Fan Review: The Purging of the Pundit (Bones)

From a character perspective (which, granted, is mostly why I watch the show) I adore this episode. It matters to me a great deal that Sweets is so present, that we see all of them stumbling over how to live in a world where he isn’t, because that feels authentic.

Booth, traumatized by both jail and Sweets’ loss, retreats to a narrow world of Brennan (and the squints, I think; I found it interesting that Aubrey said to Angela she should give Booth the information because it should come from someone he trusts.)

Brennan, meanwhile, keeps quoting Sweets, and in that sense, I think is nearly more at sea in terms of how to cope than Booth is. As well as she knows Booth (and she is the world’s greatest expert on all things Seeley J. Booth), there have been times when she wasn’t sure what he needed, or how to help him, and so she went to Sweets, despite her distrust of psychology. And now that resource is lost to her, right when she needs it most.

So she turns to what he had said in what was probably their last conversation (at the diner, in Corpse)  – that Booth would need something larger than himself to believe in, and would need his ability to trust those he works with restored. It’s not enough for him to know that Brennan and the squints will always have his back, he has to know that if something goes down, someone at the bureau will stand with him too, and right now, he doesn’t have that. Based on what the show’s given us, every single other agent drank the conspiracy Kool-aid, and while we don’t know how they’re interacting with him, nor he with them, he’s justified in not trusting them.

There’s still stuff we don’t know about Aubrey. He came to the DC office while Booth was in jail – was he Booth’s replacement, as least in terms of warm bodies in the department? Was he assigned somewhere else first, or is this his first post after Quantico? However he came to be there, at some point, despite jail and the conspiracy, Booth earned his respect, enough that he’s the one Aubrey wants to work with.

But Booth, being Booth, is still taking refuge where he always does when life knocks him sideways: denial. Nothing wrong here, nope, no sirree, I’ll sleep when I get tired, don’t need the God I’ve believed in all my life, don’t need anyone but my wife, don’t need to trust anyone. I’m good, I’m fine, nothing to see here.

Not only is it not healthy, but to some degree, it means the conspiracy won. In making him into someone he’s not, they’re still calling the shots.

But he’s also a man who respects honesty, even if he doesn’t react well to it. That’s part of what he loves about Brennan, and it’s why Aubrey gets to keep his teeth after calling him an idiot. But personally, I think Aubrey’s justified. After all, here he is, the one man in the department who stood by Booth when none of the other agents would, one who wants only a chance to learn from him, and Booth keeps sending him back to his desk.

What’s being lost in all this is that Booth, at heart, is the same man he’s always been. We’ve seen him nurture younger agents in the past, and he tells Brennan that he hand-picked Aubrey. He’s not looking for a partner other than Brennan, but he’s still that good leader, the one who saw something in the other man he wanted to encourage. He just doesn’t want to trust him, and that’s a problem.

We know being his partner matters to Brennan, and if we doubted it, the last scene makes that clear. And yet such is her awareness that Booth needs more than just her that she takes the matter out of his hands.

She also confronts him over his not going to church. I can’t even tell you how much I love her bringing that up. She doesn’t believe in God, but because the Booth she loves does, she wants him to have it back. And I adore her for that, as well as her understanding that he needs to reclaim the man who believes that people are good, and deserve to be trusted.

Despite everything, they’re a unit, and I think the other scenes between them, particularly the nibble conversation and the tag, are intended to show us that whatever else is going on, they’re still them. Flirting, teasing, disagreeing. Things are challenging, but they’re going to be fine.

"It's a weird combination, but it works." "Like us."

“It’s a weird combination, but it works.”
“Like us.”

In terms of the rest of the team, my favorite moments (much to my surprise) involved Dr. Fuentes. His compassion and kindness, not only in offering condolences to the entire team, but also in asking after Booth, touched me. Plus? I like watching him and Brennan work together. He really is ‘her’ if she were in another country, needing to work as an intern to get her credentials. The relationship between them is more of equals than is usual for her with some of the other interns (excepting Clark…sometimes) and I enjoy their dynamic very much.

Another very minor thing that I liked enough to want to mention is how much I appreciate Brennan’s comment about getting Christine ready for daycare. I don’t expect to see Christine every week, and don’t want the show to get bogged down in too many details of their daily life. But children really do change everything, and not mentioning her when everyone who’s spent more than thirty minutes with a three year old knows she’d be a factor merely pulls me out of the story.

What didn’t work for me here is the case. Politically, I’m a moderate. Dead center, agreeing with the liberals on some points and conservatives on others, and while I have definite opinions of my own, I try not to close my mind to what anyone believes. We’re never all going to agree, but I firmly believe that respecting other people is a starting point to accomplishing anything. And this episode didn’t reveal a lack of respect towards conservatives but rather flat-out contempt.

Not one conservative character was presented even vaguely sympathetically. Hutch came closest, I guess, in that the reason he was murdered was because he was quitting the show – but not as a conservative who was changing his mind about his behavior. No, he was quitting to become a moderate.

And as a moderate, I have to tell you that the idea that the only option for a non-liberal who wants to be a good person is to be a moderate – because all conservatives are ignorant and evil, presumably – offended me, not only on behalf of my friends and family who are conservatives, but also those who are liberals, and yet open-minded enough to value dialogue with those who are different from them.

I am aware that the murderer turned out to be a blackmailing liberal, and figure that was the show’s attempt to look balanced, particularly since the more liberal wife was a drug addict. But all that does is emphasize that liberals are human; it doesn’t do anything to balance the anti-conservative bias displayed.

Part of why I fell in love with Bones in the first place is the respect shown to different views on religion, so the flat refusal to acknowledge a different political view (and a significant one) dismayed me.

Let’s be clear about this: It’s their show, and they are absolutely entitled to use it to express their views. But it works better when it’s an opinion about an issue rather, than, say, stereotyping and demonizing a large chunk of their audience.

You can disagree with someone – vehemently – while still respecting their right to hold a position different from yours. And wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone practiced that?

Bonus quotes:

“He’s so clean, he’s practically Canadian.” – (Aubrey)


“I’ll probably get to two shades of grey, but I’m not going to be making fifty, I’ll tell you that.” (Booth)


“…which was confusing, because I thought, ‘Bambi, why are you an accomplice to murder?” (Hodgins)


“I will not have my science dumbed down because you don’t know Latin.” (Brennan)


“S&M isn’t a peanut butter cup. It’s not two great tastes that go together.” (Booth)


“You can trust him, Booth. I know a good man when I see one. I picked you, didn’t I?” (Brennan)



2 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Purging of the Pundit (Bones)

  1. Spot on as usual. I just love reading your review. The B&B parts were so good and they’re why I watch so I enjoyed the episode.

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful analyses of these episodes. I appreciate that you trust the writers. You try to see and understand things within the framework of the Bones universe, rather than whining about how the real world butts into the story.

    I thought Brennan’s comment about picking a good man was amusing. She had a string of picking/being wooed by some pretty sketchy men before, and Booth knows it. But when it came down to who to fully trust, she did get it right.

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