My ‘favorite episode, ever’ slot is getting crowded. For years, though I joked that there were at least thirty-five episodes in my top ten, I remained firm on The Woman in Limbo being my very favorite episode. And then The Patriot in Purgatory aired, and after some jostling, they decided to share the spot. And then came The Woman in White. And now, The Heiress in the Hill.
I should probably just give up on picking just one, huh? But yeah, I loved this episode that much. I adore Hodgins, plus, while I appreciate the Booth/Sweets bromance, I’ve loved Booth and Hodgins together since Two Bodies in the Lab. (True story: while the bedroom scene of The Hole is the Heart is one of my most-loved B&B moments, my favorite bit from the episode as a whole is when Hodgins takes the phone from Brennan and interprets what she’s saying about Broadsky’s broken hand for him.)
For me, then, the two stories here – Hodgins’ brother, and the Booth money question – are so interwoven that it’s difficult for me to separate them. But taking the secondary story first…I don’t think Booth’s been wrong to be cautious about what her wealth means to them, individually and as a couple.
And while I agree wholeheartedly with Brennan about sharing things now that they’re married (as Booth plainly does) I don’t think that Sweets’ analysis of changing gender roles and male pride is necessarily accurate. (Which doesn’t mean the observations weren’t useful.) It’s easy to see it as Booth being a traditional male who doesn’t want to admit that his wife makes more than he does, but I’ve never seen anything that remotely supports that. He’s incredibly proud of her, and even here, references her hard work that’s behind the check. Rather, it’s about who he is, and what he’s contributing, and what it means to be a responsible adult, particularly when it concerns money that you didn’t earn.
Interestingly enough, I think one of the strongest indicators of that is in his response to Hodgins when they offer the money to him and Angela. Booth wanted to give them the money. He wanted them to take it, wanted them to use it for Jeffrey. But when Hodgins turned it down, which Brennan saw as pride, Booth smiled at Hodgins, understanding perfectly that it wasn’t that at all, but rather a desire to be responsible for his brother in a specific way.
In other words, if Booth hadn’t asked those questions, hadn’t struggled to find an answer that would satisfy both his desire for a shared life with Brennan, and the caution where large amounts of money he’s not earned is concerned, he wouldn’t be Booth, and wouldn’t deserve to have her share her life with him.
(Also? I’ve never been convinced that if their roles were reversed, and it was Booth with the money while Brennan had the ordinary income, that they wouldn’t have had similar discussions. She’s just as independent and proud as he is.)
A few weeks ago, Hodgins said, “As long as a person has enough, they don’t need more. I’ve got more than enough,” and I think a similar philosophy is what we see developing with Booth and Brennan. They’ve pooled their incomes from the FBI and the Jeffersonian to craft a very nice life for themselves, so the money from her books, they’ll invest in other ways. For his sake, I think he needed to know that he’s an equal contributor to the life they’re sharing, but I don’t think that means they’ll never splurge, or that some year he won’t take her up on her offer to see the ‘super ball’ – after all, their honeymoon wouldn’t have been cheap – only that their priority, as a couple, isn’t money.
Moving to the story of Hodgins and his brother….all of the actors on the show are under-appreciated, in my opinion, but TJ Thyne simply nailed this. Questions of identity, family, love and betrayal all come into play, and he handled them in a beautifully understated way. His confusion in the doctor’s office as he struggles with his parents’ choice, his hope – followed by despair – in his first encounter with Jeffrey, his retreat into work when he couldn’t process it all (and, hey, who does that remind us of?)…all those moments were powerfully portrayed.
Mental illness is often baffling to people who’ve never encountered it, and that’s true for Hodgins as well. A brother! He has a brother! He looks for common ground, and finds it in their shared love of Jules Verne…only to immediately lose it, as Jeffrey retreats into his delusions. Worse, for a moment or two, Hodgins thinks he’s found someone to share his belief in and love of conspiracies. But where he’s always known the line between believing they exist, and in taking them personally…that line doesn’t exist for his brother.
So he goes from an initial inclination of ‘he’s my brother, he can come home and live with us,’ to ‘is it even possible to have a relationship with him?’ In one of my favorite Angela scenes, ever, she says yes:
“I kept thinking, if we’d known each other growing up, maybe I could have helped. Maybe he wouldn’t be where he is now.”
“You know that that is not true.”
“No? I could have loved him.”
“You can do that now. You can still love him.”
