Thursday, I commented on Twitter that I was planning to watch the episode as the season finale it was, rather than the show finale it could have been. Interpretation plays a role in what we see, and I figured I’d have a very different response if I were watching it with a view of, ‘there’s more story coming’ rather than, ‘this could have been the end.’
I’m glad I did so, given that a lot of fans seemed to have focused on it as the end of the show, and were unhappy as a result, whereas I…well, I was doing handsprings of joy around the interwebs.
I have thoughts about it as a potential end of the show, but I’m going to hold off on those and here just review what was to me a very satisfying conclusion to S10.
The bottom line is this: Bones is still showing me stuff, important stuff, about these characters. They’re not the same people they were at the beginning of season eight, a fact that never fails to delight me, and I’m dead certain they won’t be the same people at the end of S11 that they are now.
I enjoy watching them confront what life throws at them, and there’s a yin-yang to it for me: I wouldn’t want the angst without the sweetness, but the sweetness has no meaning apart from the challenges they face – I’m more interested in seeing who they are in different situations than I am in seeing them always happy.
This season has felt honest to me in two ways: I find it plausible that given what they do, sooner or later they’d face the loss of someone even closer to them than Vincent, and second, because of that, Booth didn’t relapse for reasons unworthy of the man we know him to be. Indeed, it wasn’t even just Sweets’ murder, but a series of traumatic events.
So Booth fell, and fell hard, and the show honored the reality of addiction by not pulling any punches with it. And then together – always together – he and Brennan clawed their way back…but to what? The grief and sorrow are still there; the dangerous jobs they do still a reality, even as they anticipate the birth of ‘Tiger.’
Given that, I think the only place this particular story arc could go was to this kind of decision. I’ve seen comments that the gambling arc should have happened sooner in the season, because fans wanted it over and to see them happy again before the finale, but thinking about what we’ve seen…I don’t think that was possible.
Booth’s relapse was as much about showing the toll their lives have taken on them as anything, and that means that …the choice they make here was the only honest direction the show could go. Anything else, where they come back from the relapse and settle back into their normal lives, would have been a cheat, would have lessened the impact of what happened and what it meant.
And not just for Booth. I’ve noted before how strong Brennan has been, and while we saw hints of the toll the year has taken on her in The Lost in the Found, I think this is where it’s seen most clearly, as she takes the initiative on saying ‘enough is enough.’
Booth says to Aubrey, “Bones isn’t afraid of anything,” and as well as he knows her, I think he’s wrong.
As they enter the crime scene, they have this exchange:
“Look, this is important work, or don’t you think so, anymore?”
“Of course I think so. But there are other important things we could do that won’t get us killed.”
“No one’s getting killed.”
“That’s what you always say before the shooting starts.”
And as humorous as I find that last line, the image that comes to my mind is this one, from last year’s finale, and it’s not funny at all:
She’s strong, with courage to spare, and it’s part of why they’ve all weathered this year. But no, she’s not without fear.
As to Booth, in the first scene, we see that he’s still experiencing the consequences of his relapse, and my heart breaks for him a little, never mind that the insecurity he’s experiencing is wholly on him (i.e., Brennan would never contemplate making such changes without his input.)
Doing something important, making a positive difference in the world, matters to him. But how much is he willing to risk for it?
Prior to seeing the episode, I’d assumed that Pelant popping back up in some form would be part of why they leave, sort of a final straw, but that wasn’t the focus. Rather, I think Booth’s been aware for a long time on an unconscious level that it might be time to reconsider, and Brennan’s setting it in front of him finally allowed it to surface.
It’s easier to articulate physical damage, and that’s what he references to Caroline: “There’s still a few places on me that haven’t been shot or broken,” but that’s only part of it, and they all know it. At the end, when Arastoo is comforting Cam, he says, “she’s about to have a baby, and Booth…” he doesn’t finish the sentence because they know, they all know, that there’s a limit to what you can ask one human being to cope with.
And spending a life chasing murderers can take a toll even without what they’ve endured this year. Pal Frankie reminded me of what Sully said to Brennan in The Boneless Bride in the River:
“There’s more to life than, than corpses and murderers. You know, we do this job for too long, we get warped. I, I can feel it happening already and maybe you can too.”
It took eight more years, and some hideous, terrifying, devastating experiences, but yeah, both of them have reached that point.
It doesn’t mean it’s easy for either of them – Hodgins isn’t wrong when he tells Cam, ‘this lab is her life,’ and Booth flat-out admits to Caroline how hard it is. But the fact that it’s hard doesn’t mean it isn’t also necessary.
There’s an interesting contrast here between the couples. In The Verdict in the Victims, Hodgins responds to Angela’s comment about a life “without all this death and shadow governments and serial killers” with this:
“If it were me, I’d vow not to put off any dreams until later, because later is not a guarantee… If you’d talked to me, I would have told you I thought you were dreaming a little too small. After ten years, I think we deserve to let life surprise us, don’t you?”
and it sounds like even Hodgins is reaching the point of needing a change, but what we see in this episode is that no, he was making a sacrifice for her, acting out of love because he understood that she needed something more.
One of the gifts the last two seasons has given me is showing me how much Angela loves Hodgins. Previously, their relationship had seemed uneven to me, with lots of moments focused on his response to her, and very little on hers in respect to him.
But then S9 gave us The Dude in the Dam, when she supports him incubating a botfly in his neck, as well as the scene in The Source in the Sludge when she tells him how special he is.
And now we see just how aware she really is, as she watches him with the science, and, no…he needs the Jeffersonian, and she needs him more than she needs Paris.
