Fan Review: The Baker in the Bits (Bones)

“You know when you talk to older couples who, you know, have been in love for 30 or 40 or 50 years, all right, it’s always the guy who says ‘I knew.'” (Booth, The Parts in the Sum of the Whole)

Remember that heartbreaking moment?

Of course you do.

Not for the first time, it occurred to me a couple of days ago that we’re seeing those ’30 or 40 or 50 years.’ Right now. We’re living in them with Booth and Brennan. And that is a wonderful and lovely thing.

But something that’s always interested me is that if you talk to some of those couples who’ve been in love for decades, it’s not only the happy moments they reference as being most rewarding, but also the hard days, the two-people-working-out-what-it-means-to-be-one days.

I thought of that when watching this episode.

Booth’s messed up. He’s been messed up since spending three months in prison for crimes he didn’t commit, followed by watching Sweets die. He’s been trying to reclaim their normal – we’ve seen normal conversations, seen him smile, seen him be who he is, with Brennan, with Christine, with witnesses.

But he’s still messed up. He knows it, Brennan knows it, we know it. And here, we see it, in the form of a lost photo that’s a talisman to him. A picture of Brennan and Christine that helped him get through prison, helped him, I think, keep his focus on the life he was trying to return to.

And he comes a little unhinged because it’s missing. It’s not the image itself, it’s the actual, physical paper that matters to him. And when Brennan realizes that, she simply says, ‘Let me help.’ No judgment, no insistence that he’s being ridiculous to be so attached to the paper when they could just reprint it.

BakerBB

“That picture meant a lot to me.”
“Let me help.”

I love that she doesn’t debate, discuss, or try to convince him that the paper has no intrinsic value.  She simply finds it.

I suspect the fact that she understands him that well is what the picture represents to him in the first place: here are people who love me.

The story then shifts, to the case…which takes them right back to the consequences of the time Booth spent in prison. Brennan sees the facts about ex-convicts; Booth knows that there are men in prison who desperately want a different life when they get out, despite the statistics that are against them.

I have a complicated relationship with this part of the story, because I know they’re both right. Certainly the statistics about recidivism are depressingly real, but someone close to me, someone I love very much, did something wrong when he was eighteen, compounded it with stupidity, and then spent a year behind bars as a result. That was thirteen years ago, and he’s now happily married, is a good dad to two great kids – and spent the better part of a decade trying to find a decent job.

I see both sides of this. I understand why employers, given a choice between two candidates, one of whom is a felon and one of whom isn’t, will always choose the latter. But I also understand that there’s a connection between those employer choices and the recidivism rates.

So I knew they were both right – that sometimes, ex-cons only want a real chance, while other times, all the opportunities in the world won’t change anything.

But despite my own reaction, I kept feeling like maybe there was something else going on with Booth’s.

I thought of the man we saw in The Conspiracy in the Corpse, the guy who warned Booth he was going to be attacked, adding, ‘you watch my back, I’ll watch yours.’ And I wonder if Booth was thinking of him when he talked about the good guys in prison.

But mostly, I wonder if, despite knowing he’s innocent, despite Brennan’s reassurances (again, repeated here) that he’s a good man…if on some level he questions it. If the response to ex-cons bothers him because he identifies with them, not just in their experiences in prison, but also in their choices that put them there: “You know, I never like taking a shot.

If we’re honest, there’s potential for some gray area with the men Booth killed in The Recluse in the Recliner. On one hand he was absolutely acting in self-defense – they were there to kill him. But on the other, he set it up, and the men themselves were either following orders, or being blackmailed. Killers, certainly, including of an innocent blogger. But not exactly in the same unambiguous category as, say, Pelant.

It’s entirely possible I’m reading too much into it, but this conversation, or rather, when he changes the topic at its end, struck me:

“But now I’ve been on the inside, right? There are some good men in there. A lot of them are just doing their best not to go back. Have a little faith.”
“I’d like to. But you were innocent, Booth. Connor Freeman was in prison for a reason.”
“Right. Where’s the address of this bakery where we’re going?”

