Of all the squinterns, Arastoo really had the most significant arc in season 11. The other interns were obviously essential assets to the team throughout the season. They helped with cases, and a few experienced some really compelling character development. But Arastoo hit several milestones during his five episodes. He was forced into making some tough choices and major life decisions. He found himself having to choose between his work and the woman he loves. And though it was certainly not an easy path, I think he (and his now-fiancee) are stronger for it.
As so much happened with this character in just the first two hours of the season, this will be a two-parter.
Arastoo makes an appearance in the very first episode, The Loyalty in the Lie. When last we left off in season 10, Booth and Brennan had left their respective jobs. This left a gaping hole at the Jeffersonian (and the FBI, of course), and Cam was in desperate need of a new head of forensic anthropology. We come to find out that Arastoo has been filling in for his former mentor during those six months. We also learn that Brennan has apparently nixed each candidate Cam proposed for her replacement. Cam begins to think that perhaps Arastoo should permanently fill that role. But I had to immediately question whether was it because he was truly the best candidate, or because she wanted him to stay local. Without this job, he would likely have to find employment elsewhere. And Cam would be faced with a decision of her own. This was a far easier solution for the time being. Though, I do not think the weight of this was a particularly conscious thought for either yet.
Hodgins and Angela are completely on board with appointing Arastoo. Cam is thrilled, but just wants to be absolutely sure that he is the right decision. After all, she is dating this man and her selection will probably be heavily scrutinized by all TPTB at the Jeffersonian. I do believe my knowledge of what happens in this arc is clouding my perspective here, but I get the impression that Arastoo was just a touch too green for this role. He is brilliant, obviously, and has been trained for years by Brennan- both extremely useful credentials. But he only just graduated. This lab has a reputation as being the best. Temperance Brennan has been an almost-permanent staple at the Jeffersonian since 1998. You do not just replace a veteran with someone who has never run a department before. Arastoo is more than competent. He has the necessary command of the science. But he still lacks that essential experience- the experience which so often allows Brennan to reach conclusions in extremely obscure cases. Something about this was nagging at me even when I first watched this episode- perhaps only because I knew that Brennan would be back, and that all of this would be temporary.
Aubrey alerts the team that a body has been found torched in a van. In the recent months, Aubrey has moved into Booth’s role, and now says things like “I had my people…” But I cannot begrudge him. Same with Arastoo. It’s not as though the team wanted Booth and Brennan to leave. It crushed them to lose those two. But this was a natural progression. Arastoo is now the lead forensic anthropologist at the scene, and he does appear to be quite confident in his ability to work a crime scene. He notes the characteristics of the charred body. Listening to them again now, it’s just eerie how they really wanted us to believe that this COULD have been Booth. Hodgins notes Arastoo’s “excellent” work and gives Cam a knowing smile.
When the mysterious charred remains finally make their way to back the Jeffersonian, Arastoo mentions the difficulty of this particular examination. But he assures Cam that he can handle this case. She knows. This would be the last calm moment until the end of 11×02. Just then, Angela (with a very uneasy look upon her face) comes to share her findings with the team. The gun fused to the victim’s leg belongs to Booth. And everyone looks as though they may be sick right on the spot.
After learning that her husband is suspected dead, Brennan rushes to the Jeffersonian to see the remains for herself. It cannot be Booth. Arastoo is ready to share all of his findings thus far. He has run every test, and all “indications” point to the victim being Booth. But if you are going to tell Temperance Brennan that her partner, husband, and the father of her children is dead, there better not be even a fraction of an ounce of doubt in your mind. Because she will not eat, sleep, or sit until she has exhausted every last option. I do feel badly for Arastoo in this situation as well. He did everything he was taught. He is certainly an exemplary forensic anthropologist. But at the end of the day, he is just not Brennan. No one is. Arastoo has not even had his doctorate for a year. He needed to go off and gain experience actually running a lab himself. The Jeffersonian (up until that point) was where the “best and the brightest” go. He was one of the best and brightest interns. And one day, perhaps this will be the job for him. I’ll be blunt and say that for now, he is simply not the best option.
