Sunday, September 28, 2008

Next Episode: The Crank in the Shaft

We only have 2 more new episodes before a month long hiatus (yes, booo!) so let's enjoy them!

The next episode is "The Crank in the Shaft". You can read the full description here.

Here, also, is the promo for "The Crank in the Shaft" that was aired at the end of last week's episode.



And here are the officially released episode pictures. I get my wish about Cam getting out of the lab. Yes!


Bones Episode Review - 4.01 "The Perfect Pieces in the Purple Pond"



Obviously, I have a bit of an obsession with this show (no laughter please), leading me to spend hours each week maintaining this blog and writing my review essays. Undeniably, the chemistry between Brennan and Booth, the interesting science, and the compelling characters all contribute to this. But, more than anything else, I'm drawn to this show every Wednesday night (or whatever night they pick next) because of a simple truth - it's really good writing!

However, I can't really say that this week.

Now, don't kill me yet. There are certain things I love about this episode and places where I think the writing is great. But, there are also large parts of this episode appall me; things I simply cannot give them a pass on.

This review is a mix of happiness and angsy, joy and annoyance, and kudos and blame.

And, surprisingly, not as long as I thought it would be.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I'll start with some highlights.

First, I felt that this case was very good. It was interesting, brought out some very fun characters and topics, and I had no idea who killed 'crazy boy.' I found it thoughtful and unique. In short, I liked it.

It definitely lead to some interesting play with Brennan and the grad-student-of-the-week, Wendell Bray. I cannot easily decide what I think of him, however. I didn't really find the 'average Joe' character interesting or appealing in the lab setting. Quirky people work best. Clark butting heads with everyone over the lack of focus was funny, but with Wendell it seemed like oil and water. He didn't fit at all. Sometimes that can be interesting, making you wonder, or look forward to, how he might begin to fit, but that wasn't the case here. And I feel like that's probably intentional. I have no beef with him or his characterization in itself, but also no interest in seeing him again.

I really miss old Hodgins, but the angsty jerk is kind of fun, at least for now. I thought his interactions with Cam in this episode were spot on with his attitude.
Cam: I know you're upset about breaking up with Angela, Dr. Hodgins, and I know you're upset about losing Zack, but, despite your personal problems, this is a work place, and your attitude leaves a lot to be desired.
Hodgins: Fine. If you want to make a change, you make a change. Otherwise, you let me do my job.

Hodgins: Shh! My egg from the victim's shoes is hatching.
Cam: You need quiet for that?
Hodgins: No, I just thought it might stop you from talking.
Cam: Pushing it, Dr. Hodgins. How's about we say you found the line?
I do hope we see his next stage soon, however. A Season 3 spoiler that never happened was Hodgins tracking down the Gravedigger. I would love to see his anger galvanize into something powerful like that. They've begun to really evolve this character, for the first time ever, and I'm looking forward to where that might take us.

Hodgins gave Cam a little bit more than one-liners in this episode. Unfortunately, it's still very 2D characterization. Yes, yes, she's the boss. She has to push people. They don't like it. She has a great body and great lines.

Yawn.

Please, please: give her a story, even a C story, just once in awhile! Less Sweets, more Cam. Let her go look at a body from time to time, have a date, or even simply an administrative headache. I don't care. I like her, she's witty and fun, and still very mysterious in plenty of ways. Don't let her progression in the show be from hated, to liked (or tolerated), to boring.

But, okay, I do still like her one-liners.
  • So, you think our victim was a giant toddler?
  • So, before the giant toddler was killed, he was growing coffee on the seashore?
  • Sarcasm does not play well on the forensics platform.
  • I doubt he got a weekend pass.
I meant what I said about Sweets - we could do with less of him. I guess they want him onscreen as much as Zack? On paper that might sound good, but in practice, it feels forced. I like the guy, but the character's duties and responsibilities just don't correlate as well, in practice, with Zack's level of screentime. This episode was better about making his appearances logic, and story-appropriate than say, Outhouse, but he really fells like an unnecessary addition, being around that much, and definitely is a 3rd wheel in the Brennan/Booth partnership. At first it was cute, what he did to them, now it's unwelcome.