However I feel about it (nail those suckers, Booth!) …this very good man might be feeling differently.

So there’s boggy ground there in terms of what Brennan knows vs. what Booth wants to be true, but did you notice how careful she was? During the investigation, she kept asking the harder questions, the ones he was hesitating to ask, but she wasn’t criticizing him for not asking them. Remember how in his face she was about not backing off the investigation in The Soldier on the Grave? Remember that? That’s not the Brennan we have here.

I think she handled those moments more gently this time because they’re in a different place now, as individuals and as a couple…and because she knows he’s damaged.

Cam and Arastoo aren’t there yet.

When a story doesn’t gel for me, it’s often because the conflict that’s driving it, whatever it is, doesn’t seem completely credible. But here, the struggle Cam and Arastoo face does, and because of that, I think this might be my favorite story involving the two of them.

There’s no right answer. Cam’s not wrong for wanting him to stay; he’s not wrong for needing to go. He could have handled it better by discussing it with her, but he was right that ultimately it was his decision, not hers, if they couldn’t find a way to be united over it.

I like the way the story plays out, too, as we see them gradually moving from her devastated ‘I don’t know what that means right now,’ to the end, where she lets him go. Plus? We see that Cam has been gradually coming around on the idea of marriage, and I think that’s well-done in terms of character development. It didn’t happen overnight; they’re not yet setting a date. But she asks what marriage means to him in the context of the choice he’s made and then, at the end refers to his brother as her future brother-in-law.

That all feels very solid to me in terms of character and story – and I’m really looking forward to the episode that follows up on it. It’s taken me two full seasons, but I think I’m finally on board with the relationship. I no longer need to understand how they moved from boss/employee to lovers, because enough time has passed that they just seem to fit together, somehow.

(Plus? I loved their shared embarrassment/amusement at being caught kissing by Hodgins. In some ways, that tells me more about them as a couple than any of the stories about them have.)

busted

And then there are the conversations between the two of them and other people on the team.

In the past, there have been times when Cam was very resistant to any kind of sympathy or help from the others, but here, she makes only a token protest before opening up to Angela. I very much like that, too, for what it says about her development, and their friendship.

But the scenes I really love are the ones between her and Booth, and Brennan and Arastoo.

The team – and I’m including all the squinterns and Caroline in that – is made up of strong, confident personalities. But never doubt that Booth and Brennan, together, are the true leaders, the parents of this made-from-scratch family. They’re the center, the North Star from which the others take their bearings.

I’ve always loved Cam and Booth’s friendship. I love the complicated history that nevertheless allowed her to be the first one to say, “you’re in love with Dr. Brennan;” and here, it’s that she calls him, knowing he’ll be there, and he’ll give her the honest answer she needs.

CamBooth

“You want me to say everything’s going to be fine.”
“No, I want you to tell me the truth.”

Happy are those who have that kind of person in their lives.

Ditto those with a Brennan in their lives, who doesn’t wait for a call, but gives Arastoo her opinion, anyway, because she has something to say she knows he needs to hear:

“If you’re serious about going, you need to be honest about the risks – and honest with Dr. Saroyan, so if you never see her again, at least you know you didn’t lie to her.”

She doesn’t pull any punches with him, doesn’t sugarcoat what she sees as important: if you go, leave in a way where there’s nothing unfinished between you.

Cam and Arastoo

“You come back to me, Arastoo. Make sure you come back.”

