BONES: Karine Rosenthal on Writing the Booth and Brennan Wedding Episode, 'The Woman in White' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

BONES: Karine Rosenthal on Writing the Booth and Brennan Wedding Episode, ‘The Woman in White’

October 22, 2013 by  


BONES’ Booth and Brennan are now officially married!

It took 172 episodes, years of banter, a few other love interests, more disgusting bodies than any human should ever recall — and a last-minute fire to the church and case to solve — but Booth and Brennan swapped vows in Monday night’s episode, “The Woman in White.”

The hour was a big one for the series, and to make sure it was given its proper due, they brought back former BONES writer/producer, Karine Rosenthal (who was with the show from 2006 until 2012), to pen the long-awaited nuptials.

It’s no secret I absolutely adored the hour, and Rosenthal was gracious enough to hop on the phone to chat about returning to the series, what she did to prep for the episode, what didn’t make the cut, and more…

I have to ask — were you checking social media to see what fans were saying as the episode played out?
Karine Rosenthal: You know, I tried to resist, because you can get sucked into [it] — I did a little bit.  Just enough to see the overall response was very positive. And that made me happy. I think once you get into what each person wanted differently, I wanted to respond and each person individually and go, “I know! And we thought about that. But here’s the reason why we did that. Or here’s what happened.” You could drive yourself crazy.

Yeah, I can imagine it would be easy to get sucked into that for hours.
KR: Yeah. We care about the fans and people have been waiting a long time. You just want to make sure it was satisfying.

Understandable. And for me, for what it’s worth, it absolutely was.
KR: [Laughs] Oh, good!

I know you returned to BONES specifically to write this episode. What led to that decision?
KR: That was just complete good fortune. I am still good friends with everyone at BONES and keep in touch with them, and so, I had talked with Jonathan Collier, one of the EPs who is in charge of figuring out who is going to do which episode, and working with [BONES creator] Hart [Hanson] and [executive producer] Stephen [Nathan] to make sure all the scripts are written on time and how the stories work out and things like that. So we had talked about the possibility of me doing a freelance episode, and he said, “Would you be open to that?” And I said, “Probably.”

When I left the show, I didn’t think I’d be back to do anything else, but after I had been away from a year, it felt like enough time had passed that it felt like a sweet, fun thing to do, as opposed to “Wait, I just left, why am I going back?”

So [Jonathan] called me and said, “Okay, well, we have an episode we want you to do.” And then he told me it would be the wedding episode. And I was so touched they would even ask me to do that. Because it’s such a big deal, and I feel, having worked on the show for so long, I feel so close to the characters. Much closer than the actors probably realize, because the writers don’t get to spend a lot of time on the set, but we’re always aware of the actors and the characters, and watching the scenes and watching the episodes, so I was just so happy this was going to happen, that they were finally going to get married, and yeah, I couldn’t imagine a better episode to get back and do.

Absolutely. You did have a long history with the show, but was there any episode you went back and rewatched before you wrote this script?
KR: I rewatched almost all of the pivotal moment episodes, because we wanted to pay off a lot of things in this episode. We paid off a few — the main thing we paid off was the letter from the Gravedigger episode [from “Aliens in a Space” that was used as Brennan’s vows] — and there were versions, earlier iterations of when we were working on the story where any loose thread from the past, we were putting in [to tie up], but ultimately we took them out. Maybe they’ll come later, but maybe they won’t. So, I kind of watched all the big moments for Booth and Brennan from the get-go.

I also rewatched one of everyone’s favorite episodes from the first season, the Christmas episode [“The Man in the Fallout Shelter”], just because it was a similar case, where we weren’t going to be meeting any suspects or things like that. Just to see how that worked, when the true story of the episode is different from the case story.

It ended up feeling seamless, which is nice, because when the big event of the episode isn’t a case, it can sometimes feel clunky. I didn’t get that impression here.
KR: Oh good, I’m glad it came out that way.

Was there talk of what kind of case it should be? Or was the Emily Dickinson angle always something you guys were looking to explore and it fit in here?
KR: That was a good lesson in trusting the unconscious, which a writer has to do, and it can be kind of scary: I just had this idea of — when I first started working on the episode — that the murder would have something to do with Emily Dickinson. And I don’t know where that came from, it just came in my mind — I think it’s a librarian, it should be Emily Dickinson-related.

