Fan Review: The Last Shot at a Second Chance (Bones)

True story: things are challenging for me right now. Work’s stressful, and there’s a family situation that’s hard and likely to get worse. There are good days in the midst of the grim ones, of course, and I’m good at finding hope in small things, remembering that ‘Even darkness must pass,’ – to quote Sam Gamgee. But some days, navigating the land mines in my life becomes overwhelming.

Thursday was one of those days. While I was looking forward to Bones, I was distracted by exhaustion and not a little despair.

And then the episode came on.

Structurally, there are four different stories all beautifully interwoven around the theme of second chances. It’s a lot to pull off in one episode, but writer Emily Silver nails it, and so does the cast.

Booth and Brennan:

The opening scene, while largely played for humor, not only sets up the tension of Brennan being in trouble with the FBI, but it also gives us the first callback (in an episode jam-packed with great ones), as well as telling us more about their sex life. First, that they’re adventuresome (rabbit ears? A jump? Tribal music?) and second, that they’re willing to try new things in an effort to please one another.

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No, we still don’t know exactly what’s on page 187 (originally a move by Hodgins that Brennan, in consultation with Angela, put into her novel, “Bone of Contention” in S5’s The Bones on the Blue Line) and while I think it’s better if the specifics are left to our imagination, the overall point is that both guys are imaginative, generous lovers. (Whew. Is it hot in here?)

FBISmileBooth and Brennan’s story bookends the episode, picking up again at the end, but in the midst of my laughter over their bickering (and, even better, my amusement at the trying-to-be-stern FBI woman laughing at them), I was struck by something important: Booth’s flat refusal to make a commitment on Brennan’s behalf is a sign of his respect, not only for her, but also for the equality inherent in their relationship.

He’s not the boss of her. He’ll testify on her behalf, but her promises are hers alone to make and keep. The counterpoint, of course, is Brennan’s distress at the FBI trying to hold him accountable for her actions. It’s not unreasonable of them, since he is a senior FBI agent (and there’s another callback, there, if you will, to the pilot, when Cullen tells Booth he’s responsible for her) but Brennan, driven by love, is upset over the idea of him suffering due to her. It’s especially ironic given part of her justification for hitting the suspect was that it was clear one of them was going to, and she thought it would be better for it to be her.

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Booth, Kenny, Kalani

I never know what to say when people ask me what I’d like to see from the show before it ends, and this is why: Bones has not only already given me so much more than I hoped for, they regularly give me things I wanted, but which it never would have occurred to me to ask for.

Like Kenny.

Every time I’ve watched The Conspiracy in the Corpse, I’ve wondered what happened to him, and wished they could follow up on that story. It mattered to me that Booth had someone on his side in prison, and knowing that it would have mattered to Booth, too, I wanted to see a follow-up, however unlikely I was to get it. (Let’s face it – “What happened to Kenny?” isn’t one of those things fans clamor for, particularly since so much was going on in S10.)

But…oh, look: The Bones Writers Fairies waved their magic wand again. Better yet, they gave me exactly what I would have wanted, should I have thought to ask: loyal!Booth – always a favorite – and good guy Kenny getting a happy ending.

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Booth’s instincts about people are no less important to the work they do than is Brennan’s brilliance with bones. She, however, can prove her points with physical evidence while Booth’s knowledge of people is generally used as it is here, to focus the investigation by eliminating the innocent. Those instincts still have to be proven in a way satisfactory in court, though, and when his emotions are involved, it’s good that Aubrey’s there to challenge him: No matter what your gut is saying, we still have to have proof.

And then there’s Kalani. She broke my heart when she said, I’m alone again,” so the end scene, where we see her and her father meeting, is deeply satisfying to me.

Aubrey and Jessica:

The show’s always set up parallels between these two and Booth and Brennan, and here, in a major turning point episode for them, they played with that idea explicitly, not only through the story, but through numerous callbacks.

I love all of it, and here’s why:

First, the fact that they’ve taken the time to show them as friends. It’s a contrast to Daisy and Sweets, which I didn’t enjoy until they broke up, largely because it felt like their whole relationship was about them having sex in inappropriate places.

