Further Bones Thoughts: A Final Season For All

So I’ve finished my re-watch of S12, and I Have Thoughts about the season as a whole. I’ll say upfront that I don’t know how interesting this post will be to others. I like analyzing stories in a variety of ways, so seeing how they wove so many arcs together in the final season interests me, but it may bore others brainless.

Also, I’ll confess that part of what started me down this particular path of analysis was frustration over comments about all the ‘filler eps’ this season.

There were none. Nada. Zip. Zilch. It’s not that the show’s not done standalone episodes in the past, but there weren’t any this season. What there was, was a rather herculean attempt on the show’s part to satisfy the diverse range of people who enjoy Bones.

For years now, I’ve been listening to those who were hoping for different things from the show: fans who desperately wanted to see Zack’s story revisited; those who didn’t. Those who wanted to see Sully (or Hannah!) again; those who didn’t. Those who loved the extended family; those who really just enjoyed Booth and Brennan. Those who enjoyed S10 because of its darkness; those who hated it for the same reason.

I’m not Fox, don’t have access to survey and studies, but I’m convinced that that diversity is part of why the show went to twelve seasons.

Given that, what I see when I look at S12 is an attempt to honor that big, unwieldy group of eyeballs, and I wanted to examine the season from that perspective. I’ve done so by looking at what each episode contributed towards wrapping up the various stories and arcs in as satisfying manner as possible for the most people.

There are no doubt different ways of categorizing the stories they told, but I see the following:

  • Tonal variety: six darker, six lighter (I’m thinking…not a coincidence)
  • Resolving long-standing arcs: Zack, Booth’s sniper past, Aubrey’s father, Brennan and Max, Jessica and Aubrey
  • Future-forward: showing us what the characters will be doing after we say goodbye
  • Future-forward, Booth and Brennan edition – runs throughout the season (I feel a separate post coming about this…)
  • Favorite guest stars: Sully, Gordon Gordon, Dr. Mayer, Avalon
  • Other stories fans had asked to see: an undercover episode; Brennan’s birthday

No, not everyone wanted to see every one of those things. I didn’t, particularly, though I couldn’t be happier at what we got. But…diverse audience.

The Hope in the Horror:

  • Zack: The audience knew something about Zack that the other characters did not, which meant revisiting it as part of the end made sense. Plus, it not only resolved that secret, it gave us insights into the other characters, such as Booth’s Gut having always questioned Zack’s guilt.
  • Booth: It’s a minor one in the scheme of things, but I think the last season or two has focused more on Booth’s relationships with the other guys: Zack, Hodgins, Aubrey. He’s still ‘guy-hugs-are-only-for-Brennan’ Booth, but he’s a bit more open with his male friends.
  • Karen: Although she’s cast as a red herring here, particularly when she’s stalking Brennan around the bone room, we also see that Booth’s much more tolerant of her than Aubrey is (possibly due to his experiences with Sweets?) and yet she takes her idea of letting Zack look at the cases to Aubrey first. Beginnings of friendship? Maybe.

The Brain in the Bot

  • Hot Blooded: I don’t know if a song has ever had a character arc on a TV show before, but this one did
  • Zack: Brennan is reviewing her notes; for her birthday, Booth gets a trial date
  • Daisy: Although she comes back for the wedding/finale, this is the end of Daisy’s arc. We’ve seen her go from flaky and uber-annoying intern to a mature young woman strong enough to raise her son alone (with the help of the family.)
  • Max: As appropriate, Max gets a multi-part farewell. Here, the audience learns that he’s sick, which foreshadows his death while setting up the twist that he doesn’t die the way we think he will.
  • Brennan: We’ve been watching her grow and change for years, but this isn’t just where we see her keeping secrets and demonstrating a lack of competitiveness, but also that she’s self-aware enough to know the others would not expect either of those things from her.

The New Tricks in the Old Dogs

  • Future forward: Cam and Arastoo make plans to adopt
  • Future forward: Angela and Hodgins are again thinking about another child
  • Future forward: Booth and Brennan also discuss the possibility of another child, and wind up not ruling it out
  • Brennan: We see her reflecting on the fact that none of the things she values the most were planned

    “The unexpected happened. He fell in love.”

The Price for the Past

  • Booth: An early turning point for him and Brennan was when he shared with her the guilt he carried for his sniper kills. Revisiting that story now in such an excruciating way allowed us to see all the ways that his relationship with her has healed him.
  • Booth and Aldo’s friendship arc
  • Max: Although he’s not in the episode, Brennan’s comments to Jessica foreshadow her eulogy and remind us of the journey she and her father took over a ten-year period
  • Aubrey: His arc with his father, which began in S10, ramps up with the reveal that he’s in the U.S.
  • Aubrey and Jessica: While she obviously cares deeply for him (re: her conversation with Brennan) there are hints that he’s more invested in the relationship than she is

The Tutor in the Tussle

  • Aubrey: The resolution of his arc about his father
  • Aubrey: his relationship with Karen seems closer to friendship here, but he’s clearly committed to Jessica.
  • Future forward, Fisher: He’s capable of enjoying life, and we see how much Brennan loves him.

The Flaw in the Saw

  • Future forward: We see Booth and Brennan flirting and solving their parenting debates in a way unique to the two of them (log-rolling competition!) Although the show’s been giving us those kinds of moments for years, their taking the time to do so in the final season is part of the story they’re telling about what life will be life for these characters after we’re no longer dropping in on them
  • Zack: Hodgins has been working Zack’s case, but what he finds seems so unlikely that Cam accuses him of falsifying evidence.

The Scare in the Score

  • Max: The episode picks up with the health scare, which, while turning the foreshadowing from The Brain in the Bot on its head, also sets up how the safe house is detected.
  • Brennan: We see her dependence on Max, particularly where the kids are concerned. It occurred to me on my re-watch that the very thing that hurt her for so long (the criminal past that led to his abandoning her) was what positioned him to be the kind of person who could save his grandkids the way he did.
  • Booth: When he tells Kovac, ‘he was still your dad.’ we realize it’s more complicated, even, than the worst moment in his sniper past coming back to bite him: he identifies with Kovac as the son of a decidedly less-than-perfect father.

The Grief and the Girl

  • Brennan: Her feelings are a tangle of her own grief and concern for Booth’s guilt (revealed via the conversation with Angela), which struck me as very authentic
  • Sully: some fans have been asking to see Sully again for years, not as a love interest, but because they enjoyed the character and wanted to see his response to Booth and Brennan being a couple. We got all of that, in a way that wraps up Sully’s arc as part of Booth and Brennan’s story – which it always was.
  • Future forward, Clark: He’ll be leading an archaeological dig in Canada, and given what we learned in S11’s The Stiff in the Cliff, it’s an appropriate direction for the character. (Yay, Clark!)
  • Booth and Brennan: “I love you, Bones. Always.” No, there’s nothing new in that for those of us who know and love them, but hearing it again, in so many ways across the season, was the show’s final message for the shippers: their love will survive anything life throws at them
  • Max: The true end of his arc is here, in Brennan’s eulogy

The Steal in the Wheels

  • Brennan: while things are better between her and Booth, she’s short-tempered and impatient – both normal signs of grief.
  • Gordon Gordon Wyatt: While some fans wanted Zack’s story revisited, and others wanted to see Sully again, I wanted the return of Gordon Gordon. Also? Even here, there’s a character arc, as we’ve seen him move from shrink, to chef, and back, if not permanently to shrink, to someone who clearly misses that part of his life.
  • Zack: Cam isn’t the only one who thinks Hodgins is capable of falsifying evidence to help a friend – Brennan does, as well. But with Gordon Gordon’s help, he finds the dead apprentice.
  • Future forward: While we’re not told where Fuentes winds up, we learn that he’s graduated – and get to see the Ceremony of the Blue Jacket.
  • Booth and Brennan go undercover one last time as Buck and Wanda. Whether you love or hate the undercover eps, they’re important enough that Booth references them in the finale.
  • We’ve got this. I love you.” Not only will their love win over all odds, so will they – which was the theme of the season.

The Radioactive Panthers in the Party

  • Future forward, Wendell: During my re-watch, it struck me that in some ways, it would be odd if none of her interns ever realized their true calling was elsewhere, and Wendell seems the most logical choice to me for that.
  • Aubrey: This is the only subplot from the season that doesn’t work for me. I’m glad they wanted to give him an exit story, and can even see this particular one (possibility of a move cross-country, deciding to stay) making sense, but the way it played it out, it was mostly Booth giving Aubrey an opportunity to prove he could do what they’d already established he did after Booth and Brennan left at the end of S10. I would just as soon have had them spend more time on ending his relationship with Jessica.
  • Angela: Pregnancy hints.

The Day in the Life 

  • Zack: Murder conviction reversed, but has to finish his sentence for assisting a killer – an appropriate way of resolving that story.
  • Future forward: Cam and Arastoo’s wedding
  • Jessica breaks up with Aubrey
  • Angela: Her pregnancy is revealed
  • Angela and Brennan, friendship arc is touched on with the recall of Angela getting her to go dancing in S1’s The Man in the Wall.
  • Avalon returns
  • Hodgins: we see Hodgins in charge of Jessica at the crime scene; this struck me as more significant after seeing the finale
  • Future forward: Michelle has applied to Quantico
  • Booth and Brennan: the show has always been about how in sync they are despite their differences. That’s highlighted with both of them understanding that ‘we’re missing something.’

