People watch Bones for different reasons: the cases, the science, the friendships, the romance, or even a specific character. There are so many different classifications of Bones fans. In order to satisfactorily give each character a proper sendoff in just twelve 43 minute episodes, others may have to take a backseat. Sure, if you watch the show for Booth & Brennan together, and ONLY for that reason- perhaps you may have been displeased with the latest installment. But (and as much as it’s killing me to write any word synonymous with finality) it makes sense to set up the goodbyes in this manner. We can assume at this point (and this is coming from someone who refuses to watch the r*tr*spective until much later) that the last scene is Booth and Brennan. We can also assume that a good portion of 12×12 features B&B scenes. So I see no reason why this episode couldn’t take the time and consideration to put the pieces in place for some of the other characters’ futures. I thought it was beautiful. But is anyone really surprised by that revelation?
I would love to still be in denial at this point. And part of me actually is. None of this feels real. Even now. With just two episodes remaining. When I’m referring to these episodes, my mind will still forbid me to actually process the meaning behind my own words. At the same time, any reminder of what’s to come has me nearly catatonic in under 12 seconds. So just know, as I write words like “goodbye” and “last,” I am not really thinking about what they actually mean. Otherwise, I would never be able to get through a recap intact.
To piggyback on what I said above, this episode appeared to have a very polarizing effect. And I am not at all surprised. I actually sensed what the reaction would likely be after my first viewing. While nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing Booth and Brennan together on screen, I also love and appreciate each and every character. Each one of these amazing individuals deserves a fulfilling “conclusion.” We have slowly been saying goodbye to these characters as the season has progressed. Primarily the interns, thus far. Daisy landed a job at the NFL (not to be confused with the professional sports league), Rodolfo has obtained his doctorate and will likely move on to run a lab away from the DC area, Jessica and Aubrey’s relationship is flourishing and perhaps she will follow him to his next destination, Clark is in the midst of an amazing viking discovery, and in this episode we learned that Wendell may actually go on to pursue a different area outside of forensic anthropology. I’m sure we will gain a little further insight during the next episode (as many of the former interns will be guests at the wedding), but how lovely is it that we are able to learn about their next steps and ensure that they are all going to be okay. I know that’s honestly all I have ever wanted for every one of these characters. And if you’re a Booth and Brennan fan, I think it’s always immensely satisfying to see these two act as mentors to the others. It was lovely to once again witness the depth of their relationships with these other characters. “Your world has to be bigger than just you and me, Booth.” Their lives are obviously inextricably linked by love, friendship, and partnership. But their world does include others, lest we forget. Those relationships deserve a moment of reflection as well.
This episode actually scared me for only a split second. I don’t mean that I was scared of the radioactive panthers nor that I was afraid that something I didn’t care for would occur. It startled me because Brennan questioning Dr. Mayer about passion in the workplace shook me. It didn’t seem plausible to have Brennan questioning passion as it relates to herself and her job. Brennan left her job not long ago, and she ultimately considered it to be a mistake. Her job is no longer her entire life. But it is still a vital component. The lab is a place where she has always felt at home. And each member of the team is like a member of her family. Brennan once said “I have to do this, it’s who I am.” She loves her work. It has always brought her such fulfillment. So to think that she was questioning her level of passion for forensic anthropology seemed inconceivable in that first scene. So my mind began to wander. And it didn’t take long to figure out how the episode would unfold. Wendell.
I have to admit, Wendell is also someone who seemed to be reasonably satisfied with his work. Though in hindsight, the others are a bit more enthused over the field of forensic anthropology. Whereas Wendell wanted to work hard and succeed in his field. He came from a far different background than the other interns. He arrived at the Jeffersonian on a scholarship. He was also once forced to take a job in construction when Brennan went off to Maluku. He is certainly no stranger to hard work. And Wendell was always engaged and worked tirelessly to solve his cases. But was it for the right reasons?
We learn that Wendell is having trouble deciding on a topic for his dissertation. Brennan notes that she too was unable to choose a topic when it was her turn- so she ultimately penned five different dissertations. This was also a moment that would contradict any doubts I had that Brennan was losing any of her passion for anthropology. The way she talks about her dissertation, you would think she was talking about her favorite ice cream flavor. Though she certainly would talk about that with far less gusto, I presume.
Brennan acknowledges that she is still lacking when it comes to deciphering certain social cues, though she senses that something is not quite right with Wendell. Something that not even he himself seems to be cognizant of. When reminded of her own dissertations, she recalls the enthusiasm and excitement she felt trying to narrow down her many ideas all those years ago. Wendell is also having trouble deciding on a topic, but not for the same reasons. He has no ideas. He wants to read Brennan’s to try to spark some inspiration. Someone who wants to pursue this career would have a burning desire to explore at least one particular idea in great detail. Wendell still seems fulfilled to a degree, but is it enough to make this his life’s work? This story actually hit quite close to home. As I’m sure it did for many others.
