Fan Review: The Jewel in the Crown (Bones)

Early last week, someone pointed me to a condescending remark a reviewer had made about Bones.

That attitude isn’t new, and my response was about the same as always: to wonder why the reviewer thought insulting fans of a long-running show was the way to build an audience for her site.  To be clear, not liking something I like isn’t a problem. I don’t like lots of shows other people think are the bees’ knees, and fair is fair. But being condescending about it always suggests that there’s something wrong with the people who love it, and that’s me, so…

I’ve long thought that what drives that attitude toward the show is a mix of derision over its romantic focus, and confusion over the ‘dramedy’ tone. It’s not a drama, it’s not a comedy, and too many people don’t really know what to do with something that doesn’t slot neatly into a category.  It never seems to occur to any of them that being a hybrid of different genres might be a significant challenge, and worthy of respect even if you don’t like the results.

Anyway, I was thinking about all of that when on Wednesday, Michael Peterson tweeted this:

MPTweet

I noticed a few years ago that the show generally balances darker eps with lighter ones  (i.e., The Suit on the Set aired right before The Past in the Present; The Drama in the Queen aired before The Recluse in the Recliner; similarly, they often have a lighter episode, or a run of them, after a darker story.) I didn’t really appreciate how important that balancing act is, though, until a casual viewer of the show said to me, “I don’t think I’ll keep watching Bones. It’s too sad now,” after The Lance to the Heart aired.

People watch Bones for many reasons: some like the cases, some are only interested in a single character, some want the humor, and some the drama. Right now, I’m thinking of two specific people I know in real life, one of whom prefers the darker, more dramatic episodes, while the other wants the lighter, funnier ones.

It’s easy to take that for granted, but stop and think about it for a minute: a show with that diverse of an audience is starting work on its twelfth season. They’ve managed to keep all those people, watching for all those different reasons, showing up for over a decade. That’s remarkable.

Plus? It’s not only tone where Bones walks a careful line. It also does so with serial/episodic storytelling. It’s considered an episodic show: the network, advertisers and casual viewers expect to be able to follow what’s going on even if they haven’t seen recent episodes, but at the same time, it’s often telling serial stories in arcs that continue from week to week.  That’s damned tricky to do, and Bones does it well.

All of which leads to thoughts about The Jewel in the Crown.

BrenHodDagger

It’s a fun episode, particularly if you like classic films (not only heist films get a shout-out, but also Ghost, Ghostbusters, and the Pink Panther films), but it also moved Hodgins’ story along, touched on Cam’s wedding plans, and gave us yet another view of Booth and Brennan’s relationship.

The Case:

I’m a sucker for stories about pretty and/or historical objects, and even though this wasn’t a heist story, it had some of the fun of one, what with French nobility and a shiny dagger. What I particularly liked, though, was that it allowed us to see the team through the lens of another cop, because when Inspector Rousseau says this, he’s talking about all of them:

“Haven’t you ever had a case where someone powerful tried to stop you and you did exactly like I have? Went wherever you needed to, lied if you had to, in order to bring the killer to justice? Because if that’s not the case, you are not half the investigator I think you are, Agent Aubrey.”

Off the top of my head, I don’t think we’ve seen that from Aubrey yet (though his expression suggests he’s done exactly that in the past) but we definitely have from Booth and Brennan. I like that, like seeing how others view them.

Another thing the case allowed that we don’t often see is Hodgins working independently outside the lab. He meets with Rousseau, and when the other man convinces him that he has something to offer, he effectively reverses the decision Booth and Brennan have made not to work with the detective, encouraging him to send them the autopsy files on the French victim.

HodRousseau

I like what that says about the team. Hodgins’ decision is based on confidence in Brennan, but at the heart of it, he’s certain that they’ll see the same thing he does in having an opportunity to examine the remains. (And how cool was that Anatomage table?)

Also, where the case was concerned…how did they manage to get this line, referring to the French Revolution, in an episode which just happened to air on Bastille Day?

“You see, the concept of nobility in France was deemed legally incompatible with the equality of its citizens in 1789.” (Inspector Rousseau)

Hodgins and Daisy:

Before I get to Hodgins’ paralysis and what this episode might mean for him, let me say how much I liked the references to Sweets. It matters to me that we see the characters remembering him in such a natural way. There’s nothing forced about it, just Daisy sharing things with friends who also loved him.