We tried a bunch of different directions with that, and ended up with the case that you saw. And the more I read about Emily Dickinson and her love life and these theories on her life, it got more and more interesting. It seemed to work well for the episode. And then it was one of those things, where you know how all of our episodes have those names — “The Boy in the Tree,”  “The Girl in the [etc],” and so on — and so when we had the whole story and we were thinking of the name of the episode, we realized that Emily Dickinson, because she always wore white, and that’s how she’s referred to in a lot of text, as “the woman in white,” we were like, “Oh my gosh, it’s the wedding episode, and we came up with a story about the woman in white.” It was one of those, “Oh maybe that’s why Emily Dickinson was in my mind!” [moments]. I have no idea. But it worked out really well.

That’s kind of amazing. In the year you were off the show, BONES did introduce a handful of new characters, some of which were in your hour. Was there any particular character that was maybe a little more difficult for you to get in their head?
KR: There were some of them I hadn’t written for, but I had at least seen enough of or seen enough of their episodes [to get them]. It was such a treat to write for all of those characters. To get Pops, and Max I’ve written for before, but it was just wonderful to have everybody.

The one person, when I started writing the actual script, the person I hadn’t written for was Finn — who ended up not being in the episode anyway. [Laughs] But in my first draft, he was. So I sat down at the computer and was at a scene, and I suddenly thought, “Oh my God.” So I had to call our script coordinator and be like, “Can you send me three scripts that have Finn in them?” And I had to reread them to get his voice, because I had never written for him. I was concerned about that because there’s a dialect that you want to sound authentic, so I will say I worked hard on that, but it never ended up in the episode. [Laughs] Oh well!

That’s too bad! Given the sheer number of guest stars in the episode, how did that actually end up working out for you? Did they give you a list of who was available for filming and you went from there? Or were there more cases like Finn where you wrote characters in, and then had to adjust the script each time someone became unavailable?
KR: We started with a list of everyone we wanted in the episode and the people we knew wouldn’t be able to be in it, so we wouldn’t waste time with people we knew wouldn’t be in it.

When we were working on the story, we still thought Stephen Fry (Gordon Wyatt) might be able to do it, so we had an early version of the story where Stephen Fry was in it. I would say, there was just a lot of rewriting and rebreaking the story as we learned more and more who was going to be available and who wasn’t.

There was a moment when we thought we knew who was in it, we put holds on all the actors — which is something casting directors do to let the agents know to hold them for these days because we want to use them. We had all of these actors on hold, but once the studio and the network saw the outline for the script, they went, “Oh, this is going to be such a great episode, are you sure you want to put it on that date? Can we move the date?” And they wanted to change when it would film and air. And we thought about it for a few minutes, and then we thought, “Oh my God, if we change anything, it will be a huge mess of dominoes that will go down if we do that.” So we realized we had to film it on those days or we would have to completely change the story yet again.

Wow. That being said, it is incredible how many actors the team was able to coordinate for the episode.
KR: It was great, because it also makes it feel like an authentic wedding. There were people who weren’t there, and in the too-wordy version of the script, there were explanations for why they weren’t there: for why [Brennan’s brother] Russ couldn’t come, why [Booth’s brother] Jared couldn’t come, things like that. But it just starts to slow down the story, and you just have to hope that viewers trust [that] “I’m sure there’s an explanation and we’re just not hearing it on-screen.”

Can you share why they weren’t there in what you wrote?
KR: [In real-life] it was actor availability. But when we had it in the script explaining why, it was that Russ’ parole restrictions wouldn’t allow him to come, and that Jared is working overseas. He sent something with his best wishes, and there was a little bit more about would it be Jared or Parker as the best man, but Parker was always going to be the best man, anyway.

I know Booth and Brennan’s daughter, Christine, was originally intended to be in the episode, but it didn’t end up working out the way you hoped. Is that something you’re bummed didn’t come to fruition, or do you feel fans get that she was there and just not shown?
KR: I think that’s one thing I’m glad for social media [purposes] that everyone now realizes why she wasn’t there. I was on the set that day, it was wonderful, but the little girls who play Christine — any two-year old gets freaked out at a normal wedding. We tried so many things. The original thing was she was going to be the flower girl, and when there was no one around, she would do it; she would sprinkle the flowers, having fun. But as soon as there were other people around, it would be terrifying. And then we thought she could walk down with Parker, but that didn’t work. And then we thought we could get a shot of her playing with the petals in the corner, and that didn’t work. And in the limited amount of time we have [it couldn’t be done.] And also, if you want to feel like a prick, force a little kid to do something that terrifies them for the sake of a television show. There’s a certain point where you’re saying, “Poor kid. We’re not doing any of this. We’re done. She won’t be in the episode, it’s OK, let her go play.” It was just one of those cut your losses [things].

