationship began with them responding to his need for them.

They loved him, and so my heart is broken not just because I’ll miss him, but because they will.

(Did you notice that I referred to him in the present tense up there? I caught it after I wrote it, and decided to leave it, because it illustrates my point. No, he’s not real, was never real, and yet, emotionally, yeah, I’m there. I woke up this morning and had to remind myself that he’s dead.)

In terms of how they set up his death, I’m good with it across the board. I’m often sensitive (read: irritated) if writers bring a baby into a story just to punch up the drama of the father dying, but this didn’t feel that way to me. Maybe it’s because Sweets and Daisy were a couple on the show for so long, and maybe it’s because, with Carla pregnant in real life, she was probably going to be pregnant on the show, anyway, but rather than feeling like something they did to make his death worse, the pregnancy feels more like something that was already there, but which heightens the consequences. As in, you know, real life.

And unlike a story which might use something like that in a manipulative fashion and then forget it, we’re going to see those consequences play out. We’re going to see the team supporting Daisy, going to see what that means for all of them.

But getting back to this story, although there was some foreshadowing, it didn’t feel heavy-handed to me. The things they said which, on the re-watch had me going, ‘oh….’ didn’t seem odd to me at all when I first saw it, despite my forebodings about Sweets. They felt like normal Sweets scenes, only later taking on a new poignancy.

SweetsFirst, there’s the scene between Booth, Sweets, and Daisy. It’s significant, I think, that as angry and driven as Booth is, this is the first place where we see the man who lives behind the rage, the Booth who always goes soft at the thought of a new baby in the world. His whole demeanor changes, and I love his ‘seriously?’ response to Sweets noting that he’d not said anything because he didn’t figure his life was that important. Booth’s about family, always, no matter what else is going on, and it was wonderful to see that dynamic – Sweets’ uncertainty and pleasure at Booth’s reaction; Booth’s response to the godfather comment.

Second, there’s the scene between Brennan and Sweets at the diner. I’ve always loved their relationship (more than that of Booth and Sweets, honestly) and watching it grow has been a pleasure for me. The fact that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen her go to him for advice means that scene works perfectly, and would do so even without the death that follows. She trusts his opinion on what’s going on with Booth, and I think the timing of how messed up Booth is already is where Sweets’ loss will be felt the most, at least in the short-term.

And the death scene itself? It mirrored Vincent’s, and was the more heartbreaking for doing so, for recalling that loss in the midst of this one. But it also reversed it, as it’s Brennan who says, ‘he’s gone,’ while Booth struggles with denial. But we also see Brennan pace away, and all I could think of while watching was, ‘she’s having trouble compartmentalizing this, is literally walking away from the pain.’

As for Sweets? He thinks first of Daisy, and last of the two people who are in front of him, and I believe that’s a pretty good balance. He knows without asking that they’ll take care of Daisy and his son, because he and Booth have already had that conversation, back in the first scene between them:

“Thanks, by the way…she told me you were there for her, you helped out with the move, you were there for Christine.”
“It’s nothing you wouldn’t have done for me.”

And his last line, which damn it, makes me cry, reveals that he knows the struggle in front of them, particularly for Booth, and is doing one last thing to help them:

“You two…the world’s a lot better than you think it is.”

But however pivotal Sweets’ death is, and it is, there’s more going on here than just setting that up. In fact, thinking about it later, it really doesn’t feel to me like the episode is about Sweets dying. It’s about Booth, who starts the episode screwed up by the FBI’s betrayal, and ends it even more screwed up by his best friend’s murder.

Booth

 

There’s a lot to unpack between those two points.

The first is that from start to finish, David Boreanaz owns this episode. It makes me crazy that Hollywood will never acknowledge that, but that doesn’t make it less true. There are different levels of emotion here, from the moment he realizes what Brennan did to free him, to his efforts to acclimate to the new house, to his struggles to focus on anything other than the case, and Boreanaz nails them all.

Booth’s screwed up, and I think the exchange that best highlights that is this one, with Sweets:

“You sound like you want vengeance.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Usually you talk about justice.”
“Always ends up the same way, huh? You make someone pay.”

Booth has always been about that line between justice and vengeance. He suffered losses at the hands of both Broadsky and Pelant without ever losing that line. But here? It no longer exists, and that’s terrifying. (And that was before they killed Sweets. Woe be unto the conspirators.)

Only…Brennan. Sweets says to her that Booth no longer has an anchor, and I thought, ‘not true. He has her, and she will be his anchor.’

Jail2

I love their relationship all the way through this. They argue about her methods in getting him released, but she pulls out the trump card: “If it were me in there you would have done the same thing. You know that that’s true.” He’s got no response to that, because she’s right.

