Bones 1.07 The Man On Death Row

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Bones 1.07 The Man On Death Row

Post by ThyneAlone »

OK, so I made a decision. It’s a quiet period, of necessity, just now, thanks to the writers’ strike. We’ve talked a lot about the episodes we like and I have spoken about the reviews we used to write weekly when I was a frequent visitor to Well, pitilessly regardless of length, I am going to re-post my reviews here, with the intention of stimulating some much-missed Bones discussion. Hope they give you pause for thought!

“Rules are rules” grins Agent Booth at the start of this episode, savouring Brennan’s discomfiture that he’s allowed her to request a firearm, only to deny her. ‘The Man On Death Row’ indicates, in fact, that rules are very important. T’s must be crossed, i’s indisputably dotted before a human being is put to death, however obviously guilty he may be. The characterful judge Cohen, precursor of our dear Caroline, represents the law itself, making it abundantly clear to bright-eyed Amy Morton that condemning a man to death is not an ‘easy’ decision taken on a whim. And, though there are slight moments of rebellion here – Amy getting past Booth’s men with a flash of her thigh, the very satisfying crack of Epps’ wrist in his final scene (“What I saw? Purely self-defence”) – the episode displays how the law can help, rather than hinder, in ferreting out the absolute truth.

We learn substantially more to flesh out our characters here than previously (it’s only ep 7, and they are still getting established). For reasons we are to understand better later, truth is an obsession for the B/B team – it blazes through them like an all-consuming flame. Booth desires it even though it may damage his reputation, and it is an unusually impassioned moment for Brennan, as she talks about all humanity sharing in a single death (literally as well as metaphorically), which prompts Booth’s joky comment that she’s been over-practising her Nobel speech. As well as seeing an intense shared motivation, we hear one of the earliest perceptions of a mutual attraction – Amy mentions their ‘sex vibe’. And we become more curious about Booth with both Epps’ snide “I didn’t kill anybody – unlike you” and Amy’s “you’re smarter now, and a lot less angry”.

The squints and their relationships are brilliantly depicted here. Zach and Jack are a fantastic schoolboy double act, betting on their racing beetles, playing rock-paper-scissors to decide who gets to investigate some underpants and competing in a juvenile manner for everything. Though we learn about his lack of a driving licence through Booth, it is Jack’s throwaway remarks that enlighten us as to Zach’s photographic memory, idiot-savant manner, and excitement about his discoveries. “Zach,’” observes Jack, laconically, “when you talk that fast, human beings can’t hear you.” As Zach has matured, we have seen far less of the gabbling enthusiasm and Doctor Addy has a more measured approach, but baby Z was very endearing. “Weird, but smart” – Jack again.

Angela radiates the good-time girl persona, but sometimes it does feel a wee bit forced, as if she is trying to be ‘normal’ (whatever that is) while doing a job that can’t be easily described online! She shows ‘the boys’ a kind of maternal, anti-nerd disdain (“I’m going to go have sex”), and despairs of Brennan’s ignorance of the average fun weekend: “It’s like describing the moon to a mole.” Despite this seemingly slightly hard edge, she is not only compassionately onside with the others, working towards the execution deadline, but clearly wounded when her cuter-than-a-monkey-with-a-puppy Internet toy boy describes her and her colleagues as freaks. She cares a lot about her friends and her job.

Though Jack does not console/reassure her privately, as he will on later occasions, he despises Troy for his treatment of Angela. An earlier conversation has revealed to him the man’s utter fatuous ignorance, and Jack does not suffer fools gladly, let alone fools who are not good enough for his colleague. The hard stare he gives the departing Troy doesn’t subside for a looooooong time. Slow it down and watch how, even as the others return to their work on the remains, his gaze remains motionless in an eternity of anger. But there’s already more to him than the cold, defensive fury he exhibited about his wealth/identity, and the uptightness that stops him talking much on a personal level. He gets expansive, funnier and more relaxed when discussing things that interest him (he is positively gleeful when giving graphic descriptions of how other cultures used to punish their felons). It seems that out of what could have been played as stereotype geek, TJ is creating someone sensitive, volatile and intense.

