Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Guest Episode Review - #203 "The Boy in the Shroud"

Thank you Kay for reviewing Bones Season 2 - The Boy in the Shroud.

Season 1 Reviews - All Done!!
Season 2 Reviews - still waiting on almost all of them to come in

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The Boy in the Shroud

The Good: Brennan gets emotional; Booth proves his loyalty without using a gun; Leah Pipes shines as the victim’s girlfriend.

The Bad: Clunky writing weighs down the beginning (it’s unfair to make assumptions about foster kids! we get it!); Booth sports an argyle tie that’s more retiring dad than rebellious dreamboat;an ending in the diner, but not with Brennan and Booth.

The Bones: When an overturned garbage truck reveals a teenager’s body, everyone but Brennan assumes he was a junkie or a street kid – until Angela identifies him as a college-bound boy from the suburbs. His girlfriend is in the foster system, though, and her possible role in his death and in a related murder causes tensions between Brennan and Cam to reach a crisis point.

“The Boy in the Shroud” comes along early in Season Two, while we’re still mourning Goodman and getting to know Cam (Tamara Taylor is still a guest star whose character is slated for death). It tries to accomplish a heck of a lot, and over-ambition might be both its strong suit and its primary downfall – it feeds into a lot of stories but the chemistry gets spread a little thin. Bear with my complaining, as I really do think it’s a great one. But among other things, the episode:

  • Explores the quintessential Bones conflict between brain and heart as Brennan struggles with her response to the case

  • Reveals more about Brennan’s childhood after her parents’ disappearance

  • Cam’s character and relationships with the squints, drops more hints about her history with Booth, and looks at her impact on the Brennan/Booth relationship

  • Ups the ante for Hodgins and Angela’s eventual get-together

  • Retells Romeo and Juliet as the romance between good boy Dylan Krane and street-smart Kelly Morris, with the addition of a worried little brother, a Good Samaritan, and a statutory rapist

Retells Shakespeare, sort of. I get mildly annoyed when pop culture plays fast and loose with the Bard, and this episode doesn’t do much more than toss around a flower, some quotations, and a paperback book inscribed “To my Juliet from your Romeo.” Ah, young love. Dylan and Kelly’s story certainly is a tragedy, but it would have been great if the writers had tied Romeo and Juliet more to overarching Bones themes. After all, the play is about family and identity as well as tragic love (and let’s be honest – if the real Romeo and Juliet of Bones end up dead, I won’t be the only fan banging down Hart Hanson’s door).

Even without the Shakespearean tie-in, this one is heavy on story and light on crime and science – it’s all about reactions rather than details. The early scenes are frustrating for that reason, as the writers try way too hard to point out the conflict between Cam and her realistic assumptions (not a lot of kids from the suburbs end up in dumpsters) and Brennan and her aversion for snap judgments (Kelly shouldn’t be condemned just because her parents are dead). Brennan gets sympathy points but still sounds like a spoiled child who’s not getting her way, and Booth and Cam have some lines about street kids and foster kids that are far out of character. Seriously, y’all – I don’t need to be hit with a pipe like Dylan to imagine sympathy for Kelly or to understand that this is going to be a tough one for Brennan.

Eventually the writers get past the clunky bickering to arrive at the heart of the episode and – as pre-Sweets Booth figures out all on his own – to the heart of Brennan’s conflict with Cam: her past as a foster kid. Just three episodes in to Cam’s tenure it’s already obvious that Cam and Brennan work quite differently, but given this particular case things get ugly between them until Booth explains the score. Yup! As a Brennan-gets-emotional episode, this is also very much a thank-goodness-for-Booth episode (then again, what’s not a thank-goodness-for-Booth episode?). He knows both of his colleagues well enough to nudge them towards a truce of sorts, and he’s so successful that instead of a final Brennan/Booth scene we get a final Brennan/Cam scene. Thankfully Brennan and Booth do close out the case with a series of tear-inducing glances that reveal at least as much as their usual episode-ending tête-à-tête. (Or maybe it’s only me crying? I can’t help it. Susan Enan’s “Bring on the Wonder,” which features Sarah McLachlan and appears on the Bones soundtrack, is one of my favorite songs across the whole series.)

Despite the fact that I (like certain others around here!) tune in for the regular characters much more than for the crime of the week, I have to give huge amounts of credit to Leah Pipes (Kelly Morris). She communicates toughness and vulnerability and, most importantly, an emotional depth that we don’t often get from anyone but the leads. The scenes with Brennan and Kelly wouldn’t work nearly as well if Emily Deschanel had to work alone, so that even though Pipes only appears here, she contributes to the bigger Bones picture by reflecting back to Brennan a part of herself that’s painful and often concealed.

As for the regulars:

Cam

There’s a lot of Cam in this episode, which is not a good thing during those early scenes; as Brennan’s foil Cam is the worst. Instead of the righteous queen that I’ll later know and love, she comes across as a disdainful braggart who needs a serious attitude adjustment. When Brennan insists that they not jump to conclusions Cam responds with lines like, “not many kids from the suburbs end up rotting in garbage trucks – fun factoid from the front lines.” Ouch. Once she finds her place on the team comments like this won’t seem so rough, but at this point the dig towards Brennan is painfully clear. Her self-satisfied smile when they find out that the victim’s girlfriend is a foster child is just unnecessary.

Cam starts to seem more human midway through the episode, as she and Angela bond over teenage love, but soon enough she’s back to arguing with Brennan about the case. When she starts talking about searching for Brennan’s replacement Angela steps in to clarify just how much of an outsider Cam is:

Brennan: I can’t work like this.
Cam: Are you telling me I should start looking for your replacement?
Angela: Dr. Saroyan, I don’t want to be overly dramatic or anything, but, if you lose Brennan, you lose us all.
Cam: Really?
Angela: Really. And Booth, too.

