Fan Review: Collapse (SEAL Team)

I’m falling a little more in love with this show every week.

Actually, what’s happening is that I’m falling a little more in love with the characters every week, but for me, it amounts to the same thing.

And here’s the wonderful surprise in that for me: it’s not just Jason I’m enjoying getting to know.

Let’s face it: I was hardwired to respond to David Boreanaz playing a military hero, and I’m enjoying Jason and his story very much. The thrill is discovering that I’m enjoying the show just as much when the other characters are center stage. (Also: I think the show is doing a fabulous job in that respect.)

Ray continues to steal more and more of my heart each week. I was enjoying the conversation with the journalist even before we got this line, but afterward? Puddle of goo:

“And those big white boys you’re talking about? They’re my brothers, too.”

Goo.

But then came the moments with Lisa, which I loved even more. I have a soft spot for platonic friendship, and their love for each other is all over those scenes.

Despite having good friends in the military, I’m hopeless at sorting out rank, but it’s clear he outranks her.  Still, he softens the order with her first name:

“This isn’t Virginia Beach and I’m not asking. Lisa, get to the convoy.”

And she goes. You can see the reluctance, but she goes.

I like that whole exchange for what it reveals about both of them. Later, when she comes back, we realize that their different roles mean she doesn’t have the combat experience he does (“Well, you need to know that when I’m shooting at the range, the targets don’t shoot back.”) …and yet she would have stayed anyway, and then comes back for him.

She’s badass, and both of them are matter of fact about it, which I love. He’s not surprised she doesn’t want to go, and doesn’t seem all that surprised to see her return.  And once she does? He hands her his weapon, trusting her.

I don’t think the show could exist within the world they’ve set up if the women get those kinds of opportunities often, but I’m glad Lisa got this one relatively early in the season.

Ditto, Mandy, kicking butt and taking names with the Not-Really-an-Ambassador Crowley.  (Maybe he should have considered the consequences of making an enemy of the CIA before he endangered the guys she feels responsible for by sending them on a wild goose chase?)

She’s not the only one Crowley manages to tick off, and if not for cooler heads prevailing, Sonny would probably have wiped the floor with him at the end. I have mixed feelings on that, by the way. I liked seeing that very human response, and wouldn’t have minded watching it play out. (Which in my head, included lots of squealing from Crowley.) But the consequences to Sonny would have been less fun to watch, and would have deprived us of the much better response to Crowley, from Jason.

Although the scene in the cage runs a close second, this is my favorite Jason moment here.  Sometimes, a non-violent response to a coward is simply more satisfying, and seeing Jason hand him his ass along with the flag rang all my bells. Crowley confused posturing with leadership, cowardice with true courage, and watching his take down made me cheer.

“Got something for you. You must have left it behind by accident.”

So everyone heads for home, safe to fight another day. (Well, everyone but Crowley, who will hopefully be job hunting in the Craigslist classifieds.)

Only…not entirely everyone else, either, because there’s another story paralleling what’s happening in South Sudan, and I’ve got to tell you…I did not see that last scene coming, nor any version of it.

I feel like I should have, because I’m generally pretty good at connecting the dots on things like a character I’d initially assumed was a secondary, recurring role, becoming increasingly important to Clay’s story…while still not ever being referenced by the show’s PR as a permanent part of the cast. Normally, I’d have gone ‘hmm’ on that, my Spidey sense tingling with, ‘they’re setting up something here to explain this character’s exit, and since it’s a military show…’

Nope. Spidey sense was asleep this time, and I didn’t see it coming. Not when Brian left to jump (having given Clay some advice I really hope he manages to take), not even when they first counted five canopies when there should have been six. It wasn’t until the camera focused on that partially deployed parachute, helplessly twisting in the wind, that I accepted what was happening.

I have to tell you that while I don’t know why this gutted me the way it did, I do not ever remember being so horrified by a television death. Ever. And I’ve seen a lot of deaths play out, including those involving characters I had far more invested in than this one. But there was something about watching that figure falling, knowing there wasn’t a thing they could do to help, that even on later re-watches has had my stomach clenching.

Damn, show. That was brutal.  And so very, very effective.

