Saturday, July 18, 2009

Guest Episode Review - #107 "The Girl in the Fridge"

Time for the next Bones Season 1 Episode review: The Girl in the Fridge! If you want to start at the beginning here are my Season 1 Bones Reviews from last summer:

# 079 - "Pilot" - My Review
# 101 - "A Boy in the Tree" - My Review
# 102 - "The Man in the SUV" - My Review
# 103 - 'The Man on Death Row" My Review
Guest Reviews so far:
# 103 - 'The Man on Death Row" - Meryl
# 104 - "The Man in the Bear" - ForensicMama
# 105 - "A Boy in a Bush" - Bekka
# 106 - "The Man in the Wall" - Jeni
This review was written by Jenny.

If you have committed to a review, please check the list and, if your time is coming up soon, please email me your review or an eta on when you might have it, thanks!

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The Girl in the Fridge

The Girl in the Fridge is, I think, one of the most character-driven episodes of Season 1.It’s not that the case is boring: 19-year-old Maggie Schilling, who had drug problems and was estranged with her family, was kidnapped, murdered and stuffed in a fridge by a couple with an inclination for sadomasochistic fetishism. But this time we are not introduced to a plethora of suspects that all had motive to commit the crime; the first and only suspects that we see are the ones that have done it. That is not only because most of the episode time had to be devoted to the trial; the trial itself is also a vehicle of character development, which is what the writers obviously care more about on this occasion; especially Brennan’s development.

This is also an episode where the supporting characters are very well written. The people who murdered Maggie show no guilt or remorse and the U.S. attorney and jury consultant that are responsible for the trial are also well written and acted.

In one of the extras of the Season 1 DVD,TJ Thyne said about our beloved ‘squints’: “They really are like a family.[…]I think Goodman really is kind of the stern father and…Emily being the older sister and Michaela’s character is the running-around, partying sister and Jack is the over-protective brother and of course Zack is the little brother that we all get to pick on…and Booth would probably be the guy that moves in next door and, you know…the guys have to protect their sisters!” This is evident throughout this episode; and I think what he said for Booth sort of applies to Michael Stires here, as well.

In the opening scene, Brennan is piecing together a skull, absent-mindedly listening to Angela who is talking about one of her favorite subjects (men) and is still trying to fix her with a guy. Zack interrupts bringing good news: the Anthropology Journal is publishing their piece.
He is happy and proud, but Brennan is only mildly impressed -perhaps she has started getting used to her success as a scientist?

Zack: You’re supposed to bump my fist with yours.
Brennan: Why?
Zack: I’m told it’s a widely acknowledged gesture of mutual success.
Angela: I love it when you two impersonate earthlings.

Hodgins butts in bringing a gift from someone, which makes Brennan run hurriedly out of the room. We are introduced to a handsome man who seems to know her for years. The competitive element in their relationship shows immediately:
Stires: …You are a big important author now.
Brennan: You can come down, you know.
Stires: You can come up.
Brennan: Half way.
Stires: As always.

The ‘squints’ are watching them intently. Angela indirectly confirms Brennan was involved with the guy, Michael Stires, who was her forensic anthropology professor. And then something we already suspected, Zack’s crush on Brennan, is openly expressed for the first time. But the other two immediately cut him off.

Booth comes in, bringing a “present” for Brennan: the fridge. Hodgins is still mistrustful, even a little hostile towards him. Angela doesn’t want to see another gruesome body, but Michael gives a first hint of his attitude toward his job and the victims: “This is where it gets fun”. After making a first assessment of the remains, Brennan leaves, arranging a date with Michael. That makes Booth curious, although not exactly jealous. Zack still hopes something similar might happen between him and Brennan some day (logic would suggest that, he seems to think), but Jack dismisses his thoughts once more: “It ain’t gonna happen Zacko! Not in this universe!”

In Brennan’s office, Angela brings her sketch of the victim, but Brennan has already identified her from dental records. Again, we get to see the impact the cases have on her: behind stress fractures, she sees a 19-year-old dancer that deserved to live. That’s something she and Angela have in common.

But Angela is also the more optimistic, “into alive people” person-so she quickly changes the subject, mentioning Michael. Brennan denies there is something going on between them, but Angela doesn’t believe her:

Brennan: The ex in ex-lover is not a variable, it’s a constant, like…the speed of light.
Angela: Save your dirty talk for the hunky professor.

