Fan Review: The Promise in the Palace (Bones)

People like Bones for different reasons (something the Internet illustrates multiple times every day) but for me, I think it’s because, whatever the technical designation is, I describe the show as a ‘character-driven romantic dramedy forensic procedural.’ (Say that five times fast.)

That genre-bending mix doesn’t work for everyone, I know, but I think it’s a factor in the show’s success: you can love the forensic aspect even if you’re not always entertained by the romantic emphasis; you can love the comic aspects, even if you don’t like all the characters.

Because I like all of those things, it means that the show never fails to entertain me, whether with a dramatic story that makes my heart hurt, humor that makes me giggle, simply watching the characters be who they are, or with a wholly unexpected twist.

This week, it was Sebastian’s interest in Cam, which caused me to remark on Twitter, “I did not see that coming.” I love that the show still surprises me.

There’s been a lot of speculation that his relationship with Angela would cause problems in her marriage. While I think it’s still possible that her photography will cause issues of some sort, I never bought the affair/flirtation thing, in part because I can’t see the show going the way of a third party coming between either of the married couples, but also because it was the first thing people thought of. (How dull, and how unlike Bones it would have been, to do exactly what people were expecting.)

I think part of my response was because while it had never occurred to me that they might go the Sebastian/Cam route, it makes a lot of sense for them to do so. People have commented on how often the show turns to other cast members for romantic liaisons (Angela/Wendell, Daisy/Sweets, Cam/Arastoo, Aubrey/Jessica), but leaving aside that in the real world, romances often start in the workplace, it makes story sense. When both characters in a romance are part of the larger story, it makes it easier for their scenes to serve a dual purpose.

Don’t believe me? Think about the difference between Wendell and Andie, and Aubrey and Jessica. Andie’s not part of the regular story, so her scenes with Wendell are never going to grow out of a conversation where they’re discussing a case, nor veer back to it, as Aubrey and Jessica’s can, nor are we likely to get to know her better, because the show can’t afford to do a lot of development on a character who’s not part of the crime story.

But by having Sebastian be part of both Angela’s story and Cam’s, it’s possible for him to be more fully fleshed out, and therefore more interesting.

CamAng2

Meanwhile, it also gives us some nice scenes between Cam and Angela. (This is me, shouting ‘thank you!‘ to the writers for that.) They’re boss/employee, but also friends who’ve been through a lot together, and I feel like all of that’s coming across this season. In the past, we’ve often seen Cam be reluctant to open up to anyone, so seeing her discuss Arastoo with Angela struck me as some significant character growth, as well as an acknowledgement of the friendship that exists between them.

Cam’s dilemma then led to that great scene in their bedroom between Booth and Brennan, where a casual getting-ready-for bed moment turns into something more poignant. It’s not the first time they’ve contemplated this, though. In his recording for Christine in The Twist in the Plot, Booth says, ‘help your mom to be happy, because if she’s alone, she’s gonna forget.’ Watching this scene, it occurred to me that he wasn’t picturing Brennan with another guy when he said that to Christine. That doesn’t mean I think he would actually want Brennan to be alone the rest of her life if he died, but, well, it’s like he says here: he doesn’t like the idea of her with another guy.

The topic came up again last year, in The Lost in the Found. There, Brennan steadfastly resisted even the idea of a life without Booth, only finally answering the question for Daisy’s sake: no, she wouldn’t be with another man six months after losing Booth.

Bedroom

Both conversations are about Brennan’s life, post Booth; it makes me wonder what her thoughts would be about his life if she died.

Truly, Brennan was my favorite thing in this episode. She’s a good mom, and I’ve loved watching her grow into that role. But she’s still her, and that means not simply going along with things that others take for granted…such as the Tooth Fairy.

I’ve apparently been reading too much urban fantasy, much of which views fairies the way the Brothers Grimm did rather than Disney, because now that Brennan’s pointed it out, I’m having trouble not seeing the Tooth Fairy as a suspicious character, indeed – much to my own amusement. Still, however unsurprised I am by Brennan’s change of heart, it was fun watching her think it through in the context of her quest to understand the appeal of magic.