Which is absolutely fair.
KR: And I think they did release a photo of her in her little dress, so hopefully that will make people happy.

True. Was there anything that was shot that didn’t make the final cut of the episode that you wish had gotten in?
KR: Let me think about that. [Pause] I don’t think so. I don’t think there were any moments I felt were lost. It’s just with an episode like this, if this was the ’70s, it would be so fun to do the big two-hour event. We could have done lots and lots more. We could have had the reception, and we could have done more stories for all of the other characters. It would have been fun if all the squints and squinterns had even more story going on with them around the wedding. But with the limitations that we had, I really think we got everything we wanted.

Did you shoot any of the reception? Or was that something you never intended to touch on?
KR: No, we didn’t shoot any of it. Again, an earlier version of the script, it was dissolved to seeing people dancing, and little snippets of conversation, but the way the episode ultimately worked out, the story really ends at the end of the wedding. But in an earlier version, there was more room for more post-wedding fun.

In what aired, it felt like it ended at an appropriate place to leave things. We have to talk about those absolutely incredible vows…what can you share about the process that went into crafting those?
KR: I will say, when I agreed to do the wedding episode, I knew from the get-go that the vows were not going to be mine. [Laughs] This show is Hart’s baby, and this is such an important thing, that I wrote a first draft version and then gave it to Hart, and then Hart and David [Boreanaz (Booth) and Emily [Deschanel (Brennan)] really took over. They really created those vows, and they turned out so beautifully, and so perfect.

And there are things about them — I love the idea to bring up the first episode, the scene in the pilot where Emily says, “I can be a duck,” I believe David suggested that moment [end up in the vows]. And it’s wonderful he suggested that moment because it’s one of my favorite moments from the pilot. To me, that’s a moment from the pilot where you get a glimpse of who Brennan really is underneath all these defenses she has constructed, and there’s this little girl that wants to play. So the fact that David hooked into that moment, I thought it was perfect. And same with Emily wanting to make it — it’s the perfect blend of incredibly moving and so true to her voice, to Brennan’s voice. I thought they worked out really, really well.

And I was really impressed that [Brennan] was able to write that well while being buried in a car. [Laughs] It was great. My first draft of her vows was much shorter, because I was thinking, “She’s buried in a car! She thinks she’s about to die.” But Hart said, “No, she knows this is important, this is the last shot she gets; she’s going to take a deep breath and take her time.” And I totally buy it.

Hey, if anyone is going to do that, I buy Brennan doing that, too.
KR: Exactly!

It’s great you seem so pleased by the collaborative effort of the vows.
KR: The process of being a writer on a show — unless you are the creator or executive producer — is always in the service of someone else’s vision. And you know that. So you’re just giving the best material you can for those people to work with. And they will keep a lot of what you have, they might tweak some things, they might change some things, and there are always going to be things they change where you’re happy to have your name on something you didn’t do. [Laughs] Like, thank you [for the credit]!

Very true! At the end of the episode, Booth and Brennan kind of question what’s next for them and they note they have everything ahead — was that intended to be an homage to the season 2 finale where they were left standing at the altar after Angela and Hodgins had bolted from their own wedding and B/B asked the same question? Or was that just a happy coincidence?
KR: I think it’s a little more than a happy coincidence. It’s not right on, but we try to do a lot of that type of thing on this show — circular storytelling or moments that go back to something that happened a long time ago to make the show deeper and richer for long-time viewers and people who watched a lot of episodes. So I will say it was more than a coincidence, without trying to completely hit the nail on the head with, “Hey guys, remember this??”

It makes sense, because a lot of people do tend to look at marriage as the end of the road for TV couplings. This way, it kind of tips the hat to acknowledge to the audience that the story isn’t quite done.
KR: Right. And because we — and by we, I mean Hart and Stephen — decided to do the wedding now, and really doing the Booth and Brennan relationship, and the baby, and the wedding in such a different order and style than you might traditionally see, yes, it’s sort of our homage to that: that, hey, the show is not over. The relationship is not over. This is just one step in the long lives of these two people.

