Fan Review: The Santa in the Slush

I realized a while ago that doing the fan reviews allows me to watch the episodes in a more deliberate way, paying attention to things I might not otherwise have noticed, so I thought it would be fun to go back during the hiatus and do similar reviews of eps from earlier seasons. I don’t know how many I’ll do (and we’re still going to be doing the Essential Bones posts, too) but first up, I wanted to do one of the Christmas episodes.

And here’s the first thing I learned: although I love all three of them, I’ve tended to think my very favorite one was The Goop on the Girl, so that was the one I was going to review. But then I watched The Santa in the Slush while wrapping gifts (doing so while watching Bones Christmas eps is one of my personal traditions) and hmm… It turns out that my favorite Christmas episode is whichever one I’m watching at the time.

Watching this S3 episode from the vantage point of mid-S10 is both bittersweet and deeply satisfying. I watch Angela and Hodgins discuss whether two people are a family knowing that while they later spend nearly two years apart, that they’re now making ornaments with Michael Vincent; I watch Booth and Brennan’s kiss beneath the mistletoe thinking both about the one still to come in front of the Hoover as well as the one they shared even later in front of friends and family, after Aldo says, ”as usual, she’s right.”

I watch Booth struggle with being separated from Parker at Christmas knowing that however complicated his time with his son still is (due to living on separate continents), he will someday know the joy of Christmas with a child you’re raising full-time; however annoyed I am with Max’s manipulation two years later (I dislike him in Goop), here, I want to tell him that there are many Christmases with family and kids and love in his future.

That’s all deeply satisfying to me.

Thinking about the story in its own context, though, and not in relation to what comes later, what generally comes to mind is the kiss, Sweets in an elf hat, and the whole end scene. But what struck me this year is the larger theme of the episode, which I think is, “we make miracles for others.”

There’s an early hint of this in Max’s casual reveal to Brennan that one of her treasured childhood memories – getting the toolbox for Christmas – was actually brought about because Russ loved his little sister enough to give her what was to have been one of his gifts.

The focus then shifts to Brennan’s efforts to get Max what he wants for Christmas. It’s not easy, because he wants the impossible: a family Christmas, with kids and lights and joy and everyone there. But he and Russ are both in jail, and Brennan? She’s planning on escaping all of it by going to Peru.

Booth, meanwhile, wants something less technically impossible, but just as unlikely: he wants to see Parker, whom Rebecca is planning to take to Vermont.

sad face

He’s still a sucker for that face.

Powerless to change that, he focuses on helping Brennan to help her family, because in her ‘sad little girl’ face, he sees that, Peru aside, she wants the same things Max does:

“Your dad, he wants the whole Christmas package. You know –  the tree, the kids, the presents – the whole shebang.”
“Well the whole shebang isn’t possible.”
“Christmas is about making the impossible happen.” (Booth and Brennan)

He directs her to Caroline, knowing that while there will be a cost involved, Caroline can provide the place for their Christmas. She does, and then Brennan runs with it, working throughout the rest of the episode to get everything else in order…all the while still planning on going to Peru herself.

It’s not that she’s not willing to be there, when she thinks their party will be in the afternoon. But when they can only get the trailer after her plane departs…that’s when she finally has to choose between what she’s always used to keep her safe emotionally, and in what will truly make all of them, herself included, happy. And she chooses joy rather than the risk-free life she’s most comfortable with.

Seriously. The entire episode is about Brennan trying to make a miracle for Max, with help from Booth and a puckish elf named Caroline. Because that’s what Christmas is.

I sort of love that. And then Booth steps in to do the one thing she couldn’t: provide a tree. Brennan’s worked 90% of a miracle for Max – trailer, kids, both she and Russ being there – but she can’t do anything to get around the tree ban (not even squeezing Booth’s buttocks), so he handles that part. For Brennan. Did he want to help make a joyous Christmas for Max and Russ, both of whom he respects? Sure. Was he thinking particularly of the two little girls having a tree? This is Booth, so of course.

But the bottom line…the tree is for Brennan, because he wants her to have a magical, miraculous Christmas, even as she’s worked to do the same for her father.


“I love my gift, Booth.”
“Merry Christmas, Bones.”

(Also, since Caroline had said ‘no tree, even if you squeeze his buttocks,’ and then Booth provided the tree…I believe – Ryn logic here – that means Brennan owed Booth a good buttocks squeezing for the tree. Just saying.)

Anyway, I think the reason I was so struck by this, this year, is that I’ve become increasingly aware of the role we play in making miracles for other people. It’s been an ugly few months – riots, killings, terrorism…a never-ending list of all the ways people can be terrible to one another gleefully offered up by the media. And yet…and yet. There’s also:

  • a basketball team making dreams come true for a rival
  • a woman taking the time to hunt down the owner of a lost wallet, returning the money he was going to use for his kids’ Christmas
  • an elderly woman making something good for teens out of her own sorrow
  • people all across the country paying off layaway accounts for strangers

I believe in God; I believe in miracles. But I also believe that God often works his miracles through us. Since that’s so, it seems like making miracles for other people isn’t something that needs to be tied to one faith, nor even one time of year.

SweetsSweets says, “As adults, we’re imbued by the pragmatic routines of life, which makes it difficult for us to regard anything with child like wonder. But, you know, it’s all right for us to try. We put on silly hats and drape trees with sparkly lights and wrap gifts in garish paper and that’s good for us. It’s not only all right to allow children the transient experience of innocence and joy – it’s our responsibility.”



Taking that one step further, I suspect that for many of us, the reason this time of year is marked with child-like wonder is because it is the time of year when we try to make others happy, when we try to find ways to make miracles – large and small – both for those we love and, sometimes, for perfect strangers.

