Fan Review: The Life in the Light (Bones)

I’m pretty sure the earth shook a little from Bones fans exhaling in relief at that last scene. It was worth waiting for, but there was a lot of build-up to it, plus Angela and Hodgins’ story, so…here we go:

Booth:

One of the things that’s fascinated me about this arc is that I had certain expectations about how Booth would act, and I’ve been wrong at nearly every point. Wrong, and yet, once I thought about it, I realized that his responses made sense for the character. That ability to surprise me in a way where I nevertheless say, ‘of course…’ is good writing to me.

Here, I was taken aback by his attempts to distance Brennan from Gavin’s celebration as well as his rebuff of Aubrey’s encouragement.

But if gambling-Booth was someone we’d not seen before, Booth-struggling-with-recovery is equally unknown to us. And… this is exactly how we should expect him to act, because this is the man who was in denial about what he had done, and now, having faced it, is horrified and ashamed.

Booth is a confident man, and where gambling is concerned, I think it’s easy to understand why he thought his strength would be sufficient to keep him from relapsing: He fought his way to recovery and then went ten years without doing so, and, to me, at times he’s come across as a little cocky about it. And then he did fail, and rather spectacularly, endangering them and then fracturing his relationship with Brennan with his lies and denials.

So I get why he didn’t want anyone being proud of him. Self-forgiveness can be a bigger stumbling block than being forgiven by loved ones, particularly for someone like Booth, who has such high expectations for himself in terms of honor.

Brennan:

Once someone hurts you, how do you trust them again? Isn’t there always a ‘what if?’ lurking in the back of your mind? But how can the relationship thrive under those conditions? Haven’t we all struggled with the same questions Brennan is?

There’s never a guarantee where human beings and behavior are concerned, though, and if you require one, you’ll be very lonely. But that doesn’t mean that you open yourself up to unwise choices about who you trust, or how.

Earlier, in my first post about this arc, I said this:

When someone lets us down, we always view that failure in the context of everything we know about them, and that history is what allows us to decide whether it was an aberration or a pattern, whether we can trust them again or not.  I believe Brennan will do that, and that it will be a factor in what happens next.

There’s a rational process where you evaluate how well you know the person and what their current attitude is toward having hurt you. And I think that’s exactly what Brennan has been doing, and there are points along the way where we see her thoughts on it:

Her response to Hodgins:

“I know how hard this is.”
“You’ve never been separated from your child, so that statement is false.”

She’s comparing Hodgins to Booth’s current situation, not hers, showing that she’s seeing the situation from his perspective. I think that’s an important part of evaluating whether or not, and how, to trust again. If she’s not seeing it through his eyes, she can’t see his motivation to be trustworthy.

But it’s this exchange with Angela where we see that she already knows what she’ll choose, even if she’s struggling with when:

“I know how tough things have been for you and Booth.”
“No. We’re fine…we’re going to be fine.”

Booth and Brennan:

In addition to their individual stories, we also have a separate story about their relationship, seen at five points:

Opening scene:

What strikes me here is that he protects her. When Christine begs for him to stay, we see that both of them want him to, but Brennan’s not sure of the timing. And Booth steps in, protecting her from being the bad guy to their daughter. It’s a small thing, I think, but important.

Hug

Hug Monster and Little Monster. ❤

 

I’m also struck by what he says to Christine, about needing “another hug to stay strong.” In some ways, I think that foreshadows a fuller answer to Brennan’s question at the end about what will keep him going once he moves back in: their love, trust, and need of him.

And then there’s that awkward kiss/hug with Brennan. They’re moving back toward one another, but it’s a process.

Hug3

The face of a woman enjoying being held.

SUV scene:

Here, we see another expression of his love for her, as well as proof that they’re getting back to normal:

“Myriad, huh?”
“Yes. It means large number.”
“I know what it means. It’s just a funny word, that’s all. I miss your funny words, Bones. Funny haha, funny peculiar…just funny. Listen, I’m just glad you came along today, that’s all.”
“We’re partners.  We’ve got a case to solve.”