In particular, I was struck by her story of Lance appearing to her after he died.  I commented last fall, when they first began discussing the crossover with Sleepy Hollow, that not only has the show never discounted the supernatural (although some of its characters do), but that more than once it’s explicitly told stories of a paranormal bent. (The Ghost in the Machine, The Psychic in the Soup.) Whatever Hodgins makes of her story, Daisy tells it matter-of-factly, and there’s no attempt to discredit it.

But what I really loved here – in fact, what was my favorite moment from the whole episode – was when she tells him her conclusion about the things that are moving around him. Because she knows him, she makes a point of including the hard scientific evidence she knows he’ll need.

Collage

I’ve said all along that, having gone where they’ve gone, I’d rather him remain paralyzed. While I generally want to see to my favorite characters ‘win’ their battles, there are different ways of winning, and not all of them involve getting exactly what we want. I think it can be important for TV to show that.

Even so, I got teary at Hodgins’ response to what Daisy tells him, and in that moment, decided I’m good with however they play this story. It’s not been a miraculous fix (and, indeed, they emphasize here that it’s not been – he switched therapists and is working hard) and later, I saw an interview with Michael Peterson where it sounds like they still may not go the route of him walking again. Given the unpredictable nature of spinal injuries, all of that’s believable to me.

Booth and Brennan:

In addition to everything else going on with this episode, it was also what some fans have termed ‘Booth-lite’: due to prepping to direct the finale, David Boreanaz had fewer scenes.  Although I love Booth – he was the original draw to the show for me – I’m more of a ‘quality over quantity’ type of person, I guess, because these episodes never feel lacking to me in terms of his character.

After all, we have scenes between him and Brennan and between him and the suspects, and then we see the two of them together make the arrest. Meanwhile, there’s a plot for him which not only explains why he’s not in some scenes, but also gives us insight into him and their relationship before ending with a cute tag.

GlassesBren

Although I thought his insistence that he’s ‘young’ a bit over the top (I know of no one in their mid-40s who still clings to that label, at least no one with any kind of self-awareness; claims from him that ‘your forties are the new thirties’ would have made more sense to me), his concerns about his eye sight as a marksman struck me as a valid. But the way they told the story, with the focus on his vanity and the issue being temporary, made sense given the need for this one to be lighter in tone.

Instead, what it showed us was how well these two know each other. That’s not news, certainly, but it’s something I enjoy seeing play out in different contexts. Here, it’s not only that Brennan knows him well enough to know that he’ll go to the eye doctor; she also knows he’ll try to hide it from her, and why.  It’s also worth noting that part of why she knows that about him is that she’d do the same thing:

“Look, I will go and get my eyes checked, okay? But not a word of this to Bones, I really don’t need to hear her say, ‘I told you so.’ Only reason I’m doing this is so I can tell her, ‘I told you so.'” (Booth, to Aubrey)

As different as they are, at the core of things they’re in sync, which we see quite clearly when he says to Inspector Rosseau, “I’m gonna tell you what my wife told you. Your badge means nothing over here.”

Booth

That works for me because I view the two of them as co-leaders of the team.  Granted, there’s a complicated dynamic there where Cam’s the boss at the lab, but it’s Brennan who shares the team leadership with Booth. She brings whatever the lab’s finding to the table while he brings whatever the FBI is discovering, and together, that arrangement works for everyone and they catch killers.

And in that bit of dialog we see just how in sync they are: he knows what she told Rousseau, presumably because she called and told him of the encounter, and he’s going to make certain that the other man knows they’re functioning as a unit.  (Also, I love that he doesn’t bother with, ‘Dr. Brennan’ or ‘my partner.’ They’re a unit in every possible way, and he doesn’t bother pretending otherwise.)

Finally, there’s the tag scene, and how much fun was that? The show is still finding new ways to tell us about their love life, and that fascinates me. Booth knows he’s hot, but he’s self-conscious about what he views as unattractive eye wear.  Only instead of viewing the glasses negatively, Brennan is turned on by them. And once he figures that out, he can’t put them back on fast enough.

