Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bones Episode Review - 4.02 "The Bone that Blew"

Again, apologies for the delay but 4 family gatherings in 5 days tends to cramp your free time a bit!

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I have mixed feelings on this episode. I think the good outweighs the bad, in the end, but I definitely had some problems with parts while thoroughly loving most of it.

I have to start with a basic issue I have - can we please get some tight writing that doesn't mess up some straight forward facts?
  • Max has been Max Keenan for 2 seasons now, since Booth told Brennan of the alias adoption by her parents. Let's keep it that way.
  • Brennan has killed 2 people, not 1.
  • Max has killed two people as well. (This one I can let slide because he said it. He really doesn't have to admit to the other killing, for which he was never even charged, if he doesn't want to. And it's probably smart not to, in a place like that.)
Please, please - is there not a show bible that keeps up with this stuff? It instantly takes me out of the flow of the story when I hear a big, glaring inaccuracy in a plot point.

The continuity error potential of the misplaced show order wasn't as bad as it could have been. At least we didn't see Angela saying something about not dating anyone else for awhile, or Booth suddenly telling Brennan he has a brother, right? But it still would have flowed so much better to see this before Con-Man. The progression of their characters coming closer here, like they did at the end of the episode, followed by the painful moments immediately following would have made Con-Man all the more powerful. Kid killers back to back was a little much, but the one thing that really stood out...

Hodgins. Experiments. Do Fox studio people watch this show before re-ordering episodes? In one week, we have Hodgins experimenting with Clark, and now we see Cam forcing him out of his no-experiment-without-Zack shell? That is so frustrating!

Both of these things speak to the high standard we all have for Bones. The writing on this show can be so amazing, but when we get stuck with things like factual errors for character histories, or glaring continuity problems, it undermines the great foundation set from the beginning. I would never give up the semi-serialized nature of the character progression, but something needs to give here.

A different problem I have is with the case. It was like an odd mashing of the setting for A Boy in the Tree and the family, and completely lack of care for the victim or families involved, from the first half of Yanks in the UK. While it had plenty of twists in it - from the Dr. to insider trading - nothing felt well-substantiated. Were there not servants around to see the little girl murder her manny? How would the mother move a body with the sole assistance of a choke chain? If she were going to drive it all the way to the country house, why would she barely move out of site of the home to burn it? I have plenty of problems with how the case played out, but...

I do thoroughly like what it brought out in everyone. From some unique science, to interactions with Max, to some great Booth, and Booth and Brennan, growth - even stories you don't like can have happy results.

Did anyone give Wendell more than a passing thought when he appeared on the screen? He barely rated more time than FBI Tech Marcus Grier. He just felt...irrelevant. Now, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. The rotating 'not-Zack' crew do much better in the background, but, at the same time, I feel sort of gypped that I have had his back story forced on me already, when seeing him this way first might have made me care more to find out about his history.

Could we have cut him out entirely, and given Parker some more face-time? It's a horrible to tease to have that cuteness around, and barely see him. More Parker please!

Max though...that was gold. Bring him on! I have loved every single Max appearance. Ryan O'Neal is fantastic, and the character always signals that the episode will have some depth, character-wise. I was not disappointed. I love that he just wanted to be near his daughter, but would never push her beyond what she can handle. He left her in the past and he never wants to do that again - if only she would believe it.
Max: That's not magic, that's...
Kids: Max K, the science way!
Max: Science squad, meet my daughter.

Max: Guns of steel.

Max: Don't tell me she hasn't got the authority because, believe me, I feel fired.
Sweets: Likeable sociopath.

I have mixed feelings on Sweets appearances in this episode. With Max and Brennan it seemed a bit out of place that he just 'happened' to show up for their first scene in the dinner. I think he was right, as he usually is, in what he told them. I also believe that Max did agree with him but verbally disagreed to keep Brennan from feeling too uncomfortably. (Like Booth, he knows what will make her bolt.) But that doesn't excuse the theme that, seemingly, no adult in this group of people can get by without Sweet's advice, solicited or not.

