BONES Recap: ‘The Spark in the Park’ | Give Me My Remote

BONES Recap: ‘The Spark in the Park’

December 7, 2013 by  

Hello BONES fans! I hope you are having some happy holidays. As you likely know, this episode, “The Spark in the Park,” is the last new one until 2014, and I’m happy to say I enjoyed this it very much. Pardon the gymnastics reference, but first-time BONES ep writer Emily Silver and veteran director Chad Lowe nailed this episode in terms of style, content, and execution. Interestingly enough, it felt like an old episode of BONES — primarily in the way Booth acted, positively and negatively. More on that later, but first, let’s discuss the case.

THE CASE:

The Scene of the Crime: A couple find a dead body and take pictures and selfies, so they will be able to talk to the police about it. They leave their umbrella over the victim, and it is struck by lightning, causing a small explosion.

The Victim: Amanda Watters, a high school aged, incredibly skilled and competitive amateur gymnast currently on a break due to an injury. Her body shows intense signs of physical abuse, and the word on the street is that she was considering quitting the sport altogether.

Primary Suspects:

•    Dr. Leon Watters, Amanda’s father (played by Richard Schiff). He’s a brilliant scientist, easily lost in the world of numbers and unable to quite connect with Booth during questioning. Brennan is able to interpret his statements and is convinced he is not the murderer. But Watters’ seeming detachment from Amanda is something Booth can’t get his mind around.
•    Amanda’s gymnastic coach. He has high expectations for his athletes, but insists he didn’t hurt Amanda.
•    Ellie (played by US Olympian gymnast McKayla Maroney), Amanda’s main competition, and the person who spotted Amanda during her last fall, causing some broken bones. Ellie is intense, stating that Amanda would want her to continue competing. She also tells B&B on the sly that Amanda was considering quitting gymnastics and had turned to drugs.
•    Mr. Howes, father of Rachel Howes. Rachel and Amanda became close friends (and sometimes co-drug doers). When he found out about Rachel wanting to quit playing the cello, he hit her, causing her to fall down the stairs. Rachel tells B&B that she and Amanda had agreed together to quit their mutual competitive tasks.

The Case Progression:

Cam, Arastoo, Hodgins, Angela and Cam continue to examine Amanda’s remains in the Jeffersonian lab. There are several breaks and spots of remodeling in her skeletal structure and also signs of a struggle when she died.

Brennan visits Dr. Watters, surprised to find out he has erased all of the mathematic formulas from his chalkboard. She worries he is contemplating suicide, removing his work from his life. He doesn’t deny it. She convinces him that by doing so, he will essentially frame himself. He asks her to find out who killed Amanda.

Sweets is able to trace some of Amanda’s drug activity, and he questions the drug dealer, who insists he liked Amanda (but not in an illegal way) and points Sweets toward Rachel. Rachel is covered in bruises when Booth talks with her and her parents, but they all come clean about what happened the night she told them she wanted to quit playing the cello. Their truths are ugly, but sincere.

Angela and Hodgins restore a plastic card found on Amanda’s body, and identify it was an access card to Dr. Watters’ university. It shows access on the evening Amanda died, though Dr. Watters insisted he hadn’t seen Amanda since that morning.

Booth and Brennan bring him in to the FBI for questioning. Booth can’t believe he doesn’t remember what he ate or if he saw his daughter that evening. Brennan jogs his memory, and Dr. Watters realizes Amanda did come to visit him and bring him dinner…also realizing he likely dismissed her and caused her pain. Brennan comes to his defense, which angers Booth. An amazing scene all around.

Arastoo notices signs of strangulation, and Brennan realizes that is how Amanda was killed. Angela recreates the scenario, and Brennan identifies the murder weapon as a balance beam. She and Booth return to the gymnasium, where Brennan finds traces of vomit and part of Amanda’s tongue. Booth arrests the gymnastics coach.