Brennan tries to stop the conversation by mentioning work. Angela admits defeat (for now) but, judging from Brennan’s smile when she wishes her to have a nice dinner, the anthropologist knows her friend is not convinced.

In Booth’s office, we learn more about the case, the kidnap and the ransom negotiations, and Brennan shares her findings so far. Although he was there when Brennan and Michael agreed to have dinner, he asks her to call him later. He jokes about it-maybe there’s also a little bit of an ironic tone in his words. But she corrects him with a proud smile-perhaps she remembers him saying the fact she doesn’t have a boyfriend is “a sad comment on her personal life”?

Later on, in Brennan’s place, we find out that she and Michael missed their reservation because they preferred to “pick up where they left off”. Brennan quickly classifies what happened as “recreational”-but is it really? They talk about work and his discomfort about the fact that she’s in a better place than him comes up again. When he mentions the case, she seems very sure of herself (“same old confident Brennan!”) but we can see how much it has already affected her: she still thinks of the girl, bound and struggling.

After the opening credits, it’s a new day at work for the squints. For the first time, Brennan is late-and Angela immediately understands why. When Brennan and Michael arrive at the platform, her “brothers” are there: hands crossed, they confront Michael about his relationship with her, but he seems unimpressed. Then Zack gives it a third try: maybe he can still hope about him and his professor? Poor Zack! Michael and Jack both cut his hopes short, in their own ways.

Brennan is already in ‘work mode’ and asks for her colleagues’ findings; and Stires grabs the opportunity to doubt her as soon as he hears Maggie had hyperparathyroidism. Angela is determined to find out what happened last night but Brennan is equally determined to go on with her work, despite the interruptions. When Michael leaves for his appointment, all three of them silently confront her.

Brennan: What? Is it so odd for everyone to see me with a man?
They nod, but she doesn’t care.

In Schillings’ place, we find out a little more about Maggie’s drug problem and how bad her relationship with her parents was. Clearly it was mostly the parents’ fault and they feel guilty about it-and Brennan does nothing to assuage that guilt. Booth, on the other hand, is very respectful and empathetic, as always.

After visiting the endocrinologist the parents mentioned, they go straight to the house of his assistant; apparently, Maggie had tried to bribe her, and the assistant wasn’t all that innocent herself. Neither Booth nor Brennan really believe what she and her husband tell them, but Booth’s ‘gut’ is one step ahead. After he sees marks from an old fridge on the floor of their kitchen, the FBI techs are called in and we find out that the Costellos have some “rather unorthodox” sexual preferences.

That prompts a conversation about sadomasochism between the partners. As is always the case, Brennan is more ‘clinical’ about it, while Booth has a more ‘humanist’ approach; we also see a first hint of his discomfort when Brennan talks openly about sex, something we will get to see (and enjoy!) a lot more in later episodes and seasons. But Brennan isn’t shy about it-and her confident smile when she agrees with him makes you think she’s thinking about the previous night. ;)

Brennan: I was just saying that I myself feel no inclination toward either pain or dominance when it comes to sex.
Booth: Are you sure?
Brennan: Yeah, I’m sure!
Booth: Cause you can be very bossy!

They also find a pair of handcuffs covered with pink fur that seems to be the cause of the girl’s broken wrists.

At the FBI headquarters, Booth and Brennan interrogate Mary Costello, who claims that Maggie was an “enthusiastic” sexual partner of theirs. She doesn’t even fake sadness for the girl’s death; she’s arrogant, even proud of herself. Booth doesn’t hide his dislike, but is that only it?
M.Costello: The way you come at me, are you threatened or do I turn you on?
Booth: Now I’m the one who’s hating psychology.
And it seems the duo will need some more evidence to achieve a conviction.

Brennan returns to the lab and Stires is there again. She hasn’t forgotten that he doubted her before and wants to prove she’s right; and she seems to be at least as competitive as him:
Michael: It’s not a competition.
Brennan: No, the Olympics is a competition. Ours is a struggle to the death.

He suggests they bet dinner. This time, Booth is here. While she talks with Zack, Booth talks with Michael, praising her, recognizing her “rare qualities” as a partner. He doesn’t want her to find out though; maybe he thinks that, if she does, she’ll become even more “cocky” and will try to boss him around?

