I am still insanely emotional over last week’s episode. It was definitely a turning point in the Hodgins and Angela saga- not in a bad way, and also not in a purely positive way either. After the darkness that permeated throughout last week’s hour, this episode ended up presenting a relatively even mix of both emotion and levity. That is something I truly love about Bones. There are so many ways to present a story, and so many feelings to evoke from within the viewer. While I admittedly sobbed during some of the later scenes in this particular episode, it also began in a way that made me grin like an absolute fool (regardless of whether or not I had watched the first scene 100 times prior to the airing). Where do we go from here? Well, with Hodgins and Angela, your guess is as good as mine. However, I am certainly feeling far more at ease than I have in previous weeks.
When we first found out about Hodgins’ paralysis, I was not at all concerned with whether or not it would feel authentic. As I have said a thousand times before, the writers have always made it their chief mission to ensure that a genuine story is depicted on screen. They never shy away from the darkness. They never take the easy route. Occasionally, they are forced to endure extreme backlash because of that fact. But I am constantly appreciative of the the complex tales they weave because it feels that much more rewarding when there is finally a breakthrough or resolution. It’s never cheated. Always earned.
Hodgins has already gone through a few psychological phases since first being confined to a chair. At first, he was under the impression that it was only a matter of time (and perseverance) before he would be able to walk again. It was to be a temporary setback. Once that dream dissipated completely, we were left with a Hodgins of whom we have only witnessed flashes during the series’ run. He is angry. Angrier than we have ever seen him before. And he has been taking it out on the people he loves most- especially Angela. That has been extraordinarily difficult to watch. To watch these two people who have only ever been so sweet and loving to each other begin to completely unravel- it just really hurts.
While the anger showed no signs of relenting this week, feelings of hopelessness seemed to be added to the mix of emotions for Hodgins. He starts out with the (now) usual bitterness, anger, and even downright coldness. He essentially ignores Angela when she tries to address his clear physical discomfort on the forensic platform. I know people have been growing increasingly more furious at his poor treatment of his wife, myself included. Though I never discounted the mental demons he must be facing throughout this whole ordeal, I was reminded in this episode just how painful it has to be for him. To be completely inside his head and feel utterly alone. He is still unbearably angry, though he also seemed to adopt a more defeatist attitude during this time. While examining the remains in the bone room, Brennan tries to relate and empathize with Hodgins’ outlook on life. The most tragic part of this conversation is that Hodgins reveals that there is indeed a difference between living and merely surviving. He has been operating predominately in survival mode- something Brennan herself has done a time or two. He is trying to hold on to any remnants of meaning and purpose left in his life. He is clinging to his work. But there has been a fundamental alteration to his very existence. He is coping, but he is not living. Whether or not he is making a concerted effort is unknown and irrelevant. This show has already addressed this point in the past, but we each survive in our own way. Is that enough in this case? Is survival enough for this brilliant man who has always had a zest for his work and for his life? Hodgins knows he is broken. And he thinks because he is broken, every facet of his life is broken- including his marriage. But I have said it previously- the damage to Hodgins and Angela is not yet irreparable. There is too much love. There is too much history. They can make it through. There will be ramifications for the damage that has already been inflicted. But again, they can eventually move past it.
Had this all been resolved a little earlier, Angela would likely not need much time to forgive the abuse she has already endured. But time has past. And she has clearly reached a sort of crossroads. I never imagined she would cheat on Hodgins. Sure, she used to be something of a wild woman. But she has always been a truly good and loyal person. The subconscious is often revealing, but dreaming something does not mean you would actually act in that manner when faced with the choice. While awake, we have free will. And when thinking clearly, Angela knows she could not and would not betray her husband in that way. But there is still an issue here. And a decision to be made as well.
The scene between Brennan and Angela is hugely vital. Most importantly, we are reminded that Angela loves Hodgins and would never in a million years cheat on him. Temptation can happen in a marriage. It does not mean that someone would definitely act on it, given the option. Perhaps Angela would want explore a relationship with another man if she and Hodgins were not still together. Eventually. But this is not that world. Angela does admit, however, that the man with whom she is currently living is not Hodgins. He is not her husband. He is a shell of his former self. He is angry and cruel and cold. And Angela has concluded that the damage to her husband’s spine has caused irreparable damage to his identity and sense of self. If this is a permanent change, Angela is not sure she can stay. I do not fault her for this. For even entertaining that thought. I simply cannot. This is not the man she fell in love with. And this is not filed under the “for worse” section of the vows. This is a change in the formula- a violation of the contract. Brennan provides comfort to her friend. Because what else can she really do in that moment? She has said her peace. She will support her friend no matter what she decides. More than anything, Angela just needs someone who is there for her. She needs a shoulder to cry on. Brennan is that person. She always has been and always will be that person. And I think just having her there helps Angela work through all of her conflicting feelings.
