No one can accuse Bones of forgetting its roots in its final season. Sometimes to a degree which seems almost, well, random.
With no respite from last week’s punch to the gut, Brennan deals with the loss of her father in an all-too-believable fashion, and the return of sandwich-lover-extraordinaire ex-boyfriend Sully gives us all some food for thought. Meanwhile, Canadians apparently sound Minnesotan, and there are Vikings involved somehow. Yep, it’s par for the course zaniness in the home stretch.
First, let me just say that I absolutely loved that this episode started off immediately focused on Brennan, right from the first shot of her looking distractedly into the fridge and obviously still shaken, presumably just a few days after Max’s death. Brennan’s entire demeanor here felt like some of the most realistic experiences I’ve seen depicted on TV in a while. Emily Deschanel nailed that absolute numbness that comes with mourning, and I was captivated by the simple act of Brennan going through the motions of their daily domestic routine, but barely holding it together under the surface, as evidenced by the welling in her eyes as she came upon her dad’s favorite soda on the shelf. (The zealous need to clean out the cupboards to get rid of things like that they won’t need anymore since he’s gone? Ouch. Been there, done that.)
What surprised me, though, was how, for the most part, everyone let Brennan go through her grief at her own pace. Due to time constraints on most shows, there’s a tendency to either “prove” that the bereaved need to lean on their loved ones, or on the other extreme, they spiral out of control in despair. I was so grateful that Brennan was allowed to voice that she just needed some time alone to process after spending the last week huddled with her family, and that Booth understood that. Yes, he was worried for her and visibly nervous about leaving her alone to go up to Newfoundland to investigate their case (if only we had time to unpack that) , but he respected her need for solitude and gave her that space.
Which, curiously, was not always the case with her friends and coworkers. Though they were understandably worried about her after suffering such a huge loss, I was puzzled at them walking around eggshells around her, or much more frustratingly, being apprehensive of her reconnecting with former flame Sully in a bit of kismet. It felt like a bit of a regression on their part, though I did enjoy the hilarity of them trying to explain his significance to poor unsuspecting Clark, as this was before his time at the Jeffersonian. (I swear, Angela needs to have a slideshow ready to explain the tangled web of gossip to all newcomers.) To be fair, they all know Brennan tends to shut down as a coping mechanism, but she didn’t seem to be demonstrating quite that level of isolation here.
When she finally, and exasperatedly told Angela, “I just don’t feel like worrying about anyone right now,” I cheered, because if that’s not the experience of grief wrapped up in a nutshell, I don’t know what is. She’d been so busy trying to be strong for her kids and get through all the practical things that need to be done in these cases, like funeral arrangements, that she hadn’t had time to just process her own feelings herself. I’m glad that her friend finally got it, then— that her opening up to Sully wasn’t a slight on Booth or them, but rather an opportunity to vent to someone who is basically a neutral party in the matter. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Speaking of the one-time agent, I must admit that I was initially puzzled by his return, but I was so charmed by all of his scenes in ‘Grief’ and greatly enjoyed the rapport between Eddie McClintock and Deschanel. For starters, the nods to their past were yet another box ticked in the Season of All Callbacks (Sully did buy that sandwich shop in the Caribbean!), and I was amazed at how easily the two characters fell into their old rhythm. It really was astonishing to see the decade wash off Brennan, and she regained a little of the light-heartedness that she last had with Sully back in season 2.
Furthermore, I have to say that their conversation over dinner was one of the most genuine, introspective scenes I can remember in a long time. I believed her when she said that Sully was the first person to make her realize she could have this kind of life beyond the narrow perimeters of her expectations, and I’m thrilled that she admitted as much to Booth when he finally got home. It almost makes me a little wistful that we couldn’t have gotten more scenes like this between our main couple in recent memory, without the specter of the latest Big Bad or conflict-of-the-week looming over them. (Heck, seeing Brennan and/or Booth in a personal setting outside of the lab or house is an occurrence I didn’t realize had become rare until I asked myself what felt so different about the scene with Sully.) Not surprisingly, there wasn’t even the hint of anything untoward about the reunion, and I’m glad the writers never went there— which, mercifully, is a card they don’t play on Bones, because for the most part it’s a show that realizes that this is how people behave in grown-up relationships, and for that I applaud them.
Finally, Max’s touching send-off was a testament to both his and Brennan’s growth over the years, and as devastating as this period is for her, I find myself happy that she managed to repair that fractured bond before he died. It may not be closure, but it’s the closest most of us ever get to it. I think Brennan is the brave one for taking that onus, and in the end, healing part of herself because of it.
Did you enjoy Sully’s return? What do you see on the horizon for Booth and Brennan?