One of my favorite things about Bones is how often it surprises me, gives me moments when I’m touched by something I didn’t expect to be. I suspect it happens because I watch the show for so many different reasons and am thus open to the possibilities. (In contrast, perhaps, to people who, by their own admission, watch only for one thing, be it a character, a relationship, the cases, or the humor.)
Still, my favorite parts of the story are generally Booth and Brennan, their relationship, and that of the team as a whole. But sometimes, it’s something else which hooks me, and here, it was primarily Finn.
But before I get to that, I’ll just lay it out that Booth, at least, was not one of my favorite parts of this one…and that’s okay. All of the characters on the show are flawed, and that’s one of the reasons I love them. Real people are a mix of strengths and weaknesses, and if we only saw the admirable traits in the team, it would be harder to relate to them. And I figured out a while ago that on some level, I do relate to these characters as if they’re real people. I know they’re not – I do fully grasp the concept of fiction – but emotionally, I think I respond to them like I would a real person.
And that means that even while I love them, I don’t always like them. And in this episode, I didn’t like Booth at points, specifically the enormous disrespect he was showing both at the funeral (I don’t care who’s dead, cheering at a funeral is wrong) and in the museum at the end (manhandling/playing with an artifact? Really?)
But that’s okay, because the man I love and respect was present at other points (I enjoyed his responses to Todd’s crazy-lady-mom, from protective outrage at the funeral, to eye-rolling in the interrogation room) and I especially liked that even while he wanted Todd to be the killer, he didn’t let that influence him when the other man confessed. The moment he did so, Booth knew something was wrong, and the desire for justice was stronger than his dislike for the rich guy.
Meanwhile, the episode was giving me what’s nearly always my favorite Brennan: excited by a challenge, being yang to Booth’s yin in terms of his reaction to Todd, and her compassionate response, in her own unique way, to Finn.
Finn’s not my favorite intern, mostly because – speaking as someone whose family roots are Tennessee and Kentucky – his overuse of colloquialisms drives me nuts. But he can be quite wise, and that’s what I enjoyed here. (My previous favorite Finn moment is from The Partners in the Divorce, when he helps Brennan see how wrong things really are between her and Booth.)
Although I’m glad the characters are flawed, the show doesn’t leave them there. Instead, it quite often contrasts those flaws with the best that humans can be, such as Finn loving Michelle enough to put her first: “You should never apologize for being happy. You go, be happy.”
No wonder Cam says to him, “She’s a better person because of having known you.” The idea that we leave marks on people, for good or ill, (and even if they’re only in our lives for a short while) isn’t new, but the comment did make me take a step back and wonder whether anyone could say that of me. (Are you rolling your eyes as I wander into philosophical navel gazing? I don’t blame you, really, and yet…why can’t a TV dramedy, intended for an hour’s entertainment and nothing more, also cause us to question ourselves?)
The money theme mostly interests me because the show returns to it so often. On the one hand, it sort of feels like they’ve said everything they need to say about it, and on the other, as screwed up as many people are on the topic…maybe not. Booth’s comment that everyone is sort of addicted to money struck me, because it’s not something often acknowledged, and he’s …probably not wrong.
In that sense, I liked Hodgins warning Finn to be careful – who else is in a better position to guide him? (I enjoy their relationship very much, particularly the ‘Thurston’ and ‘Opie’ nicknames.)
As to the case…I enjoy mysteries not so much for the puzzle of figuring out who did it, but for what such stories give me about the people. I’m generally less interested in the clues themselves than in watching how the characters figure things out, how they cope with setbacks and mistakes. (The same is true of suspense, action/adventure, sci-fi, and fantasy, all genres I love.)
Given that, the cases on Bones usually aren’t my focus, but here, I liked the challenge, liked the toys they were playing with (that electromagnetic field doohickey was seriously cool) and I’m enough of a history geek that an ancient artifact being the weapon is always intriguing. Plus, I liked the fact that the obnoxious rich guy turned out to be capable of love. It’s not only unexpected, I think it ties back into the overall hopeful view of human nature that guides the show, as odd as that is on a murder procedural.
One random observation about Booth and Brennan: a few weeks ago, we saw Booth make a distinction between Brennan-his-wife and Brennan-his-partner (when he got the partner he “occasionally kisses” a bottle of scotch) and we saw it again here, as he identifies her as his wife to Todd’s mother at the funeral, and later, as his partner when they’re interviewing Satima. I think within the universe of the show, that distinction is important, (and perhaps even part of why they’re so successful in closing cases.)
And yet…Brennan described them as symbiotic, another way of exploring how they work together. Dual roles, of crime-fighting partners and husband/wife, and yet two individuals whose strengths and weaknesses fit together in such a way that, together, they’re more than the sum of two parts. I was particularly struck by that while watching the scene at the house where they’re discussing the case. They’re completely comfortable with their differences – he guesses, she won’t; she knows he doesn’t get her science references, which he figures is fair, since she doesn’t know one Flyer from the next.
They worked together well in season one, and by the beginning of season three, identified themselves as the center of the team. But here we see how much more in sync they are now than they were then, and I suspect that the reason the show is thriving in season nine is because we’re getting the pay-off for all those seasons of watching them become more and more a unit.
“Daniel was my personal concierge, you know…lifestyle management.”
“No, I don’t know. I manage my own lifestyle.” (Todd and Booth)
“I think I know how the victim was killed.”
“Really? The guy’s literally dust in the wind.That would be amazing, even for you.”
“Yes. Sometimes I surprise even myself.” (Brennan and Angela)
“Stifling the body’s need to cry in emotionally difficult situations is unhealthy.” (Brennan)
“I had everything. But the truth is, nobody gets everything. We get what we love most. And sometimes it’s hard to know what that is.” (Finn)