Dear Beauty and the Beast fandom:
Emily Silver belongs to us now, and you can’t have her back. We’re sorry for your loss.
Bones fans everywhere
Sorry! I couldn’t resist. The writer of this episode, Emily Silver, is new to Bones, and many of us have been quite curious about what kind of episode she’d turn out.
A powerful one, it turns out, with a lot of layers.
One of my very favorite Brennan moments is the last scene from The Goop on the Girl, and I already know that the end scene from this is going to be right up there with it, and for the same reason. She may not always know what to do with her emotions, but her heart is a thousand miles wide – and Booth gets that.
But there’s more to this episode than that, including exchanges with Booth that show not only how much they love one another (yes! That’s here!) but also how much they’ve influenced each other, and how they work through their differences.
It’s tempting to rush through the whole story to the end, but in fact, it’s what comes earlier that gives that scene its power.
From a big picture perspective, the show is still on the air (and whoo-hoo, weren’t those some great ratings numbers last night?) because these two people are opposites. Not just in the funny, charming way where he likes jerky and she’s a vegetarian, but in more fundamental ways. And we need to continue to see these kinds of personality clashes driving the tension, in order for the show to continue.
But on a micro level, within the story itself, Booth was right to take the position he did. (Which is not the same thing as saying that Brennan was wrong, by the way.)
Even among people who loved the episode, I’m seeing anger directed at Booth, and I think that’s largely unfair.
Brennan is the point of view character for much of this, and thus we’re seeing Dr. Waters as she does. That means we’re just as certain as she is that he’s innocent, and that Booth’s being unfair at best.
But he’s not. He’s just doing his job, and with any other suspect, no one would even question it. If they stop investigating suspects just because one or the other of them simply believes they’re innocent, they’ll stop being good at what they do.
But Brennan is absolutely right to be making the argument she is. She’s contributing something essential to the investigation by keeping Booth focused on the possibility that it could be someone other than Dr. Waters.
In all of the scenes where Booth and Waters are together, all I see is Booth acting like Booth. When they first meet, he doesn’t immediately jump on him. He tries to get his attention, asks Brennan what he’s doing. And yeah, he does then show some suspicion about the wife’s death. IMO, all of this is perfectly reasonable from a cop investigating the death of a young woman who may have been abused. When the wife’s death from breast cancer and the gymnast angle come out, Booth then backs off again, and turns to his next line of questioning, about Amanda’s friends.
And then, from his perspective, Dr. Waters insults him, accusing him of being a very narrow-minded man. I’m qualifying that as being from Booth’s perspective, because the exchange isn’t unlike many early conversations between Booth and Brennan, where she says something that, to her, is a statement of fact, and which is actually insulting. (Whether or not it’s true is irrelevant.)
But here, Brennan defends Booth, and how lovely is that?
But Booth is now pissed. Seen through Brennan’s POV, the man is dealing with the loss of his daughter the only way he knows how, but from Booth’s perspective, he’s still a suspect, and one who’s just insulted him for trying to get to the truth.
Back in the SUV, we have a conversation that we wouldn’t get without this setup of them being at odds over a suspect.
“What do I do when I’m upset?”
“You bury yourself in your work.”
“If I lost Christine, and you, within a year of each other? The only way I would survive is to do my work. I’m not even positive that would be successful.”
To me, the fact that Brennan understands Booth enough to take this approach, to make it that personal of a comparison, is beautiful. The fact that it doesn’t seem to work doesn’t negate that.
Booth’s response (“”He couldn’t kill anyone because he’s a massive egghead?”) is interesting to me for two reasons. The first is that he’s right, however insensitively worded it is. Brennan may be identifying with Dr. Waters, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be guilty.
And that leads back to Agatha Blume, the uber-rational suspect in The Mystery in the Meat. In the conversation between her and Booth in the interrogation room, they discuss the fact that very rational people – including both Agatha, and, in that conversation, Brennan – are capable of committing murder if they have sufficient reason to do so.
Booth knows perfectly well that Dr. Waters could kill, and they can’t exclude him from consideration just because she’s identifying with him. (As he notes in the diner, “you’re not a murder suspect! That’s a big difference.”)
