Fan Review: The Tutor in the Tussle (Bones)

So, this was the last part of a tone sandwich – two lighter eps with a much darker one between them.

(Pause for renewed mourning for Aldo…)

Ahem. I liked this a lot, because in addition to the humor, I kept seeing friendship stuff jump out at me, and I’m all about the relationships on the show. (Nothing new there, I know.)

And despite being lighter, it continues the overall story of the season as they wrap up the story of Aubrey’s father.  Although I was trying to be open-minded about it, I’m glad they didn’t redeem Philip Aubrey, or have he and Aubrey reconcile.  If the show still had several seasons, it might have been interesting to see such a scenario play out (possibly with him incarcerated) but as Bones winds down, a reminder that not all relationships can be restored isn’t a bad thing.

A reminder, because while on the surface, Aubrey’s situation is closest to Brennan’s (a criminal who abandoned his child), at this stage of things, it’s really more similar to Booth’s story. Not only was there no happy ending for him with his dad, there wasn’t even an opportunity to confront the questions – as Pops notes in one of my favorite quotes from the entire show: “I know you wish some things could’ve been resolved. Closure, they call it. But life is just a lot of loose ends.

Aubrey gets to tie up some of those loose ends. Although he’d turned in his father in the past, and thought he had a grip on his feelings about it, there have been hints all along that maybe it wasn’t so cut and dried. When something’s completely finished for us, we don’t react the way we’ve seen him react when it pops back up, and if we had any doubts, the expression on his face when he recognizes his father tells us it’s still an issue for him:



From a plot point of view, I was a bit conflicted the first time I watched the episode about how they structured the story. They don’t have time to show us everything, to include every conversation; further, sometimes, what they do show us has more impact if it’s a surprise (like leaving us wondering how long Aubrey would hold off arresting his father.) I get all of that, and yet my initial take was still that I would have liked to have seen the moment where Aubrey tells Booth he’s talked to Philip and they plan the arrest.

I changed my mind after my re-watch because I like the conversation in Booth’s office too much to have wanted to trade it for anything else. First, it’s clear that he knows what’s going on, and I always enjoy watching Booth be perceptive about people he cares about. Second, he prevents Aubrey from blurting out the truth so that they won’t legally be bound to act on it before Aubrey’s ready, and finally, we see that Booth has grown to the point where talking about his own experiences in order to help a friend no longer makes him uncomfortable. We know he’s grown and changed over the years, but seeing it never gets old.

Booth is not Aubrey’s only friend, though. He and Brennan are both in tune enough with Aubrey to know that when he stops eating, the world is seriously awry. That’s friendship, and a gift greater than gold.


Getting back to Aubrey, I liked that he made the decision to turn his father in even before he knew for certain that the new family isn’t real. (That, too, would have been an interesting story to see: watching what kind of relationship he forged with the kid if he had been a real half-brother.)

This line, though, was what the whole arc came down to for me: “Oh, one more thing: don’t ever take credit for how I turned out. Any good in me was despite having you as a father.

Bones has often taken the position that we are who we are because of the people in our lives. Years ago, Booth said, “Good people…they leave marks on each other,” and Brennan said much the same thing in her eulogy for Sweets. But this is the counterpoint to that: while people influence us in positive ways, we also have the power not to be affected by them. From a young age, Aubrey has been choosing who he’ll allow himself to be influenced by, and as a result we’ve seen his honor and his loyalty. He’s a good man because he chooses to be.

While they may not be able to fit it in, I hope that they touch on this story at least once more this season, perhaps in a conversation with Jessica or Caroline.  I’d like to know how he copes with it, going forward.

The episode isn’t all about Aubrey, though, and there are a couple of other relationship moments I simply loved.

First, there’s this exchange between Cam and Angela:

“I know Hodgins is your husband, and your soul mate, but I-”
“No, no. We’ll kill him together.” (Cam, Angela)

In an episode full of Hodgins-generated humor, it’s pretty low-key, right? But watching this, it struck me that I no longer question their friendship.  The concept of the team as a family has always been important to me, but they’ve stumbled a few times with it for me where I felt like Cam was only a friend when the plot required it (i.e., her identity theft arc) while much of the rest of the time she was simply a source of story tension.  I was particularly disappointed in this respect at the end of S10, when Brennan was the only friend Angela was concerned about leaving.


It’s different now. This scene isn’t boss and employee, but rather two women friends joking about a guy, and I realized while watching it that it’s been a long time since I felt like Cam wasn’t really part of the family. Not only have there been plenty of scenes demonstrating the affection that exists between her and the others, I can’t think of any stories that pitched them against her. This makes me grin stupidly.  There are reasons why I’ve loved the last seasons of the show so much.

