Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bones Episode Review - 3.13: 'The Verdict in the Story'

Master list of all episodes and links to my reviews can be found here.

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'The Verdict in the Story'

Whew. I'm sincerely impressed with how good Bones has been post-hiatus. With the exception of the out-of-order 'Player Under Pressure', every episode aired since the return has been wonderful. This leaves me eagerly anticipating our remaining two before the summer break - and beyond. Every season of Bones gets better and better. It's a credit to the writers, as well as the cast, that Bones never grows stale instead gaining richness and depth with each new interlude into the world of special Agent Seeley Booth and Dr. Temperance Brennan.

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Wow. Before this episode aired, I was of the mind, bluntly, that it would simply be filler. Max was destined to jail. It wasn't hotly promoted. You'd reasonably think that it would be an important story but they really didn't convey that in the previews/promos, to me at least. There has been so much more buzz about the next two episodes that it was easy to view this one as an important, but possibly uninteresting, stepping stone. Often there are lesser quality episodes between big 'thriller' episodes but Bones is delivering great story after great story. I'm sorry I doubted you Hart!

I, like Angela, believed that the Brennan/Keenan team was destined to lose; it was only a matter of how the story was told. It feels silly and faithless in hind site. Since when is Bones so...blah? Never!

Happily, wonderfully, I was dead wrong. It makes me feel like a thoughtless groupie to say (but hopefully my un-godly long reviews belie the truth of my thoughtfulness, at the least) but the last three Season 3 episodes are all fighting for the top of my short list for favorite episodes.

Enough gush. Time to dig in.

P.S. I can't take the judge seriously. Spaceballs...all I can see are Spaceballs scenes!

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I'm not exactly sure where to start. This episode was hard on most every character but a great ride for the viewer.

The squints had a hard choice here. The Jeffersonian investigated the death of Deputy Director Kirby and therefore they were bound to do what they always do: testify in court. They don't get to chose. The only one who can rightly be excused is the one who legally must - Dr. Brennan. But all the others are bound by their jobs to ignore the defendant, and prove the Federal Government's case.

They do this with varying degrees of emotional issues. Cam, Booth, Sweets and Caroline simply do it. It's their job and they're all emotional mature enough to realize that, though it's uncomfortable, they must. Angela refuses in the grounds that she can't be a part of the team that will certainly put her best friend’s father in jail for the rest of his life, or worse, on death row. Hodgins will do it as long as Dr. Brennan gives him express permission and Zack is very happy to do it. It's even a competition to Zack: the Jeffersonian team vs Dr. Brennan and those "African American people" she's with. He's the one person on the Jeffersonian team able to do what Dr. Brennan is doing on the other side: completely rationalize that this is simply what must be done and it should be done to the best of everyone's abilities. Zack does take it a little further. Compared to the rest of the crew he definitely enjoys the case: to him the defendant is irrelevant.

Caroline: “Here's what is different. (to Booth) Loose the 'cocky' belt buckle. (to Hodgins) No badges saying 'Resist Authority' or 'The Truth is out there.' (to Zack) Do not cut your own hair the day before a trial. (to Angela) Ugly up a little. The plain women on the jury hate you. (to Sweets) Use your fully grown up words.(to Cam) Eat. Last time, your stomach was growling louder than your testimony.”
Sweets: “I assure you I will be totally, awesomely mature on the stand.”

Caroline: “And you're 100% positive this is the murder weapon?”
Zack: “I'm not comfortable with 100%.”

Despite Angela’s earlier refusal to testify, Caroline puts her on the stand anyway and again, she refuses to testify. Bones even calls out to tell her to do it after she and Booth exchange one of their many looks.
Judge: “The witness will answer or I will find her in contempt.”
Angela: “Is there any way I could talk you out of that?”
...Caroline: “I figured once she got up here and saw your scary face she'd reconsider her options.”
Angela tries to take the 5th but that's the wrong amendment. She decides instead to try to take the 1st due to the 'freedom of association'.
…Booth gets Bones to speak up again 'he's the ferryman’! That gets her called down by the judge which upsets her at Booth, "Thanks a lot!"
…Bones: “Angela, please.”
Booth: “Hey, will you sit down?” (Booth grabs her arm and pulls her back down.)
Angela: “Sweetie, this is one of those times where I know what's right and everybody else is confused.”
Angela just simply cannot do it. She’s completely convinced that Max is going to lose and she can’t be a part of the group that does it. While the scene is funny, it’s also very poignant, especially when taken with the later jail scene between the two of them. They are so very different but so close. It’s an alternate version of Booth and Bones. Bones shouldn’t relate to people like Booth and Angela but something in each side pulls together and her best friend an her unofficial ‘other half’ are both very emotionally governed people, in stark contrast to her extreme rational nature.