 

Apart from leaving me a horrified mess, this episode also left me with a whole bunch of questions that I’m going to share. (Because I’m like that…)

  1. That photo Jason found among Nate’s possessions? He’s not in it. Ray and Sonny are, but he’s not, and I wonder if that means he was deployed elsewhere, or attending a special school, or what. But more than that, I wonder if the other guys – both of whom have now told him to let Nate’s secrets die with him – actually knew him better than Jason. Hmm.
  2. How will Brian’s death affect Clay? My knee-jerk assumption is that he’ll distance himself from Stella, and while I get that, I sort of hope it doesn’t go that way, or not for long…mostly because it’s my knee-jerk assumption. (Come on, show. Keep surprising me!) On the other hand, I also wonder if watching Brian die that way will build a bridge between Clay and Jason.
  3. Are Sonny and Lisa a thing? A could-be-a-thing? A could-be-but-we’re-in-the-same-unit-thing? The friendship is absolutely there, seen in the teasing of a few weeks back, their hanging out together after work, and now, here, where it’s not Ray to whom Sonny says, ‘good to see you’ after their rescue.

For the record, I’m good either way. I enjoy both romantic and platonic ‘ships, but…hmm.

Bonus Quotes:

“Listen, boss…I got a bag full of zip ties and two shoulders. You want them to come with us, they’re coming.” (Sonny, to Jason, about the aid workers who are refusing to evacuate.)

***ST***

“Make sure he knows I sent you outside. Your crazy ass decided to come back in.” (Ray, to Lisa, about what she should tell Jason)

 

Advertisements

Loose Ends from a Fan (Personal Reflections on Bones)

(For Karen)

“‘I will show you fear in a handful of dust.’ — T.S. Eliot. We don’t actually fear death. We fear that no one will notice our absence, that we will disappear without a trace.” – (Dr. Gadh, The Doctor in the Photo)

I’m thinking a lot about my friend Karen today.

She was such an important part of my life for so long, that few are the days she doesn’t pop into my mind at some point, but today? Yeah, she’s front and center, and it’s making me bit weepier than I would already be.

Karen died in 2014 after a long health battle, and I eulogized her then in this post, but I barely mentioned that she was responsible for my love of Bones.

She knew me well enough to know I’d like the show if I’d only sit down and give it a chance, and so she kept telling me to do just that, at every opportunity, for the first three seasons of the show. I meant to, honest! But I was working two jobs, and the sister who’d raised me was fighting cancer (resulting in my traveling from Chicago to Indianapolis about every weekend for close to a year) and television was even less on my radar than usual.

I do remember noticing when others would talk about the show, though (including a discussion on a writer’s email list I was on about the kiss in The Santa in the Slush) and promising myself the day would come when I’d check it out.

Meanwhile, Karen, taking all the prizes on the World’s Most Determined Friend front, recorded a few eps of S1 from TNT onto homemade DVDs and sent them to me. Fast-forward two months: I’d lost my job (this was in 2009), moved to Indianapolis, my sister had died, and I was job-hunting.

Emotionally tapped – I remember this being one of the few times in my life I couldn’t concentrate on books – I picked up the first of the DVDs Karen had made me, and watched The Man in the Fallout Shelter and Two Bodies in the Lab, postponed dinner, and then watched The Woman in Limbo. Twice.

I had a gift card someone had given me after my sister’s death, so I promptly used that to buy Seasons 1-3 (the only ones currently available on DVD), and discovered I could buy S4 (which had just ended) on what was then called Amazon Unbox.

I watched all eighty-four episodes in two weeks, and then went looking for people to discuss my new obsession with. Karen, of course, was delighted (and not remotely above saying, “I told you so,”) so if anything I’ve ever written or said about Bones has mattered to you, or if my being a Bones fan has mattered,…think of Karen. It brings me joy.

What a long strange trip it’s been since then.  My brain is crowded with memories, some good, (the show itself, meeting friends I’d made in the fandom, wonderful conversations over on Bonesology, the pleasure I’ve taken in writing about Bones), some not so good (the whole catfishing experience with someone we’d believed was a friend, fandom panics (aka ‘fanics’), troll attacks.)

Life is a mixed bag, though, and good can grow out of bad. Case in point: those of us who were caught up in the catfishing betrayal? Closer than ever. The show’s entirely right about ‘more than one kind of family,’ and happy and blessed am I to know that a group of amazing women have my back.

I said when I started the farewell posts that I was trying to figure out how to say goodbye to the show, and by that, I meant everything that the show’s meant to me. During the last eleven days, while I was generating nearly twenty thousand (!) words on the characters, themes, and moments I’ve loved, I’ve also thought in a big picture way about what Bones has given me.  Besides hundreds of hours of entertainment, it turns out to be a lot:

The Fandom: 

I keep re-writing this, because I want to be honest, but don’t want anyone to misunderstand. I’ve learned a lot from Bones fans, and some of the, er, loudest conversations have taught me the most.

But my single biggest takeaway from my experience in the fandom as a whole is: we choose whether or not we’re happy. In the micro sense, yes, I’m talking about people who set such narrow expectations of what they’ll enjoy from the show that there’s no possible way for it to satisfy them, but in the larger, real-world, macro sense? It’s about looking for joy where you are.

