Bowled Over By Bones
So I’ve been binge-watching Bones on Netflix for awhile now, and even though some of the episodes ride the ragged edge of credulity (and really, what TV drama doesn’t?) and the entire cast seems to have all slept with each other at some point, I generally love the writing on this show.
And with the episode, Spark in the Park, I went from love to “OMG I’m loving the writing SO very very very very much.“
The episode deals with a mathematician whose daughter was found murdered. She was a champion gymnast, and Bones (the female lead, if you’re not familiar with the show) and her FBI partner, Booth, pay the man a visit to try to get to the answers. The girl’s father is cold to the point of being unfeeling, but something about him resonates with Bones (Bones is on the autism spectrum – though it’s not labeled as such in the show – so she herself struggles with empathy and communicating that empathy).
At the end of the episode, they solve the girl’s murder and Bones returns to the father’s office to tell him so. He’s working on another complex formula, and he manages to convey his regret for being so involved with his work his entire life that he missed valuable time with his daughter. He feels tremendous guilt for not having gone to many of her gymnastic tournaments or spent much time just getting to know her. Bones (who has a genius-level IQ) realizes that the formula the man is working on is all about his daughter, described in equations dealing with arcs and motion and momentum, and finally, at rest.
“Her life in movement,” Bones says. “This is the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever seen. Better than any speech, old photographs, this is absolutely, perfectly beautiful.”
“She was. . . beautiful,” he answers, in a quiet voice.
Now, that is a perfect piece of writing. I have never had a chalkboard full of mathematical equations sucker punch me in the gut before. Kudos to the actors, as well – the scene was beautifully played. It speaks volumes that the writers found a way to convey the endless grief of a parent for a child through numbers and lines and one (seemingly) unfeeling man. They end the episode in silence, just staring at the board full of beautiful movement.
There’s a clip on YouTube, but due to copyright, they’ve had to embed it and alter the sound a bit (their voices are higher pitched). Still worth a watch, though.
That scene makes me cry every time., because of the grief and the pain that the two share. The writing is wonderful–and it gives life to the math which at other times comes across as unfeeling, cold, even cruel, because it may be so unfamiliar. To be able to do that with our characters, our words… that’s a goal for me.