Sweets has impressive credentials but he’s definitely still a kid in many ways. Job-wise he’s intelligent and well educated but still hasn’t shed his tendency to speak like a teenage kid. ‘Totally’ appears to be his favorite word. “That's wicked stressful.”, “I assure you I will be totally, awesomely mature on the stand.”, “Like, totally.”, “mega dangerous”, and “Totally. ... I mean, indubitably.”

Outside of that he’s still not a fully mature adult. He loves being around Booth and Brennan and desperately wants to be right in the middle of them. He’ll do this in any way he can: a ‘double date’, cajoling, following them around, or a study for profiling trade-off. He can’t master his emotions well. He believes that he’s prioritizing the job but he’s really still primarily emotionally governed and he’s totally unaware of it.

You have to feel a bit sad for Zack. He was the only team member okay, even happy, with the team split over this case. So what’s that mean in Bones-land? He needs a bit of roughing up.

They didn’t try to make him become emotionally involved – that’s beyond the scope of his character at this stage of development (and probably why he never gets a ‘date’ story) but they did make hum vulnerable. Zack is utterly confident in his abilities and his work and that confidence was taken away from him. But in classic Vulcan-Zack form he doesn’t get sad or emotional about it. He simply sets about to fix it, learn from the mistake and ensure it will never happen again.

Zack: “I didn't ask you anything. You asked me. I answered.”
Clark: “You're not screwing with me, are you? You're just like this.”
Zack: “Yes, this is exactly how I am.”

Clark: “You made a mistake”
Zack: “Yes, I was mistaken.”

Zack: “Where did Clark Edison learn that trick with the food dye? I don't know that trick.”
Booth: “Zack...focus!”

In the end all consciences, and contempt charges, are cleared and the team can once again come together. It would have been a heavy story-arc indeed if the outcome had been different. How would the team have moved on with that hanging over them? I won’t be reading other reviews until after I finish this but I imagine there might be people out there who think it’s a joke that he got off, that’s it’s not realistic. I don’t fall into that category. I’ve seen this done before in other shows so it’s not new. I think they didn’t have much choice here if they wanted to keep from having to rebuild the team into the beautiful cohesive unit it is at this point.

Brennan’s team:
Brennan’s team is a bit more barebones. They have basically Dr. Brennan and Clark Edison. I’ll talk about her in a minute, so Clark first. Clark is a great scientist and a foil for Zack. They both want the truth. For Zack, the truth is the goal, but for Clark how you get that truth is what matters. Zack is in it for the sake of the science. Clark is in it for the sake of the game. Zack wants the answer; Clark wants to get there in the most ingenious way.

Clark always has something to prove. It gives him a great edge here to push beyond the science and look for what others may have missed. He believes he’s better than others and he actually proves that here. When it turns out that his evidence prompts the prosecution to find the real weapon and therefore a stronger case it hits him harder than it would hit a pure scientist like Zack.

Max: “Oh, he's a full grown scientist?”
Clark: “I shave, sir. I have a driver's license. I've won a couple of fist fights. I've saved a life. I have lain with woman. I've been hustled at pool, I've defied my father's wishes. I have broken hearts and I have been heart broken. So by all the markers of this society I am a grown man.”

Max's own kids believe that he’s guilty. We, in the audience, know that he is. That’s not really what this is about. They’ve set this up in the past. In ‘The Killer in the Concrete’ we see that Booth has come to grudgingly admire Max. He says that in the Old West he’d have been considered a hero. Here, we see that same idea come up again in the course of the trial- Max: "I never killed anyone. I just poked them to keep them away."