Are there any other tidbits about the hour that haven’t been released out there that you want to share?
KR: Oh, this is one of those happy accidents: the wedding was originally not supposed to be in the rose garden. It was just a matter of trying to find a place that was available and wasn’t too expensive, and it ended up being the rose garden. And again, that ended up being one of those things that worked out, because that was what prompted David to say, hey, this is the spot where we had that moment [in the pilot, which led to Booth’s vows]. So that wasn’t planned originally, it ended up happening due to shooting availability, and it made the vows so incredibly special. A happy coincidence.

Amazing. Is there any chance you might be popping up to write another episode now that you’ve returned for this one?
KR: [Laughs] At this point, I should never say never. It’s not scheduled, I don’t see it happening, but I think it all depends on how long the show goes. This show could go for five more years, and I could say definitely. At this point, having this extra episode — which I never expected to do — and to be able to do such a special episode, it was such a cherry on top of an already fantastic time on the show, that part of me says, “Leave it at that, how can you top that?” But I should never say never.

So, what did you think of the BONES wedding episode?


BONES: ‘The Nazi on the Honeymoon’ Photos
BONES: ‘The Woman in White’ You Ask, I Answer
BONES: ‘The Woman in White’ Photos — Booth and Brennan Prep for Their Wedding!

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Filed under #1 featured, Bones


25 Responses to “BONES: Karine Rosenthal on Writing the Booth and Brennan Wedding Episode, ‘The Woman in White’”

  1. Sarah on October 22nd, 2013 5:01 pm

    Great article/interview! I especially appreciated her comment about how the writers are pulling for the characters (and actors) , probably even more than they know, but that they don’t really get to be on set. Nice insight, and interesting fact 🙂

  2. laffers18 on October 22nd, 2013 5:03 pm

    Amazing. Amazing amazing amazing!

    You always get the best interviews…thanks M!

  3. ellen on October 22nd, 2013 8:21 pm

    thanks Marissa. I love when you interview the writer–especially Karine for this perfect script. I think its an eye opener for fans to see what really goes into writing a script and filming etc.

  4. Beth on October 22nd, 2013 8:48 pm

    Wonderful interview. Wonderful show. And a great episode. I hope it indeed goes 5 more years!

  5. Jo on October 22nd, 2013 9:11 pm

    Thanks for the great interview. I loved this episode so much. I’ve already watched it twice and plan on watching again tonight just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I have been a fan of this show from the very beginning. It’s been a long time coming but what a wonderful ride. The wedding was perfect only wish we could have seen Christine. Can’t wait to see the honeymoon trip. I hope this show goes on & on.

  6. Missy on October 23rd, 2013 3:19 am

    Bones Wedding episode was just fabulous!!! Their vows were lovely, so touching and so true to them. David and Emily were just outstanding. Over all, it was of my favorite TV episodes of all times.

  7. Gerard Trigo on October 23rd, 2013 12:07 pm

    I just hope that the writers don’t feel the need to introduce strong conflict between Booth and Brennan for some imagined artistic reason. No separations or divorces or affairs please. Minor conflicts from Parker coming to live with them or Brennan’s father telling Booth what to do or also moving in.

  8. Niki on October 23rd, 2013 12:21 pm

    I love this show really,but I have a question. Now what? This whole show was about their relationship but they’ve tied the knot and this should be the final of this journey. I can’t imagine what the producers can figure out to entertain us. I’m vwery sad,because I know this wonderful show is going to its end…:(

    (PS.:actually I liked the B-B relationship much better before they get together.There were a sparkle between this two,and they were -as Booth’s vow said-chasing each other.This was much hotter 😛 )

  9. Luke on October 23rd, 2013 12:29 pm

    I didn’t remember the Hodgins/Angela reference at the end of the wedding – what I caught was that those were the two questions that were asked in the Season 6 episode “The Daredevil in the Mold”, when Booth and Hannah break up.

    After Booth proposed, Hannah asked “What happens now?” and then at Founding Fathers, Brennan asks Booth, “What happens next?”

  10. andrea on October 23rd, 2013 12:44 pm

    Great interview! Loved this episode and the shout out to the pilot/ “Aliens in a Spaceship” episode in the vows! Bones for five more years would be awesome!

  11. Patty on October 23rd, 2013 1:03 pm

    I was a little annoyed at the end when they were pronounced “man and wife.” So, he’s still a man but she’s a wife. I think that was a blunder especially after Brennan stopped to talk to the audience about her father not giving her to the man. That annoy anyone else?

  12. Paula on October 23rd, 2013 1:09 pm

    Fantastic interview. I am such a huge fan of the show, it’s great to hear all the thought behind an episode – especially one as special as this.

