Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Guest Episode Review - #111 "The Woman in the Tunnel"

Time for the next Bones Season 1 Episode review: The Woman in the Tunnel! 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
# 107 - "The Girl in the Fridge" - Jenny
# 108 - "The Man in the Fallout Shelter" - Emma
# 109 - "The Woman in the Car" - Milky
# 110 - "The Woman at the Airport" - Robyn
This review was written by Winona.

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 Woman in the Tunnel

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit up front that I have been a huge fan of David Boreanaz since "Buffy" days and that I began watching Bones at the very beginning of Season 1 because basically I'll watch whatever show he's doing. However, I had no DVR at that point in time - and in any event it's been 4 seasons back now - so I'm sure that there were episodes I missed even in summer reruns. All this is to say that I didn't remember "The Woman in the Tunnel" when I discovered (or "rediscovered?") it a few months ago. Since that time, it has become one of my favorites from Season 1. (Also, I tried to get the dialogue quotes right but they may not be exact.)

“Woman in the Tunnel” opens with Brennan, Booth & Zack suspended from ropes, dropping down to the bottom of a 60+ foot vertical tunnel in order to investigate a female body found by DC public workers at the bottom of an old air shaft. The opening scene suggests that Brennan, Booth & Zack have become more comfortable as a team, although being suspended so far above-the floor in an underground shaft makes them extremely nervous.

Brennan: I've done plenty of climbing and these lines have load tolerances that are more than adequate.
Zack: What about shock tolerance? The rope jerks, …the kinetic energy increases - and Snap! - we fall to our deaths. (Just then all 3 ropes suddenly drop several feet and snap to a halt)
Booth: Okay, let's say we just stop the chatter.

Once they are at the bottom of the tunnel, Brennan asks Booth to let her shoot his gun but Booth is reluctant to give it to her. Brennan reminds Booth that they have been working together for months now and he should show some trust in her. Booth reluctantly hands her the weapon which she uses to shoot the rats that are busy compromising the victim's remains. While examining the remains, Brennan sees a man in the shadows of another tunnel. She calls out to him and runs after him into the dark. Booth follows and chastises her when he catches up, telling her she shouldn't run by herself into the dark after the man. Brennan responds, "He lives down here".

The team moves to the Jeffersonian where they examine the deceased's remains and Brennan tells Booth that the victim was 24-year old, Marnie Hunter. Hunter was a documentary filmmaker whose latest project was about the "mole" people who inhabit the labyrinth of forgotten tunnels under the streets of Washington, D.C. Booth and Brennan then interview Hunter's fiancée' who shows them Hunter's raw footage. Suddenly, Brennan recognizes in the footage the man who ran through the tunnel the day they found the body. So the investigation moves back into the tunnels to meet the Mole Man.

The characters on Bones are drawn with so much respect and dignity it is easy to care about their stories. In Woman in the Tunnel, the murder is the vehicle that carries the audience on an interesting journey where they meet the character of the Mole Man, learn of his relationship to the others who have chosen to live underground, and study his interactions with Booth. Of course, well-defined "guest" characters don't just tell their own story; they reveal something about the regular characters as well. Such is the case with Harold Overmeier, the Mole Man.
When Booth first meets Harold, he is not inclined to treat him with any respect. Brennan reminds Booth that this man is the alpha-male in the tunnel society.

Booth: Important?! He lives in a box underground.
Brennan: In this society… he has stature… Give him his due.

