Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bones Episode Review - 3.12: "Player Under Pressure"

I don't want to do a full story recap. Fox does a great job of that on the official site. This is more opinion and perspective from a fan, as well as how I think it fits into the greater Bones landscape. When season 3 ends I plan to review all the previous episodes over the summer, starting with the 'Pilot'.

You can view the plot summary for 'Player Under Pressure' here, at the Fox site.

I'm pretty open about the fact that I don't like airing episodes out of order. Writers write in an order and continuity suffers when you start shuffling things. I know why this one was aired out of order (it was pulled because it was due to air near the time of the Virgina Tech massacre) but I don't think airing it in Season 3 was a good idea. They cut out the major continuity issues with the Angela/Hodgins engagement scenes but for any fan, this episode is clearly out of place.

The entire feel is wrong between Brennan and Booth in this episode. In season 3, their relationship has taken huge leaps. They've grown very close and they act like a fluid pair. That's not to say they don't argue, but sometimes it's hard to tell where the individuals end, they are so in tune. But that is glaringly absent in this episode. A big plot point in Season 3 is Booth telling her jock stories and the fact that she is surprised in this episode that he's a jock stands out and takes me, at least, right out of the story and into grumbling about the switch.

I didn't hate everything about the episode, however. Even if they aren't as close as we know them to be now in Season 3, there are still some great moments between our characters. But first, the rest of the review. As always, the Booth/Bones part is saved for last!

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I've read complaints about a few parts of the case in this episode - RJ was too short for power forward is a big one. But I think it was a well written, well executed case. I think, as they rarely can, they held out the real killer for nearly the entire episode. There was no reason to suspect Cutler (played by James Black) at all and as he pointed out: if he hadn't spat on the victim they never would have found him. They might have suspected him after finding out his daughter's actions, but they never would have had any proof. I like that it was a close call on finding him and I like it when the 'bad guy' isn't 100% bad. It's hardly possible for anyone to be 100% one way or the other and it's nice to see that portrayed in cases. It's much more realistic.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Zack doesn't disappoint in this episode.
-He's a basketball fan, but purely in a mathematical way.
-The turkey/skull scene is great. When the episode aired it felt contrived. We knew exactly what was going to happen when they crouched in front of that grate. But when I re-watched it felt natural that these guys were so enthused they didn't even think, and were even so absorbed that they kept talking about the case like they weren't covered in the ambrosia salad after they drenched themselves.
-The scene with Dr. Brennan near the end:
Bones: "She made the decision to hold onto him by letting him have sex with any other woman he wanted."
Zack: "That sounds extremely rational."
Bones: "That's what's confusing" ...
Zack: "The idea that one person can be all things to another person, satisfy every need or even more than one, is sentimental and mawkish."
I'll write about her side of this below, but for his side it's classic Zack. He takes something that's widely societally accepted, monogamy, and deconstructs it, completely oblivious to the emotional aspects. The only thing that matters is the logic and to him monogamy makes no logical sense. Vulcan! Here it's sad Vulcan though. Like Dr. Brennan, Zack misses out on a huge part of human interaction. She's learning from Booth but he has no one from whom he can gain such experience. I sincerely hope they give the character a chance to do that sometime in the show. It would extremely funny, if nothing else.
Great line: "I tend to look better fully clothed."

-As usual, Cam has some very funny scenes and Tamara Taylor plays them perfectly. Her expressions in the blender and turkey/skull scenes are so rich and human. She is the foil to the pure scientists.
-Her play on Angela is a great part of her character. I don't believe at all that she would intentionally leave a message with Angela for Hodgins. He has to have a place there where she can leave folders and messages. She went to Angela expressly to set her up and it worked great. Her reveal of the DVD in the second scene was a great example of how she deserves the job she has and an expression of her control. There's not much that Cam doesn't know about and this was the reminder. It's her house. She's not a terrible taskmaster but she is in control.

-The blender scene. I loved this scene. Bugs are so normal to him it wouldn't possibly occur to him that no one in their right mind would prepare food in anything that had just pureed maggots. Wonderfully played by both actors.
-"Gelatinous mixture sounded better." He's so cute.

-"I draw stuff. Fluids are not my actual area of expertise."
-"You know, this is pretty good." As she watches the video again. That would have been a great scene for Hodgins to walk in instead of Cam. Was Cam there for a reason or was she just passing by and heard it? It seemed a little odd. It's very typical Angela that she's not at all embarrassed past the slight initial question of who has seen the tape.

