Monday, October 13, 2008

Bones Episode Review: 3.15 "The He in the She"

Many apologies for the delay....

Often, when TV takes on social issues, it can do so with a very narrow portrayal. Typically, one side is clearly right, and the other is vilified as extreme, old-fashioned, or just wrong.

Bones, however, is a bit different. Between the characters of Brennan and Booth, and the supporting cast, the show can take on an important, controversial issue, and present the full spectrum of views on it without completely rejecting or condemning any one viewpoint. Generally, they do this without forcing anyone to give up his or her side: it's more about understanding each other than deciding who's right.

It's hard to really get into this, without getting into the issues, which is not what I want to do here. I felt that they presented conflicting viewpoints well, and many characters - Booth, Brennan, Ryan - has a little bit, or a whole lot, to work through, personally.

Ryan was the real story of redemption in this episode. Brennan continued to not quite get the full idea, but yet still try to understand and, at the least, support Booth. But, I felt they took Booth just a bit too far. At the end, he's found deep respect for Ryan, check. He's in the church, following the story to it's close/new beginning, check. He takes the humanistic view of redemption, instead of the Christian view...wait, what? I didn't even feel like his statement of redemption through transformation was the right description of what happened in Patric/Patricia's life - it wasn't redemption for him to become what he felt he should be. It was following his heart. He simply fulfilled what was right. That's finding peace, sure, but it's not redemption. Ryan was the redemption story.

Of course, as I write that, maybe that's what was intended - Booth describing Ryan, not Patricia. How did you each take it?

I may have dug too far already. Again, I loved how they presented a big, controversial episode in such a well-written and executed manner.

I do have one other beef, before getting on to the case and characters. It's not a new one, so I'll keep it short: written/produced vs. aired order. this episode positively glared it's correct position as the first episode after the season premier. First, Hodgins and Angela were awkward, where they just supposedly reached a tacit, but whirlwind, accord last week. Second, multiple grad student scenes specifically spoke to it being the beginning of their rotations. Airing episodes out of order works when there is little on-going character or story development, but when is that ever the case with Bones?


I can't say a lot about the case. "The Wife Did It" the night before this episode aired, on NCIS, so that immediately entered my mind when I found out JP had a wife. And I really didn't feel like they made more than a weak case for anyone else. I think this episode was more about Patricia's life, than her murder, and that's okay for such a large issue.

I did love the stoners though. "Just ask a penguin man, global warming sucks." I loved that line.

Some may have instantly hated Mr. Nigel-Murray, but I liked him, for the most part. I found his random tangents

N-M: Little known forensic fact: tongue prints are as distinctive as finger prints.

N-M: The rods in the human eye are sensitive enough to detect the light emitted by a struck match from as much as a mile away on a clear night.

N-M: Did you know that women blink twice as often as men?
Cam: Which might be useful information if the fish hadn't eaten our victim's eyelids.

N-M: In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.
very funny (and informative) and his awkwardness was endearing. The place really should be intimidating to the newcomers. Sure, his proclmations of how bright he is
Brennan: Do you consider yourself on of my brighter grad students, Mr. Nigel Murray?
N-M: Yes, and you do too, Dr. Brennan.
and his continued moves on Angela even after Hodgins clued him inwere definitely annoying. But, all in all, I liked him. And, I feel that he makes a much better 1st intern than Daisy Wick.

"The pelvis speaks. It says "I be male.""

Cam continues to be the queen, as she should, for the second episode in a row. But, I can't help but think (pardon me!) that it would have been far more balanced, across the episodes, if things had been spread out a bit more, 3 episodes apart, as written? I'm just saying...Even though I love seeing her like this, I'm happy to not see it every time. I'd just rather see it balanced across episodes, to keep her into things, but not oppressively so. These last two episodes have shown her in the boss role, without her having to tell everyone she's the boss. I appreciate that heartily. Yanks-esq demands about how everything must go through her get old fast. Subtlety works well for Cam.

She was definitely the Queen with heart here. She really seemed motherly in this episode, as well as appearing to genuintely like Vino Delectable. I like it when that side of her shows through. She can be funny and heart-felt, all in one.
Cam: What do you see, Mr. Nigel-Murray?
N-M: Eye sockets.
Cam: Anything special about these sockets?
N-M: There are no eyeballs in them?
Cam: We already ahve Agent Booth to make lame jokes. Let's stick to facts...Okay, let's stick to relevant facts.

