Showrunner Stephen Nathan Talks BONES Season 10, Losing a Major Character, and Plans for the 200th Episode

     October 2, 2014

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The current season of the hit Fox series Bones is its 10th, which is a milestone that most shows will never achieve, let alone do so while still feeling fresh and like there’s still so much further to go.  After the events of Season 9, there are huge ramifications that everyone will be dealing with, testing Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) more than ever before.

During this recent interview to discuss the current direction the show is headed in, showrunner/executive producer Stephen Nathan talked about the affects of losing a major character this season, that a show has to change and evolve, plans for the 200th episode, the developing dynamic between Booth and James Aubrey, and the rotating cast of Squints.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

Bones 11 (cast)Question:  Can you talk about having Booth and Brennan with Sweets (John Francis Daley) when he died?  

STEPHEN NATHAN:  The entire situation for us was very, very painful.  We tried to treat it with as much respect and truth as we possibly could, and really focus in on what was going to be the best for the show and the most emotionally truthful for the characters.  And it seemed that Sweets and Booth and Brennan had grown so close over the past three or four years, so it seemed as if they were the people who should be there when he died.  It was also a very complicated situation because Booth was having a huge crisis himself, and also Booth and Brennan as a couple, with Booth coming out of prison.  It really was a testament to Sweets and to the nobility of the character that his last words were about Booth and Brennan.  His last words were of concern for his friend, and not in any way thinking of himself.  He was concerned for Daisy and, at that moment, concerned for Booth – that Booth didn’t lose faith, that Booth didn’t lose hope in the world and that the world actually was a good place, even as he was dying.  I think it really encapsulated Sweets as a character, as well as Sweets’ relationship to Booth and Brennan.  And as I say it was very painful for us to lose John and to lose this character of Sweets, this is what happens not only on a television show, but in life.  You get thrown a curve ball.  You don’t know what’s happening the next moment, in anybody’s life, and you just have to pick up and move on and try to learn from the experience and make the best of it.  Hopefully, you make everyone’s life a little bit richer and better for it.

What did you want to make sure you did with the funeral scene?  

NATHAN:  It’s a two-parter, in a very classic way, not only for the primary plot with the conspiracy, but also in dealing with one of our most beloved characters leaving our family.  So, we wanted to send him off in a way that honored his memory and showed how much our characters have changed and grown because of their contact with Sweets.  We really wanted to show that, and show what this family is made of, and how they pulled together in the most horrible of circumstances to get through.

Bones 05 (D Boreanaz & E Deschanel)When you get rid of someone who is so beloved, like Sweets, are you concerned about what affect that might have on the show?   

NATHAN:  Absolutely.  We can only deal with the events that confront us, and that’s what we had to do in this circumstance.  It’s more than what is going to be good or bad for the show.  Really, it was the difficulty, the challenge and, to be honest, the pain of losing a character like Sweets and an actor like John.  We love John.  It’s always difficult, and you never really know how the audience is going to respond.  We could only hope that by treating this in a realistic way that respects the character, that will also show how much we respect the audience.  We did not do this in a cavalier or callous way.  We tried to do it and integrate it into the show, and hopefully it makes the show better.  If the show continually was running in place, I don’t think we’d be on for ten years.  A show has to change and evolve.  Sometimes the change is painful, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good or correct.  We have to trust that, if we treat this situation truthfully, it will enhance the show, no matter how difficult and painful it is.  There’s really no way of ever knowing how the audience is going to respond to any episode or change.  We didn’t know how they were going to respond when Booth and Brennan got together.  We didn’t know how they were going to respond when they got married and had a child.  We don’t know how they’re going to respond when people leave the show.  You just never know.  You hope that everybody is along for the ride, and that the ride is satisfying and honest.

What do you have planned for the 200th episode? 

NATHAN:  I’m going to be very, very vague and circumspect.  It will be an episode unlike any we’ve ever done before.  We’re going to have as many people who have crossed our paths as we possibly can.  There are some limitations to that, of course, that we can’t possibly get around.  But we wanted to give a little gift to the fans who have watched Bones for ten years, or even three or five or six, and show our characters in a situation they would never normally find themselves in, just to see them from a different perspective.  It’s not a dream show, but it is unique.  It is going to be something we’ve never seen before on Bones, and stylistically it’s something we’ve never done.

Bones 08 (D Boreanaz & E Deschanel)How will the dynamic between Booth and James Aubrey develop?

