In this week’s very different episode of Bones (Fox, Mondays, 8/7C), Dr. Temperance ‘Bones’ Brennan is shot while working late at the Jeffersonian. Even as she undergoes emergency surgery and her friends work to find the shooter, Brennan finds herself in the home where she grew up – talking with her late mother!
On Thursday just past, series star Emily Deschanel spoke with a group of bloggers/journalists about making this unusual episode and how the events of the episode might affect Brennan – immediately and going forward.
Hi, Emily. Thanks so much for talking to us today.
Emily Deschanel: Thank you so much for asking questions.
Sure. The episode that’s on Monday, which was really good, by the way, I don’t know that it’s going to necessarily completely change Brennan’s outlook, but I’m assuming that it might help her to open up a bit. Can you maybe talk about—without specifics—maybe some of how she will change over the season after this episode?
Deschanel: Yes. I think that after watching the episode, I think that viewers will have a better idea of why Brennan behaves in the way that she does, is kind of hyper rational and has cut off her emotions in many ways, even though she’s over the last few years opened up after knowing Booth. As the season goes on it’s kind of a subtle change. It’s not like it’s dealt with when people are discussing it or something right afterwards, but I think it will be addressed in later episodes this season. It is a more subtle change. I think that Brennan feels like the way she’s behaved as–it’s shined a light on her behavior and maybe encourages her to change a bit.
It’s a big encounter. Basically, my character is shot, and then I have an encounter, which she believes is a hallucination, at least at first, where she is transported … to her childhood home, and she sees her mother. She interacts with her mother who is dead, and so, of course, she believes it’s a hallucination. She has flatlined.
So many people will interpret it to be that she’s gone to heaven. Her interactions with her mother reveal things from her past, and also it effects Brennan now and, like I said, encourages her to have a different perspective on her behavior and possibly encourage her to change it.
A quick follow-up, do you ever get grossed out by any of the bodies and everything on the show?
Deschanel: Yes. I mean not as much as I should at this point. I’ve become a bit desensitized honestly, but yes, I do get grossed out for sure by things. I’m trying to think of the last one– I mean the one we’re working on right now is a burnt one, which is gross, but it’s not icky, gooey or something, but once you start thinking about how someone dies by being burned; that’s kind of horrible. So, you don’t let yourself think about it too much. I guess that’s why Brennan behaves the way she does in some ways.
Yes, I do get grossed out, but the ones that mostly have really affected me were earlier on in the series, and I think I really have become desensitized, which I don’t think is necessarily a good thing, but it happens. I, for research on the show, have gone to the coroner’s office and that was much more disturbing to me than what we do on our show because I know it’s fake, and it doesn’t stink like it does there, but yes, it can be definitely disgusting.
You know, obviously you’ve been playing Brennan for eight seasons, so what kind of difference to have this insight with these things with her mother after all these years, because in the past you’ve only gotten little bits and pieces of what that relationship was like?
Deschanel: Yes. It’s an interesting thing to do a series for this long and to play a character that things are revealed at eight years in. I felt like it was in line with things that I had in mind, and it didn’t contradict anything that I had kind of imagined for her past, just for myself. When playing the character, I like to build a past for the character and kind of decide why she behaves the way she does, what her experiences are and things that can remind her of things from her childhood, etc. etc.
This doesn’t contradict anything, but it’s certainly new information to me, and I really enjoyed doing the episode because it shed light on Brennan and her past. I also really enjoyed having the interaction with her mother. You know, what other kind of episode can you have interaction with somebody who is dead, and that’s always been kind of a huge missing piece for Brennan; was her mother being gone and being able to talk to her mother about how she disappeared before she died and all of that.
Brooke Langton, who plays my mother in this episode, did such a great job, and I really enjoyed working with her. She’s just very inventive as an actor, very giving, and it was a really good experience working together. It felt right to have her play my mother, and I really enjoyed that.
As a quick follow-up, also Ryan O’Neal is in the episode as your father, i.e. returning as your father …?
Deschanel: Can you say that again?
What can you say about the scenes with Brennan’s dad?
Deschanel: Oh, well, I think it brings up a lot of emotions for everybody. Booth and … my father believe that they are losing me. You know; I’ve been shot, and I flatlined. He gives a wonderful performance in the scenes together. Then, there’s something revealed from my mother to my father that makes him–just kind of a breakthrough in a way for him, or I don’t how to put it without revealing too much. I’m trying to do that dance of not revealing too much, but give you something. It’s an emotional episode for his character. He does a beautiful job and there’s a communication between my mother and my father through my character.