By the end of the episode, there is a turning point for Angela and Hodgins as individuals and as a couple. And it was one that honestly startled me. Both of these people had reached the end of their rope. But Hodgins budges first. He realizes that he cannot go on like this. And he cannot drag Angela down this black hole of despair with him. He is broken. But he refuses to sentence her to a life of unrelenting unhappiness. So he does the sensible thing (in his mind). He sets her free. He comes into her office at the end of the day with all of his assets organized neatly in a folder. He is giving her everything, all of their fortune. Letting her go. Because despite everything he is feeling, he still loves her deeply. He always will. I have to wonder if a part of him also thinks he is less of a man now that he is paralyzed. That maybe she deserves someone more “capable.” But Angela is about as shocked as I am. And she absolutely refuses to accept defeat. They will not succumb to this doom. Angela is as emotional as I have ever seen her at any point in the series. And she says to him: “I know that this is painful for you. And I know that you think that I couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like.But this is life. It’s hard, and it is painful, and it is every day. But we fight. We fight together.” At this point, I was absolutely sobbing. Partly as a result of fear- fear that maybe I was wrong. I never like to be wrong. I had faith and evidence on my side. These two were solid and could make it through anything. But I did not take into account that one of them would give up completely. However, Angela wants to fight. And she tells Hodgins to fight. She likely had no idea what she was going to do until the moment she was forced to consider that there could be a swift ending to her marriage. And emotion took the reins. Her emotions made the decision for her. She could not leave this man. And she would not let him leave her. Because as long as there is still love there, they can figure it out. The Hodgins she knows and loves is still in there somewhere. So Angela informs him that she would see him at home. And he is left a little stunned.
The music choice here was absolutely superb, as usual. And when it intensified just a bit at the end of the episode, we were forced to witness a sobbing Angela at home in her bedroom. I think I can count on my hand the number of times I have seen this character emotionally wrecked to that extent. And I didn’t like it. And at the same time, I loved it. This was some of the most compelling and incredible work I have seen from Michaela and TJ. They have completely blown me away with this arc. I absolutely adore this season. But I love every season. I love the growth and evolution each season. So I’ll continue.
Hodgins enters the bedroom, and I can breathe again. I think. He makes his way over his crying wife, and takes her hand in his. She smiles. And finally, there is a glimmer of hope. I am not foolish enough to think everything will be perfect. That is simply not real life. As I have already stated, the writers never take the easy way out of a situation such as this. They will lead us down the most realistic route. So we will likely see a bit more struggle from these two in future episodes. But this was still a turning point for sure. And I believe and hope that everything will start gradually moving toward a solid reconciliation from here.
A few more comments on the rest of the story- Jessica and Aubrey are a very sweet couple. I really did enjoy all the obvious parallels to Booth and Brennan. I honestly do not believe the show is trying to sell us on the whole Booth and Brennan 2.0 thing. If nothing else, these scenes just serve as reminder of where Booth and Brennan came from. Not that we do not all know, but it is nice to see little echoes here and there. The writers are wonderful at that. Obviously Aubrey is not Booth and Jessica is not Brennan. They are not trying to be either. I wouldn’t be worried about that. I definitely like their relationship. And I am curious to see if there will be any future progress. I know Laura Spencer is a busy lady. So we shall see!
Finally, a little Booth and Brennan goodness. How could you not absolutely adore the fact that page 187 was addressed after all these years. Now, we don’t exactly know what was on the page. But really, were we ever going to know? My guess is that it’s not suitable for children. In my opinion, we received better than a flat out definition. We are now armed with the knowledge that it gets even crazier than page 187. I mean, rabbit ears? A jump? VERY TRIBAL?! I have no idea in which capacity they would need a deck and masks, but my interest is more than piqued. Booth was never a prude, as Brennan used to consistently tease. He is just private with his private life. I always figured as much. “I do okay.” I knew that once we were on the inside of one of his relationships (the only one that matters), we would learn a little more about those activities. The show continues to do a stellar job at providing callbacks to earlier seasons. While there has certainly been a lot of payoff in season 11, I definitely think we still need to credit previous seasons as well. This is not the first time we have seen callbacks such as these- the beer hat, the gravedigger, Angela’s name, to name a few. That said, this was a hugely enjoyable and rewarding little opening scene.
Booth and Brennan did not have much with which to contend as a couple during this episode. Aside from Booth dealing with the possibility that his prison friend could have been the killer, their story was primarily a continuation of the meninist drama. Brennan still maintains that she did not do anything wrong when she punched the unarmed (misogynistic) suspect. And whether or not Booth or anyone else agrees, the FBI was not pleased. During her solo hearing, Brennan’s lack of remorse greatly concerned the panel-to the point that they were seriously considering suspending her from FBI work. It would all be pending Booth’s testimony. Now, I myself was not terribly concerned. Booth is a good and honorable man, and he wouldn’t lie to the FBI. But, Brennan did punch that man so that he wouldn’t have to do so (though she definitely derived a bit of satisfaction from it herself). He unofficially supports her. And I think he would do everything possible and legal to avoid losing his wife as his partner. So he tells the truth as best he can. Brennan is obviously an asset to the FBI, but he cannot genuinely promise she will never hit another suspect. However, Brennan can promise it. They begin to bicker, and the woman heading the panel just looks defeated. It is really quite priceless. Because once these two get going, is just no stopping them. They are that talented. And the two of them always have a way of shutting the rest of the world out. Whether it’s while they are lost in each other’s eyes, their words or bickering. I love these two people. They just continue to get better and better every single episode. They are constantly evolving and growing together. Booth and Brennan will undoubtedly face more serious challenges in some upcoming episodes, but whether it is a hearing or a life or death situation, these two partners are always there for each other. They will always have the each other’s back. They will always rescue the other. They are partners in every sense of the word. In work, life, and love. And I should stop now before I start going into an entire novel about why I love this couple more than anything.
Next episode we will get to see the progress Hodgins and Angela have made since we last left them here. And it also appears that we will be getting yet another 447 reference. Now, I am not sure that the meaning behind 447 is as frivolous as a purple-stained man (as seen in the promo). But I always enjoy the instances of this number occurring in this show. It is just fun and interesting at this point. I am not entirely certain that even the writers know what it means. I am also not sure I even care! It’s just Bones-y.
Until next episode!