Fan Review: The Putter in the Rough (Bones)

As always, I’m a little baffled by some of the responses I’m seeing online to this episode, because I loved what it gave us in terms of both Booth and Brennan as a couple, and Brennan as a character.

But before I get into that, I have to nitpick a little in terms of the eye-crossing pretzel knot they tied in canon here.

One of the perils of writing a show in its tenth season is figuring out how to tell new stories that respect what’s gone before; one of the perils of being an obsessed fan of such shows is that you know when they change things.  (Maybe it’s a pick-your-own-history-for-Brennan? When Max left, she was either young enough to be wearing the ring that Max returns to her, which fits Christine…or she was fifteen. If there’s a door number three where both scenarios work, hit me with it in the comments!)

Seriously, though, I think with a show that has as much history as Bones does (much of it very complicated), there’s no point in getting too tangled up in the details. They reference stuff from the past often enough for me to believe they respect their own history, and if they choose to fudge things at points in order to tell a new story, I’m not going to sweat it.

Here? I think what they’re emphasizing is that Brennan is still dealing with the ramifications of being abandoned, whatever the specifics were.  (Though since I’ve got The Woman in Limbo memorized, that’s always going to be the version I go with.)

So…with that nit picked, what struck me is that while her past is never going to stop affecting Brennan , we’re still seeing slow growth on her part in how she responds. Here, she’s worried, but she remains committed to finding out the truth; in season seven’s The Family in the Feud, her initial reaction was to sever the relationship over something as innocent as Max not noticing he’d lost his cell phone. (And yeah, I’m not discounting that she was a new mom there, but still, the response here seems more measured.)

The degree to which we trust someone after they’ve hurt us is often influenced by the full picture of what we know about them, by our relationship as a whole. In 2013, when Booth broke the engagement, some fans were predicting that she’d never recover from that, that her ability to trust is so fragile (due to Max) that she’d never bounce back from it. But that didn’t take into account that her history with Booth is completely different from that with Max, that her knowledge of him is different.

Booth is Booth, and Max is Max, and however much she loves her father, however often he’s come through for her in the past few years, she’s never going to completely trust him. She wants him in her life, wants him in Christine’s life…but there’s never going to be a point where she trusts him enough not to assume the worst when there’s a question of some kind about his actions. And that makes complete sense – her entire life has been shaped by his less-than-trustworthy behavior.

She’s never not going to see his current behavior in the light of being abandoned by him, both as a child and when he drove off with Russ in Judas on a Pole. (In that sense, I thought it very revealing that she labeled his canceling the weekend plans with Christine as ‘abandonment.’ That’s a rather extreme interpretation…which makes sense given their history.)

And yet, here, her knee-jerk response, rather than to walk away, is to keep trying to get the answers she needs. At the end, in response to Booth’s plea to ‘give him a chance’ she says, “I did. I tried to call, I tried to stop over, and he’d already disappeared again.”

I love those little steps of growth.

But what I loved more in this was how Booth responded. He’s always liked Max, has always served as a willing mediator between Max and Brennan. But there’s never a question that his first priority is Brennan. Whatever his own feelings about his father-in-law are, he is first and foremost Team!Brennan.

We see that first in the SUV on the way to the crime scene. She’s quiet, too quiet, and he zeroes in on that, wants to know why. So she tells him, and at first, he tries to put a positive spin on it, before giving up and acknowledging that there’s probably something to worry about:

“He’s hiding something, Booth, and with Max, that’s never good.”
“Okay, look, let’s not jump to conclusions. Max has been on the straight and narrow for some time.”
“Then why won’t he answer a simple question?”
“Look, you know what? It might not be as bad as you think. There could be an innocent reason for him taking off.”
“No. No, he’s up to something.”

There are two different ways of supporting someone who’s worried, and he does both: first when he reminds her that there might be an innocent explanation, and second, when he validates her concerns by acknowledging that there’s probably not. In either case, he’s right there with her – whatever Max is up to, Booth’s got her back.

With that in mind, he offers to put a tracker on Max and she gratefully accepts. I thought Aubrey’s response to discovering that, and Booth’s lack of any remorse, interesting. Booth may like Max, but he never forgets what he’s capable of – including murder, never mind his legal standing.

Brennan remains Booth’s focus, all through the episode, and the physical arrangement of the scene in the FBI conference room interests me:

Got her back

As expected, she takes the lead in questioning Max, which not only makes sense given he’s her father, but also emphasizes that it’s a family matter, not a legal matter, seeing as how charges have been dropped.  But however much it’s her interrogation, Booth is very present, a wary guard who literally has her back. (And yeah, I’m over-thinking that, but hey, it’s my blog. LOL.)