Part of the why of her love for him is his response to the money. I’ve long said that I didn’t want to see them get it back because I so love what Hodgins shows us about priorities and wealth. But this is pretty sweet:
“It’s not my money anymore, Angie, and there’s so much blood on it. And as long as it’s still out there, every crazy hacker is going to try-”
“It’s four billion dollars.”
“We don’t need it. We have enough…let it go to a hundred charities, okay? Let them find a cure for the cancer that Wendell has. Please, Angie.”
I love, respect, and admire him – and so does she.
Much of the last third of the episode focuses on the consequences of the choice Booth and Brennan have made, and no one who reads these posts should be surprised by how much I loved it.
I’ve always loved the family theme, but recently it occurred to me that I’ve not always been fair in one respect: I tend to judge interactions among the characters as, ‘is this consistent with people who are family?’ rather than ‘what are they telling me here about the family that these people have formed?’
It’s important, because no two families are alike, biological or otherwise, and they need to be appreciated for what they are. I admit that I’m not sure what that realization means in respect to scenes which have been disappointed me. But it’s a new way of approaching the story.
With that in mind, here are five moments that I found particularly moving or thought-provoking:
1. Brennan and Cam:
“Dr. Brennan, when were you planning on telling me?”
“I…wasn’t sure. Because you are not merely my superior, you are also my friend. The thought of hurting you…clearly this is not my area of expertise, and for that, I apologize, and hope that you can forgive me.”
Seriously, I don’t know which one I want to hug more. Watching this scene, I remembered Cam turning to Brennan for the strength to autopsy Sweets, and later, for advice on Arastoo; and then thought of the reverse, when Cam helped Brennan see Booth in a different way in The Secrets in the Proposal. It’s not that I’ve not known how much they matter to one another, but hearing it spelled out is a lovely pay-off.
2. Caroline and Booth:
Here’s something I kind of love: I don’t think Caroline was necessary from a case perspective, and I love, love that they brought Patricia Belcher in, anyway. Because in truth? She’s Booth’s mom in every way that matters. (Don’t talk to me about what’s-her-name.)
Along those lines…I don’t think her grief is just because she’ll miss him. I think it’s also for him, that the job he does so well has cost him so much that he’s finally accepted the need to step back from it. And that breaks my heart, and makes me love her all the more. (I still want a Caroline Julian spin-off.)
3. The Squinterns:
Thinking about the family thing again, there’s a line I love from The Mystery in the Meat, when Hodgins says to Oliver about Daisy, “she is one of us. You are not, yet. The fastest way for you to become one of us is to be kind to her.”
It’s not a question of whether the new interns are yet part of the family, but rather an acknowledgement that it takes time to develop those bonds. So Daisy, Wendell, Clark, and Arastoo being there means something, and, like my response to Caroline, I’m so grateful the show brought them in.
I’ve always loved watching the squinterns work together, but this one, particularly in the scenes where Brennan is effectively testing them (oral exams be damned, this was their graduation) was a lot of fun.
The moment I liked the best, though? When Clark sees Daisy, and calls her up to help. Her smile as she says, “Coming!” is confident and assured – not the false confidence I think we saw from her for a long time, but of someone who knows that she’s loved and accepted, not just by Brennan, but by her peers. Brennan’s done far more for them than make sure they can detect hesitation marks on bones.
Aubrey, too, is not yet completely family. Although I loved their farewell, particularly Booth’s ‘call me if you need advice,’ I was struck by the handshake there, whereas Booth, who doesn’t hug guys (except for Brennan!) …is seen hugging Wendell and Hodgins, and in one of the fade-outs, it appears that even he and the reserved Clark are going to embrace.
It interests me, because friendship is something that forms over time, and I like that the show respects that. Aubrey and Booth enjoy one another – the grin Aubrey gives Booth on the train scene in response to the latter’s “sorry I’m late” cracked me up – and Aubrey has more than proven himself loyal. But that bond is still forming.
5. Cam and Arastoo:
“I feel foolish. I know life changes. And I should be bigger than this. I don’t …I don’t know why I’m crying.”
“Because you love them.”
Cam regularly strikes me as vulnerable in her relationships with the others, which is why I’m often frustrated by Angela and/or Hodgins on her behalf. And that’s what I see here, a fear of acknowledging the depth of her feelings for Booth and Brennan.
But Arastoo? His willingness to name that emotion for her, and in way that tells her it’s okay, touches me. I’m glad she has someone who understands both her and the dynamics of the team.
Where things are at the end of the episode works pretty well for me: Angela and Hodgins are remaining, and Brennan is leaving four forensic anthropologists as her replacement (it amuses me that that’s so) while Aubrey will continue at the FBI, no doubt serving as liaison with the Jeffersonian.
And Booth and Brennan? They’re tired, yes, and they want to explore something more with their lives. But they’ve had ten years of putting bad guys away, have toppled a shadow government, have saved countless lives – and Booth long ago accomplished his goal of catching more killers than people he’s killed. They’re not leaving in defeat.
As to Pelant, I cheered when Brennan shut off the video. He’s not worth one more iota of her time. She’s going to go home, and relax with the man she loves, spend time with him and their daughter, and get ready for Tiger.
“There’s a lot of good agents here, better than me.”
“You shut up, Seeley Booth. There is no one better than you. But I’ll act like there is, if you want me to.” (Booth and Caroline)
“In our culture, we all search for closure. But closure is an illusion. Science shows us that the universe is constantly in flux. It’s what allows our friendships and our love to constantly surprise us.” (Brennan, to Angela)