Brennan inquires about every injury and/or ailment Booth has sustained over the years. Arastoo has found evidence of all of Booth’s past injuries already. I will say, I do not believe Arastoo would even think of telling Brennan her husband was dead unless he was 100% sure. I would say 1000%, but Brennan would not approve of such hyperbole. Arastoo was as certain as he could be. Because to crush the heart of Temperance Brennan is something no one at the lab wants participate in- especially when it could potentially be avoided. After Arastoo assures Brennan that he has found evidence of all of Booth’s past injuries, she asks to be left alone with the bones. And he grants her that request.
Following a rather heart wrenching examination by Brennan (more on that in future recaps, this is Arastoo’s), she FINALLY discovers that the body in question is not Booth’s. She explains that Booth was in a fire fight a year and a half ago. Arastoo has already accounted for this, and the body he examined was “riddled with bullet wounds.” Is it wrong that every time i hear the phrase “riddled with bullets” I actually always think of “riddled with boolets?” Thanks David! Arastoo points out that there are so many fractures on the body, and it’s too hard to tell which wounds are bullet wounds. “Yes, it takes a lot of experience to do so.” With any other character, and in any other situation, I may be of the opinion that this was an insensitive thing to say. But this is Brennan talking to the man who insisted moments earlier that her husband was dead. That she was going to be alone once more. That she would have to tell her children that their father would never be returning. She has substantially more composure than I would have. But it’s not Arastoo’s fault. He really just lacks that experience. Brennan shows the team what Arastoo missed. Arastoo looks defeated. While everyone else just seems relieved.
“I hope this isn’t indicative of how you’ve been running the Jeffersonian in my absence.” Brennan directly addresses Cam, but Arastoo comes to Cam’s defense. “This was my oversight, not Dr. Saroyan’s.” Brennan wouldn’t have assumed that Cam literally made the erroneous conclusion. However, she was in charge. I have to wonder if Cam’s judgment was a bit hindered by her feelings for Arastoo.
I understand that you’re angry and…
You told me my husband is dead. Angry doesn’t begin to cover it.
There’s no time for that. We still don’t know who this is or how he died.
And we’ll figure that out.
Yes, we will.
[CAM] Dr. Brennan…
This man had Booth’s gun. Now Booth is gone. I am not leaving until these bones lead me to wherever the hell my husband is.
Arastoo looks absolutely crushed. And he is obviously quite disappointed in himself. I feel for him in that sense. But Brennan is right. There’s no time for self-pity. Time is of the essence here. Every second they waste, Booth could be that much closer to death.
Later, Arastoo asks Hodgins’ opinion on some case results. Hodgins comes to the conclusion that the victim was an alcoholic, indicating that it is definitely not Booth. Hodgins congratulates Arastoo for his find. But Arastoo is not so jovial. This was not his finding, it was Brennan’s. He notes that this is the second item he has missed. Trust me, I understand feeling like a complete and utter failure at work, though I suppose my job isn’t a matter of life and death. But Arastoo’s time would have been better spent trying to find Booth rather than lamenting over his errors.
We get a bit more insight as to why Arastoo is so concerned about his standing at the Jeffersonian. He is not necessarily concerned with Brennan’s words. He has plans for his future with the head of the forensics division at the lab. He shows Hodgins a ring box, and the entomologist is stunned. “Whoa. You’re going to ask Cam?” “How can I? How can I even stay here if I’m not up to the job?” Hodgins assures Arastoo that Brennan would never have hired him if he was not exceptional. Absolutely true. He adds that Cam would not have kept him on if she didn’t know he could do the job. Look, Arastoo was never the first choice here. Cam searched high and low for Brennan’s replacement. But the fact of the matter is, there is no replacement for Brennan. She is one of a kind. Cam’s task was impossible from the start. Being trained by Brennan, Arastoo might have been up to the challenge a few years from now. But these events were transpiring somewhat sooner than any of them had planned. Hodgins encourages Arastoo to take his shot with Cam.
Arastoo eventually finds cause of death, but I am not sure it was enough to redeem himself (in his own eyes). Brennan then makes an observation on the bones, which allows her to determine the identity of the victim. Arastoo is perplexed. But because of the similarities to injuries that Booth has sustained, Brennan can pretty accurately posit that the victim is Jared Booth. There is no celebrating this ID. It is not a happy moment. It’s a relation to Booth. It’s likely to cause Booth pain. But, I’m sure selfishly, they are both relieved. Because this means that Booth could still be alive.