While Booth and Brennan are the primary relationship for me, I enjoy watching both of them interact with others on the team, because I like them so much as individuals. Brennan’s not just the rational part of the couple known as BoothAndBrennan, she’s a fascinating character in her own right.

I particularly like watching her with Clark. When they first met, he was merely a candidate to replace the absent Zack, one Cam described as, “the absolutely brilliant forensic anthropologist who’d bite off his own arm to be your assistant.” And now? Now they’re friends as well as peers.

BrenClark

We no longer see any competition between them when they’re examining remains. Rather, they work together seamlessly, in a way we don’t see with any of the other squinterns. However much she trusts the others to do an exemplary job (because they are her students, after all), they are still just that: her students. (In this sense, I’ll be curious to see how her work dynamic with Arastoo is different the next time they’re examining bones together.) Clark, however, is not a student, and I’d say that while her confidence in herself as the best forensic anthropologist in the world remains unchallenged, she trusts him the most of anyone else in their profession.

And yet, he’s also her friend, one who once helped her write a rap song for Christine. And that’s the context, I think, where she asks him about his interest in magic, something unfathomable to her as a scientist. He tries to tell her, but is handicapped by her intelligence. It occurred to me for the first time here that if you could always immediately figure out how every magic trick is done, there wouldn’t be anything at all interesting about magic shows. They really would seem like nothing more than someone trying to fool you.

So Clark tries, and Brennan isn’t impressed – though in her smug expression we see that while she respects him as a forensic anthropologist, she still enjoys besting him in a different area.

Nor do the guys fare much better when Hodgins assists.

Booth, however, finally wins one for the team, much to Brennan’s absolute bafflement. I loved her response and as a consequence, am now amusing myself with imagining variations of what came next. This is Brennan, after all, and she won’t give up. She’ll either figure out how he did it, or persuade him to tell her. (Which, actually, might be fun for him, too. *wink, wink*)

Magic

 

Bonus Quotes:

“It’s tradition. There’s no harm in that.
“On the contrary, I don’t want to teach our daughter that it is okay for a stranger to break into her room and steal discarded body parts.”
“Body parts? We’re not talking about body parts. We’re talking about a tooth here.”
“That’s a body part, Booth.” (Booth and Brennan)

B&B

“Science’s primary aim is to search for the truth; magic sets out to deceive. Just like the Tooth Fairy.”
“Let’s not bring the Tooth Fairy into this.”
“Well Christine needs to know that her baby teeth fall out for a reason, not so she can get ice cream money from an imaginary goblin. Ice cream that will, ironically, cause her to lose more teeth.”  (Brennan and Booth)

B&B

“Oh, look. You made Dr. B disappear.” (Hodgins, to Clark, when an annoyed Brennan leaves after figuring out another of Clark’s magic tricks.)

B&B

“She had some flowers sent to her a few weeks ago.”
“Flowers. All right, well who sent them?”
“He had no idea. Okay, you’re getting that look on your face.”
“What look?”
“The look that says you want me to call every single florist in Montgomery County.”
“You’re good. You know what? You’re right. I do have that look.” (Aubrey and Booth)

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9 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Promise in the Palace (Bones)

  1. You forgot to mention that she basically said her husband was too stupid to dive her car. Lik eyou have to be a genius to drive a Prius. I never saw her trying to understand the appeal of magic only trying to make those who to enjoy it feel stupid for doing so. It was like watching the Bones of season 1 & 2. Too rational, too sure that only she is right. What bothered e most was that in the 2nd episode of this season she tells Cam that she cannot imagine a world without Booth and now she is being so rational she says divorce is a possibility? I spent most of this episode wanting slap her.

    • I didn’t mention it because I remembered that while Booth uses technology, he greatly prefers the old-fashioned, something Brennan has understood about him for years.

      My takeaway from the whole scene (apart from the plug for Toyota helping to keep the show on the air) was that he’d prefer driving, even a car he doesn’t like due to its technology, and that, too, is Booth – he sulks every time she drives, which is why she normally lets him.

