“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This question was an ever-present theme throughout the latest episode of Bones. The Movie in the Making was a documentary-style hour, during which the partnership between the FBI and the Jeffersonian was investigated. The personal lives of those on the team were also closely examined through both interviews and observation. It was an episode that I have only been able to describe as perfect. There is simply no other sufficient way to sum up my feelings. And I have tried numerous times. This was Bones at its best. Plain and simple. It reminded us of how far these beloved characters have come in the last 12ish years. In a way, we got to relive their journey through this hour. It was absolutely brilliant. After 230 episodes, I can still be surprised. It’s astonishing. And when all is said and done, I may look back on this as being the quintessential episode of the series.
From beginning to end, this hour of Bones was impeccably executed. It had everything a fan could ever want. And I do mean everything. I lost count of how many callbacks to previous episodes they included. Sometimes I have to remind myself just how lucky we really are. As fans, we get so much from this show. It’s far greater than many other fandoms out there. I always say we are the luckiest in the world. And I honestly and fully believe that to be true.
This episode really examined the concept of goals, dreams, and aspirations. At the beginning, Brennan comes in for Career Day at Christine’s school. This prompts the discussion about what Christine and the rest of the children want to be when they grow up. And really, it leads everyone on the team to talk about where they came from, and where they want to go moving forward. I would like to focus on the very last scene of the show here. Because I do think it may be one of my favorite scenes Bones has ever done.
Angela was first introduced to us as a free-spirited artist. Her primary goal in life was to eventually become a painter in Paris. She also wanted to get to a point where she could support herself solely with the income from her artwork. But life does not always unfold in the way we expect it to. She met Brennan, who almost instantly gave her a paying job at the Jeffersonian. And from that point on, she became the forensic artist and “resident computer nerd” we have all come to know and love. She is talented and driven, and is the obviously the best at what she does. But this is not her true passion. Years ago, Angela would not have been able to imagine a life where she was not directly pursuing her dream. But Brennan happened. Hodgins happened. Michael Vincent happened. Relationships happened. Over and over again, she found reasons to stay where she was. She never doubted those relationships, nor would she trade them for anything. But from time to time, we see her really struggle with her decision to stay at her job. She so desperately wants to create something beautiful. This team sees so much death and darkness, day in and day out. She wants to counter some of that with art. She wants to celebrate life. Angela paints and take photographs on the side, when she has the time. Perhaps one day, she can make a career out of it. But for now, a pastime will have to suffice.
This season has been an emotional roller coaster for Angela. She almost lost Hodgins to an explosion, and then again when he was paralyzed. And finally, she almost lost Hodgins to himself. To his intense pain and anger. That is enough to make anyone want to give up. But she never did. She was there through it all. She did not even give her husband the choice to give up. Not on himself. And not on their marriage. She kept her family together, which was probably the most exhausting feat she has achieved thus far. And while things are undeniably better, revisiting her past and examining her present in this episode is another reminder of all she has endured. And also, she must face the fact that she is not yet an artist- at least not by her definition. However, the way she phrases her wish is interesting. She doesn’t say she wants to be an artist when she “grows up.” She simply says she wants to capture beauty and share it with others. From my perspective, she is already doing just that. The world is full of hatred and ugliness. She wants to negate some of that by creating beautiful things. The montage at the end shows the true essence of Angela. She is in obviously in her element, taking photos and smiling and laughing. She is beautiful. She does have a wonderful life. She loves her family and her friends. I have no doubt that she will reach her goals, and that one day, ALL of her dreams will come true.
I want to say that no one has had a rougher go of it this season than Hodgins. But it’s all relative. I imagine that Brennan, perhaps, did not feel this way when Booth went missing. And I have to believe Booth did not enjoy nearly dying either. But Hodgins has had to contend with a loss unfamiliar to anyone else on the show. He lost the use of his legs. But to him, it was so much more than just the physical aspect. He lost himself. He did not feel like the same person. And it seemed as though he had all but given up on life. Angela finally knocked some sense into him. She did not even give him a choice. He was not going to give up. And they were not going to give up. That was that.
