So I liked last night’s episode a great deal. It made me laugh, gave me a new Brennan moment to add to my list of very favorite Brennan moments, and even gave me some things to think about in terms of my own life. There were a couple of head scratches in there, and I’ll get to those in my review, which should come along tomorrow.
(Spoiler alert: I think the Wendell story made perfect sense. Aubrey, only partly so, and I Have Questions.)
But first…I’ve spent a fair amount of the last 24 hours listening to fans, some of whom are unhappy and/or angry over the episode, and some of whom are bewildered because they, too, liked it, and feel like they shouldn’t. (I’ve actually had three people message me privately and say, “I liked the ep. What’s wrong with me?”)
I found it difficult to concentrate on the review because it kept turning into a response to some of those comments, so I finally decided to just separate them. No one would read the review, anyway, if they were bogged down in some of this.
Let me start by saying if you watch the show primarily for Booth and Brennan’s relationship, I get why you’re unhappy with the episode. I do. There’s no snark here, certainly no condescension. They were only in one scene together, and it was mostly workaday bickering over math and engaging with Dr. Mayer.
While I am sorry for your disappointment, particularly about an episode so close to the end of the show, there are a few things I don’t agree with, and I’m going to note them, not because I’m trying to change your mind (I’m not – you’re entitled to like the show why you like it, and to be disappointed when you feel like it’s let you down) but because I think the people who enjoyed it, who feel like their voices are being drowned out, should have the other perspective on it.
1) One of the comments I saw last night (and I swear, I don’t remember where, so it was probably something that came across my Twitter feed) was, ‘Booth and Brennan are the show and they’ve abandoned that at the very end.’ Well, no. The show has always been about a team of people, with Booth and Brennan at the center.
Even in season one, there were episodes (i.e., “The Skull in the Desert”) that were primarily about the other characters, and that increased as the seasons went along. And yeah, most of the time, those episodes at least included more scenes of them together, but still. A story about two others on the team isn’t a big departure.
All season they’ve been wrapping up arcs about the other characters while telling an important story about Booth and Brennan’s relationship; I think they just hit the point with this one where they were running out of time. While I’m still grateful for a final season of any kind, twelve episodes weren’t much to wrap everything up when there are so many characters many of us have to come to love, so I’m blaming Fox for some of this.
2) The fan fantasy about the end scene always being B&B? It’s false. Eight out of twelve seasons have had at least one episode end without Booth and Brennan in the scene. Some seasons had several. (I’ve got a list…)
Here? I think the reason they didn’t end with B&B is the same reason they had only the one scene with them in the first place: there simply wasn’t time. Could they have cut out the Dr. Mayer scenes? Yes, they could have. They could have had those be Booth and Brennan scenes instead, perhaps where they discussed the same things.
Would having Brennan discuss her questions about the passion for science fading with Booth instead of Dr. Mayer have been as effective? Maybe, but I don’t think it would have been as satisfying to me because I believe they’re a stronger, more interesting couple because they do have relationships with other people. But I’m aware not everyone feels that way.
3) I’m seeing comments about how the showrunners ‘lied’ when they said this season would be ‘for the fans.’ Okay, this one makes me angry. If you don’t like what they’re doing this season, I’m truly sorry. My preference would always be for everyone to like something about the show. But their lack of pleasing one group of people doesn’t mean they’ve failed to please everyone.
Some fans have been wanting to see Zack’s story revisited for years. I wasn’t one of them, particularly, but their wants are as legitimate as mine. Same with Sully. Some fans liked the character, not as a replacement for Booth, but on his own terms, and had spent years wishing they’d find a way to bring him back. Again, I wasn’t one of them particularly, but I understand that those fans are just as much fans of the show as I am. They matter just as much. Me? My big want was seeing Gordon Gordon again, so…win! On the other hand, I’d also have loved to have seen Aldo again…alive. (As Finn says to Cam in The Turn in the Urn: “Nobody gets everything.”)
Finally? I hope I’m wrong about this. I’d like to be. In fact, I’d love to be. But not everyone is going to be happy with the finale. There is no way to wrap up twelve seasons and please everyone, not when different parts of the audience watch for nearly opposite reasons. (Some want only romantic Booth and Brennan, some want to see them overcoming dramatic challenges, some prefer lighter, funnier eps, others want the darker ones…)
One thing I noticed several years ago is that the people who are happiest with the show are those who focus on what’s there, not what’s not. I love Booth and Brennan’s relationship, and they’re a solid half of why I watch the show. But I sincerely didn’t notice they weren’t together much last night because I was enjoying everything else. I was less about ‘Booth and Brennan aren’t together here’ and more about, ‘oh, I liked that scene with Brennan and Angela a lot.’
Just from random comments I see, I know some people have very specific, very detailed things they want out of the finale, and I’d say the chances of them getting exactly what they want are about the same as Booth wearing a pink tutu.
Me? I want to feel like everyone’s in a good space when it ends; want to know that, having overcome what Booth’s past has vomited all over them this season, there really is nothing that their love can’t overcome; I want to know that the family I love is intact and there for each other, even if they’re no longer all in the same city.
I’d bet my bank account I’m not going to be disappointed.