To please her, Booth starts over again and respectfully (if somewhat reluctantly and a tad insincerely) asks Harold to help them. To Booth’s surprise, Harold accepts the change in demeanor and answers some of Booth's questions. He is eventually taken into custody and interrogated at the FBI. It turns out that Harold is a former military man who has chosen to live underground to atone for the people he killed. Booth tells Harold that he understands how Harold ended up the way he did because Booth served as a Ranger. (Later, while Booth and Brennan are talking to the social worker that introduced them to Harold, Brennan tells Booth that Booth atones for what he's done by finding murderers; Harold atones by living underground.) Listen to the interrogation room interplay between Booth and Harold:

Harold: I killed people.
Booth: You saved the lives of five men.
Harold: I killed a pregnant woman.
Booth: She had a bomb strapped to her.
Harold: She had a child in her arms. She died right away but the child, he took a while....he kept looking at me.
Booth: You did what a soldier had to do.
Harold: Yeah, I was a good soldier, a very good soldier - but a pretty bad human being.

Wrapped up in those few lines are two opposing western society attitudes toward military duty and the taking of human life. It also shows Booth's belief in and acceptance of the rules of war. Yet we sense that his gentle answers to Harold most likely are a reflection of his own pain from his role in the war. The camera angles in the dialogue described above are tight, focused on Booth and Harold. They exclude any indication of the interrogation room or other characters that may be present. The scene evolves from a standard police interrogation to a very personal exchange between two ex-soldiers, each man dealing with his demons in his own way. The writers maintain a delicate balance that is non-judgmental and sympathetic to both attitudes. Harold judges not Booth but himself. Booth tries to move Harold past the guilt the other man feels. Powerful stuff.

We learn one thing in the interrogation room scene that advances the plot: Harold gave Marnie something and she died. Good timing, too, because at this point we care more about Harold and Booth than about solving the murder.

“Woman in the Tunnel” contains the visual collage of “bug-guy”, skull reconstruction and weapon identification sub-scenes that are so identifiable with this series and especially with Season 1. They are always intellectually stimulating but entertaining, with background music unerringly matched to the scenes. In “Woman in the Tunnel”, the “Angelator” is definitely the technology star. This device is an unusual twist on other forensic science show toys. Angela’s computerized, holographic magician puts a face on the victim and graphically tells the story of how her wounds were incurred. In addition, though, this marvelous visual aid depicts in color-coded splendor the maze of tunnels and other feats of modern engineering that inhabit the ground under our nation’s capital. This visual mapping allows Booth, Brennan and Dr. Goodman to determine where in the tunnels the murder may have occurred.

The tastiest dialogue nugget comes in the scene where the writers poke teasing fun at the “squints”, using the juxtaposition of Goodman/Brennan’s higher brain-powered analysis of the engineering tunnels with Booth's laser-like practicality.

Dr. Goodman to Bones (as they decide how to analyze the labyrinth of engineering schematics): Inductive, Reductive, or Deductive.
Brennan: Inductive.
Dr. Goodman: As you wish. (Goodman and Brennan start analyzing.
(Booth cuts in)
Booth: What about the diamond dust?.... (Seeing their expressions)...What I’m not allowed to help?
Dr. Goodman (as the professor, explaining the rules of the game to a student): That's deductive. We agreed on inductive reasoning.
Booth: Hey...Just trying to think outside your box.

What distinguishes the Bones supporting characters from other TV shows of the same genre (read: CSIs of all persuasions) is the way that these characters relate to each other, not just to Booth/Brennan. Whether it’s Jack’s dodging the paperwork associated with the principal piece of evidence in this case, or whether he’s showing his frustration with Zack’s inability to recognize or engage in small talk while working in the lab (“Those are rhetorical questions that I’m not expected to answer, right?”), these characters don’t just share plot-advancing dialogue with each other. They connect. They maintain relationships with each other that exist outside of Booth and Brennan and the lab and yet are inextricably linked to them.

