Fan Review: The Next in the Last (Bones)

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:

ReclinerBren

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.)

WhatWeDo3But when he smiles and says, ‘hey, Bones, this is what we do,’ in response to the murder call…it feels forced, as if he’s questioning their lives, perhaps for the first time.

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.

LiveOurLivesC

“Or we could just have the baby, and live our lives, and be happy.”

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.

AH

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.)

BoothCaro

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.

4. Aubrey

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.

AubreyBooth

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.”
“I do.”

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.

LoveThem

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.

Bonus Quotes:

“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)

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11 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Next in the Last (Bones)

  1. Stupid allergies making my eyes water, and making me sniffle.

    Great job with your review. Yep all those things were what I loved about this episode. I just loved all the bits and pieces with all the different characters. All the different interactions. I’m very satisfied with this season finale, and am now looking forward to season 11 and what is next for the Bones family.

    And oh yeah, I did follow your lead and just viewed it as a season finale, didn’t worry about the fact that it could have been the series finale.

  2. Through your eyes, I’ve learned to love and appreciate what they gave us in this episode. So thank you for that. I’m going to watch it again before I go to bed to solidify that feeling.

    Excellently done, my friend. You’ve knocked it out of the park, consistently, all season long. Job well done.

  3. This was fantastic. Thank you for putting so much time and thought into these reviews. They are lovely. And always on point.

    I too made a serious attempt to see the episode through the season finale lense instead of series. I think it helped tremendously. Why lament what could have been? It was not the series finale. So we should have put that out of our minds. It was an emotional, but quite believable close to an intense season. I personally loved it. I also take comfort in the fact that unlike last summer, I don’t have to spend the next couple months worried about whether Booth will survive the hospital and/or prison. It will be so exciting to see what happens when we see everyone again. And it will be even more interesting to see the impetus for B&B’s return.

    My favorite part of your review was:

    “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”

    I couldn’t agree with this more. That is why this show still has gas in the tank. Booth and Brennan continue to grow as a couple because they are put in these trying situations, and always find a way to weather the storm-together. How one acts and reacts in times of adversity, that’s truly telling of one’s character. Same goes for couples. You can’t gauge the strength of the relationship until its tested in some way. And both B&B have overcome their share of adversity. They are solid. They were on shaky ground some this season, but they will be stronger for it in the end. And the sweetness we see in between means so much more because of it. I think we all appreciate these moments more because we’ve seen all that they’ve endured (and maybe because of the 6 seasons of will-they-won’t-they we had before they got together).

    Until next season!

    • “How one acts and reacts in times of adversity, that’s truly telling of one’s character.” – exactly, and why, I, too, think there’s still story left. I don’t know much more, because they keep surprising me with what they’re willing to explore (i.e., gambling relapse treated seriously), but certainly now we have the story of what happens next, both in their careers, and their marriage, coming out of the gambling arc.

      So bring on another season of watching them be who they are, both as individuals and as a couple!

  4. One thing kept going thru my mind as I read your review. You may have started watching this episode as a season finale, but your review (to me) sounds more like that of a series finale. All the reasons and explanations you gave for B&B deciding to leave sounded rather final. I am not saying they are not valid, but with the reasons you gave how will them coming back next season be explained or make any sense?

    • Hmm. I was interacting with what the story gave us, which, on the one hand seemed rather final – there’s no line, for example, where one of them says, ‘maybe this isn’t forever.’

      What was different was my own emotional response in respect to watching it knowing they’d be back, as opposed to watching it as if I didn’t think they would be.

      BUT…I do think it’s interesting that if they never say, ‘this might not be forever,’ they also never say, ‘this is permanent.’ And while the show may well surprise me (I think they left things deliberately vague to give them as many options as possible for when they came back and started writing S11) I do think their lack of a specific plan was intentional.

      I know some people assumed they’re going to Kansas, but that wasn’t my interpretation of the ‘or’ in ‘OR we could have the baby…’ line. I think at the end of this, they don’t have a plan for what comes next. They’re going to take some time off, rest, be with one another, get ready for the baby, have the baby, spend time with Christine…and then they’ll see.

      But the issue there is that I don’t think either one of them will handle a purposeless life for long. I think Brennan will survive longer than Booth, in that she’ll be continuing to keep up with forensic anthropology journals, and might well be called in to consult on an anthropological find, as well as her next novel. But Booth? I can see him doing stuff around the house, playing hockey, but in some ways, he’s got a more narrow world than she does from a career point of view.

      So I can see the show picking up a few months later, when they’ve both had a significant rest and realized that maybe they want to go back to the lab/FBI (particularly since I think the show deliberately pointed out that both of them will miss it); or they do have other jobs they’re finding less than satisfactory, when something comes up to draw them back into the team.

      I don’t think they’ll show them having left DC, at least not permanently, though they could surprise me on that one.

      But yeah, I think they left the door wide open for a return, both in an emotional sense and a career sense.

      The question of how they feel about the danger is the key one, I think, and that could play out in different ways – including that life’s dangerous, anyway, and it’s worth while trying to make it safer (something I think they’re both too damaged to appreciate at the moment, perhaps, but may not always be), or they might decide to come back with some changes in place to try and reduce the toll on their family.

      Have to wait and see, but I think there are plenty of story possibilities left open here for how it works out.

  5. I decided to watch it as a season finale, and I was happy with it for the reasons you mentioned above. I think I would have been somewhat satisfied with it as a series finale, but there were some minor details I would have liked to have be shown, like the gender of their baby, acknowledging Booth’s grandfather, and a little bit of “we’ve sure come a long way, baby”.

    This season has been very hard for me to watch in many ways but I think it has been worth it in terms of story and acting. I think the second half of the season was much better than the first half (I know you disagree with me, Rynogeny….sorry :)…) and the season finale was worthy of the second half.

    I will be extremely curious to see how they start the new season given where we ended this one, but I personally am pleased that Booth and Brennan are happy together at the end of the season for the first time in a long time. That fact alone swayed me to say I enjoyed this episode, followed closely by Booth’s line about just having their baby and living their lives. That, in my mind, was one of the most romantic things he has ever said to her. He needs nothing more than to live his life with Brennan to be happy…..sigh……

    • Actually, I think the 2nd half was stronger, too, because I loved the gambling arc (it’s easily my favorite story arc of all 10 seasons) but I didn’t dislike the 1st half. There were a couple of eps that didn’t do much for me, but several from the first half that I thought excellent from either a case or character point of view.

      And yeah, I’d have been fine with this as a show finale, and the more time I have to think about it, the more true that is. I’m just glad it wasn’t. 🙂

  6. I’m totally, definitely okay. *wipes eyes* Definitely. I’m not crying it’s allergies, allergies dammit!

    You’ve made me want to rewatch the finale, specifically the last 10 mins or so, so thank you for that!

    I agree with everything you’ve said here, and I particularly loved what you said about family. They are a family and like you said, every family is different, and I love that even 10 Seasons in I’m still learning something new.

    They can still surprise me, and shock me, and I just completely love that. How many shows can do that after 10 Seasons?!

    Come Season 11 I’m hoping I can stay caught up, so I can read each one of your reviews as we go 😄

    • Aw! Thank you. ❤ I was watching your response to the season over the weekend and more than a few times you reacted to something in ways that made me recall something I'd explored in the blog. So that was fun.

      But yes – do try to keep up next year, particularly as it's looking like the last season. We need you with us!

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