So often, people are unhappy because they focus on what isn’t, rather than what is. Instead of looking at what’s there and saying, ‘how can I enjoy this?’ all they see is what’s wrong with the show/a situation/their lives, and they focus on that to the exclusion of everything else.

I’m not saying the answer is to deny what makes you unhappy, to pretend to enjoy what you don’t, or to ‘settle,’ and I’m really not talking about those who struggle with depression, or who are dealing with grief in their life. But the happiest, most contented people I know are those who choose to be.

Know when it’s time to move on, but look for joy where you are.

The Cast: 

Dear Emily, David, TJ, Michaela, Tamara, John B, John FD, Eric, Ryan, Eugene, Carla, Pej, MGT, Laura, Ignaccio, Joel, Patricia…(who am I forgetting? I’m terrified of forgetting someone…)

Thank you. Thank you for bringing these characters to life, thank you for being the kind of people to create an environment where people wanted to keep showing up and putting in fourteen hour days for over a decade.

Thank you for caring so much about the characters, their stories, and their relationships. Thank you for never settling in terms of improving at what you do.

I don’t pretend to know you, any of you, beyond the what you put out in interviews and social media, but I know that while other sets develop reputations for tension and conflict, there was never any of that with Bones, and not only that, but the opposite was true, with people like Betty White asking to be on the show because it was such a good place to work. And I figure that’s as much on you all, as anything, so…thanks for that reminder that life never stops being about how we treat others.

My prayer for all of you – and for the crew – is that you get the jobs you want (and deserve!) as soon as possible. I’ll be watching.

The Writers:

No way I get all of these, but, dear Karine, Eric, Yael, Ted, Keith, Hilary, Joe, Jon, Emily, Kendall, Mary, Gene…and all the others (!)

Thank you for inspiring me. While knowing it’s all a collaborative process, I’ve picked apart your stories, studied your dialog, asked why some scenes moved me to tears and others made me laugh; and yes, why some fell flat. (Ensconced in fandom as I was, I also learned a lot about all the million ways it was possible for a scene to be interpreted, and don’t know why that fact alone doesn’t scare more people away from writing.)

Fingers crossed for you, too, that you get the jobs you want, deserve, and will find challenging and satisfying.  I’ll be watching.

The Showrunners*:

Dear Jon, Michael, Stephen, Hart, and Kathy* (who I’m granting honorary showrunner status because I don’t know where else to put her…)

Thank you for telling your stories, no matter the pressure from fans to tell a different one. And thank you, a thousand times over, for telling stories of hope and redemption, of good, if believably flawed, people making a difference.

Hart, thank you for the characters, for the strong women who talk about more than just guys, for the guys who are such guys while still being romantic, for the humor, for the rule that Booth and Brennan would always rescue each other, and for the cases that sometimes made me cry. Oh, and for The Woman in Limbo, which always makes me cry.

Stephen, thanks for making lemonade out of the lemon of John F Daley needing off the show.  Specifically, thanks for using Sweets’ death to throw Booth off the gambling cliff so we could cheer when he climbed back up it. And thank you for The Patriot in Purgatory, which will continue to be a tradition for me on 9/11.

Jon and Michael, thank you for telling the story of Hodgins’ paralysis – and for not blinking on leaving him that way; thank you, too, for taking this final season to throw some heavy stuff at all of them, so we go out knowing that whatever comes, they’ll always win.

Kathy, thank you for being part of showing me all the different kinds of stories that can be written about a character (show!Brennan, book!Tempe); thank you for being part of showing the world what smart women can be and do.

Confession: I used to think I wanted to write a novel, but when I started looking around at what was being written, what people were talking about, it felt like in world of antiheroes, there was little room for the types of characters I had in my head wanting out.

To an extent, I understand why anti-heroes can be interesting, and firmly believe that the world of storytelling is (or should be) big enough for all kinds of characters and stories and plots and themes and…yet, there was the voice nagging in my ear, ‘no one’s interested in what you want to write.’

I don’t know if I have what it takes to write a novel. I’m going to find out. But because of you all, I’m going to write what I want to write, about characters I’m interested in, and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.

Thanks for that.

Rynogeny, of the way too many words

Fan Review: The Steal in the Wheels (Bones)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus Quotes:

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

B&B

“Ding, dang, doodle!” (Gordon Gordon)

B&B

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

 

 

 

 

 

Further Thoughts on Postponing the Apocalypse

There’s a risk that I’m going to piss people off by what I say here; even a risk that I might lose friends over it. I hope not; I think generally I have pretty smart, wise, tolerant people as friends.  But I’ve seen other friendships die this election season, and…you know what? After thinking about it all day, I think I have to say it anyway.

