Bones Season 9 episode 24 “The Recluse in the Recliner”
Directed by David Boreanaz
In the season 9 finale of Bones, David Boreanaz shows us again what a fine director he is becoming. It is amazing that he can play a leading role in such an action packed episode while still producing one of the best Bones episodes to date. If anything, he is a better actor when he directs himself.
The episodes leading up to “The Recluse in the Recliner” gave an indication of what was to come, but the surprises were non-stop. And it felt like they saved the all action for the whole season and crammed it into 43-minutes.
The story starts at the ending, with Special Agent Seeley Booth (Boreanaz) arriving on a stretcher at the hospital covered in blood and apparently near death. It is quite convincing and sets the stage for the story of the preceding two days leading up to this shocking scene.
Dr Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) is next to arrive, looking haggard and with blood on her face and clothing. The nurse tells her Booth is in the OR, and seems confused that Brennan, as his wife, was not allowed to ride with him in the aid car. Brennan demands to go into the OR, saying she is a doctor, but is told to go to the waiting room. The choice to put this scene first was a good one, causing much apprehension going into the rest of the show.
Flashback two days. Booth and Brennan are having breakfast while she quizzes him on German phrases. Previous episodes alluded to Booth possibly being promoted into a leadership role in Germany, and both seem comfortable that this will be happening. The sun is shining through the windows and there is a lovely basket of fruit on the counter. This is a happy, domestic scene, in stark contrast to the gun battle that tears the place to shreds later in the show. Booth poignantly says, “Look how beautiful this home is.” Everything starts to ravel when Booth receives a mysterious phone call from someone claiming to be an informant who knows about an FBI conspiracy involving the rich and powerful McNamara family who were the subject of a recent serial killer investigation monikered “The Ghost Killer”.
By the time Booth traces the call, the Jeffersonian team has been sent to a murder investigation involving a fire in a trailer. It is the same location as the phone trace. They think it is the same person as the caller, and Booth discovers the power breaker box has melted in the off position. The team suspects foul play. The body and the inside of the trailer are classic Bones, with an exploded cranium and bits and pieces of muscle, skin and bones everywhere.
Back in the lab, it becomes apparent the victim was murdered. When a nipple ring is found to contain a computer chip, conspiracy theories start to fly, led by Hodgins (TJ Thyne), whose almost fanatical belief in conspiracies has been a source of consternation for his peers in the past. This time, he knows exactly what to do and where to look for data the informant might have hidden.
Brennan counsels Booth to get more help from the FBI as they walk together outside. Booth blows it off as “just another case”, but Brennan goes on to say what she thinks Sweets would say, that Booth needs to prove he’s still the best. Booth challenges her, asking, “And, what would you say?” Her response reconfirms her understanding of Booth. “I say you just can’t stand to let someone get away with murder.” A phone call from Angela with information that the informant worked as a night janitor at a data security company owned by McNamara prevents further discussion. The camera is straight in front of the two and almost keeping pace with them so the scenery passes by the actors. This transitions straight to Angela (Michaela Conlin) moving toward the camera in a similar manner. This continuity helped bridge the two scenes.
A pertinent detail is the determination that there were three Delta Force operatives who tortured the informant before he died and the trailer was torched. Based on that, as well as information Angela found on a nipple ring chip, and the inability of Prosecutor Caroline Julian (Patricia Belcher) to get search warrants, Booth decides they should all pretend there was no murder, and the death was accidental. When he tells Brennan, she gets angry, yelling at him as he tries to remain calm. The emotions are starting to run high. He convinces her that lying is the best strategy to buy them more time to figure out the murder. She concedes.
Outside the chambers where Booth’s confirmation hearing is about to take place, it is gratifying to see Booth reach out for Brennan’s hand as she approaches, and hang on as they go into the room. As his life starts to spiral out of control, Booth reaches out more and more for physical contact with his wife and partner.
Boreanaz has the camera enter the chambers from behind the bench, making Booth look small with the congressional panel looming above him. A remarkable number of emotions flit across Booth’s face in a brief moment as he considers how to respond to Congressman Hadley’s (Peter Mackenzie) accusation that Booth assassinated an American citizen in Pakistan. After a heated exchange between Booth and Hadley, the courtroom erupts into chaos as the hearing is dismissed. Booth turns helplessly to Brennan and again reaches out for her hand as they dash from the room followed by the press corp. In the hallway, they are enveloped by shouting reporters as Brennan vehemently defends Booth’s reputation. Then, suddenly, they escape to a quiet stairway, still clinging to each other. Outside, they pause and Deputy Directory Stark (Sterling Macer, Jr) catches up with them for a moment to say he still believes Booth, but has to withdraw his nomination, and, oh, by the way, you’re fired. As reporters descend on them, Booth again grabs Brennan’s hand as they quickly retreat.
In a very touching scene, Booth is seen packing up his office, the fallen champion. When Brennan stops by and asks, “Are you OK?”, Booth seems genuinely distraught as he talks about moving on. It was a nice touch for Brennan to pass a note to Booth by taking his hand. The kissing and grooming provided an intimate cover for Booth to read the note and find out they had something on Congressman Hadley.
