Fan Review: The End in the End (Bones)

Well.

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)

B&B

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

Fan Review: The Day in the Life (Bones)

If this post turns out to be anything other than incoherent gibberish, it will be a miracle.

I think it’s a plot, where the executive producers had a pow-wow and decided that if they killed off the fandom in the penultimate episode, there wouldn’t be anyone left to weep after the end of the finale.

(Too melodramatic? Oh, very well…)

As a starting point, let me say that I don’t generally enjoy ’24 Hours Earlier’ plots. I may enjoy the story in spite of it, but the structure itself doesn’t do much for me, no matter what show it is.

This is the exception. I loved it, and from now on until forever, I’ll be measuring any show’s use of that structure against this episode of Bones.

I think the problem is that often, there doesn’t seem to be a point to it beyond upping tension – the viewer starts out knowing that something horrible is going to happen, but not how, and then the story progresses in a fairly linear way from that.  It wouldn’t be significantly different if we didn’t have that ’24 Hours Earlier’ teaser.  But here, I felt like the interwoven stories building to the explanation of the bomb in the beginning wouldn’t have made as much sense without that prologue.

In other words, I loved the interwoven stories told from the main six characters’ viewpoints, and thought the plotting on this was brilliant.

So well done, in fact, that I’m going to follow that structure with this post, commenting on what struck me in each section.

Cam:

  • I like that we’re seeing the reception rather than the wedding itself. I know I’m biased, but I don’t think any show can top Booth and Brennan’s wedding, even Bones. Focusing on the reception gives us the romance as well as plenty of opportunity for all kinds of interaction among the characters, all the while laying the groundwork for plots that will be fleshed out as we go along.
  • Interns, who are no longer interns! That broke my heart a little, but I’m so happy so many of them were able to be there.
  • After thinking about it for two days, I believe my favorite moment from this section was with Brennan. I kind of love that Brennan’s in charge of the gifts, for one thing, but I also liked the conversation about Cam’s replacement as Jeffersonian administrator. It’s interesting, but my knee-jerk response was not that the ‘obvious choice’ was Brennan herself. Not because she couldn’t do it, but because I’m not sure she’d want to be distracted from the science by cat-herding. Upon further thought, though, I think Cam’s follow-up line of ‘it’s just something to think about,’ indicates it is Brennan.
  • Whatever happens next week, the reality they’re talking about here is gone, but it’s interesting to imagine that future, where Brennan is in charge. For a while now, the show’s been finding ways to highlight her growth, and that’s another one. Brennan wouldn’t have been a good administrator when Goodman hired Cam instead, but now? I think she could rock it. She’d do so differently from Cam, but no less successfully, including being there for her people.
  • We see Booth looking troubled, the first clue in the chain that leads to the bomb. But when Cam asks about it, he focuses on her, and then we get this, which is simply lovely:
    “Arastoo’s a great guy.”
    “If we are half as happy as you and Brennan, I will consider it a success.”

  • I love the fact that the kids are all at the reception, and everyone’s watching out for them. It takes a village, indeed, and Christine, Hank, and Michael Vincent are surrounded by people who love them. In that sense, one of my favorite moments from the entire episode is this one:
  • After the reception: Not that I would have expected anything else, but I like so much that there’s not the slightest hint of hesitation from either Cam or Arastoo the next morning, when they’re called in. They know they wouldn’t be if it something hadn’t seriously gone pear-shaped, so they go from enjoying sleeping in to alert mode in a nano-second.
  • 2nd clue in the bomb thread: Michelle found Cam’s purse and has it with her.

HODGINS:

  • Lots of fun call backs at this point: Pookie Noodlin, Bunsen Jude.
  • Zack’s trial: I nailed what Caroline was doing, and was quite proud of myself. I was with Hodgins, though, on being baffled as to the logic of the prosecution’s argument that leaving Zack in prison for life, even if he didn’t kill anyone, would somehow help the lobbyist’s family.
  • Body find: Hodgins sends Jessica off with Aubrey to force them to talk. Which is fun because he’s all about the romance. But it was also interesting to see him in charge of the intern in the field, too.
    Topic for discussion: The guys on the show are more romantic than the women. Discuss.


AUBREY:

  • He’s being an asshole, but at least it’s for a good reason: he’s nervous about asking Jessica to move with him.
  • I was wholly unimpressed with his response to finding himself in what he believed to be Karen’s bed, though his relief when Jessica walked in redeemed him a bit. I did love her casual, ‘Don’t be a pig’ in reaction to it.
  • Much to my surprise, I liked that Karen pushed him over the cliff with, “Aubrey has something to ask you.” Go, Karen.
  • Saved by the acid-covered body…but not for long, because now we see what happened after Hodgins sent them off together. He asks her to go with him, and we learn she’s been wondering if he would ask, but doesn’t have an answer yet.
  • Later in the day, she does: no.
  • I’m not convinced their story is over. While they may not end up getting back together, they were friends for too long for this to be the end. Plus? This face is too full of distress to be as sure as she’s trying to sound that there’s no future for them at all:
  • Meanwhile, we learn that a lot of very powerful explosives have gone missing, and Kovac has them.