Just do me a favor and if you get annoyed in the beginning, at least hear me out – okay? I might not be saying what you assume I am.

I’ve been seeing a lot of comments, pretty much everywhere, that Mike Pence is a bigger threat than Trump. And that bothers me – not because I’m necessarily a fan of the Vice President-Elect, but because of what it says about the way we view our political system.

First up: If you feel that way, I’m not trying to change your mind. But if you think a bog standard representative of the Republican party is worse than a man who’s consistently displayed not only racism, bigotry and misogyny, but also a lack of stability in his views and a focus on his own ego, then I’m going to guess that the only political option you think has merit is a government controlled wholly by Democrats, and your ideal would be a scenario where the Democrats are in power forever.

And that’s fine. But we live in a democratic republic, and that means people get to choose their representatives, and we flip back and forth pretty regularly in terms of who’s in charge because this honking big country is made up of a variety of viewpoints. If someone (not me, since I clearly couldn’t choose) could wave a magic wand and say, ‘We’re now a one party country, where Party X will forever be in charge,’ …that would be the end of us.

Trump wasn’t elected by racists. He empowered them, and my fear is that’s not going to be easy to undo, if it’s even possible. And they certainly voted for him. But so did other people – including the nice black man who lives down the street from me and proudly displays his Trump bumper sticker.

No, Trump was elected by people who rejected the Democrats. And yeah, you can argue that point by talking about people who didn’t bother to vote, or people who voted third-party (also a way of saying no to the Democrats); you can point out that Hillary won the popular vote, or half a dozen other things that may have/did/could have influenced the outcome, but the bottom line is that a lot of people didn’t want what the Democrats are selling. (Remember who I voted for, please, before you call me names.)

Like it or not, they didn’t just elect Trump. They put Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress. If that’s not a clear way of saying, ‘we the people want something different,’ I don’t know what is.

Here’s the reality as I see it, and it’s just as true when the Republicans are in charge: the dominant party finds it way too easy to ignore the people who don’t agree with them, to not hear them, and then pretend they’re simply not there.  Echo chambers don’t just exist on Facebook.  People surround themselves with people they agree with, and then pretend no one else is there. (Hello, fandom…)

This is where I hope people are still reading:

If you want a different world, there are two things you can do to make a difference.

First, your rights didn’t stop with voting.  Your representatives in Congress represent you, whether you voted for them or not. Find out who they are. Put their phones numbers on speed dial. Pay attention to what they’re doing, and call them. Tell them what you want them to do or not do. Be polite – there’s no point in being an asshole – and just keep telling them. Politicians exist in echo chambers, too, and they want desperately to keep their jobs.

Yes. It takes longer to call and write your representatives than it does to vent on social media. But the former can actually change things. It often feels to me like people are bitching on Facebook and Twitter because they feel powerless, when their true power is in letting their voices be heard not by their followers but by their representatives.

Second, listen. If you really want to make to a difference, start listening to people you disagree with. Take time to learn their stories, to find out why they feel the way they do. And no, I’m not advocating giving time to racists, nor to being patronizing. People are smarter than that. They’ll know if you’re only pretending to be interested in them in hopes of changing their politics.

I said in my previous post that some who voted for Obama in 2012 voted for Trump in 2016. If you want to swing them back your way for 2018, make sure they feel heard. (Or, you know, if you’re a Republican who wants to make sure they continue to vote for your party, same goes. People will probably be disillusioned pretty quickly by Trump: if you think the Republicans have the answers, don’t just assume that people will vote the same way in 2018 that they did last week.)

Friendship, where people feel respected and heard, changes minds. (And yeah, that can go two ways: listening with an open mind to people who think differently than you can sometimes result in your mind changing, but that’s the risk of tolerance and civility.)

You earn the right to tell someone why you think your party has a solution for them by listening to what they need. It’s a meme, but it’s true: no one has ever changed their opinion because someone on Twitter told them they were stupid.

I’ve seen multiple comments by people insisting that everyone who voted for Trump is obviously a racist. I’m not sure what the point is, really, beyond the cathartic release of expressed rage. Racists aren’t going to change their mind because someone calls them what they are, and non-racists who handed over the whole enchilada to the Republicans…I’m thinking being called a bigot isn’t going to convince them they should give the Democrats another chance in 2018 – but what do I know?

This is true for all of us, regardless of party: The harder it is for us to fathom why someone might have voted the way they did, the more important it is for us – and our party – to try to understand. Because whether or not we’re interested in them, they vote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postponing the Apocalypse (Election thoughts)

I don’t often make any kind of political statements on this blog – or anywhere, else, really, beyond the occasional soft lob in Twitter’s direction. I’m a moderate – I agree with both conservatives and liberals in different ways – and that means that most people think I’m wrong on some points, and some people think I’m wrong on all points.

