Here’s a truth about these reviews: I don’t feel compelled to try and be objective, or to find things to complain about. I’m a fan and these are my thoughts about a show that I love, one that I’m predisposed to enjoy. When I see things that don’t work for me, I’ll say so, but seriously…if you’re looking for balance, there are several reviewers I respect who will give you that.
Me? I’m going to squee. Like a girl.
Particularly over this episode.
On the surface, it’s a straightforward story about a wedding, and whether or not it will happen.
But woven through it are other stories with themes of love, of friendship, of family, and since those are why I love the show so much…happy fan here.
That first scene, with Emily Deschanel’s real life husband, David Hornsby, playing the priest? Nailed it. (I probably shouldn’t say this in a public review, but I loved the jealous line in particular. I think the people (they’re not fans, at least not of the actors) agitating for the destruction of two families to satisfy their delusions should be institutionalized. Or at least medicated.)
Ahem. Anyway…Cam knows how to herd cats, and we see it in spades in this episode. The poor priest, however, despite his comment about “God grants me patience for just such events” does not have her skills with managing this group. I suspect that he thinks losing his church to fire isn’t a bad trade-off for getting out of being ring-master of this particular circus.
What I really like about that first scene, though, is that the writers managed to give us two weddings. They show us enough to help us imagine what the church wedding would have been like, complete with readings by Hodgins and Sweets, and then go on to tell us the story of the wedding that was, with all of its uniqueness and beauty.
Hodgins references Ecclesiastes…and I’m thinking chapter 3, about timing, is pretty perfect for Booth and Brennan:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Eccl. 3:1-8)
So yeah. While I’m thrilled to pieces the church burned down and we got the wedding we did, I’m pretty happy with seeing the one we didn’t get, too – particularly that the entire team was apparently involved. (I wonder what Cam’s role was going to be?
But friendship is multifaceted. There’s the layer where you trust people with your life, (thinking about what Booth said to Aldo in Sacrifice), and the one where you’re prepared to participate in their wedding, and then there’s the one where you know your friends well enough to know the odds aren’t good of said wedding happening if someone’s turned up dead somewhere. “Worst friends ever,” says Cam.
She’s not wrong, but the gentle humor, founded on affection for and knowledge of Booth and Brennan, continues throughout the episode, even while they’re all working hard in their own ways to make the wedding happen.
While Booth and Brennan are the center, of course, much of this story really isn’t so much about them as their friends. In that vein, I think you can make an argument for the two most important characters of this particular episode being Angela and Clark.
I’ve loved Clark from day one, with his reluctance to be anything other than a forensic anthropologist and his desperate desire not to get sucked into the team drama. He failed in that, of course, as we saw with his rather spectacular melt down in The Couple in the Cave. And even here, we still see that tension in him, his desire to be only a colleague of these crazy people at war with his affection for them.
The affection wins, of course. He not only steps in when Cam asks him to (as the only person Brennan would be likely to trust enough to take over some of her duties as forensic anthropologist), he stays, despite his wry reflection that within two minutes Brennan had effectively reduced him to an intern again. And then he corrals all the other squinterns to work (for free!) to get the job done.
And Angela? I said last week that I’m often conflicted about her – of the six main characters, she’s the one most likely to do or say things that annoy me. But here, for the second week in a row, she wins all the prizes. She steps up, and makes the wedding happen, even when Booth and Brennan are being rather recalcitrant over it, their own desires somehow managing to get in the way of what they most want.
Until now, my favorite Angela scene has always been from The Verdict in the Story, when she goes to jail rather than testify. (“Friends don’t help send friends’ fathers to the electric chair.”) But now, I’m pretty sure the scene with the hair comb has eclipsed it.
Angela’s been trying to keep Brennan at least somewhat focused on the wedding, and here, she tries to give her something for the wedding, something that has meaning to her.
Brennan brushes it off and goes to the platform. Angela follows, and this is where things get interesting, IMO. She’s obviously hurt by Brennan’s response (have we ever seen that before? I don’t think so), and confronts her with it. And this is why their friendship works, I believe. We don’t often see Angela react to Brennan’s brusqueness, but she knows Brennan well enough to be direct when it happens.
And that allows Brennan to be honest back: “My feelings, they’re a jumble. But this case is something I understand.”
Just like that, Angela’s over her own feelings, and is there to help Brennan navigate the treacherous waters of her own emotions about getting married. “You understand happy, right? Go with that.”
And she does. There’s discussion about the case, and some funny interaction about Oliver before the scene ends with Brennan saying, “If I have to think about the remains instead of my wedding, I’ll be very unhappy. You wouldn’t want that, would you?” They’re already working for free, but they fall all over themselves to reassure her. Love is measured in many different ways, but it’s impossible to see that scene as anything other than a simple testament of their devotion to her.
Brennan’s feelings for them come out later, when she invites them to the wedding, revealing that she’d not done so because she was afraid it was cruel in light of their lonely states. She’s always been capable of deep empathy, but this is such an unexpected place for it to pop out, it makes me suspect she’s remembering attending weddings alone in a previous period of her life.
But helping Brennan to navigate her emotions and clarifying her relationships with her interns isn’t Angela’s only role here. Later, when she finds Brennan crying, she steps up in a way that only she can.
Recent tension between her and Booth aside, Angela knows the two of them well enough to know what’s important and what isn’t:
“The details aren’t what’s important. The poetry, that’s what’s important. And the poem here is you and Booth. Don’t put off what the two of you have wanted for so long because a few details have changed.”
“But Booth can be stubborn, Angela.”
“Not about this, because he loves you, and if you’re okay with it, he will be too.”