ANGELA:

  • Avalon calls her. I loved the Avalon plot, more so because I’d assumed that she would be a guest at the wedding and while she would say something relevant to the larger situation, that she wouldn’t necessarily be integral to the plot. As always with this show, I enjoyed the surprise of being wrong.
  • Her parting comment to Angela, “Keep yourself safe, huh?” shows it’s not only Brennan she’s being psychic about.
  • After pointing Booth toward Avalon, Angela and Brennan have a girl moment with a call back to Angela dragging her dancing in S1’s The Man in the Wall. It’s wonderful, if bittersweet here at the end, to remember how long they’ve been friends and how much has changed for both of them since that point.
  • Also, the Brennan translation of “hos before bros” is awesome.
  • Aubrey asks Angela for advice, and we realize that he cares much more about Jessica going with him to LA than anyone – himself included – had understood. This was the only point where I was a little confused about sequence during my first watch, because I was thinking this came after she broke up with him. The fact that it doesn’t gives us insight not only into Aubrey at this point, in terms of what’s going to hit him later, but also a different take on what he was feeling when Jessica gave him her answer.
  • Hands down, my favorite quote from this episode came during that conversation with Aubrey: “Whatever happens, it’s gonna work out.  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.
  • Angela tells Brennan she’s pregnant, and if you want yet another reminder of how much growth we’ve seen in Temperance Brennan, watch – and contrast – this conversation with the one in The Mastodon in the Room where Angela told her she was pregnant with Michael Vincent. It’s fascinating to me to realize that in both scenes, Brennan feels perfectly ‘Brennan’ to me, and yet, they’re so very different. I love that so hard.

BRENNAN:

  • At Zack’s trial, we see yet another contrast between where Brennan is now vs. when we first met her: “It’s true he made mistakes, but I still believe in my heart that the world would only benefit from his return to society.” Seeing her deliberate use of ‘I believe in my heart’ in mindbogglingly wonderful.
  • I’d already figured out what Caroline was doing, but in the midst of the others believing she was throwing Zack under the bus, I thought it wonderful that Brennan understood what she was doing.
  • Speaking of Zack, I liked the way they resolved that. It felt fair to me, and also gives us a sense of Zack’s future: thirteen more months, and then the team will help him acclimate to a new life.
  • It’s not precisely a call back, because it’s something we’ve seen consistently over the seasons, but Brennan asking Arastoo to leave so she can study the bones by herself felt appropriate as they wrap things up, too. With all the changes we’ve seen, she’s still this Brennan:
  • But the key eludes her, and later, she says to Cam, “There’s something I’m missing. It’s like I see it, but I just need more time.
  • Booth interrupts her, and, frustrated over whatever it is she’s not quite seeing, she’s a little impatient with him at first. But he persists: “I just needed to see you, that’s all.” He sums up his worry with virtually the same line she’d just used with Cam: “We’re missing something here.” I love how in sync they are, even when it begins in different places.
  • Next clue in the bomb thread: he tells Cam he has her purse.

BOOTH: 

  • One of my favorite things about Booth is that he can be so grumpy about doing favors for people, and then does them anyway. He resents Avalon pulling him away from the party, but at the core of it, is too kindhearted to refuse her request. But by the end of their meeting, he’s plainly freaked out. Her parting comment – “Look for the signs” doesn’t help…
  • …Particularly when a bird flies into his window while he’s talking to Michelle.
  • Purse clue: we learn how the purse got from Michelle’s car to Booth. Bonus: we get to find out what Michelle’s future will be.
  • Hodgins further freaks Booth out with his interesting aside about the Black Witch moth – seen as a harbinger of death by some cultures.
  • And then, Christine tips him over the edge with “Mommy’s face is missing,” even though he knows the logical reason for it. “I’m gonna go to the lab.
  • Someone commented the other night that five of the main six were at the lab when it blew; Aubrey was not. But I like the fact that he’s with Christine and Hank. Earlier, there was a female agent watching them, too (she’s outside Booth’s office, goes in when he steps out) but…Aubrey is better. Plus, he has french fries.
  • And …thus we get back to the scene in Brennan’s office, with Booth showing her the cards he’d pulled from Avalon’s Tarot deck.
    “My gut is telling me that something is wrong. All right? We’re missing something. Is it so wrong that I wanted to be near you and see you?”
    “No. It’s not wrong. I’m glad you’re here.”
  • Angela interrupts them – she’s got a hit on Kovac’s phone. I like Brennan’s line here: “You have to go. I know you’re worried for my safety but the best thing you can do is catch him – this is what we do.” It is what they do, and understanding and accepting that has been another journey for both of them.
  • But the missing piece finally lands with a thud for Booth when Cam reveals she doesn’t have her security pass. In quick seconds we’re reminded why he is who he is, as he makes the leap that saves a lot of lives: the bomb is on the platform.
  • I’ve watched the last scene a dozen times now and it still leaves me breathless. I love Arastoo holding the doors apart; I love that Brennan’s figured out her missing piece at the same time Booth did, however different those pieces are. I love the call back to The Proof in the Pudding (there’s a reason Booth’s instinct is to reach for his weapon to shoot the doors; he’s the reason they’re now bulletproof.)
  • But what I love the most from the scene? As glad as I am that Cam and Arastoo made it out, I’m equally happy the other four are there together when everything goes to hell: That Booth won’t leave because he thinks there’s a chance he can disarm the bomb; that Brennan’s not leaving without him (so she might as well be practical and save the evidence); that Hodgins won’t leave because he can help Booth, and Angela’s not leaving without any of them.

The context is different, I know, but when I watch it, I recall this exchange from The Couple in the Cave:

“I mean, if you’re gonna go, it’s best to go with someone you love.”
“But he didn’t have to go. He could have walked farther and gotten help. At least one of them would have lived.”
“Well, he couldn’t leave her. That’s what love is.”

(boom….which is as much the sound of a fandom’s heart breaking as it is the destruction of the place they all call home.)

Bonus Quotes:

“I don’t want to pressure her to move her whole life. And to be honest with you, I’ve kind of been avoiding her.”
“Well at least you’re considering her point of view.”
“Which is a sign of a healthy relationship.”
“Of course, you’re also avoiding her, which isn’t.” (Aubrey, Hodgins, Karen, Caroline)

B&B

“Is there something else you need, or are you just not sure if you have to pee?” (Angela to an antsy Aubrey)

B&B

“Oh, looks like Hodgins got you, too.”
“Yeah, I guess you can say that.” (Aubrey and Angela with different takes on Hodgins-caused stomach disorders)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fan Review: The Radioactive Panthers in the Party (Bones)

I’ve now finished my re-watch of this, and I have Thoughts.