And with Sweet’s testimony:
Caroline: “Is he capable of murder?”
Sweets: “Like, totally. Most definitely. Um, in his own way Max Keenan is a very impressive man.”
Caroline: “What do you mean, "In his own way?"”
Sweets: “Well, Max Keenan doesn't adhere to an external ethical system.”
Caroline: “He does what he wants.”
Sweets: “No, he does what he thinks is right, whether or not the rest of the world agrees. In another time, he could have been a great leader.”
…Caroline: “Is Max Keenan dangerous?”
Sweets: “When he feels his loved ones are threatened...mega dangerous.” (Booth and Bones still look at each other.)
Caroline: “In your opinion, if Max Keenan felt that he was threatened or his family was threatened, could he do this?”
Sweets: “Totally. I mean, indubitably.”
Caroline: “Without hesitation?”
Sweets: “Without hesitation, without remorse, without guilt.”
(Booth looks over to check on her again but she doesn't look back.)

What remains is convincing his daughter that his motives matter as much as his guilt:
Max: “I’m ashamed of a lot of things in my life, but in this case, my conscience is clear.”
Bones: “That’s not the same as being innocent.”

Russ doesn’t play as big a part here. We already know that he’s loyal to his Father over any legal rationale. But he’s still a good guy and honest. His Father knows that and, like Caroline insinuates, I believe Max knows his son’s honesty and he did purposefully get Russ out of the way so he wouldn’t witness anything and also so he wouldn’t help.

While I think this episode was much more about everyone around Dr. Brennan, she did have some things of her own to face – namely deciding what she actually felt about her father and the trial. She knows he’s guilty, in her heart. And she’s been running with that while ignoring the fact that Booth points out – she doesn’t “know” it scientifically like she prefers. But he’s still her Father and she will still work to keep him free.

This is her first time working on a defense so it’s a new experience for her in how the sides differ. She believes in the scientific evidence but that is not what a good defense relies on. Evidence belongs to the prosecution; heart belongs to the defense. This episode is about Brennan’s heart and how she chooses to use her heart vs her rationale.

She believes that rational = normal but the people around her keep pointing out that’s exactly the opposite of normal. She believes in her ability to compartmentalize.
Sweets: "If you were fine, you'd be balled up in the corner, weeping, or semi-catatonic."
Sweets: "I think it's important that you know that we know that the colder and more objective you appear on the outside, the more pain you're feeling on the inside."
Sweets: "Dr. Brennan does seem to have an enviable, if somewhat disturbing, ability to compartmentalize."

In the great scene in her apartment with Booth he tells her to just shut off her brain and do what her heart (her love for her Father) tells her to do: support her Father. She’s bothered that he’s not ‘innocent’:
Max: “I'm ashamed of a lot of things in my life, but in this case, my conscience is clear.”
Bones: “That's not the same as being innocent.”
But more and more she comes to realize his side of the argument, mostly thanks to Booth.

Bones: “My team...they're really good.”
Russ: “Maybe you could brag over them another time, Tempe.”

Booth shows a lot of respect for Sweets in this episode, while also, as usually, mercilessly torturing him. He admits that Sweets is brilliant and he allows Sweets to continue pulling them into therapy when, for all intents and purposes, it appears he utterly hates going. He’s a softy, that big Boothbear!

Additionally, he takes something very important from Sweets and then uses it on Bones. At the start of the episode, Sweets says that now is the time for Bones to ‘feel’. Booth takes that and gives it to her again (with much better delivery, sorry JFD!) in her apartment.

What Booth has to do here is very hard on him. Next to Angela, harder than anyone else and he’s only second to her because he’s different emotionally. He spends most of the time assuring himself that his Bones is okay. He knows that she supports what he does and his obligation and that’s the main reason he can do it. He can help put her Father away with the bare facts. When asked if the defendant was at the seminary he answers quickly with yes but when asked what he was doing there Booth doesn't want to say more than that. It hurts him to admit Max was impersonating a priest due to the prejudicial nature. He looks around and at the judge but he doesn't say it until Bones nods at him. Additionally, Caroline has to force Booth to say that "The sharpened pipe kind of became a trademark for him."