Partners, first and always.

Diner Scene:

I almost love this scene more than the GA meeting and the end, and I’m not a little fond of those. But there’s something about seeing them so wrapped up in one another that they lose track of time that’s very sweet.

Plus, this:

“I completely lost track of time.”
“We’ve been here for two hours.”
“That explains the nasty looks from people who wanted our table.” (To diner at large.) “You can’t eat pie fast or you’ll cramp. That is a science.”
“Some day I would love to live in a world governed by your rules of physics.”
“You will. Someday you will. Very soon.”

He’s not sure of what she needs in all of this, but he makes a promise to her, one he’s determined to keep.

YouWillCollage

The GA Celebration:

It turns out that what she needs is to feel included by him, not just in the struggle and consequences of his addiction, but also his victories.

GA gaze

What struck me though, is how much it means to him for her to be there, seen in his expression from the podium when she comes in. He doesn’t feel he deserves it, doesn’t think he’s earned it yet, but it means the world to him.

Sharedvictory

 

And when she spells out that she’s his partner in this, too? He smiles, because it turns out that they both need the same thing, to know they’re together on this journey.

 

 

End scene:

For all of Brennan’s rationally working through what she knows to be true of Booth, based on history and what he’s doing now to re-earn her trust, in the end, she goes with her gut:

“The rational side of me needs to know that that is true, empirically. But statistically, that’s impossible. Life is essentially uncertain.”
“No guarantees.”
“That’s right. And if we try to be certain before we act, we never act.”
“What are you saying, Bones?”
“I’m saying…I have faith in you, Booth. And I think you should stay the night with me.”

I’ve seen some comments reacting to Brennan following a hunch in solving the murder, and then here, when she accepts that sometimes, you have to act outside empirical proof, as if it’s a new thing. It’s not.

In The Bod in the Pod, she followed her gut to catch the killer, and I think she was doing the same thing in The Ghost in the Killer, when she determined the killer was woman.  In The Nail in the Coffin, she tells Booth that she’s come to the conclusion that the gut is simply “highly developed observational powers.” So, no, not new. Just further proof of her growth.

Neither is this the first time she’s told him she has faith in him. She chose to trust him at the end of The Secrets in the Proposal, and I suspect that that situation, too, is influencing her. Yes, there, he hurt her through no choice of his own, but in the end, her faith was rewarded, and it’s hard to think that’s not a factor on an emotional level now, however different the circumstances.

StayWithMe

“I’m saying…I have faith in you, Booth.”

 

Angela and Hodgins:

There’s another story as well, and it has to do with these two deciding to move to Paris. It’s not a surprise, because they’ve been building to it for a while, and it makes sense – if the season as a whole has a theme, it’s the toll their careers have taken on all of them, and here, we see Angela and Hodgins recognizing that they need more from life than catching killers.

I’m continually fascinated by the different ways the show chooses to tell the story: what they leave out, what they make explicit, what they leave open for us to assign meaning to, what they tell us with a glance. But those choices don’t always completely work.

Writers are told ‘don’t let your reader be pulled out of the story,’ because if they are? It’s going to lessen the emotional impact of what you’re trying to do.

That happened to me at three points, even when I understand, sort of, why they made the choices they did:

Pookie Noodlin:

I think this is a great name in terms of explaining why she changed it. And I respect that they have to balance new viewers against those of us who know canon, perhaps too well. I do get that. But I’m not convinced that they couldn’t have found a way to reveal the name that didn’t contradict Angela’s explanation in S3’s The Mummy in the Maze that she changed her name on her eighteenth birthday.

It’s what some of us call a ‘handwave’ where we dismiss something minor, and there’s no end of those on Bones.  But some take me out of the story more than others. I spent some time trying to figure out if there was a way to reconcile the two (maybe she didn’t mean that she legally changed her name when she was eighteen?) but still…impact lost.

