With John Francis Daley off directing a major motion picture, “Vacation,” it was inevitable that the actor would need to leave “Bones” for a while during the FOX drama’s landmark tenth season — but it’s how he went out that will leave a lasting impression.
In “The Conspiracy in the Corpse,” the “Bones” Season 10 premiere, Daley’s Dr. Lance Sweets was gunned down and killed by a member of the conspiracy Booth, Brennan and co. are trying to uncover. That’s right — Sweets is really dead.
We learned in the episode that Sweets and on-again girlfriend Daisy were expecting a child together, but executive producer Stephen Nathan says he didn’t want the pair to ride off into the sunset together and pop up on special occasions.
“That seemed to be a cheat. It seemed to be a bad way to treat a character who had been such an integral part of the show,” Nathan tells Zap2it. “We love John, and to send him away episode 1 without really knowing when he’s coming back, first of all, that’s what the first episode has to be about then. And we couldn’t do that because we were following through a very specific and intense arc with the conspiracy, so we would have had to put that aside and somehow work out Sweets going away and then get back to [the plot]. It really wasn’t a good way to start the season.”
Besides — Daley, who also co-wrote the “Vacation” update (along with “Horrible Bosses” and “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”), is on a career upswing that doesn’t show signs of stopping.
“He’s doing so well — he’s so successful as a writer and now as a director that it’s inconceivable that he finishes directing this film without getting an offer to direct another film. So we were always going to be in this situation because his career was only going to keep growing,” Nathan explains.
He continues, “We had to find a way to treat his character with the love and respect that we feel for him and keep the show going. Every time we’re thrown a curveball by life, as long as we’re open to it, we find a way to integrate those things into the series. We did it with Emily’s pregnancy, we did it with Carla’s pregnancy. Carla [Gallo, who plays Daisy] is really pregnant — was really pregnant. And it all seemed to come together in a great way, especially with this conspiracy story.”
In case you had any doubts as to whether the death was real or not, the shot of Sweets in a body bag as the Jeffersonian team prepared to examine his body should have laid them to rest.
“I think it was just a great moment for Brennan and to remind everyone what a set of remains was to them, even someone close to them — that out of this horror can come something good,” Nathan says. “In order to dramatize that you have to see the horror. That was hard to get just right, too, because really eight frames, ten frames one way or another and the shot doesn’t work. It’s rhythmic, almost. Believe me, we were all holding back the tears putting this together.”
You might be in mourning right now, but Nathan says that’s a good thing.
“These characters ebb and flow, relationships ebb and flow, surprises pop up when we least expect them and that’s what life is like. If life were predictable and everybody knew what was going to happen and shielded themselves from those painful moments it would be a sad life,” he says. “It’s out of tragedy that great things come and it’s out of great joy that we experience the pain of loss and sorrow. All I can say is this is what makes the show still feel alive ten years later.”
He continues, “Sorry that you’re in pain now, but that was our intention — but for a very good reason. We’re now off on another journey. Let’s see where it takes us.”
But just in case you were wondering, there are no more major character deaths planned for Season 10. “Other people will die, but they will either be victims or very, very, very bad people,” Nathan says. “We’re not going to be picking our regulars off.”
Stay tuned after West Coast air for more from Nathan on the aftermath of Sweets’ death, and where the “Bones” story will go from here.