Okay. I know the focus of this episode is Booth, and I promise you, I have lots of words about that.
But I’ve got to get this out of my system first.
Do you remember this?
“I don’t have your kind of open heart.”
“A substance that is impervious to damage doesn’t need to be strong…a time could come when you’re not angry anymore, and I’m strong enough to risk losing the last of my imperviousness, and we could try to be together.”
Last weekend, I watched some old episodes (as you do when there’s no new Bones), and was struck by how much Brennan has changed. I first re-watched The Memories in the Shallow Grave, because I wanted to compare pregnancies, and whoa, Nellie. The woman who hurt Booth with her fear of emotional commitment …that woman is not the one we see here.
And yet, she is. And that’s freaking awesome and makes me want to grab people and say, ‘do you see how slowly and naturally they’ve allowed this character to grow?’
Ahem. Because yeah, watching this, I kept thinking about those early episodes, and how all this season, we’ve seen both her strength and that open heart. It’s beautiful, and heartbreaking, and she is my hero.
In some ways, we see the change in her the clearest in her interactions with Jessica, particularly when she gives her the gift of the x-ray. Her openness and affection is a change over how she was with the squinterns even just a few years ago.
And the fact that she can express that affection now, in the context of her fears about Booth (“I’ve realized how quickly relationships can change, and how important it is to value those we have right now.”) is breathtaking.
Meanwhile, with Booth, she’s vulnerable enough to reach out to him in hope, strong enough to walk away when she realizes he’s not ready yet, and loving enough to make sure he knows she still loves him.
(About this scene, can I say that I don’t know which is sadder: Booth eating his comfort food alone, or Brennan not even trying to eat there by herself?)
It’s hard to love an addict. She’s navigating a line between letting him know she still loves the man he is when he’s willing to fight the addiction, and in not enabling him if he won’t be that man. Hodgins gets it when he worries about Booth feeling alone, and it’s clear that she does, too. But he has to choose her over the addiction.
Booth has always been about Brennan; Brennan has always been about Booth. Rare have been the times when they’ve not put one another first, and the fact that he’s not doing so now is the clearest indicator that he’s not yet ready to come home.
When she walks away in the diner, it’s because we’ve not yet seen him say anything that acknowledges what he’s done to her – no ‘I’m sorry for how you felt when I lied,’ no ‘I should never have exposed you and Christine in that way.’
The man who would die for her is not on view here. With his vague “I made a mistake,” he’s all about getting out of the consequences of what he did, without once expressing concern for her.
Until he does, they don’t have a relationship…but that man we’re not seeing? She misses him, she loves him, and she desperately wants him back.
Despite his love for her, it’s not a simple thing to do, and I’m so grateful that the show isn’t pretending otherwise. Addiction infiltrates every area of life, deluding us about who we are, what we can be, and the effects of our choices. Hollywood often portrays recovery as a single moment in time, a fork in the road where the addict chooses sobriety. But the reality is that there’s a journey to that point, and Bones is honoring that.
When the episode begins, he’s going to meetings, and there’s no sign that he’s gambling, which Brennan affirms with her “You’re off to a good start.” But he’s not yet chosen his life over the addiction, and the show allows us to watch him move slowly closer to doing so.
Despite the tension of the diner scene there are subtle hints throughout that he’s moving in the right direction. In particular, I find the progression of his interactions with Aubrey interesting, from this scene, early on:
“We’re just all concerned because for some crazy reason, we care about you.”
“Well, maybe you should be more concerned that we don’t have a motive or a suspect.”
To this one, later in the episode:
“Where are you going?”
“I’ve got to take care of business.”
“Do you need some back up?”
“Not this time, all right?”
It’s a gradual shift in tone and responsiveness, and I enjoy that subtlety.
But the turning point is in the interrogation room with the victim’s daughter. Sometimes, the people we love the most can’t get through to us directly, and I think that’s what happens here.
When Courtney says, “I could love her even though she’d never love me,” my mind went immediately to Brennan telling him she loved him in the diner, as well as her “I don’t believe you, not now” response to his “I love you” at the end of The Murder in the Middle East.
Based on Booth’s reaction, that’s where his mind went, too:
We’ve seen him take emotional gut punches before, but this is wholly new (and again, I want to shake Hollywood and say, ‘do you see what this actor can do?’)
This compassionate man, confronted with Courtney’s pain, sees in it a mirror of what he’s doing to the woman he loves, and is rocked by it.
Also? I’m fascinated by his glance upward. That’s the first of two times we see him do so, and I wonder if that’s the moment that he’s reaching out to God.
And then there’s the scene with Brennan and the killer, and what’s fascinating to me there is that he just lets her take the lead, because he can’t look away from her.
