Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bones Episode Review - 1.02: "The Man in the S.U.V."

For a list of all Bones episodes, and links to my reviews, go here.

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I'm sometimes amazed at which episodes end up telling the most about these characters. I've breezed through all 3 seasons now, more than once, but when I actually take the time to break down an episode it really changes my perspective. The Man in the SUV is one of those episodes I'd falsely mischaracterized as moderately interesting.

I wondered, as I sat out to do these old reviews, how much the aired vs written order would matter. Was I just being uselessly anal? But I must say that I've already discovered: it matters. Aside from the glaring inconsistency of Booth's platform card, the Booth/Brennan relationship is definitely advanced quite a bit between "The Boy in the Tree" and this episode. Watching them in the written order makes so much more sense. But, that's always the best part, and therefore always last!

First, the case. Arabs in this country, the peace loving majority at least, have really got to be tired of terrorism plots in Hollywood. But in this episode, Bones beautifully shows a different side. Here we have a completely innocent person, Sahar, and her lover, who's lives are turned upside down when terrorism is suspected. They love America and have done nothing wrong but yet, to quote Brennan, "to say that her ethnicity is not a factor would be disingenuous." We do still have a lying, guilty, evil-minded terrorist in the mix, but I'm happy to see such a complete picture shown. The twists of the bad guy pretending to be a Christian, the 'normalcy' of an affair in the mix, as well as the dioxin exposure were nice touches.

This is another Santana episode, unfortunately, but thankfully it's his last. I really cannot stand this type of character. He's completely humorless, obnoxious and uncaring about those around him. He's 110% 'the job.' I guess there are people out there like that, and shows abound where most or even all of the character trend that way, but he's completely out of place in Bones.

This episode is light on minor league players. We have no Cullen, no Sid, even though we have his restaurant, and not even any Goodman. But what we do have is the introduction of Tessa.

I don't know how I would have felt about Tessa if I'd been watching this show first hand from the beginning. Seeing Season 1 at practically the same time as Season 3 she feels like a bit of an intrusion, at first. But in the same episode they introduce her they end up all but discounting her so I feel bad for her. As Angela points out: the woman is doomed. And she knows it, on some level. More about that below.

We get a lot of Angela's character in this episode. Right at the beginning we see her strong humanity. Brennan drags her to the crime scene and she can't handle it. She's an artist, not a scientist. All the can see is the humanity in pieces while Brennan sees the pieces of a puzzle. Booth, in the same scene shows a bit of the same bent as Angela and while they are very similar in their hearts here they diverge into his duty-bound, heroic, do-whatever-is-needed nature and her free spirit.

Free spirit also means that she feels she can do whatever she wants and in that light she's determined to push Brennan and Booth together. It almost feels plot-device like: show the audience that these two characters will be the romantic tension for the show. But I really don't think that's needed. You can't miss that chemistry. Either way it's a fun story to watch Angela smugly track down Tessa and gather the intel. She has a good heart and she'll do anything for Brennan. Trying to get her out to clubs isn't working so Angela changes course and works on a bit more one-to-one Brennan therapy.

Zack is slowly evolving into the Zack we know. There are no mainstream references here and the eagerness at the crime scene, next to Angela's discomfort shows his nature. He's the disconnected scientist who doesn't see the carnage. The nicknames, that in the Pilot were jokes, now lend my mind to something else. Brennan doesn't see the explosion's human toll because she's seen worse. Zack is young and inexperienced. He should be bothered by what he's seeing but he's not. Science heart or no, he should see it. It's just not in him.

Along those lines, I may be about to irk a few of you. Back when I took a stand defending Zack's choice to follow The Master, one argument leveled against me was that Zack named his bugs. Someone who had the thought to do that...well it must mean overwhelmingly strong with human connections right? It must mean t hat he connects deeper, connects with everything, vs the rest of us that generally only connect with other people? Right?

I believe it says just the opposite. Zack doesn't properly connect with other people and it's a coping mechanism to connect to other things. To safe things. The bugs don't have emotions to decipher, social mores to work out, body language to confuse and special codes he can't understand. The bugs are simple, straight-forward and follow logical, simple, and above-all, well defined rules.

Now that's not to say he's not interesting and lovable. He has some great scenes with Hodgins in this episode.
Hodgins: Are you even listening?
Zack: No.

Hodgins: I graduated top of my class, Rhodes scholar, youngest member inducted into the Academy of Physical Sciences, but she still makes me feel like a cretin.
Zack: She apologized to me.

The burgeoning crush on Dr. Brennan is starting to show!