The End in the End

  • Booth and Hodgins: their story, of friendship developing in spite of their differences, resolves tension over Booth’s army past first established in S1
  • Brennan: S1 showed how much of her identity was tied to her intelligence and profession; here, we see that because of Booth, that’s no longer the case.

    “You’re my partner. Don’t forget that.”

  • Booth and Brennan: That kiss, which @boothalecs on Twitter described as, “I’ll meet you on the battlefield”? Yeah. That’s them. Love and fighting crime together.
  • Future forward: Angela and Hodgins are having a boy
  • Future forward: Cam and Arastoo’s three boys
  • Future forward: Aubrey’s not okay, but he will be; possibly with Karen

Long(er) winded Hodgins thoughts:

King of the Lab! I didn’t think of this when I watched the finale the first (or, er, second) time due to being gobsmacked, but his being made interim director doesn’t just give us a new take on his character as the show wraps up, it also addresses Cam and Brennan’s belief that he had – or at least, would – falsify evidence to save a friend. This was something I very much wanted to see after The Flaw the Saw aired, and, as per usual, the show gave me more than I wanted: while the issue isn’t revisited in an explicit sense, they both affirm their trust and respect in him by placing him in charge, and…I love that a million times over.

Long(er) winded Booth thoughts:

His guilt over his sniper kills was two-fold: general guilt over the loss of human life, and a particular guilt for having killed a man in front of his six-year-old son. Both were resolved this season.  When Brennan tells him she goes where he goes, and stands beside him (my brain unnecessarily adds ‘always’), it’s specifically in the context of his being a sniper. So great is her confidence in the man he’s chosen to be, that she holds a line for him: these lives are not on your conscience.

Meanwhile, Kovac is revealed as someone who had opportunities to lead a meaningful life (a normal childhood, a supportive extended community) but, unlike Booth (or Aubrey, for that matter), he instead chose to follow his father.  There’s no guilt on Booth for Kovac’s choices, either.


Happy indeed are those of us who enjoyed pretty much everything about the show (lighter, darker, Booth and Brennan, family, squinterns…)



Story Hangover, TV Version (On Grieving a Show)

A few weeks ago, I commented on Twitter that I was going to have the ‘biggest book hangover ever’ when Bones ended.  My book friends, even those who don’t watch the show, understood immediately what I meant.

Having now watched some Bones fans flail in their sadness over the past days, I thought I’d unpack that a little, in case it helps.

We all experience fiction differently. I don’t just mean that one person can love what someone else hates, but even ‘loving’ something can mean different things for two different people.  There are shows I’ve loved, for example, that when they ended, I said, ‘what a great show!’ …and then I went and did something else.

But other stories take hold of me in a way that it’s harder to let them go. For me, this is generally – but not always – book series. I remember it happening as a kid the first time I read Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles – I cried at the end of The High King as much because the experience of reading those stories was over as I did in response to the ending. Same with the Anne books (L.M. Montgomery), The Little House series (Laura Ingalls Wilder), The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis), The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien) and the Pern novels (Anne McCaffrey.)

It’s not a one time thing, either. Every single time I re-read any of those series, I feel lost when I come to the end. Every. Single. Time. Ditto books I’ve discovered as an adult, like the In Death books, or the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs.

There’s something about characters I love, existing in their own time and place, that I occasionally find difficult to leave behind once the story is over. It’s not every series I’ve read and enjoyed, but enough that I have a handle on the grief I feel when I close the last book. (Aka, ‘book hangover.’)

(This is probably why I’ve always understood exactly how Booth felt when he came out of the coma dream…)

Psychologists know that we feel grief for all kinds of things, not just the loss of someone we love. We grieve changes in our lives, even good ones (finishing high school or college, retiring from a job, children growing up and leaving home.) So why shouldn’t we acknowledge that the feeling of letting characters go may also be grief, while understanding that no two fans may experience it in the same way, or to the same degree?

So what does that mean?

For starters, don’t let anyone give you a hard time for what you’re feeling. No, ‘it’s just a TV show’ allowed. No. If you loved it, no, it’s not.

(And if you’re one of the people thinking, ‘what the hell? It’s a TV SHOW,’ …why is it so hard to respect our differences, even about something as seemingly minor as how we enjoy the entertainment we love? Related: why is it okay for people to grieve when their team loses the championship but not to respect how others feel when a TV show or book series ends?)

Second? Go with what works for you.  Maybe it’s continuing to talk about the show with other fans. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s reading or writing fanfiction; maybe it’s not.  For me? I always do the same thing when I finish reading (or re-reading) a favorite series of books: I go back and re-read (yes, again) one or two from the beginning of the series.  Every time.

I’ve got the newest Patricia Briggs book waiting for me (it came out March 7, and I’ve saved it for something to do after Bones ended); I already know that after I finish it, I’ll stay in that world a little longer by re-reading one of the earlier books.  Ditto when the next JD Robb comes out in September. (Though to be fair, I’m never wholly out of that world for long.)

But first…I’m re-watching Bones.  (Yesterday was The Man in the SUV.)  Based on how my book hangovers usually go, I’ll watch a few dozen eps, or a season or two, and gradually find myself letting go enough to move on to other things (like the Patricia Briggs book, or watching a couple of shows I’ve promised friends I’d try, or re-watching shows it’s been a while since I’ve visited.) I’ll continue watching Bones, but with less urgency, and then one day, I’ll realize that I’m no longer focusing on ‘it’s over’ but rather the degree to which the whole story, and everything it meant to me, is simply a source of joy and satisfaction.

Bones, and my involvement with the fandom, has been a hobby for me. Will I replace those hours with other things? Yes. (Hopefully, more writing.) But first, I’m giving myself the time to let it go in a way that works for me.

And if you’ve made friends in the fandom, and are worried about whether those relationships will last? The answer is …the important ones will. The ones where the show was a jumping off point to talking about other things, to connecting as human beings the way we do.

A long time ago (twenty years!) I fell in love with a different show, and over the next year or two, became friends with an amazing group of women. Gradually, we moved on, the show ended, and…we’re still friends. Enough so that they sent me flowers on Wednesday, despite most of them not watching Bones. The card reads:

“Because we understand what it is to come to the end of a beloved fandom. Thinking of you today.”

That’s why I’m not remotely worried about losing the relationships I’ve made through Bones.

Loving a show is good. Fandom can be wonderful. It’s okay to recognize that.

Be kind to yourselves.


Fan Review: The End in the End (Bones)


I’m trying to wade through All The Feels to be sensible (I’d settle for coherent) and I just keep coming back to: They nailed it. With big-ass nails and a huge hammer, they nailed this.

Here’s my theory on why this worked so well for so many people: At the heart of it, it was what people have always watched Bones for: a case, and bones, and technology, and tears, and humor, and people who love each other. All on a foundation of solid, if underappreciated acting, with a side of music. (I seldom think to mention the music, but it’s one of my favorite things.)

That’s what the show is; that’s what this episode is. On steroids.

It’s a bit of a problem because I’ve been trying and failing for two days to write a review that people can read without taking a week off work. (I’m officially giving up, so be warned.)

The Case:

The case allowed us to see the team challenged in new ways, while also giving us what we expect from the show: a focus on bones, Booth’s gut kicking ass and taking names (he knew Jeannine was lying), interrogation scenes, a twist, a shoot-out in the dark, and one last opportunity to remind us that Booth’s a crack shot*.

(*Provided he has Brennan with him to snap his ulna back in place.)

I was excited by the twist, by the way, mostly because I figured it out when Hodgins and Cam were puzzling over the DNA, shouting, “She’s his sister!”

But as always, it was the character moments that I’ll take away from the episode.

What a punch to the heart those opening shots of the destroyed lab were! They set the emotional tone of the episode for me: everything is broken. But brokenness gives us a chance to see what the characters are made of, and how they heal each other.

It wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask for Booth, Brennan, Hodgins, and Angela to be trapped together in a wrecked building, but, as per usual, it turns out that the show knows how to give me what I most want. While I love Cam and Arastoo, I’m glad they got out, because there was an intimacy to it being just those four that I think would have been lost if more of the team had been there.

That setup gives us five scenes that will always be among my favorites from the show.

First, it takes a scary while for Booth to find Brennan, and …am I the only one who thought of the end of Wannabe in the Weeds when he’s kneeling over her, plainly out of his mind with worry?

Second, that moment with the four of them when we realize that everything is broken, including Brennan. Her, ‘I don’t know what that means,’ in this context is horrific, worse because she understands what she’s lost.

What I enjoyed the most, though, was the non-verbal interaction among the other three. Booth exchanges a glance with Hodgins, Hodgins looks at Angela, Angela looks back at Brennan.

Third, we see Booth and Hodgins looking for an exit, only to realize they are well and truly trapped. They go through other options and while Hodgins tries to remain positive about rescue teams, Booth is simply frantic, and orders him to ‘help me with this stuff.’ And Hodgins does – the fact that he’s in a wheelchair is a non-issue. They’re just two guys trying to find a way out. I love that so hard.