But I was up most of the night talking with people, and saw so much grief and fear that I have to share some of my current thinking on what comes next for those of us who are dismayed (or, perhaps, later become dismayed.)

To be absolutely clear about where I’m coming from – no ambiguity – I voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, and I voted for Hillary Clinton yesterday.

Trump is a racist, a bigot, and a misogynist. I didn’t like him before he ran for president; I like him significantly less now. But not everyone who voted for him is a racist. I’m not just saying that because I know people who voted for him who are not bigots (including, as bewildering as it is to me, some persons of color.) I’m saying it because a black man won the presidency not only once, which might have been a fluke, but twice.

To me, then, Trump’s win means one of three things: 1) that a significant number of people voted this time who didn’t vote in the last two elections and they voted for Trump; 2) a significant number of people who voted in the last two elections for President Obama didn’t vote this time; or, 3) that a significant number of people who voted for President Obama in the last election voted for Trump in this one.

It might be a combination of all three, but it’s the latter group who matter here, I think. The movement toward or away from racism is not something that happens quickly. It’s generally rooted in childhood – we learn it from our parents, or others around us; people who were fair-minded enough to vote for a black man in 2012 are unlikely to have voted for a racist in 2016 simply because they themselves had become racist in those years.

There might be a middle ground, where people who were only somewhat racist in the past jumped on Trump’s bigotry bandwagon, seeing it as validating their views, but I doubt people like that voted for President Obama. Twice.

What is possible is that people who voted for President Obama didn’t like their lives under his administration, saw only more of the same if Clinton won, and thus voted for Trump while telling themselves that they didn’t have to like him/agree with his views on other human beings to prefer his policies.

I’m not debating policies at all here, just noting that it’s not remotely unusual for people who don’t feel like they’ve benefited from an incumbent to vote for his opponent, more so after eight years of the same party in the White House.  Not unusual at all, and we generally accept that.  This time, not so much, because it feels like so much is at stake in terms of race relations and security for minorities.

Those are absolutely valid concerns, and why I don’t think viewing everyone who voted for Trump (remember: I didn’t) as an automatic racist, which is what I was seeing a lot of online last night, is helpful.  If we look suspiciously at people around us, thinking, ‘half these people are bigots’ with no proof of that beyond that more people than we hoped voted for a racist…that’s when we’re truly screwed.  What we do, how we live our lives, matters, and often more so than what the government does.

I live in Indiana, land of Mike Pence and the RFRA that was making national news in the spring of 2015.  Leaving aside that much of what people saw was media driven, here’s what people didn’t see: many, many business owners proudly displaying signs in their windows welcoming everyone.  Whatever the reality of the law, many companies and businesses, perhaps even the majority, not only didn’t embrace it as a way to harm others but rather, went out of their way to embrace them.

Indiana had Pence, and we absolutely still have our share of racist, bigoted assholes.  But that doesn’t define us as a state; having Trump/Pence in DC doesn’t have to define us as a nation.  Don’t believe me? Ask someone who attended Gen Con the last two years. The knee-jerk reaction, after RFRA, was to move the con; instead, people came, the con – and the city’s pleasure and acceptance in that – happened, and it’s still on the schedule through at least 2020.

Last night, I commented on Twitter that I think the real question now is what can we do, as individuals, to combat racism, bigotry, and misogyny. Here’s what I’ve come up:

  1. Be willing to connect with people who are different from you. I don’t mean talking to every stranger you meet, but meeting their eyes, giving them a brief smile or making small talk when appropriate? You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. They may not respond positively, but if so? That’s not on you.  (And hey, if I’m saying this? With ‘introvert’ as my middle name? Anyone can make an effort to connect with those around them in small ways. Anyone.)
  2. Listen to those around you, particularly if you don’t agree with them. No, I’m not advocating giving racists a platform, but some of the people who voted for Trump did so because they didn’t feel their lives and problems mattered to the Democrats. Listening may not change anything, but hate and anger never will.  How do we become less racist as a society? How do people change? Nearly always, it’s because someone with a different view took the time to get to know them, to hear them, to earn their respect. Either we want to be part of people changing, or we want to pretend they don’t exist…and look how well that’s worked out for us.
  3. Be sensitive to people who may be feeling threatened, particularly right now. Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist asshole, but they’re out there, and they’re feeling validated right now. If someone looks uncomfortable or nervous, do what you can to stand with them.
  4. And getting back to our government? Pay attention to what your Congresspersons do. Over and over, we’ve seen senators and representatives do things that are inexplicable to those of us outside their district with the justification that they ‘have to work for the people who elected them.’  You want to live in a different world? Take the time to learn what they’re doing, and then contact them and let them know what you approve of or don’t. It’s time-consuming. Do it anyway.

