Fan Review: The Cheat in the Retreat

Confession: as a rule, I don’t automatically like undercover episodes. I find the overacting on Brennan’s part painful to watch, and as a general rule, I like Booth and Brennan best when they’re being Booth and Brennan. The one exception has always been Double Trouble in the Panhandle, though I’m not really sure why I love it.

But I straight-up loved this episode. Brennan’s calling the ancestors/seizure (hah!) in the sweat lodge shot to the top of my list of favorite funny Brennan moments. And Booth and the guys in their sweat lodge, discussing sports instead of relationships? Stereotypes exist for a reason, and that was played beautifully.

(With the caveat that the wrong guy was naked. No offense toward Wrong Naked Guy, because he was cute and everything, but dear Hart and Stephen…when you have a chance to give us naked Booth, please do so, okay?)

It’s an interesting story to tell in terms of Booth and Brennan. Although I don’t want it to go on for long, I love where things are. I love the idea that she’s making a decision to trust him despite the secret he’s keeping from her.

(One of the things I found interesting is that Guru Guy tells her she uses her head too much – a common opinion about her – but right now, I think her choice to trust Booth is as much based on reason as heart. I don’t think she’s winging that decision – I think it’s completely conscious, based on logic, reason, and what she knows about Booth. Her reference to not being mad at Mars for something she doesn’t understand fits with this, I think.)

But what’s the takeaway from the retreat? That even when things are less than ideal between them, they’re good together. Better than many couples, as a matter of fact. Brennan is trusting Booth; in the blind run through the obstacle course in the fat suit, we see how much Booth trusts Brennan. (Pause for giggle at memory of Booth trying to be officious FBI guy while waddling.)

Beyond the Booth and Brennan story, though, this is what I consider a Team Episode, where we see bonds between these people pretty much everywhere we look.  Cam and Sweets both have major arcs beginning (always a good thing in my book) and that leads to an embarrassment of riches in terms of character moments:

  • Cam and Hodgins
  • Cam and Angela
  • Sweets and Angela
  • Sweets and Booth

I love all those moments (hey, I have a degree in sarcasm, too) though I think my favorite one is probably the one between Booth and Sweets. My heart breaks a little for Booth when he says, ‘No. No.’ in response to Sweets telling him he’d left an envelope for him. There’s a catch in his voice there that reveals both his affection for Sweets, and perhaps his belief that things are continuing to fall apart, compliments of Pelant. (If Angela knows Sweets is leaving because of Pelant, Booth certainly does.)

Ah…Angela. I loved what she did for Cam, loved that she simply did it, because she knew Cam wouldn’t ask for or even give her permission for Angela to help. Her conversation with Sweets annoyed me a little on the arrogance front, but her heart’s in the right place, and really, I just enjoy them together. I always have.

But what about Angela, Brennan, and Booth?

I’m mostly baffled at this point. I get, absolutely, that Angela loves Brennan. And, more importantly, I think, I get that Angela doesn’t know what we know. She doesn’t know why Booth called off the engagement. No clue. (Personally, there’s a part of me that still thinks every single one of them should have immediately jumped to Pelant as an explanation for the broken engagement, but I get that that’s not the story they’re telling here.) In any respect, all Angela knows is that Brennan is hurting and Booth’s the cause.

Okay, I’m good with that. But here’s what I’m still waiting to understand: I don’t know what she wants to happen. I don’t think she believes for a moment that Booth’s having an affair, and the conversation in the diner in the premiere (with Daisy) seemed to indicate that she doesn’t think Brennan should leave him. But she’s very clearly not supporting Brennan’s choice simply to trust him, either.

Furthermore, if I over-think it (and hey, over-thinking is my specialty) Angela’s not coming across as having much confidence in Brennan, generally. When she asks her what she learned at the retreat and Brennan tells her, Angela rejects the response: “You didn’t learn anything.” Translation: if Angela doesn’t agree with it, it’s wrong.  There’s nothing here that suggests Angela even allows for the possibility that Brennan, actually in the relationship with Booth, knows things Angela doesn’t.

(I’m pretty sure the answer to that is that Angela’s thinking Brennan is blinded by her own feelings and can’t see the situation clearly, and that’s hard to argue with as a possibility. But then I’m right back to where I started: if Angela doesn’t trust Brennan, what is it she wants to happen?)

The best I’ve got is that Angela wants Brennan to react that way Angela would, and instigate a huge plate-throwing fight with Booth where she provokes him into finally telling her what’s going on, and then decides whether to stay with him or not

There are a lot of problems with that scenario, the first being that what works for Angela wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone, even if Booth’s secret wasn’t capable of getting innocent people killed. Sometimes, fights to clear things up work, and sometimes they just do more damage.

Second, given the lack of faith Angela seems to have in Brennan, if Brennan told her she did know Booth’s secret, but wasn’t at liberty to share it…would Angela cease and desist? At this point, I’m not sure.

Meanwhile, Angela’s being mean to Booth – Brennan’s words – and I’m not clear on how Angela thinks that’s helping Brennan. I’m not picking up anything from Brennan to suggest that Angela’s ‘support’ – using that term loosely – is helping her. And if we assume that Brennan is happier now, having made the choice to trust him, than she was a few weeks ago…that decision came out of conversations with Cam and Aldo rather than with her angry best friend.

So…I very much enjoyed the episode, but I’m withholding judgement on what’s going on with Angela in the hopes that it will eventually make sense to me.

(The case? Oh, there was a case? Yes! There was. And well…TPTB know that we all know that a big name guest star, if there is one, is always the killer, right? So we knew going into this who the killers were. It was also pretty clear to me that part of why the victim wasn’t particularly sympathetic (a known cheater, right from go) was because we were supposed to like the killers, like their love for each other and their advice for Booth in the last scene.)

On the whole then, it’s a fun, enjoyable episode that gives us insight into Booth and Brennan and introduces stories for Cam and Sweets. (And hey, even if we didn’t get naked Booth in the sweat lodge, we did get that last scene!)


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