Epps is also well portrayed. There is something of the Hannibal Lecter in his cunning intelligence and the way he manipulates others, especially enjoying mental and emotional sadism towards women. This is the power issue of the true serial killer. He really loves it – I suspect even gets a bit turned on - when Amy falters and crumples at the end, her ideals totally destroyed.

One of the things I reverence about this piece (and much of S1) is the clever dialogue, not just for its own sake, but to move the plot along and develop the characters. The running gag about Brennan and her gun is touched on sufficiently to make the point, and to bring us back to the ‘rules’ issue, but not enough to become tedious. The scene with Jeff and Ollie and the groin pull is completely hilarious; and I love “use your mutant powers, talk people to death!” and “let’s pretend we’re objective scientists and not indulge in conjecture.” Or Brennan’s brilliant summary of the entire episode: “Certain people should not be in this world…but the facts have to add up.”
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Re: Bones 1.07 The Man On Death Row

Post by English Al »

It was a very different episode to the ones we had seen. It laid down some tracks future storylines, which I liked to see come back later.

With Tempe becoming more famous it appears the crims are trying to pull on her heart strings. It doesn't really take but she does the job as it should be done.

A really good episode.
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Re: Bones 1.07 The Man On Death Row

Post by Ellen »

I agree. This episode was a very good one, i liked seeing what it was like for Brennan to be in that situation, as in, getting more and more famous etc.
all i can say is, Bravo, writers. :D
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Re: Bones 1.07 The Man On Death Row

Post by skftex »

I love this episode!!! So this is probably going to be long…

I like the way this starts, Brennan makes me laugh, “Why do you need the gun?” “To shoot people.”
Epps is the best serial killer they’ve ever had on Bones and the actor, Heath Freeman, is very good at being creepy!

So the defense lawyer talks Booth into talking to Epps and Epps definitely knows how to play him by telling Booth that he’s “never killed anyone. Unlike you.” Then talking about people say it feels to be executed. Both of these things plus Amy mentioning the pubic hair that wasn’t allowed make Booth think he has to be sure he has the right guy.

The racing beetles names are Jeff and Ollie.

Angela is going to have sex. I like how Hodgins and Zack just say “Have a good time.” And “Yeah okay”, when she announces that.

“Jeff’s got a groin pull.” You’d think Hodgins would know they don’t have groins. Hey why doesn’t Hodgins have to pay up when Booth puts the beaker over Jeff?

Brennan wants to know why Booth has a thing for lawyers. She also doesn’t want to do a favor for Amy, but she’ll do one for Booth. This is episode 7 and the relationship these two have has changed a lot from the pilot already hasn’t it? She didn’t even want to see his face in the pilot.

Brennan won’t make the team stay to help, and I love Booth’s response. “It’s Friday night and they're racing beetles…” Yes they are. Though this doesn’t quite fit in with the Hodgins that was a ladies’ man does it?

Ah back when Hodgins was the man with all the little tidbits of information. They took that away from him later and gave it to Vincent. “Chinese used to execute people by cutting small pieces off their bodies. They called it the death of a thousand cuts.” Well thank you Hodgins for that! Sounds delightful!

Hodgins gets really excited about trying to find evidence to save a guy Booth arrested. I guess that comes from his ideas about the FBI.

Angela comes in and introduces her date. “Everybody, this is Troy.” Brennan doesn’t even look up and Hodgins just walks away. I know it wasn’t in the plan by this episode that definitely falls in with the way he felt about Angela later though. Then Hodgins face when Troy says “Hey”, talk about an evil look! He dismisses the guy with just a look, and his answer to Troy about what they do there, “…do mostly forensic identification and reconstruction of discorporated remains. My specialty is entomology and particulates. You ever seen maggots?...” He’s already decided the guy is a dunderhead and then is sure he’ll completely run him off by showing him maggots. It’d definitely get me to leave! HAHA Hodgins little smirk and headshake at the end, he’s all proud of himself. I love watching TJ do all these little things that make a huge difference, it is one of the reasons I felt drawn to Hodgins right away.