Indiana is still here; we still have good-hearted, compassionate people in every direction I look, and I firmly believe the same is true of our country as a whole.  But we can make it better, we can make others feel valued, we can grow as a people by seeking to get to know our neighbors. And we can do it no matter who’s in the White House.

 

 

Fan Review: The Promise in the Palace (Bones)

People like Bones for different reasons (something the Internet illustrates multiple times every day) but for me, I think it’s because, whatever the technical designation is, I describe the show as a ‘character-driven romantic dramedy forensic procedural.’ (Say that five times fast.)

That genre-bending mix doesn’t work for everyone, I know, but I think it’s a factor in the show’s success: you can love the forensic aspect even if you’re not always entertained by the romantic emphasis; you can love the comic aspects, even if you don’t like all the characters.

Because I like all of those things, it means that the show never fails to entertain me, whether with a dramatic story that makes my heart hurt, humor that makes me giggle, simply watching the characters be who they are, or with a wholly unexpected twist.

This week, it was Sebastian’s interest in Cam, which caused me to remark on Twitter, “I did not see that coming.” I love that the show still surprises me.

There’s been a lot of speculation that his relationship with Angela would cause problems in her marriage. While I think it’s still possible that her photography will cause issues of some sort, I never bought the affair/flirtation thing, in part because I can’t see the show going the way of a third party coming between either of the married couples, but also because it was the first thing people thought of. (How dull, and how unlike Bones it would have been, to do exactly what people were expecting.)

I think part of my response was because while it had never occurred to me that they might go the Sebastian/Cam route, it makes a lot of sense for them to do so. People have commented on how often the show turns to other cast members for romantic liaisons (Angela/Wendell, Daisy/Sweets, Cam/Arastoo, Aubrey/Jessica), but leaving aside that in the real world, romances often start in the workplace, it makes story sense. When both characters in a romance are part of the larger story, it makes it easier for their scenes to serve a dual purpose.

Don’t believe me? Think about the difference between Wendell and Andie, and Aubrey and Jessica. Andie’s not part of the regular story, so her scenes with Wendell are never going to grow out of a conversation where they’re discussing a case, nor veer back to it, as Aubrey and Jessica’s can, nor are we likely to get to know her better, because the show can’t afford to do a lot of development on a character who’s not part of the crime story.

But by having Sebastian be part of both Angela’s story and Cam’s, it’s possible for him to be more fully fleshed out, and therefore more interesting.

CamAng2

Meanwhile, it also gives us some nice scenes between Cam and Angela. (This is me, shouting ‘thank you!‘ to the writers for that.) They’re boss/employee, but also friends who’ve been through a lot together, and I feel like all of that’s coming across this season. In the past, we’ve often seen Cam be reluctant to open up to anyone, so seeing her discuss Arastoo with Angela struck me as some significant character growth, as well as an acknowledgement of the friendship that exists between them.

Cam’s dilemma then led to that great scene in their bedroom between Booth and Brennan, where a casual getting-ready-for bed moment turns into something more poignant. It’s not the first time they’ve contemplated this, though. In his recording for Christine in The Twist in the Plot, Booth says, ‘help your mom to be happy, because if she’s alone, she’s gonna forget.’ Watching this scene, it occurred to me that he wasn’t picturing Brennan with another guy when he said that to Christine. That doesn’t mean I think he would actually want Brennan to be alone the rest of her life if he died, but, well, it’s like he says here: he doesn’t like the idea of her with another guy.

The topic came up again last year, in The Lost in the Found. There, Brennan steadfastly resisted even the idea of a life without Booth, only finally answering the question for Daisy’s sake: no, she wouldn’t be with another man six months after losing Booth.

Bedroom

Both conversations are about Brennan’s life, post Booth; it makes me wonder what her thoughts would be about his life if she died.

Truly, Brennan was my favorite thing in this episode. She’s a good mom, and I’ve loved watching her grow into that role. But she’s still her, and that means not simply going along with things that others take for granted…such as the Tooth Fairy.

I’ve apparently been reading too much urban fantasy, much of which views fairies the way the Brothers Grimm did rather than Disney, because now that Brennan’s pointed it out, I’m having trouble not seeing the Tooth Fairy as a suspicious character, indeed – much to my own amusement. Still, however unsurprised I am by Brennan’s change of heart, it was fun watching her think it through in the context of her quest to understand the appeal of magic.