Bonus Quotes:

“This is going to take a long time.”
“Then I suggest you start immediately.” (Arastoo and Brennan)

***

“Good thing you brought me instead of Aubrey. He’d eat everything in here.” (Brennan)

***

“These men are going to think you suspect them.”
“At this point, I suspect everyone. Even you.” (Flender and Brennan)

***

“Everyone knew, except Roger. That dude invented rose-colored glasses.” (Ex-convict talking to Aubrey about Connor)

***

“He was casing the place. He was planning to rob it.”
“Kind of stole my thunder there, Hodgins.”
“King of the lab, Aubrey.” (Hodgins and Aubrey)

***

“Keep your eyes open. You never know what we’re walking into.”
“I always assume bullets.” (Booth and Aubrey)

***

“He’s having second thoughts. I told him the world would have ended a long time ago if there weren’t more good people than bad.” (Booth, about Flender)

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16 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Baker in the Bits (Bones)

    • I think she would have pushed on the ‘has no intrinsic value’ front, but once she understood how much it mattered, she would have looked for it – even while trying to figure out why, exactly, that it did matter. But now, she just got that it was important, and went with the priority of finding it. I loved it.

  1. I really liked this episode because it didn’t sweep all of the bad things that happened to Booth in prison under the rug. I think before he went to prison he was able to convince himself that he was almost always correct in getting the bad guy and making sure they got what they deserved. When he was in prison maybe he was exposed to the reality of a gray area….things might not always be what they seem to be. Maybe the “bad guys” just had unfortunate circumstances in their lives. And perhaps even though Brennan tells him he was innocent, he has doubts. He knows the men sent to take him out were probably good men, too, just doing their jobs the same way he has always done his, and just following orders, and yet he killed them. When he was released and tried to go back to work he had to deal with the way he was perceived by the folks at the FBI because of those actions. I would imagine there might still be those who doubt him. So he can relate to the ex cons who are trying to put their past behind them and move on, because he had to do the same thing,

    So you are right….we see Booth and Brennan working through a tough time in their lives. He is still emotionally injured, I think, and she will have to find ways to help him heal. I liked the scene with the photo because she didn’t talk about being rational. She just helped him find it and told him a “funny” story. She supported him quite a bit throughout the episode in many subtle ways.

    I think there might be another chapter in this story arc because the ending was rather abrupt. It almost seems like we needed about ten more minutes to finish everything. I couldn’t figure out the motive of the man they arrested other than he had been in trouble in the past. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

    • This is what happens when I’m working some part of the weekend: things fall out of my head. I meant to comment on the case and simply spaced it.

      I liked the case, but found the whole end very rushed – but…press releases that came out Friday for an episode a few weeks from now indicate that you’re right – they revisit it.

      I’ve thought all season that things were still off with Booth. I think he’s tried very hard to reclaim normal, but those months in prison, losing Sweets, the betrayal by the FBI…it screwed with him.

      And, IMO, the B&B story this season is how that’s affecting them, as individuals and as a couple. I think it’s great.

      • And I am not really sure there was truly a resolution to the betrayal by the FBI. I was never quite sure just what happened at the end of that arc. I would like to watch those episodes again. I was so shocked by what happened to Sweets’ character that everything else was kind of a blur and I missed details.

        Your analysis of the episode is excellent. Seeley Booth is one of my all time favorite fictional characters, and whenever a story focuses on him I enjoy it immensely. The character has so many facets and nuances, and I find it fascinating.

        Thanks.

      • I’d still like to see more about the FBI story, too, even if only touching on Booth’s relationship with other agents. I’m assuming they found and resolved the mole (as part of the blackmail op) but the emotional consequences? Not really addressed.

        I did notice that in Psychic, Aubrey makes a reference to the FBI psychologist being with the witness, and later, wondered if Booth uses Aubrey to engage with others in the bureau so he doesn’t have to. But that’s pure speculation on my part.

  2. Thank you for the intelligent and insightful analysis of the dynamic conflict within the character of Seeley Booth. Of all the reviewers (those I have read )who have posted their opinions and recaps of this episode, you are the sole writer who has a different perspective to the conflict the leading characters are struggling with this season. You are addressing the inner turmoil that is just under the surface. You didn’t attack the lack of on screen affection but rather presented their conversation, in the beginning scene, as an everyday interaction between husband and wife.
    I look forward to reading your future analysis of my favorite TV program. And I truly hope you will have the opportunity to review season 11.

