Bones has tried many formats over the years — from bottle episodes, to hours told from the victim’s perspective, and everything in between — but this week, the show tackles the single-camera wave when a documentary crew follows them around for a case. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder just how these people have managed to retain any sense of smell in their line of work.
When I realized this episode was going to be told talking-head style, I was pretty excited, because I love me some single-camera comedies like The Office and Parks and Recreation. At first, the behind-the-scenes peek into Booth and Brennan’s lives, for instance, didn’t seem all that different from what we usually see in the show’s teasers, the domestic buffer to the inevitable gross body reveal before the credits roll. But as the episode wore on, we got little glimpses into their psyches that we’re not always privy to in a traditional narrative.
I really enjoyed how the “documentary” director let us see Booth’s softer side, not just at home, but at work, too. Even though they were quick cuts — like him needing a moment after breaking the news of the victim’s death to his father, or feeling compelled to go to a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting after sympathizing with the man’s history, or even his attempts at escaping the darkness with a little home-brew floor hockey with Christine, it was a surprisingly effective way of getting into the mind of a notoriously bottled-up character.
We didn’t need any grand declarations or monologues to feel Booth’s struggle, and it’s almost as if the documentary conceit allowed us a glimpse of the Booth that Brennan presumably sees at home, too. In the same vein, we got to witness Brennan dealing with her emotions in her own way, too. The mention of Sweets in their interview was unexpected, but it was such a beautiful nod to the show’s history, and how the characters are still grieving his death all these years later.
Similarly, the Zack blurb was a little out of left-field, but again echoed what a good job the writers have done over the years of enriching the show’s universe, fleshing out characters that still mean something to the core cast nearly a decade after they left the show. Someone’s definitely been doing their homework, and I’m grateful as a fan that the show seems to be finishing its penultimate season (!) with so much left in its tank.
Another aspect of ‘Movie’ that thrilled me was that we got to spend a little extra time with the supporting players. It was a welcome sight to head over to Hodgins’ and Angela’s for dinner (Michael-Vincent does exist!), and to follow them in their element at work. Hodgins is finally back to being himself — unabashed science nerd and resident pain-in-the-ass, and it’s a glorious sight to behold. (His teasing of Cam felt like old times.) Meanwhile, Cam still insists that she wants to remain strictly professional at work and on-camera, but we quickly see that she’s kind of the worst of all of them at that too, by the last scene.
One thing I noticed in the past few episodes is that Angela and Cam both seem to be at peace with their place in the lab. While Cam’s always relished in being The Boss, she denied being as much of a geek as her colleagues, but she’s now able to admit that she’s as thrilled by the work as they are. On the other hand, while Angela has had a kind of love-hate relationship with the Jeffersonian at varying points in the series, she now isn’t afraid to own up to her computer nerd status. We still get glimmers of her former wanderlust — she was more than a little wistful when talking about her youthful dreams of being an artist in Paris — but she’s grown up now, and realizes she plays an important role in this crime-solving team as well.
Getting back to Cam for a moment, I couldn’t help but be touched by the night’s biggest shocker, her proposal to Arastoo! (Are we now three-for-three with the ladies of this show asking their men?) Obviously the show is heading into wrap-loose-threads-up mode, and I’m okay with that; everyone deserves a happy ending, especially Cam, and her and Arastoo’s on-screen love-fest even pulled at these old snarky heart strings.
On the whole, the episode’s weaving thread seemed to be about demonstrating how far the characters have come over the years, while showcasing the cores we all fell in love with in the early seasons. While I admittedly could have done without Brennan speaking to Christine’s first-grade class like graduate students (we’ve seen her interact with kids just fine plenty of times, Bones), the real story here was that Brennan rose from nothing to make something of herself, through sheer force of will, and everyone she allows into her inner circle recognizes that.
I thought it was particularly touching to see Arastoo, of all people, voice that notion, given that he probably had the most clashes with her when he first started. His musing that Brennan treats all of her students like her children may have been a little fanfic-y, but he isn’t wrong — it’s tough love, to be sure, but she definitely cares for them as she would any family member, as her pointed glance at Vincent Nigel-Murray’s memorial demonstrated. Whether it’s guiding him through a new breakthrough, or indulging Christine in her, um, entrepreneurial dreams, she’s ultimately there to help them all grow, and it’s wonderful that thanks to episodes like this, we’ve seen how much she’s grown, too.
Needless to say, I loved this episode — callbacks, wisecracks and all. (Case in point: Did you catch all the cast and crew’s kids as Christine’s classmates? Time sure does fly.) Could you see Bones spun off into a single-camera comedy after this outing? (Or maybe When Booth Met Brennan? Those were some fun interviews.)