She’s not the only one to say so. They established a few weeks ago that Hodgins had a solid, loving relationship with his parents, and that served as a good backdrop here, as he struggles with the lie they’d told him, struggles to see that they weren’t villains for having done so. Fisher steps in to answer that question by helping him see that it’s not a choice between an institution and being loved. Living apart can be the best place for Jeffrey, and yet he can still need Jack’s love.
As Wendell was the best intern for the Big in the Philippines story, Fisher is the best choice here, and for the same reason: the stories are deeper when they build on established history of the characters.
“Look, I’ve spent time at the looney bin, and I was grateful for it. Because sometimes, it’s the right place to be. Painful, sure, but what’s worse is when someone would look at you like you shouldn’t be there. I always felt like I’d done something wrong rather than just having a disease, you know? I know this sounds crazy, but you’ve got to be happy for him in there. Especially now that he’s found you. Trust me. He just won the lottery.”
We see how very right he is toward the end of the episode when Hodgins goes looking for Jeffrey. It’s no longer solely the responsibility of the facility to find him when he wanders, because he has Jack, and in the conversation that follows, we see what a wonderful brother Jack makes, as he reaches out to him in his own language: “Never trust an operative, but you can trust your brother. I’m your brother, Jeffrey.” He doesn’t patronize him, and as they walk away quoting Jules Verne together, we see the beginnings of a relationship that will enrich both their lives.
But what struck me while watching the scene where Booth and Brennan offer to help was that, as lucky as Jeffrey is to have a man like Jack Hodgins now firmly in his corner…Jack’s not alone there, and that means Jeffrey’s family just grew to include not only Angela, but Brennan, Booth, Sweets, Cam, and a whole host of squinterns. That’s a pretty big lottery win.
Meanwhile, the case in this episode is worth a mention, too, because I had no idea who the killer was, and didn’t foresee the clever twist that there wasn’t a killer at all. Plus? I particularly love the cases where the solution comes together the way this one did in the scene where Cam, Hodgins, Brennan and Fisher are working it out together, each making a contribution. As Cam said last week, ‘we’re nothing without each other.’
Other moments worth mentioning and random thoughts:
- Fisher’s suggesting the toe as cause of death at the beginning, and his ‘just saying’ in response to Brennan’s look. It’s great that he’s confident enough to do so.
- Hodgins’ inability to grind up the beetles after coming back from visiting his brother. “It’s stupid, I know.” No, it’s beautiful, and a little heartbreaking.
- I know I’ve referenced this indirectly, but…I can’t not say how much I love the scene in the diner where Booth tells Brennan he wants to give the money to Hodgins. We know they’re all a team, and we know Hodgins is as much family to Booth as is Sweets, but I squealed like the fan girl I am when Booth said it.
- Am I the only one who flashed back to the Gravedigger when we heard the kidnapper’s voice?
- If I have one teensy little nitpick with this episode, it’s that I wish they’d make up their mind about Sweets’ role. Last week, he was arresting people, this week, he’s a profiler who needs the agent in charge, i.e., Booth, to do whatever is necessary to hold Mauricio so he can’t leave the country.
“I should get back to the lab – hopefully, this is murder. I will see you soon.” Brennan, to Booth
“The fact is, a person doesn’t just lose a brother.”
“I lost my father.”
“Yes, but you knew you had one.” (Hodgins and Brennan)
“Apologies. I was watching the news and wondering if it was even worth getting dressed.” (Fisher)
“Well, I feel inadequate.” “You work with me, Mr. Fisher. I’d have thought you’d be used to that by now.” (Fisher and Brennan)
“All of our problems would be solved if they’d let scientists run things.” – Hodgins
“Okay, that was all sincere, but I’m feeling a little sick talking like that, so I’m going to go now.” Fisher, after his speech to Hodgins
“Man, I never knew it, but I guess I’ve been looking for you my whole life. To complete the picture. I can finally see past the static, like you.” (Hodgins, to Jeffrey)
*** Personal note: I’ve been waffling about whether I wanted to say this or not, but I think I do. Part of why this episode affected me so much is that my older sister, who I adored from the moment I was old enough to follow her around, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2000. There have been a lot of ups and downs for us as a family since then – some meds work, some don’t, one wonder drug worked for about three years and suddenly stopped – but the takeaway is that she’s still my sister. We need her no less than she needs us, and she has no less to give in a relationship than does, say, Jeffrey Hodgins. But there are as many misconceptions and biases about mental illness (particularly schizophrenia) as there are families experiencing it, and I’m profoundly grateful for the story Bones is telling here, about what it’s like to love and be in relationship with the mentally ill. I have no idea how often anyone associated with the show reads these reviews – that’s not why I write them – but Dean, if you do see this…thank you.