Thoughts Following The Death in the Defense
What an incredible hour of television. Perhaps this isn’t coming from the most impartial of sources. Who am I kidding? I might as well have birthed this show because I am a consistently ardent supporter, and one of Bones’ biggest cheerleader. But honestly, season 11 has been nothing short of an absolute gift. Desires I didn’t even know I had- it’s fulfilling all of them. This week’s episode had a lot riding on it. After four months away, the show had to address the bombshell it dropped in the last few moments of The Doom in the Boom. I had no doubt that the writers crafted a realistic and compelling journey for Hodgins. I was also certain that TJ and the rest of the cast would completely blow this episode out of the water. It did not disappoint. Not in the least. It exceeded all expectations. Every character was involved in a meaningful way. And this week proved that Bones really is back (in every way).
While the revelation in the final moments of the mid-season finale were jarring for us all, this week’s episode introduced us to a surprisingly upbeat Hodgins. He may be in a wheelchair now, but he truly seemed in good spirits. He was surprisingly optimistic about his chances of regaining the use of his legs. In his mind, this was a temporary setback. If he could work hard and ride it out, life would return to its previous state. Angela, on the other hand, seemed very cautious and extremely concerned throughout the hour. I do believe it made her exorbitantly nervous to see her husband so determined. Of course she wanted to turn back the clock. And if there was any chance that he could walk again, she no doubt would support his rehabilitation- both emotionally and physically. But more than anything, she just wanted him to be okay. Not in denial. Not harboring a misguided sense of hope about his situation being temporary. She wanted him to be at peace with it. It would take some adjustment, but they could be happy again. No matter the circumstances.
Throughout the course of the episode, Hodgins’ sunny disposition remained relatively impenetrable. There were a few setbacks, of course. Angela mentioned that Hodgins’ chair wouldn’t make it through some muddy terrain when he suggested he be the one to go searching for some missing bone bits. For a moment, it seemed as though his reality had sunk in. But he shook it off, and was determined to continue lending a hand from the lab. A mention of “King of the Lab” from Wendell also seemed to slightly affect Hodgins’ psyche. But he pressed on. After all, this would only be temporary. He had already felt a tingly sensation in his feet. Surely that was a sign of good things to come.
But the biggest blow came when Cam came into the Ookey Room and forcefully (because she exhausted every other way) told Hodgins he had to leave the lab. I think it was the first time he really heard it. Angela and Cam so desperately wanted to keep him safe. There was still potential for further damage to be caused. Right now, Hodgins had full mobility above the waist. It could presumably be worse. There are far more dire fates to suffer. Ideally, he needed to rest and work with a professional to reduce the risk of causing further harm. It’s hard to fault them for worrying, especially Angela who couldn’t bear to see him hurt anymore. It’s also hard to fault Hodgins for wanting to continue working. It’s a near-impossible situation to fathom. Dr. Hodgins is shocked back to reality by Cam’s demand. “I need to be here. It’s who I am.” Cam responds with “you are so much more than this job.” In a less tragic circumstance, this is is somewhat reminiscent of Brennan’s “I have to do this, it’s who I am” from The Diamond in the Rough. I’ve touched on this before, but I don’t think it’s a personal failure if you find such profound meaning in your work that you begin to define yourself by it. It becomes a part of you. That’s not typical of everyone, but these two people are especially motivated by their work. It’s always been more than just a job. It’s what motivates them. It’s what gives them a sense of purpose. It is a part of them. When you remove such a fundamental component of one’s life, you are essentially removing a piece of them. Hodgins lives a full life. He has a family, friends, and a job that he loves. But before he had the family and friends, he had that job. He loves that job. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who loves their work more. I know Cam was trying to help, but honestly, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Hodgins’ feeling lost without his work. He is the King of the Lab, “Bug Boy,” and Dr. Hodgins. What does he do without that? Who is he without that? He does back to the lab next week, so that’s not necessarily something he will really have to face. But if he was permanently banned from working, he would have to try to find meaning elsewhere. That’s not an easy thing to do when you had already been living your dream. And Hodgins was already living his dream.
