Fan Review: The Steal in the Wheels (Bones)

First things first: I owe showrunners Michael Peterson and Jonathan Collier an apology. Having noted in my review of The Tutor in the Tussle how much I’d been enjoying Cam, I promptly went off about her lack of faith in Hodgins in the following week’s The Flaw in the Saw.  As I said at the time, it wasn’t the conflict between two characters that bothered me so much as the fear that she was playing Bad Boss simply to drive temporary tension for a scene or two, and it would then be dropped.  (In my view, this has happened before with Cam’s character.)

I was wrong.  I don’t know if they ever read these reviews, but if so, I’m sorry, guys.

It’s not that I’m entirely happy about Cam and Brennan’s lack of faith in Hodgins, but I’m interested in the story they’re telling, which has me re-thinking the characters a bit. And for that to happen at the very end of the show? That’s a solid win.

Would Hodgins actually plant evidence to save a friend? And do so in such a way that risks a new technique (i.e., the use of microbial evidence) being discredited? Are Cam and Brennan correct to simply assume that he would, that the man they regularly rely on to pull forensic rabbits out of hats couldn’t possibly have done so this time?

The characters have pretty regularly faced questions about ethical and professional lines, and sometimes they’ve taken a hard line on them, as Cam correctly did (though to great cost) in The Past in the Present, while at other points, they’ve skirted along or over them (Brennan filing a wrong report about Foster’s death in The Recluse in the Recliner, for example; Booth setting a trap he knew would end with lost lives in the same episode.)

We accepted those actions as justified because the characters did (lives saved, etc.) and I’m not saying they weren’t. Nor am I saying that Brennan and Cam shouldn’t doubt Hodgins due to how they’ve faced ethical questions themselves. Each situation is different, and should be evaluated as such. But it’s interesting to me to think about what this story tells us about where and how they draw those lines, either for themselves or for each other.

My view of Hodgins appears to be different not only from that of Cam and Brennan, but also of many fans: I don’t think he’d plant evidence unless a life were actually at stake. If Cam believes in the system (as she said in The Past in the Present), the Hodgins I know believes in science, and my expectation would be that he would continue to look for evidence that would exonerate Zack, not plant something that, at best, would only raise questions about his innocence. Plus, if Brennan knows Hodgins knows it won’t be sufficient to free him, what motivation does he even have to lie to them?

Fans were pointing out Hodgins’ past actions (i.e., hiding his connection to the victim in The Man in the Mansion, the reveal that he’d stolen the Gravedigger evidence in The Hero in the Hold) to justify the view that he’d falsify evidence, but I see those situations as the opposite of what they’re accusing him of here: his actions then were the result of his determination to get to the truth, not to cover it up.

The story, however, is really less about what Hodgins would do or not do, and more about their relationships.  With the find of the dead apprentice, they have a different direction to go in their quest to clear Zack, one where the microbial evidence matters less (or so I assume), but the issue of the effects on their friendships is still out there.

Based on Hodgins’ bitter words in the last scene (“Is that her? …Dr. Brennan, I want to make sure you know that Cam is right here next to me – I don’t want there to be any chance you think I’ve falsified evidence.”) damage has been done. I try not to want specific things from the show, but I’m hoping we’ll see some resolution of it before the end.

That said, if it’s not addressed (and with so much going on, it might not be) I think I’ll be okay because what we see woven throughout this episode is just how complicated friendship and love can be.

While it’s clear that Hodgins was wounded by Brennan’s lack of faith in him, it didn’t prevent his concern for her in their first scene, when she jumps to the conclusion that he’s saying she’s slacking work on Zack’s case due to Max’s death.  I love that, that even when upset with her, he can put aside his own feelings to focus on her.

Brennan is messed up, and I enjoyed watching the different ways they all responded to her, from simply acknowledging her crankiness, as Fuentes did, to calling her on her irrational leaps (as Aubrey did, when she compared the victim to her father) to simply going with the flow (Cam, Angela.)

Viewers quite often have wildly different takes on Brennan’s psyche, and I suspect that’s coming into play here.  I see her as having difficulty processing emotion – she doesn’t always know what she’s feeling, how to work through it, or that actions she believes are rational are founded in those feelings she’s confused by. So everything she said and did here made sense to me, as did the fact that people who love her, while responding in slightly different ways, largely just ran with whatever she gave them.

There’s a bit of ebb and flow in her behavior, as well, which strikes me as normal: in the diner, she’s briefly excited by the thought of Buck and Wanda, but by the time they get to the Derby, her emotions have swung back to anger and she wants to back out.

Grief is often a tangle of both sadness and anger, no matter how the person died: you can be angry at being deprived of that person, even if there’s no one in particular to blame. In fact, that can be a source of additional frustration, particularly for someone like Brennan, because the anger feels irrational.

But the feelings are still there, and participating in the derby gives her a way to vent them. Meanwhile, Booth supports her by reminding her of his love and what they have together: “We’ve got this. I love you.”

