Bones has always balanced tone, with lighter episodes following darker ones (or preceding them) and I’d wondered how they’d manage that in a short season where so much is going on. It turns out…like this. The Brain in the Bot is somewhat light, at least in comparison to the premiere, but several arcs are touched on, one ends, and one begins, or seems to. (Seriously…a lot going on.)
It all worked, though, and never felt rushed. (Fingers crossed we’re saying the same thing at the end of the season.)
Although imdb.com shows Carla Gallo as returning for the finale (which makes me happy), this was effectively Daisy’s farewell. We learn that she’s not only finished her PhD, but with Brennan’s help, she gets a spiffy new job as lead forensic anthropologist at the National Forensic Lab. Go, Daisy!
With Hodgins, we see one of the things I’ve long loved about Daisy’s arc: that even non-biological families can have people who drive you crazy, and you love them anyway. Annoying enough to have been fired in S4’s The Skull in the Sculpture, Daisy nevertheless bounced back, eventually becoming such a part of the whole that Hodgins tells Oliver in Season 9’s The Mystery in the Meat: “Oliver, she is one of us. You are not, yet. The fastest way for you to become one of us is to be kind to her.” And that was before she became a single mom, clearly in need of their support. Go, Team!Bones!
Hodgins acknowledges that complicated history with his ‘we’ve gotten on each other’s nerves’ comment, but it doesn’t matter. Their commitment to each other is visible, from her comment about being glad to see he’s back to his old self, to her asking for his advice because she knows he’ll be honest with her.
With Cam, it’s a similar moment: reassurance that Daisy will always have a job at the lab if the NFL doesn’t work out. Because family, ya’ll.
But while Daisy doesn’t need the lab as a backup job, after all, due to Brennan, she does still need them to be her family, and watching the last scene, it’s not something I worry about at all. (And after seeing his clever crime scene mock-up, I have a feeling that Hodgins is not only into model railroads, but that he’ll shortly be including Lance, Jr in playing with them.)
The conversation with Daisy wasn’t the only place where we saw Hodgins’ continued progress with life as a paralytic. He goes where he needs to go and does what he needs to do, and, well, he’s always loved using a harness to access the inaccessible, so why change now?
But it was a relationship moment that struck me the most in this regard. Watching his pride and delight when Angela tells them about the fellowship, I remembered the scene from The Monster in the Closet, where she says, ‘this is where you’d normally say, ‘Good work, Angela’ and the still embittered Hodgins snarks back, “You want a pat on the back, you should find someone not confined to a chair.” Yeah, in case you were wondering, Hodgins is absolutely kicking ass and taking names in the winning-over-tragedy category.
Can a song have an arc? I think it should in Bones. They’ve referenced it at least four times: Season 1’s Two Bodies in the Lab, season 5’s The Rocker in the Rinse Cycle, season 8’s The Ghost in the Machine, and now, here in the last season, and that’s just fun.
The fact that that is so is one of the things that makes the show utterly unique. It’s a crime procedural, for pete’s sake, but the writers have taken the time to draw the main couple’s relationship with such detail that they have a romantic song, one that’s popped up multiple times over the years. It’s silly, and authentic, and wonderful, and when I’m 103, hearing the opening beats of Hot Blooded will make me laugh like a loon.
How do writers show character growth on a series?
I’ve been interested in that question for a while now, because I think it’s actually quite hard to do. The most straightforward answer would be to show the character responding differently to a situation similar to one they’ve faced in the past, but then what? Once they’ve reached a certain point of growth in a particular area, you do …what? End the show? Stop telling stories about that topic?
In real life, growth tends to be somewhat ‘three steps forward, two steps back’ where it can take a while for us to internalize a new response to a situation. Is that an option for fictional characters, or will your audience howl, ‘this is repetitive! We’ve seen her ‘learn’ this already!’?
These are things I’ve wondered while watching Brennan’s arc in particular and it came up again the other night. There was a knee-jerk response on Twitter of ‘oh, come ON,’ when she reacted the way she did to Angela learning she’d won the MacArthur Fellowship, with people grumbling about a ‘Brennan learns a lesson’ episode this close to the end. I understood the sentiment (and would have wholly agreed if the episode had ended other than it did) but I wasn’t convinced that’s what we were seeing, mostly because of all the other ways we’ve seen her grow in the past few years.
That doubt was justified, because this was beautiful.
Recently, I was thinking about Brennan’s eulogy for Sweets, which, in part, goes:
In a real sense, he is here. Sweets is a part of us. Our lives, who we all are at this moment, have been shaped by our relationships with Sweets. Each of us is like a delicate equation. And Sweets was the variable, without which we wouldn’t be who we are. I might not have married Booth, or had Christine. Daisy certainly wouldn’t be carrying his child. We are all who we are because we knew Sweets.”
We’re seeing that played out: We learned in The Psychic in the Soup that Sweets routinely gave gifts to others on his birthday. (Also: they’re all hobbits – Tolkien reference FTW.) Brennan apparently decided that was a pretty good way of marking another trip around the sun, and so she uses her birthday to surprise two people she loves, telling Booth, “engineering a surprise for others has proven quite pleasurable.”
That wasn’t the only place where we saw her growth: I was also struck by the cheeky smile she gives Cam when she makes a joke in response to Cam’s question about the party’s dress code. We’ve seen her tell lots of jokes, of course, but not always in a way where the other person gets it. Cam does, and it’s a shared moment of humor between them that I love:
“Oh, speaking of which, I know it’s a surprise, but can you give us a hint on the dress code?”“Yes. Wearing clothes would be advisable.”
But with all the lightheartedness, an arc seems to have started here that’s much less so: Max.
I debated how much to say, because while I’ve played at will in the spoiler pool for years, I’ve tried to keep this blog spoiler free. Given that, I’ll leave my own theories about what’s going to happen in the Bonesology spoiler section and just say that however it works out later, it’s clear that something is going on with her father in a medical way (based on the hospital bracelet Christine finds) and that it’s something that makes him want to spend more time with Brennan, as well as making him wistful during the party. He stops singing, so he can just watch:
What he sees is his daughter, happy and surrounded by people who love her. There has to be joy in that – what parent could want more? But there’s a bittersweetness to it, too, I think, as he recognizes his time with her is drawing to a close. (And perhaps the fact that he wasn’t there for her for such a long time makes that pang more pronounced.)
Earlier, he’d told her: “You have to live life to the fullest. None of us live forever, you know?”
Yeah, Max, we know. But letting go is hard.
“Someone dumped a body in those woods.”“Talk about littering.” (Aubrey, Randy Stringer)
“Life is not a competition. Trust me, if I’ve learned anything being in this chair, it’s that happiness comes from accepting what you have.” (Hodgins)
“You’re really not gonna get your own wife a birthday present?”
“Bones swears she doesn’t want anything.”
“I’m no expert on women, but that really sounds like a trap to me.” (Aubrey, Booth)