So it turns out that when I love an episode in an unqualified sense, these reviews are much easier to write. Hmm.
I didn’t dislike this one, but it was missing something I consider essential in the episodes I really love.
For me, the strongest part of this one was Brennan and Dr. Perez. I winced a bit in the beginning at Brennan’s confidence, because I was afraid they were telling the same story I think we’ve seen before, where she goes from being rude to a peer to having a change of heart somewhere along the line.
It wasn’t. When I re-watched that first scene between them, I was struck by the fact that Brennan isn’t being obnoxious. She makes an innocent comment, wishing that Dr. Perez had access to the same kind of technology she does. Perez reacts with snark, and it’s off to the races. So even if she’s rude after that, well, Perez started it. (I’m sticking my tongue out here, in good six-year-old fashion.) And then, Brennan finds the new remains mixed with the old ones, and, well, what’s she going to do with that kind of sloppy work but get fully involved?
What’s really amazing is that even given that, she doesn’t ream her when Perez shatters the skull, and, in fact, is very empathic. (Apparently, successfully working with Daisy without shoving her off a cliff has taught Brennan a few things.)
In other words, this is an episode showcasing Brennan’s growth. And I love that.
Overall, the case worked for me, too. I knew the wife wasn’t the killer, but I thought it would turn out to be Valenza, not Perez. I very much liked the scene where they confront Perez, all of them conflicted to some degree about guilt and justice. And I think Dave Thomas tried to add more depth to the story with Perez’s background in identifying victims of the dirty war. The conversation between Brennan and Perez about having children is even more poignant when you know the full evil she’s referring to.
But the case plot suffered, I think (as did the entire episode, perhaps) of too much story and too little time. Maybe if there had been time earlier in the ep for Brennan and Perez to bond over the realities of identifying victims of that kind of violence, if we’d seen that more clearly in the doctor (instead of just her irritation with Brennan) the end reveal might have made more sense. (Though her reaction to Brennan also makes complete sense, given the inconvenience of having a famous forensic anthropologist poking around bones which include those of the man you murdered. But still, if we’re trying to set her up as a sympathetic killer, that might have worked better.)
On the whole, though, I enjoyed the case. And I particularly liked this line, by David Hal-El:
“We do not expect justice in the world. But we take great pride in seeking it out.”
Some of the humor worked for me, and that’s actually sort of astonishing. I’m not a sitcom or sight-gag person, and subtle is always better. But in this area, in particular, I’m aware that I’m not speaking for everyone. For example – in the first scene, when Brennan drops the book on top of the other books she’s either finished, or bored with? I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be funny, a sight-gag and nothing more. But I don’t see the humor in it, so I’m over here trying to figure out what it means, what it’s saying about Brennan (and her relationship with Booth) when the show writers are probably wanting to thunk me on the head and go, ‘No! Don’t think about it! Just laugh!’
It’s the same with Cam lying to Booth and Brennan. She comes chasing the kids in muttering about time to take them back to daycare, only to backtrack and lie when she realizes they’re listening. I know that it’s supposed to be funny; I just don’t understand why. (I have a fully certified sense of humor. I swear. It’s just out of sync with a lot of people.)
But the Angela and Hodgins story did amuse me – to a point. There is humor in that split second of terror an adult experiences when they realize that the house is way too quiet for the toddlers who are in residence, as is that panicked “we’ve lost them!” But IMO, they overplayed it. By the time they lost the kids for the second time, I was just feeling sorry for Michael Vincent. Angela and Hodgins aren’t a childless couple just discovering the wonders and terrors of toddlers for the first time. They live full-time with one. I mean, how often do they misplace him at home?
Still, it was a nice way to set the stage for Angela and Hodgins talking about having another one, and overall, I enjoyed their interactions.
The gag about everyone in Argentina idolizing Booth was similar, in that it sort of worked for me, and it sort of didn’t. I could see the humor in it, but I could also see the potential in it for a story that mattered, and they didn’t go that way. And because they didn’t (totally their choice, of course) the humor fell flat to me, too.
Here’s what I mean: sometimes, humor is just that. It’s a joke played for nothing but laughs, and that’s fine, particularly in sitcoms. But sometimes, it’s possible to mine a joke for both laughs and information, and I think that whole running gag could have been that, and been effective for it. Brennan sees Andy one way, Booth sees him another way, and the people of Argentina see him in yet another way.