I felt like they purposely had Brennan question Sweets' involvement as a proxy for what the fans must be feeling, but also like they thought that acknowledgment of our feelings would be enough to pacify us. Well, it's not. Brennan's questions are dead on, and it's dissatisfying and frustrating to have it discounted, discussion over.

I enjoy Sweets, but less is definitely more. More Cam, less Sweets. He's been around less time than Cam, makes less sense in the lab, and yet we see a lot more of him. Why? I feel like it's a misguided decision, saying that the fans will find him more interesting.

Registering my dissent. Boy, that was a tangent...

Angela! Yeah, let's talk some Angela. There are two things I like about her: she's a cool chick with toys, and she knows Brennan better than anyone else, with the exception of Booth. (It's a tossup as to who knows her better, I believe Booth, but one could argue the woman to woman thing. Anywhoo...) I love her heart to heart talks with Brennan, but a nice proxy is always a heart to heart about Brennan:
Angela: She's direct, and awkward. Now, you've got two choices here. You either answer the question, like me or Zack, or you tell her she's being inappropriate, like Booth or Cam. Either way, she's not goign to hold it against you.
Often, I feel like they don't use Angela enough. But, unlike Cam, I think they give us just enough of her to always leave us longing for a bit more and thoroughly enjoying what we get.

I'm not sure, fully, what I think of the Angela/Sweet interaction. I think I want her to give him the shiner he earned last season. Someone needs to.

In this episode, we see that David Boreanaz's suggestion of having Booth hurt his hand, gained some traction. I enjoyed the interaction change. And would have to agree with Lauren, in that his lack of physical ability, thanks to his injury, affected his verbal behavior. If he can't protect her easily with his body, then he'll find another way.

That said, however, I think they should have mixed it up a bit. Maybe be a bit more subtle about it, have him touch his gun once in implied threat against someone, have him say something other than 'don't do that to her.' The repeated pattern felt like I was beating beaten over the head with it. I like his protective side, but even I would have told him to back off!

I never get tired of Brennan's social awkwardness. She does seem to be a little more cognizant of common vernacular now, but it still shows in other ways. It felt a bit Season 1, but her quick jump to "It would be helpful if we could see your son's room" while Booth is offering the mother a bit of verbal solace is one such example. It works. It's her, and they don't need to change it too much.

I thought the interaction with Wendell, and Angela's explanation of it, was very well written. She is clumsy, socially, and I enjoy it. The writing and acting pulled that off very well, at least from her end and Angela's explanation. I felt like Wendell's reactions were a bit too bull-headed. It was funny to have him assume that Zack and Booth were Brennan's boy toys, but his verbal interactions were in complete disregard of what Angela was trying to tell him. I just wanted to give him a really hard shake and tell him to shut up for a minute.

I thought that Brennan's admission of her publisher's lack of confidence in her markability was great. The admission felt fresh, and intimate, as if she'd never shared that with anyone before Booth. Her hackles remained up throughout the episode and though it lead to a great moment with Booth, I felt that the ending was completely out of character for her. She should have been bothered enough to consider stopping, however, she wouldn't be so irrational as to just trash her work. 100% out of character. She would have waited to have a discussion before doing anything like that, not erased her book and tossed the papers, before being willing to talk thanks to brute Booth force. I don't buy it. I think it was a bad ending to a very emotional and private doubt of Brennan's.

I do think that Brennan and Booth were down right adorable in this episode. Right from the start, when they bicker in the car as the roles are reversed, up to the end where you see the brief, heart stopping pause, especially from Booth, as she wraps her arms around him in a very new, and very intimate way...I enjoyed it a lot. It had rough patches, like the over-done protectiveness, but overall I found it to be full of important moments and little progressions.
  • "That's for me to know and you to find out." (Paging Dr. Freud?)
  • The admission from Brennan.
  • The driving.
  • The coffee grounds. How cute was that protectiveness, followed by actually trying the grounds himself?
  • And of course the ending, with important admissions about their partnership, Booth's support of her writing, frank statements about attraction, and the intimate touch (and all important awareness of the intimacy.)
I didn't forget Zack, I swear.

