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 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)
“But you have backups, right? I mean, you uploaded everything into the cloud?”
“You’ve been lecturing me endlessly for years about how the cloud isn’t secure.”
“Wait a minute. You listened to me? Angela, I’m a known paranoid conspiracy theorist!” (Hodgins, Angela)
“Once a Ranger, always a Ranger.”
“That’s not the Ranger slogan.”
“I was thinking of the Power Rangers.” (Aubrey, Booth)