After Arastoo briefs Cam on his progress, she accidentally uncovers the ring box. She is obviously in shock. Arastoo panics and grabs the box, informing her that she was not supposed to see it. “I wasn’t?” Arastoo tells her that she was eventually supposed to see it, but then everything with Booth happened. Cam asks if the box is what she thinks it is. “It is…but this isn’t the right time. Is it?” It’s not. Cam allows Arastoo to show her the ring anyway, even if he is not actually asking “the question” in that moment. Hodgins and his truly impeccable timing- he catches Arastoo in a seemingly compromising position and begins to get prematurely excited for his two friends. Remember when Hodgins clapped for Cam and Arastoo announcing their relationship? That’s just him.
Dude, you asked her. Good for you.
Uh… no, actually.
She said no?
[CAM] Uh, he hasn’t asked yet.
Awkward. Hodgins exits the room without another word.
Brennan and Arastoo are once again attempting to discern the meaning behind Jared’s most recent bone injuries prior to death. In true Brennan fashion, she was not holding a grudge. And she does not treat Arastoo with anything less than her full respect following her initial outburst earlier in the episode. Arastoo has proven himself valuable on this case. And he comes up with another plausible scenario, which Brennan had yet to consider. Thanks to Arastoo’s findings, Hodgins was able to determine the characteristics of the building which Jared was shot and subsequently thrown from.
Arastoo’s last scene in this episode is with Brennan. He asks her how she is holding up. “Not well. I have more questions than answers, which is unusual for me.” She’s also angry, as Booth promised he wouldn’t see Jared. “That’s probably the only promise he couldn’t keep.” Brennan still fails to understand. So Arastoo attempts to help her.
There’s a bond between brothers. If my brother, Hamid, needed me, I would be there in a second.
That’s different. You risked your life to go to Iran because your brother was sick.
Yeah, but what if Booth’s brother needed him?
Brennan explains that Jared constantly leaned on Booth whenever he was in trouble. We as an audience have seen it before. Brennan once witnessed Arastoo risk his life to go back to Iran and help his sick brother. In her eyes, it’s different scenario because this was always Jared’s MO. She wants to know what exactly Booth was keeping from her. And she wants to understand why. But Arastoo does not have answer for that. He cannot explain what a bond between brothers means to Brennan. She has a brother, yes. And though they eventually reconciled, he once left her when she needed him the most. This is foreign territory to her, unless someone explains in terms she can understand. Though she does generally understand Booth, and who he is. So it shouldn’t be too much of a shock to her that he felt compelled to help a loved one in his time of need. Brennan opened up to Arastoo here. Yes, she was angry when he mistakenly determined that Booth was dead. But to hold onto anger for something unintentional is irrational. Especially when time is so critical. Everyone makes mistakes, even Brennan. She says as much later in the season when consoling Clark. And this mistake doesn’t define Arastoo. At least that is my take on it.
This story continues in The Brother in the Basement. The team discovered a severed finger in the home of Agent Miller’s missing partner. Cam, Arastoo and Brennan are all gathered in the autopsy room while Cam tries to extract a print from said finger. Brennan is impatiently waiting to examine the bone. Arastoo tells her that he understands being patient is difficult at this point, but that everyone is doing their best. “That’s the problem, Dr. Vaziri. Some people’s best is better than others.” And there it is. Perhaps it’s harsh, though I’m quite biased. But it’s still true. Arastoo apologizes, as he believed they had already moved past his previous “error.” They had. It was both evident in the way Brennan subsequently treated her former intern, and she tells him as much in this scene. But Brennan has just been told by Agent Miller at the FBI that the Jeffersonian is no longer considered the country’s foremost forensic anthropology laboratory. Cam attempts to get Brennan to focus on the task at hand, rather than criticizing Arastoo. She is ready to hand over the bone for Brennan to examine. Arastoo and Brennan realize that the finger must have been cut by scissors. And the previous conversation is tabled. For now.