When they intentionally has lunch with him later, I lost my last shred of acceptance in his involvement. Why would they have that meal with him? Why would Brennan agree to it? I felt that having Brennan's hangup laid bare was a good thing, but at most they should have confined it to the first scene.

Additionally, it was great to have Sweets have a moment with Booth where he was able to be useful to the case and also reaffirming to the doubting father. But, that doesn't mean they get a pass for the rest of the scene. Booth does not need to be told when someone is confessing falsely to protect another person. Hello? "The Boy in the Shroud?" "The Priest in the Churchyard?" Booth isn't just capable - it's his strength. Why, all of the sudden in this season does he need everyone in his ear, correcting him, inside his own domain?
Booth: You don't think I'm a lousy Dad for not sending my son to private school?
Sweets: No, but you'd be a louse Father if you didn't torture yourself about it.
Basically, I feel a bit annoyed by the use (but no the individual portrayal) of this character. He started the season incredibly annoying and useless, but it was getting better. Now, I once again find myself asking questions like "Why is he here? Again? Where he's not needed? Again?"

I could do a lot with his statement of "Nothing I say has any impact." but I think I'd rather move on!

Angela - consummate artist, and tech savvy genius. It's nice to see both sides of her skill set in action. Far too often she has been relegated simply to sketch artist. It may be a stretch to think that one person can be both a free-spirited artist and yet good enough with technology to design the Angelator but, if you're going to give those traits to a character, you definitely need to show off the entire package!

Despite my issues with the continuity of problems with Hodgins experimentation phobia, I did like the scene. It should matter to him that Zack is not around anymore to be the partner in the fun. The experiments always belonged to both of them, no matter who proposed the action, and it's understandable he would be protective of that, and not want to share it with another lab partner. But, we've already seen how great it is with the all-business Clark (experimenting with Wendell has no where near the same spark). It's not the same as the Zack-Hodgins fun, but it has potential. I wish we'd seen this scene first though! It was funny - from Cam's facial expressions to Max's involvement - and endearing to see him have to be forced into it by 'Mom' (Cam) and 'Dad' (Max): the two people who 'know best' for the younger crowd. A sprinkling of some realistic age and mentoring never hurts.

Cam was very light in this episode, but it flowed well. She mentored Hodgins a bit, somewhat supported (and insulted?) Angela, and had a very odd conversation with Hodgins about her behind-the-scenes anal micromanagement. The first time I listened to that conversation I said "That is the dumbest conversation I've ever heard (in Bones)." But, on the review, I actually appreciated the banter, even if it was stilted. It was nice to know a little more about Cam's process, without having her use it to browbeat someone into submission. Even moreso, though, I appreciated Hodgins trying, in his own backhanded way, to say something nice about someone else. He has long butted heads with her over her (over) involvement in their procedures, but he's moving past his anger now and he's willing to reach out a bit. I found it a nice, subtle, nod to his own evolution in this season.

When you get to Booth and Brennan, however, there's plenty going on!

Brennan has obvious Daddy issues. That's been well-known for sometime. I think this was a good way to bring Max back into her life, without the disbelief of her suddenly welcoming him with open arms. Sure, she got him off of murder. She loves him. But that doesn't mean all her issues are squared with him, and definitely does not mean she has forgotten the large chasm between her life, and the one he has lead. I hope that, eventually, we see the gap close a bit with her making her own overtures, or at least accepting Max's directly. For the moment, we'll have to settle with Booth's intervention.

Brennan was a bit harsh in this episode, though. She had no problem firing her Dad from the outset, or being incredibly, brutally tactless with Booth as he struggled with raising his son. Did your heart not break when she said "In what academics are you qualified to offer enrichment?" Boy, that just cuts right to the heart of the man - his own skills and abilities to take care of those around him. There are simply some things he can't do by himself. While biting, and maybe harsh, she did something good for him there. He doesn't like relying on others, when it really counts, and her statements forced him to examine that, admit his own shortcomings, and find a new way to handle the issue at hand.