Fourth, we’ve got Angela and Brennan worrying about the baby together. Every time I’ve watched, this is when I cry the first time. Their fear – and Brennan’s frustration – are palpable. And then comes that moment when her expression changes and we Know.
(To heck with watching it. I tear up just remembering it.)

Fifth, Booth goes a little nuts and Hodgins pulls him back from the ledge. I don’t have the words to thank the show for this scene. (And…I have a lot of words.) While I’ve always loved the male relationships on the show, these two have meant the most to me. Maybe it’s because they’re so different from each other – the male version of Angela and Brennan? I don’t know.

Anyway, we’ve got Booth, who should know better, deciding that bringing the entire rest of the building down on their heads is a solid plan, and Hodgins stopping him, first by losing a little bit of his own cool when he shouts, ‘I watched my pregnant wife get thrown against a wall, all right? You’re not the only one who wants out of here!‘ and then, moments later, adding, “You don’t have to be a hero!”

It’s the way he says it, so full of frustration and love, that it just leaves me a mess. I can’t imagine a scene between the two of them that could touch me more, so if the show has to end, I’m good on that front.

But, wait! Like a TV infomercial, ‘there’s more!’

Booth does his duty regardless of others’ opinions, but there’s a cost to him, more so when it’s someone he cares about and respects. And now? They’re trapped in the wreckage of the building that was as much a home for Hodgins as it was for Brennan, worried about their wives, and Booth is face planted again in the sure knowledge that people he loves are suffering because he once pulled a trigger on a monster.

Because of that, it matters a great deal when Hodgins tells him, “I know I’ve said a lot of things over the years about you being a sniper. I was wrong. Killing Kovac’s father – that was the right thing to do.” In response, Booth stares at him for a moment, and then looks down, fractionally more relaxed.

(Me? I cried again, and loved the show.)



Meanwhile, there are scenes outside the lab. Even knowing the status inside,  I thought they did a good job of conveying that sense of panic we feel when something bad has happened and we can’t verify the status of loved ones. Also? I loved Aubrey not leaving for the Jeffersonian until Caroline arrives to take responsibility for the kids. Other FBI agents are around, but it’s got to be someone from the family.

Then the rescue happens, and Angela and Hodgins get further confirmation that the baby is okay.  I loved the scene for what it told us about what comes next, that they’re going to have another boy.

But Brennan is not okay, and I’m undecided about what was more unnerving: watching her fail the finger test, or watching her uncharacteristic passivity about what it means. While I love her and Cam’s friendship, and appreciate her trust in Cam as a doctor, seeing Temperance Brennan just sitting there while others discuss her brain officially creeped me out. (Based on Booth’s, ‘what do you mean, you don’t know?’ I wasn’t the only one.)

Her injury, however, in conjunction with the mess in the bone room, is why we get some really wonderful moments with the interns. For starters, I love how gentle both Daisy and Arastoo are with her. We’ve known Brennan was a good teacher and we’ve watched them grow up and leave her nest, to different degrees. But to see them truly giving back the knowledge she gave them when she no longer has access to it… (Drat. Hang on while I find my tissues again.)

Brennan understands that, too, and because her memories are fine, we get to see her delighting in them, in remembering what they mean to her.

It’s a beautiful moment, made all the more poignant by how it ends:

“I remember the day each of you was hired. I remember the name of every victim I’ve ever identified. I remember how meaningful this work can be. I just don’t remember how to do it.”

Later, still struggling, she abandons the lab for Booth’s office, and…we have the scene that almost makes this being the show finale worth it.

Remember this moment, from The Woman in Limbo, which has always been a candidate for Favorite Scene Ever for me?

 “I work at the Jeffersonian Institution. I’m a forensic anthropologist. I specialize in identifying…in identifying people when nobody knows who they are. My father was a science teacher. My mother was a bookkeeper. My brother. I have a brother. I’m Dr. Temperance Brennan.”
“I know who you are.”

It turns out that some dozen years later, he still knows who she is.

There’s something beautiful to me in the way this scene comes full circle on that moment. The Brennan in that barn tied her identity to her work, and now she’s afraid that’s gone. But now she has a great deal more than what she had back then, including a man who understands how much more than intellect she is:

“I mean, if the thing that made me, me is gone, who am I?”
“You’re the woman I love.  You’re the woman who kissed me outside a pool hall when it was pouring rain.  You took me to shoot Tommy guns on Valentine’s Day. That’s who you are. You’re the one who proposed to me with a stick of beef jerky in her hand even though you’re a vegetarian. You’re the Roxie to my Tony, and the Wanda to my Buck. Who else is gonna sing ‘Hot Blooded’ with me? And besides…we’re way better than Mulder and Scully.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“I don’t care if you know about the bones or we know how to solve crimes. All I know is that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. This is you. Temperance Brennan. You’re my partner. Don’t forget that.”

(Pause for tissue break…)

Ahem. Her injury is a blow, but the interns (who are mostly no longer interns, but what’s forensic work among friends?) have figured out what Brennan had seen in the bones prior to the bomb. They have to be nudged along, though, by Hodgins, who’s going to make an excellent boss:

“Brennan isn’t Brennan anymore, all right? And we have to accept it. I mean, maybe someday…”
“So we’re just supposed to give up on her?”
“I refuse to do that. Dr. Brennan saw something in these remains.”
“Then it’s up to you to find it. Look, Brennan trained you for this exact moment. She’s counting on you. So am I.” (Hodgins, Jessica, Daisy,)

I think Hodgins is more pessimistic than warranted about her chances due to what another bomb took from him. But no matter, because the way he says the line, ‘Brennan trained you for this exact moment‘ is another Perfect Moment for me – as is the fact that they rise to the occasion, in a scene of such teamwork it reminds me a little of Booth and Brennan finding the FBI papers in The Lance to the Heart. 

Then, the show gives us one last SUV scene, and it’s a doozy:

“I just want you to stay in the car.”
“No. Where you go, I go.”
“All right, fine. Just be careful…Listen, Bones, I just want to say again how sorry I am.”
“No. No apologies.”
“But what you said to Jeannine about my doing my duty…it was still my choice. It always is. Every time I take a shot, I take responsibility for that.”
“I know. And that’s why I stand beside you.”

First, there’s “I stand beside you,” which makes me sigh. But the reason that’s where she’s standing goes back to everything I said about responsibility in my farewell post on Booth. He knows who she is, and she’s standing beside him all the way, and well, damn it, I need another box of tissues.

And so, Kovac dies and Brennan’s brain comes back online in time to help with that, because these two, they catch killers together.

We’re not done yet, though. The show then indulges us with all kinds of character and team moments, enough to keep even me happy.

At the FBI, we’ve got Booth and Caroline, and I kind of like that they’ve all just accepted that Booth’s going to keep putting his life in danger, and then Aubrey comes in, and he’s decided to stay in DC due to ‘everything that’s happened in the last couple of days.”

That intrigues me, because I don’t completely follow his logic, and I love it anyway. The truth is, the Aubrey story is the one little nitpick I’ve got with the episode. (Writing that makes me feel churlish, like someone gave me a million dollars and I whined about the color of the check.)

It’s not that I’m disappointed that he and Jessica broke up. (Though I am.) Rather, it’s that their ending felt too… abrupt. I’d thought part of the point of their story was that they were friends before they became lovers, and for it to end with a cut-short-by-necessity scene in an interrogation room felt …unfinished to me.  Seriously, I can deal with the breakup, but would have loved something (even a comment between two other characters) indicating they’d find their way back to friendship at some point.

But, getting back to what I did like, if he’s not staying for Jessica, I’m going to go with his comment about staying ‘after everything’s that’s happened’ to mean he’s doing so out of love for the others on the team, and that’s lovely – especially since, post-breakup, you’d think he’d want to go to the other side of the country, ASAP.

Then we turn to the lab, where we see the others packing up their belongings. The show has always tried to respect its own history, and that’s nowhere more important than here at the end, as we see they still love Vincent, that Cam has already successfully raised one non-biological daughter, and that Hodgins has outgrown the rubber bands he used for anger management:

The last two are especially significant in light of what comes next.

Can I take a moment to squeal over Cam and Brennan’s relationship, and that Brennan knows about the adoption plans? I love that so much, not the least of which because it takes me back to the end of The Boy in the Shroud, when their friendship began with Brennan haltingly saying, “I was a foster child…”

Cam and Arastoo’s three boys – Tyler, Isaiah, and Jordan – haven’t just landed two spectacular people as parents. They’ve got an entire family who will love them, boss them, nurture them, and enjoy them.

And how awesome is that book? They didn’t say so, but I’m assuming the brown-haired, brown-eyed farmer is Booth, so it is all of them, and…*want.* Fox should find a publisher for it. I’d buy it.

Finally, we’ve got that wonderful moment where Cam and Brennan tell Hodgins he’s the king of lab. I laugh out loud every time I watch it (while still feeling smug that I guessed Brennan wouldn’t want the job.)

There’s so much love and happiness in that scene, I want to hug it. (I’ll settle for re-watching it a dozen more times.)

Finally, we end with Booth and Brennan in the Jeffersonian gardens. “It’s a special place,” she says, and remembering the pilot (“I can be a duck”) and the wedding, I agree whole-heartedly.