When he insists he is innocent and that any person on the team would have access to the building the night Amanda was killed, Brennan and Arastoo reexamine the remains. Brennan realizes the killer had one hand weaker than the other.

The Verdict: With this information, Booth and Brennan bring Rachel and her parents back into the interrogation room. Her father immediately assumes he’s the suspect, but B&B question Rachel. When they present the evidence they found in Rachel’s car, she admits she was mad at Amanda for not quitting gymnastics liked she promised she would.

THE SQUINTS:

The Booth/Brennan/Sweets dynamic really is magic when it’s done right, and this episode was so well done. It’s always two against one with those three, and the scene in the diner was such a fast paced example of that, leaving me (and Sweets) blinking as to what exactly happened and who agreed with whom. Major props to Boreanaz, Deschanel and Daley for that scene.  I also liked Sweets work on the case.

I liked that Hodgins and Angela were focused on the case, and it was fun to see them do little scenes together. I loved Hodgins “Excuse me for loving my job” line at the beginning, and I’m really (petulantly) glad that Brennan’s emotional strength in this episode had nothing to do with Angela.

As far as Cam and Arastoo…the story could have tipped over into sappy and hamfisted, but it worked. It was an interesting (presumable) end to the identity theft arc — if it was just to teach Cam a lesson on the vice of vengeance, that is one long, drawn out lesson! So I’m wondering if there will be more to that story.  Can’t see how her striking a suspect at the FBI building has zero ramifications though. Right?

BOOTH AND BRENNAN:

First of all, Emily Deschanel for all of the wins and any subsequent wins. She is just such a good actress, so beautifully and purely good, and when that radiates through Brennan, I can’t take my eyes off of the screen, even when tears fall down my cheeks, like they did in the last scene of this episode. (And major kudos to Richard Schiff in his work in this scene as well. So very special.) I loved that Brennan really worked this case — in the lab and in and out of the interrogation room with Booth. I loved that the emotionally intellectual connection she felt with Dr. Watters as a suspect was heartfelt and not clinical.

As for Booth, the bickering banter between him and Hodgins (and Brennan) at the crime scene was so delicious, I could have eaten it up. Just perfect old-school stuff, and I loved it. Like I said before, I thought Booth’s actions primarily felt like old-Booth, which in some ways was delightful…when he gets all riled up, it gets hot in December! But at this point in his relationship with Brennan, when he kind of rides roughshod over her opinions, it chafes.

We know that an upset Brennan upsets Booth. There was definitely a moment in the interrogation room where Dr. Watters being upset made Brennan upset, which made Booth upset. But the rest of the episode didn’t really prove that Booth supports Brennan’s feelings or “gut” on this case or other matters — he wanted it to be Dr. Watters and had zero interest in her thoughts on it.

To be fair, maybe she shouldn’t have spoken up in the interrogation room. But on the flip side of the fairness coin, she’d already expressed her opinion to Booth that he was being too harsh (in the office and in the SUV), and he continued his ways, making it fine for her to continue hers.  That he still referred to Dr. Watters’ (and Brennan’s) way of thinking things through as “freakazoid” stings, especially after all this time. That he gets itchy when surrounded by smart people is in character, but if Brennan is learning lessons in their relationship, it would be nice if he would not necessarily include her in every diss of smart people. That he said she was right (at her prompting) soothes the sting a bit.

These paragraphs make it seem like I was upset with the episode or how it turned out, but I really did love it. I think Booth’s comments come from his insecurity (which is something I generally like about him), and because we know Brennan better (and the last scene proved us right), it…works. And once again, we see that neither Booth nor Brennan hold grudges against one another for their differences…something that has been amazingly and frustratingly true for this entire series. That they keep talking to one another and being honest with each other is what carries their scenes, especially in this episode. It was very in character, even if the characters’ imperfections can sting. But that’s the line between good fiction and happily ever after, right?