Second, despite the parallels in their courtship, Jessica and Aubrey aren’t copies of Booth and Brennan. Both of them are similar to and different from their mentors: Jessica is like Brennan in some ways, but is more comfortable with her emotions; Aubrey is similar to Booth but with an analytical streak.  While their personality similarities mean there might be similarities in their courtship; the differences mean they put their own stamp on it.

That said, Jessica and Aubrey have delayed a relationship for the same reasons Booth and Brennan did: because what they have is too precious to them to risk.  And in the end, both couples were pushed over that cliff of indecision by a dramatic event: Booth and Brennan had Vincent’s death; Aubrey and Jessica have him saving her from a car (which, yes, also figured prominently in Booth and Brennan’s courtship, albeit at a different point.)

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(Did you catch, amidst the other callbacks (such as ‘attaboy’), the nod to Vincent in the T. Rex conversation?)

Third, I think the show is giving us another glimpse into an alternate way Booth and Brennan’s story could have gone. No, Jessica’s not Brennan, and Aubrey’s not Booth, and their story is their story, never mind the parallels. But there’s enough similarities there to think if Brennan and Booth had had slightly different life experiences, if they’d not been quite so damaged when they met, their story could have gone very much like this one. I enjoy seeing that.

Hodgins and Angela:

In addition to the Angela and Hodgins scenes, this episode also gave us two other moments I think a lot of us have been waiting for in the conversations between each of them and Brennan.

I’m girl-crushing hard on Brennan right now. I love not only the wisdom in this exchange, but that she frames her thoughts in terms of Kalani:

“Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have the whole world supporting you, success can be just out of reach.”
“Then success must be redefined as that which be accomplished.”

When we’re broken, all the love and support in the world won’t fix us – only we can do that, and sometimes doing so means redefining what it means to be whole.  Loss isn’t something you ‘get over’ – grief punches a hole into life that we have to learn to live around. Joy and love and laughter are still possible – eventually – they’re just arranged differently than before.

With Angela, I love Brennan’s straightforwardness when she asks if Angela’s going to cheat on Hodgins. There’s no beating around the bush and no judgment, and that honesty allows Angela to express the full range of what she’s feeling, from her fears about what the sex dream meant, to her understanding that only Hodgins can fix himself.

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The sex dream was a clever way of showing us what’s at stake. Over the past few weeks, Hodgins has crossed the line into emotional abuse, and that made it easier to understand why Angela might be tempted to stray, even while I desperately didn’t want her to do so. (All of that is indicative of how well the show’s told this story, because I’m firmly in the ‘no justification, ever, for cheating’ camp.)

I was also disappointed in Sebastian during those moments before we knew it was a dream.  While I’m happy Cam’s back with Arastoo, I like Sebastian a lot, and was troubled by the idea that he’d go after a married woman in such a way, particularly when he’s still working through his feelings for Cam.

But it was only a dream, albeit one that brings things to a crisis point for the two of them:

“We’re broken. And it’s my fault. Because I am miserable. And what’s worse is I’m making you miserable.”
“So change. I know that this is painful for you. And I know that you think that I couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like. But this is life. It’s hard. And it’s painful. And it is every day. But we fight. We fight together.”
“This is my decision.”
“No. This is a coward’s decision. I am not letting you make it.”

(Guys, TJ and Michaela rocked this scene so hard. Every time I think I understand what this cast is capable of, they up the stakes even more. Kudos to them.)

Anyway, that’s now my favorite exchange between the two of them, and is high up there on my list of favorite dialogues on the show, period, for three reasons:

First, I love what she says about life.  It is hard. It is painful. Pretending it’s not, or that we’re entitled to endless sunshine and lollipops doesn’t get us anywhere because whatever hand life has dealt us, that’s what we have to play. We mine love and joy and satisfaction from whatever we’re given, and we do so every day.

Second, that line is a nod to something Buffy says to Angel in a similar scene in one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do. And we can do it together.”

I first watched that Angel/Buffy scene at another dark point in my life, by the way, so the timing of this refrain, compliments of Bones, is particularly interesting. Life is hard, but there’s love and joy along the way if we don’t give up. 