Nothing here really. They cut out what should have been here, engagement scenes, and gave us nothing. I guess they had to do that because they still had to show the scenes with Hodgins with long hair and therefore couldn't show him do new scenes now with Angela where he had short hair. Again: couldn't we have just had the original episode on the DVD as a special feature? (Never, I know. They wouldn't give up all the money made. But still, GRRRRRRR). The sex DVD was funny but a poor substitute for what had to be great scenes between the two of them in the original airing. I'm still holding out hope that we can at least get those cut scenes in special features on the Season 3 disk.

-I love her attempts to relate to this sports enthusiasm. While she offends Booth (thoughts below) with her analysis of what sports means part of her still wants to relate to the sports passion she sees. When Zack and Hodgins are going on about basketball she is on one hand annoyed "Oh, not you guys too", but then she instantly tries to relate to them and become a part of the discussion by relating an anthropological story.
-And then again, after Booth walks out. She only meant to have a discussion with him and while he wouldn't spar in the way she wanted she still considers his side and tries a shot. The satisfied look after she succeeds is cute and perfect. She wishes that he'd seen it too.
-Her lack of tact lends some great lines and provokes some hate (in Celeste). Justine: "What the hell, you know what I mean?" Bones: "Not at all."
-Bones: "This is a terrible University." Francis: "Why would I kill the golden goose? Bones: "But he wasn't a goose, he was a man." Great, classic Bones.
-Her complete lack of shyness around the naked kid is a great scene. That kid is just a 'thing' to her in many ways. She's there to get information out of 'it' and absolutely no sexual thoughts enter her mind in a setting that would be uncomfortable for most women. And when she goes off to the side it's not to become a passive wall-flower. She's still listening to every word and still analyzing the information. I loved it when she popped up above the lockers with, "All the bad decisions you made and the one thing you're ashamed of is having sex with a not-hot girl?" Bones can't hold her tongue well.
-Why would Dr. Brennan take so long to understand that Angela and Cam were talking about oral sex? they were speaking very clinically and I think she should have gotten it right away. The lines were fine with her tidbit about adolescent males but they still could have had her clued in faster.
-I love that, despite all her advances with Booth, she still often uses Zack as a sounding board. He's the most logical person she knows and she's very comfortable with him. I am glad, for future's sake, that she didn't agree outright with what Zack said. But I think on some level she still does. I think she can split her interactions into compartments - intellectual, physical, emotional - and I think these will return as a theme. It already is a show theme, honestly. At the start of the series she has Angela for the emotional interaction, colleagues for the intellectual stimulation, and a string of meaningless relationships for the physical. As this series has progressed Booth has taken over those roles step by step. She still goes to Zack and Angela for big things but on a frequent basis she's trying to get both of those in Booth. Maybe she wouldn't admit it to herself yet but it's there. The physical is the biggest hold out, but the other 2 parts of the triangle aren't complete yet either.
-She's not a weak woman and whether it was unspoken communication from Booth or a personal decision it was very in line with her character to not just run away when things got tense with Cutler
-Just a guess, but I'd venture that Emily Deschanel was very happy to be able to show a positive animal interaction with the rats. I know that she was unhappy with previous scenes, like having to pretend to shoot rats, so rescuing them in the episode was likely something she could enjoy. (I somehow doubt David Boreanaz enjoyed them, though.)

There wasn't a lot of straight Booth in this episode. We got a bit more of his history as a college athlete and a strong light on a serious sports enthusiasm
-Good lines in the scene with the 2 kids, trying to figure out which guy does steroids and which has gonorrhea. "I really don't care where he's been dipping his...wick." and "I hope you don't have a bashful bladder."
-"RJ Manning broke her heart and a bit of her brain in the process."

Booth/Bones Despite my complaints about how the pair don't flow in the episode as they do in Season 3, it was still a couple episode for the pair. When they have a substantial bicker, they always grow closer as a result. Scene by scene...

Opener - Very cute scene with him showing her another 'real world' truth. It's funny and light. She think the university should be completely about academics and he knows that is not how it works. "Tell you what. You bring your little...didactic, thoracic speech here any other time of the year and you'll draw maybe five, five and a half (students) easy."