It’s not as if this means there couldn’t be perfectly natural tension due to Cam being the boss – and I think they even touched on that here, with the situation with Hodgins and what she says to him. (Dude. Spider infestation.) But it’s possible to ground that in the larger team as family story, and I’m so freaking happy we got see several seasons of that.

The show takes the time to remind us, though, that whatever the relationship between Cam and Angela, it’s Brennan and Angela who are BFF: when Fisher realizes Brennan’s aware of what he said about her books, he knows immediately that it was Angela who told on him, and I liked that, too.

Speaking of Fisher and Brennan, that sweet scene with the two of them in her office was lovely. Beyond the humor of it (Fisher! Writing fanfic!) what was most evident was her affection for him. One of my favorite things has been watching her relationships with the interns develop and deepen, and while I like the newer characters (yes, even Oliver) I have a soft spot for those who’ve been around the longest: Clark, Wendell, Daisy, Fisher, and Arastoo.

Whether or not Joel David Moore is in the finale, I think this was Fisher’s farewell (in the same way The Brain in the Bot was for Daisy.) Fisher’s arc has always been that of a man struggling with depression and darkness, and while the scene is played for humor at the start (Fisher! Writing fanfic!) it turns more serious, because Brennan knows him well enough to see what’s important: that he’s capable of taking pleasure in something – and cares enough about him to say so.  As the show wraps up Fisher’s story, I think they’re telling us that he’ll be fine, that he might even one day be shocked to discover he’s happy.


There’s a side benefit for Brennan, too: reminded that her writing has brought people pleasure, she realizes that she no longer needs to prove herself by narrating the audio for it. Booth’s known that all along, of course, though by the end it’s clear he’ll support her if she wants to go for it. (As always.)

As lighter eps go, this was a solid win for me, with relationship moments, arcs finishing, and some really funny scenes, including one where we learn Brennan finds ‘boner’ hilarious because “The human penis has no skeletal material of any kind.” (I didn’t know until she said it, but I think I’ve been waiting to hear her say something like that for years.) And if you didn’t find that funny, well, there’s always this classic Hodgins’ ‘Oh, shit!‘ moment:



Bonus Quotes

“Well, no offense to her, but I find them to be a little lowbrow.”
“I would definitely not let Dr. B hear you say that.”
“Yeah, I’m more into the nihilists’ work. Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Garfield.”
“Like the cartoon cat?” (Fisher, Hodgins, Cam)


“We only hire the smartest tutors from the best colleges. Harvard, Yale…”
“Sure, if we’re understaffed.”
“I attended Northwestern. It is quite prestigious.”
“Oh, I’m sure it is, Dr. Brennan. No offense intended.”
“Well, I assure you offense was taken.” (Amy Bryan, Brennan)


“Shh. Be vewy, vewy quiet. She’s hunting wabbits.”
“Come again?”
“Looney Tunes…Oh, come on, man.”
“Cartoons upset me as a child.”
“More of an Addams Family kid?”
“Twilight Zone re-runs, actually.”
“Everything about you makes more sense now.” (Hodgins, Fisher, Cam)


“Hey, has Hodgins been acting different around you lately?”
“Uh, this morning he tried to get me to taste a mold culture. So, no.” (Cam, Ang)


“Given the evidence of the hand cream, and if he was sleeping with married women, we might be looking for a jealous husband. A melodrama worthy of one of your pulp novels.”
“Maybe that’s enough speaking frankly for you today.” (Fisher, Brennan)


“How’s Aubrey?”
“Ah, he’ll be okay. He’s fine – he’s already twelve donuts in.” (Brennan, Booth)






5 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Tutor in the Tussle (Bones)

  1. Another lackluster episode in a disappointing final season.The whole thing with Aubrey’s father was rushed,contrived and anti climatic.Well Michael Peterson,if this is your gift to Bones fans then you can have it back.It is no coincidence that Peterson and Collier have presided over the largest ratings slide in Bones history and were the showrunners when Bones was cancelled.

  2. Thanks for another lovely recap. I don’t always comment but look forward to reading your take.

    Just my two cents, but I found Fischer’s comments on Brennan’s books to be a meta take on the TV show Bones itself. It’s so low brow!!! I’m above it!! (also, I’m secretly devouring it all, and writing fanfics about it on the side.) “Officially” a lot of people pretend they don’t think Bones is a good show. And yet … they sure do seem to know all the plot lines of the show, even from later episodes. Just sayin’ 😉

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