They then take a short trip down memory lane together, and it’s perfect. Earlier, we’d seen Brennan remember both Max and her mom (dolphin!); here, they touch on Booth and Brennan’s personal history (Jasper!) as well as both Parker and Sweets, before turning to the mystery of 447.

I’ve enjoyed 447 as an Easter egg without being too focused on its meaning, generally assuming it would show up at turning points. That fits pretty well with Brennan’s take:

“Why would you want to be reminded of when everything almost ended?”
“Because it didn’t.”

There’s a message there for fans, too, I think. Has something ended? Yes. But do stories we love ever really end?

Years ago, in a conversation about what we wanted to see when the show finished, I said I’d like to see Booth and Brennan leaving to solve another case, to go out with the idea that their stories would be continuing, and I feel like that’s what they’ve given me. There’s an alternate universe out there where the lab has been rebuilt and they’re all back to work loving, laughing, and solving cases together. And when I miss them? I’ve got 246 episodes to take me there.

“It’s never gonna end, Bones. It’s always gonna be just like this.” (Booth, The Diamond in the Rough)

Bonus Quotes:

“But you have backups, right? I mean, you uploaded everything into the cloud?”
“You’ve been lecturing me endlessly for years about how the cloud isn’t secure.”
“Wait a minute. You listened to me? Angela, I’m a known paranoid conspiracy theorist!” (Hodgins, Angela)


“Once a Ranger, always a Ranger.”
“That’s not the Ranger slogan.”
“I was thinking of the Power Rangers.” (Aubrey, Booth)

Bones Farewell: Scenes From a Life Shared

I’m cheating again today, a bit, in that most of the writing in this post was done by the people who know what they’re doing (the writers!) but I needed a way to acknowledge a whole bunch of moments that are the show for me.

These are Booth and Brennan focused; most, but not all, are turning points in their relationship.  The others are simply moments that I loved because they highlighted some aspect of that bond.

(I really wanted to do a screen cap for every one, but was afraid I’d blow up WordPress…!)

  1. “I’d like to help you with that.” (Booth and Brennan, Pilot)
  2. “It’s okay. It’s all over. I’m right here.” (Two Bodies in the Lab)
  3. “I know who you are.” (Booth, The Woman in Limbo)
  4. “I’m with Bones, Cam. All the way. Don’t doubt it for a second.” (Booth, The Boy in the Shroud)
  5. Cam smiles as Booth stands her up. (The Girl with the Curl)
  6. “You have a relationship with this guy, what they call symbiotic – you benefit from each other. So know this. That deadline comes around, and my partner is still underground, I will end you. You understand? Three hours. Better hurry.” (Booth to Vega, Aliens in a Spaceship)
  7. “It’s a guy hug. Take it.” (Booth, The Headless Witch in the Woods)
  8. “I’m just one of those people who doesn’t get to be in a family.”
    “There’s more than one kind of family.” (Booth, Judas on a Pole)
  9. A dejected Booth watches Brennan with Sully. (Bodies in the Book)
  10. “Everything happens eventually…All the stuff you think never happens – it happens. You just gotta be ready for it.” (Booth, The Boneless Bride in the River)
  11. “That’s a lot of heart, Bones.” (Booth, The Verdict in the Story)
  12. “In working with Booth, I’ve come to realize that the quiet man, the invisible man, the man who’s always there for friends and family… that’s a real alpha male. And I promise my eyes will never be caught by those shiny baubles again.” (Brennan, The Conman in the Meth Lab)
  13. Brennan’s absolute confidence in Booth when he’s throwing knives at her. (Double Trouble in the Panhandle)
  14. “I’m never gonna make you fall. I’m always here.” (Booth, Fire in the Ice)
  15. You all want to lose yourself in another person. You believe that love is transcendent and eternal. I want to believe that, too.”
    “Hey, you will. I promise. Someday you will. You will someday, okay? You will.” (Brennan and Booth, The Cinderella in the Cardboard)
  16. Booth and Brennan share scars from their past with each other. (Mayhem on a Cross)
  17. “I’m not convinced that loving someone is worth it.”
    “… It is worth it, and everything around it is worth it.  Every moment, everything… is worth it, so eat the ice cream before it melts.” (Brennan and Booth, The Girl in the Mask)
  18. “Do you love me?”
    “Yeah. Want me to prove it to you?” (The End in the Beginning)
  19. Booth teaches Brennan how to repair plumbing. (The Bond in the Boot)
  20. “Listen, you changed history. How many people can say that?”
    “You can. Every arrest you make changes history. You make the world safer.”
    “With your help.” (Booth and Brennan, A Night at the Bones Museum)
  21. “I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t do to help him.” (Brennan to Wyatt about Booth, The Dwarf in the Dirt)
  22. “When Booth and I first met, I didn’t believe that such a thing as love existed. I maintained that it was simply brain chemistry. But, perhaps Booth is correct; perhaps love comes first, and then creates the reaction. I have no tangible proof, but…I’m willing to accept Booth’s premise.” (Brennan, The Dentist in the Ditch)
  23. “Was my faith shaken? Yeah, it is…I’ll go home tonight and I’ll lie in bed, and I’ll toss, and I’ll turn, and I’ll beat myself up, and I’ll question everything.”
    “Will you get your faith back?”
    “Always have in the past.”
    “So you have faith that you will retain your faith. Why?”
    “The sun will come up, and tomorrow’s a new day.”
    “I know that feeling.”
    “You know what it feels like to get your faith back?”
    “When I see effects and I am unable to discern the cause, my faith in reason and consequences is shaken.”
    “And then what happens?”
    “Two plus two equals four. I put sugar in my coffee and it tastes sweet. The sun comes up because the world turns. These things are beautiful to me. There are mysteries I will never understand, but everywhere I look, I see proof that for every effect there is a corresponding cause. Even if I can’t see it. I find that reassuring.”
    “And life is good again.”
    “Life is very good.” (Booth and Brennan, The Devil in the Details)
  24. “You know when you talk to older couples who, you know, have been in love for 30 or 40 or 50 years, alright, it’s always the guy who says “I knew.” I knew. Right from the beginning.” (Booth to Brennan, The Parts in the Sum of the Whole)
  25. “I wished… I wished that you could find happiness.”
    “I don’t know what that means.”
    “Happiness. Love, laughter, friendship, purpose… and a dance.” (Booth to Brennan, The Witch in the Wardrobe)
  26. “We can come back, pick up where we left off.  Nothing really has to change.”
    “No, things have to change.  You know what?  Hey, I taught you about eye contact, you taught me about evolution.  So… here’s to change.”
    “To change.” (Brennan and Booth, The Beginning in the End)
  27. “He couldn’t leave her. That’s what love is.” (Booth to Brennan, The Couple in the Cave)
  28. Booth saves Brennan. (The Doctor in the Photo.)
  29. “You can love a lot of people in this world, but there’s only one person you love the most.” (Booth to Brennan, The Sin in the Sisterhood)
  30. Brennan chooses to stay. (The Daredevil in the Mold)
  31. Booth asks her out on a date invites himself to a lecture. (The Killer in the Crosshairs)
  32. “You know what we’re talking about here, right?” (The Blackout in the Blizzard)
  33. “You’re coming back to my apartment with me.” (Booth to Brennan, The Hole in the Heart)
  34. “That’s what I’m here for.” (Booth comforts Brennan, The Hole in the Heart)
  35. “I love undercover. What’ll I be?”
    “You can be my girlfriend.” (Booth to Brennan, The Change in the Game)
  36. “…but I don’t concede that I’m being unreasonable for merely trying to be rational about our living arrangement.”
    “Look, Bones. I love you, okay? That’s not rational. Us having a kid, that’s not rational. But here we are..[…] I’ve got to get back to the office.”
    “I… love you, too.”
    “I know.”
  37. “We can have whatever life we want. You know that, right?”
    “New memories, new life.” (Booth and Brennan, The Memories in the Shallow Grave)
  38. “I’m not good playing with toys. What if I can’t connect with our child?”
    “You connect with me, right?”
    “You know I do.”
    “Okay, our child is half of me. So at the very least, you can connect with the me half. Listen, you’re going to be a great mom.” (Booth and Brennan, The Prince in the Plastic)
  39. “We have a house, Booth. You found our home.” (Brennan to Booth, The Crack in the Code)
  40. “I love you, Booth. I don’t want you to think that Christine is the only reason we’re together.” (Brennan,The Past in the Present)
  41. Booth and Brennan reunite in the hotel. (The Future in the Past)
  42. “Why are you sorry for doing the right thing?”
    “I’m sorry for how you must have felt when I did the right thing.” (Booth and Brennan, The Future in the Past)
  43. “I love you. I’m willing to do irrational things to prove it.” (Brennan to Booth, The Partners in the Divorce)
  44. “I spent so much time trying to control my life. I thought it meant that I was strong. But I was just afraid.”
    “Afraid of what?”
    “I dug out remains from the rubble from the Towers. For two weeks, I was methodical. A scientist. I did what was asked of me. I did my job. I never shed a tear. I was proud of that. All these years, I never let myself feel that.”
    “Bones, we all deal with things in our own way, okay?”
    “I could avoid it all before I met you. I had no one in my life. And now I think of those people and I think of you. Any one of them…it could have been you.” (Brennan and Booth, The Patriot in Purgatory)
  45. Booth, Brennan, and Christine dance to Hot Blooded on his mix tape for her. (The Ghost in the Machine)
  46. “I’m the luckiest man in the world because I got to spend time with your mother, and with you…Help your mom to be happy. Because if she’s alone? She’s going to forget.” (Booth’s recording for Christine in case he dies, The Twist in the Plot)
  47. “You’re a lucky man, Agent Booth.”
    “Yes, I am. Very lucky.” (CDC guy and Booth, The Pathos in the Pathogens)
  48. “I want to marry you. Will you marry me, Booth? …I want you to be my husband. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Say something.”
    “Yes. Of course. Yes.” (The Secret in the Siege)
  49. “Booth loves you.”
    “Booth told you that?”
    “He confessed it to me. Not being married is a sin to him. I’m not sure a non-believer can understand that kind of sacrifice.”
    “I wanted to marry him.”
    “Not as much as he wants to marry you.” (Aldo to Brennan, The Secrets in the Proposal)
  50. “I’m not leaving you. I want to tell you that I have absolute faith in you. I trust you. I know you love me and Christine. I’m sorry I lost sight of that temporarily. You’re a good man, you have your reasons, and when you can, you’ll share them with me.” (Brennan to Booth, The Secrets in the Proposal)
  51. Cheat in the Retreat tag:
  52. “We…agreed to avoid public displays of affection at the FBI.”
    “The hell with the FBI.” (The Sense in the Sacrifice)
  53. “For you, of course. It’s always going to come down to you.” (Aldo to Brennan,The Sense in the Sacrifice)
  54. “If I ask you to marry me, will you say yes?”
    “If I say yes, will we get married?”
    “Yes.” (Booth and Brennan, The Sense in the Sacrifice)
  55. “We don’t get married every day, our wedding shouldn’t feel like an everyday thing.”
    “I love every day.” (Brennan and Booth,The Lady on the List)
  56. “I’m jealous. What you and Temperance have? It’s the reason we draw breath. You screw this up, Booth, and it will be worse than any hell God can dream up for you.” (Aldo, The Woman in White)
  57. “I would wear elephant tusks on my head and have a squirrel monkey do the ceremony if that’s what you wanted.” (Booth to Brennan,The Woman in White)
  58. “…If I ever get out of here, I will find a time and a place to tell you that you make my life messy and confusing, and unfocused, and irrational. And wonderful. This is that time. This is that place.” (Brennan,The Woman in White)
  59. “What do you think happens now?”
    “Everything that happens next.” (Booth and Brennan, The Woman in White)
  60. “I told Angela that it was your idea that I should go, and she feels bad that she hated you. I told her that you were the best person ever, even though that can’t be confirmed empirically, but I don’t give a crap.” (Drunk Brennan to Booth,The Mystery in the Meat.)
  61. Booth comforts Brennan after her nightmare. (The Ghost in the Killer)
  62. “If you don’t trust the evidence that Trent killed himself, then I don’t trust the evidence.”
    “That’s it?”
    “That’s it. Now take a bite of that sandwich and eat up. It’s good.”
    “You know me better than I know myself.”
    “I do.” (Booth and Brennan,The Ghost in the Killer)
  63. “Sometimes you just have to dance to the music that’s playing.” (Booth to Brennan, Big in the Philippines
  64. “Angela would say a husband traditionally buys his wife flowers.”
    “Yeah, that’s true. But this is not for my wife. This is for my partner…who I occasionally kiss.” (Booth and Brennan, The Source in the Sludge)
  65. “We’re symbiotic. Like a clown fish and a sea anemone.”
    “What are you talking about? Nemo? That doesn’t sound very romantic.”
    “I disagree. You and I, we’re bound to one another. So much so that I don’t feel I could survive without you. You nurture me, you protect me. You’re my home. If I were to damage that by a meaningless dalliance, it would be like killing myself. Something I would never do.” (Booth and Brennan, The Repo Man in the Septic Tank)
  66. “I’m not asking you. I’m telling you.”
    “I hate you for telling me to walk away.”
    “Bones…I love you.”
    “Don’t you die, okay?” (Booth and Brennan, The Recluse in the Recliner.)
  67. “I’m new to blackmailing, but I think I’ve covered it all.” (Brennan to the prosecutor, The Conspiracy in the Corpse)
  68. Booth leaves jail. (The Conspiracy in the Corpse)
  69. Booth and Brennan clasp hands for strength before Sweets’ autopsy begins (The Conspiracy in the Corpse)
  70. “I just want this to stop.”
    “It will.” (Booth and Brennan, at the end of their fight, The Lance to the Heart)
  71. Booth and Brennan figure out where the papers are. (The Lance to the Heart)
    (Commentary: This is still a candidate for my favorite scene of the two of them from the entire series. I love how they trade ideas back and forth, racing to the answer.)