Later, Booth decides to play his hand by informing Congressman Hadley that he not only has photos of Hadley kissing his gay lover, but also more information, everything being hidden. He is definitely back to being tough and intimidating. Even sitting in the front seat of the congressman’s car, he looks like a panther ready to pounce.
Back at home, Booth knows what is coming and prepares by bringing out an arsenal of weapons and explosives. Boreanaz captures the gamut of expressions and emotions; fear, worry about his family, anger and sadness. Mostly sadness. Here is the quintessential patriot being betrayed by his own government. Booth and Brennan argue heatedly as he tells her to leave with their daughter; this is his fight. She says, “I hate you for telling me to walk away.” She knows they are better together. Knowing he is likely about to die, the emotion is palpable as he calls her back to tell her, “I love you.” This is where I started to cry. She returns to him to say, “Don’t you die, OK?” Boreanaz was able to elicit intense emotion from Deschanel and from himself for this, one of the most heart-rending scenes ever presented on Bones. Every word, every expression is believable. With a final kiss, Brennan turns to leave.
As Booth prepares for the coming battle, the pace is hurried, almost frantic. The music is intense, and the way Boreanaz cuts quickly from image to image adds to the tension, landing finally on the mounted catcher’s mitt in the stairway where Booth has hidden explosives.
Brennan gets a call from the Fisher (Joel David Moore) who tells her information that could help Booth in his fight, that one of the Delta Force ops is left-handed. But there is no way for Brennan to relay this to Booth as she drives their daughter over to her father’s.
At the house, just as Booth finishes setting up his arsenal, a spotlight suddenly illuminates the inside, followed almost immediately by an explosion. Booth hits the floor and rolls to the cover of the kitchen island. He looks genuinely afraid. Then all hell breaks loose as the assault begins. Booth thinks he kills one of the three Delta Force operatives, then does kill another before getting shot himself. The leg wound just slows him down a little, but a bullet in his gut takes him down. Through the blood on his hand, his wedding band continues to shine.
Boom! Booth takes down another operative with the explosives hidden behind the mitt. Booth is back on his feet, but faltering as he goes for a gun hidden under a table that he uses for a shield. As one of the operatives fiddles with a jammed mechanism on his machine gun, Booth lunges for a gun on the floor, but the operative shoots him with a pistol instead, really taking Booth down this time. Just then Brennan shows up and takes the guy out with a shot to the back. She rushes to Booth and drags him to relative safety just as the left-handed operative shows up. Brennan, being Brennan, grabs a shotgun and shoots the assailant, then runs back to Booth who says, “It’s just a scratch.” Classic. These ops guys are as tough as Booth, and the last one Brennan shot is back up and coming at her with a knife. As her gun runs out of ammo, she is kicked to the floor. Booth comes to the rescue one more time as he knocks the guy down with his legs, then tackle him and breaks his neck in a brutal last act before he collapses on the recently deceased. Brennan goes to Booth and opens his bullet-proof vest to find numerous bullet wounds. Hmm, suspicious. Brennan frantically checks him over. “Oh my god, don’t you die!” The bright light outside shines through the venetian blinds and across the dimly lit, totally destroyed room, while violins play sadly. Whoa! Best action scene I’ve seen in a while!
The final scene returns us to the hospital with Booth in surgery. It’s touch and go as the doctors pluck the bullets out. The music, Beck’s “Wave”, is perfect as Brennan sits in the waiting room looking haggard and distraught. Her team rushes in, in slow motion, and Angela runs to hug Brennan just as Booth’s heart stops. Then we hear it start again, thump-thump, thump-thump. It’s 6:15 AM and has been nine hours since Booth arrived in the emergency room at 9:23 PM. Everyone has been up all night. A doctor comes out and says Booth is alive and out of danger but there’s a problem. He tries to stop Brennan from going to Booth, but we all know that’s impossible. There are FBI agents in the room where she finds him, and she quickly realizes they aren’t there to protect him but to stand guard. Booth is handcuffed to the bed. Hearing her voice, Booth calls out softly, “Bones,” just as Deputy Directory Stark orders her taken into custody for questioning. The show ends with Brennan being dragged down the hallway screaming for Booth.
With this as the lead-in, season 10 should be a wild ride. The creators certainly changed things up, and having Booth, and maybe Brennan, incarcerated will definitely be interesting.
This was a truly wonderful episode. It was well-written, well-acted and well-directed. It had everything a Bonehead could want. It was an emotional roller-coaster; it had me on the edge of my seat through two viewings; it had lots of action and guns and explosives; it had great music (Sean Callery, Jamie Forsyth, Julia Newman); and best of all, it showed the ardent love of Booth for Brennan and of Brennan for Booth. It really demonstrated the hard work and dedication of the writers, cast and crew of Bones. It’s something they should all be very proud of. Special call out to David Boreanaz for doing a marvelous job directing while acting, and vice versa.