Fan Review: The Drama in the Queen (Bones)

You know how a few weeks ago, I was making a list of the people most traumatized by finding the bodies on Bones? I’m thrilled this mom got this one. And I’m even happier that the kid left her there. *high fives the little girl with the Evil Mom*

Anyway, here’s my revelation for the week (because, yeah, I can be very slow at times): some of the people who call themselves fans of the show are actually fans of Booth and Brennan, not the show as a whole. This struck me last night, while rolling my eyes at the inevitable griping about Sweets.

It’s not that I’ve not known for years that there were people who were only interested in the Booth and Brennan story lines, to the point of being actively irritated by non-B&B focused plots. It just never occurred to me before that a handy way of thinking of the fans is ‘show-fans’ and ‘B&B fans.’

I realize that the categories aren’t absolute, and I’m not grouping the people who watch out of love for Booth and Brennan but enjoy the other characters as not being show-fans. (Though I’m thinking the person who said a couple of years ago that she wished they’d do an episode without a case, just focusing on Booth and Brennan’s relationship, probably never wobbles into ‘show-fan’ territory, even temporarily.)

Anyway…I am a fan of the show, in case you’re wondering. I love Booth and Brennan, but I like the others (granted, to various degrees), the mix of humor and drama, and the cases. Even though that’s not where my focus usually is, I’m always interested in both the who-did-it and the how-they-figure-it-out.

And because I’m a fan of the whole thing, I overall liked this episode a great deal.  The show’s a procedural, not a soap opera. Not every episode can be big and dramatic, or further the major arcs going on. Some of them have to just do what they do: tell a quieter story of a team solving crimes against the backdrop of their personal lives. (Next week, we get the big and dramatic, and boy howdy, does it look like both!)

Here’s what I especially enjoyed about this one:

The team’s response to Sweets-in-charge: There’s so much affection there. They’re more amused by his dictates in the early scenes than irritated, and willing to work around him even while letting him do what he needs to do. (Also? A bit I particularly loved was Brennan asking him to support Cam in a way that both reminded him that Cam was in charge and gave him something to do that fit with his view of himself.)

The case: I guessed wrong, and even while knowing that nothing is ever unimportant in a 44 minute story, I didn’t pay attention to the deaf guy beyond the humor of bats rather than rats. I thought the weaving of the different suspects and red herrings was well done, and it never felt rushed to me.

Brennan’s relationship with Jessica: I’m conflicted about Jessica for reasons I’ll get to in a moment, but the dynamic between her and Brennan was great. Brennan was more tolerant of her than I expected, given Jessica’s reliance on ‘vibes’ – but the gut being ‘highly developed observational powers’ is something Brennan’s exploring in her own life (as recently as the last episode, actually) and I very much like that we’re seeing the results of that in her relationship with her new intern.

I also enjoyed the end, when the two of them solved the case – and that bit where they move from Brennan’s office to the bone room, collecting Hodgins and Cam as they go? That rocked. (Great directing there.)

What only sort of worked for me was Jessica in general. One of the things I think the show does well, usually, is creating characters with personalities. A friend of mine who’s a published writer once commented that one of the mistakes she sees new writers make is to create a grocery list of characteristics for a character (‘stubborn, charming, quick-tempered, strong’) without crafting a personality. And yet it’s personality we respond to in others, not their character traits.

I could describe someone as brilliant, socially awkward, uncomfortable with emotion, and with an unexpected sense of humor, and you’d probably assume I’m describing Brennan. But based on that list alone, I could just as easily be describing Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, who is very different from Brennan.

It’s that ability to start with a list of traits that get fleshed out into memorable people that’s a strength of the show: Fisher is different from Arastoo; Oliver is different from Wendell – in fact, they feel different enough as individuals that many of us have a ‘favorite squintern.’ This, despite that these are not major roles on the show: frequently recurring, but not getting the same amount of airtime as, say, Angela.

So I was looking forward to meeting a new female squintern. I’ve always understood why they’ve had more males than females in that sense, since the lab is already weighted heavily in a female direction, but given the differences between the male interns, I was curious as to who they’d create as a second woman intern.

As I said above, I really like that she’s unafraid to rely on her instincts, both because I think there is room – or should be – for imagination and creativity in science, and because I think there’s potential for interesting stories there (as here, actually – I enjoyed the responses to her pineapple technique, from Cam’s “I don’t trust you now” to Hodgins both cautioning her and defending her.)

Unfortunately, much of the rest of her scenes – specifically those with Sweets – felt like a re-run of Daisy to me. Granted, my biggest problem with Daisy for several years was that I felt like most of her stories were about where she and Sweets were having sex, so having this story be about Jessica and Sweets having sex made me wish they’d made her a lesbian.

It’s not that I mind a romance for Sweets. I don’t. And I’m still allowing for the possibility that we’ll get to see this turn into a more thoughtful, grown-up relationship than he and Daisy managed. (I’d have also liked to see that with Olivia, by the way, though that’s the draw back of recurring characters – you never know how long you’ll have the actor.)

On the other hand, while Jessica felt very similar to Daisy in places (i.e., her assertiveness about sex) there were differences there, in even those scenes – enough to reassure me on the ‘distinct personalities’ front. Another thing I was musing on is that her confidence seems not unlike that of Oliver Wells, and yet, she doesn’t really remind me of him. And I love those nuances in characterization.

There wasn’t much going on here with Booth and Brennan, beyond the reminders of what he’s prepping for, and how it could affect them. There was nothing new, just that quiet affirmation on his part that they’re a team, which spoilers have said isn’t a sure thing after all. But here? It was nice them just being what they are to one another – and to the team. (I loved that he and Cam had discussed Sweets.)

A quiet episode, with a solid case and a subtle sense that ‘here’s a team who does good work together.’  (You know…before it all gets blown to heck in the finale. Yeah. Appreciate what you’ve got, while you’ve got it. Or something.)

Bonus Quotes:

“If Sweets is incompetent, I’ll let you know.”
“I’m sure you will.” (Brennan and Booth)

***

“Wow, did he just Brennan you?”
“I believe he did.” (Hodgins and Cam)

***

“You were lucky, Ms Watten.”
“Luck is the unknown, mixed with knowledge, instinct, commitment, imagination, and foresight.” (Brennan, Watten)

***

“Dr. Sweets! This is the lab, not speed dating.” (Cam)

***

“I should have seen these.”
“Yes. Perhaps your vibe is broken.” (Watten and Brennan)

***

“New rule. Next person I find discussing their sex life instead of the case? Cleans my autopsy room.” (Cam)

***

“Brilliant, Ms Watten!”
“I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting to hear you say that.” (Brennan and Watten)

 

 

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