NATHAN:  As they recover from the end of Season 9 and the beginning of Season 10, life has to go on for Booth and Brennan and the Squints.  But it’s a very difficult hurdle for Booth, especially.  His foundation and his trust in the institutions that he’s devoted his life to and risked his life for has been shaken, so he has some big trust issues moving forward and Aubrey is the focus of that, initially.  Booth will be getting over that, in a way only he can, with Brennan’s help.  It will not drag on for a long time.  Bones is not going to turn into a dark show where they’re dealing with all of these demons, all the time.  But we have to deal with what has occurred, so within the first three or four episodes, Booth is going to have to learn to trust Aubrey, and Aubrey is going to have to earn Booth’s trust.  It’s really a two-way street.  We’re going to be back on our traditional Bones footing, very, very quickly.  We’re a procedural.  People get murdered, but it’s funny, it’s romantic, it’s bizarre, and all of that.  The oddities and the unique nature of the show will return, but we will be getting to know Aubrey in these first five or six episodes.  He’s going to be a very valuable member of the team and slowly become a member of the family, as well.  He’s a strange guy, but he’s a brilliant agent who is un-intimidated.  Sweets was very deferential to Booth.  Because Sweets was so young when he started, he wanted to fit in.  He wanted to make sure he was doing the right thing.  Aubrey is somebody who will just blunder into things, but at the same time, Booth will learn to trust the fact that he is a great agent.

How is the whole government conspiracy that affects Booth not going to affect him for the rest of the season?

NATHAN:  We will deal with that and, initially, it will be resolved reasonably quickly, but the residual elements of that will always be there.  I think he’s a very resilient guy.  He’s been through war.  He’s been in covert operations.  He was a ranger.  He’s seen a lot of stuff, and he has bounced back from a lot of very difficult, sometimes tragic circumstances and found a way to move on, so this will be no different.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t some residual emotional issues that he will be confronted with, at a time when he thought everything was okay.  It’s really going to ebb and flow through the season.  We will see this initial issue of trust and challenged idealism be dealt with in the first few episodes, and dealt with pretty successfully, but there’s a lot underneath that will keep bubbling to the surface, throughout the season.  It’s not going to be a weird, dark season, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t have difficult things that they have to deal with, that surface when they least expect them.  So, Brennan as well as Booth will be dealing with a lot of residual fall-out from what’s happened, and what will happen in the future.

Bones 09 (D Boreanaz & E Deschanel)Are we going to just see stand-alone cases and villains, for the rest of the season?

NATHAN:  I can safely say that there is going to be something else lurking out there.  I don’t think the world ever exists with simple murders, no matter how horrible.  I think we need something a little more evil, and that will be coming our way.  It might be in the second half of the year, when we come back in January, but we’ll be getting involved in another case where there’s someone who’s not a good person.

Will we see more of Daisy on the series?  

NATHAN:  Yes, definitely.  We have to say good-bye to Sweets, and send him off as only this group can.  But Daisy is also pregnant, and she’s alone.  I don’t think people who have grown close to her and really grown to love her, in their own way, are going to send her out into the world alone.  When this baby is born, this baby will be cared for.

Bones 07 (D Boreanaz & E Deschanel)Will we see the same rotating cast of Squints, or will we be introduced to anyone new?

NATHAN:  Yes, all of our regular Squints will be coming back to visit and work.  These are characters we’ve grown to love, and they have become such an integral part of the show that we’re able to really treat them as more than just functionaries within the lab.  They really have full, rich lives of their own, and that’s what we’re going to be contending with.  Wendell is dealing with his cancer.  Cam and Arastoo are dealing with their relationship.  Daisy is going to be dealing with a baby now.  We’re bringing back Oliver Wells.  We’re bringing back Clark.  All of these people have very rich lives that will be explored.  Since they’ve all become so close to the other Squints, everybody gets involved in each other’s lives, as happens in most workplaces.  And we’ll be learning a lot more about these characters that initially were just temporary help in the lab.  They’ve become permanent members of the Bones family.

And will you be addressing the passing of Ralph Waite, at all?  

NATHAN:  You know, we’re still talking about that because we probably will, but we’re trying to figure out how to do that without bringing it all up again and being exploitive.  We don’t want to be cheap about that, especially after dealing with such an enormous loss as the loss of Sweets.  So, we’re in a pickle there, but we’re dealing with it.

Bones airs on Thursday nights on Fox.
Bones 14 (Emily Deschanel)

Bones Season 10 Stephen Nathan

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