(That ‘we’ve got this’? He didn’t mean just the derby.)

While I was interested in what the tension between Hodgins, Cam and Brennan showed us, and thought they told the story of Brennan’s grief well and believably, what made this episode for me was Stephen Fry’s Gordon Gordon Wyatt.

Wyatt’s always been one of my favorite recurring characters on the show, and is, hands down, the mental health professional I’ve responded to as most authentic. He’s kind, wise, has enough quirks to make him interesting, and both understands and loves Booth and Brennan. If the show hadn’t done anything else in this final season but managed to bring him back, that would have been enough to satisfy me.

 

I sincerely don’t think there’s another person on the planet who could order Brennan to go undercover at a demolition derby and have her agree without argument.That’s the amount of trust and respect she has for Wyatt, and he doesn’t let her down.

Nor, despite his comment to them in the last scene, has he failed Booth’s trust in him: Wyatt was the one who came up with the idea of finding the dead apprentice. (Related: I found it interesting that while Brennan had given up entirely on clearing Zack, telling Hodgins he wouldn’t be exonerated, Booth was still trying to find something that would help when he called in Gordon Gordon.)

But while he’s working to clear Zack and helping Brennan, we see something else in Wyatt which interests me: he misses working at the bureau.  They could have coasted in this respect, but instead, they developed his character a bit more by showing some ambivalence about his current career.

While he seems happy as a chef (though, consistent with what we saw last time, he still prefers the term ‘chef’), he tells Booth he’s glad to be out of the kitchen for a while, enjoys watching the car chase video with Aubrey and Angela, and by the end, when he’s talking to Hodgins on the phone from Booth and Brennan’s kitchen, appears conflicted on whether to identify himself as ‘Chef Wyatt’ or ‘Dr. Gordon Wyatt.’

If the show were to continue and if we were to see more of him, I don’t know if it would be as chef or shrink, and I like that they showed us he’s still evolving.

The show isn’t continuing, though and the episode acknowledged that by saying farewell to another squintern.

While I’m unhappy that such farewells are necessary, I love that they’re taking the time to do them, which is pretty much the way Fuentes seems to feel about the jacket: proud of his accomplishment, but depressed by what it means.

Cam telling him she’s not letting him out of the room without an explanation is my first favorite thing about the scene – she knows and cares about her people – and my second is this exchange:

“And wearing the jacket just makes it a little too real for me, and the fact that I’ll soon have to leave all of you.”
“I understand – but you’re still coming to my wedding, right?”
“Of course! We’re family. And I love to party.”

The show never goes wrong for me by having one of them explicitly reference that they’re family. Never. That dynamic is half my pleasure in Bones (the other halves being the characters, and Booth and Brennan’s relationship, and no, I don’t do fractions because math.)

But it struck me that Fuentes is really speaking for many of us when he talks about leaving becoming a little too real. Even the jingle the network plays over the splash at the start of the episode is hurting my heart a little these days as I realize there are so few times left to hear it new. Like Fuentes, I’m grateful for what these people (oh, all right, if you insist: what these characters) have given me; like Fuentes, I’m not at all ready to leave them.

Bonus Quotes:

“Big Brother may be watching, but he certainly knows how to make good TV.” (Dr. Gordon Gordon Wyatt)

B&B

“Ding, dang, doodle!” (Gordon Gordon)

B&B

“How are you guys coming?”
“Swimmingly.”
“Yeah. Which is the British stiff upper lip way of saying we’ve got absolutely nothing.” (Cam, Gordon Gordon, Hodgins)

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Steal in the Wheels (Bones)

  1. Max didn’t have to die to move this story line forward.Max died so they could have Brennan grieve so that they could bring Sully back,bitchy Brennan is getting tiresome.After being with Booth and her friends for so many years she doesn’t know how to deal with her emotions,not buying that.Gordon Gordon saved this episode,it would have been better without the undercover aspect and having GG helping with Zach and some B&B counseling.Max’s death and Brennan’s grief are completely overshadowing the second half of this season.They had enough time to craft a final season and went with quantity over quality.

    • That’s pretty much what I would have expected your take to be – we’ve already established that you see something entirely differently than I do in both the characters and the story.

      I view the characters – perhaps particularly Brennan – through the lens of grad work in psychology; as such the way they’ve written her, and are continuing to do so, makes sense to me.

      And I see the point of this season, story wise, to be one final look at how they’ll all be in the future we won’t see, a promise of sorts that B&B will always overcome whatever life throws at them. In that sense, Booth’s “we’ve got this” feels like a promise both to Brennan and to us, that they will always come out the other side.

      Could they have told a different story? Perhaps one with less tension and fewer problems? Sure. They could have coasted with all of the characters, the way I noted they could have and didn’t with Wyatt and I would probably have enjoyed that.

      But on some level, I’d have been disappointed because for me, story is about challenging characters before the happy ending.

      While I’m truly sorry you’re not getting whatever you would like to have seen this season…I’m not sorry that I am. 🙂

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