Third, I love Hodgins’ response. It’s possible to be so trapped in our own pain that we can’t see a way out; we can’t see a way to begin letting go of the anger. But he still loves her, and when he finally understands how much she needs him, with or without his legs, we get this, which makes me sob:

AH1Crop

Love wins.

So I watched the episode, and I smiled at Booth and Brennan’s sex talk, and laughed at their bickering; I wept with Kalani and Angela, and I cheered Jessica and Aubrey.

And afterward, I realized I felt more lighter and more hopeful about my own difficulties. Life is painful, and it’s hard, and, right now, at least, it’s every freaking day. But hope wins.

Thanks, show.

Bonus Quotes:

“You punched a witness.”
“After that misogynist-”
“Meninist.”
“Same thing. He told you to put a muzzle on me. He’s lucky all I did was punch him.” (Booth and Brennan)

B&B

“Nothing says romantic like having your first kiss interrupted by murder.” (Jessica)

B&B

“The first kiss is always awkward, there’s lot of awkward moments. I mean, Bones and I, we had many awkward moments.” (Booth, summing up the first six seasons of the show for Aubrey.)

B&B

“I’m normally the forward one. Why can’t I be here?”
“Because you’re scared. Maybe you feel differently about him than you have anyone else. You know, it’s easy to want to run away from things that scare you. Easier than trying to fight through the complications.” (Jessica and Cam)

B&B

“Will Bones here ever punch anyone again? I-I can’t say. But you should give her a chance to try.”
“You want this committee to forego punishment so Dr. Brennan can try not to hit people?” (Booth, FBI A.D. Schwartz)

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10 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Last Shot at a Second Chance (Bones)

  1. I liked the way the writer of this episode had a theme and that she showed for aspects of that theme. To me, all of these stories involve getting back on track. Granted, some were more intense than others, but in the end, everything turned right side up and things were getting back to normal, and the characters in the story are left with hope in the future.

    I enjoyed it tremendously.

  2. Hey, another thing I thought of with the T-Rex, not just the thing with Vincent (in his last episode ever…sob!), but when Booth was tickling Brennan with is little bitty t-rex arms. LOL Not so scary that time.

  3. I always enjoy your reviews but this one is particularly wonderful. I am also going through a tough time and this episode really struck a chord with me. Emily Silver is a terrific writer she loves those characters and gets them and I wish we’d had her all 11 seasons.

  4. I look forward to your insights every week and thoroughly enjoy each and everyone. It add to my enjoyment of the show and underscores the terrific writing of each episode. Your writing is insightful and makes me appreciate the show even more. Most of all I really like your writing! Thank you

  5. I was so scared for this episode, especially after reading I would need Kleenex and about Karen asking Aubrey out in 11×15 (Can you believe there are some who think he needs to be with Karen? I think not), but it was so much better than I anticipated, for all couples.

    Hodgela…they had me in tears and I was crying in their scene in her office. Good for her for standing her ground. That is what Hodgins needed to hear, that she needed him, not that she cared or loved him, but needed. His money and property were nothing without him at her side. She was just grateful he was still alive, paralyzed or not. I’m glad Hodgins made that first step by taking her hand when she cried.

    B & B: I’ve rewound that beginning scene so many times this weekend and it still cracks me up. I still stand by my opinion that there is no Moonlighting curse, only shitting writing. Yeah there are some sticklers who want all Season 1 every season, but characters grow and mature. Not only have B & B grown and matured on their own, they did it together also while creating a new generation. On top of that, the spark is still there. Tribal sex games? Rabbit ears? These two are still smoking hot. I don’t need constant kisses to know that and I like the fact some of it is in our imagination.

    Kenny I did wonder about but I’m so glad that he and Kalani got a happy ending. My cousin was in prison for Grand Theft Auto about 20 years ago and it is tough to start over. He had issues for years, but he now has a son and girlfriend. People do change and pay their debts. Kenny and Kalani now have their second chance.

    Aubrey/Jessica: Okay, we so need a portmanteau for these two (I use Warbrey for my song collection for them). I did, and still do laugh every time I’ve watched their first scene at the beginning because it’s so realistic. First kisses are not always hearts and flowers. Put it with the tension of crossing the line over friendship and no wonder poor Aubrey almost broke his nose. I did enjoy that they did a Star Wars marathon because it was sooooo them.

