Stars: David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, Michaela Conlin, T.J. Thyne, Tamara Taylor, John Francis Daley, Michael Grant Terry, Iyal Podell
Writer: Keith Foglesong
Director: Francois Velle
Network: Fox, Thursdays @ 9 PM
Airdate: April 28, 2011
On BONES, our heroine Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) is known for speaking her mind. Indeed, by now, all of her friends expect this of her. However, they don’t always expect it of each other, much less themselves. “The Pinocchio in the Planter” takes a playful, in-character look at just how much honesty is a good thing vs. how much exceeds everyone’s comfort levels.
The subject of honesty comes up during a murder investigation. Brennan and Booth (David Boreanaz) learn that the victim had joined a “radical honesty” group, which caused him to subsequently become so blunt that he alienated everyone in his life. Booth thinks it makes complete sense that the man was murdered, while Brennan doesn’t see the connection. Then it occurs to Brennan to wonder whether Booth has ever lied to her to spare her feelings. Meanwhile, Angela (Michaela Conlin) and Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) deal with areas of worry surrounding Angela’s pregnancy. Intern Wendell (Michael Grant Terry) is emboldened by honesty to fight for a part-time job and Cam (Tamara Taylor) increasingly wishes everyone would maintain decorum.
The episode is a little more graphic than most – we get to see a dissected intestine. Some viewers may see this as a selling point, while others may wish to look away. It’s a safe bet that most BONES aficionados will enjoy the way various clues are continually reexamined and reinterpreted, bringing the forensic mystery element into sharper focus than usual.
As for the putative value of constant honesty, the concept is used more as a source of comedy than as a source of genuine real-world contemplation. However, the real point of the episode (as with much of BONES) is to explore how the characters are affected by what they encounter. In the case of Brennan and Booth, it allows them to gently suggest a closer bond without smacking any story points over the head. Conlin and Thyne have developed a wonderful symbiotic rapport as actors over the years, and their timing with each other, as well as the writing for their characters, is pitch-perfect here.
As for Terry, his character Wendell has always been the least neurotic of the “squinterns,” but this season, all of them have been put through changes. The actor handles Wendell’s newfound assertiveness well, even when the script requires him to do things that seem forced beyond the bounds of rational behavior. This is a consistent issue on BONES – pushing characters outside the scope of both their regular parameters, not as growth but in the quest for laughs. As is usually the case when this happens, the results are less funny than jarring.
Fans of Boreanaz who have followed him from ANGEL may recognize guest star Eyal Podell (who plays a lawyer here) from the submarine episode of that earlier series.
Overall, “The Pinocchio in the Planter” is a strong episode that shows off both the regular characters and the forensic clues to good advantage.
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