First, while I understand why people who watch only for Booth and Brennan didn’t care for this, that doesn’t make it a filler episode. (A comment I’ve seen bounced around.)  By any logical definition, ‘filler’ would be one that doesn’t further any plot arcs, or show any character development. While I think there have been a few standalone eps (as the show seems to prefer to call them) in the show’s twelve season run, there haven’t been any this season. Every episode has either been a farewell for one of the characters, been about Zack’s situation, or been part of the plot leading to the finale.

Both the stories here were important as part of wrapping up the show, and in terms of Brennan/Wendell, I’m still not convinced that was as cut and dried as it appeared. We spent most of the episode thinking that the passion for work issue was about Brennan rather than Wendell, which actually made a little sense to me. Loss of interest in a job or hobbies is often a symptom of grief, so I thought it might be something she was still coming back from in terms of Max’s death.

She not only discussed the topic with Dr. Mayer, but also with Angela, and hmm… Although it didn’t turn out to be about Max’s death, given what we’ve seen from promos about the finale, I’m wondering if it’s possible that some of this may yet turn out to be pertinent to Brennan. It will be interesting to see if that’s so.

Meanwhile, the conversation with Angela gave me something to think about in respect to my own life, which happens more often than seems reasonable for a crime procedural.

But as to Wendell…it occurred to me a few weeks ago that he’s the only one from the original group of squinterns who had not been shown as having made progress on his PhD. We saw Arastoo choose his dissertation topic in The Lost Love in the Foreign Land, and knew he graduated by the beginning of S11; season 9’s The Source in the Sludge told the story of Daisy failing her oral exams, but she’s now graduated and taken a job as lead forensic anthropologist at the National Forensic Lab.

Wendell hasn’t even started his dissertation yet. The assumption (well, on my part, anyway) is that he essentially took a year or so to fight cancer, and while that’s reasonable, he’s been cancer free since the beginning of S10.

Whether that lack of progression was mostly because they couldn’t figure out what story to tell that wouldn’t effectively write him off the show, or whether they’ve always had this one in the back of their minds, I don’t know. But when Brennan helped him see that maybe anthropology isn’t his passion, or, at least isn’t so now, my mind jumped back to Big in the Philippines.  Question: If Brennan were handed a cancer diagnosis with a low chance of survival, what would she do?

She’d go to work. She’d research options, and drive her doctors crazy, but she’d deal with the fear and thoughts about mortality by going to work – exactly what she said she’d need most if Booth died in The Brother in the Basement.

We’ve seen a similar work-is-the-answer response to life crises from some of the others, as well: for a while after he was paralyzed, work was the only thing Hodgins seemed to be living for, and even Clark, when Nora broke up with him, saw it as giving him more time to work the Ghost Killer case.

But Wendell? He was going to go to South America and have sex with as many women as possible.

I am NOT criticizing his choices there.  In fact, if I knew I had a year to live and the money to do so, travel would hit much higher (by a thousandfold or so) on my bucket list than going back to work.  But I think it illustrates that while he likes his job, it’s not his passion.

Plus? That kind of cancer diagnosis is life-changing, even if you survive it. I don’t know if they’re going to tell us where he winds up, but if they don’t? I’m going to imagine Wendell decides to go to med school and eventually become an oncologist. It’s not anthropology, and yeah, he’d be starting over, but he clearly has the science for it, not to mention an understanding of anatomy (and physiology, thanks to working as much with Cam as Brennan).

A couple of responses to comments I’ve seen in the wild:

Brennan didn’t fire him, and didn’t force him to quit. He explicitly asks if she’s firing him and she rushes to reassure him. Anyone who thinks she wouldn’t have simply said ‘Yes’ if that had been the case hasn’t actually met Temperance Brennan. This wasn’t a slap at him, but rather Brennan freeing him to find what will be his passion, all the while saying, ‘we’re still your family.’

(You already know how happy that reassurance made me, right?)

With Wendell, more than any of the other interns, we’ve seen her maternal side, and that’s what this was. There’s no question that he’d be a damned good forensic anthropologist, because she’s trained him. But she wants more than that for him – she wants him to be as happy in his work as she is in hers.

I’m also a little mystified by fans who feel like what happened here betrayed the community who funded his education. He’s still got the education, and if Brennan has anything to say about it – and she will – he’ll wind up making use of it in some way he’ll be even better at.

Aubrey’s story, on the other hand, is a puzzle in many ways. At the end of S10, he plainly takes over Booth’s job; at the start of S11, he’s in Booth’s office. When he gives it back to Booth, instead of going to the bullpen, he says he’s got “a corner office upstairs, with a view of the Mall,” at which point Booth calls him a big shot.

Since then, they’ve been partners, with Booth taking the lead on the cases and Aubrey deferring to him. I reconciled that by assuming they worked together because they wanted to, and that Aubrey deferred to him out of respect and because no matter how qualified and competent he is, there was always more to learn from Booth. But this episode suggests that Aubrey either wasn’t an SSA while Booth was gone, never mind the office, he took a demotion when Booth came back, or they’re both SSAs.

The truth, though, is that this isn’t the first time that the FBI has flexed in contradictory ways to allow for story in the Bones universe.  Sweets went through weapons certification and would do interrogations by himself all the time,…until they got to an episode where part of the tension was that Booth and Sweets had differing opinions about how to proceed, in which case he was suddenly just a shrink who had no business in the interrogation room.