The final scene between the two of them that I particularly love is when they’re walking. First, it’s always interesting to me to see them out of the usual spots (not the SUV, not the diner), more so because we’re not given context for it. Are they between the Jeffersonian and the FBI? Did they meet for lunch? Inquiring minds.


“I really don’t believe you’re this upset over bullet hits.”


What’s important to me, there, though, is that we see that Brennan still has trouble processing emotions at times, and that Booth both gets that, and gets what’s really going on. They discuss the situation with Max, and then return to the subject of the bullets. He gives her an opportunity to address her feelings about her father, but doesn’t press her on it, and …I sort of love that.

To me, Booth is never more the hero than in this episode, where he’s looking out for her emotionally, even when she’s confused and resistant.

Meanwhile, the other scene I particularly liked in this one was when Brennan slaps Wendell down for making an assumption: “Mr. Bray. I understand that fixing your new girlfriend’s clock may be a great way to impress her, but here? Your job is to impress me.”

WendellWe know she loves him; we’ve seen her heartbroken with fear for him. But she’s still a damned good ‘mom’ to him, one who isn’t going to let him slide, even when a girl’s involved.

And Wendell? His expression says he’d nearly rather go through chemo again than further disappoint her.

I adore that, adore what it says about their relationship.



So some nice character stuff for Brennan, Booth rocking it as a supportive husband, Hodgins at his best as a mad scientist and good friend…I continue to be a stupidly happy fangirl (give or take occasional canon pretzel knots.)

Bonus Quotes:

“I can’t get to the remains from the lower floors, so I finally get to use my superwinch.”
“Call the media. Bug boy uses a new toy.”
“I’m not going to let your cold dark heart ruin my lucky day.” (Hodgins and Booth)


“What’s that?”
“This? This is my new particle size distribution analyzer. Cam bought it for me. She just doesn’t know it yet.”
(Cam comes in, points to the analyzer.) “That looks very expensive. Did I buy it?”
“Yes. Yes, you did. And I am very grateful.”


“I’m a family values person. I was saving my marriage. That’s self-defense, right?”
“It’s not self-defense, Lori. Killing Troy was murder.”
“But Sammy would be lost without me now. Can I just get community service or something?” (Booth and Lori)


“What kind of psycho sneaks into a kid’s room like that to make a point?”
“Well, you don’t get on the Ten Most Wanted list for nothing.” (Booth and Max)




7 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Putter in the Rough (Bones)

  1. You know, it never even bothered me that the ring was small for a girl of 15. My hands were much smaller as a girl than as an adult, and she maybe she wore it on her pinkie. My question was why did Max choose to go when he did? It appears he knew right where to go to find the burial site, so what triggered this sudden urge? I think we will never know, but I was curious about that. I think I would have enjoyed the conversation between Booth and whatever entity had Max in custody. It might be awkward for an FBI man to admit his father in law is a convicted felon.

    I enjoyed this episode tremendously and I am surprised that there are many who did not. I noticed the affection and concern that Booth has for Brennan and how he cares so much for her. If she wants the whole tiki hut back at the lab, she gets the whole tiki hut at the lab. You are right: in all of their scenes together he was not only Special Agent but also Super Husband. Even the end scene with the little bit of bickering about the game was great.

    • I think what struck me in the ring conversation is she says she lost the ring when she was ‘little’ and that’s not a word I’d expect her to use in reference to being a teenager.

      But yeah, I was also puzzled by Max’s decision to go dig up the guy now. I don’t mind there being two bad guys after them (despite Limbo having made it sound like McVickar was the last of the ‘strong arm’ crew they’d worked with) but if this guy’s been dead for 12 years, why wait until now to verify it was really him? It’s a puzzler.

      I’m curious about that conversation between Booth and the other cops, too, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in the Bones universe, they know who everyone is. It’s hard for me to imagine a bestselling author’s father being on trial for murdering the corrupt Deputy Director of the FBI not sticking in cops’ heads, even 7-8 years later. But it would have been interesting to see trying to balance the legal aspects with what he believes to be true of Max (which is that he now only breaks the law for a good reason!)

      And yeah, I loved the ‘if she wants the whole tiki hut, she gets it.’ Super Husband, indeed. 🙂

  2. Great review! How’s this ring interpretation? It was a pinkie ring for 15 year old Brennan? Might work.

    I had a few different takes on some of the scenes you mentioned. First I thought the Booth/Aubrey scene was a foreshadowing of Aubrey being very comfortable questioning what Booth is up to. Is it even ethical for Booth to track Max like that? Perhaps, it was the right thing to do for Brennan but he may be on murky legal ground (yes, it worked in that he was caught grave robbing but I’m unsure if it was the proper use of the FBI’s resources). And regarding the scene with Wendell – I thought she was too harsh and was still taking her upset over Max out on others. But your view is an interesting one.