When the ‘debate’ starts, he supports her; but Michael still raises objections. Seeing him so skeptic, it makes you wonder whether he doesn’t want to admit she’s right or it’s something he always did, since she was his student, pushing her and doubting her to make her support her claims with strong evidence, beyond doubt. Whatever the reason, it is effective; she won’t let it rest.

So the team moves to…yes, the Angelator! I know Hart Hanson has said it is expensive to have it in every episode, but can we get to see it a little more often? Please? Stires is very impressed (who wouldn’t be?), but still tries to save his ego (“Very impressive. Especially to the non-professional”). But Angela won’t let his comment pass just like that. Go Angela! :)

Booth is still there. He wants to see Brennan win and believes in her. He congratulates her at the end, but she doesn’t fully accept it: bumping his fist would imply “mutual success”; and to her this is, once again, a victory she has achieved all by herself (well, with some help from her friends and colleagues, this time).

Later that day, Brennan and Angela have a second ‘girl talk’. Angela states the obvious: Michael is jealous of Brennan’s success; he can’t accept she has surpassed him. Brennan refuses to acknowledge it. What I still can’t understand is why she denies the fact that she’s sleeping with him; Angela obviously knows what’s happened in the past -so why insist their relationship is “purely platonic”? Perhaps she’s afraid Angela will doubt her objectivity if she admits they are “colleagues with benefits”?

Booth butts in, indirectly praising Brennan once more, but she’s very modest this time. She definitely won’t share anything personal with him (they still have a long way to go before they trust each other that much) but she’s thrown by the news: Michael will testify for the defense, against her.

Angela was right; Brennan might have won the scientific debate but, when it comes to people, she still has a lot to learn.

That evening, Michael and Tempe are at the restaurant; no staying in tonight. She tries to remain calm but she seems a little angry and mostly puzzled as to why he would act this way. After they talk about it it seems the problem is solved and she is ‘generous’ enough to not require that he backs out of the case. But she makes clear they won’t be able to go on sleeping together if he doesn’t. The look on her face after they kiss makes me think she still believes things will work out well. She’ll be proved wrong again, soon.

I’ve always had the impression, even though she insists on being “rational” about everything (including this relationship) that she kind of has a soft spot for this man. It seems to me that she can’t be as “compartmentalized” as she usually is or claims to be, around him-and that is not necessarily a bad thing. We don’t know what’s happened between them and if or how this man has affected her life and beliefs (we’ve already seen him saying she must not “jump to conclusions without evidence” back at the lab, something which is a ‘motto’ of hers). But she’s going to find out, once more, that opening up to someone is something you can’t control and can hurt you. As if she hasn’t experienced that enough times in the past…

The next day at the Jeffersonian, Stires is examining Maggie’s remains, as the defense’s expert. Everybody is on the platform, including Booth and Goodman. They don’t trust him; and that makes them unite against him and feel they are a team. Booth even gives the thumbs-up to Hodgins and Zack and it’s probably the first time he’s so openly friendly with them.
Booth: … that’s the first time I have been able to look at them without imagining Moe knocking their heads together.
Goodman: Agent Booth, you’re accessing your inner squint.
Can I say I just love Goodman?
Goodman reminds to everyone that the Jeffersonian’s reputation is also going to be tested. Michael has red-penciled Brennan’s findings and that frustrates her. Their fake smiles at the end say it all.

Booth wants to make sure Brennan’s ego will work for them:
Booth: …the nutty professor has graded your paper. What did he give you anyway? I was always happy with a B.
Brennan: I never got a B and I never will.
Booth: (to himself) That’s my girl!

In Booth’s office, Brennan meets the U.S. attorney, Andrew Levitt and the jury consultant, Joy Deaver. While the man’s admiration of her work is evident, the woman has a different opinion. She interrupts him, saying Brennan is “cold and aloof” when she testifies, and apparently that’s a problem now that the defense are putting “open” and “charming” Dr.Stires against her; her tone is aggressive. Brennan refuses to accept that the trial is a “personality contest”. When they leave, Booth tries to ‘soften’ things:
Booth: Bones, she’s an expert, just like you. She has an obvious personality disorder, but she wants to help.
He is relieved when she agrees to do what they asked. She is sure she can do it. To tell you the truth, the first time I watched the episode, I believed it; I was sure she could do it too. But it seems her protective shield was a little harder to break than I expected.