“Zack, when you talk that fast, humans can’t hear you.” I know people get tired of everyone saying they miss Zack, and I know they have moved way beyond that character now, but episodes like this really highlight why I liked him so much. I love the way Hodgins and Zack played off of each other, the silly games (beetle racing anyone? LOL), the experiments, the way Hodgins treated Zack a lot like a little brother, strange little brother, but still. “He’s weird, but smart.” Even the scene where Zack calls Hodgins about the numbers, and then hangs up on him, trying to prove he’s smarter than Hodgins. I loved all of that, plus while Hodgins still does experiments with the interns, they always seemed funnier to me when Zack and Hodgins did them due to the competitiveness between the two of them. Hodgins doesn’t have the same sort of relationship with the interns, even when they were new and bothered him a bit, and I just miss it.

I liked Cullen. “Got the squints involved. Well, if she shoots anyone, I sure the hell hope it’s you.”
Ah the judge with his sexy robe! I loved that they brought him back in season 9.

Brennan tells Amy she’d be more comfortable staying there when the victim’s body shows up after being exhumed. Then Troy sees the body. I don’t like Troy, they aren’t freaks! They are awesome! Hodgins and Zack have to play rock, paper, scissors to decide who gets to look at the underwear, is pretty amusing. YAY HODGINS WON!!

When it comes to an execution you can’t have doubts. Well I agree with that. I like when Booth threatens to pop the lawyer even though they are in the Judge’s house, and then the judge not even seeming to be bothered about it just saying “See, stay up all night, you get cranky.”
Booth buys $1200 suits? Sheesh, you’d think he’d know that his job doesn’t really work well with suits that expensive.

Epps is evil, so many more bodies, and no execution. Booth doesn’t want to make the call but Brennan is right, the women deserve to be heard. Another thing I liked about early Bones, the victims were people that mattered.

Poor Amy. Disillusioned.

After Brennan breaks Epps wrist, she says “Maybe I shouldn’t have a gun after all.” And Booth replies, “No, you can have mine.” HAHA I like the book end gun bits even though we still have a Wong Foo’s (is that how it is spelled?) scene after that.

You know I don't even think I've read most of these threads that I didn't write anything on. I did read the comments before starting to post. Steph you bring up a lot of interesting things about this one. I might have to come back and comment on some of the things you said!


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Re: Bones 1.07 The Man On Death Row

Post by Sinkwriter72 »

Major :clap: for Sharon and Steph and their deliciously thorough reviews! I'm loving all the insights. I kind of just want to say DITTO and leave it at that. :D

Okay, let me try to contribute... it gets harder to do, the less fresh the episode is in my mind. I've got some major commentary catching up to do! ;)

This is a very bad episode for the team.
 In a way, it wasn't just Epps playing Booth, Brennan, Amy and the Jeffersonian team, it was also the writers playing all of us. They planted some excellent doubt throughout the episode. When I first watched this episode, I thought there was a chance he didn't do it.

The premise itself was so troubling: if he were innocent, then that timetable is certainly scary and it would have been a whole other scary terrible kind of episode if they'd all worked to save him and he ends up being executed because their evidence wasn't enough to prove his innocence. They built up some terrific tension throughout the episode as the looming clock counts down.

But I like Booth's reticence, feeling deep in his gut that Epps was guilty but at the same time wanting to be truly sure. As Steph points out, the episode was all about rules and laws and dotting all your i's and crossing your t's and making sure every finding and piece of evidence is above board. As Brennan says in the end, "It should never be easy to take someone’s life."

But when we find out he did do it, oooooh... so creepy! When the facade drops and he scares that lawyer, it's so chilling. I feel a little bad for her. Her naive nature has just been ruined.