Cam: Sockets, eyeballs, boobs...I wouldn't use these words when conferring with Dr. Brennan.
N-M: I know, with her it's all supra-orbital lymbus and mammary implants but you seemed a more colloquial sort.

Cam: Don't tell him you're guessing!
Poor Sweets. He has to be realizing that the only time he's respected is when he's called upon in need. No one respects him as a person - they only respect, or at least desire enough to stop disrespecting him, what he can give them. Then again, maybe the times that they do call on him, excite him enough he doesn't care.

His level of case involvement could have been too much, but I think that his appearances in this episode were merited by the psychological issues at hand.

I did like his giddiness at winning the bet. He was not obnoxious about it, but you could tell he was absurdly happy - probably partly just due to even being included on that level by Booth. but, of course, the win over Booth, probably had something to do with it too.

I don't get why he was just staring at them in the opening scene though. If he's so intent on studying them, wouldn't he have a continual stream of exercises waiting, a la his usual M.O.?

Angela is a very cool chick with mad skillz in this episode. I think they're continuing with a very balanced level of character involvement between everyone (which probably won't last). I loved her insights into Patricia, her kudos for great work on identity, and of course her shut-down of Mr. Nigel-Murray - "Vroom, vroom kid. You're already in my rear-view mirror."

Hodgins looks uncomfortably and sad, freshly reeling from his breakup with Angela and the brand-new reminder of Zack's absence with the appearance of Mr. Nigel-Murray. His reactions are a perfect representation of the progression from funny conspiracy theorist to pissed off jerk, but are out of place following the recent encounters we've seen, especially where Angela is concerned. He will hardly look at her, and he definitely gives off the sense of "anger incoming" rather than "anger just left the station."
Hodgins: Grad student?
Cam: He's done very well so far.
Hodgins: He'll disappoint.

Hodgins: Does Brennan put Mr. in front of your name?...That's a very subtle way of saying you're not a doctor.
Cam: Don't tell him that!

N-M: Whatever happened to whoever it was who used to work here before me?
Hodgins: He joined forces with a serial killer who was the last in a long line of cannibalistic murderes specializing in knocking off member sof secret societies and building skeletons out of their body parts.
N-M: Wow. I hope that doesnt' happen to me. So, he's not coming back?
Hodgins: No. He's locked up for the rest of his life. But, we all still like him.

N-M: Hello, hello, hello.
Hodgins: Are you familiar with the expression "that's way too much car for you?"
N-M: I believe that's one of ours, actually, so...yes.

Hodgins: She'll see something you missed.
Brennan and Booth's encournters are pretty strongly tied to each other in this episode, but at least a few great individual moments, mostly Brennan's, do stand out.
Cam: Very good, Mr. Nigel-Murray.
Brennan: Thought...conjecture is not really what we do here in the lab.
Cam stares at her, wide-eyed.
Brennan: But, very good, Mr. Nigel-Murray.
Brennan can easily lose sight of the benefit of anythign but her hard science. I love how Cam reels her in. Brennan doesn't look happy, or like she remotely agrees, but she does look like a chatised child who has decided it's better to stay quiet.

The betting scene is very cute and funny on the part of the guys (should Booth be betting? :) ) but I found Brennan's reactions even better. I love how clueless she is about what's going on.
Brennan: Thank you. Thank you. If you're making the wager, how come I get the money?
Sweets: You're the bank.
Bones: You're the bank, lady.
She's equally clueless about the vital psychology relating to Ryan. She sees everything black and white. Patrick was unhappy as a man, so he became Patricia. Bam, that's it. And, in a sense, it is that clear for Patrick. But when it comes to Ryan she can't understand the subtlety of the issues. The reasoning is spiritual and psychological, neither of which she understands, and, in the case of Ryan, far more important than the actions themselves. She can't understand the similarities in finding oneself physically, and spiritually - primarly because spirituality is simply a societal construct to her, and not a personal belief and experience.

I liked the touch on Booth's past. I don't think that's accidental, and I definitely want more. There's something to be said for Season 1 Dark Booth that is missing in our current Booth.

