One of the things that interests me the most about Bones is how diverse the audience is. Some people watch for the characters, some for the cases; some prefer the more dramatic stories while others watch mostly for the comedy. I have a ton of respect for the writers in balancing all those competing interests.
While my personal favorites tend to be the episodes that make me laugh and cry – like last week’s – I know people who really prefer exactly what we’ve got here: character focused, but lighter in tone, with an interesting case and intriguing clues. It’s the show at its most basic, in other words, with something for everyone, and like the best of such episodes, provides not only some great character moments, but also moves several arcs along.
I remember a conversation from a few years ago where a fan lamented that more episodes don’t center around a sympathetic victim, the way most of them did in season one. I get that sentiment, but the lighter eps are as much a part of the broader appeal of the show as the more serious ones, and the easiest way (perhaps the only way) to tell a funny murder story is by making the victim someone no one’s going to miss.
Someone like this guy, for example. Not only is no one (wife, girl friend, his ‘clients’) going to miss him, the more we learn about him as we go along, the easier it is to imagine that the world’s a better place without him.
And that makes it possible for the suspects to include a diaper-wearing, binkie-sucking pervert and a guy dyed purple.
(When Purple Guy opened the door, I wondered how the conversation between the actor and his agent went: “They want to do what to me?”)
Around that framework of the case, character arcs progressed, including introducing a new one for Aubrey and seemingly ending Karen’s.
Angela and Hodgins:
It’s fun seeing him enjoying work again, but despite last week’s breakthrough with Angela, it’s not a return to what we knew as normal for them, but rather first steps toward their new normal, whatever that winds up being.
What struck me about Hodgins trying to fix what he’d broken with his rage is that he’s still floundering, still unsure of who he is without his legs. But Angela doesn’t want expensive, flashy gifts from him any more than she wanted his money and property last week. She wants him.
It’s brilliant how she finally resolves it, using the gifts he’s given her to make the point that she simply wants them to spend time together, and based on his reaction, it seems like he’s beginning to understand.
Meanwhile, what we’re seeing between him and the rest of the team is making me happy, too, from Brennan’s response to his experiment with Smaug, to the Founding Fathers scene at the end. (A Tolkien reference and the Founding Fathers in the same episode – how can I not love this? LOL.)
Friday night, Aliens in a Spaceship aired on TNT, and I watched it thinking about this episode. It’s not unusual for me to see ‘new’ things in older episodes as I view them from the perspective of what came later, and that was particularly true here.
First, we see an embarrassed Hodgins reacting to Angela overhearing him proclaiming himself to be King of the Lab, but by the end of the episode, he goes home with her – at another point in his life when he was emotionally floundering; second, we see him and Brennan face death together, and the woman to whom he says, “it’s been a privilege” is the one who here proclaims him King of the Lab – because she loves him, and gets him. And all of that is beautiful to me.
I straight up love Aubrey and Booth’s relationship, and Booth’s less-than-helpful antics while Karen was asking Aubrey out was one of two places in the episode where I laughed out loud. Older brother!Booth is one of my favorites, and I enjoy that dynamic between him and Aubrey very much.
It’s not all goofiness, though, and I also liked his support of Aubrey when Karen initially finds his father’s file. She pushes for him to look at it, but Booth follows Aubrey’s lead and steers things back on track with a curt, “we’re working.”
But wow…that twist at the end. Poor Aubrey! He looked like he’d been sucker punched.
I tend to think in terms of the team, so I immediately began to wonder what Aubrey’s story will look like in terms of the others – how Booth will respond, how Hodgins will, what it mean for his relationship with Jessica. (I’m happy they’re solid, by the way – I like them together very much.)
Here’s where it gets sticky: I try not to speculate too much on specific directions the show might go in because I want to enjoy whatever they give me. And far more often than not, whatever they’ve done has exceeded my expectations, anyway.
Still, if the story gods were to hear me on this one…I hope this isn’t a redemption story, where his dad’s spying on him because he’s decided it’s time to reconcile with him.
I know that with Bones, that’s probably the more likely scenario, and generally, I’m glad that the show allows people to be redeemed. But apart from the fact that Aubrey’s never said anything about his dad that might foreshadow a reversal, I feel like we’ve seen a story like that already, with Brennan and Max.
Plus? Similar to thinking it would be more interesting to watch Hodgins realize that a fully satisfying life full of love and joy is still possible from within a wheelchair, I like the idea of watching Aubrey realize he has a family – a much better one than what the biological lottery gave him.