Next day, the trial begins. The lawyers present the case, the defense claiming Maggie’s death was the result of an overdose of drugs she used for recreational purposes. Booth is the first one who gets on the stand. He talks about the FBI’s findings, but he also “portrays himself as a no-nonsense, tough-guy cop”. Then the experts are called. Hodgins is scientific in his testimony as well; and in his half smile one can get a glimpse of his love for his science and of the ‘squint’ in him. But, unlike Brennan, he already knows the jury don’t share his fascination for funguses and bread mold-so he sums up in a way they can understand. Angela is next. Her testimony is the most emotional of all. What happened to that girl has had an impact on her and she doesn’t try to hide it. The contrast of her approach to Brennan’s, who testifies after her, is therefore huge and easily noticeable, even disturbing. When she starts talking about “gelatinous puddle” and “mass spectrometer”, the whole atmosphere in the courtroom changes and everybody’s discomfort is obvious, so the attorney decides to call her up again later.

Out of the courtroom, the jury consultant is going at Brennan again, trying to make her understand the impact her behavior might have to the verdict. Booth tries a more gentle approach, but he can’t lie to her:
Brennan: … I was perfectly clear, didn’t you think I was clear?
Booth: Sometimes. And… sometimes you were a little… hard to follow.
Brennan: What are you talking about, when?
Booth: When you were… talking.

Unlike the consultant, he believes in her. Although they’ve been working together for a very short time, he has managed to see under her fa├žade; he knows there is somebody else under the cold, detached scientist. He has managed to see things she doesn’t want to admit:
Booth: … I think it wouldn’t hurt if the jury saw who you really are.
Brennan: I don’t know who you think that is, Booth, because this is who I really am. Just this!
She dashes off and almost bumps into Stires. She tries to talk to him. She needs someone who can understand how stressful all this is for her. But he stops her.

Back in the courtroom, it’s Michael’s turn to testify. He insinuates Brennan’s detached behavior right from the beginning and presents his interpretation of the facts, ignoring important things in order to distort the events; and the jury are charmed by him. He has the audacity to wonder why Brennan became a forensic anthropologist, emphasizing the fact that she’s a former student of his; he even goes on saying he can hardly follow her, even though he’s a scientist! She’s trying hard to control her feelings at the sound of his words, but hurt and betrayal are written all over her face.

Out in the corridor, the consultant tells Brennan she needs to understand the difference between reality and perception.
Brennan: Wow! You are the reason civilization is declining!
Booth supports her, even though he says he doesn’t do it only to help her. He supports her when she says she can prove Michael wrong. He is there when, for the first time, she openly turns to him for help.

Next day, at her office, Brennan is checking her files once more, when Goodman, the “stern” but caring father, comes in. He understands how she feels- he probably knows why before she tells him.
Brennan: Are they stupid?
Goodman: Compared to you yes, they are stupid, however, compared to you, most of the world is a little stupid.

He knows she has a problem at communicating with an average person. But he doesn’t make her feel guilty about it. And when she says she’s a better scientist than Stires, we finally find out the root of Michael’s antagonistic behavior: Goodman hired her, instead of him, two years ago; something she didn’t know. He wants her to accept both sides of herself: apart from being more rational and reasoned, she cares.
Goodman: And if he tries to convince you otherwise, tell him to go to hell.
Let me say it again: I love Goodman!

She immediately follows his last advice the next day at court, when Michael acts as if everything’s fine. She tells him what he should already know: this is about Maggie and the people who murdered her, not a competition between them. She reminds him of an incident in Central America, years ago:
Brennan: You said “We tell the truth. We do not flinch”. You flinched, Michael.

In the courtroom, Booth has told the US attorney something he believes will make Brennan show her empathetic side. The man hesitates, but when she starts testifying more or less the same way, he goes for it: he wonders why she became a forensic anthropologist. Both the defense and Brennan herself seem reluctant to follow this line of questions, but she can’t avoid it: maybe it’s the disappearance of her parents, when she was 15, that led her to choose this profession? She immediately understands who has told the man about this; after Michael, Booth betrays her too. She confutes his arguments, but when the lawyer says she appears “cold and unfeeling”, something finally breaks.