I have no problem with Booth having a completely different reaction to this school for the rich. Whereas the previous school in season 1 focused on allowing their students to get away with anything, to protect the parents, this school had something different, which spoke directly to Booth: a very stern honor code. This was a place for people of means, absolutely, but not a place intent on turning out entitled kids with no sense of the real world or personal responsibility. Honor means a great deal to Booth, more than fancy degrees or equipment, and that had to instantly attract him to the school.

I enjoyed the debates between them, which sprang out of Booth's dilemma. It had the fervor of one of their intense religious debates, but brought up completely different issues for a change. It was very close to a couple talk, really, in that they were discussing their own beliefs about child rearing. As usual, they completely disagree, but in the end, with that beautiful family scene, they have reached an accord.
Booth: Don't fire Max. Let him keep his job. He's a teacher, not a janitor.
Brennan: I can't overlook the sanctity of the forensics lab, Booth.
Booth: Yeah. Maybe you can overlook it for me.
How about that end scene? It was romantic, without being over the top, important, without being sappy. It truly was a three generation 'family' moment. Parker was hanging out with the 'grandfather' while the 'parents' watched. (The closer BB get...do you ever think we'll see Rebecca again, or will Brennan progressively inch closer to the role, at least symbolically?) Even if they aren't anywhere close to being a real family, they have definite shades of the possibility. I thought it was a great nod to that tentative future that so many Bones fans want to see.
Brennan: Look at my Dad.
Booth: Look at my little boy there, with your Dad.
It's no secret that it is absolutely a future Max wants for his little girl. He gave Booth a very express blessing, and I think it was an intentional conversation on Max's part. He wasn't questioning Booth to manipulate him into helping with Brennan and the job situation. He really wanted to know. The 'gay' line seemed a little cliche, to make sure it didn't get to serious, but I think the serious intent was there and he assumed he already knew the answer. His simple statement of how Booth was a good man, and he wanted that for her, was powerful - to both of them. Booth respects Max's code of honor, and that's a blessing that I'm sure he doesn't take lightly. Max spoke from the heart, just as Booth did when he sincerely complimented Brennan's beauty. He's a man. He's definitely noticed.

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Like I said, overall - I liked parts, and I didn't like others. This one was a mixed bag for me. I will remember parts well, especially for Booth and Brennan, but I can't rate the entire package highly.

21 comments:

Jeannie said...

Outstanding job, as always. I think you really covered everything, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Some things about the case were really strange. What stood out to me was the comment that the guy had vanished and yet he had a MySpace site??? Under his real name?

And when she asked him about his academic qualifications, not only did I feel bad for Booth but I immediately felt like a bad parent myself. Until I remembered that I know how to research on the Internet and might be able to teach my kids a few things after all. ;-)

I have a feeling that we've seen the last of the rotating interns. Does anybody have any info to back that up? Just if new/returning interns are mentioned for the new episodes?

And if anybody associated with the show is reading this, I would still make myself immediately available for you to keep your show bible. Just to make sure you get your facts right on the show. Nobody is more suited for that job than an obsessed fan, right?

Louise said...

You know, I can kind of forgive them on a couple of the 'errors'. For example, Hodgins calling Max 'Max Brennan' - it caught me by surprise at first, but then I thought, well, Hodgins only really knows him as 'Max, Dr Brennan's dad', so maybe he just forgot, and put the two together to get 'Max Brennan' (I know he should know his real name, since he was at the trial, but it's not like it's Booth forgetting).

I guess I'm just saying that I can picture it being an error by the character, rather than the writer. Also, there was the 'Max K' reference, so someone clearly remembers the right name!

Also the experiment ... I know that scene was meant to be seen before the Hodgins/Clark scene, but can that scene really be classed as an experiment? Yes, it was in the same room, but weren't they just trying to put together that guy's invention? It's not really the same as doing some wacky experiment to try to solve the case, like Jack and Zack used to. Again, I agree that it would have been better earlier, but it still kind of works.

Anyway, good review. I've got so used to Sweets showing up for no reason that I don't even notice it now. I did notice that he seems to hang out at the diner as much if not more than the other characters ... perhaps hoping one of the 'cool kids' would stop by?

Agree that the whole in-ear interrogation advice is annoying an unnecessary - Booth's always done pretty well by himself.