The end of that episode (Last Shot) was definitely a turning point in this saga. Life is still not perfect. Hodgins still has a ways to go. But this episode gave us a glimpse of the old King of the Lab. He was ecstatic to share his work with the world. He loved hamming it up for the cameras, and he just seemed so effortlessly happy. Hodgins is someone who has always had such passion for his work. So his dream for himself is to essentially never let himself revert back to the man we saw a few episodes ago. He wants to always possess a passion, a curiosity, and a drive to keep digging. Keep digging for new discoveries and new truths. He just wants to always be looking for something. Always be on the verge of a discovery. Because that is what fuels him. That is what inspires him. That is what makes him who he is. That is Hodgins- past and present.
We did not meet Aubrey until just a couple years ago, but I think we still have a decent handle on his character. From his “I gotta get me one of those” to now- he is really just a kid at heart. He wants to retain that quality for life. Aubrey has already experienced having to grow up before he should have. His dad was a criminal who abandoned his mother and himself. Somehow, he still managed to hold onto his passion for life (and for food). The man is constantly eating. Food is arguably his great love in life (maybe Jessica comes in second, we’ll see how that progresses). I have never seen a man more excited to eat. I have to get the number for his trainer. So really, while we don’t know much of what happened between when his father left and now, we do know that he somehow was able to enjoy life again. Enjoy the simple things that life had to offer. But you can bet that when the team is in a bind, he is the first one to come to the rescue. He literally saved Hodgins. Without Aubrey throwing his body out of the way, Hodgins may not even be alive today. And he helped Booth and Brennan during a very difficult time in both of their lives. He barely knew these people, but he knew they were deserving of whatever help he could provide. He is a welcome member of the team. And his childlike energy and enthusiasm is like a breath of fresh air.
Cam is someone who I believe to be deceptively hard to get to know. She has a tough exterior, and we saw as much when she first came on as head of the Jeffersonian. But she soon became an integral part of the family. And slowly, we learned more and more about this woman. Similar to the other women on the team, Cam is extremely independent. While she does enjoy having a man in her life, it was never essential to her. When Cam got together with Arastoo, we were not privy to the beginning stages of the relationship. We do not necessarily know how they went from a professional to a personal dynamic. I suppose one day he could have wooed her with his poetry. But the fact remains that this was, and still is, the most significant romance she has had (thankfully, she and Booth were not really suited for one another in that way).
At the beginning of the season, Cam had a choice to make. Arastoo could not stay at the Jeffersonian forever after receiving his doctorate- at least not after Brennan had decided to return. She loved Arastoo. But she chose herself. Because Cam has everything she wants, professionally speaking. She loves her work. She loves the Jeffersonian. She couldn’t leave. Cam chose Cam. That’s not to say she didn’t miss Arastoo. She tried to find satisfaction with another. But when Arastoo returned, it seemed pointless to pretend anymore. And once Arastoo drove her home in The Monster in the Closet, I think they were well on their way back to each other.
Cam once tried to hide their relationship. There should be a line between one’s professional life and personal life. Throughout this episode, she attempts to keep the focus strictly on her life in a professional capacity. But after hearing Arastoo speak such kind and loving words about her all throughout filming, and then overhearing him defend her to the producer, she could not even pretend anymore. She was so overtaken with emotion, that she dropped all pretense of professionalism and finally asked this man to marry her. We already knew he was ready (and if we didn’t, he said so 30 seconds prior). And she was finally ready. They were in the same pace at the same time. So when Cam is essentially asked what more she wants out of life- she teases that it’s a personal question. But also, there is not much else she could really ask for in that moment. She is truly happy in all facets of her life.
Booth’s hope for his future is basically the same as the day we met him. He simply wants to even the cosmic score. Well actually, he wants to give back more than he has taken. Whether it is actual lives, trust, or faith that he has “stolen” from another, he wants to give that back. And then some.
This is where I launch into my “Booth is a good man” speech. Because he is a good man. Really, he’s the best man. He is a tough nut to crack sometimes, as he doesn’t want the spotlight. He never really shines a light on himself. He just wants to be a decent man, a loving husband, and the best father to his children. He wants to be worthy of those he loves. At the end of the day, he only wants to be considered a decent human being in the eyes of both the God he worships and his family. Like Brennan, he does not put his trust in many people. We have seen him occasionally open up to Cam, Sweets, and Aubrey. But since they became partners, Brennan has really become his primary confidant. Even before getting together, they shared their deepest secrets with one another. He is also not afraid to be vulnerable around her. She has seen him break down a few times over the years. She knows him better than anyone else. And vice versa.