In other words, while the episode is about Booth floundering in rage, it’s also about Brennan being there to pull him to shore. We see it as she blackmails a judge to secure his release, as she introduces him to the new house that she took such care to make his as well as hers, as she makes love to him, and we see it at the end, as they clutch hands for a moment before the autopsy begins.

Things are very dark right now, but they’ll come through it. Because the woman who has the guts to coolly say to a Federal prosecutor, “I’m new to blackmailing, but I think I’ve covered it all.” won’t let him be anything other than okay.

(I have to note, though, that when she says that, I smile, remembering that no, she once blackmailed an FBI Special Agent, just as successfully. But it has been a while.)

It’s not even only Booth that we see her standing strong for. The point at which I completely lost it in my first viewing was when she puts her arm around Daisy and walks off toward the autopsy with her. Whereas Cam would shield Daisy from it, Brennan understands the young woman’s need to be involved, because she’d need the same thing. I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of that dynamic.

And moments later, it’s Brennan that Cam looks to when she says, “I don’t know if I can do this to him,” and it’s Brennan who has the words to make it possible for all of them.

While Brennan’s leadership is particularly noteworthy, Hodgins comes through in a different way, and I actually cheered when he revealed that no, the bad guys hadn’t taken the evidence. When you’re butt deep in a conspiracy, trust your resident conspiracy theorist, because he’s going to come through: “There’s a conspiracy here. Whatever’s crucial to us we must consider is crucial to them.”

That’s important, because the story’s just beginning. Although they’re making progress, the conspiracy is still alive and taking huge bites out of them, and there are still as many questions as answers, including figuring out Aubrey.

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on him as we go along, but for now? I liked him, more than I expected to. He’s snarky, which is always a plus with me, but more than that, I kept wondering why he was so solidly on Booth’s side when no one else in the bureau was. (And yeah, I know some people are speculating that he killed Sweets, but I’m going with no on that, because even dying, Sweets would have said something if the guy who killed him was standing there, a threat to them.)

But beyond that, here he is, a man Stark assigned to spy on Booth, and when both Stark and Sweets are saying that all of the other agents – including those Booth has worked with for years – think he’s a cop killer, Aubrey’s repeatedly shown as believing in him. Why is that? Inquiring minds are curious.

So, even as we brace for more heartbreak next week, there’s so much yet to look forward to.  Stephen Nathan has said the conspiracy is mostly dismantled by the end of the second episode, but we’ll be dealing the consequences of this for the foreseeable future.

I can’t wait. I love these people and I want to watch them come together, both for Daisy and for one another, want to see Booth, with Brennan beside him, find his footing again, want to watch all of them find their balance between the sad and silly, because my life has always been made up of both, and that tension is what gives the show its authenticity for me.

Carry on, guys. See you next Thursday.

hands2

Bonus Quotes:

“You promised.”
“No, you ordered me not to. There’s a distinct difference.” (Booth and Brennan)

***

“Lance and I bumped into each other a few times this past year and one of those bumps turned into a bump.” (Daisy)

****

“It’s nice talking conspiracy without being called a loon.” (Hodgins)

***

“It’s a brilliant way to get away with murder.”
“Except that I don’t intend for them to get away with it.” (Clark and Brennan)

***

“I fought back. You’d be proud.” (Sweets)

 

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9 thoughts on “The Corpse in the Conspiracy (Fan Review)

  1. You made me cry all over reading this. I need to buy more tissues.

    This was a wonderful episode; heartbreaking, but wonderful. Beyond that I’ll just ditto, on everything you said. 🙂

  2. This is so beautifully written my thoughts exactly. I agree that Aubrey did not kill Sweets because he would have told them. David & Emily are so amazing they make me believe that what they are going through is really happening. Yes I know the show is made up of people playing parts, but I agree with you they are real to me, in that their acting makes me feel what they are feeling. It astounds me that they can pack so much in 42 min., between the writers, directors, cast and crew they made a lot of emotions come to life for me. Great review!

  3. Oh honey.

    I heard about this earlier today and was completely floored by it. I almost immediately thought of you. This storyline is heartbreaking, but from everything I can tell they’re handling it so well. Will keep my ears peeled to hear about the rest of the season.

  4. I was a wreck as soon as I saw Sweets all beaten and bloody (because he’s the baby duck and I loves him), but his ‘I fought back, you’d be proud’ line made me lose my mind a little. That was the moment that wrecked me…even at deaths door, Booth’d opinion of him is vital.