To further illustrate this point, Hodgins confesses to Angela that he does not know how to be the man she fell in love with without being at the lab. While a sad admission, I think she is beginning to understand. At least a little. Poor Angela just wants to do the right thing for her husband. It’s just hard to know what that is. It’s like a Sophie’s Choice between his happiness and his safety. What is ultimately better for him? Mental health is a powerful thing. If she “forced” him to stay home, he could ultimately turn into his own worst enemy. The effects could be even more detrimental than any ramifications resulting from working. They could even manifest themselves physically. It’s so hard for Angela to know what to do. She’s never been in this situation before. She doesn’t want to contribute an ounce to her husband’s unhappiness. But as she said, two months ago they were discussing how lucky they were. Two months ago they were going to expand their family. In an instant, everything changed. Their lives as they know it changed, likely in a very irrevocable way. Even if and when Hodgins gets to that place of acceptance, their lives will still never be the same. But marriage is supposed to be for better or for worse. This is the “for worse.” She loves Hodgins so much. And we have only ever seen him completely head over heals in love with this woman. She hangs the moon for him. So it is going to be extraordinarily difficult to see him take his aggression out on her. They are both going to do and say things in the coming weeks that will be such a contrast from the couple they have always been. But looking at their history, how they came to be this wonderful couple, I know they will survive it. The foundation is there. In the end, they will make it through this together. I don’t know how much emotional damage will be caused before that. But I don’t think it’s going to be irreparable.
Despite everything that happened during this episode, Hodgins still managed to cling to hope for a different outcome. Right up until those last moments when his doctor shattered all hope for him. That’s when we really see a discernable shift in him. He immediately lies to his wife, and exits the room. Because now, it’s out there. He really may never walk again. Hope is a very powerful force. With it, you can overcome even the most grim of circumstances. But when it’s taken away from you, when that last bit of hope is gone, that is when all bets are off. Hodgins is about to go to some really dark places. It’s going to be tough to get through to him now. But someone will. Something will. I’m certainly not faulting him for feeling low. I can’t even imagine what he is going through. But he is eventually going to realize all that he still has and all that he still has to lose. It will be a painful journey. But it will be a realistic one. We will see the good times and the bad. While some shows may gloss over this arc, Bones will deliver from start to finish. It will be difficult for us all to watch, but in the end, it’ll be worth it. And the cast performances will simply be out of the this world.
I’ve touched a bit on Angela, but we also see the other characters’ responses to Hodgins’ situation. Aubrey feels uneasy about Hodgins being in that chair. It’s weighing on him, considerably. But Caroline reminds him that he’s a hero. He saved Hodgins. Hodgins will now get to see his boy grow up because Aubrey shielded him from the blast. While Hodgins may not be able to see it now, he will be grateful for that someday.
Cam simply feels guilty. She spent much of the episode not wanting to step on Hodgins’ toes (figuratively speaking) up until Angela confronts her. But she wanted him to go home. She did not want him in the lab. It was just difficult to have that conversation because of the guilt she was feeling. She feels she should have known to send Hodgins home that day. Perhaps if she did, he wouldn’t be in this situation. But honestly, maybe he would have. Maybe he would have still been in pain, and felt the need to take that aspirin. But we cannot change the past. Even Hodgins tells Cam it wasn’t her fault. He’s an adult. No one could have made him leave that day. It was not Cam’s responsibility. And sometimes life just happens. She just wanted to keep him from getting hurt worse than he already was. That is why she was so harsh. I think her guilt is assuaged when she visits him at his home. So she invites him to come back to work. Because they could really use him. This is before the end of the episode, so he’s a bit more jovial and enthusiastic in that moment.
Wendell wants Hodgins back in the lab. He has been in a similar situation when diagnosed with cancer a couple years ago. Work helped him. It helped him keep his mind on something else, and it helped to motivate and stimulate him. He is reminded of when Booth convinced him not to give up. He believes someone should do that for Hodgins. But Brennan assures him this is an entirely different situation. She doesn’t say it, but what happened to Wendell was nothing short of a miracle (or really really good science). Rationally speaking, Hodgins shouldn’t get his hopes up. But that doesn’t stop Wendell from trying to include Hodgins at every step of the case. He’s uniquely qualified to understand where Hodgins is coming from. Except that “King of the Lab” slip up.
