Fan Review: The Source in the Sludge

Whoo-hoo! Bones is back! *does happy dance all over the Web*

And with another strong episode, too. My favorite stories are the ones that run a bit darker while still giving us lighter moments and lots of relationship focus, and that’s what this one delivered. In fact, during my re-watch, I was struck by how skillfully Jonathan Collier wove a number of stories together here, without any of them feeling rushed.

The big story in this one is Danny, but it’s accompanied by what turns out to be a sweet story for Booth and Brennan, nice moments between Daisy and Brennan and Daisy and Sweets, and a tender scene between Angela and Hodgins.

The last one is perhaps the least expected, as it doesn’t directly relate back to any of the other stories going on – and perhaps has more power for that being so. I said a few months ago that I feel like the show has given me a better view of Hodgins’ love for Angela than vice versa, and this season is correcting that. It’s not that I couldn’t see why she’d love him (hello, I’ll take a Hodgins of my very own, thank you…) so much as that the show has always made a point of showing his love for her (I’m thinking specifically during the period they were split up) while it’s sometimes felt like we were supposed to take her love for him on faith.

But this season has given us her being his ‘midwife’ to a bug growing in his neck (which, seriously, is way high up on the ‘how to show your partner you love him’ scale) and now, here, when she tells him that his responses to the things life has thrown him in the last year have not gone unnoticed by her:

“All these major life changes happen, and you’ve never once complained, or fallen apart, or felt sorry for yourself. You took it in stride.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Not many people could deal with what you have. And then there are these 360 million year old creatures who have stayed the course, just like you, no matter what evolution threw at them. It makes sense that you’d take a shine to them.”

“They are pretty special, huh?”

“Just like you.”

In a different context, with different characters, the scene could induce eye-rolling on the saccharine front, but because we know it’s true – he has handled both the loss of his fortune and the discovery of his brother with grace – and because we know Angela isn’t given to such flowery declarations, it makes my heart a little mushy.

It’s not only Angela who’s surprising me this season – Daisy is as well.  It’s no great secret that I disliked Daisy for several years running, in part because I had a hard time forgiving her for what I saw as blatant manipulation in The Beginning in the End, and in part because it seemed like most of the time, her episodes were about her and Sweets having sex in inappropriate places. (I still think she needs to see a therapist – not Sweets – about a possible sex addiction.)

But the fastest way to my heart is for a character to be vulnerable, and we’ve seen that in Daisy a lot in the last year – including here.

I’ve said before that one of the things I like about the worldview of the show is the belief the writers have that two people can remain friends after a romantic relationship ends -Booth/Cam, Angela/Hodgins, Angela/Wendell… even Brennan/Sully, as I think the fact that Brennan saw him off suggests that if he reappeared, she’d view him as a friend.

I don’t know how realistic that idea is, really, but I like it.  My views of love are somewhat out of sync with many, but it seems as if for it to have any real meaning, love should survive, in some form, even if the relationship doesn’t. If it’s just a switch that gets flipped on or off, why do we want it at all?

Rather, what we need most in our lives are people we can count on to be there, and knowing that that’s true, even of someone we used to be in love with…that’s a gift. And one we see here between Sweets and Daisy, as she seemingly takes her crisis to the one person she trusts not to judge her.

And Sweets comes through. Last night, in our post-ep chat, a number of people seemed to be assuming that Sweets knew how Brennan would react to Daisy’s confession because he knew she’d failed her orals. Interestingly, I didn’t assume that, instead going first to the idea that Sweets simply knows Brennan that well. (This, despite the fact that I think we most often see Sweets being wrong about Brennan rather than being right.)

But he was right in this case. What struck me in the conversation between Brennan and Daisy is that on the surface, Brennan doesn’t seem to be giving Daisy what she needs, as she agrees she humiliated herself. But when we’re humiliated, what helps the most? Someone trying to make it seem like whatever it was really wasn’t that bad – when we know it was – or someone acknowledging the truth but putting it into context? “I understand that you humiliated yourself, and I understand that it’s meaningless.”

I’m pretty sure that her mentor reinterpreting the experience as unimportant in the big scheme of things was exactly what Daisy needed to hear. Even without the confession that Brennan, too, had failed her orals.

Looking back on my grad school years, the best teachers were those who weren’t easy to please and yet who I could count on to tell me the truth, about both my triumphs and my mistakes. And that’s the kind of teacher Brennan is – and why every single one of the squinterns would walk through fire for her.

So would Booth. It’s not his fault that the insurance company sees a former special-ops-turned-FBI-agent as being less of a risk for field work than a forensic anthropologist, even one who can fire guns and protect herself with martial arts.  But she’s unhappy and feeling insulted, and he wants to fix it. That’s what they do for one another – fix what’s broken.

Since opening his own insurance company isn’t a viable option, he looks for other ways to let her know that he doesn’t just love her – he values her as his crime-fighting partner. Her being in the field is so much a part of who they are, as individuals and as a couple, that all he can do is say so, as explicitly as possible:

“Why am I still here?”

“Because you’re my partner and we close cases together and that’s never going to change. That’s why. I don’t care what any insurance company has to say.”