What a thrill it was to have Betty White back on our show one more time. Was she absolutely essential for this episode? Not really, the story still could easily have been told with just a few tweaks. But she definitely added something special. And it truly has been an honor to have her appear on Bones- not once, but twice. When Brennan and Booth first meet Dr. Mayer in the beginning of this episode, they learn that she has decided to pursue a new area of science. She was simply not feeling the passion for forensic anthropology any longer. Sometimes that happens. And sometimes you can be like Booth and Brennan and Hodgins- and you feel as though you could not bear to do anything else with your life. There is nothing wrong with either type of person. Or either life. This prompts Brennan to explore what passion truly means- whether or not it’s essential, and how to discern whether someone has lost their passion.
Brennan calls Dr. Mayer to her office, and finds her there already seated on her couch. Dr. Mayer has been reading one of her five dissertations.
That was one of my dissertations. I had a lot of fun with it.
Clearly. Your enthusiasm just jumps off the page.
Actually that is what I was hoping to speak with you about. How do you know?
How do I know what, dear?
When you’ve lost your passion for your work. You said that you woke up one morning and realized that it was gone.
If you’re used to that electricity dancing through your veins and suddenly it’s not there, you notice.
What if you’re not that in tune with yourself? Is it possible to lose your drive and not know?
Absolutely. In fact, that’s what usually happens. How many people do you know who are truly in touch with their feelings?
Well, not many.
Exactly. Here’s a little test. Think about what you do here. Really focus on it.
Now, how would you feel if someone took it away?
The two women are interrupted before Brennan could answer. But we aren’t left hanging for too long. This conversation felt incredibly personal to me. Is passion essential in a job? I would have to say it depends on the individual. Dr. Mayer and Brennan both require passion to help drive them in their work. I don’t believe either of them could do a job without it.
For some, a job is just a job. A job pays the bills. These people can survive without passion, and seek out those feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment in other facets of their life. For others, a job means something more than just a way to buy food and clothing. It’s more than a job. It’s a fundamental part of their being. It’s what keeps them engaged, it helps give their lives purpose. I’m not implying that people who want to be passionate about their work have nothing else in life. Brennan is also passionate about her family and friends, and other areas of education. But long ago, this job figuratively called out to her. Initially, it was partially a result of her own mysterious past. She never knew what happened to her parents. If she could give that closure she so desperately desired to families of murder victims, well, that’s something incredibly personal to her. When she left her job a few years ago, it wasn’t because she lost her passion. She was exhausted, yes. She just had one of the most trying years of her life. And though her job is a part of her, her family needed to come first. She needed time to think. Time to breathe. Time to heal. But Brennan came back. She will always come back. She doesn’t get a chance to answer Dr. Mayer’s question here. But she does later. Though I could already guess her response. These inquiries about passion were fueled by her concern for another who she sensed lacked the same passion she has felt every day for decades. Is her job incredibly taxing? Of course. Is it often near-impossible to compartmentalize? More so than it used to be. But Temperance Brennan was born to be the best forensic anthropologist in the world. I sense that she will never lose that passion.
Someone who seems concerned about Brennan’s inquiries regarding “passion” is Angela. Brennan has been acting a bit out of the ordinary for most of this case. I’m not sure if we were all supposed to think throughout the entirety of the episode that she was the one mulling over her tenure. I did, but only for a moment. Brennan does seek out another opinion. After all, it wouldn’t be prudent for her to make any sort of determination without gathering as much data as possible.
Angela, do you believe in passion in the workplace?
Well, given that Hodgins and I have been caught in the Egyptian room a few times
I-I meant professionally.
How important do you think it is for us to love what we do?
Uh, well, it, it’s important, but it’s not everything. Most people don’t love their jobs. They don’t even like them. They do them because they have to.
What if they didn’t have to?
If you can afford to leave an unfulfilling job, why wouldn’t you? Are you…
Just curious. That’s all.
I will admit, it’s an odd conversation without context. Perhaps if I didn’t have such conviction in Temperance Brennan, I would think she was considering a different path for herself after all this time. But we know her by this point. Something else was brewing. Again, for some- it’s not essential to love a job. Especially if you have to take a job you don’t particularly like, simply for financial reasons. We’ve all been there. But if you have the means or the opportunity to actually pursue something which would nourish your mind and fulfill your soul, why wouldn’t you? Time and time again, I have heard people tell me that I am lucky to even have a job. That I had no right whatsoever to be miserable. They went so far as to tell me that I was ungrateful. But these people could not be more wrong. You can dislike a job and still be immensely grateful for the opportunity. You can still dream of something better. I did. And I continued to work incredibly hard in jobs I never wanted to stay in. Up until I was able to pursue a path I actually desired. You can be appreciative of the employment while still wanting more. They are not mutually exclusive. While inside I felt empty at times, I never showed it. I never acted anything less than professional. For me, and for so many others, a job needs to be more. It almost needs to be a calling. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s the same with so many of these characters. And I believe Wendell likely falls into the category of someone who is grateful for an opportunity, and someone who works as hard as he can no matter what. But Brennan wants more for all her interns. She wants each and every one of them to find BOTH success and fulfillment. She sees such brilliance and potential in Wendell. He deserves to be fulfilled.