    They so wanted to be together but both were scared about the aborted kiss and the slowness of their courtship (Yes I consider it a courtship). Cam was the best person to talk to Jess about this because I think they share a common fear, plus Cam has the right mix of pragmatism and emotion to give Jessica what she really needed to hear. It warmed my heart when Jessica had her flake out about never having sex again that she never considered finding another man to fulfill that need because there was nothing stopping her, except her feelings for Aubrey.

    Aubrey going to Booth was very appropo because I think he was scared. I mean, it is embarrassing that his first attempt almost broke his nose. Sure he is usually really good at this sort of thing, but Jessica is not like the women from his past, just like Aubrey is not like the men from her past. Each were terrified of losing what they had, but at the same times, really wanted it but each were afraid to be too pushy (Jessica hinting about her open hips, but retreating when Aubrey said that he had no reason to be jealous, Aubrey hinting that he did want to kiss her, but Jessica hesitating).

    Aubrey attempting to clear the air at the crime scene was probably not the best time, but it showed he was concerned enough about their relationship. They connected really well on the job as they examined the scene as well. Not B & B 2.0, but they have their own partnership that would serve well in the future if enabled.

    And that last scene…wow. Aubrey giving her his coat as a gentleman (I remember 11 x 6 him pulling her chair out for her as well.), Jessica’s faux pas which led Aubrey to spill out how he felt about her. His feelings were so strong that he was at a loss on how to kiss the girl. Jessica was right…their relationship was more special than normal.

    My heart was in my throat when I saw that car because I wondered if something like that would happened before this episode aired. Then he pulled her out of the way and she landed on him. As Ryno said, total callback to B & B as it took that event to get them to finally, finally cross that line. Have they slept together? Possibly, but if they waited for that, I would be totally cool with that. While they have some qualities to be considered in some circles to be B & B 2.0, it’s not totally true. They have their own magic and I would love to see them married before the final episode (I could see an elopement for these two with B & B as witness).

    Now I will get back to Winter Storm Jessica & Aubrey. Thanks for the insightful review as always Rynogeny.

    • I’m enjoying Jessica and Aubrey very much, and think it’s because they are similar to B&B and yet are their own selves. At least, of all the couples we’ve seen on the show besides B&B, they’re the ones I’ve found most interesting so far.
      And ditto on Kenny. I have a family member – who I love very much – who spent a year in prison when he was young. He’s doing so well now – wife, kids, working on his degree. But it’s been a hard road in terms of jobs and all kinds of things. Even an apartment complex turned them down, despite him having a written recommendation from his boss – a good twelve years after he got out of prison. It’s a broken system in many ways.

  6. I am just catching up with s11 because I was late to Bones, but your voice and words are beautiful Rynogeny. I have ME/CFS which robs me of my life as I knew it. Constant and new losses are wearing and takes continuous adjustment. You put it so well, *”When we’re broken, all the love and support in the world won’t fix us – only we can do that, and sometimes doing so means redefining what it means to be whole. Loss isn’t something you ‘get over’ – grief punches a hole into life that we have to learn to live around. Joy and love and laughter are still possible – eventually – they’re just arranged differently than before.”* Thank you for your resonant and expressive words. I hope life has taken a happy turn for you!

    • Thank you so much for such kind words!

      I had a friend in grad school who was – finally – diagnosed with CFS (this was years ago, when a lot of the medical profession insisted it wasn’t real) and I remember how hard it was for him. I haven’t kept up with the research/treatment of it, but I hope they continue to look for things that will help.

      Things are better for me in many ways, still difficult on a couple of fronts. (A situation with a mentally ill family member isn’t going to get better quickly, unfortunately.) But I do think we find joy in the world if we look for it. Maybe not every day (particularly in your situation where your body must trip you up so often) but…we have to remember to look. (A reminder to myself!)

      • I am glad at least some things are getting better for you. And yes, there is always a way to find joy. After all, I found Bones when I became too ill to be more active! Cheers!

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