While Booth and Brennan are the primary relationship for me, I enjoy watching both of them interact with others on the team, because I like them so much as individuals. Brennan’s not just the rational part of the couple known as BoothAndBrennan, she’s a fascinating character in her own right.

I particularly like watching her with Clark. When they first met, he was merely a candidate to replace the absent Zack, one Cam described as, “the absolutely brilliant forensic anthropologist who’d bite off his own arm to be your assistant.” And now? Now they’re friends as well as peers.

BrenClark

We no longer see any competition between them when they’re examining remains. Rather, they work together seamlessly, in a way we don’t see with any of the other squinterns. However much she trusts the others to do an exemplary job (because they are her students, after all), they are still just that: her students. (In this sense, I’ll be curious to see how her work dynamic with Arastoo is different the next time they’re examining bones together.) Clark, however, is not a student, and I’d say that while her confidence in herself as the best forensic anthropologist in the world remains unchallenged, she trusts him the most of anyone else in their profession.

And yet, he’s also her friend, one who once helped her write a rap song for Christine. And that’s the context, I think, where she asks him about his interest in magic, something unfathomable to her as a scientist. He tries to tell her, but is handicapped by her intelligence. It occurred to me for the first time here that if you could always immediately figure out how every magic trick is done, there wouldn’t be anything at all interesting about magic shows. They really would seem like nothing more than someone trying to fool you.

So Clark tries, and Brennan isn’t impressed – though in her smug expression we see that while she respects him as a forensic anthropologist, she still enjoys besting him in a different area.

Nor do the guys fare much better when Hodgins assists.

Booth, however, finally wins one for the team, much to Brennan’s absolute bafflement. I loved her response and as a consequence, am now amusing myself with imagining variations of what came next. This is Brennan, after all, and she won’t give up. She’ll either figure out how he did it, or persuade him to tell her. (Which, actually, might be fun for him, too. *wink, wink*)

Magic

 

Bonus Quotes:

“It’s tradition. There’s no harm in that.
“On the contrary, I don’t want to teach our daughter that it is okay for a stranger to break into her room and steal discarded body parts.”
“Body parts? We’re not talking about body parts. We’re talking about a tooth here.”
“That’s a body part, Booth.” (Booth and Brennan)

B&B

“Science’s primary aim is to search for the truth; magic sets out to deceive. Just like the Tooth Fairy.”
“Let’s not bring the Tooth Fairy into this.”
“Well Christine needs to know that her baby teeth fall out for a reason, not so she can get ice cream money from an imaginary goblin. Ice cream that will, ironically, cause her to lose more teeth.”  (Brennan and Booth)

B&B

“Oh, look. You made Dr. B disappear.” (Hodgins, to Clark, when an annoyed Brennan leaves after figuring out another of Clark’s magic tricks.)

B&B

“She had some flowers sent to her a few weeks ago.”
“Flowers. All right, well who sent them?”
“He had no idea. Okay, you’re getting that look on your face.”
“What look?”
“The look that says you want me to call every single florist in Montgomery County.”
“You’re good. You know what? You’re right. I do have that look.” (Aubrey and Booth)

Don’t Take the Bait (a Fandom Public Service Announcement)

Dear fandom,

You’re being scammed.

The good news is, no, it’s not costing you money. The bad news is that, at the very least, it’s making you look gullible.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been pointed to no fewer than five clickbait sites supposedly posting news (i.e., spoilers) about Bones.

According to wiktionary.org, clickbait is web content “that is aimed at generating advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy.”

The short version: some websites post stuff that is utter crap, worded in a way to get people to come to their ad-supported site, which makes them money. And then those viewers spread the links around social media, so that more people go to the site, and they make even more money.

I won’t bore you with the details (and yes, I work in the tech industry) but there are all kinds of fees associated with having a website, and the bigger the site (i.e., the more people who go there) the more it costs.  While site owners can (and do) pay for small sites themselves, bigger sites are paid for either by donations, subscription fees, or ads.

The great majority of the sites on the web now use the latter. Twitter, Facebook, CNN, Google, TV Guide…it’s an endless list. Every time you visit a site with advertisements around the perimeter, the companies behind those ads are paying for your visit

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the ad-supported model. Sites have to be paid for somehow, and ads are often the least intrusive way of doing so.

But some people figure it’s an easy way to make money off the gullible: post something, true or not, that will cause lots of people to come to a website, make more money from the ads than it costs to run the site, and then keep the difference. Boom! Easy money! Plus, unlike legitimate sites, they don’t have to hire writers or pay for content. They can make up stuff, post it, and hope it goes viral.

