Fan Review: The Lady on the List (Bones)

The Bones fandom is a little excited.

Booth and Brennan are getting married next week, and, well, some of us should not be held responsible for our excitement. (Natesmama and I keep figuratively grabbing one another and squeeing, ‘They’re getting married!’ as if we can’t quite believe it, never mind that we’re not really surprised by it. It’s probably dreadfully undignified, and we don’t care very much. Because …they’re getting married!)

But the problem with losing our collective damned minds over next week’s episode is that it’s possible to miss what was going on in this week’s. (Dean Lopata even acknowledged that in a Tweet to a fan commenting on The Lady on the List: “Finally, someone living in the moment.”)

He’s right. The excitement for next week shouldn’t distract us from what we got last night, because it was lovely, and meaningful, and very much part of the whole wedding story – and not just in the sense of whether or not the reception will feature pigs in blankets.

The Lady on the List is about Booth and Brennan, and how far they’ve come, but it was subtle enough that some fans, excited by the thought of The Wedding, seem to have missed it.

Brennan is still Brennan here. She’s unsure of herself in the social situation of planning a wedding, and if on the surface, it looks like she’s primarily interested in giving Booth the wedding she thinks he wants, we find out later in the episode that she has her dreams as well.

(It’s not one-sided, either:  Based on his remark about a reception at Founding Fathers, his response to the tux question and his “I love every day” comment at the end, I suspect that Booth would happily marry her in jeans and a t-shirt. But once he begins to realize she wants more than that, he’s on board with however fancy she wants it.)

They’re both being them, in other words. And yet, even as we all rush madly towards that wedding, the show wants us to slow down, step back, and look, really look, at where we are:

Fear is what stands between us and fulfillment. Once fear is gone, life opens up to all its grandeur. All things are possible.”  The victim, Charles, says that on one of his tapes. Brennan largely dismisses the pop psychology of it, and is frankly baffled by Booth’s purchase of the full series. And yet…Charles is describing Brennan’s journey perfectly, her movement from the fear that kept her within her walls to the opened up life allowing her to plan for the wedding she’d not let herself acknowledge even wanting for decades.

Later, the show touches on the theme in a different way, when Lena Silver says, “People can change, Dr. Sweets.” Yes, they certainly can, and there’s no greater evidence of that, of someone changing in a positive way, one that opens up new wonders and joy (“grandeur” to borrow Charles’ term) than watching Booth and Brennan plan a wedding.

Together. They’re getting married, ya’ll. (Ahem. Sorry for the accidental squee. They pop out occasionally, and I can’t do a darn thing about it.)

Although most of the people in my Twitter feed last night were happy (some insanely so, which is so much freaking fun to see) I did see someone commenting that Brennan was out of character, and, well…nope. I don’t see it.

I know that perception of character is very individual. I do. But I don’t get the OOC charges. She’s still Brennan. She’s still an atheist who just happens to be in love with a man who is a believer.  She’s still Brennan when it comes to food, too, plainly not wild about pigs in blankets, but again, this is Brennan in love, so she makes sure they’ll be at the reception.

And the picture of the wedding dress she’s carried for decades? I don’t see any difference in that, really, and in her carrying that box of Christmas gifts from her parents, unopened, for nearly twenty years. She didn’t believe in Christmas, wouldn’t open it, but hauled it around to the different foster homes and then throughout college.

As rational as she was, as tucked behind her walls as she was, there were pieces of her past she couldn’t quite part with, no matter what she said about Christmas and weddings. And thanks to the love of her family (I’m thinking of both Booth and Angela here) she’s finally put the fear behind her, has changed enough to reclaim that eight year old’s dream.

Is that not worth pausing and sighing over? I think so.

And that brings me to some of the other moments this episode gave us.

Although I’ve not been nearly as annoyed with Angela as some have in respect to her treatment of Booth, I wasn’t completely buying the ‘she’s just doing what a friend does,’ either, mostly because I want my friends to support me, and I wasn’t feeling much actual support from her toward Brennan but rather variations on the theme of ‘what the hell are you doing?’

But here, she acknowledges that maybe she should have trusted him more (well, yes, and no – it wasn’t wrong for her to be on Team!Brennan, but maybe what would have helped Brennan more would have been Angela saying, ‘how can this be Booth?’) Either way, I’m looking forward to how the rest of that story plays out.

But regardless of my feelings about those two…Angela wins all the awards here as Brennan’s BFF. Watching her reaction to the picture of the dress, and her promise that Brennan will wear it makes me tear up a little. My feelings for Angela are often conflicted, but her love is one of the factors which allowed Brennan to leave her fears behind in the first place.

And then we have the other stories here, beyond the wedding:

This is another team episode, with Booth and Cam trying to encourage Sweets in the face of Val; Booth taking a public stand to support Sweets over the software; and the conversation between Brennan and Sweets (“But as a lunch companion, I certainly prefer you.”)

And then there was this conversation between Cam and Oliver at the end:

“Val’s being sent back. She picked the wrong murderer and upset our team dynamics.”
“Then the team is stupid.”
“Maybe, but it’s that kind of stupidity that makes us so good.”

Yes, Cam. Yes, it is.

I do admit to being confused about the Sweets story. At the end of El Carnicero, he still wasn’t coming back to work; he started Sacrifice on leave, but was in a suit the rest of the time, and now, he’s not only back, but is very concerned with displaying his value and superiority as a profiler. I feel sort of like I missed a chapter of the story somewhere.