But what he can’t stand to do…is to be in any way responsible for putting her away. The look on his face when he realizes that he’s about to say something that will incriminate her is palpably painful. “That’s a lot of heart, Bones.” You just want to give him a big hug and say it will be okay! (Amazing acting by David Boreanaz there.)

Dr. Geeks – love that nickname for Sweets

This episode is a hard mix of pleasure and pain for the couple. There are so many adorable moments, mixed in with some hard things they have to deal with. You feel so sorry for them at the beginning when they are split up. They look like little kids who are told they can’t play together anymore.

Opening statements of the trial and they're already looking at each other and talking to each other across the aisle. Bones: “Booth. I could so be objective.” Booth: “I know, Bones. Okay, just, shh...” Caroline and Barron are doing their opening statements and the Judge has to say: “And you two, please, keep to your own sides of the aisle.” These two are connected no matter what those around them put in the way. You can’t keep them apart.

While the rest of the team stays away from her, Booth goes right for her. He’s not supposed to, but since when does that matter?
Booth: “Put the cup in front of your mouth when you talk.”
Bones: “I didn't see Angela today.”
Booth: “Angela refuses to testify.”
Bones: “Why?”
Booth: “Probably because she's your best friend.”
Bones: “Well, you're my friend and you don't mind.”
Booth: “I mind. We all mind. Except for Zack.”
Bones: “Well in that case Zack is the only one that's thinking clearly. I had to give Hodgins permission. I don't know what's wrong with everyone.”
Booth: “It's not what's wrong, Bones. It's what's right.”
He is there to both comfort her and assuage his own guilt. He is the first one up against her Father.

The scene with Sweets on the bench is wonderful.
Sweets: “You shouldn't work well together, but you do. I'd like to study it further.”
The two of them are on fire here – both the writing and the acting is great. They are all about each other, as Sweets points out.
Sweets: “Okay, see? That thing that you do when you talk to each other while excluding the third party, namely me, it's an adaptive mechanism, for, uh, disparate entities to bond together against their own individual impetuses to dissociate.”
Booth: “What's that mean for us?”
Bones: “Nothing useful.”
Booth: “I'll tell you what. Why don't we make a deal with him where we allow him to study us. In return, he gives us psychological profiling on demand.”
Sweets: “Okay.”
Bones: “No, you like that sort of thing, but I don't see the point.”
Booth: “I just think that he doesn't want to admit that he likes us.”
Bones: “Do you like us?”
Sweets: “What?”
Booth: “And he wants to spend time with us.”
Bones: “Is that true Sweets?”
Poor Sweets, but go Booth and Brennan!

I’d have to classify the apartment scene as one of their best. Zack is moving around her place and Booth goes to her and it ends with a wow! Look between them. David Boreanaz is so cute one second then very much a man aware of the woman in front of him the next… and Emily looks so vulnerable. Bones: “Sometimes I think you're from another planet (both laughing)....And sometimes I think you're really very nice.” The look between them just makes me want to scream/laugh/cry something! Aaaaaand of course.....Zack then finds the weapon. Drat. 30 more seconds and they'd be kissing. Just 30 more seconds!!!

So Brennan figures out a way to save her Father but she has to run it by someone first: Booth. The supposedly guile-less Brennan doesn’t tell him everything though. I’m sure on some level that she knows that he would refuse to allow her to do that if she told him the entire story. She just has to clear her rational idea by her moral compass – Booth.

Booth: “Juries are the human factor in a trial, all right? You never know what they'll do.”
Bones: “You think it's all right for me to take advantage of that?”
Booth: “Brain and heart, Bones. Brain and heart.”

They set up that Booth was at all locations and had motive, and then that Dr. Brennan does too. He looks at her, he knows this is what she set up but he doesn't quite know how far she'll go yet.

