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