I much prefer the Booth and Brennan interogation scenes, but if you're going to have an interloper, Angela makes a good one. Booth is pretty good at dealing with information coming from the earpieces, as well as the suspect. So, I maybe find it a bit silly that he suddenly forgot how to do that, but that doesn't mean it wasn't funny, and a great way to discover the truth of the situation from J.P.

Booth's point of view on the transgender issue is no the modernly accepted viewpoint, but it is not an uncommon one. I felt that did the expecting thing of addressing it as 'wrong' but in a far more subtle, respectful, and thought-provoking way than you would normally se. He is a modern man of faith, struggling to apply it, right or wrong, in the choice he makes. I find it refreshing that they give that equal importance with the one who wrestles with understanding faith at all. The're ongoing bickering in this episode is good relationship building!
Booth: A pastor with breast augmentation and veneers? A spiritual leader shouldn't be so vain.
Brennan: The Pope sits on a throne. He wars robes worth thousands of dollars. Isn't that vanity.
Booth: Whoa, really. You're going after the Pope now?
Brennan: One pastor gets her teeth whitened and the other drinks wine on Sunday mornings and tells everytone that it's been miraculously transformed into blood. Which of those is more outlandish?
Booth growls at her.

Brennan: What are you doing?
Booth: I'm praying. Would you keep your voice down?
Brennan: Oh, sorry. you're not a member.
Booth: It's not a gym, Bones.

Brennan: Why? You're a community of people with a sommon superstition. The shared illusion should be enough to bnd you.
Booth: Bones!
Wade: Patricia would like you. She'd say that's the one that'll keep us honest.
Brennan: See, she would've liked me.
Booth: She keeps everyone honest, this one.

Brennan: When the butterfly emerges, does the caterpillar cease to exist?

Ryan: Inside, we are all the same.
Brennan: That is completely incorrect.
Booth: Not now, Bones.
Brennan: Our skeletons are wildly different, or I wouldn't have a job.
Booth: Shh. Just listen.
I'm not sure I agree that cosmetic dentistry and transubstantiation are an appropriate comparison, but I get what she's trying to do.

Brennan and Booth's interactions seem to be more subtle this season, as an overall trend. Instead of overt, awkward jokes or confrontational statements she digs at him in ways only the closest people can get away with. I think that's far more about her progression than his.
Booth: I know an ain't-too-proud-to-beg phone call when I hear it. ...
Brennan: Have you made many of these ain't-too-proud-to-beg phone calls in the past?

And her own misunderstandings are a bit more subtle too, with Booth not immediately calling her on what she missed her, just letting her take the credit:

Booth: Sounds like a lost sheep in need of religious counseling.
Brennan: Sounds more like a desperate boyfriend.
I love this early exchange:
Brennan: I need a Forensic Anthropologist in the lab so I can spend my time aiming Agent Booth in the right direction.
Booth: Aiming Agent Booth? What, like a hose?
I've known that line was coming in some episode, in some form, for awhile now and have been really looking forward to it, whle also wondering how serious it would be. It definitely doesn't lead you to think she'll be putting in extra lab hours anytime soon, as some might wish.

This exchange
Brennan: Would you like me just as much if I were a man?
Booth: Oh yeah, much better. I woulnd't have to be so polite and accomodating. How about you? Would you like me better if I was a woman?
Brennan: No. I would not.
Booth: Why?
Brennan: I'd be jealous that you might be prettier than I am.
Booth: I would be too. I'd be hot. Smokin' hot.
while funny, felt too buddy-buddy, leaving me in serious need of some B/B inimacy, here!

Brennan's end lines:
Brennan: I believe in always swimming with a buddy.
Booth: What?
Brennan: You gather your wisdom. I gather mine.
Booth: Okay.
Are like bread and water for us starving B/B shippers. Cute, yes. Telling, yes. Romantic enough, no way! We need a bit more. I appreciate how they are drawing ever closer, continuing to reach deeper, but let's keep the spark too, shall we? They shouldn't co completely golden-anniversary couple before having the honeymoon-phase fun, am I right?

Despite my nit-pickyness about continuity, I really enjoyed this episode. I think it gave us a great shot of everything that's great about Bones, and I really look forward to the return in November!
Two additional images from the Bones Picture Archive.