One more thing (for now!) - I think I mentioned in another comment that I saw Brennan's attitude towards her father being, not so much fear that he was back in her life, but that he was doing so in her domain - the Jeffersonian, where she has always felt safe and secure.

Louise said...

Jeannie ... I thought we'd seen the last of the interns as well, but the latest sides ("The Salt in the Wound") show a NEW intern!

katjem said...

An excellent review Wendy. You have covered everything very well. I loved this episode - all the inconsistencies, for me, where outweighed by the good things you mentioned. BTW - I just want to add how cute I thought the science squad kids were in their googles.

CupcakeBean said...

I agree with Louise that Brennan's feathers were ruffled by the fact that her father was inserting himself into her "world." I also think it was like Sweets said, fear that he was going to abandon her again and probably anger at him for all the pain he's caused her. I think her firing him was harsh, yes, but not uncharacteristic. I felt like Max wanted to work at the lab to get closer to her, but rather than ask her if it was okay, he went ahead and took the job. I can understand her being angry.

I agree with Wendy's frustrations over continuity. These were not minor inconsistencies and therefore unforgivable! I was wondering if the "Max Brennan" thing was maybe a TJ Thyne goof, since the kids referred to him as Max K.

The B&B moments in this one were wonderful, but the rest of the ep left me feeling pretty "blah." This season has me completely turned me on my head. The eppies (like this one) that I was eagerly awaiting left me deflated and the ones that I was dreading (like "Con Man") were amazing! Is it just me?

Anonymous said...

Can someone please remind me who the other person Bones killed before Pam was!? Its driving me crazy.

Anonymous said...

Whats a side? and is Salt in the wound an upcoming episode?
Oh yah great review!! I actually really like sweets in this episode. And yah i have gotten used to him showing up randomly. And i was ok with all the little mistakes. But still a great review Wendy!

Jeannie said...

The postal worker/killer/Epps sidekick in Blonde in the Game. She shot him to save Booth.

Lauren said...

@Jeannie/Anon - I believe his name was Gil Lappin.

Wendy, as usual, I like your review :) Though I'm still undecided about whether Max asked Booth if he was sleeping with Brennan because he was legit curious or because he wanted Booth to talk to her. I'm leaning toward the latter, but it was presented in a slightly unclear manner.

As for Max not asking Brennan before working at the Jeffersonian, I think she would have said no if he had asked first.

And I do agree that Sweets' appearances were weird again. But I do think the reasons he gave for Brennan being uncomfortable were spot on. And I think she knew it and really didn't like that someone figured it out, not to mention called her out on it. And I do agree that Max agreed with Brennan's non-acknowledgment to keep her comfortable.

I should be studying so my thoughts aren't coherent. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

I was surfing the web and I just found spoiler pics for Hero in the Hold http://spoilertv.blogspot.com/2008/12/bones-episode-413-hero-in-hold.html if anybody is interested

Zooey said...

Thank you Wendy for a great review... and might I say, some definitely-needed spanking for the writers. It's a shame that they'd let slip such glaring incongruencies after they'd gotten us all so invested in this show. Hope TPTB don't take our fanship as license to be lax.

Anonymous said...

Sweets either have nothing to do in the FBI Or he works part time for the diner. That's the only explanation I can come up with in why Sweets manage to always be there.

I can buy that Booth misread someone, because reading people is not an exact science and the mother was also charged in part with the crime, but I thought it would be done better had Booth thought of one motive, while the evidence say otherwise. I don't hate Sweets, but I found my favorite moments were when he wasn't involved in the case.

Anonymous said...

For the Brennan killed one person...I think it was Cam who mentioned it, I think Booth is the only other person who knows she killed another man, Cam and the others might have never known that she killed twice...great review though

lily said...

the clothes Bren is wearing in the first pick is the same as the one she was wearing in that interview about "Passenger in the Oven". So i guess their finished recording this episode.....i can't wait to watch it......it looks so good....i recommend people to look at the pictures.....its worth it....

lily said...

By the way i'm talking about the pictures on the website..Anon told us about.

brennanite said...