 Her sense of justice for innocent people is destroyed... and I think the team's sense of justice gets dinged pretty well, too. They all worked so tirelessly to help someone they thought was innocent. I imagine that going home that night, none of them slept well, struggling with the knowledge that they'd been played and a guilty man gets more time.

Then again, as Sharon pointed out, if he had been executed, the FBI might never have known about those other murders he committed. They have the opportunity to discover who those missing women were and who might be looking for them and wanting to know what happened to them. That is important for the team to remember.

What I like about Epps as a villain for this show is that he's diabolical, planning out each crumb for the team to uncover, but at the same time he DOES actually make mistakes. In contrast, the later seasons villain Pelant was ridiculously inhuman and super-powered. The things the writers wrote for Pelant were illogical and downright impossible for one man to accomplish, whereas the mistakes the team made in believing Epps make sense. The evidence led them there. They followed it to a rational conclusion. It's so horrible, but really well played. They had to make such tough choices. (For example, we saw the very moral Booth struggling with doing the right thing in this case -- he knew the right thing to do would be to present the evidence that would stay Epps' execution because the newly found victims deserved justice. But a large part of him wanted desperately to pretend they'd never found anything, so that a truly vicious and calculating serial killer could be taken out.)

What's really interesting to me is that even though Epps is creepy in this episode, he's even worse in the episodes where he returns, because the veil has been pulled away and he's free to be completely sadistic and vicious and chilling. Whereas in this episode a lot of it he was playing the "I'm an innocent man" routine.

In the end, I'm really glad Booth never shook Epps' hand. Deep down he listened to his gut on that one.

The bulk of this episode was heavy and tense, but what's great about some of these early episodes is how seamlessly and naturally they manage to incorporate humor amidst the stress.

The opening conversation between Booth and Brennan as he makes her go through the process of applying for a gun is marvelously funny. And as Steph points out, it ties in perfectly with the main story of the episode, where a man cannot (and should not) be put to death until all process has been exhausted. I especially love Booth's dry responses to every protest from Brennan:

BOOTH: You can’t have a gun.
BRENNAN: Why not?
BOOTH: Because you were charged with a felony.
BRENNAN: Write down that you were wrong to charge me.
BOOTH: Oh, there’s no space for that.


Of course there's the famous beetle racing scene, and Hodgins' protest that his beetle must have a groin pull. (LOL.)

There's also fun little details throughout the episode, like Booth flirting with Angela near the beginning of the episode, or Hodgins saying that Zack can't drive (which is why he drives Zack to work every day). And wouldn't we want to be a fly on the ceiling of Hodgins' car to witness that potentially hilarious routine? ;)

I also love the reminder that Hodgins is a very smart man. There's his recitation of what other cultures did to execute their criminals, and later, when he asserts his specialties to Angela's would-be suitor. As Hodgins might say, "3 graduate degrees, baby." :D

TJ has some wonderful reactions and details that add richness and color to his character. For example, as he recites what they did in medieval Scotland to execute a convict, he says this:

"In medieval Scotland, they’d tie a convict’s arms and legs to two bent saplings. When they released the saplings, the trees sprang apart and the convicted felon was torn in half."

The timing of this speech, talking about being torn in half, is hilariously punctuated by TJ ripping the top off of an evidence box. Nice!

And I love how he keeps looking at Angela after she says "this job is so hard to explain online." He knows she's trying to laugh it off, that her date just humiliated her in front of the entire team, dumping her and calling her and the rest of them "freaks," but we know Hodgins feels bad for her by that very long look he gave as she walked away. It's such a marvelous detail, and I wonder if that was scripted or if he threw it in himself as a character detail. In a way, this -- along with the earlier episode where he seems stunned by the idea that Angela's thinking of quitting -- may be the start of Hodgins noticing Angela more often. He might be starting to see her differently, as he recognizes the underlying pain and embarrassment she feels, and as he starts to reveal more of himself to her and take a chance admitting his secret and trusting her on a level he hadn't before. From episode to episode it's a slow build, but a really good one.

Overall, this is a powerful, tense episode, and definitely up there near the top as a strong one for Season 1.
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