Living in Paris:

Okay, the going theory on this one is that staying in one city for seven months isn’t actually living there if you don’t buy a house. Hey, I want people to be satisfied with the story, so if that works for you, I’m happy. But it feels disingenuous to me, a bit. I mean, seven months, one city. I can handwave with the best of them, but the truth is the emotional impact of their decision was largely lost on me because I felt like I was supposed to ignore the seven months between S5 and S6.

Cam, friend or boss?

This is less about leaving something out and more about how they use Cam. I’ve been told this is a nitpick I should get over, but seriously, her relationship with all of them but Booth varies according to plot needs: if the story requires her to be their friend (as in her identity theft storyline, or her inclusion in the bachelorette party), then she is; if the story requires conflict, she’s the boss they don’t quite trust.

(Never mind that, as bosses go, she’s a pretty decent one in my mind, getting them what they need, looking the other way as much as possible, empathizing with them when their lives are in the toilet, and standing up for them.)

But this exchange between Brennan and Angela made me sad:

“But you have friends here.”
“Yeah. That’s the tough part. You, mostly.”

I get why Brennan and Angela are the focus here. But I thought not only of Cam, but of Daisy, who Angela went to prenatal appointments with after Sweets died, and, yeah, it took me out of the moment.

(It’s also fair to remember that I watch the show for the team-as-family theme as much as for Booth and Brennan, so when they sacrifice the former for the latter, I’m disappointed.)

Cam

Only a boss, my ass.

But seriously, this reaction on Cam’s part?  I’ve given notice to a number of employers, and never had one look at me like that.

So for me, the Booth and Brennan stories nailed it, but, apart from some of the Brennan and Angela scene, the moving-to-Paris decision left me pretty flat.

(Hey, guys, I’m counting on lots of team moments next week. Don’t let me down, okay?)

Bonus Quotes:

“Aren’t you coming up on 30 days? Don’t you get a chip?”
“Take a bite of the doughnut, okay? You’ll stop talking.” (Aubrey & Booth)

***

“I can’t believe I’m married to Pookie Noodlin.”
“Not if you keep saying it out loud, you’re not. (Hodgins & Angela)

***

“A wise man is not a slave to his emotions.”
“No, but even the best of us can get mugged by them.” (Ramesh and Aubrey)

***

“Everything you know is here.”
“But that’s just it. I don’t want to know everything in my life. I want to be surprised. Don’t you?” (Brennan & Angela)

 

Bonus kiss, because…kiss:

Kiss2

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12 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Life in the Light (Bones)

  1. On the car scene when he was so caught up on her using myriad, it reminded me of The Man in the SUV when he told her not to use words like eschew and segue, that they made her sound French. LOL He was so irritated then. Now instead of being irritated by her vocabulary his love for her just spills over. I love it.

    As for the legal name change, yeah that bugged me, and I was so happy that I had an idea from the spoilers that it was going to happen, so I didn’t get hung up on it while watching…although I really, really wish they’d have had Hodgins learn her birth name by finding her birth certificate or something like that. Then they could have preserved the hole legal name change thing.

    On the living in Paris, I can much more easily let that go because here she’s saying she always wanted to live in Paris, and that 7 months in Paris was always meant to be temporary…a year in the beginning, but still temporary, they always intended to move back. She always wanted to move there to live, not just stay awhile. It’s not perfect, but it works for me

    As for the friendship, Cam thing. That I have zero problem with what the episode showed. Brennan is Angela’s best friends. She’s said several times throughout the series that the reason she’d stayed at this job so long is because of Brennan. I think Brennan is probably right behind Hodgins and Michael Vincent as the people Angela loves and wants in her everyday life. And at this time her best friend is going through a really rough time, so yeah it’d be mostly her that’s making it hard for Angela to move to another country at this time. It’s not that the others aren’t her friends, but it’s that it’s Brennan that’s making it hard for her to leave and fulfill her life long dream.

    And hey I scene I want to add that I loved was when Booth and Brennan were waiting outside the yoga class. It’s like they had forgotten all the relationship tension at that moment and are just comfortable with each other, and happy with each other. The joke when the class broke up and they walked into the room. The instructor/girlfriend/suspect (killer) even commented on them being happy.