Enough from me — how did you like this episode? Were you surprised by the killer? Is it the last we’ll see of the identity theft storyline? Which moments made you laugh, cry, and/or think? And since this is the last episode of 2013, feel free to list some of your favorite moments from this year (either this season or last). The comments are open — make em count!

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Comments

8 Responses to “BONES Recap: ‘The Spark in the Park’”

  1. amy on December 7th, 2013 7:16 am

    I have so many problems with the type of episode structure where one of the main characters is set up to be the villain (Booth) and the other (Brennan) to be the hero.

    Not only that but tearing down one key characteristic of Booth’s , his understanding of human nature , just to highlight Brennan’s evolution in a subplot.

    Does anyone for a hot minute think that Booth doesn’t understand grief or how grief affects people differently? That he hasn’t dealt with all walks of life and knows when people are in denial or need time to react? He has been dealing with this for years. Years before he met Brennan. He certainly doesn’t need to be shamed or undermined by his wife on this matter. And for what? We already know Brennan can relate to people.

    Then we have Booth, the victim of child abuse himself by his own father, who was going by the wrong information given to him by his wife, the squints and Sweets that this kid was a victim of child abuse and he was confronting the father on this, the father who is a viable suspect at this point, who shows no emotion, no respect to Booth as an FBI Agent, insults him: Booth was doing his job and somehow he’s in the wrong in Brennan’s eyes and a lot of fans too. WTF!!!!!

    Brennan doesn’t know this Doctor from Adam but all of sudden she has more understanding and compassion to a stranger than her own husband. Instead of taking a minute and trying to see where Booth is coming from how the case may be affecting him, she has the Doctors back, a stranger and someone she has no evidence on whether he is innocent or not . But just because he is a man of science that means he gets the benefit of the doubt . Even in the interrogation room she was out of line taking Doctor side over Booth’s, who at this point she didn’t know if he was the murderer or not but that doesn’t matter just undermine Booth at his job, in his domain. WTF!!! A previous time when she thought men of science couldn’t be capable of murder was in Season 3. And she was wrong. They did commit murder. But lets not use reason or logic enter this episode.

    Then at the end of the episode lets just ram it home even more that Booth is in the wrong and Brennan is right by having Booth say sorry and give a lame excuse to why he is upset. And not only that make Brennan be petty and actually take pleasure in knowing she was right and Booth was the big bad FBI Agent just doing his job. And then instead of having Brennan discuss what the root of the problem was with her and Booth’s approach to this case as a team, lets just have Brennan be more concerned with running of to make sure that doctor she hardly knows is alright. GEEESH!!

    This episode was more concerned with making sure that Brennan connected with a guest star than her actual husband…. If I didn’t know any better and except for the token B&B near end scene, I would of thought Brennan and Booth could hardly stand each other. And it wasn’t just big bad Booth being snippy, it was on Brennan too.

  2. FF on December 7th, 2013 8:16 am

    This episode was really uneven for me. On one hand, I loved how Brennan was characterized so human and compassionate, and I appreciated that the writer didn’t go the route of making Brennan the butt of everyone’s joke with a lesson to learn from Booth as has been the trend in the last 3 to 4 seasons or so. Brennan was both strong and soft in this episode, and Emily Deschanel was at the top of her game and it made for a winning combination.

    On the other hand, I absolutely did not like how Booth was written in this episode. Yes, he has a snappish, snarky side, but considering this is the same guy who said, “What makes us human, Bones, is that we can feel compassion…,” last night’s characterization of Booth was jarring and extreme. Like Brennan, I was expecting there to be some sort of reason as to why Booth was acting unusually harsh.