No matter what I've written in defense of Zack killing someone, I completely accept and even enjoy the intriguing mystery brought to light in his confession of his false confession. Now we really have something to ponder and look forward to. It takes out a lot of the previous writing continuity gaffes and corrects them, especially in regards to occurences in The Knight on the Grid, and it makes him interesting again. Did he originally confess fo rthe reason he now gives - fear of prison? Or will we learn something far more intriguing as the season continues? I now care to know!

If you're obsessive about Zack, and give everything about his appearance a pass in light of the news "Zack didn't kill anyone," you might want to stop reading here.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Logically, this can't herald Zack's return. He still committed some major crimes. There's no way he could work on cases ever again.

Oh, wait, in light of how this episode went, you can just toss logic, plausibility, credibility, and continuity away.

That's right. I may like what Zack said, but I like almost nothing about how they brought him in.

Still reading?

I've said for some time now that I didn't care if Zack was a killer or wasn't a killer - please, just write the story well. The Pain in the Heart was a mish-mash of plots, with many glaring holes in light of previous episodes. I just wanted the writers to do it well: regain the fan trust in the great writing of this wonderful show and never present us with a swiss-cheese plot again. Ever.

In this episode, with Zack's end statement, they plugged many of those previous holes. Bravo!

But the rest of his appearance, and even more beyond that, plainly...stank. Normally I would let some things slide, but there are just too many things in this episode that are wrong. The problems are so numerous that I cannot give it a pass, and I even find it difficult to know where to begin.

Let's start with simple character/story continuity errors. I can think of at least 3 right off-hand.
1) The scene where Booth and Brennan make fun of Sweets and his love life.
Was Man in the Mud the fantasy episode they've talked about? All of the sudden it's like they never met April, never discussed fish love, and we never had the adorable pottery class scene.

2) Picking up garbage.
Brennan is suddenly clueless about this. Pilot anyone? She specifically states that she didn't need a warrant to snatch the senator's DNA out of the garbage.

3) Brennan doesn't know that Booth reads her books.
This has been discussed heavily already, but just to point out the big thing again - they've discussed this in 2 previous episodes. She's very aware that he reads her books. At least the fact that he memorizes her reviews is new.

I give the show a pass on a lot of things, but that's just awful. Those are glaring to anyone who watches the show. How did they make it to the screen?

On top of continuity errors, with Zack's story, they made many choices in writing that bothered me.

Hodgins takes a case file to Zack.
Yeah, I know he's Mr. "I don't care" right now, but did Hodgins learn nothing from "The Man in the Mansion?"

Along the same lines, did Booth and Brennan not learn anything from that? Did Booth forget?
If you don't know or don't remember, Hodgins was unable to testify, and the team was unable to use any of his conclusions, because of questionable handling of evidence. How does someone who's under lock and key for killing someone, not qualify as questionable?
Prosecutor: How did you determine the location of the head?
Brennan: Our former associate, who now resides in a mental ward for murdering someone simply because he belonged to a group, told us.

Ah..hmmm.

Zack switching the strips
Sure, it sounds great. But with Sweets fear of Zack, is he ever going to get close to him? Sweets kept the card on his person. How in God's name would Zack get it to switch them?

Zack just walking out of the ward
No. Way. Was there an exit conveniently right next to his room? Those places have security, and that outfit is not inconspicuous. I just do not buy it.

Zack's appearance in the Jeffersonian
Again, security? Oh wait, Birimbau just walked in too. Apparently the high tech institute that works with sensitive historical remains and modern cases just lets anyone walk in. Nuh-uh.

Zack's appearance...and Booth not immediately taking him away
I agree that Brennan wouldn't care about taking him back and Hodgins and Angela would be happy to see him. It's completely fitting that Booth and Cam are the only logical people (in the same room with Brennan) where Zack is concerned. What I don't buy, is that Booth just tossed that instantly out the window without the slighest argument. "Let's go, you can tell us about it on the way back to the looney bin." After saying something at least moderately sane, if he got a puppy dog look from Brennan he might argue and then relent. But immediately just give up after asking how he got out? NO.

The diner scene at the end
Uh, it was sweet and all, but no. The ward would have missed Zack by now, or they're they have worse security than the Jeffersonian. They were all jepardizing their jobs and security clearance by taking him to a public place. Sweet scene, but no. I would have less objection if they'd ordered takeout and gone up to the lounge. (Also, I guess Cam lost her will just as fast as Booth.)