  72. “It’s a weird combination, but it works.”
    “Like us.” (Brennan and Booth, The Purging of the Pundit)
  73. “Don’t ever let me take any of this for granted, Bones, how lucky we are.” (Booth to Brennan, The Lost Love in the Foreign Land)
  74. “I have you now. I can tell you how scared I am.”
    “Scared? You?”
    “Yes, me. The reason I convinced myself I wasn’t as pregnant as I am is …I just kept thinking the more our family grows, the more we have to lose.”
    “On the flip side, we have more to gain. Hey. We’re gonna be fine, Bones.”
    “What, faith?”
    “Love. Lots of love. Come on. Come on over here.”
    “I’ll take love.”
    “All right. I’ll give you love.” (Booth and Brennan, The Lost in the Found)
  75. “I completely lost track of time.”
    “We’ve been here for two hours.”
    “That explains the nasty looks from people who wanted our table.” (To diner at large.) “You can’t eat pie fast or you’ll cramp. That is a science.”
    “Some day I would love to live in a world governed by your rules of physics.”
    “You will. Someday you will. Very soon.” (Diner scene, The Light in the Life)
  76. “The rational side of me needs to know that that is true, empirically. But statistically, that’s impossible. Life is essentially uncertain.”
    “No guarantees.”
    “That’s right. And if we try to be certain before we act, we never act.”
    “What are you saying, Bones?”
    “I’m saying…I have faith in you, Booth. And I think you should stay the night with me.” (The Life in the Light)
  77. “Look, this is important work, or don’t you think so, anymore?”
    “Of course I think so. But there are other important things we could do that won’t get us killed.”
    “No one’s getting killed.”
    “That’s what you always say before the shooting starts.” (Booth and Brennan, The Next in the Last)
  78. Or we could just have the baby, and live our lives, and be happy.” (Booth, The Next in the Last)
  79. I’m not leaving until these bones lead me to wherever the hell my husband is.” (Brennan, Loyalty in the Lie)
  80. “I want you to know that I’m going back to my old job at the Jeffersonian. I think you should go back to yours as well.”
    “Time out. We can’t do that. We both decided that we were going to stop doing this together. We quit our jobs. We’re done.”
    “If you’re done, Booth, why am I sitting with you in a hospital room? You’ve always done this. Risked your life for the sake of others. The army, the FBI…”
    “I can change.”
    “I don’t want you to. Booth, you are the most bravest, selfless man I have ever met. As much as I hate seeing you here in pain and suffering, I also know this is who you genuinely are.” (The Brother in the Basement)
  81. “Girl really loves her brother, doesn’t she?”
    “Yes, she does.” (The Donor in the Drink)
  82. “I just want you to be you. That’s all I need.” (Booth, The Senator in the Street Sweeper)
  83. “Did you ever think you’d have an amazing, great husband like me and three beautiful kids who love you?”
    “That was an unlikely turn of events.”
    “Anything is possible. Angela and Hodgins, they love each other. They’re strong, okay? They’re going to get through this.” (Booth and Brennan, The Death in the Defense)
  84. “Don’t you even want to try and talk this out?”
    “Why would I? You’re not an expert in this field.”
    “Field? In what field? Listening to you? Cause trust me, no one has logged more hours.” (Booth and Brennan, The Nightmare with the Nightmare)
  85. “Stop talking” – Booth and Brennan hug, The Hope in the Horror
  86. “The unexpected happened. He fell in love.” (Brennan, The New Tricks in the Old Dogs)
  87. “You know, Booth’s not going anywhere.” (Sully, The Grief and the Girl)
  88. “Without Sully, I don’t think I would have been ready for you. For this. And because of that, I’ll always be grateful to him because I love this. I love you.”
    “I love you, Bones. Always.” (The Grief and the Girl)
  89. “We’ve got this. I love you.” (Booth, to Brennan in The Steal in the Wheels)
  90. “I’m glad you’re here.” (The Day in the Life)

Bones Farewell: For the Love of Temperance Brennan

Today, I’m turning to Brennan, and for those keeping score, no, I don’t know how to say goodbye to her, either.

I remember the scenes – the exact moments – I fell in love with them. Booth edged her out by about six episodes: he owned me when he rescues her in Two Bodies in the Lab; my heart was hers when she turns to him in the barn in The Woman in Limbo. It’s not that I didn’t like her before that (I did!) but that’s the point when I became fully committed to them and obsessed with their story.