Hodgins showcases his delicious mix of paranoid conspiracy theorist and normal man. He's mistrustful of the FBI and a guy who wants to be respected but knows when someone has beaten him, as shown in the Zack quotes above where he states how smart he is vs how much, MUCH smarter Dr. Brennan is compared to him. The episode doesn't stand out as a particularly strong Hodgins episode, but he has his moments, as always.
Hodgins: Targeting everyday places causes panic. People stay home. The economy is crippled. It's terrorism 101 man. Are you even listening?

Hodgins: You realize Booth is just another government stooge.

Hodgins: So, what do we do now? Group hug?
I love the physical play between T.J. Thyne and David Boreanaz in that scene. Hodgins is trying to be a pain and Booth just dishes it back at him and it always makes me laugh.

This episode provides a new piece in the Booth puzzle, or even two. Here we learn about Tessa for the first time. Booth isn't just a handsome and successful F.B.I. agent with a heroic and shadowy sniper past. He's a real guy. We see his house and we see his girl. Brennan is shocked that he has a girl at all.
Brennan: I just never figured you'd be in a relationship.
Booth: Why? Do you think something's wrong with me?
Brennan: Not wrong. You just have alpha male attributes usually associated with a solitary existence.
Chase watch: Like in the restaurant scene, they split around objects while they talk and one has to chase to catch up. It's his turn.

Booth doesn't like to talk about his private life. He has enormous respect for any woman he's with and he is never the bragging sort about such things. Angela, his female counterpart and not a romantic interest, manages to drag it out of him but Brennan and other squints can't and won't.

We also get more insight into how much is faith matters. When he's angry at Santana and trying to deal with that he alludes to asking for God's help. He's trying to share something with Brennan and it really doesn't go as well as he thought.
Booth: You know that thing where you ask for the strength to change the things that you can and the wisdom to know the difference?
Brennan: Not really.
Booth: Well it's a good thing.
Brennan: Who do you ask?
Booth: For what?
Brennan: For the strength, and the wisdom...
Booth: God.
Brennan: And it works?
Booth: Can we talk about something else?
Brennan: Sure, Tessa?
Steadily, Brennan manages to hit on everything he doesn't want to talk about. If she knew about Parker at this point, I think he would have found a way into the conversation too!

We've already been dealt information about Booth's special skills with people. In this episode he proves that it goes beyond that. He's just as much of a scientist, in his own way, when it comes to people, as the squints are with their own disciplines. Brennan wants to portray his 'affair' statement as a guess but he gathered just as much evidence as she does.
Booth: It's more than just a feeling, okay? That photograph is evidence just as solid as the markers you squints pick up looking at your little bones...She dyed her hair. She lost weight. She shoved a little Botox in her forehead. She's still feeling guilty over the last fight she had with her husband.

As with a lot of Season 1, Brennan is very physical. She's kicking a lot of butt. It' gets old. Hart Hanson may have set out, as it appears, to flip a lot of stereotypical partnership roles on their collective ears but I really like how she only pops out the physical skills now periodically instead of 1 or more times per episode back at this point. Maybe it's a sign of her evolution, maybe it's a sign of fan reaction, I don't know. But it works that she now that she lets down a little of that complete self-reliance and doesn't feel that she has to both intellectually and physically slay everyone who gets in her way.

We are treated to new facets of Brennan in this episode. Her ability to deal with the bombing scene wasn't surprising, per se, but it was important to note. Brennan, for many reasons, has an iron grip on her emotions. She has seen a lot of death and destruction in her relatively young life. The bombing is nothing new. But she locks her emotions in and deals with the scene. To others she looks cold and unfeeling but she's simply able to lock that away and do the job. The best way she can help those who fell is to find out who killed them and help put the person or persons away. Weeping over their bodies is not an option for her. She's ruthlessly efficient and that would serve no purpose other than to make her feel better.

But, unfortunately for her, due to past hurts she takes this control beyond the workplace. Angela knows that and wants to help her past it but she stubbornly resists Angela's every effort: the clubs, the dancing, the drinks...Booth. She's comfortable with her life. To branch out would be to risk what she's built for herself, inside.

However, she shows her connections with people in other ways. A big one is in how she deals with Sahar. In most every way, Brennan understands Sahar better than Booth. Booth may figure out the affair but Brennan connects with her, personally. She understands what Sahar is going through with the terrorism accusations. She knows Muslim law and what Sahar will need to fullfill her last obligations to her husband's body. She reaches out and gives her honesty when Booth is trying to fill her with party lines about profiling. Brennan gives Sahar what she needs.

But just after doing that, she and Booth have a big argument over her evidence vs his. She refuses to see what he states as anything more than 'conjecture.' She calls her evidence empirical and discounts his entirely. It's, honestly, a bit snobbish of her. One episode ago she's telling him that she recognizes his skills but now that he proves they are more than simply reading body language she tries to push him back down again. Is he getting a little too close to he side for comfort? He doesn't like it when squints push into cop territory. Maybe she has the same problem when it comes to her own.