    I’m with you Cin (should we take a moment to note this down? LOL) in that I’ve always been more fascinated by the Sweets/Brennan relationship than the Booth/Sweets one (although I love that too.) Its probably always been that way, but it was solidified in Photo, and ever since than I’ve been consciously craving more Sweets/Brennan scenes. The fact that we got one in this episode pleases me immensely. I’m just sad we won’t get any more.

    As I only watched today I fully expect to join you in the morning after ‘Damn? He’s really dead’ tomorrow…and knowing me I’ll shed another tear. He may have been fictional, but he was part of the Bones world for 7 years…and I’m going to miss him terribly.

    I know some people have claimed they won’t be watching moving forward after this, but I for one will definitely be. Sweets was my favourite (unashamedly so), but I can’t wait to see how the writers follow this, and the stories they’re going to tell. I think we’re in for an amazing Season!

    Wonderful review Cin…even if it’s shorter than I was expecting 😉

  5. Thanks for this, Ryn. I really look forward to reading your reviews. Even though you are emotionally invested (me too!) in the characters and plots, you manage to review without being either gushy and saccharine or laid low and despairing. It’s a true pleasure to read an analysis based on something other than “fangirling”. Thanks for keeping it real and rational.

  6. Oh, I hope you don’t mind but I have been pondering on this awhile and I hope I could get a response from you.
    Actors amaze me sometimes. I was a drama student and I could sustain a character or mood for the run of a play. TV actors, on the other hand, do it in small scenes of only minutes at a time. For example, DB and ED – we see pictures of them BTS – chatting, laughing, hanging out in general and then someone calls Action and they have to be in character, in the correct mood and know what to do and say. And they can and do – well enough to break our hearts or cause us to say Aww because they are that believable. And all around them there are crowds of people – camera guys, sound guys, clapper person, whatevs – often right up in their face.
    Like I say, I am amazed that it is all so convincing – that THEY can pull it off so well.
    OK – end of ponder.

    • Sorry it’s taken such a long time to reply.

      Interesting question, and not one I know the answer to. But I can speculate on a couple of things. First, I suspect it’s a very individual thing, that how actors get in character and stay that way varies from person to person. A film’s not the same thing as a TV show, but to the degree it’s different from theatre, I know Viggo (who played Aragorn in LOTR), stayed in costume all the time. I don’t know how common that is, but suspect it works for some actors.

      Second, I did spend a few hours on TV set a long time ago, and saw, across the course of perhaps two hours, them film one scene. They’d discuss it, rehearse it, film it with the actors in one position, then do the same thing with slight variations. But while they were only filming for a few minutes, they were focused on that scene for several hours.

      That makes me wonder if the fact that they remain focused on the scene for a longer period of time, even when not actually filming, helps them slip in and out of the role. But that’s all speculation, and there’s not even a guarantee that all shows film exactly like the one I saw. (Stargate SG-1, filming in Canada in 1998.)

      Is that what you meant? It would be an interesting question to ask an actor at a Q&A some day. 🙂

  7. It’s really a pleasure to read your review. I love every character in this show. So the death of a family member is always sad and hard to accept. But thank you and Congratulations to the cast, writers and producers of Bones continue to shock us, excite and make us mad, get angry, make us laugh and cry. That is why for ten years I am addicted to this show. Booth-Brennan relationship is phenomenal. Again, we have seen evidence in this episode. Brennan (Emily Deschanel) is amazing in this episode. The center must hold, but it is she who carries everything at arm’s length. What about the masterful interpretation of David Boreanaz. I would like to know more about the “history” of the new agent. Why he believes in Booth? I’m intrigued about this issue. It is very or too confident, cheeky and very sarcastic. For now I wait to see what this new character will bring to the show. Thank you to JFD and good luck to him in this new career. It’s great for him.
     
    I know some fans are very very very angry about the death of sweets but JFD wanted to go and I think the writers and producers of Bones wanted to take this opportunity to deal with the emotional impact of the loss of a member of family on the other members. Personally I find it very interesting. I look forward to the next episode and the next.

    By cons although I can understand the sadness, disappointment and anger of some fans on the death of sweets, I do not understand the hate “tweets” to the cast and crew. It’s really serious and disrespectful.

    Personally I want to enjoy this season 10 because it is possible that we reach the end of this adventure.

  8. Nearly a week later and I’m still choking up when I read this review.

    Everybody involved with the show did a great job with this episode, in my opinion. I’m so glad they didn’t let Sweets just fade away. At one point before the shocking garage scene I was thinking, with great satisfaction, “Oh, good, they are finally letting him grow up to be a responsible adult and one who speaks with authority and is respected for his expertise.”

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