The problem is that I don’t even know how to approach a farewell post for her. I’ve spent most of the day tracing through her character arc, thinking about how we saw her change over the years (which is one of my favorite parts of the show) only to realize that even if I split the post into two days, it was going to give War and Peace a run for its money on the word front. Seriously, I know I get wordy, but four thousand words for only part of Brennan’s story is just silly.

So I’m starting over, hoping to cover the gist of it without getting carried away. (Yeah, I hear you laughing from way over here.)

One more comment before I dig in: I don’t think there’s another character on TV who’s viewed in so many different ways by the audience. In fact, I’ve had discussions with fans over the years where it felt like we were talking about two wholly different people. This is due to our own histories, I’d say, and what we bring of ourselves to interpretation, but it guarantees that what I say here in terms of how I saw her probably isn’t going to work for everyone. That’s fine – you’re not wrong. This is just what I see, and why.

My big picture view of Brennan is that she’s a woman who feels deeply (or, as Angela says in the pilot, she ‘connects too much,’) but has some trouble processing those feelings. Due to a tragic childhood, she’d found it largely easier not to even try to understand emotions, instead taking refuge in reason. When we first meet her, she values friendship, but is distrustful of love, and her difficulties with processing emotions mean that while she’s deeply compassionate, she doesn’t always know how to express it.

With Shawn, in A Boy in a Bush

In other words, she’s an incredibly complex character. I think it’s easy to point to one thing and say, ‘this is Temperance Brennan,’ while wholly missing all the other facets of who she is.  Case in point: I think three separate issues stood between her and a happily ever after with Booth:

  1. She’s not sure love exists. Like emotions in general, she finds it largely inexplicable, and thus much easier to ascribe to chemistry.
  2. If it does exist, she’s not sure she wants to take a personal chance on it. Abandoned at an early age by people who loved her, she figures if she never risks love, she’ll never face that kind of loss again.
  3. She doesn’t trust her own ability to love. When we first meet her, she’s managing friendship with Angela, and cares about Zack and Hodgins. But her ‘most meaningful relationships are with dead people,’ and she’s not convinced she’s got anything else to offer. She’s wrong, but it’s a deeply held belief.

So…three different areas requiring growth. When the show begins, she knows she wants to experience life outside the lab, but wants to do so on her own terms, careful not to take emotional risks.

What I see in the first three seasons are that she resolves her past by reconciling with Max and Russ at the same time she’s forming an emotionally intimate bond with Booth, in the context of their made-from-scratch family.  But I don’t think she has a clue that what she’s experiencing is intimacy.

You know that lovely letter she writes to him in Aliens in a Spaceship? Although during their wedding, she described it as something she wrote to someone she loved, I think when she actually wrote it, she didn’t view it as love. (Mostly because that was two full seasons prior to telling Booth that she wanted to believe love was transcendent and eternal.)

Then there was this exchange with Angela, in The Hero in the Hold:

“Somebody you love is buried alive. You’re allowed to save them no matter how irrational.
“I don’t love Booth.”
“Yes you do. So do I. So do all of us.”

I think that moment gave her more to think about, and led to her deciding to have Booth’s baby. She wanted love, wanted a family, but didn’t want to risk the real thing, and that was the way to do it. The fact that she dropped the idea as fast as she did when he changed his mind supports that, I think.

So what about the coma dream?

I’ve always viewed it as a shared experience, and while not actually real for the characters, it was every bit as revealing as if the two of them had sat down and told one another a fantasy story about a life together outside their normal routine. (Unlike The 200th in the 10th, which, while I also loved it, was wholly an alternate reality.)

Brennan, crime novelist, creates the structure of the story, builds the characters out of the people they know; Booth runs with it, filling in the details and fully imagining what it would be like to be married to her, to make love to her, to experience that moment when she tells him she’s pregnant.

I think the point for Brennan was that she was ‘trying on a relationship with Booth.’ She gave herself permission to imagine what it would be like – including his reassuring her imaginary self of his love. And the result? It frightens her. In the context of having a bad scare about losing him, she could imagine it too well, so she deleted the whole thing.

But for Booth? Dreams can feel very real. The whole point is that when you’re in them, the nonsensical often makes sense, and he wakes up feeling like he’s lost something precious. For a little while, he had what he wanted most – a full life with Brennan – and coming back to the reality where she was still running from those feelings was hard.

But however it happened, by the time The Dentist in the Ditch came along, she’d become convinced that love was real…but not for her. That third part of the puzzle that is Brennan – her faulty view of self where she thought she didn’t have sufficient capacity to love – was still in play, and that’s why she turns him down in The Parts in the Sum of the Whole.

“You’re the one who needs protecting…from me. I don’t have your kind of open heart.”

Psychological truth: if we have a wrong view of ourselves, we don’t change that view just because someone we love disagrees with us. It takes work to internalize a new understanding of ourselves. In other words, there is nothing Booth could have said or done here that would have changed this outcome.

So she tells him no. But because she does love him, much more than she understands, she asks if they can still work together. And Booth says yes. I think that’s possibly the single most important thing he ever says, and while the show never explicitly said so, I think it’s rooted in a promise he made to himself years earlier that he would never walk away from her. That no matter what, he would never be the next person in her life to abandon her.

But he warns her that he has to move on in the sense of trying to find someone who will love him, and honestly, I’ve always thought her ready agreement was because she truly doesn’t understand what’s already between them. I think she’s been telling herself (and everyone else who’d listen) that they were partners, by which she meant friends for so long because she wholly believes it.

The following weeks are stressful and awkward, and Brennan finally does what we’ve seen her do before: she runs. But this time, Booth does, too, in an opposite direction. They both needed time and space, not just away from one another, but from the life they’d been living together.

And while they’re gone, everything changes.

I’ve written reams on Hannah in the past, but for this post, I’m going to bottom-line it: I think the primary thing Hannah did was allow Brennan to realize she was capable of loving Booth, of being good for him. While season six was airing, I noticed three moments that I thought important:

  • In The Maggots in the Meathead, she – not the woman he’s in a relationship with – knows the perfect gift to give him; she then warns Hannah, ‘to be sure, as Booth will give himself to you completely and it would be very painful for him if you’re not as serious as he is.’
  • In The Bones that Weren’t, she suggests Hannah should be careful about the stories she pursues in the future, due to how her death would affect Booth. This is a tricky one, admittedly, because Brennan would probably not take her own advice. But still: the woman concerned about how Hannah’s career affects him is not Hannah. (Booth, of course, would not be surprised by that at all. It was Brennan who needed to see it.)
  • In The Daredevil in the Mold, the woman who’s always run in the past, stays. What’s going on in Booth would be a different post [spoiler: I believe it’s possible to love more than one person at a time] but at the heart of it, he dares her to leave, and she refuses to go.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched S6, but my memory is that there were other, similar moments, and they all added up to the same thing: the woman who didn’t think she had an open heart was more concerned about him than was the woman he proposed to.  That’s not a slam against Hannah, who cared enough about Booth to break her personal rule about returning to the U.S., But it was something Brennan needed to see and understand.

You can’t be in a relationship with someone if you don’t think you’re capable of giving them what they need.

There’s a lot of “three steps forward, two steps back” for her, all through the series, causing people to puzzle over her saying, ‘I don’t want to have any regrets’ in The Doctor in the Photo, and then indicating she’s still not completely ready in The Blackout in the Blizzard. I never minded that, though. I thought it realistic with how we change (slowly!) in real life, and the point has always been steady movement forward.

I’ve always viewed the scene at the end of The Blackout in the Blizzard is the moment they ‘got together,’ by the way. They made a commitment to each other and even included a ritual. And the episodes between that and The Hole in the Heart all felt to me like relationship moments. (Might be just me on that one, but if you watch those eps from the perspective of a couple who are exploring what it means to be a couple, it’s a different dynamic than prior to Blackout.)

And all of that was a framework for what happened in The Hole in the Heart. They were already a couple in every way but the physical, and both understood that that was the case. So when they did make love in the midst of grief, it didn’t change everything – because everything had already changed.

Then came the pregnancy, and more growth for Brennan. The Memories in the Shallow Grave is one of my favorites of season seven, because we see her struggling so hard to reconcile the love she feels for him with her fears. (See? Still with the Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back, and I love it.)

(Don’t get me wrong: there were changes there for Booth, too, but this post is mostly about Brennan. Mostly.)

Over the next three seasons, we see her continue to work that out within the context of their love. They navigate the consequences of her going on the run with Christine; a year later, she chooses to trust him, despite the broken engagement. Then they marry, and, lucky, lucky fandom are we, we get three years’ worth of ‘everything that happens next.’

Some of that isn’t so good, and that’s when we see the beautiful strength that is Temperance Brennan:

  • The woman who blackmails a federal prosecutor to save him
  • The woman who makes love to him, post-jail
  • The woman who gives Cam the strength to autopsy Sweets
  • The woman who prevents Booth from killing an innocent man
  • The woman who never gives up on him when he has the gambling relapse
  • The woman who understands before he does that they’d made a mistake in leaving their jobs

She is all of those women, and I think it’s because of what we saw in seasons 1-9 (which, in the way we give and take with people we love, influencing and being influenced by them, means Booth was instrumental in helping her become the woman who then figured so centrally in saving him in S10.)

