I’ve not commented on the Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover before now, mostly because the reactions baffled me so much that I couldn’t figure out where to even begin. But after another recent round of discussions about it, I figure it’s worth a shot.
First, I know there are people who hate the idea simply because they don’t like crossovers at all, or, because they actively dislike Sleepy Hollow. (Or, in the case of disgruntled Sleepy Hollow fans, because they actively dislike Bones.) Both points are fair. Not everyone is going to like these episodes. But there’s never been an episode of Bones yet that everyone loved, and I’m certain the same is true for Sleepy Hollow. So yeah, some people won’t like it. It’s the nature of storytelling.
But the genre mismatch thing? That the crossover is somehow an insult to the shows due to their genres or whatever? That’s weird to me.
Yes, I know TV Line originally described it as a crossover between two shows sharing ‘wildly different DNA.’ But I think that’s only true if you’re taking a very superficial view of Bones. (Which granted, way too many do, but that’s a separate
Before I go further, I’ll note that what I’m saying here reflects my view of Bones, and while I’m going to try to be respectful of those who clearly see something very different in the show, my understanding of the show is what’s driving my view of the crossover.
And that’s this: Bones is a science show, yes. Science plays a role in every episode, from Brennan’s analysis of skeletal remains, to Hodgins’ experiments, which cover everything from the behavior of insects to physics.
But: brain vs. heart.
It’s not just about science. Booth’s view of reality matters just as much as that of show’s scientists. He’s always been open to what can’t be seen, measured, or put in a test tube, and the show has honored that world view in a variety of ways.
Think about these episodes:
The Skull in the Desert (1×17) – Angela has a vision of Dhani walking in the desert that leads them to the dehydrated woman in time to save her.
The Hero in the Hold (4×14) – Booth’s assisted by Teddy Parker’s ghost in escaping to the deck of the ship; later, Brennan and the ghost exchange greetings.
Harbingers in the Fountain (5×1) – Avalon tells Booth that Brennan’s in trouble in time for him to rescue her from the doctor in the clinic.
The Ghost in the Machine (8×9) – The entire episode is told from the viewpoint of the ghost/victim; at the end we see him ‘move on.’
The Shot in the Dark (8×15) – Brennan has visions of her mother, afterward she mysteriously knows something that her father has never told anyone before, about having stolen the first gift he ever gave Christine.
The Psychic in the Soup (10×11) – Avalon’s vision of a ‘drive thumb’ leads to them finding Sweets’ manuscript just in time. She also understands that Christine’s imaginary friend is actually Sweets.
Here’s the deal: with some of these, the show leaves it up the viewer to decide what it means, and whether or not there’s a completely rational explanation for it. With The Hero in the Hold, for example…some fans view it as all as having been in Booth’s head, part of the hallucinations he was having due to his later-revealed brain tumor (as Brennan herself explained it.) I think that’s a valid interpretation, one the show allows for. (Though her exchange with Teddy has always seemed sort of weird to me to be a hallucination on Booth’s part, since he’s over talking to Claire.)
Ditto Harbingers in the Fountain…who’s to say that Avalon was not just guessing Brennan was in danger, or made that up so Booth would leave her be?
Why not? Weird things happen every day in real life, and scientists explain them as something we just don’t have an answer for yet, while the, er, less-tied-to-reason among us look to faith or imagination for those answers.
So, yeah. With some of the episodes, the show allows for non-woo-woo interpretations, and that’s fine.
With others, though, they make no attempt to explain what happens. We see Brennan rationalize Angela’s locating Dahni, but that’s the extent of it, and with The Ghost in the Machine…well, some fans finely opted to see it simply as the ‘one-off’ episode it was, clearly outside the normal scope and therefore, not a problem.
With The Shot in the Dark, I’ve seen it argued that Max or Christine had, at some point, told Brennan about the gift he stole, or that she knows her father well enough to have guessed it. (Though none of those especially make sense to me.)
My point with all of this is two-fold: first, the show has a history of occasionally dipping into the ‘not-easily-explained-by-reason’ well; and second, that most of the time, they do so with a light enough hand that viewers can interpret it in a way where it fits their view of the world of the show, whatever that is.
And that’s exactly what I expect from the crossover episodes. Brennan will remain Brennan, and if/when she’s confronted with something that she can’t quite wrap her reason around, she’ll absorb it (as she appears to have done with the events of The Shot in the Dark); Booth may well be more open to the possibility that there’s something else going on, but regardless, the murder will be solved by forensic science.
Further, in terms of the structure of the episodes, I think the first hour – the Bones hour – will feel very much like a typical Bones episode, only with guest stars from Sleepy Hollow and a case that’s perhaps got something a bit ‘other’ to it; and the second hour will reverse that, with an episode that feels like a typical Sleepy Hollow episode, but with guest stars from Bones. In all cases, the characters will remain true to themselves. I’ve also seen nothing to suggest that fans of either show have to watch the other show to follow what’s going on on theirs (particularly for Bones fans, since it’s first.)
As to the shows’ ‘wildly different DNA,’ some Sleepy Hollow fans see in Abbie and Ichabod hints of Scully and Mulder of The X-Files, something which interests me greatly given that many Bones fans feel the same way about Booth and Brennan. It’s not an either/or, and both shows can wear that mantle proudly. But maybe the two shows, both about a couple solving mysteries, with one partner being devoted to reason while the other is more open to what can’t be measured, have more in common than what you’d expect based on a show summary.