She lets everyone see how she feels about her work and the victims she deals with every day. Seeing a face on every skull, feeling the pain they felt. Seeing each one of them as a whole person. She has to do what she advised Zack to: she has to focus on the details. But…
Brennan: … I don’t matter. Only she matters. Only Maggie.
She utters the last two words looking straight at Michael.

Outside, Stires tries to apologize, but it’s too late; she doesn’t even think he deserves an answer. Booth wants to tell her the good news about the trial, but she can’t find it in her to care anymore. She feels used and he doesn’t even seem to understand how difficult this was for her.

Back in her office, she stares at a photo of Michael and her; sealing her box of memories and feelings about him, hiding it in one of her ‘compartments’. Her friend brings her the good news about the verdict, but she is too drained to show any happiness. She makes clear she won’t see Michael anymore and she shields herself behind what’s rational, once more. She has decided to deal with this the same way she always has: working, alone. But Booth almost immediately comes in and, even though she hasn’t forgiven him, she can’t resist what he offers-a new case.
At the crime scene (that turns out to be Washington Monument) Booth tries to show he still cares about her, but she pushes him away. She may have almost decided to forgive him, but she won’t let it show before she hears “I’m sorry” coming out of his mouth. And the fact itself that she admits she would have probably used him too causes a shift in their relationship. Neither of them is going to treat the other like that anymore.

They are partners. More today than yesterday.

Screencaps from Beyond Bickering and Bones Fans Online.

6 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Very nice review!

MaDi said...

Excellent review!

This is one of my favourites episodes...

merlo84 said...

Great review! I really like this episode so great to hear some one else's take.

em-jay said...

Such a sad episode, but great review!

Deepa Dev said...

Jenny, great review, this is one of my fave episodes too ... In the scene where Brennan & Stires are in bed together, she really lets her guard down and shows that she cares for the case, and about what happened to Maggie. She says, 'You know how it is.'

What puzzles me is why she wasn't that open about her feelings towards the case with Booth (wouldn't he know what it was like just like Stires, if not more?) or even Angela - wouldn't that show that she was more human than the others gave her credit for?

That would have made the poking and prodding into her past in the last court scene less painful... just my 2 cents...

jenny said...

@Deepa Dev: Sorry for taking soooo long to reply... I think you have a point, but...I think it's shown in the episode that Brennan and Booth's relationship is still quite "immature" on a personal level.They don't trust each other that much..For me,they are not even partners yet(at least not until the last few moments of the epi,as I pointed out in the review),not with the full meaning of the word,not the way they are later on-at this point,they just think of each other as "sb they work with",I think.So I find it quite understandable and in-character for Brennan to not confide in Booth about her real feelings about the case and how she deals with/feels about the victims.He might already know("I think it wouldn't hurt if the jury saw who you really are") but she won't let it show-she even denies it("I don't know who you think that is Booth,because his is who I really am!").She doesn't trust him that much yet.Maybe she's right,even,seeing how he used her family past in the trial.
As for Angela,I think in the scene in Brennan's office(when she brings the sketch of Maggie) we get to see it.I mean,it's not some big,teary-eyed moment,but I think it's definitely a subtle moment of understanding between the two friends..The way Brennan talks about Maggie being a dancer and all,the way Angela replies about the freedom of dancing..Angela already knows how her friend sees these things,deep inside-and in this simple exchange I think we see how similar their approach really is,in contrast to how differently they *appear* to feel,which we see in the courtroom when they testify.
As for Stires,I think Brennan still trusts him in the opening scene,still feels there are lots of things to which she and Michael can connect,so that's why she thinks he can understand her.They were together for...3 years maybe?Or is it 2?He has seen her deal with death before,what's more,when she was younger,less experienced,more of a "scared student",as she herself admits when she talks about Central America-he most probably has got to see her vulnerable side before.I think there's no way she would talk to him about it after what happened in this episode,after she saw him behave like that in court-but in that moment,she still feels that she knows him and that she can trust him with things she can't share with almost anybody else.
I hope this was helpful-it's how I see things,at least...I'd love to hear what you think about it :)

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