Bones 11×17 ‘The Secret in the Service’: In the line of fire

Source: FOX

If it’s May, then you know Bones has to do at least one high-stakes episode, so here’s our yearly sacrifice to the Action gods. This week, Booth fills in for a murdered secret service agent on protective detail for the President (spoiler alert: it’s not who you think it is!), for reasons, while another blast from the past has his own connections to the White House.

To be honest, I often find these major-intensity stories hits or misses, because they hinge so crucially on how our team is involved in the case. When there is a personal investment in the plot — like, say, Booth (or Brennan) being framed for murder — there’s an automatic hook to make me forget the contrivances and see where the arc plays out.

Here, though, I confess I was a little befuddled at why Booth automatically had to join the CIA agents when their comrade was murdered. I get that it was part of the investigation, but it seemed like a rather tenuous reason at best for him to put his life in danger yet again. I know that back in this season’s premiere, Brennan basically absolved him of any guilt regarding that, knowing that it’s part of who he is, but I felt like I missed a scene somewhere in this episode explaining why this was the only way to solve the case — other than letting David Boreanaz do a little stunt work for fun. (Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if that is exactly why this happened!)

Source: FOX

Source: FOX

The case had shades of season 5’s Kennedy-assassination-coverup ‘The Proof in the Pudding,’ from the shady government agents to conspiracy theories to Booth saving the day. Despite my misgivings, however, there were parts of the case itself that I quite enjoyed. For instance, I actually was very pleased with the teaser; I thought it was a neat deviation to have the typical hapless-witness not only come across the victim, but the murderer too. (I can only imagine how much fun that interrogation must have been.)

I also liked the twist that the senior agent’s unfortunate actions against his co-worker was not the result of a homicidal streak, but due to a blood clot that was gradually starving his brain of oxygen and causing him to lose his grip on reality. (As someone who had a family member suffer a similar ailment, I started piecing together some of his symptoms before Brennan revealed the cause, so good on the writers for that.) It gave nuance to his one-off appearance, and I must say I was intrigued at the development.

Source: FOX

Source: FOX

In fact, in retrospect, I think it would have been interesting to spend more time on him and his relationship with Booth — despite wanting him off the case because of his family connection to John Wilkes Booth (let’s pretend that was the blood clot speaking) — than the actual attempted assassination of the Bones-universe President Randall. (Which teaches us that a) Bones has indeed jumped ahead a few years of us and b) it must live in some West Wing-inspired alternate universe, because I’m pretty sure the show has mentioned President Obama at some point and has now deviated from their timeline, but that is neither here nor there.)

It’s just my quirky personal preference, after all, but I think I would have felt more impact from the overall story if we hadn’t seen the man behind the Oval Office curtain, so to speak, because that moment took me out of the story, instead of focusing on the race to catch the killer. (Besides, it robs us of Brennan’s foreshadowing a few seasons back of Donald Trump running.)

Another aspect I really enjoyed about ‘Secret’ is how it gave Hodgins a platform to explore his contributions to the team. It was so heartwarming to watch him back at the crime scene like old times, but eventually realizing that his paralysis has given him a unique strength in this particular situation. I chuckled out loud during his conversation with the newly-graduated-and-employed Fisher (Joel David Moore), admitting that he was familiar with the former intern’s feelings of self-loathing and despair (poor Hodgins), but in the end, he can’t deny his own hopeful outlook, and he definitely made lemonade out of these particular lemons.

It might have been a bit of a cliché for Hodgins to voice that his disability gave him an advantage when he was stuck in the chute, since he was able to hang on to the wall thanks to the strenuous physiotherapy he’s done in recent months, when in the past he may not have been as capable (though really — we’ve all seen him shirtless, he was plenty ripped to begin with). Yet, it’s completely in-character, and harkens back to the man who planned to learn the piano with his son if his potential blindness robbed him of the opportunity to stare through microscopes.

Source: FOX

Source: FOX

As I’ve mentioned in previous weeks, one thing this story is doing is giving T.J. Thyne and Michaela Conlin plenty of wonderful moments together, and I, for one, am okay with giving up a little Booth-and-Brennan time if it means we get to shine a light on the brilliant supporting cast in the series’ penultimate season. Though I admit I did miss the leads a little in this episode — even super-women like Brennan get sidelined by the common cold to prove they’re mere mortals sometimes — it was refreshing to see some honest conversations between Hodgins, Angela and Fisher.

The latter in particular was a surprising visit, as I hadn’t expected him to return to the show, and again I’m impressed at his development; he still has a little of the moroseness he’s known for, but it’s obvious getting out of the lab has been good for him — even if it means he’s now the First Daughter’s tutor. Who knew getting out into the world would be so uplifting? In more ways than one, it seems, for everyone.

This week was a little outside of Bones’ usual box. How did it work for you?

is willing to talk about TV to anyone who will listen. She’s thought way too hard about her favorite shows, ever since her grade school days watching “Full House.” She likes to write a lot, about everything. She enjoys candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach… Whoops, wrong profile.

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