Bones has a range of story types, from light-hearted and silly to dramatic and sad. The normal, though, is humor and drama mixed together without too much angst, and this was a great episode with which to get things back to that normal after a rough few weeks: there are no mentions here of Sweets or false imprisonment.
And that’s good. Because as much as I loved the character stuff of the first three episodes, I was reminded this week that people watch the show for many reasons, and some of them prefer the lighter. A coworker I don’t see often asked if I was caught up with the show (she doesn’t know me well, okay?) and then said, ‘It’s so sad, now. I don’t know if I’ll keep watching.’
I encouraged her to stick with it because I knew we’d be getting to this point – Bones doesn’t stay in the dark for long – and sure enough, here we are: a lighter episode that’s still solid in terms of character, humor, and plot. (Can I just take a moment to praise the writers for managing to keep such a diverse audience not only still watching in season ten, but still picking up new viewers? That’s amazing.)
I’ve struggled to review it, though, because it strikes me as a whole series of relationship moments that add up to more than the sum of their parts. Having decided that I love them all too much to be sensible with selection, here they are:
Booth, Brennan, and Christine:
I love seeing that Christine is clearly a product of both of them; also, remembering Brennan’s freaked response to Angela’s comment about love in The Hero in the Hold, her casual “I love you” here makes me gooey.
Cam, Brennan, Jessica on the platform, with Booth on the monitor:
“Using your guts in the field is one thing, but there’s absolutely no room for guts in my lab.”
“Then what do I do with these?” (Brennan and Cam)
It’s a small moment, really, played for humor, (particularly given Booth trying not to laugh in the background) but the fact that Cam reacts as she does to Brennan’s referencing it as her lab illustrates why the two of them work together so well.
Memo 1 to Aubrey:
Don’t diss the squints. Even if you don’t intend it as a diss:
“Any ID yet?”
“No, and I don’t know how there ever will be with the remains they have to work with.”
“Never, ever, underestimate a squint, okay? I’ve seen them solve a crime with two fingers and a bottle cap.” (Booth and Aubrey)
Booth and Aubrey Discuss Kindergarten:
This was bittersweet, because the whole first part reminded me of Booth and Sweets, where Booth would open the door on a personal issue, Sweets would blunder around (often still saying something useful), and Booth would get cold feet and slam the door shut.
However casual it might appear, this is Booth reaching out in friendship. And Aubrey tries, but what’s immediately apparent is that he doesn’t know Booth and Brennan well enough yet to field these kinds of questions. Sweets didn’t always get it right but at the core, he understood both Booth and Brennan in a way that Aubrey can’t hope to, at least not yet.
For starters, they don’t fight the way Aubrey means. They bicker, but such is the truth of who they are that there’s no heat to it. And when they do fight? It’s because, oh, Booth’s planning to kill an innocent man, not about where Christine should go to school.
Brennan and Jessica:
There are several scenes between the two of them that struck me, but the first one is where, Jessica, pleased with what they’ve discovered says, ‘this was a beautiful cooperative moment. Did you feel it?’
It reminded me of the time Daisy, in a similar situation, wound up high-fiving herself because Brennan refused to participate. Here? Brennan’s expression suggests that yes, she did feel it, and enjoyed it, and I love that for her.
Can I just say how much I love Angela in this episode? Not only does she go along with Hodgins’ desire to play Mythbusters in the lab, but she covers for him with Cam, and that’s sweet.
I’ve said before that I think the show has often done a better job of showing his love for her than showing hers for him, so these types of moments make me happy.
(And that experiment? It was great, because it surprised me. So many of his experiments have ended badly, I expected to see Cam and Angela drenched, and loved that the show instead went in the unexpected direction of Cam joining in, too. I think she secretly loves his experiments, and that’s fun.)
Booth and Brennan at the diner:
What I love here is seeing that she’s as vulnerable as any parent to the fierce desire that her child have a better childhood than she did, as well as this expression from Booth as a response. It’s not that he doesn’t know about her childhood, or forgets its impact, but I think it never stops hurting him on her behalf.
Memo 2 to Aubrey:
Be very careful not to sound like you might be disrespecting a female squint:
“That cute squint laid out the specific six-punch combination that would have caused the injuries to the victim’s body.”
“That cute squint?”
“My trainer at the academy taught me to use precise language. She’s a squint and she’s cute.”
“Got it.” (Aubrey and Booth)
(Booth may get it, but he didn’t sound happy, and the way he jumped on it means you may want to tread carefully there. Angela’s family, and you’re not. At least not yet.)