Basketball scene - They have a few minutes to kill and Booth wants to use the time to share a bit of himself with Bones. Her way of sharing is to spark debate, his way is physical. This always sparks a good scene between them. She wants to talk about a 'greater truth' and he just wants to hang out with her and show her something he loves. (I can only hope I can write my own story with the arcing richness Hart keeps in this series. I love it!)
Bones: "Sports should not have such a priority int he university."
Booth: "Alright, you know what? That's crazy."
Bones: "No. Anthropologically speaking, sports are a way for boys to practice their battle skills."
Booth: "Yeah. Okay. So you want to just focus straight up, get up on your toes, and just lift." (He keeps up his end while she keeps up hers. They both want to share with each other but they are each completely missing what the other person is trying to do.)
Bones: "The truth is...athletes are basically emotionally arrested in boyhood, acting out childish games as though they have adult importance. You know, the only thing more juvenile are grown adults who watch sports." (Booth has kept tossing shot after shot while she said her bit but this line stops him completely.)
Booth: "Why you got to say stuff like that?"
Bones: "What? You mean, the truth?"
Booth: "All right, you know what, I'm a jock. So when you say those, you know, things that you say, what are you saying about me?"
Bones: "Nothing. You grew out of it."
Booth: "No, I didn't, all right? My shoulder crapped out on me. otherwise I would've gone all the way with it." (Whimsical music starts 1/2 way through this line to remind us that this isn't a massive argument.)
Bones: "What?"
Booth: "You know what, and another thing, all right, I, uh...I fought in a war!. So if sports is a, uh, childish substitute, I can live with that!"
Bones sighs, not understanding why he just walked out when the debate was getting good.

And that's not the end of it. They walk out and she still doesn't understand that he's even upset, much less why. "You know, I'm a little irritated with you. Just leave me alone long enough so I can get over it." I like that they don't have him hold a grudge over what she said. She hurt him, and they make that clear, but he's been through enough of these 'discussions' with her that he's very well versed on her and knows not to take lasting offense. And they point out, by the time that they hit the shower scene, that he's already past any lingering hurt.

The end scene in the dinner ties it up nicely and brings the pair fully back together.
Booth: "So, jock mentality, teams. Not all bad, huh?
Bones: "Why are you telling me this?"
Booth: "'Cause you said we're all stunted adolescents who take children's games too seriously."
Bones: "I never meant you." (Great, intimate tone and lean-in from Emily). She wants forgiveness.
Booth: "Bones?"
Bones: "What?"
Booth: "Bones, I'm one of those guys."
Bones: "No, you aren't. You don't play at being a warrior. You are a warrior, every day. You're definitely... a fully developed man." (Meaningful smiles between them.)
Booth: "Okay. You leave the tip."
Bones: "Even Cutler knew you were lying when you said you treated women like that beneath the bleachers."
Booth: "Oh, and you believe him?"
Bones: "Yes, because you still remember that first girl's name." (Incidentally David Boreanaz still knows the name of his first kiss and even what she's doing now.)
He looks a bit squirmy at this. The 'insensitive jock' can be a nice emotional protection for a guy and she just ripped that from him. And what woman didn't fully agree with the 'fully developed man' line?

They had some other funny interplays as well.
Booth: "You know, unlike you, most people enjoy a past-time that takes them out of their head."
Bones: "Takes them out of their head, like drugs and alcohol."

Cutler: "You two don't pull any punches, do you?" Nice nod to the partnership from someone they only recently met.

Bones: "Is she crying because she loved him or because she lost a mansion?"
Booth(mouthing): "The mansion."

Final scene with Cutler -
"He's got a gun, Bones. I need you to leave. Now."
She doesn't immediately walk away and Booth talks to Cutler a little more before she asks, "What are you doing? Do you want him to shoot at you?"
"Go." The look he gives her has meaning. There's no direct nod or head tilt or anything to indicate a specific plan but there seems to be some silent communication there. If she thought he only wanted her to go for her own protection she'd have likely put up more of a fight. He looks in her direction just before she intercedes and he nods at her just after. Nice unspoken communication, especially in a Season 2 episode.

I liked this episode much better upon rewatching it. At first it just made me too grumpy to see it so far out of it's intended spot and the negatives outweighed the positives for me. It's a good episode, but in the future I will definitely watch it as the point where it was originally intended to be shown.


Anonymous said...

Since this is actually a season 2 episode, where would it belong in the season 2 list? It makes no sense to me why they didn't keep it's original episode number so us purists can watch the order as it was meant to be!

Add to Technorati Favorites