Fan Service: What ‘Bones’ Teaches Us About Killing Off Beloved TV Characters

Since I didn’t get to write a Fan Service for last week, this week will have two entries. Friday’s will hopefully be lighter, since today’s is about death — losing TV characters forever.

For the past few weeks, Bones showrunner Hart Hanson had hinted that in last Thursday’s episode (one before the season finale), a major player would die by sniper bullet. Cue the panicked reactions: Which actors had gigs lined up for next year? Which character could conceivably finish their time on the procedural after May 12? But Hanson and every Bones actor (even the non-regulars) were able to keep mum until Thursday’s episode.

The first half of “The Hole in the Heart” is riddled with red herrings. Each time a series regular would appear on screen I’d brace myself; I noted that intern Vincent Nigel Murray (Ryan Cartwright, far left in the photo) was back; Tina Majorino (Mac from Veronica Mars) played an FBI agent, and such recognizable guest stars are always under suspicion.

There’s a great scene where the season’s sniper bad guy (played by The Mummy himself, Arnold Vosloo!) is setting up his gun across D.C., since he’s such a great shot. We watch each of the Bones characters going through their lives: Angela and Hodgins meeting for lunch; Cam sitting in her office; Sweets in the diner; and Booth, Brennan, and Vincent observing a dead body in the lab. The sniper sets his target by calling Booth — but Booth hands his phone to Vincent to answer so that he can track the call.

As you might have guessed by now, it’s Vincent who takes the bullet to the heart (hence the episode’s title) and dies on the floor of the lab where he’s solved countless cases. It’s a lovely scene, where this analytical scientist cries out to God (or the universe) to let him “stay” before he bleeds out; and it sets off a lot of plot, including a possible romantic development between Booth and Brennan. (We can’t tell; all will, hopefully, be revealed next week.)

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