    • Thanks. I’m still very optimistic about S11. (Hart made another comment on Twitter on Friday to the effect that he’s still confident, and I figure he knows what’s what.)

      I really don’t get the people who are so upset about the lack of kissing. It’s not that I mind it, or think it’s unimportant, but to me, what matters most is their love for one another – shown here in her support of him, IMO – not whether or not parts of their faces are touching.

      When the show ends, whenever that is, I want to be able to imagine them continuing their lives for the rest of those 30 or 40 or 50 years, and I think that’s what this season is beginning to do – show how they cope, long term, with some pretty ugly things. I can’t wait to see the next 9 episodes.

      • it’s not so much the lack of kissing that I notice as much as the little touches here and there that show a bit of affection. For example, when Baby Sweets was born and Booth held him for the first time, it would have been nice for Brennan to stand next to him with her hand on his shoulder. That’s probably just me being silly. I know they are happily married and mature enough emotionally to work through whatever comes along. I’m just greedy for a little more sugar, I guess.

      • This is probably going to sound dumb, but I think one of the things that’s different for me is that I don’t watch the show thinking about how I wish they’d done it differently. I look at what they do, and think about what it means, so while, yeah, I can see what you mean about that scene when the baby was born, at the time I was focusing on Booth’s expression when he held him, rather than, what was missing.

        Does that make sense? I think I do that most of the time, because only rarely do I watch a scene and think, ‘oh, I wish they’d done this instead of that.’ Maybe that means I’m lacking in imagination or something, but it also means I’m generally happy with the show…

  3. FINALLY !!! … a reviewer who recognizes the issues that Booth is going through and trying to deal with having spent time in jail, and being betrayed by a system he truly believed in.
    A fantastic review !!

  4. So I have been thinking about this episode in relation to the ones that began the season. I wonder if Booth is trying to protect Brennan from what he feels is “wrong” with him. He wants her to believe that he is fine, he’s over the events that occurred, and everything is great…nothing wrong with him, let’s just go to work, and maybe all the while he knows he’s not quite there yet. (And she knows…) I guess it’s hard to know what his state of mind might be since he is a fictional character, but it would make sense in my mind. If he feels like he’s “damaged” (for lack of a better word) he might almost feel embarrassed and not want her to know because she might think less of him. I don’t think she would, but I could see that might be a motivation for him to be a little bit different than what we have seen in the past. He has seemed a little bit guarded to me. Thoughts?

    • Ooh, interesting questions.

      I think what we don’t know (or, well, I feel like *I* don’t know) is how he views the time in prison. Last summer, the writers framed it as a betrayal by the government he’s always trusted – how do you come back from that?

      I think that’s what Aubrey, and Brennan forcing him to work with Aubrey, was about, but how far can one trustworthy agent go in undoing that kind of damage? And what does it mean to Booth if he never regains his balance in that respect? Never quite comes to trust the government again?

      Second question I’ve been thinking about (particularly since last Thursday) is…is there more to it than just being betrayed? Is he questioning, perhaps, where the lines are between being a good man and in being a bad one society locks up, when the ‘good’ man has killed nearly 60 people – and the last three were other agents?

      No idea. But I agree that I think he’s been trying to be normal, maybe even has been making a sincere effort to move on from it – we’ve seen him teasing her, flirting with her, laughing, with her and others (including Cam in Thursday’s ep) – but …other times, there are hints that things are not as they should be. And yeah, guarded at times, maybe. (I’ll have to think about whether that’s the word I’d use.)

      I’m just not sure what’s driving it, or what the answer might be – which I rather love as we head into the end of the season.

      • In some vague way it reminds me of when my father was first diagnosed with a serious illness but he didn’t want to tell me because I shouldn’t have to worry….men can handle these things themselves. Based on how Booth has handled things in the past, I can see this as a similar situation. I don’t know…I am, like you, looking forward to what happens next with this arc.

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