BBglasses1

Next week: tone shift for the finale! *gulp*

Bonus Quotes:

“Why are you talking in that ridiculous accent?”
“I’m doing Clouseau. From the Pink Panther movies. Peter Sellers. Or Steve Martin. Both comic geniuses in their own right.”
“Well, I’m not familiar with them, though I am quite sure panthers are never pink.” (Hodgins, Brennan)

B&B

“You know what the nuns in Catholic school say causes blindness?” (Aubrey to Booth)

B&B

“For a genius, you’re being dense.” (Daisy, to Hodgins)

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9 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Jewel in the Crown (Bones)

  1. Thank you for another very thought provoking analysis. I so enjoy and anticipate your intelligent Bones’ articles.
    Just wondering if you are attending Comicon next week? Also wondering which question you would ask the panel should you have the opportunity?
    Keep up the excellent writing.

    • No, alas, I won’t be there. I’d have loved to have gone, but the money and timing didn’t work out.

      As to the panel…the writing process fascinates me, so most of the things I wonder have to do with story structure – why did they go this way instead of that? Are there any major arcs that nearly went in a different direction? (I don’t mean something like B&B not getting together, btw, because that was always going to happen.) But was there anything that they thought about doing a different way and then didn’t, and if so, why? (Here’s a minor example – what was up with the Pelant and the clock?)

      Note that I’m not criticizing the fact that we didn’t see it explained, not at all. I think stuff happens and they run out of time, or suddenly realize that a different direction with the story would work better. That’s what fascinates me, though – what was the story supposed to be? Why did they decide there was a better way of telling it?

  2. I really enjoyed this episode quite a bit. I thought the author did a good job of entwining all 3 aspects of the story, and I liked the different combinations of characters.

    I think we know that Booth is a bit vain, and he probably worries a bit about getting older. I liked the way Brennan made him feel like he’s always attractive to her. It’s just another way her character has grown, I think.

  3. A decent episode but nothing special.Seasons 10 and 11 have been hit and miss.I think Bones is ending at the right time,I look forward to the finale since I think Monster was one of the best episodes this season.Sully is good with tools and could easily be the puppeteer.Wouldn’t Brennan and the rest know if Zach had escaped or been released.

    • That’s a good point about them knowing if he’d been released or escaped, though I guess if they were going to tell the story that way, they’d find a reason for why they didn’t know.

      As to Sully…I think the problem with a story like this is that there has to be some reason a twist makes sense, something they showed us, no matter how subtle, where we can say, ‘yeah, looking back, I can see that in that character.’ Pulling someone out who was steadily presented as a decent guy and making him into a creepy serial killer, unless there was something, some kind of hint that he had it in him, isn’t very good writing. IMO.

  4. why does it bother you people so much that some people want to see zach again?Bones has stepped back from reality,Wendell was cured of of a disease that had a 80% mortality rate and Hodgins will probably walk again.Bones core audience is middle age to old women,not exactly an advertisers dream.everybody should enjoy Bones the way they want and express their opinions without getting bashed for it.I like Bones but I’m not going to miss it.Now I’m off to ComicCon.

    • It doesn’t bother me, actually. I sincerely hope they bring him back, and I really hope he’s not the bad guy in the finale. And I don’t mind people letting the writers know that they’d like to see him again.

      But for years now, there’s been a group of people who will pretty much take over any Q&A, asking – over and over – when he’s coming back, etc. And that got sort of old. I don’t know, maybe those fans simply couldn’t think of any other questions to ask, or maybe he really was the only thing they liked and nothing else mattered, but it was tedious to watch/listen to. (And no, that’s not sour grapes where I’m whining about my questions not getting answered due to the Zack-is-all-that-matters-crew, because I don’t usually bother to ask questions anyway.)

      I liked him, and hope he comes back. I wouldn’t want to see more than an ep or two of these last 13 eps devoted to him, because there’s other stuff I’d like to see. But even there, I’d roll with it.

    • Also…don’t confuse fandom with audience. They’re not the same thing. Certainly, the fandom seems to be mostly women, many of whom are older, but there are plenty of men (and younger women) who watch, without being active online. That’s the trick with any online fandom, actually – remembering that there are millions of people watching a show who aren’t going online to talk about it. Nothing wrong with doing so, but when we say ‘audience’ …it’s not solely about us.

      Enjoy ComicCon.

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