So yeah, the actual plot of how Aubrey was sort of just newly tested for re-promotion into a position he held for a year and apparently gave up voluntarily doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but after years of similar twists with Sweets, I’m going to go with…Booth gave Aubrey a way of proving to the powers that be that he’s a good candidate for promotion to a better job, up the ladder in LA.

While there’s no question that Booth believes Aubrey is qualified, I think the conversation at Founding Fathers indicates that he did it out of friendship, even to the point of being conflicted about it (“…their pizza’s really bad. You know what, you shouldn’t take the job.”)

There’s one thing more in that conversation I want to draw attention to, and it’s at the end: Aubrey thanks him, and Booth, very serious, says, ‘Thank you’ in response. That intrigues me. Why is Booth thanking Aubrey?

I’m going to wander waaay off of what the episode actually gave us now, but I think it’s for Aubrey’s friendship in general.   Aubrey came into Booth’s life at the worst possible time – post-jail – and, since then, has walked through all kinds of nightmares with him (Sweets’ death, his gambling relapse, Jared’s death), never failing in his support.

In particular, the gambling relapse happened despite Aubrey’s best efforts to warn Booth, to protect him from scenarios where he might tempted. Aubrey’s response when it happened anyway? He simply worked to keep Brennan and Christine safe, including being the one to meet with Booth’s bookie with the payoff.

So I’m going to view that quiet ‘thank you’ as being for all of that: for being there for Brennan, for never once saying “I told you so,” for his support when Booth and Brennan were living apart, and for being there after Jared died.

I didn’t even know how much I needed to see something like that until they gave it to me. Thanks, show.

Bonus Quotes:

“Aw, come on, Bones. It’s too early for math. It’s too early.”
“It’s never too early for math.”
“Anything before 12:00 is too early, anything after 12:00 is too late.”
“That leaves no time for math.” (Booth, Brennan)

B&B

“Actually, they’re fascinating little creatures. Did you know their entire mating window is one hour a year?”
“By “fascinating” you mean “sad,” right?” (Dr. Mayer, Booth)

B&B

“How about ‘Hulk Bones: A study on the skeletal effects of incredible physical strength’?”
“That’s a great idea, Hodgins. Unfortunately, to write that paper, I would need Hulk’s bones. And since the Hulk doesn’t actually exist…”
“Trust me, your dissertation committee, they’re going to eat it up. It’s gonna prove that you can think outside the box.”
“Or, that you’ve completely lost your mind.” (Hodgins, Wendell, Cam)

B&B

“I’m sensing some annoyance.”
“That would be because I’m annoyed.” (Aubrey, Linda Martin)

B&B

“Oh dear God. This is like spring break on bath salts.” (Aubrey, in response to the film set)

B&B

“So people enjoy these movies because they don’t require them to think?”
“After a long day at work don’t you ever just want to go home and turn it off?”
“No. I enjoy using my mind, and so should you.” (Brennan, Wendell)

B&B

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

 

(Bonus photo of Betty White, who is awesome, and loves Bones as much as I do:)

 

Fan Review: The Grief and the Girl (Bones)

I often comment that people who enjoy Bones do so for a variety of reasons. We do not all want the same things, which, whatever else it means, means that some of us are at least occasionally disappointed, and that it’s a no-win for the writers.

It’s even more complicated in that those of us who generally do want the same things (Booth and Brennan’s relationship, for example) do not always want them in the same way.  For example: I accept that their romance is a fantasy, but the more realistic they can get it, the happier I am.

I want some realism. Within the framework of ‘these two characters are living a happily ever after,’ I want to see them work for it. I want to see them overcome things, and want to watch them struggle to reconcile their differences.  To me, that’s where the joy in their relationship is.

No, not every week. But I know what they look like when they’re happy. They look like this:

saw

 

But it’s because of story arcs like this one that I believe they’re always going to have those happy moments.

Grief is a monster that not only kicks you when you’re down, it then stomps all over you with cleats. It’s also quite individual and sneaky, in that it seldom behaves the same way twice, even for the same person.

I’m going to get personal here for a moment, and I apologize for that. But my own experiences are relevant to why this worked so well for me.

I was fourteen when my mother died of lung cancer; eleven years later my father died suddenly of a stroke. The two experiences were quite different for me, but watching this, I felt like Karine Rosenthal had wandered around in my head at some point during the first few days after I lost my father.

I was in grad school when he died, some two hundred miles from my family. I remember, in the midst of nearly debilitating shock, being absolutely overwhelmed by the idea of going home and facing my family’s grief while trying to come to terms with my own. Apart from my three older sisters and a younger brother, my father had recently found love again (nine years after mom died) with a woman we all adored, and the idea of all that sorrow on top of my own temporarily broke something inside me.

My solution? To ask my roommate to go home with me.  We’d not been sharing a room that long, she’d never met my family, and yet she said yes as soon as I asked. It’s still one of the most compassionate acts I’ve been the recipient of.

Once I was home, I have a vivid memory of talking with my oldest sister (who’d tried to be a mother to us after mom died) and refusing to cry, because I didn’t want to add to the burdens she was carrying – her own grief, worry for my brother, the funeral, the estate.

We’re a close family. I just couldn’t navigate my pain and theirs at the same time, and having my roommate there to talk to, someone who wasn’t grieving, made the difference.

Grief’s hard, exhausting, and irrational. (Side observation: Emily Deschanel rocked this episode. Hellooooo, Hollywood?)

Anyway, as Sully says, grief “mixes you up.”  And while my relationship with my taciturn, recovering alcoholic father was complicated, I didn’t have anything approaching Brennan’s situation with the love of her life feeling guilty for the death. It’s a lot to cope with, and sometimes, you just have to say ‘I can’t,’ and hope the people around you understand and love you enough to be there when you’re ready.

