Never ones to shy away from topical themes, this week our squints take a look at feminism — and the groups who fight against it. It’s quintessential Bones: in many ways predictable and broad, but it’s what’s painted between the lines that really shines and sets the show apart. With Hodgins’ recovery permeating the story, there’s no doubt that the gang challenges their biases, and our own in the process.
A so-called “meninist’s” accidental death is quickly ruled to be murder by the Jeffersonian, and his political affiliations cause the whole team to argue their positions on feminism in direct contrast to his organization’s apparent disdain thereof. From the very first witness, a woman working in the male-dominated field of auto repairs, the stage is set for this week’s discourse. (Let’s not forget that all the women on this show are also leaders in careers overwhelmingly populated by men.)
Not surprisingly, they’re all dedicated supporters of women — in Brennan’s case, an actual card-carrying member — but it’s how that support manifests itself that is really heartening to watch. When it comes to Booth and Brennan, the discussion proves how complementary they are, arriving at the same destination from different viewpoints.
Booth has the reaction most of us watching at home do, visceral anger at the meninist leader’s blatant misogyny, stating several times that he just wants to punch the guy. Brennan, who we’d expect to absolutely eviscerate the man with her intellect, instead approaches the issue from a place of reason, just as believably. She agrees with some of the points the man makes — for instance, the bias against fathers in custody cases, or women’s eligibility for the draft should it reoccur. It’s a credit to Brennan’s character that she’s able to parse through the inevitable hateful rhetoric that follows to find the logic in the argument, but then again, Brennan always has been one to keep an open mind when it comes to reason, despite some claims to the contrary. She truly embodies the notion of equal opportunity, for better or for worse. (However, I love that she’s confronted with her own ‘privilege’ later on in the episode.)
What really peeked my interest was that if the show had wanted to, they could have delved into this even more personally for the characters, as Booth has first-hand experience with the very situation the meninists are fighting for; after all, how many years did we watch him battle with his ex over custody of Parker? It may have been a plot contrivance, but I still find it curious that despite being a supposed victim of this ‘bias,’ Booth doesn’t think twice about shooting down the movement precisely because of the motivation behind the attacks. His attitude is treated as the default, and the opponents — like the suspects, or even Fuentes’ light-hearted dismissal of certain constraints — are clearly the outliers within this insular universe. I’d like to think that’s one step into normalizing the idea that feminism means equality for all genders.
The sad part about the case was that as broadly-brushed as the victim was painted, his sound-bites are not that far off from what is actually happening in the media today. (See: anything Donald Trump.) The writers took it to the extreme, as they are wont to do, but it’s still resonant at its core. That being said, I must admit that I initially gave the side-eye to the revealed killer proving the meninists’ point — being the victim’s ex-wife who had a history of physical abusive behavior — but then I realized, this is exactly what Brennan was talking about. Maybe Fuentes had a point, in this scenario, about bias towards women in the justice system, and that they should be just as liable to face their charges as their male partners in crime in the name of equality. When Brennan later punches the suspect in the interrogation room, she seems to be proving Fuentes’ point, too, but it seems like that might not be the last we hear of the scuffle. (How old-school was that, by the way?) Who knew Bones would be the show to make us challenge our beliefs on a weekly basis?
With all the focus on the social plight in this episode, I could write another post to discuss Hodgins’ personal plight as well. The story is so painful to watch, on so many levels: for Hodgins, grappling with his world upended life and giving into the anger that’s been burning for too long, for Cam, who is trying the tough love approach to bring him back into the fold, and for Angela, trying her best to be supportive but at the cost of her confidence. It was one thing for Brennan to gently remind her that she didn’t deserve to be treated that way, because if anyone has recent experience with husbands self-destructing and the damage ignoring that can cause, it’s her, but Angela’s just trying to keep her head above water.
I was taken aback by the scene of Hodgins suddenly taking in the reality of the lab from his new perspective. His beloved platform is now a cage, his freedom dependent on a lift; the upstairs lounge where he used to spend his coffee (and tequila) breaks may as well be on another planet now, all stairs and angles and not at all accessible in any sense of the word. I loved the use of space in his scenes, because it really highlighted his altered (and distorted?) reality. He’s surpassed even his season 1-levels of jerk-ness, but it’s gut-wrenching precisely because it’s so primal. How else could he react to the implosion of his sense of self? No one understands, and they’re all patronizing, and he can’t win. I want to smack him for being terrible to everyone, but I want to cry with him, too.
To finish up, I have to mention that the dialogue itself was on-point this week — from Hodgins’ bite to Brennan’s snark — and I chuckled more than once. I loved the old-school feel of the episode, and I’ll be a happy camper if this continues for the rest of the season. How did you enjoy “Meninist”?