And maybe that means the new year’s resolution that would make us all happiest in the end isn’t losing weight but continuing to try to make miracles for other people, all through the year.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Bonus Quotes:

“My father is a murderer and a thief.”
“Well, murderers and thieves, they get Christmas too. In fact, it’s kinda the point.” (Brennan and Booth)


“So Santa was definitely murdered. Someone did not like their present.” (Cam)


“It’s not a LIE lie, Bones. It’s more like everybody agreeing that up to a certain age, kids deserve to live a different kind of truth.” (Booth)


“I have a puckish side that will not be denied.” (Caroline)


“Congratulations. I hear you have a suspect in the Santa slaying.”
“Yeah, well, it looks like the Easter Bunny has nothing to worry about.” (Caroline and Booth)



(Dear Caroline…thanks for having a puckish side. Love, the Bones fandom)



7 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Santa in the Slush

  1. OK I do love all of the Christmas episodes, in fact I plan to watch them all in order this afternoon; once I finish with work. But I still say “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” is my favorite. It’s all still so new, we were learning about the characters and they were learning about each other. So much was revealed about them in that episode.

    Now taking what you did here in this review and looking back from where they are now to where they were then I started thinking about where they were in each of the Christmas episodes in regards to their relationships. We go from that conversation between Goodman and Hodgins

    GOODMAN: Decorations do not a Christmas make. Family and friends make Christmas.

    HODGINS: We’re friends.

    HODGINS: We’re… not friends?

    GOODMAN: We are colleagues, friends, coworkers, yes, but for a father like myself, like Agent Booth a few glowing test tubes don’t make up with missing Christmas morning with the children.

    ANGELA: Excuse me?

    ZACK: Be kind, rewind.

    HODGINS: Booth has a kid?

    GOODMAN: Ah. Well… Not common knowledge, I gather.

    To in “The Santa in the Slush” where we have those separate families set to celebrate Christmas; Angela and Hodgins celebrating their first Christmas as a couple…a new family:

    ANGELA: And I always thought, you know, when I had my own family that – I’d carry on the tradition.

    HODGINS: Are two people a family?

    ANGELA: Isn’t that how every family starts?

    To Brennan celebrating with her father and brother and his new family. To Booth getting to celebrate with his son.

    So in Slush they’re not as separate as they were in Fallout Shelter, as we do see them exchanging gifts that are planned, and not last minute gifts gathered from what they had available to them at the time, but they still aren’t quite coming together as a family you celebrate the holidays with.

    Then on to Goop where we do still see examples of the separate families. Brennan and Max (Russ is spending it with the in-laws this year), Booth lamenting not having Parker. Cam and Michelle working at being a family, with Cam telling Michelle that she is necessary in order for Christmas to be Christmas, and Sweets and Daisy planning a day of sex, since Christmas should be in April anyway.In the end they all come together to celebrate Christmas as a family. They gather at Brennan’s for a family meal and blessings (even though Brennan denies that’s what it is). Even those people who don’t plan on being there…and once again Brennan wanted to be somewhere else. Niger…Peru…El Salvador.

    I think it would be cool to get another Christmas episode to see what further evolution of family there might be, but really it was kind of complete with Goop wasn’t it? But hmmm, would squinterns be included this time?

  2. Oh and I meant to say. You made me tear up with this one, but not Bones related this time…instead it was you listing examples of people bringing God’s miracles.

  3. I think story wise, Goop on the Girl is my favorite, but there are many, many things I like about Santa in the Slush. As a Christian I appreciate the quote about the murderers and thieves being the point of Christmas. I like that relationships between the characters have grown since Man in the Fallout Shelter. I appreciate the reminders that Christmas isn’t always a happy time for people.

    One thing that I feel gets overlooked in this episode is the return of Mr. Moussa’s money. I wonder if the original bills were evidence….if so did Booth take up a collection, or did he come up with the money some other way? (out of his own pocket?) Just another Christmas miracle, I guess…

    The last scene with the tree always moves me tremendously. It truly is a gift of love (romantitc or otherwise?) and that’s another theme of Christmas. That this gift from Booth to Brennan extends to her entire family is so, so sweet….
    Thanks for a good post. I look forward to the others.

    • I wanted to comment on Mr. Moussa’s money, and couldn’t figure out how to work it in – it’s one of my favorite scenes from the episode, though, like you, I’m not sure where it came from. I do believe Booth would have found the money somewhere, once he knew what it was for.

      Goop is still my favorite in a lot of ways, but I’m glad I did the review of this one, because I did see things in it I’d never seen before.

      • I have watched many episodes over again and have seen new things in them. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy the program so much. The characters and stories are complex and one can always find something new or a different way to look at what happens in each episode.

        I look forward to reading your next post.

  4. So I watched this one more time and a question occurred to me. Do you think Brennan called Booth to tell him she wasn’t going to Peru? Or did he decide he was going to take a tree to the trailer no matter what? It always seems like she doesn’t make a decision until the last minute.
    My romantic turn of mind would like to think that Booth figured out she wasn’t going even without her calling, but he was going to take a tree to the trailer even if she wasn’t there because it would be important to her family. What are your thoughts?

    • Oh…good question!

      I think he knew she was in the trailer (otherwise, why call her to let her know to look out the window? No point if she’s enroute to Peru.) But that could have been as simple as he saw her car in the parking lot.

      Still, I think I’d say that he would have done the tree anyway, even if she’d gone to Peru – both because there were kids involved, and to help her by doing the one thing she’d not managed to do for her family (get the tree.)

      But I also think that even then he often understood her better than she understood herself, and was not remotely surprised that she decided not to go to Peru, even if she hadn’t yet called to tell him.

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