      They could have had him drive the car, but to have the scene be completely in character, he’d need to have been bitching about the fancy tech, which is probably not something Toyota would have paid them for.

      As to her being right…she was, at least in terms of the magic tricks, and I think she’s got a point about the Tooth Fairy.

      As to the divorce comment, she also mentioned the possibility of them losing each other due to mental illness. She was running through the list of theoreticals, as she’s prone to do when making a point.

  2. Yes I really did enjoy this episode. Brennan so does not want to be deceived, also doesn’t want her daughter to be deceived. So much impatience on her fact when Clark was trying to interest her in magic tricks…why are you wasting my time with these deceptions? Let’s get back to the important business of solving a crime.

    I also love that she didn’t continue to argue with Booth when he said he didn’t like the idea of her with another man. I mean I can think of several things the oh so logical mind could have said to that, but she didn’t. The expressions on her face then were perfect. I think that said more than any of her previous arguments. She’s so besotted with that man (and he with her).

    • As far as she’s come, I think there are still certain topics or situations where she retreats into rationalism without even realizing it. And thinking through what it would be like if she found herself in Cam’s situation is one of those things – maybe the more so because in the past year, that’s been a possibility more than once. If he’d refused to quit gambling, the relationship would have been lost; and it could just as easily been his remains on her table instead of Jared’s. Maybe the fact that those things are true were a factor in how fast she retreated into rationalism here. Still, the Brennan who’s largely learned how to deal with her emotions is there, as well, and can’t help but take pleasure in his love. IMO.

  3. Although in the same lite episode category as last week’s, I enjoyed the character moments even more. I liked how they intersected the case with fun moments with Brennan and Clark. They also structured it with the B&B argument over the tooth fairy. Incidentally, there was a very creepy episode of Sleepy Hollow involving the tooth fairy (a terrifying monster that put children in comas) which very much lent credence to Brennan’s suspicion about the tooth fairy legend. I have jokingly felt like this was a Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover Part 2. Ironically, let’s just say it’s smart to leave a coin under the child’s pillow ….

    The B&B scene in the bedroom was the big surprise moment for me in the episode. I didn’t see such a frank discussion coming. I rewound it and watched it twice 😀. I have to be honest: when Cam picked up the phone, I thought she was going to call Arastoo. It will be interesting to see how her dating Sebastian affects that relationship.

    As to the Brennan character, she’s always flitted between her default setting of rationality and being more flexible. I don’t understand why this is a surprise. She is a human being and none of us are ever 100% consistent in our philosophy about life.

    • I was amused by the Tooth Fairy overlap, story wise, between SH and Bones, too. I saw most of that ep, but not all of it.

      In terms of B&B, I’d like to see a discussion at some point about Booth’s life if something happened to Brennan. Given this conversation, I think her knee-jerk reaction would be that Booth would find someone else, even that she would view that as a healthy. But I think it’s one of those things where if she spent some time facing the emotion of it, she’d have a different response – particularly given the kids.

      I’m looking forward to what they do with Cam and Arastoo. I think we may see him in a relationship with someone else as well, but I still tend to think they’ll get back together.

      • I think those two are done. I liked them at first, but over time they have a conflict over marriage and that’s not an easy one to overcome. Plus Arastoo took off on her. I do think that Camastian is a better match in the long run. I just hope the writers go that course.

  4. I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. I will admit that occasionally I get annoyed with hyper rational Brennan…sometimes I just want her to relax and enjoy a bit of whimsy, but that would probably be out of character for her…the whole brain vs heart discussion. So for me it demonstrates that even though she and Booth have somewhat different outlooks on life, on big picture ideas they find common ground, so their relationship works, at least on television.

    • I think what makes them interesting to me is the mix of how they’re alike/similar. In terms of their commitment to justice, they’re more alike than not, and that’s what gives them their foundation, I think. But they’re very different in so many other ways…makes things interesting. (And really, is why the show is still telling such interesting stories four years after they became a couple.)

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