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:
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.
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.”
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.)
“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)
“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)