I like the scene with Booth near the beginning, where she's upset at non-scientist, intrusive oversight. I'm not sure if he's chasing her intentionally or they have a place to go and she's just outrunning him in anger, but the affect is the same.
Brennan: This is my lab. I'm a scientist, a doctor.
Booth: Yeah, so I've heard.
Brennan: Would you be able to do your job if someone was looking over your shoulder all the time?
Booth: You do, okay? I've developed a tolerance.
Brennan: I'm sorry, but I don't understand the advantage of compromise.
Booth: It's a terrorist attack, Bones. It's bigger than you and it's bigger than me.
Brennan: The job is the same.
Booth: No, it's not. We're dealign with someone here who devalues an entie culture: terrorizing people by using God to justify mass murder.
Brennan: You're making it personal. That doesn't help.
Booth: It is personal.

In the end, as Booth steadily helps Brennan bridge between her intellectual and emotional sides, allowing them to bleed into each other, is he making her job harder? I think he could, if she were a weaker person. She thinks, on some level, that she is, hence the wall between the two. I think it's a gift that he's giving her. Not the bridge itself, but the accompanying knowledge that she can truly handle all aspects of herself. I don't even think it's complete yet, but I think we will see that before the show runs its course.

Each of them has a 'higher calling' of sorts. For Booth, it's duty and honor. He has a duty to many things, and he's constantly taking on more duties. He respects them all, starting with humanity, then job, and down the line. He believes strongly in following orders and accepting the dictates of his superiors but he's not a blind lapdog. He's very willing to break or bend rules to honor a duty. Generally the emotions help him do his job better but occasionally he must reign in emotions that get in the way, like anger, in order to keep getting it all done. Brennan's calling is truth. And the truth bows to nothing. Anger at obstacles accomplishes things. But other emotions get in the way.

In this and other ways, Brennan and Booth are still a little bit like oil and water but the chemistry is undeniable now, in a big leap from the previous episode, and they are beginning to test the waters and establish boundaries.
*Talk topics, mostly from Booth's end, are being defined. Tessa, God, his time as a sniper are all touchy subjects at this point.
*He's still trying to approach her like other women. 3 different times in this episode he tries to protect her from something and every time she pushes back and refuses the help. He's beginning to understand that she doesn't fit his 'woman' mold.
*Personal space. He declared in the previous episode that certain areas in Wong Fu's belonged to him. He even specifically, and forcefully, pushed her away from the counter. But now, she's accepted into that space. He tries to push Angela out, but Brennan can stay.
*Brennan hates to be touched but she touched him in comfort.

Angela states that Tessa is insecure in her relationship with Booth and that she feels threatened by Brennan. After what we see here, she well should. Throughout the episode Brennan is trying to reach out to Booth. She tries to comfort him in the car, after thoroughly bungling the entire conversation, by telling him they would succeed and at the end of the episode she brings it out again. She is Booth's comfort. She's known him such a short time and for a lot that she couldn't stand him. But she understands parts of him very well. At the end of the scene she sends him home to Tessa but he's already gotten what he needed. Between the two of them you can see the unspoken chemistry. The attraction is there. But when he goes home to Tessa it's a quiet and wooden dinner where he doesn't even speak or smile.

They are still going to bicker a lot. For a long time. And 3 years later we're still being teased by this couple that are together but...aren't. But the seeds were planted here, in an episode I'd roughly discounted.


Milk Mama said...

I love that they bicker lol...

I love that shot of Bones with her foot on that guy's neck and her hands out like "hey, he got in my way!" and Booth standing casually aside with his hands in his pockets...

Jamie said...

Hi Wendy! I see your point on Zack's disconnect, making it more believable that he could go the way of murder, but if you do indeed subscribe to him having Asperger's it makes perfect sense that he would name bugs but be socially awkward with humans. Like you said, bugs have nothing to give in return, and that's how aspies operate. Reciprocating with fellow humans is a learned skill, though it doesn't mean they don't have empathy or that they don't care, they just don't really recognize it if it doesn't directly affect them. That's probably why it was so easy for Zack to approach a crime scene the way he did in such stark contrast with the way Angela couldn't. Remember how affected he was and how panicked he got when Hodgins and Bones were taken in "Aliens," but also how affected he was in "Boy in the Bush." (Aspies also name things all the time, like a guy who refers to his wife as "Unit 2.")

I know, I denial...

Wendy said...

Thanks for the tidbits Jamie! I knew the nicknames for things had to matter and relate to Asperger's but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

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