That’s what Booth did for her. It helps, I think, that this is an area where they’re more alike than not – Booth did his best to shut her out in The Male in the Mail – and while he wasn’t happy about it, when she asked him to give her some time alone, he did.

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Interestingly enough, I don’t think he felt threatened by Sully. Bothered that it wasn’t him, possibly grateful that there was someone she could open up to, but not threatened. And to me, that’s a testament to the strength of their relationship.

But what about Booth himself? He’s grieving, too, which was nowhere more obvious than with the creme soda. I think Booth and Max understood each other in a way no other two characters on the show have. And yet, he puts her needs first, as she has put his first in the past.

That’s what love does.

There’s more, of course, in that he is carrying the weight of Max’s death. The fact that it’s needless, that she doesn’t blame him, doesn’t mean the guilt’s not there. We see this the clearest when Kathleen says, “I may not have killed that girl, but if not for me she’d still be alive.”

ifnotforme

The show surprised me here, to my delight. I thought Brennan might actually be angry at Booth’s role in Max’s death, know it was irrational, and yet not know how to work around it (not unlike his feelings at the beginning of season eight.) I liked this much better. Of course she knows he feels guilty, and doesn’t blame him, but she simply doesn’t know how to address that quite yet. The love is there, the understanding (on both sides) is there, but the energy for coping isn’t, quite, though they’re finding their way back  by the end.

That moment at the end, where they reaffirm their love for each other in the midst of grief and heartbreak and guilt? It’s beautiful to me, and why I watch the show:

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“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.”

So what about Sully?

One of the negative comments I keep seeing is that Sully wasn’t necessary to the Max story line; specifically Brennan grieving. In some ways, I think this is true: they could have told essentially the same story with Brennan pushing Booth away and then later discussing the why of that with someone else.

But really, nothing we’re seeing this season is absolutely necessary to the story. In fact, I’d say that nothing has been essential in that way since the wedding, or, possibly, not even since The Memories in the Shallow Grave. I’m not bashing the show (hello, it’s me) but rather, if I think in terms of a beginning, middle and end to their story, the key components of a happy ending were in place when they exchanged “I love you” in that episode.

Everything since then has been amazing bonus on top of bonus – a series of sequels that I’ve been delighted by because they told the story of what came next for these two fascinating, complicated characters. But was it essential to the story to revisit an old relationship? Clearly not. (And if it was, we’d be seeing Hannah, as well.)

But that doesn’t mean the story they’re telling isn’t interesting, or doesn’t give us insight into the characters or their history.  When handed a final season, the show could have said, ‘we’re just going to coast. Do twelve eps mostly focused on the cases, where we see the characters happy and content, and if we learn anything new about them, it will be what they’re going to do when they walk out the door for the last time.”

Would I have watched that? Of course. Would I have enjoyed that? Probably. Would I have been disappointed in some ways at not seeing the characters challenged, not seeing them continue to grow and change? Yes. Yes, I would have.

It’s not just that it came full circle when Brennan acknowledged the role Sully played in her long, slow growth process that allowed her to be with Booth. It’s also that we see Sully’s perspective looking back on the Booth and Brennan of season two: he knew. Even then, even when they were both denying it, he knew they belonged together. Knew he’d never win. That makes me grin.

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“You know, Booth’s not going anywhere.”

It also explains something that’s always bothered me. If Sully loved her, if he understood her at all, how could he make her choose between him and the career she needed? I’ve always liked Sully, always known that the show saw him as a good guy (which was, in addition to what was obvious to me – that Brennan wouldn’t cheat – another reason why I knew nothing would romantic would happen between the two of them here) but that part puzzled me. This answered that: he did love her, but he’d figured out in some corner of his soul that she and Booth belonged together, and left before he got in deeper.

I enjoy the heck out of that, and I’m going to re-watch the Sully eps this weekend, just to see how it all fits.

One of the things that fans have debated for years is when Booth and Brennan fell in love/were in love/knew they were in love, and while that’s a topic for a post of its own, one of my favorite things has always been that other characters understood it long before they did. Like Sully, it turns out.

Beyond the three main players in this, there was the team. And they were greatIt interested me that it was Sully and Aubrey who knew Booth and Brennan would be fine (and I love Aubrey for that a thousand times over.)

I spend a certain amount of time thinking about the differences between Booth’s friendship with Sweets versus his friendship with Aubrey, and while some of it is that they’re very different characters, it occurred to me today that part of what we see with Aubrey is probably due to how Booth lost Sweets. His instinct is still to push Aubrey away (which Awesome and Amazing Aubrey simply ignores) but he softens enough to thank him, and I think that’s because he’s lost too many male friends to not appreciate them. That’s growth.

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Clark, on the other hand, I loved for the opposite reason: he’s not assuming Booth and Brennan will be fine, because he knows she’s vulnerable and he doesn’t trust this interloper. He’s suspicious of anyone messing with Brennan’s happiness, and that makes me tear up a little. More so when I realized that the Viking find was probably his farewell on the show. I love all of the squinterns, but it’s no great secret that Clark’s my favorite, mostly due to what we see here: his great love for Brennan.

Sigh. Show, I’m going to miss you.

Bonus Quotes

“Special Agent James Aubrey. I work with Booth and Brennan.”
“Tim Sullivan, former special agent, now professional sandwich maker.”
“Oh, maybe my new idol.” (Aubrey, Sully)

B&B

“-but I’m just going to keep talking anyway. I don’t know anything, really, but whatever’s going on right now, I’m sure you guys will get through it.”  (Aubrey, to Booth)

B&B

“I heard yelling. Did we find something?”
“Vikings, Cam. We found Vikings.”
(She looks at the satellite image) “Are they teeny tiny Vikings?” (Cam, Hodgins)

B&B

And because the show’s humor is sometimes non-verbal:

angface

It takes a while for him to parse, but Clark does speak Angela semi-fluently.