Talk to me about what’s coming with Pelant, because of course when I heard Brennan was going to be shot; my first thoughts went to Pelant, but even beyond this next episode, what can we expect to see from Pelant’s presence on the show?
Deschanel: Well, obviously, Pelant is one of the first thoughts everybody has when Brennan is shot. I’m not going to tell you if he’s involved or not. I don’t know if–let me just say, I haven’t read any episodes yet that involve Pelant, but we’re just a couple episodes ahead of that right now, and I know that Pelant is coming back this season, but I don’t have more information than that because I think they’re breaking those stories right now. I wish I had more information for you, but I don’t.
That’s fine. Everybody always loves the scenes with Brennan and either Cam or Michaela, are we going to see some more of those scenes coming up in the next episodes?
Deschanel: Yes. I can’t quite get through my brain what’s aired and what hasn’t aired. I can’t tell you what episodes, but yes, there’s definitely some kind of heart-to-hearts. We’re overdue for even more connection between Angela and Brennan; I believe. I think we can have some more of those. There’s a big thing; Cam’s romance is revealed. There’s that and Brennan and Cam interact about that. There’s more, I can’t tell you what episodes because I can’t remember what plot lines go with what other plot lines, but yes, you will see more heart-to-hearts with them. I think that we’re due for even more. I think they kind of have–we’ve kind of put aside the long heart-to-heart between Brennan and Angela, especially, and … bring it back.
One of the reasons that Brennan was in a place where she could be shot, was because she had this fight with Booth that was–and it was really emotional; it was about her whole issue of being a bad mother.
So can you talk about–I mean the fact that just being a mother has already changed Brennan, and can you talk about, does you being a mother affect any of that?
Deschanel: Yes. If I wasn’t a mother, and I was playing a character as a mother, and I’ve done that before I was a mother, you use your imagination, but it’s certainly an easier thing to do–you know, of course, Brennan is a different mother than I am, but you have that kind of biological response. You know with some of the things that you go through are like and even the hormonal changes.
The minute you become a parent, I think that you’re always going to wonder if you’re doing something wrong, and I certainly experience that on a daily basis. It’s a big challenge I think–I just personally think that it’s probably a bad thing for a parent to do, because you don’t want your child picking up on that, but you can’t help wondering if you’re doing anything wrong. You have to trust your instincts and do what feels right for you.
Brennan, obviously, yes, is going through that in the beginning of this episode. Booth and Brennan have a fight. Brennan believes that Booth is criticizing her parenting style, and runs out and ends up in the lab again at night to go finish working on this case, and that’s when she gets shot. Hopefully, I’m not revealing too much because this happens in the beginning. Basically, yes, it’s quite fitting, of course, that Brennan is dealing with her own issue of being a mother herself and, at the core of that, is missing her own mother.
I think that’s also something that–you know when you’ve lost a parent, you just want to be able to call them up on the phone and say, how do I cook that thing you used to make for me, how do I do this, what did you do with me when I was a child, how am I supposed to do this as a parent and just life skills? Especially, when you have a child yourself, you go back and think about how you were parented, how you were mothered, what your parents did for you, and you just want to be able to call them and ask them.
I think that’s a huge thing that Brennan is not talking about, but it’s got to bring up so much for her when she’s giving birth and she’s lost her mother and just trying to figure out how to be a good parent, how to be a good mother and not having that resource of her mother. It also brings back so many memories and makes her miss her mother. So, it’s quite fitting that this issue that she’s dealing with, in a way, causes her to see her mother again and hopefully helps ease those pains that she’s dealing with because doesn’t have her mother around.
Is there a chance that Booth and Brennan will ever get married? I think there was a scene that I’m remembering where Booth can’t take confession because he’s living in sin.
Could this experience maybe change her into thinking that she needs to get married for him?
Deschanel: Yes, I think something like this always makes you kind of question all–or not question, but look at every situation in your life and think is this how I want it to be, and I think we are moving towards some kind of answers on that. We do discuss it in an episode that we’re about to shoot next week; there’s not necessarily a resolution, but it is discussed again. I think if you remember–Booth is not going to ask Brennan to marry her again. He’s already said it. He said, ‘You have to ask me.’