    • As I was thinking about it on Friday, I realized that it’s less an issue of whether or not we can find a way to make the stories work (they stayed in Paris for 7 months, or visited there, but wouldn’t say they lived there) but just that, the harder I’m working to see if I can make it fit, the less engaged I am emotionally with what’s going on. (The ‘being taken out of the story’ thing.)

      I’m also aware that it’s an individual thing, and a lot of people responded the way they wanted them to, in terms of sadness, which is why I tried (as always) to frame it just as, ‘this didn’t work for ME and here’s why’ rather than a flat ‘this was wrong.’

      Mostly, I think if they’d made even a quick reference to the previous trip (“We’ve wanted to live there since our honeymoon”) it would have worked better for me, and I don’t think that would have confused new viewers. I am wondering if they’re sort of hoping people won’t be remembering that previous story…

      (The name was less of an issue for me, because I’m not one of those people who’s particularly hung up on the mysteries of the show. I would have been fine never learning her name, so the fact that I was more focused on whether or not they’d just cheerfully rearranged canon than what the name was didn’t bother me.)

      As to Cam, yeah, that was the fuzzier one for me. I do get that your BFF matters the most, and that leaving Brennan now, when things are so difficult for her, would make it harder.

      But I think I’m oversensitive to how they use Cam (because having noticed a couple of years ago that there’s an either/or quality to the stories with her and it bothers me.)

      I think the larger story they’re trying to tell is that being friends with your boss is hard, and that makes sense to me. But they rarely address that directly (aside from The Past in the Present) and instead, when she’s the Enemy-Boss, there’s seldom any acknowledgement at all of her being their friend, and vice versa.

      I will say that they do a decent job of establishing that whatever the weird dynamics are with all of them, that it’s different between her and Brennan than her and A/H, but even there, sometimes it feels like they equals, jointly running things, with different focuses, and sometimes Cam’s her boss, struggling with herding that particular cat. But always, it feels like the choice of which it is is determined solely by plot needs.

      And again, that’s not a factor for a lot of fans, because not everyone is as focused on the team aspects of the show as I am. Fortunately, that’s not the only reason I watch, and the story they’ve been telling about the gambling arc has knocked it out of the park on every level. Go, show!

  2. Oh and I didn’t say it, but I loved the episode, but the poor case didn’t register too much.And even rewatching (I’ve watched 4 times so far well maybe 5) I’ve wanted just watch those relationship moments over and over. I think they nailed all of those. They made me cry several times through the episode, but my heart soared a few times too. I just loved it.

    • They really have done a spectacular job with the gambling arc. I said this in the review, but I so much love how they’ve written both of them. He’s been (uncomfortably, at times) exactly what we’d expect to see from him as a relapsed gambler, and even more as a recovering one; and Brennan? I’m more in love with her than ever. She’s been perfect. Her struggle in this one to figure out when to let him come home – something she wants so very much – was beautiful. (Her eyes are shiny with tears at the end, did you notice?)

      I think the one thing I’m still hoping for in respect to the whole thing is a scene between Booth and Aubrey. He owes him a lot, and there’s been a bit of short shift there the last couple of weeks. That’s not a complaint, because the focus was rightly on B&B, as individuals and as a couple. And there may not be time for that kind of moment next week, either. But I hope we see something, at some point.

      Apart from that, there’s nothing I would change about this arc. (And even that isn’t a change so much as a bit of wistful ‘wish they’d had time for…’) It’s been spectacular.

      • We still have another episode this season where that could happen, and (HAPPY DAY!) it might even happen next season. I know people are assuming this story arc is over but to me there are a few little threads hanging, and I kind of like that it isn’t all neatly wrapped up with a bow on it. I don’t necessarily want it beat to death, but a call back here or there next season might add another layer of depth to an already fabulous arc.

  3. I loved this episode a lot for all the reasons you mention above and more. The acting was amazing all the way around, especially when Booth sees Brennan come into the GA meeting. I could almost feel what he was supposed to be feeling, instead of just watching it. I thought the case was interesting although finding where the victim went using social media pictures was bizarre to me, but I am kind of a Luddite.

