Bones 10×20 ‘The Woman in the Whirlpool’: Tough love

Source: FOX

This has to be the longest streak of consecutive “Previously Ons” in ten seasons of Bones, which means the show isn’t shying away from the consequences of Booth’s relapse. However, it also makes for some incredibly difficult television to watch, because we are so unused to seeing Booth and Brennan at such odds, with no end in sight. Tonight’s offering does nothing to alleviate that, but could there be a light at the end of the tunnel?

Though I had (and continue to have) reservations about Booth’s addiction storyline, I do have to give the writers credit for not shying away from the ramifications of his actions — right down to him not fully admitting the scope of his problem. As I mentioned in the introduction, it’s painful to witness: I have no doubt that it’s realistic, and David Boreanaz is doing a good job of portraying Booth’s denial (as he is wont to do), it’s just that I don’t particularly like to watch it. I don’t mean that in a completely negative way; it’s a testament to the skill of the actors that the discomfort is so palpable, but it’s such a departure from Bones’ M.O.

At so many points tonight, I wanted to slap Booth silly, from him nonchalantly asking Brennan to move back in and not really grasping why she kicked him out in the first place, to his brushing off the importance of his Gamblers Anonymous meetings, even to his testiness with the squints (though that is his custom with them). Again, it’s all symptomatic of his illness, but it’s almost more difficult to watch Booth struggle with the aftermath than it was to see him relapse in the first place.

For instance, the awkwardness between him and Brennan was unlike anything they’ve ever demonstrated, even at the end of the fifth season after Booth’s botched attempt at confessing his feelings for Brennan and their subsequent parting of ways. I expected this to a degree, but I was shocked by how far the writers took this; frankly, in their first scene at the diner, Booth and Brennan almost appeared more like co-workers than spouses, there was so much emotional (and physical) space between them. Brennan’s initial hopefulness was touching, but it was hard to feel any kind of yearning in Booth’s demeanor; meanwhile, Brennan seemed almost resigned to me that Booth didn’t really care enough to fight for himself and for them — a point underscored by Angela to Hodgins. As I said previously, it’s believable in the sense that Booth’s first instinct to any emotional upheaval is to deny everything until it blows up in his face, but this may be the furthest he’s ever taken it, because I never imagined (temporarily) losing his wife and daughter wouldn’t be the flashpoint for him to get his act together.

Source: FOX

Source: FOX

In terms of the execution of the story, I have to admit that I was a little perplexed by how they’ve chosen to underscore it. On several occasions in ‘Whirlpool’, we see Booth brushing people off and denying there’s anything really wrong, which again is his default setting. Yet, I would have hoped that each of these instances would have shown us something new. Instead, each one just seemed to reinforce Booth’s stubbornness — which we already knew about — until the last interrogation with the victim’s daughter, where he finally seemed to understand the effect his actions had on his loved ones. However, there again, the conversation felt like a replay of the same one he had with Aubrey a few months ago, about his father’s behavior, down to the dialogue. Then when Booth finally has a breakthrough — and admits to a roomful of strangers at his GA meeting that he has to work on himself to find the source of his troubles — the camera cuts out, and we’re denied the introspection. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I could have done with one less Denial!Booth scene for a little more unpacking of last one, which ended so abruptly. Or, if they insisted on highlighting Booth’s denial, then I would have liked to have seen him piece together the parallels to the victim’s addiction at the same time. For all the development into Booth’s downward spiral, I want to see what he learns from it, too, and not fade to black. I hope we explore it a little more next week, at least.

Hodgins and Angela demonstrated that they really are wonderful friends to Booth and Brennan. While I found their conversation a tad heavy on the exposition (which is actually a complaint I had overall in this episode), I loved the sentiment behind it. Hodgins is such an understanding romantic, and I am so happy he has Booth’s back (even if Booth hasn’t really earned it yet), while I wouldn’t expect anything less from Angela than insistence that either one of them would fight for the other with everything they had, instead of giving up as Booth seems to be doing. On the other hand, with Brennan, she remains optimistic to counteract her friend’s doubt, trying to reassure her that everything will work itself out. If there’s one bright side to this whole mess, it’s seeing the return of Brennan and Angela’s friendship.

Since I’m not always the biggest fan of either intern Jessica or Aubrey, I was underwhelmed by their burgeoning flirtation (especially since we’ve already seen this same scenario last season), I do think the two of them are a much better match than her and Sweets. I resent the blatant “Booth and Brennan 2.0” allusions (really?), but I guess someone has to have a happy ending tonight. However, I adored Jessica’s last scene with Brennan; one of the beautiful things about the last few seasons is Brennan’s bonding with her students, and her affection towards Jessica’s own collection was heartwarming. Brennan’s heart is ten times larger than anyone gives her credit for, and I’m glad we’re finally acknowledging it.

How are you handling Booth and Brennan’s rift?

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  • Bounty Peaches

    Love the review.. exactly the way I felt. Honestly I really need to see Booth talk about this with Brennan. He thought he could handle everything on his own at the beginning of the season and it landed him in this mess. Watching him solve it on his own isn’t really fun for me, because I watch the relationship for B&B. I want B&B to work on it together. Quite frankly I want Booth to show Brennan that he will fight till death for this.