When they come out of that room, things have changed. He compliments their work together, and I suspect that’s the first truly personal comment he’s made to her since she confronted him. It’s another step back toward being the man he is and so she responds by asking if he’d like to come home and tuck Christine in.
He says no, but that’s because he’s got a meeting to go to, and he’s finally ready to take the next step. He’s chosen her and their life together.
This week, we had a discussion over at Bonesology about what, exactly, it is that he’s running from. Some fans thought that it was the trauma of last year (betrayal, imprisonment, Sweets’ death.) I mostly took a different view, though, positing that he wasn’t facing the truth about himself.
For ten years, he was a gambler, but he was a gambler in recovery, and I think he could tell himself it was because he was strong enough not to give in. (Which was very much what he was saying to everyone in The Eye in the Sky.) And not only is he not that strong man, he’s not the man he believed he was in respect to protecting his family, either.
Having seen this episode, though, I believe both are true. Gavin, his sponsor, asks, “You think if you don’t talk, it didn’t happen?” and to me, that (along with Booth’s plea to Brennan that they ‘not make more of it than it was’) suggests he’s desperate to deny how far he fell. The fact that when he finally does stand up at the end, he’s effectively saying, “I am the man who betrayed my family and put them in danger” goes along with that.
But the last thing we hear him say is “I’m here to find a sense of resolution with that, so I can better understand myself,” and I think that’s an acknowledgement that there are reasons he fell, and he needs to face those things in order not to fall again.
Also? This is the second point where we see him look up, just prior to beginning to speak:
Meanwhile, what’s happening with Booth and Brennan is being felt by the others.
I love Angela and Hodgins in this, first because it’s interesting to me that while we’re seeing the fallout of their careers in one direction via Booth and Brennan, we’re getting a different perspective on it through these two. Plus? I love that they both defend Booth, without denying the consequences of the gambling.
I’m also good with Jessica and Aubrey – not only in terms of their characters, but also as part of the show’s tendency to pair up the regulars in different ways.
The reality is that it’s easier to tell personal stories about the characters when it’s the same story affecting more than one of them at a time. Cam dated Paul, but the stories were rather one-sided. They’re not going to go outside the lab/bureau to show us these other people in their regular lives, so we never get to the know them, only the relationship. It’s similar with Wendell and Andie. She’s an oncology nurse, but we’re never going to travel away from the Bones universe to see her doing her job (with patients other than Wendell, at least) so we’re really only ever going to know one facet of her.
But when they bring together two people who are already in that universe, the story can work better because we know both of them as individuals. Granted, sometimes it does so better than others – I didn’t find Daisy and Sweets interesting until they broke up, and it’s no secret that Cam and Arastoo didn’t work for me for quite a while. But Aubrey and Jessica? I like both of them as characters, and enjoy their chemistry.
I liked the attic scene because it’s another of those subtle ways that the show confronts male/female stereotypes of strength and courage. He admits to being afraid of spiders, so she goes first into the dark attic, but he’s the one with the gun, stepping in front of her when they realize they’re not alone.
And I loved the Founding Fathers scene, granted, mostly because of what he says about Booth and Brennan, but the food thing amuses me. Plus, having griped mightily about not seeing the beginning of Cam and Arastoo’s romance, I liked this for showing us that.
This, though, is now on my top ten list of favorite Bones dialog exchanges, ever:
“So do you think Booth and Brennan are going to get a divorce?”
“Those two? Never.”
“Pretty definite there, Superman.”
“Well you know, Sweets wrote a book about them, and he said that it was their friendship that was the foundation of their relationship, not the fickle nature of love.”
Part of why I love the show so much has always been the authenticity of Booth and Brennan’s relationship, that we’ve seen their bond – one that goes well beyond sexual tension – develop for years, both as friends and lovers. And to have Aubrey, by way of Sweets, spell out that that’s why they’re going to overcome Booth’s relapse makes me silly with joy.
They’re rock solid, their love (remember me saying last week that the show is about how they love one another?) founded on years of friendship. This is challenging them, but they’ll come out the other side stronger.
“She didn’t go into the water voluntarily.”
“It’s the Potomac. Who would?” (Cam and Booth)
“Have you ever been on the internet? it’s the land of nasty, bitter people.” (Cheryl McMichaels)
“Did you know I used to have this same vintage, ugly plane when I was a kid?”
“Have you found anything aside from your lost childhood?” (Hodgins and Jessica)
“This isn’t looking good for you, Mr. Simon – you actually got caught with your hand in the cookie jar.” (Booth)
“Do you ever miss anything?”
“Well, no one’s perfect, Ms. Warren.”
“But I come very close.” (Jessica and Brennan)