Finally, my dear Booth and Brennan. Last but NEVER EVER least. They see Hodgins’ situation in the same way they see most situations. Differently. Booth wants him to have hope, and knows Hodgins will work harder than anyone. He is just waiting for things to get back to normal. And Brennan relies on the science, as she so often does. However, the science unfortunately indicates that Hodgins will likely never walk again. Booth and Brennan do not fight about it, which is one of the things I love about them. They can talk about it, share their personal views, maybe bicker a bit, and ultimately agree to disagree. Booth talks about having hope and faith throughout the episode. That is still something Brennan struggles with daily. She has dabbled in “hope” and “faith” in the more recent years. She really has learned a lot from Booth. But in this instance, it’s essentially all about science. Brennan is not being cold. The fact of the matter is that having faith in this situation is not practical. It’s not a matter of faith or miracles. She has the evidence in front of her “proving” just how miniscule Hodgins’ chances of walking are. But Booth has seen soldiers come back from war injuries. He’s seen a lot of astonishing miracles in his time. He has seen firsthand what faith and hope can accomplish. Brennan still has trouble with the intangible. But the difference between Brennan now and “then” is that now she notes how the science in this case just makes her sad. Something she has always put such credence in- it hasn’t necessarily failed her, but it’s causing her pain. Science was never supposed to do that. That is why she locked away her heart so long ago and focused on science and practicality. Because it was never supposed to disappoint her. But here we are. Booth and Brennan do not necessarily come to any sort of agreement on the subject. But Booth assures her that Angela and Hodgins will get through this. Together. They are strong. That is something they can put their faith in. And Booth and Brennan will be there for the couple throughout it all. Especially Brennan. Angela is going to need her best friend. And that hug was just the beginning. Brennan will be her shoulder to cry on (if that’s the rational thing to do in the moment).
Booth comforts Brennan with just about the most loving hug you can imagine two people sharing. Seriously, are these two real? Sometimes I just cannot believe it. But I will never stop being thankful for them. Then Booth says to her “did you ever think you’d have an amazing great husband? And kids who like, love you crazy?” “That was an unlikely turn of events.” After I finish “fangirling” over this moment for the 500th time this week…No, the answer is Brennan never expected to have this life. Which only proves that life is not always as you expect. It’s not always predictable or rational. No one knows what’s going to happen. Booth has a way of comforting Brennan that just (figuratively) warms my heart. They are so different, but still parts of the whole. There is just not and never will be anything like them. To further extend this fuzzy moment, Brennan notices a picture of skeleton that Christine had drawn. While it is not anatomically accurate, Booth still says “like mother, like daughter.” I need a moment. But Brennan hopes that Christine grows up to have faith like Booth. These two. The don’t always see a situation in the same way, but they would never change the other in a million years. Brennan loves Booth’s faith, and everything else about him. Booth loves every bit of Brennan. They always did and always will make a perfect team. After all, they are “compLEments.” Their scene ends with some classic bickering, something that is so quintessentially them.
I told the story a bit out of order, but that’s how the thoughts came out. I think subconsciously I wanted to end with a more hopeful narrative. I imagine we all need to make sure our hope and faith are in tact for what’s to come. It will be a difficult road for all the characters. And Hodgins’ situation is not all that will be going on. The details for the upcoming episodes are a bit vague, as it stands right now. But there is going to be some intense stuff coming down the line. There will also certainly be light and fun moments as well. It is still Bones. Bones never stays dark for too long. I cannot even list all that I’m looking forward to for the rest of the season. There is too much. But in the immediate future, I want to see what prompts Brennan to slap that man in the interrogation room. If I am right, [spoiler] it has something to do with protecting Booth- which was not apparent by the promo editing. But honestly, I can’t wait for all of it. As I mentioned, this season has been a dream thus far. And there is so much more to come!