And finally…Oliver. For some reason, he doesn’t annoy me as much as he does some people, and I think that’s mostly because I like what he brings out in the team, much more so than the other squinterns. Here, we see Brennan puzzling over things she knows are wrong, but can’t quite figure out why in terms of respect and position; we see the contrast between Cam’s love for (and patience with) Brennan and her impatience with Oliver; and we see Angela and Hodgins both trying to communicate, in different ways, that his brilliance doesn’t really mean anything if he’s a douche.

We also see hints, in Oliver himself, of what he could become if the team works their magic on him: to Brennan’s surprise, he gets the sadness of Charles dying sooner than he expected, and his own acknowledgement of his loneliness is a good starting point for his future growth – even if he badly bungled his request of her.

Other scenes and quotes I found particularly noteworthy (there were more I didn’t include!)

Cam and Sweets about Val:

“What you should be hearing is that we prefer you to Optimus Prime here.”
“I hate Val. She is stupid. I hate her.”
“It. You hate it. You might as well hate a transistor radio. We’re all on your side, Sweets.”

The voice over at the end, from one of the Charles’ tapes, as we see Angela and Hodgins, Booth and Sweets, and Brennan:

 “At the end of the day, we’re all going to make mistakes. We’re all going to do things we regret, even to those we care about. It’s unavoidable. But at the end what matters is how you address your failings…how you treat your family…how you treat your friends…how you forgive, and how you love.”

And finally…

“We don’t get married every day, our wedding shouldn’t feel like an everyday thing.”
“I love every day.”

That’s possibly one of the most romantic lines in the entire eight+ seasons of the show.

11 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Lady on the List (Bones)

  1. Now you’ve made me tear up. Love your recap/review you eloquently expressed my views. 😀

    The episode did make me s little teary a couple of times which I wasn’t expecting, and that’s a good thing.

  2. Good stuff, and I agree! I was talking with Sleepless before this ep and wondered whether or not it would be good but sort of go down in history of some other really good episodes that (for better or worse) happen to fall right before an all time classic episode (Knight on the Grid, Critic in the Cabernet, Bones on the Blue Line, etc.) . And LOL woe to any episode to come after an amazing ep too, haha, i.e. whatever gross thing happened in episode 101, high school I think? Haha.

    I like this case too, and the way it applied to the characters’ lives without being heavy handed or hitting us over the head with ‘connections’ . And I loved the opening shot!! 🙂

    I absolutely agree that Booth’s end line is an ALL TIME classic of all time. Loved, loved, loved, loved everything about that.

  3. Oh, and regarding the wedding dress, I am with those who feel it’s a little OOC, only because of how the writers have written her recently (i.e. even in these ‘modern times’ of the season 8 finale, she said she wasn’t going to wear white, I believe). I think the Christmas analogy works in some ways, like you mentioned…she didn’t like celebrating Christmas because it reminded her of pain in her life—but she mostly covered up that pain with anthropologic rhetoric to anyone who listened. But then she worked through that, and was able to enjoy the day. The wedding dress rhetoric she has always had wasn’t necessarily a cover for pain in her life (in my opinion), so I feel more like the writers wanted her to be in a white dress (or maybe the actors too, not pinning it all on the writing staff) and then sort of wrote it in a way that they felt makes sense.

    I’m not mad she’s wearing a white dress (or off-white, or whatever color it is), and the storyline that she came up with (that she just now saw this picture after x many of years—which is somewhat implausible IMO, considering she has moved a couple of times…not that I know everything in all of my moving boxes in storage of course, haha) was fine…but I wished they had done something a little more in character ( again in my opinion), saying something like “I never really thought I would wear a wedding dress, but I saw this one, and I love it” or whatever…vs trying to shove the bucket list story in that moment. So I guess OOC might not even be the right term for it…I am fine with the result of that storyline, just thought they fudged a little to get there.

    • You’re making a completely valid point, particularly since it was just in the S8 finale that she said she wouldn’t wear white. I think why I’m able to give them a bit of a pass on it is that, really, Brennan reading a bridal magazine in that ep at all struck me as ‘there’s something more here about weddings than she’s let us see.’
      Mostly, though, I think they did want the promo value of a big huge traditional wedding, and given the press it’s getting for the show, I can’t blame them.

      • Agree. Promo value, exactly. and I’m not opposed to it. And I also believe, like many have said, that a part of Brennan wanted to give Booth an official wedding, with all the fixins, so to speak 🙂 A combination of all of this stuff, I am sure.

    • According to my head cannon, this is how it went. As she was planning the wedding, she started looking through whatever “treasures” she had managed to save from childhood. (Maybe she was looking for a “something old”? Maybe the bridal mag sparked a distant memory?) Regardless, I think it is plausible that the prospect of getting married had her looking back as well as forward. (That’s what people do at major transitions and milestones.) When she found the dress, it reminded her of the dreams of her 8 year-old self. In such a setting, I think it is plausible that she would change her mind on whether she wanted a white dress.

  4. Amazing review, squeezing all the way to the wedding. I loved every thing about this episode. If Dr. Wells hangs around long enough we will see him be “Brennanized”, the Jeffersonian family will love him into a human with a heart.

    The happiness between Booth and Brennan just jumped off the screen at you, didn’t it?

    “I love everyday” too.


    • I think part of why I don’t mind Oliver so much is that I think with him, more than the other squinterns, they’re setting up an arc where we’ll see him change due to their influence. At least I hope so. (I like your ‘love him into a human with a heart.’ 🙂

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