Brennan also knows the price Booth pays every time he takes a life. For Booth to kill someone, though it is always in the line of duty, it weighs so heavily on him. With each shot, he dies a little bit. We found that out over a decade ago, but we see evidence of it every time he is forced to take a life. From season one to last week, it is never something he takes lightly. We have always understood that Booth keeps a tally in his head. Whether it’s kills, betrayals, or lies- he counts all that he has taken from others, so that he may one day give back that much more to the world. But he has never taken a life in cold blood. And he has never deliberately betrayed the ones he loves. So in my humble opinion, his cosmic balance sheet is looking pretty solid.
This was a beautiful scene to me. Booth can be a lighthearted and cocky man, at times. But we know the real Booth. We know what he thinks and what he feels. We know what motivates him. We know what haunts him. And in this moment, we see that he is both working on bettering himself by going to a Gambler’s Anonymous meeting, as well as helping a fellow addict. He is giving this other man a chance at starting over. He is giving him the opportunity to choose life. Because Booth is the ultimate “good guy.” He is a hero. He has the heart of a lion. And whether you ask me or Brennan, I think we would both agree that Booth evened the score a long time ago. Simply put, he is “the best person ever, even though that can’t be confirmed empirically.”
Last, but never least, Brennan. This woman astonishes me, each and every episode. The evolution of this character is some of the most astounding work I have ever seen on television- and I have watched a LOT of shows in my time. Not to say I am not biased- clearly that is not the case. I am head over heels in love with this show. But honestly, I could sit here and write a novel about her. If you go back to the very beginning, there were a few unyielding truths about Temperance Brennan: She was never going to fall in love. She was never going to get married. And she was certainly never going to have children.
Being abandoned as a teenager, she had to learn how to be entirely independent- both emotionally and financially. She decided then that she would never depend on another person. And she would never dare love another person. Anyone she ever loved had left her. She proceeded to close herself off from the rest of the world. She became entirely focused on being the best in her field. She achieved that goal. She was a success. She was, and still is, the best. But there was a tiny crack in her walls. And without realizing it, she was slowly but surely letting other people creep through. Her views gradually changed as time went on. Because these people with whom she had formed close ties were sticking around. Disproving her theory that everyone leaves, and that relationships do not last. Angela and Booth were entirely instrumental in her evolution. Then one day (or a period of three days), her world turned upside down. She decided, then and there, that being sad was so much better than being dead inside. She would be strong, but not impervious. She would allow herself to love this man, and grieve over her regrets. Though, everything happens eventually. After a breakup, some time, a blizzard, and an unfortunate death, Booth and Brennan finally got together. After all, she was and still is the standard.
Somewhere along the way Brennan also decided that having a child did not scare her in the way that it used to. She would love her child, of that she was quite sure. She could pretty much guarantee that she would never abandon her child either. Once she was actually pregnant with Booth’s baby, she was thrilled. But once it became a reality, she was a bit nervous about connecting with their daughter. This was happening. No turning back. Booth, of course, provided support and reassurance. And she really has been the most extraordinary mother to those children.
What I love about Brennan’s last line in this episode is how indicative it is of her evolution since the pilot (well, the 100th?) to now. While the Brennan of years past would have aspired to win a genius award or get a 10th doctorate, her priorities have since shifted. She is still a genius. And she is still the absolute best in her field. She writes best-selling novels, and speaks eight languages. She loves her work. She first answers the producer’s question by saying “that’s easy.” Which really means that what she is about to say is the simplest answer in the world. Like if someone asked you if you wanted brussel sprouts or ice cream- well that’s easy (actually I’d pick the brussel sprouts, but I am slightly insane). She follows it up with her line about being the MOTHER of the world’s greatest CAR SALESPERSON. Earlier in the episode Christine declared that she did not want to be a scientist or a hockey player. Quite simply, she wanted to sell cars. And in this moment, Brennan effectively declares that she would be proud to watch her daughter be the best salesperson in the world. She would be proud of her no matter what she does in life. Her child is her dream. Her child will be her proudest achievement. How much has this character evolved? Still the same at her core, but she has grown so much. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch Temperance Brennan evolve over the years.
I could so easily type another 500 pages. I have so much to say about this episode and these characters. I’ll reiterate my previous sentiments by saying this was the perfect episode. A perfect hour of television. And I am so incredibly proud to be a Bones fan. What a satisfying ride this season has been, thus far!