Many of you were outraged when the season premiere of Bones concluded with the death of lovable FBI psychologist Lance Sweets, played by John Francis Daly. First, the death was grisly and a little out of character for the show; Sweets was beaten to death while searching for a document to aid FBI special agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) and forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (Emily Deshanel) with an important case. Second, despite the episode being filmed more than a month earlier, this news, surprisingly, did not leak to fans, making it a complete surprise to all who watch and follow the show. Third, Daisy Wick (Carla Gallo) is now left tragically pregnant with Sweets’ son, leaving the child to grow up fatherless, and fourth, nobody expects a series regular to be killed off during the premiere of season. Nobody.
So, the big question is, why did it happen?
Simply put, the death of Sweets is an outgrowth of John Francis Daly’s success behind the camera. The actor has been given the opportunity of a lifetime to take on his first directing opportunity with Vacation, starring Christina Applegate, Ed Helms, and Chris Hemsworth, and, unfortunately, there just isn’t enough time for that and Bones. Executive Producer Stephan Nathan explained that Daly would need to be gone for up to four months, and attempting to explain the character’s departure from the ensemble for that period of time was going to be difficult.
“It just seemed the most painful yet cleanest way to contend with this for the show,” he said. “Losing John and losing Sweets was terribly difficult and very painful for us. John’s such an important part of the show. … For him not to be with us any longer is very difficult.” (USA TODAY Interview)
“I remember how it had choked up David, shooting that scene, and Emily.” Daly added. “Most of my 20s were spent on that show and, fortunately, it’s an incredible family. The last day was sad and surreal for me.” The 29-year-old actor, in an exclusive phone interview with USA TODAY, described his character’s death as “a grim moment” and that he “cried like a baby for a minute” after shooting his final scene, when Sweets is zipped into a body bag.
“What I particularly liked was the manner in which Sweets went out,” Nathan went on to say. “He went out caring first about (Booth and Brennan). He was giving Booth a final bit of advice, because he knew how difficult this was coming back in and that he couldn’t trust anybody.” It was a very touching and emotional scene for all involved in the show.
Daly hopes that his departure will not cause fans to be angry with him, as he has been dreaming of directing since he was a little kid, and “it felt like a natural step for [him].” Above all, he is extremely grateful to the studio, network, and producers for being open to the opportunity for him. “It was a very amicable situation and I’m very grateful. … I am so lucky to have been on the show for the length of time I was on it.” (USA TODAY Interview)
The character’s death, while a darker turn for the show, made the most sense to the producers, especially considering the amount of behind-the-camera success Daly has been having lately: Horrible Bosses, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Burt Wonderstone. It is highly doubtful that Vacation will be Daly’s last directing opportunity; there are many more great things in store for the actor-turned-director. While we all will miss Lance Sweets on Bones, we can look forward to seeing more of what John Francis Daly will produce for us in the future.
The investigation into Sweets’ death will begin this week, Thursday at 8 pm, on FoxCT. “They’re doing this for Sweets, not only for his memory but to honor his son.” Stephan Nathan says. Sweets was an important part of the gang, and of the show, and his death, along with Daisy’s pregnancy, will “color the rest of the season. That said, Bones is not going to a dark place in any kind of long-term way,” he continues, reassuring viewers. “We have to deal realistically with this tragedy, but Bones is known for its romance and humor and a light and bizarre take on the procedural form. And, we will be right back there soon.” (USA TODAY Interview)