Jeannie said...

I vehemently concur! ;-) And it feels wrong to say this about a pastor but I totally thought that post-transformation Ryan was hot! And I'm usually not into that pierced and excessively tattooed kind of guy.

Shep said...

So did I Jeannie! He was very hot - his face seemed to have a hint of Orlando Bloom post-transformation!

I agree Wendy, I thought they dealt with this controversial issue really well. At first I was a bit confused as to Booth taking the humanistic point of view but I think it's part of the character development - B&B still have their different points of views, religious and scientific but are learning to be more accepting of others' ,although Brennan has a long way to go compared to Booth. I think it just showed Booth was more open to ideas.

On the redemption issue, I can see what you mean but to me there is a hint of redmption in Patrick/Patricia's story: his transformation acted as a kind of redemption: a fresh start and a new life preaching to that small community, as opposed to in front of large crowds on TV and collecting money for the church.

And yes, I'm also a bit miffed with the written vs aired order issue. Maybe if enough of us complain, the network will actually get it right - after all, it wouldn't like the prospect of losing viewers.

I pretty much said everything else i had to say in the Live Thoughts post but one last thing - more B&B romantic fluff please! I practically drink in every moment there is but I'm certainly not getting my fill! Loved the ending scene in church, and DB with the leather jacket - never a bad thing!
I did read somewhere that in 4x13 - Fire in the Ice, they investigate a murder at an ice rink withe an Agent Payton Perotta and I quote 'who Booth may have feelings for'. Eeeeek!

Jeannie said...

Shep, I actually don't think that Brennan has a longer way to go than Booth. The issues were actually pretty evenly distributed here - while Brennan was clearly not too open towards the religious stuff in the beginning but definitely not troubled by the sex change it was exactly the other way around with Booth. And they had both grown a bit more tolerant on their respective issue by the end of the episode.

Shep said...

Sorry, I wasn't very clear - i meant Brennan has a longer way to go in accepting Booth's religious stuff, she's still very critical and rational about it. I didn't mean a very long way, just a bit more than Bootth however I'm not sure she will ever completely see the point behind religion and I don't think I want her too - I like the banter between B&B and Brennan's rationality is pretty amusing.

My commmenting seems to be a bit detached atm, it's not flowing as well as it should.

Nic said...

Thanks for the review Wendy...loved it, as always.
My favourite scene was:

Brennan: I call you Booth and I like you just fine!
Booth: Thank you, but we're not married.

I have to admit, I watched the 2nd X-Files movie just a few weeks ago, and Mulder and Scully reminded me of Booth and Bones...they are a couple and still call each other by their last name...made me wonder what will happen when (if T.T) Booth and Bones actually become an item, will they still call each other "Booth" and "Bones"??
Sorry, just a thought.

Looking forward to the new episodes in November...I hope we'll get more B/B moments :).

[I apologise for my English; I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now, was just too shy to add my comments]

brennanite said...

Patric/Patricia sought redemption for Patric's bigotry and greed by (1) accepting Patricia and allowing her to exist and (2) building an inclusive community (3) giving up Patric's wealth and (4) trying to pay back the money he took. That seems like lots of redemption stuff. Although I didn't really get who Booth was referring to with that either. I didn't think he was making any specific comment about sex change so much as marveling at the way these men addressed their redemption.

I don't know that there is a consensus "christian" point of view on this sort of thing. Certainly there are those who are opposed to any sort of mucking about with traditional gender norms, and they would say that this is a christian point of view. But these folks do not speak for all Christians. Sure, Catholics are supposed to defer to the Pope on everything, but people have a way of doing their own thing. We don't really know enough about Booth's Christianity to know where he might fall on something like this. I would guess that this is the first time he had ever really seriously considered the matter.

I was really intrigued by Booth's observation that the wife was angry at her husband, even before she found about the sex change stuff. It seemed like this family has a very complicated back story that there wasn't time to get into.

This is the second episode that has focused on Christianity and the church (Priest in the churchyard). It is pretty interesting to contrast them. Brennan can be so intolerant of some religiousness and so respectful of others---islamic burial practice, voo-doo, a proper burial for the salvadorian family, etc.

katjem said...