Hodgins, Angela, and Arastoo are later gathered in the Ookey Room. Hodgins is trying to determine whether any trace particulates from the tool used to sever the finger were still lingering. Arastoo has his fingers figuratively crossed for Hodgins to find something. “I think if Dr. Brennan had her way, she’d fire both me and Cam.” Once again, I wish he would stop feeling sorry for himself. Easier said than done. Honestly, I cannot say I wouldn’t feel the same way. But as a viewer, it’s hard not to see that this is not about him. Not really. It’s about Booth. And it’s about Brennan’s guilt over leaving a job, seemingly far too soon. This is about so many things, beyond Arastoo. But I suppose he himself is probably still feeling ashamed of his error. Angela attempts to assuage Arastoo’s guilt and despondency by telling her that lab rankings are arbitrary and that he should not put so much credence in them. Unfortunately, Hodgins also chooses this moment to share that there have been more unsolved cases since Brennan left. “You can’t blame yourself, especially if Brennan doesn’t blame you.” “At the end of the day, Brennan knows she’s the one who quit, so, whatever cases went unsolved are on her conscience.” Agreed. They focus on the case once more.
More bodies are discovered, and taken to the lab. The team is able to conclude that none are Booth. A frustrated Arastoo fails to see how either body will lead them to Booth. Brennan later requests to examine the bones alone, sending a still-somber Arastoo out of the bone room. Cam apologizes for Brennan, which seems a bit unnecessary. I do not want to say it’s out of character, but I feel as though she would see the situation far more objectively with any other “intern.” Yes, Arastoo made a mistake.And it’s fine that he is disappointed in himself. But he needs to compartmentalize for the time being, and do what he can to help the team find Booth. Cam should stop worrying about his feelings and be his boss right now. And Brennan, well, she’s not really acting out of character. She’s always direct. And right now she is determined. Her intention is not to offend Arastoo or anyone else. But time is running out, and she needs to find her husband before it’s too late. The fact that she’s the best is really indisputable. It’s what we have been told for a decade. So it is up to her to examine the bones. Arastoo has been immensely helpful. And he will continue to be as this progresses. But there is obviously something they are still missing. Cam informs Arastoo that Brennan would have called in another intern if she thought someone else could do better. And that is true as well. It is not my intention to pick on anyone. As I mentioned, I know what it is to be hugely disappointed in myself and wallow in self-pity over mistakes I have made. But it needs to be put on hold. Booth needs to be found. And everyone should take a page out of Brennan’s book and compartmentalize their feelings.
Arastoo thanks Cam for her encouragement. And then he tells her that he believes it’s time he started looking elsewhere for a job. And I am back to praising him. It takes courage to leave a place that has been a home for so long. He is beginning to realize that maybe he needs to fly away from the nest for a while, and stand on his own two feet. I respect this more than I can say. Again, I am a bit hard on Arastoo in these episodes. Maybe it’s unwarranted. But he is just so smart. And he has so much to offer. I get frustrated seeing him pigeonhole himself in this way. It’s not “Jeffersonian or bust.” It never was supposed to be his job to fill. He was always supposed to “leave the nest,” so to speak. Because Brennan was not supposed to leave. She was supposed to be at the Jeffersonian for years to come. Truth be told, if any of Brennan’s interns were going to take her place, it should have been Clark. He was actually chosen for that very role, once upon a time. And though Brennan would scoff at the implication, I feel as though part of her rejected all of Cam’s candidates because they simply were not her. And deep down, she knew she was not ready to leave. She initially thought this was the life she wanted- a life with no murders, no threats to her family, no relapses. Just complete peace. But we know now that she missed her job at the lab terribly. So really, this is just Arastoo following his original path. There is nothing wrong with that. He can go out into the world and gain that experience. Because working under Brennan for so many years obviously gives him a leg up in any other lab.
Cam assures him that he was her choice for the head of forensic anthropology. “If you really thought I was right for the job, you would have submitted my candidacy months ago.” I think there is much truth to that. And they both know that. He was not an initial option because he was too new. If he was the right choice, then he would have been at the top of her list. Though he should be proud of himself for handling everything in Brennan’s absence. Resume builder!
Brennan remains professional and asks for Arastoo’s assistance in the bone room. She is attempting to keep a cool head, but she is clearly worried. She continues to picture Booth suffering the same fate as the victim on the table. Arastoo tells her “that’s not gonna happen.” He comforts her. He tells her they will find Booth and everything will be fine. Does he believe his own words? Hard to say. The only thing he can do here is what he does best- examine the bones. Arastoo is present for a phone conversation Brennan has with Christine. And I think hearing Brennan tell her child that she was trying to bring her father home only had to intensify his motivation. They had to find Booth- alive. There was no other option.