And off she goes, to make the wedding happen, whether Booth wants only the two of them to be in charge or not.
As important as Angela and Clark are to this tale, though, there wouldn’t be a story at all without Booth and Brennan (Angela was right – they are the poem!)
My favorite thing about Brennan’s arc here is how solidly she remains Brennan. I’ve had a number of conversations with other fans about how much she’s changed, if it’s too much, etc. The answer, IMO? She’s perfect. She’s conflicted, puzzled by her emotions, cries for Booth…and then proves at the altar that she’s still Temperance Brennan, with her need to make clear that no one is giving her away.
As to Booth? He doesn’t have as much of a story here, perhaps because, as he says to Sweets, “I’ve been ready for years.” But he still turns to Aldo for advice from the non-priest who knows him best.
And Aldo, still in the running for most romantic recurring character ever, says, “All right. I’m jealous. What you and Temperance have …it’s the reason we draw breath. You screw this up, Booth, and it will be worse than any hell God can dream up for you.”
And then Max appears, and whether or not Aldo might have had more advice for Booth (perhaps how not to screw it up?) we don’t see. (Which sounds like a reason to have him back again…hello, Hart?)
I like the scene with the three of them well enough, in part because I re-watched Judas on a Pole recently, and was struck by what Max says to Brennan at the end: “Listen to me. If you find somebody that you can trust, you hang on to him. Remember that.”
She did, Max. She did.
And then, finally, there’s the moment between Booth and Brennan, when they realize that they both want the same thing. Booth doesn’t need a church (and I suspect that he’s happier with his non-priest marrying them, anyway) and Brennan needs only Booth:
“I would wear elephant tusks on my head and have a squirrel monkey do the ceremony if that’s what you wanted.”
“You really don’t care?”
“Then neither do I. As long as you’re there. We’ve waited long enough.”
“So we’re doing it?
“We’re doing it.”
You know how I said “I love every day” – Booth’s line at the end of The Lady on the List was one of the most romantic, ever? The line about elephant tusks and squirrel monkeys runs a close second, and the fact that that’s so is what makes the show what it is.
And so, finally, we get to the wedding. There’s so much here, including all the feels when Cyndi, er, Avalon, begins to sing, “At Last,” …but it’s really the vows that matter.
Bless David Boreanaz for remembering that they filmed the pilot in the same spot. What he said was so perfect, and so Booth:
“I was trying to get away from you because you were irritating me. And you chased me down and caught up to me. And I said to you, ‘listen, I just have to get all my ducks in a row. And you said… ”
“I can be a duck.”
“We have been chasing each other for a long time. We’ve been chasing each other through wars, and serial killers, and ghosts and snakes and… chasing you has been the smartest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And being chased by you has been my greatest joy.
But now we don’t have to chase each other anymore, because we caught each other. “
I love what he says about chasing each other, which is so true, but what really struck me is how his vows set the context so perfectly for hers:
“When Hodgins and I were buried alive, we each wrote a message to someone we loved, in case our bodies were ever found. Hodgins wrote to Angela, and I wrote to you:
‘Dear Agent Booth,
You are a confusing man. You are irrational, impulsive, superstitious, and exasperating. You believe in ghosts, and angels, and maybe even Santa Claus. And because of you, I’ve started to see the universe differently.
How is it possible that simply looking into your fine face gives me so much joy? Why does it make me so happy that every time I try to sneak a peek at you, you’re already looking at me? Like you, it makes no sense, and like you, it feels right.
If I ever get out of here, I will find a time and a place to tell you that you make my life messy and confusing, and unfocused, and irrational. And wonderful.’
This is that time. This is that place.”
He confounded her from their first meeting, but even a year later, there was something there, drawing her toward him. Toward his irrational, impulsive approach to life – enough so that she said to him, “I can be a duck.”
She wanted a wider life. Not the one Sully offered her, which suited him so perfectly, but the particular type of unfocused life Booth offered her right from the beginning. Unfocused in approach, yes, but actually very deliberate in the single-minded goal of catching killers together.
(Even to the point of being distracted from their own wedding by the need to find justice for a woman dead for thirty-five years. That’s who they are, and the fact that their needs match up so perfectly is why they belong together.)
After the best kiss in cinematic history (Westley and Buttercup drop to second place), we have this exchange:
“What do you think happens now?”
“Everything that happens next.”
Whether or not there are deliberate call backs there to end of The Stargazer in the Puddle or The Daredevil in the Mold, or both, it’s a beautiful way to end the episode. And me? I’m just wildly excited that we get to see what that everything is that happens next.
I know I’ve used way too many words to say this episode was perfect. But it was, and part of the why of that is that it included everything I love about the show, from Booth and Brennan at their most romantic, to the deep love among the team for one another, to smart, funny dialog.
Huge, huge thanks to Hart Hanson, Stephen Nathan, Karine Rosenthal, Kevin Hooks, and the entire cast for giving it to us.
I’ll shut up now.
Oh, wait…bonus quotes (I can’t help it:)
“You can kiss me now.”
“Aldo didn’t say that-”
“As usual, she’s right.” (Brennan, Booth, Aldo)
“If anyone here has any reasons why these two shouldn’t be married, keep it to yourself, because this is going to happen.” (Aldo)
(I love that we see Caroline nodding at this point. It’s so great that Patricia Belcher is in the episode despite not having any dialogue. But then, Caroline is such a force to be reckoned with, she doesn’t need actual words.)
Tricky is an excellent coping mechanism when dealing with people like Dr. Brennan. (Clark)
“I will be positive as a proton. I promise.” (Hodgins)
“I have absolute faith in your absolute faith that they should be married today.”
(Really shutting up now.)