He doesn’t stop there, though. He brings her a bottle of scotch, which is, in my opinion, one of the most romantic things he’s ever done. 

I’ve been part of some, er, occasionally heated debates about romance, mostly because what people view as romantic is often baffling to me. Why is giving flowers romantic? Yeah, they’re pretty, and I’m not saying I’d mind getting some, but what’s special about flowers over, say, a pretty rock out of the garden?

Nothing that I can see – it’s the meaning we assign to things that matters. And that’s why romance, to me, should always be unique to the couple, reflective of who they are and what their relationship is, rather than attempts to follow society’s guidelines.

Thus that last scene makes me gooey. Booth wants Brennan to know he values her not just as his wife, but also as his partner, so he gives her something he’d give a partner.

“Angela would say a husband traditionally buys his wife flowers.”

“Yeah, that’s true. But this is not for my wife. This is for my partner…who I occasionally kiss.”

The whole thing is lovely and sweet, and no wonder she can only respond with, “I love you.”

So we’ve got frustrated Brennan, who eventually works her way around to understanding the (rational) reasoning of the insurance company, and romantic Booth, and what feels like foreshadowing in the ‘that’s never going to change’ dare to the universe, but I’ve got my fingers in my ears on that, singing ‘la-la-la’ at the top of my lungs.

Meanwhile, there’s another story here for Booth, where we see his response to betrayal by a friend: he remains Booth. He does what he knows to be right. He follows the evidence, and when it points to Danny, he arrests him. (Not a surprise, really – this is the same man who arrested his partner’s father, despite having a certain amount of respect for him.)

That said, I wonder about this line: “Things happen in a war, okay? You end up doing stuff that could destroy you if it came out.” It sounds like he’s speaking from experience, or at least knowledge, and yet I don’t think we’re going to discover at this point, nine seasons in, that Booth’s carrying more emotional battle scars than the ones he’s already shared with Brennan, particularly in The Soldier on the Grave. So what was he talking about?

In terms of Danny, the first part of the story doesn’t work as well for me as I think they wanted it to, because I can’t quite feel anguish for Booth in making that arrest, if that’s what I’m supposed to be feeling. It’s hard to like Danny when he keeps lying, and while I think meeting him in The Secrets in the Proposal was supposed to create enough of a connection between us and the character that it would matter more when Booth arrested him, it doesn’t, really. I mostly just wanted Booth to punch him.

Plus, we know they served together, but not where, or when, or for how long, or how close they were. (Hello, Booth and Broadsky served together, too.)

But I can still recognize that Booth’s angry and feeling betrayed, and I do soften towards Danny at the end. Not when he says he loved Sari, nor even when he says he wouldn’t lie about that, but when he says with such resignation, “That’s a lot more important than one Afghani woman,” after Caroline tells them about the DOJ deal. There’s despair there, and even hopelessness, that this woman he cared about and had tried to help died in vain and without justice.

Booth believes in the system. We know he does. And yet… “No, Bones. I’m not going to let it go, okay? This guy, he’s got to pay. He’s gonna pay.”  The fact that Brennan encouraged him not to pursue it makes me wonder what she was afraid of.

Fortunately, this time, they had another option for making the killer pay. But it still leaves the question out there (which I don’t think they’ll ever actually answer) ...could Booth wind up in a situation where the only way to get justice/save innocents was to take a life in cold blood?

Bonus quotes:

“Do you know these guys haven’t evolved in 360 million years.”

“Sounds like they could run for Congress.” (Hodgins and Cam)

***

I’m a failure…and a liar. Which interestingly, doesn’t concern me as much as the failure part right now. (Daisy)

***

“You know we have a nice lounge upstairs that might be more comfortable for you.”

“Yeah, but then I’d be depriving you of my talented backseat driving.” (Cam and Caroline)

***

“Thanks.”

“Just remember next time who your friends are, all right?” (Danny and Booth)

***

Cam, Angela, Brennan, watching Sari’s recording:

Sari: “…it doesn’t matter what happens to me.  As long as the fight lives on, I live on.”

Brennan: “Seven million views in two days?”

Angela: “She can’t have died for nothing.”

Cam: “Why do I think you had something to do with that?”

Sari: “…every small girl who learns to read, every woman who has the courage to become a teacher or a doctor…they keep the dream alive. They keep the darkness away. I don’t understand why people fear an educated woman. Well…maybe I do. Because it’s clear that ignorance is no match for a curious mind, and hatred and oppression are no match for the human heart. Compassion and love will guide us, and freedom will be our reward.”

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One thought on “Fan Review: The Source in the Sludge

  1. I too liked this episode. I also didn’t even think that perhaps Sweets knew about Brennan’s past with her oral exam…I was thinking more like you (i think) in that Sweets knows that Brennan just wants the truth. If Daisy is absentminded in the lab and messing things up, Brennan is going to be annoyed–if there is a reason behind Daisy’s actions, Brennan can deal with that, but she’s not going to go around interpreting emotions of her interns. They just have to tell her the truth, and then deal with her reactions.

    Also agree that the scotch was special. Reminded me of Soccer Mom in the Mini Van (which is not with Brennan), and The Intern in the Incinerator (which was).

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