 

 

 

Fan Review: The Scare in the Score (Bones)

I’m a mess of conflicts over this episode. It’s the kind I love (well, not necessarily while I’m watching it, because suspense and I are not friends, but after the fact, because we get so many great character moments) but it’s also so clearly part of the farewell the show’s setting up that I want to cover my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and go, ‘la la la.’ Which, come to think of it, was what I was doing in actuality at one point while watching this. I told you, suspense and I are not friends.

But since it is ending, I’ll take a moment to be grateful that they were able to step back and ask, ‘what makes for a powerful and satisfying end to the show?’ and that part of the answer was apparently, ‘go back to the start; anchor the end in the beginning.’ (You see what I did there?)

To me, the first half of the show’s run was building Booth and Brennan’s relationship to where they were ready to be a couple; the last half has been letting us not only see them as a couple, but also see them overcoming things life throws at them.  And because they are the people they are, with the complicated pasts that they have, it’s believable to me that there would be a lot for them to overcome.

They’ve taken more than a few blows along the way, from Booth watching Brennan drive away with Christine, to his imprisonment, to her fears that he was dead on the table in front of her.  Every single time, we’ve seen them triumph, and those moments are some of my favorite scenes from a lifetime of TV.

And now, we have a challenge rooted in a story we first heard in season one, when Booth shared with her the kind of man he is: one who kills a man in front of his six-year-old son because doing so will save many other lives, but who never stops grieving over having done so.

soldier

I don’t really know how to organize my thoughts on this, so I’m going to wing it with comments about the moments that most moved me:

Booth and Caroline discuss the safe house:

Booth would never go himself, but it interests me that while he includes Max with the kids he doesn’t reference Brennan. There’s no ‘tuck Bones and the kids and Max away while I chase the bad guy.’ Maybe it’s because he knows she won’t go, anyway, and maybe it’s because he knows he needs her in order to catch the killer, but I liked what it said about their relationship.

Brennan and Max discuss the safe house: 

Booth included Max as a given when discussing it with Caroline, and I think the reason for that is unpacked in the next scene. They could stack FBI agents seven deep around Christine and Hank, and Booth and Brennan would still want Max there, because he’s a badass who’s proven time and again that there’s nothing he won’t do to protect those he loves.

brenmax2

Max isn’t happy about the arrangement, but in the end, he agrees…and it’s a good thing. As the FBI agent at the site later says to Booth, ‘They weren’t expecting your father-in-law.’  (Random note: the press release identifies this guy as “FBI Deputy Field Director Tom Mordick.”)

Booth recalls the sniper shot:

I get that this didn’t work for everyone, but here’s why I’m okay with it (no matter how old Booth looks):

The story they’re telling isn’t about just some random event from Booth’s history that’s come back to bite them. It’s a defining moment in his life, one that he’s so conflicted over that even now, even with everything they’ve gone through, he can’t bring himself to tell Caroline the details of. Earlier, he’d acknowledged that he was the one who took the shot, but when he identifies Kovac to her and she asks how he knows, he hesitates and then says, ‘I just do.’

sniper

I’d bet money that the only person outside his unit who knows that he took that shot in the middle of a child’s birthday party is Brennan.

But that leads to a problem with structuring this story. They need casual viewers to understand what went down, but the one person he can discuss it with already knows. They’re not going to have him re-tell her, and Brennan wouldn’t betray Booth by sharing those details with someone else.  Having him remember taking the shot solves those issues, while also setting up a different one: the story is complicated by lack of physical evidence tying Mark Kovac to Radik.  Booth’s memory is the source of the information, but it’s not one he can share.

Booth and Aubrey visit Mark and his wife:

Not a big thing, really, but what struck me in this scene is that Aubrey takes the lead in the questioning. Booth lets him, and I think it’s because he’s focused on reconciling his memories of the innocent kid whose life he shattered with the man in front of him. Knowing Booth, I think he’s also trying to get a fix on whether Mark might possibly be the honorable man he appears, hoping that he didn’t completely destroy him with that one shot.

Scene at the gym:

This shouldn’t surprise anyone reading this, but I loved that at the gym, when they find Mike’s body, all three of the team members who are there say something to show their support of Booth.  It’s the small things, folks.

Cam and Angela check on Brennan:

Similarly, Cam and Angela together take a report to Brennan so they can check on her. I liked that a great deal, but then Cam puts another check in the ‘how to be a good friend to Temperance Brennan’ column by gently challenging her about the lack of the kind of evidence Brennan usually insists on.  That commitment to science matters, even if the best Brennan can do is acknowledge the situation’s not normal.

Caroline tells Booth about the hit on the safe house:

Actually, what I liked about this began before we see Caroline. I like that they show us the activity exploding in the bull pen. It struck me as a particularly clever way of putting us – the viewers – right in the middle of the scene.

boothcaroline2

Also, Booth’s running for the elevator before Caroline even finishes speaking stirs me up. (Is that inappropriate?)

Reunion at the Safe House

I love watching Booth and Brennan run to the kids. People have commented in the past on the Booth and Brennan reunion scenes where they’re racing toward one another: emotionally, this is like the next level of that.

And then there’s Max, and the dawning realization for us that their faith in him was justified: badass Max saved the kids – and all but one of the FBI agents.

Booth’s interrogations with Kovac: 

Booth has two conversations with Kovac in the interrogation room, and both were quite powerful. There’s nearly an intimacy of sorts between them, where I think we’re meant to understand that Booth gets perfectly what Kovac is after. When he says, “To see the look on my face when they tell me my children are dead,” I think it’s because he understands that desire, and that’s both horrifying – that Booth is identifying with a sadistic murderer because he feels responsible for creating him – and sad.

