(Housekeeping: My plan had always been to do two separate reviews, and I’d thought to get this one posted yesterday (I was off work) and the other one today or tomorrow…but then I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon participating in the collective fangasm over season eleven. (Whoo hoo!) My thoughts on The Verdict in the Victims will be along either tomorrow or Monday.)
What a beautiful, heartbreaking episode.
From a case perspective, this is Bones at its best for me: a death I care deeply about, twists I don’t see coming, and character stories giving me the kinds of interactions I love.
Before I get to that, I want to comment on the criticism I’ve seen of the Brennan story here, all of which seems to boil down to it being impossible for her to be that confused about how pregnant she was, and/or that such a brilliant scientist could never be so wrong about her own body. They’re missing the point, though: It’s not about being confused or ignorant about how pregnancy it works. It’s about our mind’s ability to delude us about reality, and that’s something that reaches beyond IQ.
In fact, Brennan’s mind was probably using her science against her, giving her reasons to trust herself, for example, over whatever due date her doctor had given her. She wasn’t being rational about any of it, and from a story perspective, that’s good, because this is where we finally saw the emotional consequences to her of what happened last year.
She’s been the strong one from even before the season started: buying and setting up a new house, finding a way to free Booth; taking care of him when he was home; knowing the words Cam needed to hear to be able to autopsy Sweets; preventing Booth from taking an innocent life…it’s a long list.
And through all of that, we’ve not seen the cost to her of losing their home, of the months he was in jail, of Sweets’ death. It’s not that there wasn’t any; only that she put it aside, because that’s what she does with emotions she doesn’t know how to process. But the mind has a way of forcing us to confront stuff, and here is where and how it does so for Brennan.
It’s believable to me, and it not only allowed us to see Booth worried about her, which is always a win, but also gave us the scene with Angela where she finally works it out, as well as that lovely tag.
Angela quite often annoys me, but even when I’m frustrated with her, I know she both loves and gets Brennan, and that she’ll always be in her corner. And here? She nails one of those truths all of us can stand to be reminded of on occasion:
“We don’t like being shot at, or seeing someone we love die, or seeing them locked up. In one second everything can just change. Your children could be left with no one. And not being able to control that is really scary. But that’s just the price we pay for the things that we love.”
One thing I particularly liked is that Brennan needed both Angela and Booth – Angela to help her work out what she was afraid of, Booth to reassure her that their love is stronger than her fears:
“I have you now. I can tell you how scared I am.”
“Yes, me. The reason I convinced myself I wasn’t as pregnant as I am is …I just kept thinking the more our family grows, the more we have to lose.”
“On the flip side, we have more to gain. Hey. We’re gonna be fine, Bones.”
“Love. Lots of love. Come on. Come on over here.”
“I’ll take love.”
“All right. I’ll give you love.”
Meanwhile, Daisy has her own issues. Four things touched me here: First, that we got to see her, Angela and Brennan spending time together outside the lab, second, that she was so startled by Jake’s interest – that felt very real to me; third, Hodgins’ gentleness with her, even though she retreated from the conversation; and finally, this scene between her and Brennan:
“If Agent Booth was killed in the line of duty would you go to bed with another man six months later?”
“Booth will not be killed.”
“Lance was a psychologist and he got killed. Booth is an actual agent. You have to admit that’s a high-risk job. Actually you both have high risk jobs.”
“This conversation is not pertinent to the case.”
“I know, but would you?”
“Sex is a need like hunger or sleep, Ms Wick.”
“Why won’t you just answer?”
“No. I wouldn’t.”
My favorite part of this is that Daisy won’t accept Brennan refusing to answer. She respects her, but she’s confident enough in her standing with her to push: “why won’t you just tell me?” And Brennan loves her enough to do so, never mind that thinking about it distresses her.
Daisy has always viewed Brennan as a role model, but Brennan’s never been where Daisy now finds herself, so there’s nothing for her to follow. But when Daisy needs that answer, Brennan gives it to her – and, in the process, shows us another side of her love for Booth.
Finally, there’s the heartbreaking story of Molly, the victim.
‘Issue’ episodes, where a television show tackles some current topic, don’t always work – it can be hard to communicate the message in a way that doesn’t feel like preaching, particularly while balancing the other needs of the story (in Bones’ case – humor and character subplots.)
I don’t object to such types of episodes because storytellers have been using stories to teach for thousands of years. But it’s better when it feels natural, the information shown to us through the characters rather than via information dumps.
This is the second such story Emily Silver has given us this season (the first being last fall’s excellent “Lost Love in a Foreign Land“) and this was another well-done example of tackling a difficult subject.
In this case, there were two take-aways for me.