    I think the effect of Angela’s visit to Brennan when she tells Brennan she is leaving should be considered. It was kind of a nudge in a way…time passes by so fast and you have to jump while you have the chance (that was the way I took it). Since it takes a while to gather empirical evidence sometimes it is important to take that leap of faith instead of waiting for absolute proof.

    Loved the pictures in your review. Thanks.

    • That’s interesting, thinking about the conversation with Angela being another factor in Brennan’s decision to take a leap of faith. I think you might be onto something – one of those things they don’t make explicit, but leave us to connect on our own.

      And yeah, I loved the way their eyes met and held when she comes into the GA meeting, and so much passes over his face. I’m still not sure I captured exactly what I was aiming for in the pictures with that one. It was beautiful. I love these two.

      • The two of them staring at each other from a distance just called back so many other times that has happened with the two of them: 100th episode, Wannabe in the Weeds, Science Dude show, Forensic convention and probably more I am not remembering. I just think that it’s lovely when they have those scenes because DB and ED are marvels at the eye contact and wordless communication. In other words, really good actors! And they are a pleasure to watch.

  4. Wonderful review. Quickly, I want to add two points. There is an important interrogation scene with Booth & Brennan questioning the girlfriend when they have the evidence against her. I really love the exchange between her and Brennan:

    Girlfriend: We worked so hard for that money, and he was going to give it away to some criminal.
    Brennan: No, he was going to help a friend rebuild his life.

    Then she looks at Booth and he looks at her, and it’s another amazing scene where she is showing compassion and he completely understands that she is referring to him as well as the ex-convict.

    Secondly, although everything you mentioned in the final scene is how you described, it was significant that she didn’t ask him to come home, but said spend the night. Meaning it was a very romantic first step, and he answered, “I think I should, too” instead of saying something tentative. It was almost like they were on a few dates over the course of the episode and now they were ready for the next step (sex + overnight stay). I missed that the first time, picked up on it the second time, and was sure the third time (yes we are all obsessive about this show requiring multiple watches 😉). Yes, it basically means he’s going to move back but I like that the focus was on one night together after a month or so apart.

    So you could say this episode was a courtship in mini form. And I loved it!

    • I loved that ‘rebuilding his life’ bit and yeah, wanted to comment on it and ran out of room. I try (and nearly always fail) to keep these to 2000 words or less. It’s hard!

      But yeah, I took it the same way you did. I’ve loved how she’s been encouraging him. You know, something that just occurred to me – this gambling story couldn’t have been told years ago, because Brennan needed to be to the point in her growth where she could help him.

      And as to the last scene, yeah, this was very much a courtship, I thought, including the losing track of time, etc.

      I tend to think he’s home for good now (we’ll see next week) but saying, ‘I think you should move back tonight’ or ‘I think you’re ready to live here’ – all of that puts pressure on him, maybe on them, in a way that presenting is as ‘this is what we need for tonight’ doesn’t. It just sounds less climactic, and I think that’s a good thing.

  5. In the final scene, I love how following Booth responds following his request to drop Christine off at school a few days next week. He sees Brennan’s uncertain/thinking expression and backs off – “Look, if we’re not there yet…” He is eager to spend time with his daughter and to move forward in healing his relationship with his wife, but he is now fully tuned in to his wife’s needs and how he hurt her. This is such a contrast from the attitude he had early in his relapse when he viewed being kicked out as an unfair inconvenience and embarrassment to himself that he aimed to be end and brush over ASAP. I assert this small indication of his change in attitude helped nudge her closer to deciding to invite him to stay the night.

    Then there was their exchange on his motivation. Booth’s refusal to fully look her in the eye as he says, “No guarantees,” makes me think he’s ashamed that discussing the possibility of future relapses is necessary. He realizes that she realizes there are no guarantees another bookie won’t show up at their door in the future. He hates it.

    But she goes on about making decisions before being certain. Brennan chooses faith, hope and love in spite of it all. Waves of relief, gratitude, love and joy wash over Booth’s face.

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