Two down, ten more to go!
In this week’s instalment, Brennan celebrates a milestone in her own unique way. Meanwhile, Angela finally gets her due as a scientist, and Daisy faces some pretty big decisions of her own in postgrad life. The Bones ladies, getting stuff done and taking names.
What struck me right off the bat in ‘Bot’ is how full the episode was. By that I mean that there were many different subplots weaving through the narrative, all coalescing marvellously– and poignantly– in the final scene. Bones definitely isn’t resting on its laurels in its last season. (It still feels a little surreal to type that out.) For instance, outside of the actual case, we dealt with Brennan’s 40th birthday and her quirky commemoration, along with her alleged competitiveness, Angela at long last being recognized for her computer wizardry, Daisy graduating and moving on from the Jeffersonian, and (gulp) Max’s health. That’s a lot to pack in to forty-two minutes, and much more than I can explore here. Yet somehow, the writers managed to bring all those threads full-circle beautifully.
Admittedly, I was taken aback that it initially seemed like Brennan was going to be petty about Angela’s long-awaited award, as the show seems determined to spotlight its growth in its swan song, and not revisit past conflicts for no reason. I know Brennan is exceedingly blunt, and she seemed to be trying to rein herself in a little, but it felt disappointing to rehash that with so little time left.
So color me ecstatic when it turned out that Brennan’s jealousy was merely a front to keep her friends in suspense for her surprise party. Which, let’s remember, was not for her benefit, but theirs. In other words, her birthday present to herself was nominating Angela for the well-deserved award, and giving Daisy a glowing recommendation to her new bosses. This show, always turning convention on its head. Never one to do things traditionally, Brennan used her birthday to celebrate her friends’ achievements, and catch them unaware instead of herself. We’ve witnessed her immense heart care for these people for over a decade, but this might just be the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen on this show, because it’s so completely selfless. Her genuine love for her friends shone through, and that’s the core of what makes this series so special after all this time. Rather than a departure from her younger self, it’s merely an extension— the compassion she used to extend to victims’ families now overflows onto her own, by her side through it all. (I’m sorry, it seems to be a little dusty in here, ahem.)
Similarly, I loved the mentor’s arc with newly-annointed Dr. Wick (sniff!), because again it’s such a natural evolution of their dynamic. As harsh as her assessment of Daisy’s chances were for the job for which she’d needed the reference, Brennan was also probably right, and she’s never been accused of sugarcoating anything. (Plus, in any other episode, her tough love in the lab would justifiably push Daisy to find the smoking gun in the case.) Yet, once more we found out that it was an act to mask that she knew Daisy had gotten the job, and that she wanted to be the one to break the good news when it was time. I can’t think of a better gift to Daisy than to have her actual hero usher her into her dream job, and it’s a credit both to Brennan’s instruction and Daisy’s work ethic that she’s made it this far. What a remarkable conclusion to their chapter together. This is exactly what a final season should feel like to me— seeing the characters’ journeys come to fruition, and knowing that however you leave them, they’re going to be okay when the credits roll.
Which leads me to my next point, however. As soon as Max decided to pay his daughter a visit at work for no apparent reason, I figured something was up; when he told her that “none of [them] lives forever,” I knew we were in for trouble. In TV speak, this is always code for ‘goner’. I’m a little incredulous that Brennan didn’t suspect anything when her dad decided to salsa in the middle of the Jeffersonian, but on the flip side it was so lovely to see them share a tender, unguarded laugh that I suppose I could forgive the oversight.
So naturally, I gleaned what was coming when he regarded Brennan so wistfully as she blew out her birthday candles, as though he were trying to savor the moment. Once Christine found his hospital bracelet on the floor, too young to recognize its significance, it was game over. Though Max as a character is problematic, I love how he and Brennan play off each other, so I’m gutted for both of them that there are dark clouds on their horizon. I’m sad for both Brennans that they cannot share this yet, and that there is a lot of pain ahead when the truth comes out. For their sake, I’d like to believe that Max will make it through whatever crisis he’s facing, but again being a lifelong consumer of all things TV, I can’t see any other reason to drop this bombshell with only ten episodes left of the series unless it was the end of the road for him. There is no doubt that Emily Deschanel and Ryan O’Neal will knock their performances out of the park, but I don’t know that I’m going to be ready to say goodbye to Max and Brennan. (Did it just get dusty again?)
Throughout all this, there were enough callbacks to shake a stick at. You know it’s a jam-packed episode when the return of ‘Hot Blooded’, throat singers and Daisy shooting Hodgins don’t even crack an above-the-fold mention. Bones is full-steam ahead with celebrating its past, keeping a watchful eye on its future while it’s at it.
Were you surprised by Brennan’s, well, surprise? Do you have any idea what is going on with Max? Did Brennan’s alternative birthday party melt your heart as much as it did mine?