Thursday, July 2, 2009

Guest Episode Review - #103 "The Man on Death Row"

Time to start filling some Bones hiatus time with reviews of Season 1 episodes. Thank you for everyone who has sent a review already, and the commitments already on board. Looks like all spots are filled!

If you want to start at the beginning: My Season 1 Reviews from last summer:

# 079 - "Pilot" - My Review
# 101 - "A Boy in the Tree" - My Review
# 102 - "The Man in the SUV" - My Review
# 103 - 'The Man on Death Row" My Review
We begin the guest reviews with "The Man on Death Row," by Meryl. I hope these reviews provoke some fun discussion. We still have almost 80 days until Bones returns - might as well have some fun! :)

Meryl's personal blog, Diaries of Me, can be found here.

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The Man on Death Row

This episode sees our introduction to the serial killer Howard Epps in the first of a three episode arc set across the first two seasons. A case from Booth’s past is reopened as the lawyer representing the convicted man (Epps) who is on death row with his execution date nearing is not convinced of his guilt.

I think that this is probably one of my favourite Bones episodes as I remember the first time I watched it being totally gripped by the story line, I do however have a few gripes about this episode so let’s get those out of the way first.

I really found the pace of this episode to be somewhat slow. I can’t put my finger on it exactly it just feels a little off and now I think about it I’m wondering whether it’s to do with the clock that flashes up at the bottom of the screen sporadically to denote how much time there is left before the execution. I’m sure this was not the intention as adding a fixed time scale to an episode like this is a way to create tension, however it had the opposite effect on me. The other thing that really grates on me in this episode is the character of the lawyer, Amy Morton. I know that we are meant to see her as young and idealistic (it’s even brought up by characters within the show) but it just feels to clich├ęd to me. Yes, she is young, idealistic, head strong and wouldn’t you know we see her get her comeuppance at the end when she realises the unpleasant truth. Her character just feels a bit lazy to me on behalf of the writers. However, these are only teensy problems in an otherwise great episode.

I think one of the strengths of this episode is that the very fine balance between comedy and drama is perfect here. I think the opening scene between Booth and Brennan where Brennan is applying for a gun is one of my favourite B/B scenes. “Special agent Seeley Booth. Do you want me to spell it for you?” The dynamics are good, it’s witty and you really feel warmth for the characters. You wouldn’t think an opening scene like that would lead into a serious episode like this one. Yet it does, and in my opinion the transition nears seamless.

Of course they use the common red herring – a decoy suspect. April Wright’s godfather David Ross who met and engaged in sexual intercourse with her on the night she was murdered and whose identity is discovered my Booth and Brennan’s renewed investigations. I think the true trick of this case is believing that David Ross could of murdered April because it makes Epps’ final unmasking, as a highly manipulative and scheming individual, that much more shocking. When they discover the second body in the marsh along with the murder weapon it takes a second to figure out that all paths do actually lead back to Epps and Booth’s original case and arrest of him had been more than justified.

Case aside, I also really like the interaction between the characters. I think you can see Booth and Brennan’s burgeoning mutual respect and admiration of each other. Particularly when Brennan makes it known that she is only helping on the case because of Booth’s involvement. “Your personal favour would be for Amy, but mine would be for you.” We also see a little bit of jealousy from Brennan with regards to Booth’s relationships with Amy and his girlfriend as straight away she assumes Booth is having sex with her. To begin with I thought she was jealous of his relationship because she has feelings for him but after the scene where they are digging in the marsh and she again asks Booth about his relationship I question her motives. The way she phrased the question as “what would you be doing if you weren’t working?” makes me believe that she may actually be jealous of the fact that Booth has a life outside work and close personal relationships whilst she would of been spending another weekend in the lab by herself. But that is just my speculation! Which I guess could be disproved if you look at the fact she got offended when Amy asked about the ‘sex vibe’ between Booth and Brennan and then admitted that Booth said Brennan had a mania for the truth. I also liked the squints interaction in this episode I think you really see them coming into their own and becoming a team. You begin to see the interpersonal relationships between them all – the way Zak looks at Brennan as his mentor, Hodgin’s and Zak’s friendship, Angela as the ‘normal’ one - and it starts to feel really cohesive.


Danielle said...

I find it interesting that one of your gripes about this episode is the character of Amy. Amy is probably my favourite single episode character! I like her straightforward nature, determination and idealism, and it's put into context by the comedown at the end. I would have found it interesting to see more of her, and what she did next, although Caroline is a better choice for the regular lawyer character.

I liked your comments about the Booth and Brennan interaction over Amy. I hadn't thought of it in that way, but I think you might be right. Even though this is an episode with a fairly serious case, these aspects fill out more of Booth's backstory. At the beginning of the series we got a lot of exposition of Brennan's history (necessary for the character) but Booth's is continuing to come out at the series progresses. Particularly notably is Amy's comment about how Booth was a lot more angry seven years ago - as he has softened quite a bit from the beginning of the series to where he is now, this really makes me think about his character.

The Howard Epps episodes are some of my favourites, and I think that Epps is probably the best villain the series has had, but, while still a strong episode, for me this is the weakest of the three.

Shep said...

Epps was a great villain! Heath Freeman did really well with the psycho creepiness!

Anonymous said...

Random question: Has Bones ever called Booth by his first name?

Fay said...

To Anon at July 2, 2009 2:01 PM

Nope, I checked! Seriously!

merlo84 said...

Danielle, I like that you have the opposite view of Amy to what I did! To me she seemed kind of...disposable. However I think you're right that it would have been interesting to see her in more episodes perhaps I would begin to like her more!

Also I'm glad I didn''t read Wendy's review before writing this but interesting that we made a few similar points!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review! I must say I loooove the first scene, it is definately my favourite in the whole series...
"So... I can shoot them!" LOL!

Does anybody have the You tube link to the scene? I had it, but cannot find it anymore. Thanks!

Theresa said...

i just read on Hart's Twitter that Emily broke a toe :( poor girl

Anonymous said...

The only time that I can think of where Bones calls him by his first name is in the Yanks in the UK, when they're leaving England... She calls him "Sir Seeley," but other than that, she's never called him by his first name.

ForensicMama said...

I agree that the episode drags, which is probably why it isn't my favorite of the Epps episodes. My favorites fall in Season 2, but Season 2 was better pieced together and they'd gained a steady rhythm by then.

Great job on the review...

Epps still freaks me out!!! Almost as much as PAM!

I'm hoping for another villain this season!!! Praying for one!

ForensicMama said...

@Anonymous: As others have said, Brennan has only called Booth by his first name in conversation that one time in Yanks in the UK as "Sir Seeley" but also in introduction as, "Special Agent Seeley Booth", etc.

And it's a good thing. I don't even like his first name. It would be weird if she called him Seeley out of the blue!

Shep said...

I watched the S2 Epps episode, Main in the Cell, today and was reminded of the awesomeness of it!

Epps was probably the freakiest villain of the entire series, with the possible exception of Jason Harkness from Widow's Son - his talk of eating people was seriosuly creepy, especially the 'babies taste kind of like fish'. *shudder*

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