Brennan goes to inform Cam of her progress. She adds that Arastoo is working on cataloging the blunt force trauma on the victim. This conversation was one we all had to know was coming.
I’m glad you’re back to trusting Arastoo.
In a few years, I am sure he will be able to run a major forensic lab such as this one.
You just don’t think he’s ready today?
[Shakes her head] The Jeffersonian defines itself by only hiring the most experienced, the… best in their field. Dr. Hodgins, Angela, yourself… Which is why I am requesting to have my job back. If Booth dies, then I think being here would help. To have work to focus on, to… be surrounded by friends. This situation has made me realize it was a mistake to quit. This is where I belong.
You cannot fault Brennan for wanting her job back. So rarely does she admit defeat. But in this case, she acknowledges her mistake. She and Booth should not have quit. Their jobs are a fundamental part of their being. But so much had happened, and a break seemed like paradise six months prior. Brennan does not doubt that Arastoo is brilliant. She would never have selected him as one of her esteemed interns, and she would never have kept him around all these years either. But this is a job for a seasoned veteran. She is not saying he will never be able to fill that role. Just not right now. It’s not insensitive. It’s not cruel. It’s not cold. It’s the absolute truth. Brennan knows it. Arastoo knows it. And I think deep down, Cam knows it as well. But she asks to put the discussion on hold until after the case is solved. Arastoo grabs the women from their conversation, as he has found something they need to see. Brennan calls his skull reconstruction “flawless.” Yes, she values this man’s intelligence and contribution. He makes a hypothesis on what could have caused damage to the skull. But this is an instance when it helps to have those accumulated years of experience. Brennan is able to tell that the injuries were caused by…BRASS KNUCKLES (drinking game every time she says brass knuckles in this scene). They crack the case, and Booth is found- alive. Though he’s a bit banged up, and needs to be rushed into surgery.
The team anxiously waits for word on Booth’s condition back at the lab. Angela joins everyone else, and happily relays Brennan’s message that Booth is going to be fine. Relief all around. Hodgins and Angela leave to pick up Hank and Christine for a sleepover. And Cam and Arastoo are left alone.
Cam knows exactly what’s coming next. They deferred any serious discussions until after the case was solved and Booth was found. But now it’s time. She asks if they can “do this” tomorrow. “I’m afraid if we don’t do it now, I won’t say what I need to.” She asks Arastoo not to leave, and tells him that she loves him.” He loves her too. But he knows he has to move on. He cannot just stay put and be Brennan’s intern forever. After all his hard work for so many years, he deserves the chance to stand on his own two feet. Run his own lab- Finally. Desperate, Cam tells him that if he proposes, she will say yes. And I want to commend Arastoo on the mature way he handled this situation.
Then what? Would you follow me to Ottawa, to Cincinnati, to Dubai? Because those are the job opportunities I’ll be applying for.
I’ve never been to Dubai.
It’s hot. And it’s not the Jeffersonian. And I think if you went, you would resent me for the rest of our lives.
And I don’t want to resent you.
He is doing what is best for him. But also, he is doing what’s best for Cam. Though we haven’t always seen how their relationship plays out, you cannot deny that they love each other. But Arastoo cannot stay at the Jeffersonian any more than Cam can leave. This is her dream job. She is living her dream. She loves the lab. She loves everyone there (as much as she has to act like a kindergarten teacher at times). Arastoo knows that. He could never ask her to come with him. He could never let her give that up. Because like Brennan, she will come to realize that this job is a part of her. It’s more than a job. And he couldn’t bear to have her resent him. She does not want that either. And so they leave it at that until his next episode later in the season. They are officially on a break (yes, I know what everyone’s thinking with that phrasing). In a future episode, Cam admits that she really misses Arastoo. But she reluctantly adds that she is actually happy that she chose her job. It was the right decision for her. At least at that time. I have to believe that if it’s the right person for her, a more opportune time will present itself. Obviously I know by now that everything works out for the two of them. But I think this was a good thing in this moment. For themselves as individuals, and as a couple. And ultimately, for the future of their relationship. I cannot fault Arastoo for embarking on this journey alone. Also, he will be back in this woman’s life sooner rather than later. If nothing else, he has been given the gift of time to evaluate what is most important in life.
TO BE CONTINUED (with Arastoo’s additional season 11 episodes)….