I think Max disagreed with Sweets partly to make Brennan more comfortable, but also as petty revenge against Sweets for calling him a "likeable sociopath" in court. Max often does more than one thing at once. He is tricky.

As for Brennan not wanting her dad around, well I didn't think it needed any explanation. I mean seriously, if my mom showed up at my workplace, I would LOSE MY MIND. No issues needed (well, maybe I have some issues). Playing the role of daughter is very different from playing the role of scientist. It would be very stressful to try and combine them.

Did you notice that Booth basically asked her to help him parent his child? Big. Deal.

Mad skillz: I love the Cam/Angela relationship. It is so rare to see women on TV talking to eachother about something other than men/sex. Cam and Angela have a relationship built primarily on mutual respect and admiration. I get the impression that Cam would like to be Angela.

cordy said...

Thanks for a great review. It was spot on and I totally agree with you on all the major parts.
I was really irritated about the inconsistencies and errors. But in the end I enjoyed the episode due to the character development.

Anonymous said...

Great review as always....

i thought u summed it up well...i had the same problems with the inconsistencies in the facts...and booth being told by sweets that the mother didnt kill the guy...isnt READING people one of Booth's main strenghts....wot about the "subtle psychological indicators" (The Man in the Fairway) and then later in The priest in the Churchyard...did the writers forget that

Also my heart did break when she asked Booth about his academic qualifications...

But i thought the last scene was very cute...Max with Parker and BB watching over...perfect...

Shep said...

Great review Wendy, as always. The writers should really be more careful about inconsistencies but in all fairness, they have so much to concentrate on that slip-ups are bound to happen. I agree with Jeannie, they should get an obsessed fan to proof-read - I'd certainly be up for it!

The B/B moments were great here and I agree about Booth's reaction to the school and the importance of the honour code. Brennan was extremely insensitive in their conversation about private school and whether he can enrich Parker's learning and the look on Booth's face was heartbreaking. But then she turned it around and praised his qualities as a father although she still has a long way to go in terms of her people skills but I agree that she forced him to face that. However, Booth may not be able to enrich his son's academic learning, but he has strong morals and sense of honour which he instils into parker and which is the most important thing I think and that's what makes Booth so amazing !

Angie said...

I have to disagree that seeing Con Man before this episode ruined the whole experiment story line.

-The garbage sorter was not an experiment that furthered the story developement nor did it in any way help them find the murderer

-It was more of Clarke relaxing around them instead of being all business

-They did not come up with the idea of the garbage sorter, probably while pulling particulates from the paper Hodgins saw the design and deduced that it needed more torque, he probably then asked Clarke to help him with it as a friendly bonding time instead of two coworkers

-Bone the Blew was the first episode this season that Hodgins used an experiment to further the story line and to catch the murderer. This was an experiment reminiscent of when Zack was there.

Some of your points about Sweets has also bothered me. The first scene where Bones and Max are eating and Sweets walks in, he is carrying a newspaper, if you go back to the episode ...Purple Pond; Angela walks into the diner to talk to Sweets and he is sitting at the table, reading a newspaper and eating lunch. It is perfectly acceptable that he walks to the diner to take his lunch and happened across people he knows and works with that also walk to the diner for lunch.
Now going on to the later scene when all three of them are there for lunch (based on the time of day) it is perfectly acceptable that Sweets had asked the two of them to lunch - it is only an hour long show and to be honest most of us would complain if they had a scene that was just Sweets asking them to lunch when we could be spending that valuable time on B&B. And by now Sweets knows that Bones does not respond well to 'sessions', instead she responds better to casual setting such as the diner.

Those are my opinions of course, I have just been mulling them since I read your post a little over a week ago (I only discovered this site shortly before that!)

Anonymous said...

I don't think Brennan was implying that Booth wasn't qualify in any academics, I really think she was just asking in which he is since he said he will enrich Parker & was obviously talking about academic enrichment. If Brennan wanted to remind him that he is not qualify in any academics she would have said so & not have asked ; you see what I mean ? Brennan was reassuring when she said that Parker is a bright kid & that he will do fine in an enlarge class like her. It's Booth who implies that she did fine because she was enrich at home.
Just my POV :)

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