First, that there are many ways in which we delude ourselves. Beyond what we see from Brennan, we’re shown that the adults in Molly’s life were all choosing not to see the truth, while Molly herself believed the biggest lies: that she had no value, and that her life could never be other than it was.
Second was a message of hope for anyone who’s struggling the way Molly was: hold on. It gets better.
Over the years, we’ve seen Brennan’s childhood/adolescent years in snapshots: as a young girl who would often not say anything all day apart from responding to her brother’s “Marco;” as a young teen, trying to fit in; then, older, when her closest friend was a janitor.
But based on what we saw in The Death of the Queen Bee, Brennan seems to have found some solace in her intelligence, enough to convince herself that she was valuable to the world for her scientific contributions if nothing else. It’s not that she wasn’t affected by what happened to her socially, though: when she told Booth, “I don’t have your kind of open heart” – that false belief about herself came from somewhere. But she had enough confidence in the value of her intelligence to keep moving forward.
Molly was lacking that, seemingly unable to see beyond the insults (“There’s something wrong with me,”) and that combination of believing the delusion that she had no value and the despair that it would never change, was too much.
Brennan, proving again exactly how open her heart is, gets all of that:
“Poor girl. She must have been really lonely.”
“The other girls ostracized her because she was different, and they felt threatened.”
“Making conclusions without all the facts is not like you.”
“I’m using my own life as a reference. Now I have perspective, but then, when I was isolated like Molly…it was difficult to imagine that I would ever find a life that I would enjoy living.”
“You never tried to cozy up to the popular kids?”
“I could accurately predict what their response would be, so, no.”
“I’m sorry, Brennan.”
“I have a wonderful life. I’m sorry for Molly that she never got the chance to realize that she could have one, too.” (Angela and Brennan)
Later, she says the something similar to Booth:
“And now, that beautiful, brilliant mind is gone because she couldn’t see a way out. I know what she went through. I just wish that instead of convincing herself that suicide was the only option, if she had someone to talk to, if she felt safe enough…she…”
“I have you now.”
One of the things I thought about while watching this episode is that a lot of young people watch the show, and statistically, some of them are probably being bullied, to varying degrees.
In the scheme of things, not very many people read this blog – a couple of hundred, give or take. But if you’re reading this, and are feeling like you could identify with Molly…what Brennan said? It’s true. It gets better.
When I was fourteen, I was not only dealing with bullying, but also with my mother’s death and my father’s alcoholism, and that feeling of hopelessness, of being unable to imagine a life other than the one I was living, overwhelmed me. When I tried to imagine the future, all I could see was more of the same. Like Molly, I deluded myself that that was all there was, all there could be.
I was wrong.
Last year, in my post on suicide, I said this:
“There. Is. Hope. You may not feel it, but it’s there. You may not be able to imagine a life without pain, but it exists, and it exists for you. I swear it. There are people who can help, who want to help…Death’s not the answer. If you stay, things may or may not be better tomorrow – sometimes it takes a while – but if you go, all is truly lost.”
If by some fluke you’re reading this, and are reaching the end of your rope, for whatever reason, please believe someone who’s been there: there is hope, for you. Call the National Suicide Prevention Line at: 1-800-273-8255. Reach out. Even if you don’t really believe it can make a difference, do it anyway (what do you have to lose?). Give others the chance to help you. They want to, more than you can imagine. We want to.
You have so much to offer the world. Don’t deprive us of that.
“Did you take a tone with me? What’s with the tone?” (Cam to Aubrey)
“He’s hungry.” (Booth)
“A bellybutton can’t touch a heart, that’s an impossible instruction.”
“Sweetie, it’s for visualization purposes.”
“Well, I can’t visualize it.” (Brennan and Angela)
“You think he positioned himself to find his own murder victim?”
“Fits the profile. Highly intelligent, narcissistic, like he wanted us to see his work.”
“So then he drops his pot brownie and runs? That throws doubt on your ‘highly intelligent” theory.”
“‘High’ part works, though.” (Booth and Aubrey)
“We have witnesses who say when you saw the body, you dropped your pot brownie and your walkie and you ran away.”
“It’s not illegal to run away from a dead body. You guys watch Walking Dead?” (Aubrey and Tyler)
“I want you to know that I remember every time we’ve made love.”
“Uh…That came out of nowhere. I guess I’m flattered.”
“No, I have an exceptional memory.”
“Yeah. That.” (Brennan and Booth)
“I guess guilt is in the eye of the beholder.”
“Everything’s in the eye of the beholder.” (Aubrey and Booth)
“The truth isn’t always easy to accept. Sometimes it’s hard to open our eyes to it.” (Brennan, to the girls)