Housekeeping note: Thank you for your comments! It’s my hope to respond to all of them at some point, but right now, I’m busy working on the rest of these posts. I’m planning one a day until the day of the finale, but need to finish them while doing mundane stuff like eating and working. (It turns out that life doesn’t stop just because Bones is ending. Who knew? LOL.)
More squintern love today:
One of the things I realized while putting this post together is that Vincent didn’t have much of a character arc on the show until his last few episodes. In about half of his appearances, he mostly spouts trivia; it’s not until his final season 5 episode (The Dentist in the Ditch) where there’s a minor plot arc for him focused on his concerns about whether or not Brennan is pleased with him.
It’s not really an oversight (it was largely true of the other squinterns as well at that point) so much as a reflection that in the early seasons, the show was kept busy with their focus on the main cast.
While Booth and Brennan remained the center, gradually, the show began to tell more in-depth stories about the recurring characters. For Vincent, this translated in season six to his realization that he spouted trivia to keep others at arm’s length, and his efforts to make amends as part of his twelve-step program for alcoholism.
But one of the ironies of the show, I think, is that it was the change brought about by Vincent’s death that truly allowed more of that focus on the other characters. With the driving question of the first six seasons (‘will Booth and Brennan ever become a couple?’) shifting to ‘Will they have a happily ever after?’ there was more time to tell stories about the others.
The result is that when I think of Vincent, this is what I think of:
Was he truly Brennan’s favorite? I don’t know. I don’t think she would consciously lie, even under those kinds of circumstances, but I think her feelings are similar to the story I mentioned at the beginning of yesterday’s post, about the mother who told each of her kids, “You’ve always been my favorite, because…” Love isn’t static, where we always feel the same thing for the same person in the same way, nor is it something we have a limited amount of, where to love one person more means to love someone else less.
But whether Vincent was truly her favorite or not, he mattered enough to Brennan that his loss sent her into an emotional tailspin; in turn, that truth about Brennan changed everything.
I love that years later (i.e., The Movie in the Making) they were still acknowledging that.
I’ve liked several of his episodes, but I think my favorite Fisher moment is from S9’s The Heiress in the Hill, when he tells Hodgins,
“I know this sounds crazy, but you’ve got to be happy for him in there. Especially now that he’s found you. Trust me. He just won the lottery.”
Most people I encounter have no idea what it means to love someone who’s mentally ill, nor even what mental illness really is. With several mentally ill people in my immediate family, it’s important to me that the show treated the subject the way it did, both in terms of Fisher and Hodgins’ brother.
Plus? Fisher knows how fortunate Jeffrey Hodgins is, because he’s part of that same supportive family …as we see in his last appearance on the show, this season’s The Tutor in the Tussle, when Brennan helps him to acknowledge his ability to experience joy.
The show never stops being about family.
Wendell’s had several arcs on Bones, including his financial issues and his relationship with Angela. For me, though, the most significant one is his battle with cancer, mostly due to what we see in the team as they come together to support him.
No two relationships are alike on Bones, and that’s never more clear than in this arc. Founded on a shared love of hockey and similar blue collar backgrounds, Booth’s friendship with Wendell is unlike any other we saw among the guys on the show, which gives us a slightly different perspective on Booth.
I don’t know how he would have acted with someone else facing the same thing, but with Wendell, Booth’s in bossy older brother mode, determined to get him to see beyond the chemo to the life out there waiting for him:
“I’m okay with it. I could just take off. I’ve always wanted to see South America…kick back, drink, sleep with as many women as-‘
“No, you’re not going to do that. You’re going to get the treatment, you’re going to throw up, and you’re going to feel miserable, but none of that’s going to matter because you’re going to live to be a hundred.’
“You should be my doctor.”
“I’m serious. You’re going to fight this. You have to fight this.”
“Why? because there’s a life out there that you haven’t even lived yet. There’s a woman waiting to be your wife, there’s kids waiting to be born. Waiting to find out how great of a dad you’re going to be. Plus you have your friends. They need you. That’s why.”
I was thinking about that conversation earlier this week in terms of what it tells us about Wendell, but it’s also one of my all-time favorite Booth scenes. In it, we see not just his bossiness towards a young man he regards as a brother, but also his view of romance, that there’s a woman out there waiting for Wendell, a woman and kids who need him not to give up.
Brennan’s relationship with Wendell is also different from what she has with the other squinterns. To me, she’s never more maternal than she is with him, and that’s true from her position on the medical marijuana, to her and Cam’s shared panic when he doesn’t return right away from a check-up in The Corpse at the Convention, to that scene at the end of Radioactive Panthers, when she helps him realize that anthropology isn’t his great passion.
But the cancer arc gave me one other thing, as well: it gave me an opportunity to see Booth and Brennan dealing with that kind of crisis in their unique roles as co-heads of the ‘family.’ I’ve always seen them as sharing the leadership over this group of people who are far more than simple colleagues. Their partnership isn’t just two people who catch killers together; it’s two people who lead the rest of their team – and not only in the work they do.
They feel responsible for them, whether it’s their adoption of Sweets as their ‘baby duck,’ Booth refusing to let Cam go to Iran by herself to look for Arastoo, or being there for Daisy as she gives birth to Sweets’ baby.
But that kind of leadership comes with a cost, which is why the cancer arc isn’t just about what they offer Wendell; it’s how they find the strength from one another to be what he needs them to be. And that thrills me.
Oh, all right. While I love all squinterns, and there’s a sense in which they’re all my ‘favorite’ – depending on the episode I’m watching – it’s a not a well kept secret that Clark is more often my favorite than the others. (Except when someone else is, because they’re in the episode I’m watching right then, and…oh, never mind.)
I think the reason for that comes down to …he needs them the least, fights the hardest against being drawn into their family, and, in the end, is helpless to hold that line in the face of what they are.
By ‘needs them the least’ I mean that when we meet him, he’s already a fully credentialed forensic anthropologist, and while he learns from Brennan, he’s not dependent on her in the way the other interns are in respect to his career. That explains his effort to remain professional, to not get sucked into the drama: he doesn’t need it, doesn’t want it. He wants to learn from the best in his field, do his job, and go home at the end of the day. But they gradually draw him in, and despite the walls he puts up, we repeatedly see how much they matter to him:
- His absolutely epic meltdown about Booth and Brennan’s sexual tension in S6’s The Couple in the Cave:
- His tireless efforts to clear Brennan in S8’s The Future in the Past – despite knowing it would mean the loss of his dream job
- His awkward attempts to reassure Cam that Arastoo is fine in Iran in The Big Beef at the Royal Diner, because Arastoo is his friend, and asked him to do so
- His stepping in when they needed him as the one other forensic anthropologist Brennan would trust (The Shot in the Dark, The Woman in White, The Ghost in the Killer.)
Speaking of that last one, I still can’t watch that scene where he’s asking her to trust him without getting a lump in my throat:
“I think Nora has found someone else to move forward with. I can’t prove it, but as you know, you don’t always need proof to know when something’s true…So yes, I promise I have more than enough time. I won’t let you down.”
That’s why S11’s The Stiff in the Cliff, where we see how much he does need them, and all the ways they are there for him, is one of my favorites from last season.
Clark’s a good man, and watching him journey from distance to loyal friend is one of my favorite character arcs on the show.
Tomorrow: It’s Complicated, Part 1 (Sweets and Daisy / Aubrey and Jessica)