    I did like that Brennan called Booth out on how he was acting, and I loved the scene at home where Brennan calmly and confidently admitted she was still mad at how Booth was acting because she identified so much with Dr. Watters. (Early seasons Brennan would have been angry and defiant with Booth about this, so this was a picture-perfect depiction of Brennan’s character growth.) Still – unlike the last time B&B met up with a theoretical physicist, where Booth had told Brennan that she was the only smart person he liked, in this episode it seemed like Brennan was included in his out-of-nowhere rage against all smart “freakazoid” people. There was seemingly no reason for his anger, so I’m guessing the audience was supposed to assume it was just Booth being Booth, but it was uncomfortable to watch.

    The case itself did a good job throwing the audience off the scent of who the killer was. I truly didn’t expect that.

    The last scene was nothing short of wonderful. Richard Schiff is an amazing actor, and this little showcase of him with Emily Deschanel was bittersweet and moving. I loved it.

  3. anon on December 7th, 2013 8:48 am

    Booth was thrown under the bus in this episode to highlight this subplot for Brennan…. did we really need to see what was canon for Booth ever since the pilot, his ability to relate to the victims families be completly trashed? I sure didn’t. He had just cause to be pissed that the doctor considering how his unbringing colors his judgement of potential child abusers and murderers, just like Brennan’s science colors hers. And that a bad father like this doctor was, he was a bad dad, if he has spent actual time with this daughter than drawing damn math on his blackboard then she may of been alive today, actually pushed Booth’s buttons, wouldn’t it be nice to have seen Booth express this feeling to Brennan, instead the writer was obsessed to only show Brennan’s character growth with a guest character and to stomp on Booth’s whilst doing so….there are TWO leads on Bones who both need plots and storylines. It would be nice if Hart and co remembered this.

  4. ellen on December 7th, 2013 9:12 am

    I would like to add two other themes.
    This was a story of adolescent isolation and how one copes or doesn’t cope. we have two young girls with gifts who lived similar and yet very different lives. One, Amanda with a loving and nurturing mother who strays when she loses her. And we have Rachel, with overbearing angry parents–both of whom find comfort in each other and in drugs.

    But Amanda finds her way back to her dad and the sport she loves–and is killed for it by an abused friend. Such a tragic story and beautifully told. From reading here however–it seems to have been lost a little.

    The other theme is fathers and their daughters.
    we have the coach who serves as a father figure for his girls–merit in its own but also self serving. I didn’t get the sense that he used his gymnasts for his own gain but clearly cared about them–I think a good thing.

    Then we have Rachel’s dad–clearly a self serving guy using his child’ for his own self worth. How often do we see this with sports parents?

    I would venture that if you ask Emily Silver she would tell you that part of Booth’s response is because he too is a father……a bit narrow-minded father but a dad just the same

    And then we have Dr Watters. What a wonderful character. Here is a man who sees himself as a bad father….who Booth sees as a bad father. But is he? Clearly not. He stopped his mind when his daughter died–he too wanted to die. For a man who felt he wasn’t a good father he had a daughter who wanted to return to her life with him and her sport.
    And how well did he know her? That last scene was pure poetry. When a father can see and know his child is such a perfect way…..IDK I don’t have words for how beautiful that last scene was–in it’s themes, its writing and the acting.

    Clearly this ep was more from Brennan’s POV–and that’s OK. What I loved about her is that she is now able to understand HERSELF, see how her emotions play out and yet she has grown so much that she can see and understand and empathize with Dr. Watters.
    so well done.
    @85scout

  5. bountypeaches on December 7th, 2013 12:47 pm

    Love your recap sarah! I thought it was a beautiful episode that was definitely reminiscent of the old days! Connection with the victim and the families is what made Bones a must watch for me and this truly emphasized it. Brennan has always had to ability to relate to the victims so that is not new but what is her demonstration of self realization. She realizes that her burying herself in her work was her own defence mechanism which at the beginning of the series she wasn’t able to see. Now she knows that’s what gives her an ability to survive and she can see other people utilizing it as well. That last scene with her and the father was truly beautiful. I think that was the best scene on television.