By the way…that, too, is one of the things I love about the show: they rescue each other. In the retrospective, Hart talks about promising Emily that Booth would not always be rescuing Brennan, and yeah, when it comes down to it, I think she’s rescued him just as often as he has her, and in just as many ways.

One of the things I’m most curious about is what the finale will add to the story of Brennan’s journey. I may have to post the actual long version of this, after all. 😉

Tomorrow: Scenes from a Life Shared

Bones Farewell: An Ode To Seeley Booth

I said when I started these posts that I was doing so because I didn’t know how to say goodbye to the show.

I really don’t know how to say goodbye to Booth and Brennan, so I began my prep for this one by spending several hours re-watching favorite moments. I still don’t know how to say goodbye, but I’ve got a fresh reminder on how much I love them, so I’m going to tell you about it.

At one point, I was silly enough to think I could combine everything I love about both of them into one post, and, well, no. (Stop that. Stop laughing.) So today, I’m focusing on Booth, tomorrow will be Brennan.

We’ve heard a number of characters on the show describe Booth as a good man, which is absolutely and irrefutably true, but it strikes me as inadequate. The terms that are lodged in my brain next to Seeley Booth are: “noble, honorable, loyal, dutiful, compassionate, responsible, intuitive, optimist, religious, leader, protective, determined.” By the way, the optimism is important: it saves him from being grim. The heavy load he carries is balanced by his ability to experience joy.


With that as a launching point, I’m going to highlight a few of the moments that shaped my view of Booth. Note that I’m saving some other scenes that probably feel like they should be here for a post about his relationship with Brennan. (Look for that on Monday.)

“Being a sniper, I took a lot of lives. What I’d like to do before I’m done is try and catch at least that many murderers.” (Pilot)

He kills because it’s necessary, but there’s a cost. Human life is still human life, however warped and dangerous to others it’s become, and that never stops mattering to him.

“I’m gonna need your help to keep the promises she made to that boy.” (To the prosecutor, after Brennan makes promises in his name to Shawn, A Boy in a Bush.)

There are two aspects to this for me: the first is that I’m convinced he would have had the same response to anyone making that kind of promise in his name to a child. Keeping his word matters to Booth – even if he’s not the one who gave it.

The second is that he understood Brennan was trusting him to do exactly that, and I think he would have crawled through fire rather than let her down, even at this early stage of their relationship.

This scene (from The Woman in the Garden:)

He does what he needs to do to protect her.  I’ve seen fan discussions about why he didn’t tell Brennan, but I think it was pretty simple: in this instance, at least, her feelings about it were irrelevant. Her physical safety came first, and he didn’t believe there was any other way of guaranteeing it.

“Sir, you can’t go in there.” (The hapless person at the New Orleans hospital who tries in vain to keep Booth from the injured Brennan in The Man in the Morgue.)

He doesn’t play by the rules when someone he cares about is in trouble; for that matter, he doesn’t listen to Brennan herself telling him not to come to Louisiana. While we most often see that aspect of his character play out in respect to Brennan, it’s equally true of everyone he cares about.

Booth calls to take Brennan off the court roster when he identifies the victim as Christine Brennan (The Woman in Limbo)

It took me a long time to understand why I reacted so positively to that moment, but I finally figured out it was because there’s something wonderful about another person having your back, even if you don’t strictly need them to do so.

Caretaking while respecting another person’s ability to take care of themselves is a tricky balance, but Booth does it. Does he make a decision here without consulting her? Yes, and there are other times when we see her object to his doing so. But it’s simple to him: his doing what he can to take care of her doesn’t negate her independence.

Booth explains making love to Brennan (The Death in the Saddle)

“Here we are, all of us, basically alone, separate creatures just circling each other, all searching for that slightest hint of a real connection. Some look in the wrong places. Some, they just give up hope because in their mind, they’re thinking “Oh, there’s nobody out there for me.” But all of us, we keep trying, over and over again. Why? Because, every once in a while… every once in a while, two people meet, and there’s that spark. And yes, Bones, he’s handsome, and she’s beautiful, and maybe that’s all they see at first. But making love… making love… that’s when two people become one.”

While it’s clear from his relationships on the show that he’s no prude, this scene demonstrates that Booth has a high view of sex (in contrast to current cultural trends.) He sees it not just a source of physical release; it’s the ultimate way two people connect.

“I blame me, too.” (To Teddy’s ghost, about why he doesn’t try to talk to Claire, The Hero in the Hold)

He takes his responsibility for others seriously, but he doesn’t accept false guilt. Teddy’s death was on him; Vincent Nigel-Murray’s was not. The fact that he’s clear-minded enough to sort through the differences matters – and reveals another aspect of strength in the character.

His words to Clinton (The Salt in the Wounds)

“Your children, your responsibility. And what you do about that will define what kind of man you are. If you ignore that, ignore your children? That’s exactly what you’re going to become.”

It’s not just his belief that a man takes responsibility for his kids; it’s that Booth takes the time to explain it to Clinton. His sense of responsibility for others extends far and wide, and is one of the things I love the most about him.

Aside #1: The Critic in the Cabernet is one of my favorite episodes, but the first time I saw it, I was shouting at the computer, upset at the idea that Booth would give Brennan a baby and then walk away. My faith was justified when he said, ‘I can’t do it.’

Aside #2: Sometimes I wonder what kinds of stories could be told about the characters who have passed through these characters’ lives. Was Clinton changed by his encounter with Booth? Inquiring minds want to know.

Don’t separate Booth from his people (The Proof in the Pudding):

Okay, I’m never going to watch this scene again and not think of the end of The Day in the Life, but it doesn’t change what it meant when it happened: The team is his, they’re his people, and you separate him from them at your peril. Loyalty, commitment, responsibility, thy name is Seeley.

His leadership over the team as they flounder in the wake of Vincent’s murder (The Hole in the Heart)

“Guys, just listen to me a second here. I’ve lost friends in war…let’s take a little time and then like Bones says, tomorrow we’ll get this son of a bitch.”

Repeatedly, we see what a good leader he is. No grandstanding, no posturing, just him helping them get to what comes next.  Here, he gives them the emotional resources they need to cope with what’s happened, then promises that the next day, they’ll get justice for Vincent.

We see the same thing in The Corpse on the Canopy, when he sets the parameters for how they’ll respond to Pelant. In that instance, they’re not happy about it (at least Hodgins isn’t) but they trust him enough to go along with what he says.

Delivering Christine in a barn (The Prisoner in the Pipe):

A barn instead of a hospital is not his first choice. So not. But Booth faces whatever life throws at them without flinching, whether it’s their daughter being born in a barn or a strike team attacking their house. Faces it and does whatever comes next.

He never stops being a caretaker, even to the point of taking care of Brennan’s emotional needs, should he die. (His recording for Christine, The Twist in the Plot)

“I’m the luckiest man in the world because I got to spend time with your mother, and with you…Help your mom to be happy. Because if she’s alone? She’s going to forget.”

He finds a way to get justice for Sari (The victim in The Source in the Sludge):

Booth believes in the system, but that hinges on the system being just. When the government turns a blind eye to justice for Sari, he finds another way.

We see at other points in the show his awareness that sometimes, what’s right happens outside the system, or in spite of it: he respects Max’s personal code despite it resulting in the death of the deputy director of the FBI, and his assessment of the killer in The Nail in the Coffin is, “Yeah, but who he killed… In the old west, they’d have made him a sheriff.

Torching Jared’s Body, (The Brother in the Basement)

“You’re right. Everything’s got to go. But you’re not the one who’s going to do it.”

I didn’t realize when I started this post how many of the things I’ve loved about Booth have grown out of his sense of responsibility for others, but when I’ve looked at exactly why I love them, that’s what it comes down to.

He’s spent his entire life trying to take care of Jared, to the point that his own life is now at risk. Jared’s dead, there’s nothing left to do for him…except this: someone who loves him will be the one to burn his remains.

Hodgins’ recognition that Booth is in a unique class in respect to his honor, integrity, and love of country (High Treason in the Holiday Season)

I know I keep mentioning this scene, but I love so hard the fact that the others recognize Booth for what he is.

“I don’t think I’m qualified to decide the right thing to do with that. If anyone is…it’s you.”


What makes Booth truly compelling, though, is that we’ve seen it’s not easy being the man everyone looks to, the guy ‘who’s always there for friends and family,’ to quote Brennan.  He’s not Superman, not perfect, and in season ten, it all unraveled. He couldn’t get beyond his country’s betrayal, beyond Sweets’ death.

We saw the biggest contrast between who he is at the core and who he is when the addiction wins at the diner counter in The Woman in the Whirlpool. The man whose middle name is Responsible couldn’t – or wouldn’t – take responsibility for the danger he’d put his wife and daughter in.

It matters, because the good man that he is, is even more appealing now that we understand it could all be lost.


Tomorrow: An Ode to Temperance Brennan

Bones Farewell: It’s Complicated, Pt. 3: Angela and Hodgins

I’m resuming my farewell posts with a focus on Hodgins and Angela. I have to tell you, I’ve been emotional all week, but writing this one when my head is still firmly lodged in the last moments of The Day in the Life is hard!

But there’s so much story before where we are now, and I want to wallow in that for a bit.