Still, if they do go the redemption route, I look forward to saying, not for the first time, “I’m so glad they didn’t do what I hoped they would do.”
Argh. I didn’t mind Karen when we first met her, but she’s been increasingly annoying in subsequent episodes, and here, well, I’ll just say that I’m not sorry she’s being transferred, and I wish Kansas City well.
Part of the problem is my never-particularly useful degree in psychology, so I’ll spare you the rant I had written about the show once again falling to the usual Hollywood stereotype where mental health professionals are concerned and just note that in real life, they’re not completely obsessed with other people’s pasts.
Granted, by the end, she was aware that he needed to know what was in the file because it’s relevant to his present. But while that reveal in The Founding Fathers was very effective, she’d have been much more likable to me, as both a character and a psychologist, if she’d not made so many references to his ‘daddy issues’ and ‘coping mechanisms’ earlier in the episode.
Anyway, because she did do the right thing for him by forcing him to face the contents of the file privately rather than going to Booth (which I think would have been justified if she couldn’t get through to Aubrey) I’m willing to cut her a little slack – although I confess to wanting to brain her when she introduced herself to Cam the way she did.
But the big disappointment for me in this episode was Oliver. While I know he’s generally unpopular, I’ve always liked him both because of what he brought out in the others, and because I thought the story they were telling was one of him being changed in a positive way by his association with them.
But maybe not. Even if we accept that his arrogance is a cover for deep insecurity, needing to prove himself over a six-year-old is simply tedious, and instead of his behavior bringing out Brennan’s strengths as a mentor (as in The Money Maker on the Merry-Go-Round), this time, they brought out her weaknesses by triggering her competitive streak.
And for the first time, watching this, it occurred to me that maybe they’re not telling a story where he grows as a result of their influence; maybe he’s going to remain a foil for them, and nothing more. That’s disappointing to me because the show is so character-focused, and I think watching him turn into a human being could be interesting. But we’ll see where things go.
(Meanwhile…does Kansas City need a mostly-trained forensic anthropologist?)
Booth and Brennan
How fun is it to watch them be parents? It never, ever gets old, so…high fives all around!
Actually, it’s not entirely accurate to say Oliver didn’t give us anything in this episode. While there wasn’t anything positive in any of his direct encounters with Brennan or Hodgins, his manipulating Brennan in order to feed his ego did give us Booth saving the day for Brennan and Christine.
The show’s always been about exploring their partnership, the give and take between their skills and areas of expertise, but recently, they’ve shaken things up a bit by showing us that it’s not always as black and white as Brennan with the bones, Booth with the people.
As brilliant as Brennan is, she can’t see all the possibilities in every situation – no one can – but she doesn’t need to, because she has Booth, and for the second time in just a few weeks, he’s looked at the same evidence she has, and seen something different. It’s not that she’s wrong, it’s just that while she’s hard-evidence focused, he’s people/big-picture oriented, and sometimes, that different perspective provides the answer: she looks at remains in The Monster in the Closet and sees only holes while Booth sees their pattern; she looks at the report card and sees only the conclusion Oliver was jumping to; Booth looks at it and asks what else could explain what they were seeing.
What I really liked, though, is how he goes about sharing what he knows with her. He doesn’t just blurt it out, but rather, points her back to the evidence and has her re-examine the signature. He knows her, knows how to communicate with her, and knows it will mean more to her if she sees it herself.
That kind of thing is why I’m still so interested in their relationship, all these years after they became a couple. I know the show has to end sometime, and I appreciate that the cast might want to do something else with their lives, but I’d watch these characters forever, given the chance.
“I call her Smaug because this baby breathes fire.” (Hodgins, Tolkien reference FTW!)
“Yeah, fine. I knew the guy. But I didn’t kill him. What, do I look stupid to you?”
“Your pronounced browridge is suggestive of Neanderthal man, so yes.” (Jimmy Nasari, Brennan)
“Hey, I found fresh duck feces on the tread of the victim’s shoe.”
“I trust you’re telling me this for a reason other than to make me say ‘yuck’?” (Hodgins, Cam)
“The smashing of the skull is no problem, but the vomiting? No way.”
“Vomiting is disgusting.”
“Angela, you have created countless reenactments for me — stabbings, shootings, even beheadings. But now you’re saying no to regurgitation.”
“Girl’s got to have her standards.” (Angela, Brennan)