By the end of the episode Brennan sits down with her intern. She’s considered Dr. Mayer’s input, Angela’s comments, and her own feelings on the matter.
Do you like being here, Mr. Bray?
Yeah, of course I like being here.
I need you to answer a question, and answer it honestly. What would you do if you couldn’t work here anymore?
Uh, I don’t know, I’d be mad, I’d be confused. Wh-What is this about?
But you wouldn’t stop breathing, would you?
No, of course not.
I couldn’t breathe if I didn’t do this anymore. I mean, I’m speaking figuratively, of course.
Hang on, is this because I couldn’t find a topic for my dissertation?
I was so excited to write my dissertations, because I loved what I was doing, and I couldn’t wait to keep learning.
I just haven’t found the right topic yet.
Maybe because it’s not in the field of anthropology.
What are you saying? Are Are you firing me?
No. No, I wouldn’t fire you. But you should know that you are too smart to waste your life doing something that your heart isn’t in.
I mean, you’re not wrong. I like my job, but compared with you and the other interns
There’s something bigger out there. You need to go after it while you still can.
You guys are like my family here.
That will not change.
This is easily one of my favorite Brennan/Wendell exchanges in the series. It’s just absolutely beautiful. The emotion Brennan is exhibiting is astonishing to me. Her heart muscle has always been bigger than anyone’s. At times, she has been unable to conventionally show others just how much she cares. But it’s quite apparent here. She is almost desperate to get Wendell to understand that she only wants the best for him. He has been through so much. He beat one of the rarest forms of cancer. Brennan has already proved to him that she has his best interest at heart. As well as the fact that she would fight for him in a metaphorical heartbeat. He trusts her implicitly. So it doesn’t take long for him to understand that he should be just as enthused as she is about this work. He should want to write five dissertations on various anthropological topics. He should be so thrilled to keep learning and growing as a forensic anthropologist. And while he is one of Brennan’s most dedicated and hard-working interns, the spark just isn’t there. And he finally sees that. So before he spends time and energy on something he isn’t truly passionate about, Brennan encourages him to follow his heart (figuratively speaking). Wendell is scared. This environment is what he knows. These people have become his family. These people saved him in so many ways. Even literally. But Brennan assures him that they will still always be his family. That will not change. I love Brennan in this type of teacher role. I have loved watching this part of her development. She is the mentor we all wish we had.
Which brings me to Booth-
I was actually shocked by how quickly I fell in love with the Aubrey/Booth dynamic. That’s not to say I don’t love all combinations of characters in the show. But there’s just something special about these two. Something that blossomed so quickly, given Aubrey’s late entrance to the show. I have to say, my heart was a little crushed by the end of this. But only because I was thinking about the Bones universe continuing on. Because it will. These characters will live on. And flourish. But the thought of Aubrey not being around every day? Well, that’s a tough one. But he has also been given an impressive opportunity. One he will certainly not pass up. At least I don’t think so…
Booth mysteriously let Aubrey be the lead on the case. Aubrey obviously ran this one with his own special flare, which isn’t always the same as Booth’s style. But he got the job done. He was impressive. We always knew he could do this job. He was the man Booth wanted to take over when he left at the end of season 10. But I wondered why. Similar to Brennan questioning passion when I assumed she would never leave the lab again- Why would Booth want to give Aubrey the lead on his case? He wasn’t going to leave again. Also like Brennan, this is what Booth is meant to do. He’s a man of action. By the end of the episode, everything became clear.
So does that mean I’m gonna get more ASA experience?
No, it doesn’t. Sorry. But it does mean that you’re gonna become a full-fledged Supervisory Special Agent.
Come on, what? They’re promoting me?
Look, the L.A. field office has been inquiring about you, so I said to myself, what better way to show them that you’re qualified to do this by-
Giving me my own case.
Boom. They’re gonna offer you the job.
Oh, my God. Booth, I’ve never even been to Los Angeles.
You’re gonna love it. It’s a place full of schemes and dreams and pros and cons– all about the show. Good work.
I hear, uh, it’s a little bit lacking in the pizza department.
Yeah, their pizza’s really bad. You know what, you shouldn’t take the job.
So Aubrey is getting a huge promotion and an amazing opportunity. But it crushes my heart that he’s going to be so far away. I’ll admit, for a moment, my mind was a bit mixed up and figured that because they film the show in Los Angeles, Aubrey would still be near. But I haven’t really been completely with it as of late. I blame Bones. My glorious, beautiful show. This is good for Aubrey. And this seems like the perfect opportunity. Also, our pizza isn’t that bad…however I only eat plant based pizza so I’m not the best person to make recommendations for our resident foodie. Booth helping out his friend and colleague warms my heart. Booth and Brennan may not have been together a substantial amount in this episode, but they made an impact for sure. They share a life together, but they still have parts of their lives that are just theirs. And that’s how it should be. That’s how they want it to be. And I’m just happy this episode ended on a profoundly lovely note before we must endure the insanity of the next two.
Ready or not. Here they come.
And no, I am not ready.