    Some people may be unhappy with the characterization of Booth but the way he approached things was very in character nonetheless (maybe slightly a more extreme version than normal I’ll admit). But he has always felt that there is a certain way to live life which is very conventional and has had lots of moments throughout the series where he has come across as judgemental when other’s don’t subscribe to the same philosophy. He has always felt a certain level of discomfort when interacting with people who are smarter than he is (science in the physicist) so it is natural that combined with his bias towards child abuse and relative coldness of the father at learning of his daughters’ death that he was less willing to be as compassionate as he has with other victim’s parents in the past. And that’s okay.. because ultimately we are all coloured by our perspectives and sometime they get the better of us, but what matters is that we learn from them.

    Ellen thanks for pointing out the story with the 2 girls. This is Bones at its best with highlighting subtle messages. I thought it was a brilliant episode. I think the last 3 episodes were the best of the season.

  6. Isolde on December 7th, 2013 1:05 pm

    Maybe it’s just a case of a new writer having a better understanding of one character than another, but I did keep looking for some context for Booth in this episode and I never got it. We got a reason for what was driving everyone else including the identity thief. Good reasons, bad reasons, but we did get “A” reason. Not so with Booth.

    I think we can find context within the story, but the writer left us on our own to find it. That Booth was reacting to the bad father aspect makes the most sense to me. And I don’t think they were trying to tell us that RS’s character was a good father even though he did love his daughter. She was grieving the loss of her mother; had started using drugs and running around with a bad crowd and her father was as oblivious to that as he was to her bringing him dinner. Was it surprising that she changed her mind about giving up her sport after that last encounter with him? She needed gymnastics as much as he needed math after her death.

    Brennan seemed to me to think that Booth was reacting negatively to the things that she and the victim’s father had in common. But I think he was reacting to how they were different. Brennan isn’t the kind of parent that the victim’s father was. I felt like there was more story there to explore than they did. But, then again, you only can fit in so much in 47 minutes. But it ended up being the one flaw, from my POV, in an otherwise really great episode.

  7. sebastian on December 7th, 2013 9:01 pm

    So I know it defies every law of television (different networks, different production companies), but now that Patrick Jane works for the FBI & the show is switching up its format, could there ever be a Mentalist/Bones crossover. It would be pretty interesting to see Brennan analyze Patrick Jane and vice versa, and Booth and lisbon can definitely hold their own.

    In their respective storylines everybody works for the FBI right?

  8. Janet Rundquist on December 8th, 2013 11:02 am

    I enjoyed this episode and agree that there was a tone that carried through from earlier seasons. I liked that we could feel sympathy for the victim and I liked that there was some real question as to who the suspect was (not the first, “surprised and hurt” suspect they questioned). I couldn’t really see the “friend” as the murderer, but then again, they told us that she is in a pretty messed up family, so maybe it wasn’t that far off.

    I confess that I wanted Arastoo to be partially wrong in this episode. I love his character, but sometimes I think the writers paint him too high as a paragon of goodness. I really felt for Cam when she said to him that he just made it clear who the good person was in their relationship. I totally understood his point, but I think that after Cam visited her ex-friend, she had more reason to feel justified in pressing the aggravated charges – but then still see that she doesn’t want to be that angry person. In other words – Arastoo’s right, but it also would have been right to seek appropriate consequences for Cam’s ex-friend.

    Re: Brennan and Booth – what I liked about Brennan’s over-identifying with the victim’s father was that she recognized her “old” self – and the conversation in the SUV where she didn’t even think work would be enough to help her if she lost Booth and Christine was powerful. I also liked that Booth was edgy about the whole thing – but like FF says, it was hard to understand why he was so extreme about it. I felt like they wanted to show the dichotomy, but the gap was too wide. I really did like, however, when Brennan reminds Booth that she was right and when she said “It’s good to say it” – and then Booth complying. Booth needs that reminder, sometimes. (Both of them do, but Booth more often, lately.)

    The end – with Brennan and the prof and the “life in motion” – was absolutely beautiful.