    I’m not at all worried about the show ending now. There is plenty of material to continue to create the atmosphere between B/B that keeps us all coming back each week. It will just be in the context of a marriage now, rather than “chasing” or living together.

    Thank you Marisa for the interview, and thank you Karine for writing such a beautiful episode. Good job!

  13. Robin on October 23rd, 2013 1:40 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this perspective on the wedding episode! Karine, you totally knocked it out of the ballpark on this one! It was one of the all-time great episodes for Bones–and I have seen them all over and over, LOL! I still haven’t found the picture of Christine in her dress for the wedding, would love to find it. It was sad that the twins were cranky that day, but I totally understand how it happens with a 2 year old. And it was a spectacular episode anyway. The vows were so sweet and such a tribute to the two characters personas. Glad they had some input on them. It made them personal and heartfelt. Karine, I hope they do go another 5 years and bring you back for most freelance episodes. It was a total joy for us Bones diehard fans! You will be remembered for this one a looong time.

  14. Sara on October 23rd, 2013 1:56 pm

    Great interview! I haven’t been following the show since the beginning and didn’t even know that the original writer left a year ago, so that was nice that she came back for this special episode. If I had been a long time follower, I would definitely have been even more excited about that behind the scenes detail. And who knows, maybe she’ll come back for the series finale… whenever that is, hopefully not for a long time!!

  15. Teresa on October 23rd, 2013 2:01 pm

    Loved the episode. I’ve loved watching them chase each other, and this was such a great ending to that. Can’t wait to see where the series goes from here! Hope it does stay on air for another five years. Great interview, too! A look behind the scenes is so fun. I’m glad they didn’t try to explain every little thing during the episode, it does make things drag and makes it not cohesive. This kind of interview is perfect for all those little things that we wonder about but don’t want to see mess up the show by being explained. Loved it!

  16. Nick on October 23rd, 2013 3:05 pm

    I was pleased with the references to the couple’s history, and I thought the opening scene with Emily’s husband was hilarious, especially when Bones says that Hornsby’s character (also a priest on It’s Always Sunny…) shouldn’t get jealous. Ultimately I was glad that the venue had to change, but I have one major criticism of the writing in the last season and a half. They have gotten a bit lazy about researching the details in some of the plot lines. For example, to get married in the Catholic church, you have to attend 6 months of marriage prep with a priest. As it was written, Booth and Brennan decided to get married in a church and then immediately we got the wedding episode. I mention this because I think it is a missed opportunity. An episode with Brennan challenging a priest about every little thing would have been hilarious!

  17. Morgane on October 23rd, 2013 4:27 pm

    Where’s the picture of Christine in her little dress ?

  18. Carolyn Gordon on October 23rd, 2013 4:40 pm

    This episode was so much more than I could have imagined it to be. Every nuance was appreciated by this Bones devotee, but the one item that really got me was Brennan’s vows taken from the note she’d written while buried by the Gravedigger. Never saw that coming! It truly speaks to the love these two have had for each other for a very, very long time. If it ended now, I’d be sad, but satisfied. So bring on some more Bones!!! Can’t get enough!!!!

  19. Cindy on October 24th, 2013 12:59 pm

    Yes I was a little irritated by the “man and wife” vow too. Especially after the “I’m not property. I haven’t heard that in may vows nowadays. I can’t imagine that was on purpose but if it was I would love to hear why you chose that.
    Otherwise, great episode!

  20. KIKACR on October 24th, 2013 6:50 pm

    Thank you Karine because that episode was EPIC…..a dream for us the loyal fans!

  21. Lucy on October 24th, 2013 7:34 pm

    I loved the episode. I re-watched the Aliens in a Spaceship episode, and the Pilot on Netflix just to prepare….I think Brennan’s vows were amazing.

    I wasn’t phased at all by the ‘man and wife’ phrase. I didn’t realize that wasn’t being used anymore. I didn’t see it as anything to be upset over. I would have been very upset if the word ‘obey’ was used – but can’t imagine Bones would have even considered that.

  22. ruth ann walker on October 26th, 2013 11:34 am

    I agree was a fantastic show, the wedding was awesome. Bring on 5 more years please. Love the show and have watched every episode 3 X’s.

    Ruth Ann

  23. Frieda on October 30th, 2013 8:45 pm

    Fantastic interview, thank you. The picture of Christine can be found on Bones Facebook page… She’s wearing a cute purple dress…

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