For a number of seasons, I was quite conflicted about Angela. Even while I loved her for her loyalty to Brennan, at times she struck me as condescending, and for a long time, I felt like her relationship with Hodgins was uneven: I knew why he loved her, but not why she loved him.

To be clear, I’m not questioning his worth. But I wanted to see it from her POV, and in the early seasons, didn’t feel like I did. On the other hand, I wasn’t as bothered by her flirting with other guys, even after they were married, because whatever else Angela might be, she always struck me as too honest and direct to cheat.

In any respect, I didn’t mind that I didn’t always like her, because I think characters I love despite not always liking are more interesting than ones I never have an issue with at all.  But while Angela’s still the free spirit we first met, opinionated and direct (which is one of the things I think draws her and Brennan together) we’ve gradually been allowed to see more of the deeply compassionate woman she is at the core, and I kind of love that.

Despite Cam not making it easy, Angela was determined to catch her identity thief; she adopted Jessica when the co-operative disbanded, and she not only took on Daisy’s doula, but was clearly supporting her in other ways, given her knowledge of her plans to sell Sweets’ car in The Psychic in the Soup.

But on the female friendship front, it’s her relationship with Brennan that I’ve enjoyed the most, particularly over the last few years. We’ve seen them support one another through Booth’s gambling relapse and Hodgins’ paralysis, and I enjoy how often Angela is portrayed as being very wise. I don’t believe that’s an accident, by the way, and it’s not as if the other characters aren’t capable of moments of insight. But I think the show never stops trying to illustrate the beauty of different kinds of intelligence. Angela sees the world differently than Brennan, Hodgins, or Cam, and while we need their rational approach, we also need the more-grounded-in-emotions take we get from her.

There are dozens of moments I’ve loved in this respect, but I think perhaps my favorite is this exchange from The Woman in White:

“Did you even look at the hair comb I gave you? It meant a lot for me to give that to you.”
“My feelings…they’re a jumble. But this case is something I understand.”
“You understand happy, right? Go with that.”

I think I like the scene as much as I do because it highlights her directness, especially when her own feelings are involved, as well as her love and understanding of Brennan.

As to Hodgins, it’s not that I didn’t think she loved him; I assumed she did. But I’m used the show showing me things, rather than asking me to take them on faith. And beginning in about season nine, I started to see it:

  • I promise you, she was a lot more accepting than I would have been of a husband incubating a bot fly in his neck: “We’re all a little crazy, and your crazy just happens to come out in a bizarre and revolting way. I actually think it’s kind of sweet, that you want to give life to that …thing.” (The Dude in the Dam)
  • This, which is one of my favorite scenes between them, ever:
    “All these major life changes happen, and you’ve never once complained, or fallen apart, or felt sorry for yourself. You took it in stride.”
    “I don’t understand.”
    “Not many people could deal with what you have. And then there are these 360 million year old creatures who have stayed the course, just like you, no matter what evolution threw at them. It makes sense that you’d take a shine to them.”
    “They are pretty special, huh?”
    “Just like you.” (The Source in the Sludge)
  • Her decision not to go to Paris in The Next in the Last:
    “One condition.”
    “We don’t leave the Jeffersonian. You keep doing what you do.”
    “But Paris…we agreed.”
    “No, you agreed, because you’re wonderful. But I saw you with that crazy machine, and …your life is here. For now. And I’m okay with it, as long as I’m with you.”
  • Her commitment to him despite the abuse he heaped on her after he was paralyzed.

Thinking about her this week, I was struck by the journey she’s been on throughout the seasons of the show. In some ways, she was always odd-man out in the lab. While I think finding justice for murder victims was important to her, science was less so, and she struggled with reconciling the woman who wanted to be an artist with the woman who was good at facial reconstructions and convincing technology to give up its secrets to her.

Right from the beginning we saw that tension, and it continued through mid-season 11. After years of struggling with having a place at the lab she wasn’t sure she wanted, she found her artist self in her photography.  Although that’s taken a bit of a back seat recently, I was struck by what she says to Brennan at the end of The Radioactive Panthers in the Party:

“How important do you think it is for us to love what we do?”
“It’s important, but it’s not everything. Most people don’t love their job. They don’t even like them. They do them because they have to.”

It’s interesting to me that there’s no sense of self in her remarks. She’s reporting something she’s observed about other people (wise Angela again!) but isn’t talking about herself, at least not obviously.

That was followed by what she said to The Day in the Life: “I used to spend so much time looking back and thinking: what if I had made other choices? And then I realized I love my life…the way it is. Live for right now. That’s the only thing you can do.

From the woman who periodically resented the fact that her temporary job at the Jeffersonian hadn’t turned out to be temporary to the woman who says simply, “I love my life the way it is,” is a pretty amazing story to have seen.


Hodgins, however, I’ve always loved.  To co-opt an out-of-context Booth-quote, “I knew. Right from the beginning.”

The bug and slime guy has a temper, yes, but he’s also passionate, curious, funny, and smart.  (Well, okay, he’s also fond of bugs and creepy crawlies that I don’t find endearing, but…no one is perfect.)

Hodgins comes very close, though, particularly the way he combines romanticism and rational scientist.  I commented in yesterday’s review that the guys on the show are more romantic than the women, and should qualify that: I meant that I think the guys are more traditionally romantic. The women more than hold their own, but their expressions of love are often less typically romantic.

I also love Hodgins for what he values. A billionaire multiple times over when we meet him, it’s clear nearly immediately that his heart is truly with his science, and while he’s willing to use the money to make others happy (i.e., the expensive perfume he’s purchased for Angela in Aliens in a Spaceship) he’s simply not about the money.

Any heroic character worth their salt would have done what he did when he sacrificed his fortune to save a girls’ school on the other side of the world; his refusal to keep the money when Angela recovers it two years later is when we see what he’s really made of, and his simple, “As long as a person has enough, they don’t need more” is still one of my favorite quotes on the show.

The fact that Angela is fine with all of that is another reason why they fit so well together. (And, for my friends who read JD Robb, I think when she says to him in The Next in the Last, “I found your money,” she’s being very Eve Dallas-like. It was never hers, she never wanted it, never mind that they’d been married well over two years when Pelant stole it.)

But Hodgins’ view of money isn’t the only reason I love him. Watching him deal with the paralysis has been one of my favorite arcs over the past two seasons, partly due to how TJ Thyne played it, and partly due to the fact that the whole story – especially his anger – felt so emotionally authentic to me. (In that sense, I’m so glad they didn’t reverse it. That would lessened the impact of his victory.)

I realized a view weeks ago that I no longer really ‘see’ the wheelchair. It’s part of him, but not something I think about when he’s on-screen. (Instead, more than once, I’ve been startled to see him walk in a pre-Doom in the Boom episode!) I think that’s great storytelling.

Angela and Hodgins:

While I love them both separately, I love them together more. I remember commenting on this when The Movie in the Making aired, but I very much like how in sync they are with what they say about the type of people they want to be:

“I want to be somebody who sees the beauty in the world and is able to share it with those around her.” (Angela)

“I want to be someone who never stops looking.” (Hodgins)

There was so much more I could have said about these two, but this post is already silly long, so I’m going to end with what I see as the key moments in their relationship:

  • “I’m nuts about Angela. Over the moon. Stupid in love with her.” (Hodgins, Aliens in a Spaceship)
  • Hodgins spells out “Be My Love” in glowing shrimp: (The Glowing Bones in the Old Stone House)
  • Angela and Hodgins’ jailhouse wedding. (The Witch in the Wardrobe)
  • The birth of Michael Vincent. (The Change in the Game)
  • You said you were comfortable with what we have.”
    “I know I did. I know, Angie, but after what happened yesterday, I realized that there’s still so much in life I want to experience with you, you know? And I don’t want to die. I want to keep growing. The only way for me to do that is to get out of my comfort zone.”
    “Well…let’s keep growing.” (Angela and Hodgins, The Doom in the Boom)

    “Let’s keep growing.”

  • “I know you’re essential to the team. I never doubted that. But you’re essential to me, too.”
    “What do you love about me?”
    “So much.  You’re passionate and you’re open-minded, and you’re curious. And you’re so smart.”
    “Well, my work at the lab makes me those things. And without it? I don’t know how to be the man you fell in love with.”
    “Okay. Wow, that was persuasive.”(Angela, Hodgins, The Death in the Defense)

    “Without it? I don’t know how to be the man you fell in love with.”

  • “We’re broken. And it’s my fault. Because I am miserable. And what’s worse is I’m making you miserable.”
    “So change. I know that this is painful for you. And I know that you think that I couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like. But this is life. It’s hard. And it’s painful. And it is every day. But we fight. We fight together.”
    “This is my decision.”
    “No. This is a coward’s decision. I am not letting you make it.” (Hodgins, Angela, Last Shot at a Second Chance)

Finally…I keep thinking about the end of The Day in the Life, (you can’t be surprised by that, right?) when they’re both so much who they are, together: he stays (and, not for the first time, saves Booth’s life, as I don’t think Booth would have found the bomb in time without him, and being right on top of it would not have ended well); and Angela? She’s right there beside him.

It’s a perfect snapshot of who they are, as couples and family.

Tomorrow: It’s Complicated, pt.4: Booth and Brennan