Booth: “Bones was with me all day.”
Barron: “She didn't have time to commit this murder?”
Booth: “No she did not.”
Barron: “How did your son Parker get home from school that day?”
(He looks at her and she nods slightly.)
Booth: “45 minutes we were apart, but we talked on the phone.”
Barron: “Plenty of time, wasn't it, Agent Booth?”
(He stares at her to the point he's prodded to answer.)
Booth: (barely whispers) “That's a lot of heart, Bones.” (I just want to cry for him here! He tries to answer by saying all the reasons she couldn't have done it but that's not what the lawyer wants - simply a yes or no of whether or not she had time.)
Booth: “Yes. She had time.”

He can do what she wants - help put her father away but he can't help put her away and it upsets him immensely to even slightly incriminate her.

Bones goes out before the verdict is read. She can't do anything anyway. Booth comes out too, also before it's read. She's more important than anything. Great hug. In the wide shot you can see she's completely leaning on him, like she practically launched at him. While she's hugging her father she and Booth are still looking at each other.


saesa said...

I totally agree with you..
Booth is Bones' moral compass

gilliAHHn said...

i love the apartment scene!!Booth and Brennan would have totally kissed if it wasn't for Zach. And they both realize it,because you can see reality dawning on their faces. One second they're laughing,next second they're very serious, and both understand what's about to happen.but noooooo....darn you,Zach!i hope the writers create this sort of moment before the lip-lock in season 4.the kiss has to be...immensly thoughtful and silent and a tear-jerker,because there is no other way to describe Brennans and Booths relationship. I love your blog!!thanx!!

Mom2ABnTB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mom2ABnTB said...

This is the first review I've read and it is so 'totally' awesome! I'm looking forward to season 4 even MORE now (if that's possible) so I can read your recaps!

Anonymous said...

A few random thoughts about this episode:

The opening scene - that laughter by Brennan was horrible. So horrible that I believe it was no bad acting but a symptom that the stress was finally getting to Bones. Thoughts on that, anyone?

Also, while I do know that we saw Max burn the body in Judas on a Pole (my second favorite episode of all three seasons), I keep wondering if he REALLY did commit those murders. He never admitted to it out loud, right? Of course, that could be because he doesn't want to spell it out to his kids that he is a murderer even though they already think he is, but still. I wonder why he kept saying that his conscience is clear and seemed surprised that his kids were convinced he was guilty. Again, this could be due to his interpretation of innocent vs. guilty, but still I wonder. Conspiracies, anyone? ;-) Because I really wondered about this: if he was the murderer, he would have known that the sharpened pipe was not the murder weapon, right? But he never gave any hints and seemed genuinely surprised like everybody else when Clark found out that it was not.

I'd love to hear some thoughts on that.

Also, and that's really random, I was totally irritated that Booth kept referring to Brennan as Bones on the stand. Wouldn't he be a bit more official in court?

Mike said...

I liked how it played out, I liked that Max got off on this charge, but why did he walk out a free man? Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't he on the run from the law for decades prior to murdering the FBI director? What about his other murders? Like the ones Booth mentioned on the stand? Or the other FBI guy he murdered in exactly the same way in the same episode as this murder?

Or in the world of Bones is there a new "all or nothing" law to balance out the "three strikes" law? You get tried on the worst charge and if you beat it you're pardoned for all previous offenses.

gabriel said...

My conspiracy theory ;) : at the beginning of Judas on a Pole, I believe that the guy who set the body on fire was a lot thinner than Max, looked like a younger person. I also thought that the first murder was not carried out by him. Any opinions on this? (actually, for a while, I kept thinking it was Russ but later on I rejected it, his behavior doesn't suggest that)

chillip said...

late to the game but the last 7 minutes of this episode is just about as good as it gets.

jeannie i think you are correct about the laugh -- the out of character giddiness by brennan and the laughter signs of stress.

and i think this is a wonderful review, wendy, though at the end i'd add a little.

when the camera cuts to brennan in front of the court, she's offset in the frame to the left with a pillar on her right, center frame. then booth arrives, screen right, and becomes her pillar. then, when max comes out, we see booth leaning on the other pillar with brennan giving him a look at would melt nearly any man. symbolism or just an overactive viewer's imagination?

and, as much credit as DB gets for his acting in this episode, all well deserved, i think ED's efforts are undervalued.

this episode stands up very well after 2 years, for me, and deserves to be listed amongst the very best of bones.

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