    Finally, a special shoutout to the director of this episode who created a wonderful group of shots to give a lasting impression of the competitive mini-golfing world. The end of the clip is of course very humorous with a priceless look on Booth’s face.

    • I’d buy the pinkie ring, if Brennan hadn’t said she lost it when she was ‘little’ – not a word I think she’d use if she’d been fifteen. Can’t quite get there on that one.

      I do think you’re making a good point about Aubrey questioning Booth. It occurred me to a week or so ago that in the fall, we were seeing scenes where Booth was correcting Aubrey – definitely being the agent in charge – and now we’re not. He is clearly still IN charge, but there’s less reining Aubrey in.

      As to the legality of using FBI resources to track Max…they’ve often done things that wouldn’t fly in the real world, and I think where Max is concerned, Booth would feel it justified. However much he’s generally trying to stay on the straight and narrow for Brennan’s sake, he’s still…Max, with a moral code that doesn’t march in line with the legal codes of the US. Whether others in the FBI would agree might depend on their personal views of whether Max got away with murder, or with dispensing justice to Kirby.

      With Wendell…while I agree Brennan was harsh, I didn’t think it was more so than we’ve seen her be at other times with the interns. Assuming something is blood when it’s nail polish is a pretty serious goof.

      Thanks for the link!

  3. OK an attempt at door number 3. The ring was taken from her when she was much younger (like before the changed their names and became the Brennans — they didn’t actually say when the ring disappeared) so they went into hiding. This Marvin guy was the one to sneak in and get the ring, he was the leader of that strong arm gang, but McVicar was the muscle, the one who’d follow the orders to murder a child to get her parents to do as they’re told. So years later when they were found, by either Marvin or Vic McVicars they immediately took off leading the killers away from their kids. McVicar caught up with Mom and Dad and hit Mom with that horrible instrument of death. Dad got a hit in on McVicar, but not enough to kill him. Of course my problem with that would be Brennan even remembering the ring since she didn’t remember being Joy.

    Or it looked to me like Christine put that ring on her index finger (and honestly to me it looked like it was big even her index finger, based on the ease with which she put it on…like she’d have to keep her fingers curled to keep it on) and Brennan at 15 had moved the ring to her pinkie in order for it to still fit. She loved the ring and didn’t want to stop wearing it.

    Or something somewhere in between. They really weren’t too definite on the time line for any of it in this episode. I think they did leave it all open enough that we can’t flat out say it’s a contradiction to what’s come before. I so have some more thoughts now about other things mentioned in the past that I think could be expanded on with this new bad buy in the mix. We might need to discuss sometime; when it’s not on one of your episode blogs. I don’t want to derail things here.

    I really did love episode, I loved all the bits with B&B, they were wonderful together. I was hoping though that you’d screencap that look on Booth’s face right at the end of the bit about Brennan realizing that what’s her name was a hand model. It was an awesome look. I’ll need to see if I can catch it. It is hard to catch one moment isn’t it? Sometimes it does require more of a gif.

    This whole episode there seemed to be a bunch of really great facial expressions. They’ve got a great cast there expressing so much with an expression.

    • I’m going to have to think about it, but I think your timeline might almost work. Brennan didn’t remember being Joy, but she might still remember a ring she thought was pretty (I have a single memory from when I was about two, and it’s not particularly important.) So maybe Marvin shows Max he’s got the ring, and Max and Mom are trying to figure out what to do, and then McVickar shows up. They go on the run, change the kids’ names, and warn Russ about McVickar. If Marvin was running things, seeing McVickar at Christmas time could still sort of fit for Marvin being the reason they ran. (??)

      I’ll have to go back and look at that expression. There really were some great ones here. I also loved Aubrey’s tone of voice when he was questioning the brother: “Mini golf has a Masters?” LOL.

  4. I did feel that there was a sort of gap in the info so that we may not be done with the Max grave robbing and finding the ring idea, but that could be wishful thinking on my part.

    It appears that the pecking order has been established between Booth and Aubrey. I don’t think they are really friends yet but they are working together better in these episodes. I guess in episode time it has been less than a year since Sweets died so that may play into it also…I was watching Psychic in the Soup, I think, when Booth mentions the FBI shrink to Aubrey and it made me pause. Of course the Bureau would have replaced Sweets, because life goes on, but for our characters there are still wounds to heal and adjustments to be made in working with other colleagues.

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