Angela is earth-mother to Brennan (“You haven’t eaten a thing all day.”). She manages to seem un-squint-like while taking care of Brennan yet she exhibits the intelligence to design and run the Angelator and recognizes her own dynamite artistic skills as a forensic sketch artist (“…I’m good”). Angela rises above her own fears of the “homeless” man who may have murdered Marnie and dropped her body down an air shaft. In the interrogation room where she goes to interview Harold and to sketch the woman Harold thinks may have something to do with Marnie’s death, Harold complains about the brightness of this above-ground world. (“It’s too bright up here”). He has mentioned this before to Booth who ignored the comment. This time, however, Angela hears him. Without a word, she rises, crosses to the window and closes the shades so the room darkens. With that one move, she wins Harold over: an acknowledgment that treating people with kindness and respect can change interpersonal dynamics. As Brennan tells her, “You’re good at that.”

Furthermore, what viewer doesn’t identify with Jack’s frustration when he calls his boss (Brennan) to tell her he has found a critical piece of evidence in the case, yet Brennan hangs up on him without acknowledging the find (He says to himself, looking at the disconnected phone: “Good job, Hodgins. What would we do without you?”)

These characters are real, flawed, multi-layered and, most of the time, loving and lovable. They mirror the minor frustrations we all feel with our daily jobs in one form or another. They learn from each other and they change as a result of knowing each other.

Take this exchange among Zack, Jack, Brennan, and Goodman standing around the lab table discussing the second set of remains found in the oldest tunnel.

Goodman: Would you permit a bit of conjecture?
Brennan: You’re the boss.
Goodman: This fellow knew something of value was being stolen.
Jack: He came down there with an accomplice… (Realization dawns on him. He looks at Brennan). I apologize. I’ve been hanging around with Booth waaayyy too much.
Brennan (shrugging off his discomfort): It’s a valid hypothesis. No doubt one of many.
Zack (still caught up in the story): They argued, one killed the other for the treasure. But doesn’t that mean the vault will be empty when we find it? (He looks up at Jack) Oh – my – God! They got me too!

“Woman in the Tunnel” is a turning point in Season 1. The pure scientists, the lab rats, are no longer just Brennan’s “squints”. They are evolving. Brennan’s murder investigations outside of the lab are drawing her team away from their ivory tower existence and into the real world: They are becoming Booth’s people.

In sum, the writers, actors, and characters of “Woman in the Tunnel” will have you, too. In addition to Marnie’s murder, the plot has a 100-year old skeleton, buried treasure of a sort, and a murderer to catch. And yes, they solve the case but for that revelation, you’ll have to watch the episode.


Cindy Sue said...

GREAT review!!!

Monia said...

You forgot one thing: when Booth and Brennan are in the tunnels he says tac team 3 I think...then she says tic tac 3...and then he says tic tac too haha hilarious!!

Cindy Sue said...

And Wendy... This is totally what is getting me through summer without my BONES, so THANK YOU!

And maybe not the right place to ask, but I was hoping to find a similar blog devoted to NCIS... anyone have any suggestions?

sai said...

Hi Winona,

Loved your review and not just because this is exactly how I felt about the episode!

The points you bring out about the respect for the each other that the squints have, the fun dialogue, respect for different types of characters - the hallmark of early bones seasons. Not to say it doesn't happen now - the tone is changing a little. Also Brennen seemed a lot more empathetic in the early seasons isnt it? I was watching her interrogation of Kelly in 'The Boy in the Shroud' yesterday. She was good!Very unlike the Bones we see in monkey episode (sorry i cant remember the name!) this season. Is she getting a little less social as she grows older?

Thanks again for a great review though.

em-jay said...

Wonderful review and spot-on insights!

Must say that this was one of the first episodes that I realized how funny they are in the midst of tension: "That's not cocked, is it? Because where that's pointed..." Ha!!!

winona said...

You're right, Monia, the "tic tac too" was hilarious...and I agreed with em-jay, the "cocked" lines were too much. There were so many other things that I could have included, it's hard to believe it all happened in a 40-45 minute episode - at the same time that a plot-line is evolving and a crime solved. I was just amazed at how much is packed into an episode..and yet everything has a reason for being there. Nothing extraneous.