Booth and Aubrey Arrest the Guy Who Doesn’t Want to Be Questioned:
But if they’re still finding their way to friendship, they work together well as agents. The scene where they play with the minotaur before taking him down? It’s perfect. When Booth looks at Aubrey and says, ‘you want this one?’ I smirked. I miss Sweets, but that was a lot fun to watch.
Brennan and Angela, at the park:
This is how I love the two of them the best – both being who they are, and yet, in their differences, being best friends. Different parenting styles, but both work, and neither woman seems threatened by the fact that the other one isn’t doing the same thing.
And when Brennan asks, “Do you think I’m incapable of being open to new ideas?” The fact that she’s researching the cooperative and asking the questions proves that no, she’s not incapable of such openness. Not by a long shot.
But this line, which seems pretty wise to me, illustrates best what I love about the whole scene: “You know the way I figure it? They’re going to blame us for everything that goes wrong in their lives anyway, so you might as well do what feels right for you.”
There have been times when Angela took the boss approach with Brennan, and wasn’t always wrong to do so. But here, while she’s reassuring Brennan, it’s more from the position of an equal, just two moms trying to figure things out. I can’t tell you how much I like that.
Jessica, Hodgins, and Angela:
I love everything about the penultimate scene, from Hodgins’ panicked-male expression when she bursts into tears, to the fact that they won’t take no for an answer. It reminded me of Booth and Brennan doing the same thing with Sweets in Mayhem on a Cross. Jessica belongs to them now.
Beer hats and bathtubs:
I continue to be impressed by how the show’s working their sex life into the story. It’s part of them, part of their relationship, but simply filming them in whatever sex-like positions the censors allow runs the risk of becoming repetitive while not really telling us anything about them (and therefore not contributing to the story.) But having them talk about it (or talking to others, as with Brennan’s comments to Angela) does exactly that.
It turns out that Brennan’s not as open minded as we might have expected given her view of herself as sexually adventurous (and not just in respect to the beer hat – see her comment to Angela about not having expected to like the tub.) And thus this scene, where she says, “I’m far too rigid to enjoy something like that,” fits perfectly with the overall theme of her struggling to reconcile her preferences on education with the new idea, to her, that other methods can be effective.
I flat-out adore Brennan, but the show can sometimes be heavy-handed in terms of her growth, having her conveniently forget something she’s already learned so she can learn it again. This could have been that, and wasn’t, and what we got instead is wonderful: When Jessica shares the success of others in her cooperative, Brennan goes, on her own, to research McLaughlin’s techniques and results.
No one lectures her, no one ‘teaches her a lesson.’ She absorbs what she reads, discusses it with Angela and Booth, and acknowledges the conflict between her desire for the structured approach she understands, and the evidence that non-structured has its advantages. In the end, she doesn’t toss out her own belief, but passes her research to Booth, trusting him to balance her preferences.
It’s beautiful, because it’s evidence of how she grows and changes, without anyone beating her over the head with ‘this is the right way to be.’
From a writing perspective, I loved it. I wasn’t expecting the ‘who are you?’ twist at all (even if I should have been) and I thought Angela showing the murder via motion capture was brilliant. (Plus, call back to Punky Pong!)
But having been a victim of catfishing, it hit home personally and that makes it difficult to evaluate. The fact that parts of it paralleled the experience shared by a few of us only made it weirder. But I can tell you that Noah’s response of “None of this makes sense” is completely authentic. I remember saying precisely that, repeatedly, last November.
Another thing that strikes me is when Booth, talking about Noah and Alice hitting it off, says, ‘I guess there is a silver lining, even in murder’ – my mind substitutes ‘catfishing’ for murder, and agrees with him, because while I wouldn’t wish that type of betrayal on anyone, my life is richer is for the deeper friendships I’ve made as a result, and I’m grateful.
(Also…is his ability to see that an indication that he’s getting back to the Booth who sees the good in people?)
“You live in the one house in the world that can’t get porn.” (Twelve year old boy, about to find more than he’s looking for on the internet)
“Sweet wife, please let a man have his toys.” (Hodgins)
“Michael Vincent, if you run up that slide one more time, I’m never feeding you again.” (Angela)
“I’m sensing a little computer envy.”
“I just got an awesome new laptop. Little smaller than this, but it’s not the size, right?”
“No, it’s the size.” (Angela and Aubrey)
“I want to show Dr. Brennan that genius and flaky aren’t mutually exclusive.” (Jessica)
“You are far more open-minded than I am, and since I would never consider wearing a beer hat in the tub, far less rigid.”
“Thanks, Bones, that’s a compliment, right?”
“More a statement of fact.”