Agree that we need more romantic spark between Booth & Brennan and not (or as well as) the comfortable mate exchanges. I guess it is a fine line because they have been working together for years and our comfortable with each other (and becoming closer to one another) but there still has to be sexual energy to tap into. I hope that Max's comments in the upcoming episode and also the introduction of Jared act as a catalyst for these two characters sorting out how they feel for each other and whether or not a personal relationship is worth the risk to their professional one.

RMF said...

I think what Booth's comments at the end call to mind is not about redemption itself, but this:

For the Lord seeth not as man seeth,
For man looketh on the outward appearance,
But the Lord looketh on the heart.

What mattered in the case of either the father or the son was not the trappings but what what was in their hearts, which Ryan symbolizes by ripping off the dust cover of the book. Not a bad theme for a season if they start asking the characters tougher spiritual questions than this.

MO said...

great review... you always sum it up nicely!!
i am thinking that sice you could consider the episodes coming from november on... the 'offical s4' jus because they were written after s3.... i think that maybe it wont be as buddy-buddy... if u get what i am trying to say... maybe they jus did tht cause they werent sure where they wanted the relationship, and why have romantic spraks, and then be overly bubby-buddy... just a guess though!!
does any1 know about the first episode airing in november? like the name, or has that not been released yet?
anywho... i am so pshyed for the upcoming episodes!! i am rootin for some more B/B action! <33

firefairyangel said...

I agree completely. I liked Nigel-Murray's tangents, but otherwise he annoyed me. My biggest issue with this episode is that it should have been shown in the right place in the season. There was no reason to move it.

Zoe said...

I might be totally pushing the envelope here; but I think a nice spat b/w Brennan and Booth could be a good thing.
a) It could dredge up reluctant feeling (ie. affection-wise)
b) In all honesty, Brenna and Booth are quite at opposite poles of th personality spectrum, and if they keep up this polite side-stepping, it could only mean that they are sliding into a buddy-buddy relationship. A yin-yang relationship, especially in the beginning brings hot, firy confrontations. Maybe a bit a la Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger. :]

Anonymous said...

Great Review Wendy as always. Nicely put together. I also concur that we need some serious sexual tension between B/B that is somehow missing this season so far but I also think that HH will keep on putting these buddy-buddy phases in between because he doesn't want to bring B/B together too soon. I liked the episode not because of B/B but because it tackled a very sensitive issue very nicely.

I would like to see some progression in B/B relationship not the stagnation that I have seen so far in the episodes for this season...

Shep said...

I think 4x10 is when we see Booth's brother, 4x12 is the circus episode and 4x13 is when we see Agent Payton Perotta 'who Booth has feelings for'. Can't wait!

Mom2ABnTB said...

Absolutely awesome review Wendy!

Catnapping said...

I LOVED this episode. I have only one nit: I don't think Bones would have let Booth gamble without at least making some comment.

And I can only assume that his therapist is also aware of his problem, and would not have entered into a money-wager with him.

I love reading your reviews. Great points, well-written. I'm glad you're out here.


Catnapping said...

p.s. i think they might be backing off of the 'spark' because of where it will inevitably lead.

if they get too close, sexually, it will read false if they don't actually do something.

in the real world, i think bones and booth would have made love within a week of her rescue from the gravedigger.

...and how does he leave the evening she made him mac & cheese? that was an intimate evening. she cooked for him...

*sighing*...god, i love those two...

Peter said...

Ok, I was gone for a week, so I had the two latest episodes of Bones to catch up on tonight. I'm afraid this may be the end of my Bones viewing. I started watching Bones as I was a fan of the Angel TV show, and wanted to see more of David. Yes, I am a straight male, but I like him as an actor.

Problem is, Bones used to have some good action, thrills, and suspense, but this entire season, there has been nothing of the sort. Its been all "Oh look funny new intern, murder with surprise ending but no reason anyone in audience really cares, mild social commentary." None of the main characters have been in any real danger, don't think Booth or Bones have had to shoot a gun at all.

I admit I'm being very male in my entertainment desires, but so what? This show used to fulfill those desires, as I would watch seasons 1-3 and be perfectly satisfied. But this boring episode after another...this show may have run its course, and unless it can pull something fresh out, we've seen it all before, and that makes me sad.

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