I wanted to do this project just as an experiment in writing for me but I learned so much more and have so much more respect for the writers and actors in this show. I loved season 1 and as I heard someone else say, as I reviewed this episode I felt again the many reasons why I fell in love with this show. Thanks for the opportunity, Wendy. It was a blast!

Anonymous said...

AWESOME review!! I loved that you actually analyzed the episode and didn't just recap it. And I agree that the "cocked" exchange were hilarious--among my all-time favorite lines.

Shep said...

Great review! I loved the 'cocked' and 'tick tock team' lines too! I also loved the end when Booth says 'Ha, Kyle hit the Duke with the candlestick in the crypt!' and both he and Goodman laugh while Brennan doesn't get it.

Did anyone else go and find the song 'Pride' by Syntax that they used in this episode immediately after watching it.

As September approaches, I've been becoming increasingly worried that the tone of S4 will be amplified even more in S5. Episodes like this one were the reason I fell in love with Bones. I also really miss Goodman and Zack! The rotating interns are great but it still feels like we've lost the baby of the Squint family!

catnapping said...

off topic...this blog is starting to take forever to load its main page...

i wonder if you might consider changing your settings to only allow 4 posts to show at one time...

i've got a fairly speeder computer, and my broadband downloads at over 8 mb per second...

i thought at first it was just my pooter...or my isp, but this has happened when using the university's computers and those at the library...so i think it might be that there's just so much stuff here.

it's all good stuff, but for folks with only DSL...it might be nearly impossible for them to get a page to load in less than 30 seconds.

Jeannie said...

I also immediately downloaded the song after watching this episode. "Pride" is still one of my favorites now.

Aside from the funny exchanges down in the tunnels (where they seemed to be really comfortable with each other, by the way - just watch how close they stand when they discover the picture) there is this memorable exchange in the car:
BRENNAN: So Marni was killed near a vault, and then dragged to the shaft.

BOOTH: Harold will know where that vault is.

BRENNAN: Okay, maybe you could try the "Hey, we're brothers in arms" thing on him.

BOOTH: Okay, that, what you just said right there, Bones- that was cynical. It was glib and cynical.

BRENNAN: Really?

BOOTH: Yes, really. I know what that guy has been through.

BRENNAN: You killed a pregnant woman who was holding a child?

BOOTH: Look, if you really want to know what I've done, I'll tell you, but you better be ready for the truth.

(She relents from asking more.)

BOOTH: Good choice, Bones.
Loved your analysis, Winona! Good job.

This is also a perfect episode to illustrate the point why episodes should be aired in the correct order. If 'The Woman in the Tunnel' gets aired after 'Woman at the Airport', it's a natural flow of things. If it gets aired after 'Two Bodies in the Lab' (as it did), it confuses the viewers. After getting rather close and personal in 'Bodies', they are back to still 'checking out' each other in 'Tunnel'? Makes no sense.

Wendy said...


I've had it set on 30 posts for a long time and not changed anything. I can post 10+ in one day sometimes so it's not feasible to go down to such a low number. I have changed it to 20 to test out. The polls that I need to close out may have something to do with it. Hope to have time to handle that soon.

merlo84 said...

This is a great review, well done! I also have to agree that the 'tic tac' line is one of my all time favourite exchanges on Bones. Although every time I say that I remember other things that I love. It's mainly the timing of ED and DB that does it for me!

gabriel said...

Just one more thing worth mentioning from this episode: Brennan sort of identifies herself with the victim Marnie as she had a documentarist point of view which she finds similar to the anthropologist one. But that goes as far as defending her for 'sleeping around' (as Booth says). Brennan tells Booth that 'any man getting involved with a woman like Marnie should know that she is adventurous and independent', she didn't hide it and was 'direct and honest about it'. Doesn't that remind you of anything? Brennan who is so open to Booth about her sex partners, so Booth should accept that as not cheating on him?... Just shows how well written this show is!!!

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