Interview: ‘Bones’ Star Emily Deschanel Talks ‘A Shot In The Dark’

Tonight’s episode of Bones, “The Shot in the Dark,” is a major one for the long-running FOX series. After an incident in the Jeffersonian lab, Dr. Temperance Brennan gets a chance to come face-to-face with her past, quite literally. FanBolt recently spoke with Brennan herself, star Emily Deschanel, about what happens in “The Shot in the Dark” and what it means for Brennan, Booth and audiences.

(SPOILER ALERT – This interview contains spoilers for tonight’s episode of Bones.)

“After watching the episode, I think that viewers will have a better idea of why Brennan behaves in the way that she does, is kind of hyper-rational and has cut off her emotions in many ways, even though she’s over the last few years opened up after knowing Booth,” explained the actress. “It shines a light on her behavior and maybe encourages her to change a bit.”

The episode sees Brennan hospitalized – and while she’s fighting to recover, the anthropologist has a long overdue conversation with her late mother (guest star Brooke Langton). “She’s transported to her childhood home, and she sees her mother,” said Deschanel. “Her interactions with her mother reveal things from her past, and also it affects Brennan now, encourages her to have a different perspective on her behavior.”

“It’s an interesting thing to do a series for this long and to play a character that things are revealed at eight years in,” she continued. “I felt like it was in line with things that I had in mind, and it didn’t contradict anything that I had kind of imagined for her past, but it’s certainly new information to me, and I really enjoyed doing the episode because it shed light on Brennan and her past.

“I also really enjoyed having the interaction with her mother. That’s always been kind of a huge missing piece for Brennan, her mother being gone and being able to talk to her mother about how she disappeared before she died and all of that.

“Brooke Langton did such a great job, and I really enjoyed working with her. She’s just very inventive as an actor, very giving, and it was a really good experience working together. It felt right to have her play my mother, and I really enjoyed that.”

Like her character, Deschanel is herself a mother, and shared her insight on what Brennan is going through as a new parent without her own mom in the picture. “The minute you become a parent, I think that you’re always going to wonder if you’re doing something wrong, and I certainly experience that on a daily basis,” she said. “You have to trust your instincts and do what feels right for you.”

“Brennan is going through that in the beginning of this episode,” she continued. “Booth and Brennan have a fight. Brennan believes that Booth is criticizing her parenting style, and runs out and ends up in the lab again at night to go finish working on this case. It’s quite fitting that Brennan is dealing with her own issue of being a mother herself and, at the core of that, is missing her own mother.”

“When you’ve lost a parent, you just want to be able to call them up on the phone and say, ‘How do I cook that thing you used to make for me, how do I do this, what did you do with me when I was a child, how am I supposed to do this as a parent?’ and just life skills,” Deschanel said. “Especially when you have a child yourself, you go back and think about how you were parented, how you were mothered, what your parents did for you, and you just want to be able to call them and ask them.

“I think that’s a huge thing that Brennan is not talking about. It’s got to bring up so much for her when she’s giving birth and she’s lost her mother, and just trying to figure out how to be a good parent and not having that resource of her mother. It also brings back so many memories and makes her miss her mother. It’s quite fitting that this issue that she’s dealing with, in a way, causes her to see her mother again and hopefully helps ease those pains that she’s dealing with because doesn’t have her mother around.”

But Brennan won’t be the only person affected by the events of the episode. As her life hangs in the balance, the situation will touch her partner and boyfriend Booth, as well as her father (guest star Ryan O’Neal). “I think it brings up a lot of emotions for everybody,” added Deschanel. “Booth and [Brennan’s] father believe that they are losing [her]. [O’Neal] gives a wonderful performance.

“Then there’s something revealed from [her] mother to [her] father. Just kind of a breakthrough in a way for him, It’s an emotional episode for his character. He does a beautiful job and there’s a communication between my mother and my father through my character.”

The actress added that “The Shot in the Dark” was a moving episode for her to film, and that she hopes audiences respond to it. “It was very emotional, especially with scenes between the mother [and Brennan],” she said. “I have played this character for a long time. I’ve built in my mind who my mother is and was to me. It was quite emotional to do these scenes, and to shed light on Brennan as a teenager and her relationship with her mother.

“I think anyone who’s human who’s lost somebody that they love, or even hasn’t but can imagine that – I think it’s kind of a universal thing that you just want to see that person one more time, and here, Brennan has that chance,” she continued. “It’s something that you always wish for when you’ve lost somebody. She gets this opportunity and that’s so incredible. If we’ve done it right, hopefully people will be affected by it.”

“The Shot in the Dark” airs tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on FOX.

For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my official website and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.


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  1. “The Shot in the Dark” was one of the better episodes this season, but I would have liked seeing more of Brennan and her mother together than we saw last night. I think the concept of the story was interesting, but ice bullets have been proven to be impossible by the Myth Busters. I haven’t gotten a chance to watch all of last night’s episode because I was working late at DISH and I didn’t get home in time to watch the whole thing. Fortunately I have “The Shot in the Dark” waiting for me to watch on my DISH Hopper, thanks to its PrimeTime Anytime feature. I get all the primetime shows from the four major networks recorded automatically, so I can watch it all on my schedule. I don’t have to worry about missing Bones recording because of a DVR conflict.

  2. I worried about the series when Booth and Brennan became a couple, but the writers delving into the past and developing characters and showing how the past has effected them has been well done, enjoyable and effective. This storyline with Brennan having a supernatural experience was awesome on so many levels.