The fly egg thing
This is more of a beef than anything. It lead to a great Cam/Hodgins scene but...entomologists regularly hatch fly eggs to determine accurate time of death. This would not be new to Cam. I can almost let that pass with TV license, especially since it's not common knowledge for everyone, but they just emphasized it too much, like something SO SURPRISING AND ODD, that it bothers me.

So, overall, this episode might actually be my least favorite of all, thus far. There are great moments and important developments, but I just can't give a pass on all the glaring problems for the few things I liked. I have to look at the whole picture, and in this instance, it's not a pretty one.

To end on a light note, here are some of the episode quotes that I liked and are not mentioned above:

Sweets: You know, a sane person would regret murdering someone more than being taken in by a line of crap.
Zack: Define crap.
Sweets: Drivel, blarney, nonsense, balderdash, twaddle, bull, bunkum, hooey. Like that.
Zack: Now I realize it was drivel, blarney, nonsense, balderdash, twaddle, bull, bunkum, hooey. Then I perceived it as logic.

Booth: It's purple!

Brennan: For future reference, this is more of an anomaly than a missing head.
Tech: Sad comment on your life, Dr.

Booth: Breakin' in a new intern, aren't ya?
Brennan: How did you know?
Booth: Because you always get overly precise. That's how I usually know.

Brennan: I am watching the road! I am an excellent driver.

Sweets: These action figurines, they're awesome.

Sweets: She is wicked literal.

Sweets: Crazy-boy is offensive, by the way.

Hodgins: We're going to get you out of here someday, Zack, and you can be king again.
Zack: I know you're lying to make me feel better, and not to be malicious.

Zack: I'm King of the Looney Bin.

Brennan: Lok at the hematoma on his left occipital...it's what you would call a shiner.

Booth: Oh, got a runner!

Booth: Maybe Jared gave you that shiner after made him suck on at oilet mind.

Ralph: I'm here to confess. I killed Jared. Can you please sterilize your handcuffs before taking me in?

Ralph: When you lock me up, I should either keep my watch, or you should only put me next to terrible people who deserve to die.

Booth: Don't call my partner a chick.

Sweets: Unless it's rampant paranoid, not my jurisdiction.

Booth: Bones' magic juice didn't work.

Zack: You don't appear happy to see me.
Booth: We're not.

Zack: Alphanumeric is also a 12 letter word, by the way, but I suspect that's just ironic.

Zack:...looney bin library card. (I just like that phrase.)

Sweets: Wait, what if he overpowers me?
Booth: Zack?
Zack: I'm much stronger than I look.
Sweets: He's done it before. He killed a man.
Booth: Okay, Zack, promise you're not going to kill Sweets?
Zack: I promise.
Booth: There you go.

Zack: I haven't actually literally done it before, you know.
Sweets: Had sex?
Zack: Ended someone's life. Why doesn't anyone ever believe I've had sex?

Zack: I'm still an accessory to murder. If you tell them, they'll take me out of here and put me in prison. Hodgins assures me I would not do well in prison.

Brennan: I don't want to be a sexy scientist.
Booth: Well, that's like me saying I don't want to be a sexy FBI agent.

Booth: I figure I'm all over your real world, why would you want me in your fantasy world too?

Booth: I explain things to you just as much as you explain things to me.
Brennan: Well, my things are more important.

Booth: The way you really help me is you let me be a guy.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~


One more note, in reguards to the Zacksplanation project and this episode. I wrote my script with the path that Zack did it, and they have to move on. Jamie wrote her script with a very similar idea to this episode: Zack falsely confessed.

I think she did it better.

The addition of the forensic linguistics discipline that she introduced put everything into a very logical and believable light, and the element of those around Zack figuring it out, instead of Zack confessing, seems more appropriate. Why would Zack just suddenly tell Sweets and yet not want anyone else to know?

This episode has the positive bent of making us wonder, yes, but as for writing goes, it could have been much better.

If you'd like the know more about forensic lingquistics, you can check out the professor that inspired Jamie, here.

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