[This is a review of Bones season 9, episode 11. There will be SPOILERS.]
Well, folks, the midseason finale is upon us once again in the land of Bones and it's time to take stock of season 9 thus far. It's been a good one, all things considered. Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) survived a rocky start, took out a major baddie, tied the knot, and solved some stellar cases along the way with only a few "filler" episodes to speak of. And tonight's 'The Spark in the Park' is right up there with the best of them. In fact, it could be argued that it's the best in the series.
One of the things it does nicely is it ties up the final loose ends of Cam's (Tamara Taylor) battle with identity theft. The episodes opens with her confronting one-time friend Haley Kent (Bonnie Root) with a slap, then takes us along on Cam's emotional journey.
On one side she has heard but not seen Caroline (Patricia Belcher) encouraging her to up the charges Haley is already facing, while Arastoo (Pej Vehdat) champions forgiveness and moving on. It's touch and go for a while, making for some fantastic scenes between the pair, and an equally good scene between Cam and the unrepentant Haley. Cam chooses forgiveness in the end and you can almost feel the emotional burden being lifted from her shoulders.
On the case side, we are shown what happens when forgiveness goes awry. Nationally ranked gymnast Amanda is killed for breaking a pact with fellow child prodigy Rachel (Cherami Leigh). Unlike Cam's identity thief, Rachel shows true remorse for what she did to her victim and proves herself the poster child for what can go wrong when parents put too much pressure on their kids to succeed.
The deepest story of the night, however, belongs to Brennan and the victim's father, Professor Leon Watters. West Wing alum Richard Schiff lends breadth and depth to the character and opens a debate surrounding the complex issue of grief. Booth is sure that Watters is the killer because he so aloof and seemingly devoid of emotion regarding his daughter. Brennan, however, sees herself and Watters as very similar and argues for his innocence.
The disagreement between them creates a heated atmosphere and can probably go down in the books as their first genuine fight as a married couple. That they drag Sweets (John Francis Daley) into the middle of it only makes those scenes better as the young psychologist is at a loss as to whose side to land on.
In the end, however, the show belongs to Brennan and the Professor. She is his advocate from beginning to end and even after the case is solved she feels a need to check in and make sure he's alright.
What follows is one of the most intellectual, yet touching, eulogies on television. The last time she had seen him in the classroom, Watters had cleared the board of its earlier equations. A new equation now fills the emptiness.
Brennan begins doing the calculations only to discover that he has tracked Amanda's motions throughout her life using math. Crawling. Skating. Being carried on her father's shoulders. Her gymnastic moves and twists through the air. And the final equation: at rest. Brennan sees the beauty in it.
Bones will return with brand new episodes on January 10th, 2014.