She’s also always said that she’s not getting married. So far, having a child hasn’t changed that or at least changed her stubbornness about asking him. So, we’ll see. I love that and I look forward to if this happens. I imagine at some point it will. I look forward to seeing what Brennan’s proposal to Booth is like, but so far, I can’t say I know definitively if that’s happening yet.
Going back a little bit to the question about Brennan and Booth maybe criticizing her parenting, I know a few weeks ago, David Boreanaz talked about the tension between Booth and Brennan, and we do see that in the beginning of The Shot in the Dark. Is there going to be more of that coming up?
Deschanel: You know, there’s not a blatant attention like that any time directly that I can speak of. In this episode, it definitely happened. I’m not sure what you’re referring to. I don’t know if David was discussing sexual tension, regular tension or aggressive/angry tension, but I have reason to believe that it will happen later in the season again, but I can’t confirm that. We still have several episodes to shoot for this season, although, a couple of them might be delayed until next season, but yes, we still will have at least–I don’t know how many more we have. We have seven or eight more to do maybe, and then I think a couple will be moved to next season; so, five or six.
Okay. The episode–I mean when I watched it, it was very emotional for me because I’ve lost a parent, but I think it was an emotional part for anyone. Was it emotional for you guys to shoot?
Deschanel: Absolutely. It was very emotional, especially with scenes between the mother. I have played this character for a long time. I’ve built in my mind who my mother is and was to me. It was quite emotional to do these scenes and to shed light on Brennan as a teenager and her relationship with her mother. I think anyone who’s human who’s lost somebody that they love, or even hasn’t, but can imagine that, I think it’s kind of a universal thing that you just want to see that person one more time and here, Brennan has that chance.
You know, she doesn’t want it to end, at first doesn’t believe it, etc. It’s something that you always wish for when you’ve lost somebody. She gets this opportunity and that’s so incredible –if we’ve done it right, hopefully people will be affected by it. Maybe it doesn’t affect everyone, but that’s okay. I’m glad that it affected you, hopefully, not too badly.
I guess this falls into the realm of trivia, but I can’t think of many siblings over the years that have starred in hit shows at the same time on primetime TV and certainly, not playing characters as diametrically different as you two.
Deschanel: Right. On the same network, no less.
Yes, competing networks. I’m wondering how different you are, obviously, much less different; no two human beings could be as different, but you and your sister in real life?
Deschanel: It’s so hard for me from the inside to kind of analyze, but the way we think is completely different. We’re very different in many ways. There are also similarities having grown up in the same household and having similarities for that reason. I don’t know, we have lots of things in common, but we kind of view the world in different ways and have different ways of doing things. … we end up doing things in a way, but yes, we have lots of things in common as well. We’re different, but the same; is that a good answer?
That is a good answer. I have a follow-up about Booth and Brennan, just in general; you’ve probably talked about it behind the scenes that intimacy can be the kiss of death and has been in so many shows. I’m very impressed with how the tension on this series between them has kept up. Is it because we have other relationships to watch or is it even that logical?
Deschanel: It’s impossible to give the complete answer, but I think maybe one part is the fact that–I think Hart Hanson would say, because we’ve discussed this. I think that Hart Hanson created this show and is the show owner, and I think that one part is that we didn’t spend–there was no courtship, and I think courtship can be kind of boring to watch sometimes for people. I think our dynamic shifted, but there’s still that core relationship that’s the same.
Now, we’re trying to figure out how to raise a child together and balance that with work. We still kind of bicker over different things now, but we still have a similar relationship. We didn’t have that kind of courtship. We went from 0 to 60, essentially. We went from two people who had sexual tension, but it’s questionable whether they’ve acted on that.
We’ve seen a couple kisses, but beyond that, nothing has really happened. They’ve come to kind of care for each other deeply, but both are stubborn and nothing happens and then something does happen, but they become parents immediately. So they went from no relationship whatsoever besides platonic, except for their feelings, to a family essentially, living together, raising a child together and working together.
I think that might have something to do with the fact that it hasn’t effected our ratings or this show in too many ways, I think that it actually helped, and I have my own pregnancy to thank for that. Maybe I’m just trying to think positively for getting pregnant. For a while, I thought I was going to ruin the show because I got pregnant. They didn’t think they could hide it. They didn’t want to hire anybody else to come in and all this stuff. I felt bad that I was affecting the show in a negative way, and now I will say that I affected the show in a positive way.