Similarly, in the later scene (where Caroline and Kovac’s lawyer are present) that sense crops up again with this exchange:

“My father was a monster.”
“But he was still your dad.”

I don’t know if Kovac really agrees his father was a monster, or is just saying so as part of his continued denial of guilt. But Booth’s point is that we can be conflicted about our parents even when they’re less than ideal. Although his own father wasn’t a war criminal, he was a monster in some ways, one who Booth still had some good memories of – not unlike Kovac’s birthday party.

kovac

At the end, Kovac still seems to be searching for answers (“did you kill my father, Agent Booth?”) and Booth refuses to answer him. I’m not sure whether that’s due to the presence of the lawyer – someone not in on Booth’s classified past – or whether he simply can’t bring himself to confirm it, but it’s another moment that seems peculiarly intimate to me. Kovac’s life was shaped by Booth; Booth accepts that responsibility even while trying to protect those he loves. It’s an interesting dynamic.

Brennan and Max

It wasn’t a surprise when Max died, but it was still a blow, mostly because this was when the show irrevocably began ending for me. It’s not that I’ve not seen this whole season as one long farewell story, but until now, there’s not been anything that said, ‘the show will never again be the same.’ Max’s death does that.

During those moments when he and Brennan were talking in the hospital, dozens of scenes ran through my memory, from our first encounter with ‘Father Coulter’ to Brennan turning to him for help in finding Booth in The Killer in Concrete, to his watching her wistfully at the end of The Brain in the Bot. It’s a lot of history.

This will sound paradoxical, but I’ve not always liked Max, and I’m fine with that. I think one of the show’s strengths is the imperfect characters we come to care about in spite of ourselves, and he’s part of that.  It didn’t matter whether I always liked him, because Brennan loved him (and I think Booth did, too) and whatever else he was, once he came back into her life, he was there for her.

In fact, I’m wondering if there’s ever been a recurring character on a show – any show – that had as powerful of a character arc as did Max Keenan. From a serial bank robber who abandoned his kids, to the heroic man in his seventies we see here, we watched him grow and change over eleven seasons. Other recurring characters on the show have grown, but Max’s redemption is in a class of its own.

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“In all those years I was gone, whenever I missed you, I’d just think back on the rides in the car.”

And now he’s gone, and whatever comes next, the show will feel different – even the eps that don’t directly reference him. And that breaks my heart more than I expected.

Bones is about showing us how Booth and Brennan’s love overcomes what life throws at them, but how do they triumph over something he’s already struggled with for half his life blowing up in their faces and resulting in so many deaths, including Max’s?

Given that, I think the most heartbreaking moment of all was when Booth whispers “I”m sorry” to Brennan in the hospital hallway. I don’t think it’s the usual attempt to comfort but rather, an acknowledgement that she’s paying the price for something he did decades earlier. The fact that he had to do it, that lives were saved, that Radik was a monster doesn’t change that her father is dead.

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I don’t know how they’ll get past it, but the beauty of the show for me is that I trust absolutely that they will. When it ends in a few weeks, they want us to know beyond question that these two will always triumph, and this story is part of showing us that.

Bonus Quotes:

“Donna, are you all right? Calm down…it’s never as bad as you think it is.” (Guy on phone to woman who’s just seen a raccoon steal a rib from human remains)

B&B

“He’s lucky to have a daughter like you.”
“He’ll be a little less lucky if he continues to withhold information about his health.” (Booth, Brennan)

B&B

“We’ve got a problem because we need more evidence to get a warrant, but we’re not getting a warrant without some evidence.”
“Yeah. It’s a paradox. Let me know when you’ve untangled it.” (Aubrey, Caroline.)

Fan Review: The Flaw in the Saw (Bones)

I’ve seen comments in a couple of places about this being a ‘filler’ episode. While I respect others’ right to disagree, I think that reflects a limited view of Bones.  The show is a dramedy, meaning that the humor isn’t an afterthought; it’s not something tacked on here and there when they can’t figure out a dramatic story.  Rather, the lighter in tone/funny eps serve an important purpose: they keep the people watching who enjoy the characters but don’t want darkness every week.  (One of my coworkers falls into this category.)

In terms of tone, the order so far this season has been: dramatic, light, light, dark, funny, funny – with what comes next looking like it could be one of the darkest stories in the entire run of the show. That pattern isn’t an accident where they threw out an episode just to fill a week where they didn’t have a story to tell. The point was the humor.

And it succeeded on that score. I’m quite often amused either by dialogue or facial expressions on the show, but I laughed out loud when Booth and Brennan tag-teamed Gene Frong, teaching him some of the consequences of drinking too much beer. Different skill sets, but they play off one another beautifully, and his following up her explanation of how the bladder works by running the water was perfect. (Also, can you imagine the two of them using that kind of maneuver when their kids are teenagers?)

bladder

(“Does that help?” – Brennan can snark with the best of them.)

Beyond the humor, though, I think the episode did accomplish some things in terms of overall story:

Booth and Brennan:

Without going into specifics, the promos and spoilers for the next couple of eps sound a little grim for our favorite couple, so the show takes an episode to remind us of the basics about their relationship: they’re very different people; that’s not going to change; and they’re nuts about one another both because of and in spite of those differences.

Brennan not only relies on science to make sense of the world, she loves the framework it gives her for figuring things out. Life is a puzzle to be solved – whether it’s teaching Christine how to ride a bike, or figuring out the best way to chop down a tree – and science guides her to the answer.  Booth, on the other hand, enjoys mystery, enjoys beauty and motion for their own sake (rainbows, sports) without having to understand how everything works.

Neither of them are going to change. When they’re in their eighties, they’re still going to be having those same arguments. But that’s okay: part of why she loves him is that his thought processes run so differently from hers; part of why he adores her is that she never stops surprising him.

