So, remember this post from last week, where I introduced a new series I’m doing with great pal Natesmama?
We’re continuing that today with her thoughts on why The Man in the SUV is essential viewing for our hypothetical new fan who wants to catch up as quickly as possible with what’s happening in season ten.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about doing this series with her. Although we mostly agree about the show, we occasionally see things differently, or love an episode for different reasons, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to have this be a joint project. (Well, we’re already having a blast with it, and hopefully, you all will, too.)
We’ve picked out most of the episodes, divided them up, and will posting one a week. (I say ‘most’ because while some of the episodes are givens, we’re reserving the right to change our minds as we go along on a few of them.)
There’s also quite a bit of flexibility in terms of who does which episode, so she’ll be doing the one next week as well, and then I’ll be back the week after that. (Clear as mud?)
By her next post, I’ll have her set up so she posts directly, but with this one, I selfishly wanted to do this intro and say, thanks for joining me in this, Jen. I can’t wait to see where it goes. Love you! — Rynogeny (Everything below is by Natesmama.)
S01E02: The Man in the SUV
I need to be honest here. I did not care much for the pilot of Bones. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well-done. And I understand how it could snag so many fans, but for me…it fell a little flat. So it was with wariness that I came back the next week to watch The Man in the SUV, and I am grateful that I did.
This second episode of Season One opens with a classic case of misdirection. A Middle Eastern-looking man, clearly in distress, blowing up in an SUV in front of a busy café, killing himself and several innocent bystanders.
Brennan is called in to confirm the identity of the SUV’s driver as Hamid Masruk, the leader of the Arab-American Friendship League. With Zack’s help, Brennan cleans the skeleton and compares the bones to Masruk’s medical records.
The man’s skull doesn’t fit together cleanly, which is later found to be due to a degenerative disease caused by exposure to a toxin. The wife, and subsequently her lover are both eliminated as suspects and thanks to Hodgins and Zack, they soon discover that the victim’s brother is the bomber and is planning yet another attack. Booth and Brennan work together to figure out the new target and manage to take Farid Masruk out before he detonates his bomb in a large, heavily populated convention center.
Beyond the case, which was excellent, this episode gives us our first real peek into how Booth and Brennan (with help from the team) are going to work together as partners. Their differences are highlighted here (religion, relationships), and the fact that they come at each case from such differing worldviews and techniques is what showed the most promise in the initial premise of Bones, separating it from the glut of procedurals that were popular at the time the show debuted. But despite all that, it’s the glaring similarities between Booth and Brennan that shine through.
At the climax of the case, as Booth and Brennan track down their suspect, they see what looks to be Masruk shuffling through the crowd with what must be a bomb strapped to him. Brennan can tell by physical markers that they have their man…but Booth needs proof. “I need a face!”…something Brennan completely understands, even as she pushes against Booth.
Brennan: “Look! That’s Farid! His walk is labored because of the dioxin poisoning and his parietal bones match his picture!”
Booth: “His back’s to us. What if you’re wrong?”
Brennan: “This is what I do, Booth! Do you really want to wait?”
In the end, Brennan accepts that Booth needs what she needs…proof. So she calls Farid’s name and forces him to turn, giving Booth his verification. His aim is true, and the threat is eliminated.
The scene at the end of the episode, in Wong Foos, continues the theme. What is important to Booth is the closing of the case, not the accolades. He tells Brennan that he doesn’t need a Rose Garden ceremony and that taking someone’s life should not be rewarded, no matter the circumstances. What is interesting to note here is Brennan’s response to Booth’s selflessness. In a mirror of the final scene in the late-Season One episode, The Soldier on the Grave, Brennan places her hand on Booth’s arm in comfort.
Booth: “No pleasure in taking someone’s life. Nothing to celebrate.”
Brennan: “You saved so many people, Booth. Don’t forget that.”
She knows what Booth needs to hear, even as they are still learning and getting to know each other. Later in the series that quality is downplayed for story line purposes, but Brennan has always known Booth and understood his motivations, even when she didn’t always agree with his methods. The trust is there, right from the beginning.
Booth is a simple man. His job is clear-cut, and he likes that…just like his new partner does. He likes facts, and although plenty of time is spent throughout the series giving credence to Booth’s infamous “gut”, in the end he needs proof, like any good cop. And just like Brennan, Booth can’t act until all the facts are in…which is why, at the end of that scene, instead of staying for another drink and continuing the flirting he tries to initiate, (Yes, we saw that smile, Booth.) he leaves his partner and goes home to his girlfriend.
It’s this final scene (and part of the one before) that snared my interest. In that short, meaningful exchange I saw the possibilities of what Booth and Brennan could be as a team. Partners. (No, I was not a “shipper” at the time.) Booth wanted to rely on Brennan’s science to take out the threat and Brennan wanted him to trust her to do so. Her frustration is palpable, but in the end she acquiesces to Booth’s request and the suspect is taken down. It was never a lack of trust on Booth’s part, because deep down he believes that Brennan is correct. But neither partner can deal in maybes and probabilities when it comes to the resolution of their cases. And then she extends that trust one step further by not only understanding why he doesn’t want accolades, but offering her support for that view. Booth’s smile at that reassurance might have been flirty, sure, but it was also a bit relieved. And in my opinion, this moment is the true start of a beautiful partnership to come.