This week’s episode wasn’t the easiest to watch, but it might just have been the remedy we all needed.
Hodgins is in a world of hurt, and bringing us all down with him. But with the return of Sebastian the photographer, have he and Angela reached the point of no return? Plus, it’s time to play the Continuity Game, and everybody wins.
It’s been a rough few months for Hodgins and Angela, and the last three weeks have been enormously difficult as a fan to see their relationship implode so spectacularly in the wake of Hodgins’ depression. While Hodgins isn’t quite as hostile to his wife here, he is resigned at this point, and the distance between them grows every day. (Maybe the only thing worse than angry communication is no communication at all?)
Last week, I mentioned that I was having a hard time watching Hodgins’ downward spiral; it might be realistic, but it’s incredibly frustrating to actually want him off the screen because he’s so awful to everyone. (Again: totally believable, but heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time.) It was time for the stalemate to break, and boy did we jump from one end of the spectrum to the other, thanks to an inopportune dream of Angela’s.
I admit, I freaked out for a moment that Angela was actually going there with Sebastian; part of me knew logically it had to be a fantasy, but on the other hand, Angela’s been so starved of human connection that it would be understandable (if ill-advised) for her to self-destruct in that way — because it calls back right to the Angela we met in season 1. The dream isn’t about the sex, necessarily, but about sharing in any fashion with someone, even through her art, because her words sure aren’t having any effect on her husband.
Then the real gut-punch comes when Hodgins reveals that he knows her “nightmare” was a sex dream of Sebastian because she said his name in her sleep, and suddenly his struggle comes into focus too: Angela seems to be confirming his worst nightmares, that he isn’t enough for her anymore in any sense of the word. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and this really isn’t living anymore to him. (One could argue Michael Vincent should be enough at the very least, but that is another discussion.)
When Hodgins gives Angela an “out,” essentially declaring he’s leaving her so she doesn’t leave him, my heart sank, because it is as raw as it is believable, for the Hodgins we’ve seen in recent months. Gone is the pure anger, and all that’s left is the man who’s shattered. But what I love is that Angela, predictably (and thankfully), refuses to let him do so.
Her declaration to him that this is not how this ends absolutely floored me, because it echoes their wedding vows back in season 5 — life is messy, and they’ll struggle, but they struggle together and ultimately their two broken halves make a whole. They’re simply better together. It is beautiful and devastating, as on the one hand, Angela is saying exactly what needs to be said, but on the other, it’s now nerve-wracklingly obvious that they’re at the do-or-die point of this crisis, a departure from their younger selves who tied the knot in that jail cell.
Which is probably why their last scene packs such a punch, without a single word uttered. We don’t often get to see these two stretch their dramatic muscles for lack of screen time, but boy, do they ever bring it here. Angela crying herself to sleep is enough to make us all want to curl up, since she’s so utterly alone — but then Hodgins comes into their bedroom and simply holds her hand, and we know that this is what they’ve fought for all along. I know this isn’t the end of the struggle by a long shot, but there is finally hope, and that’s enough for now.
Speaking of hope, I liked how the theme wove into the case of the week, too. And curiously, that both Booth and Brennan are tied into the plot in a personal way — which is probably why I found this one so much more memorable than most.
Firstly, the victim’s daughter is a tragic statistic of the foster care system, and Brennan uses her own experience to connect with her, and ultimately find justice for her mother. I’ve been hoping for more references to Brennan’s past for years, and I’ve just realized that Emily Silver, tonight’s writer, seems to share that with us fans, as she’s done that in a number of her episodes.
Then, Brennan uses that experience to get through to Hodgins by telling him that sometimes your life does implode (like when your parents abandon you and your brother at 15…), but you survive anyway. She made it out the other side of a broken system and learned how to hope, and now it’s Hodgins’ turn. She could have chastised him for being so unpleasant to everyone who cares for him, but instead she gets to the core issue, and proves why she’s the heart of this entire team.
Meanwhile, Booth inspires hope of his own, thanks to his old prison roomie Kenny, who conveniently returns this week as a murder suspect — only, Booth pinky-swears his only friend from the clink couldn’t have done this, much to Aubrey’s chagrin. But Booth believes in his gut and in his people — and helps Kenny with his second chance in the process.
I’m glad he was proven right; it may be corny, but this show has always been about families, and in creating theirs, they’re able to help others find theirs, whether it’s reuniting Kenny with his daughter, or giving Hodgins perspective on what he’s losing in his self-destruction. Sometimes, hope really is what we need.
The callbacks to previous seasons were off the chart this week, and I’ve run out of space to name them all here. (Not to mention Brennan’s disciplinary hearing!) What was your favorite shoutout in ’Last Shot’?