Bones shows how NOT to kill a character meaningfully

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell that I enjoy FOX’s Bones, what with some of my complaints about the current season. In all honesty, if I weren’t already invested in the characters and my fiancee weren’t a big fan, I might have decided to drop the series. The show has pretty much jumped the shark at this point. Last night’s episode, “The Hole in the Heart”, was incredibly disappointing.

Here’s a link to FOX online, since the episode wasn’t yet on Hulu.

Last week’s preview made it a point to mention that someone would die in this episode. A few characters were flashed on the screen to build fan concerns about the death. Here, see for yourself.

Of the characters flashed, the most likely to die would be Lance Sweets, considering the rest are wrapped up in personal drama that make for easy B-story drama in upcoming seasons. As of late, Sweets has been used as a mouthpiece for the viewers. He explores the Booth and Brennan dynamic – but their time together in the aftermath of the murder may render Sweets unnecessary.

You’ve already seen the episode, so you know that Vincent Nigel-Murray was killed by Booth’s sniper foe. He was the safest choice, which makes him also the least meaningful choice for character death. Last night marked Nigel-Murray’s 11th episode on the show in the span of three seasons. Given the disjointed nature of squintern appearances, there wasn’t much time for character development. They didn’t even build up the character’s importance before the shot. So, really, he just played the role of victim, and the rest of the characters were sent into overreaction mode. I know it was a ploy to increase the dramatic tension and make us cheer harder for Booth’s inevitable victory over his nemesis, but it was just poorly done.

One might point out that they were going for realism by killing a character like that out of the blue. The suddenness was supposed to get us. Except it really wasn’t. Not only did they announce the murder a week in advance (or further in advance for fans on blogs), but they also built up the shot via musical montage. A phone call and a very sudden shot would have created a shock and therefore much more significance than the whimper here.

Don’t get me wrong. Out of all of the squinterns, my favorite was actually Vincent Nigel-Murray. Not only is his name the most fun to say, but I enjoy a fellow pedant. I honestly wanted to be upset by the death of the character. I instead was bothered by the character’s death. They screwed up by not making the character even more important to the viewers. They should have announced him as the new Zach. Instead he was just a plot point.

*     *     *

One thing they did right that needs mentioning is keeping to the show’s original paradigm. In all of this, Booth is the focal character. The show is about Booth’s interactions with the people at the Jeffersonian. So during Vincent’s sendoff by the cast, it was said that Booth didn’t really know him. Because Booth didn’t interact with him as much, the audience didn’t get to interact with him much. It made sense even if it made the character’s death that much less meaningful.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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About Gospel X

I am a major mediaphile as well as a social researcher. My ultimate belief is that the media can be used to teach children prosocial behaviors and teach adults how to access paradigms. And I think that Mega Man is an amazing example of proteanism. Add me on Google : https://plus.google.com/u/0/113795848855477334599

Posted on May 13, 2011, in Bones, television and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I see what you’re saying with how they did this. I honestly didn’t know who was going to die while watching this episode last night and I thought it would be Angela’s husband as that seemed like the death that would keep most of the dynamic standing (it never occured to me that they would kill an intern).

    I am upset that they took out that British chap as I found his confessions hilarious in the last episode he appeared on, particularly the stories about him and the women of the Jeffersonian. What got me was when Brennan told Angela his death allowed her to get into bed with Booth because in the end that’s all I am going to take out of his death. His life is miniscule except for how it advances the storyline of the main characters.

    • “Hi, my name is Vincent Nigel-Murray, but you may call me Plot Device. You’re to take away nothing from my character except that pedantic people can be pretty annoying, and my death simultaneously made Booth feel more justified in his quest while make Brennan feel vulnerable enough to bed Booth. I hope I didn’t say too much about myself there. After all, I wouldn’t want you to actually care about me as a character. I’m nothing but a foil for the happenings of the others.”

      • Ass hole. Vincent was the best

        • Re-read the article. Mr. Nigel-Murray was my favorite. I’m disappointed with the horrible writing in terms of how he was written off the show. (They knew they were going to kill a squintern this year, and the actor filmed a pilot for a SyFy show called Alphas.)

  2. Maybe the author of this article is just cold and heartless but the concept of the sweetest little intern ever being shot for no reason was enought to have me in tears. Vincent forever rip

    • You have some harsh words for me. However, Vincent Nigel-Murray was my favorite and has been since he arrived on the show. However, his death was written very poorly, and that’s all that needs to be said about it. Horrid sendoff for a great character. If it worked for you, that’s great. For me it lacked any depth or weight.

  3. I tried watching Bones but never really got into it…. Am I missng something?

    • Not every show will be for every person. Bones starts off as just another procedural show with an extra emphasis on character development, then it goes off the rails. I’m actually at a point where I cannot fully recommend the show.

  4. Vincent was my favorite intern..They could have killed Daisy Wick and created more depth in the Sweets’ character…Or even Arastoo would have been a good choice..He’s not even fun after the truth about his accent came out.

    • Sweets has been far too tortured. Foster homes, emotional issues with daisy, witnessed TWO murders. That an I’d have been happy with daisy dead. He was irritating. They should have made the episode about an essential side character getting closer to the rest of the cast. Specifically Bones. Maybe even doing something and graduating his spot as intern to permanent and BLAM dead. Or killed someone who was more essential to Bones’ future weakness. Ie: dad. Russ. A friend.

  5. i thought Vincents death was very meaningful, but thats just me. i liked him with his little cofessions and he was probably the smartest one other than Brennan. i felt heartbroken when he died because u dont really think much of him until he is gone. it was also a great way to get brennan all preggers to continue with a seventh season. the only real problem i had with the death was that everyone over reacted, i mean sure your co worker dies but they werent best friends and he didnt have a family other than his mother. but i still think that Vincents death was meaningful and i continue to want to watch the show and cannot wait for the seventh season to be released.

  6. I would have LOVED to see Daisy Wicks die in his place. She’s so overwhelmingly annoying that the show would have improved consistently, through her departure. Nigel-Murray was one of my favourites as well. é__è

  7. I just started watching Bones recently and I just watched this episode. I completely agree with you. He was my favorite intern and he did not get s good character development or send off. In fact, he shouldn’t have been killed at all. They should have killed off Arastoo, he just seems like an ass, to me.

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