It seemed, for a bare moment or two, as if they’d go that route, of mixing something sweet in with the funny, when Valenza says what he does about Andy letting Kathy think his role is just to support her, because he’s a good man. It could have led to a moment where Brennan acknowledged that Booth is more than just support for her brilliance…instead of ending with her threatening to kill Andy off. (That line, btw, was another one of those that I know is supposed to be funny, but I don’t get why.)
That leads me to my primary disappointment in the episode: Booth and Brennan’s relationship.
This isn’t about not seeing a love scene. I didn’t expect to, for one thing, because I think they work hard not to play to expectations, so, yeah, not going that route during a honeymoon episode. And really, seeing another a love scene just isn’t a priority for me.
For the most part, sex scenes, like kisses, are pretty repetitive when you think about it. I mean, they kiss regularly now – they did in this episode – and it’s nice and all, but unless there’s something special going on (like the wedding) the kisses all look pretty much the same to me. I’m glad they do it, because it says something about Booth and Brennan’s relationship, but they don’t add much, if anything, to the story.
And while I love the love scene in The End in the Beginning, I’m not sure how different from it another love scene will be. I’m looking forward to them surprising me there, but it’s not something about which I feel a great sense of urgency.
But emotional intimacy between Booth and Brennan…that’s essential for me, and was missing here. The ‘for me’ is important, because I’ve been listening to comments by other fans for two days now, and I know that many others, while perhaps disappointed that Booth and Brennan had so few scenes together, enjoyed the ones they did have. Scenes that left me cold, like the tag, worked well for other people, and I’m glad for that.
But I’m used to nearly every episode having a scene somewhere where I feel the connection between them, and this just didn’t have that. I’ve watched it three times now trying to figure out why, and I think it’s because I’m not sure what story they’re telling about Booth.
The story progression, for me, goes like this: They’re together, Brennan is bored, Booth wants her to be happy so goes with her to see something she wants to show him, which turns out to be the morgue. He tries to distract her, and fails. She finds the body, and they get sucked into the case, even while he continues to try to lure her back to the honeymoon.
They split up, him to work with Valenza, her to work with Perez, only rarely seeing each other after that point, and when they do, he’s still trying to get her back to the honeymoon. Even two-thirds of the way through the story, when they find the Nazi hoard, he says, ‘we could call it quits, go back to the pool.’
The best I’ve got is that either Booth is having the best time of his life hanging around with Valenza being idolized, and doesn’t want to stop – but does want to make sure that she’s happy – or Booth would still really prefer just to be having a honeymoon and is hoping she’ll say, ‘you’re right. Let’s go back to the hotel and have honeymoon sex.’
I really don’t know which it is. Is it a story about Booth making the best of a less-than-ideal (for him) situation, in order to make her happy, or is it about the two of them realizing that they really can’t relax, either of them, and that they truly are happiest when they’re catching killers together?
I want it to be the latter, but I can’t quite get there. Because if that’s the point of the story why is almost every scene about Booth trying to get her to give up on the case and go back to having a honeymoon?
In any respect, while others all seem dead certain of what was going through Booth’s head (‘he doesn’t really want a honeymoon, either, he’s just trying to make sure she’s not disappointed’) I just can’t see it. It’s not that I think he’s a martyr, because I believe he did enjoy working with Valenza, and as some have (rightfully) pointed out, they did have at least a day or two before Brennan got bored. But because I don’t know what he’s really thinking, it means that their exchanges all feel inauthentic to me. And so for me the episode effectively has Booth, and has Brennan, but it does not have Booth and Brennan.
I’ve seen a variety of theories on what the goal was here, and most of them don’t fit for me. I think they wanted a funny episode where the emphasis was not on Booth and Brennan’s relationship, and after the run of powerful episodes leading to the wedding, I can understand that. But if you want to de-emphasize a couple, why, for the love of little green apples, do you do a honeymoon episode?
“Morgues are not romantic.” (Hodgins)
“Bones…That’s what Agent Andy calls Dr. Kathy Reichs that makes her uncomfortable.” (Valenza)
“In real life, she likes it.” (Booth)
“This isn’t babysitting. It’s a sleep-deprivation study.” (Hodgins)
“The tougher she is, the more respect she has for you.” (Clark)