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Friction. Early in the ep, a discussion about bike riding turns flirty and sexual, with Booth reacting to her use of the word, and then Brennan responding to his reaction.  I loved it, because I continue to be impressed by how they portray their sex life. There’s only so much the show can give us in terms of visuals, but seeing them flirt with each other over oatmeal…yeow.

But friction also describes their relationship in general. They rub up against each other in every possible way, from their overall view of the world, to how they solve problems, to how they raise their kids…and neither of them would have it any other way. Date nights for them aren’t the conventional movie and a meal, but rather, Booth asking her with a half grin if she’s ‘up for another visit to the lumberjack show’; or going log-rolling after the case is solved.

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I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t show us who fell. Part of the point has always been that they’re equals: her brains and science can and do accomplish things his instincts and skills can’t, but the reverse is also true, and Bones is careful to keep that balance for us. He needs her, she needs him, and even with a log-rolling competition we’re left wondering whether her science or his physicality carried the day, well able to imagine it being either one.

The Zack Arc 

The basic subplot here is about Zack, and how they’re approaching clearing him.  We learn that at some point, Brennan examined the lobbyist’s bones without finding anything useful; that Hodgins believes the blood splatter would be different if Zack were guilty, and finally, that he finds particulates in one of the stab wounds that he thinks clears their friend. Cam disagrees.

In terms of the season-long arc about Zack, it’s difficult to know exactly what to make of what they gave us. Was the point just that they’re working the problem, haven’t found anything yet, and when they do, it will be different from what Hodgins came up with? Or, when the show revisits the arc again, will it build on what he found? (With long arcs, they’ve not always followed up on everything they introduced along the way.)

Was this just a nod to the larger Zack story, or was what was revealed important to what comes later?

I want to know because while I’m glad the arc is popping up, what happened between Cam and Hodgins made me really, really unhappy.  (Adverb abuse deliberate.) That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who read last week’s review, where I commented on how happy I’ve been with how they’ve written Cam the past couple of seasons.

This type of scene, where, in the role of Big Bad Boss, she’s pitched against the other characters to generate story tension is exactly what I meant.

Before I get shouted at…I know people who love each other can say and do hurtful things.  I’m also aware that someone in a position of authority sometimes has to draw a hard line, even with people she cares about.  I get all that. I do. But Cam accused Hodgins of planting evidence and questioned his professional ethics. She didn’t even really try to make it less insulting. She could have: she could have said that his findings were so unlikely (so ‘lucky’) that no one would find them credible, or she could have told him that even if the anthrax was there, the courts would assume bias was a factor and throw it out without something else to support it.

Nope. He says, “You think I planted evidence?” and she doesn’t say no. Instead, she tells this man she’s worked with for eleven years that she understands why he’d lie. Everything they do professionally hinges on their credibility, and she’s just told him that she doesn’t trust his integrity.

hodgins

Quite often when I have a negative reaction to something on the show, re-watching it helps me interpret whatever it is differently, so I’ve watched that scene a few times now.  And there are other ways of looking at it: Maybe Cam said it, but didn’t really mean it – it’s not that she really thinks he’d plant evidence, it’s just easier to believe that than to believe Brennan missed something.  Or perhaps she does believe he manufactured data, but it doesn’t really matter because no else knows he did it, they all know Zack is innocent (and thus no one will be harmed by Hodgins’ actions) and, well, everyone makes mistakes.

One thing those re-watches did show me is how difficult it is to tell a story like this when we’re used to the team routinely performing investigative magic.  That’s the point of the show, really: most of what they do seems impossible, and yet, every week they pull it off, usually with casual nonchalance. For twelve seasons we’ve been told they’re the best there is, so when they can’t immediately find the answer, it’s disconcerting, and when they (apparently) fail entirely, it’s as if rain is falling upward.

Week after week, we see Hodgins find particulates that tell us impossible things (i.e., where the suspect was born) so when Cam suddenly accuses him of lying about something that doesn’t sound any more improbable to me, really, than determining where the murder happened, it’s jarring.

The real question is what happens next. Will there be a point in the next six episodes where the two of them address what happened here, her lack of faith in him? If it turns out that what he found was a critical piece of evidence in clearing Zack, will she apologize? That would make me ridiculously happy, because I don’t mind conflict as long as it’s resolved in some way. As I said, people say and do really dumb things sometimes, and you find a way to get past the hurt and move on.

Crossing all my fingers on that one. And because I really did enjoy the episode overall…have a photo of those amusing facial expressions I referenced earlier (from the scene where Booth and Brennan figure out exactly how the victim and Helga were ‘training’):bandbreveal

 

 

Bonus Quotes:

 

“Don’t you think that it’s good to not know how something works? I mean, come on, science takes the magic out of everything.”
“There’s no magic to begin with. It’s just rules that govern the universe.”
“Next thing you know, you’re gonna be telling her that rainbows are…”
“Light refracted through water? She already knows that.”
“Of course she does.” (Booth, Brennan)

B&B

“It will be fascinating to see how non-human viscera effects the decomposition of a human corpse.”
“There goes my appetite.”
“You’d think after twelve years you could handle a little viscera with your oatmeal.” (Brennan, Booth)

B&B

“Four years of playing golf and you’re still calling it a golfing stick.”
“It’s a stick used to golf. How is that not accurate?” (Booth, Brennan)

B&B

“I’m like a forensic food-ologist.” (Aubrey)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fan Review: The Tutor in the Tussle (Bones)

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

(Pause for renewed mourning for Aldo…)

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

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

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

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

aubrey1

 

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

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

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

bbdiner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bonus Quotes

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

B&B

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

B&B

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

B&B

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

B&B

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

B&B

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