What I’ve seen recently are sites taking known spoilers about Bones, twisting them into something unrecognizable, and then presenting the results as a legitimate story. Not one of them purports to be a TV site, by the way. One had only random letters as its URL, one was supposedly a ‘youth health site,’ and the most recent claims to be a finance site.

That one – and no, I’m not linking to any of them – starts with the assertion (presented as a fact) that with Booth missing, the show’s focus will shift to Angela and Hodgins. And not only are some fans buying that, but they’re spreading the rumor that David Boreanaz isn’t going to be a regular on the show anymore.

It’s a lie. One hundred percent. Not one credible spoiler has even hinted at any of that.

A few weeks ago, several of these sites took speculation on the title of the first episode and twisted it into a post claiming that Booth and Brennan’s relationship would be in trouble.

Again, not one credible spoiler has suggested that.

People think websites won’t make up stuff because the network will sue them, but that’s bogus. If a site posts something false about a show, and it picks up enough momentum that the studio thinks it could conceivably cause financial harm, they might send a cease and desist letter; if things get bad enough that they can prove the show was harmed, then, yeah, they might sue, but as a rule? No. Proving any of that is too difficult, for one thing. And generally, networks regard any discussion about a show, right or wrong, truth or lies, to be a good thing.

Legitimate sites don’t lie not because they’re afraid of being sued, but because their greatest asset is their credibility. They need for people to come back to read their next post because the last one proved trustworthy.

The clickbait sites? They don’t care. They’re not worried that weeks from now you’ll say, ‘hey, you were totally wrong about that spoiler, so I’m not going to come to your site again.’ For starters, you probably won’t remember what the site was, and second? They’ve already made their money off you. You came, you saw the ads, you freaked, you passed the link around on social media. Win!

But how do you know whether an article/post/spoiler is credible? After all, the sites look like real websites.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

First, is it a known TV or news site? (TVLine, GiveMeMyRemote, BuddyTV, ScreenFad, ScreenSpy,TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline, The New York Times?) That’s not an exclusive list, and I’m fairly clueless about sites in other countries, but if it’s a site that you’ve never heard of before, or seen other people discussing, be wary of it.

Second, was a link to the content tweeted out by someone associated with the show? Or posted on the show’s official Facebook page? This is a good way to identify less well-known sites that might post legitimate content. (If you’re not on Twitter, you can also check the fan sites. At Bonesology, we post most of the articles that are tweeted out by people associated with the show. But we don’t post links to clickbait sites.)

Third, read the content carefully. Every sentence. Notice whether it’s attributed to someone. If there’s a link to another site where the information came from, follow it to see if it’s legitimate. Ask yourself whether the source it’s attributed to is credible.

That most recent clickbait site? Its ‘source’ – using that term loosely – was a link to another clickbait site. There wasn’t one direct quote in the entire article, just a lot of speculation worded as fact.

Similarly, a few weeks ago another of the sites said it was quoting Michael Peterson (one of Bones’ EPs) but actually linked back to a tweet by Emily Silver. While that kind of thing could be an honest mistake, in this instance, it was an effort to look more legitimate than they were. Think of it this way: if they’re not worried about getting a detail like that right, what makes you think they care about getting anything else right?

Another warning flag: phrases like, ‘as was previously revealed’ or ‘as was announced’ – without saying where it was revealed.  Nearly always, these kinds of things seem legitimate because they’re a twist on something that has been posted on credible sites. But with no link to check back to see what was actually said, you’re left to assume that the twist is accurate.

For example, GiveMeMyRemote posted about the FBI investigation into ‘the disappearance of FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth,’ and TV Guide later referenced it in their Fall Preview, but neither of them suggested that Booth won’t be in the episode; even less that Boreanaz will become only a recurring character. (And for that matter, the rest of the TV Guide bit makes it pretty clear that the show will still be about Booth and Brennan.)

And yet clickbait sites are twisting the ‘Booth goes missing’ spoiler to mean all kinds of things, and fans are buying it. Since the ‘goes missing’ part is legit, the ‘Angela and Hodgins take over’ part must be as well, right?

Wrong.

Here’s why it matters: I can imagine people saying, “So? If fans read and react to something they see, where’s the harm? We’re bored. This hiatus has gone on forever. It gives us something to talk about.”

And the answer is…as long as people keep their cool, there IS nothing wrong with it. Have at it. (Me, I enjoy speculation as much as the next person, and I’ve had a few good belly laughs at some of these sites.)

But recently, some fans have been upset enough over what’s being posted at these sites to threaten the show’s writers. And that’s not only uncool, it makes you look like an idiot. Ditto spreading rumors.

Stop that.  

My advice? Don’t believe everything you see online. But if you must do so, don’t lash out at others over it.