So, we’re going to be seeing a new squintern soon, can talk about when he’s going to appear and sort of how he fits into the groove?
Deschanel: Sure. I think that’s in three episodes. Oliver Wells, played by Brian Klugman, and he is a very interesting intern. He’s kind of the first–I think it’s February 25 when the episode airs, “The Fact in The Fiction,” I think. Oliver Wells comes in, and he is an out-of-the-box thinker. He has multiple degrees. He challenges Brennan like nobody has challenged her before. He challenges her to think outside the box. He’s a really fun character and super smart.
Brennan questions whether he’s smarter than she is, which is new and different as well. Most of the interns, they’re all so different, but they all kind of defer to Brennan and respect her. Not that he doesn’t respect me; but they kind of defer to Brennan and give her that authority. He challenges everything. He doesn’t need this job. He has multiple degrees. He almost has his forensic anthropology degree, but not quite. He thinks outside the box and knows about so many different disciplines. He questions everything, and that’s a refreshing character to have in the lab.
Brian does a great job playing it, and he’s fun to have onset. It’s very fun to see Brennan challenged in that way, and you see that very rarely anywhere, but especially with interns. I think it’s going to be a real exciting episode to see.
The case is a kid, or like a twenty-something year old guy who dabbles in space travel, or attempted space travel, and we start questioning whether–we find another body and we question whether it’s actually him from the future. Because of this new intern, Brennan almost opens her mind to the idea of time travel. Did I see space travel? I meant time travel. I’ll blame mommy brain, if I did say that. Okay.
I know you obviously have a lot on your plate, but are you still interested or have plans to direct an episode of the show?
Deschanel: I do hope so. I would just have to wait until my son was big enough that I didn’t feel like I had to be with him as much. Right now, I take him with me every day. I see him during my breaks, and I’m still practicing as much attachment parenting as possible. I really want that to be in place before I would do something like direct, which definitely is more challenging while I’m also acting on the show.
I definitely want to, but I made a choice in life and got pregnant and had a child, and I want to put my child first. It is a goal for me, and I hope to do that. Possibly next season, maybe after Henry’s two, or if we have a tenth season, maybe then or both, we’ll see.
You’d said before, that they’ve been giving you bits and pieces of information throughout the last eight seasons. Was this something that you had said to Hart and Steven and kind of put the bug in their ear that you wanted to find out more about Brennan and how she turned out this way, or did this just all come organically and you just were excited when you read the script?
Deschanel: No. It was never a point of conversation, specifically about this. We’ve discussed it kind of over the years, but I was more or less surprised by the episode even know I knew there was an episode–I knew the gist of it before I got it. I can’t say that it was specifically because of me or a request by me for something like this, but it’s definitely a conversation that we’ve had over the years about Brennan and her family. We’ve had conversations, and more David has had conversations about his family, about his mother, and I believe at some point his mother is going to show up.
It’s just something that as an actor you’re always curious about because that shapes the character, and you have your own ideas. Then, they reveal more–what’s wonderful is when information is revealed when you’re working on a TV show, information is revealed and it’s not contradictory— I think I said this earlier—from what you had decided in your head, just kind of adds onto it. It was nice to read, and it didn’t mess with my brain and my concept of the character too much.
Just as a final question, can you talk a little bit about your physical comedy chops. I think one of the best scenes that I can remember was the dance competition?
Deschanel: Yes. Watching that episode is like watching–I don’t know, I was embarrassed for myself. Even though I chose to do all of those things on purpose, it was just embarrassing. I like doing the comedic episodes because it’s just refreshing and I enjoy doing comedic things and physical comedy; it’s fun.
I kind of go to the place of–you know it’s like Brennan thought she could sing, and her mom told her she could sing. Then, she sings and it’s okay, but like Brennan thinks, she can dance. So she’s committed to dancing, but I kind of go back to the child in the character and think like, okay this is Brennan as a child, thinking she can dance and just committing completely to this dance competition and loving it so much, but having no clue of how bad she is. It’s just so fun for me; I loved it.
Deschanel: Thank you.
Photos by Jordin Althaus/Courtesy Fox Television