“People deal with stress in different ways. You taught me that. You were too hard on him. “
But…Brennan’s not wrong. She does have insight into a suspect that no one else has, and it’s possible that, if not for her, Booth might have stopped looking for someone else.
The tension, and the discussion, continue in both the diner scene, with Sweets, and later, in the interrogation room with Waters. They’re both trying, though, to see through their biases: Brennan says, “I just don’t think you should be distracted from looking at other suspects because the professor operates on a level you can’t understand.” and Booth responds, “We’re not. We’re going to go to her gym. We’re going to talk to her trainer, and other gymnasts.”
But Brennan can’t shake being concerned about the professor, and goes to see him. She recognizes the depth of his despair in the clear blackboard, and frames her response in the way she thinks he’ll understand, that killing himself isn’t rational, and that he must remain alive to see his daughter’s killer caught.
The part of the scene that gives me chills, though, is this line, because she is talking about herself as well as him: “People like us, we’re nothing without our work. Your daughter mitigated that. With her gone, if you abandon your work, you’ll have no reason to live.”
The fact that he’s part of her reason to live (and she his) doesn’t prevent them from clashing again in the interrogation room. Booth is – justifiably, IMO – focused on the false information Waters provided, while Brennan is looking for ways to help him. She does so in the only way she knows how, by framing it in terms of her and Booth’s relationship:
“Sometimes, when we’re in the middle of work, even a loved one’s presence be a distraction. An annoyance, even.”
“Maybe it was easier to get rid of her instead of being bothered by her.”
“I would never hurt you, Booth.”
To say that Booth doesn’t respond well to her technique is an understatement.
“You were like his lawyer in there.”
“I believe him, Booth. His behavioral patterns are reminiscent of my own, and I am excellent at pattern recognition.”
“You know what? He lied. Nobody forgets seeing their own daughter the night she died.”
“There are times I can describe a set of remains in great detail, but I can’t remember what month it is. We each survive in our own way.”
“But this time, somebody didn’t survive – got it? And next time? I’d appreciate it if you didn’t take the suspect’s side in the interrogation room. Thank you.”
They’re both making valid points, but Booth is still wrong in his belief that Waters is the killer, and they confront that at home. I love that scene for its simplicity. He asks if she’s still irritated with him, and she says, ‘a little.’ There’s no prevarication, just an honest admission that there’s still something between them that shouldn’t be there.
Booth apologizes and admits he was wrong in believing Waters was their guy, and that she was right – validating that however seldom it happens, Brennan does understand some people better than he does. And just that easily, they move on to the other thing that’s bothering her, that she wants to check on the professor, and doesn’t know if she should, or how.
“Why don’t you go – just go. Go, Bones. Being kind doesn’t need an excuse.”
“What do I say to him?”
“I don’t know. Luckily, you two speak the same freakazoid language.”
And she does go, and we have a scene that has made me cry every time I’ve watched it. Math is a foreign language to me, and physics is as alien as whatever they speak on Pluto these days, but I get the beauty of what Dr. Waters is doing, as he tells the story of his daughter’s life in the language he best loves and understands. And Brennan? She listens to him, and shares that story.
More than anything else, grieving people often need to talk about the person they’ve lost, frequently telling the same stories over and over, and the kindest thing a friend can do is listen. And that’s what Brennan does.
There’s not much team stuff in the episode, apart from the beginning, with Cam, and I’m good with that. And there’s not much humor in it, and I’m good with that, too – I’ll nearly always trade the emotion we got here for the jokes, even the ones that amuse me.
There is, however, another story, the resolution of Cam’s identity theft situation, and while I don’t have a lot to say about it, it did touch me on a personal level, and so I’m going to comment on that in a separate post tomorrow.
But for now? I’ll just say…Dear Hart, thank you for hiring Emily.
“They bought molly from you?”
“Yes! But I refuse to answer that on the grounds it might incriminate me.” (Sweets and Julian Anton)
“She flew through the air in perfect arcs…perhaps that’s what people mean when they talk about angels.” (Brennan)