Even though she concedes the point of the argument to Brennan, Cam is stubbornly insistent on having the last word, saying over her shoulder, “I will start the search for your replacement.” (Hmm, Brennan – a woman who likes to have the last word. Sound familiar?) Cam’s bossy confidence seems a bit more like show, though, when she brings it up with Booth:

Cam: Booth, if Dr. Brennan were to quit—
Booth: What?
Cam:If she were to leave the Jeffersonian …
Booth: Well, squints would flee this institution like the French army.
Cam: And you?
Booth
: Well, I do as I’m ordered.
Cam: No, you don’t, Seeley.
Booth: Okay, here we go. What’s going on, Camille?
Cam: What if I fired her?
Booth: I’m with Bones, Cam. All theway. Don’t doubt it for a second.

Of course this scene is fantastic for Booth (more on that later), but it’s also a good one for Cam. She seems to know what he’s going to say and finally seems vulnerable here, worried about what she’s gotten herself into and how alone she might actually be – and that’s before Booth explains that Brennan spent time in the foster system. After learning that she looks genuinely sorry. The scene shows how hard it must be for Cam, just trying to do her job without understanding what she’s up against. I’m glad she becomes sympathetic because it means I can enjoy her for the rest of the episode, including her hilarious, sly smile when she and Booth have to pretend to be young and in love during a reenactment of the crime. It also means I buy it when she and Brennan share fries and establish their get-out-of-Cam’s-jail-free system for working together. Finally, it means what good Cam scenes always mean – more Tamara Taylor, please!

Angela/Hodgins

Even though they’re not Angela and Hodgins yet, this is a great episode for the pair. Angela’s still just having fun, so Hodgins makes a fool of himself pretty easily, especially when Angela says about the teenage lovers, “It’s a strange place for two people in love to end up.”

Hodgins: What, a forensics lab?
Angela:No, a squat in an abandoned pipe factory.
Hodgins: Right, yes, right.
Angela: What were you talking about?
Hodgins: Oh just, Cam and Booth. You know, of course. Given their, their history.
Angela:Mmm.
Hodgins: Tension, party of two.

They get obvious enough about hitting on each other that even Zack picks up on it, and he seems almost as puzzled by his romantic insight as they are embarrassed. He asks flat out, “Are you having a moment?” Which, of course, ruins the moment.

At the end of the case, Hodgins – who looks incredibly sexy out of his rummaging-in-garbage attire – gives Angela the Shakespearean rose. Barring the association with this depressing teenage tragedy, it’s a really sweet way for him to spell out his intentions, spoiled only slightly by the overdone slow-motion effects.

Since the episode occurs back when Angela had clear job responsibilities, she also gets to kick things off with amazing work recreating the victim’s face from the linen wrapped around his body. (She calls it the “Shroud of Montenegro,” which gives Brennan the chance to spoil Booth’s belief in the Shroud of Turin; Cam spoils it again during Season Four’s “The Cinderella in the Cardboard,” but I suppose we can’t expect poor Booth to keep track of all those shattered Catholic dreams.)

Angela’s the only one who’s not obnoxious in the beginning of the episode – she just seems genuinely concerned about how Brennan is going to handle the case – and when she lets Cam know that they’re all absolutely loyal to Brennan, Michaela Conlin’s tone does all the work. Angela doesn’t shout or intimidate, she just calmly spells it out for Cam that not only is the team solid, but it’s worth being a part of and is far more important than bonding over awkward slow dances and high school boys. This makes Cam’s vulnerability later on all the more understandable.

I didn’t pick up on this the first time around, but I do wonder if Angela’s teasing, wicked streak inspired her to do the reenactment with Booth and Cam as the teenage lovebirds. Did anyone else pick up on this possibility or am I just reveling too much in fun Angela rather than astray Angela of season four?

Zack

Zack’s line about Angela and Hodgins is funny (especially with Eric Millegan’s spot-on delivery), and he shows some amusing forensic-anthropologist disgust for blood and guts, but for the most part Zack is absent from this episode. His best scene is with Brennan, when she’s exasperated by his use of the term “rusty pipe.”

Brennan:Oh, don’t you start.
Zack
:Start what?
Brennan
:We don’t know what he was struck with yet.
Zack
:I analyzed the impact damage and the weapon was a cylinder, approximately two inches in diameter. That plus the oxidization residue suggests, in the vernacular, a rusty pipe.
Brennan:Good! If you tell me that I get it. It’s empirical, not guesswork.

It’s brief, as are all his scenes this time around, but oh how they make me miss the boy. (Not because I don’t get a kick out of the rotating interns. I do. But Zack!)

Booth

After being a jerk at the beginning of the episode, Booth returns to form, at a point in the series when he’s started to genuinely care for Brennan in addition to simply protecting and respecting her as a partner. Since he does care, he has to negotiate between the details of the case, his usual shoot-from-the-hip style of formulating scenarios, and his understanding of her pain – and he does it all with very few missteps.

Some folks might file this episode under the hate-it-because-of-Cam-and-Booth label, but I trusted the writers enough to know they wouldn’t last. Watching again I realize that there are several hints even this early on that when it comes down to it, Brennan and Booth are far more similar – think Gordon Gordon’s eventual observation that they might seem like opposites, but their differences are superficial.

Booth definitely shows his soulful side when Cam assumes that after identifying the victim finding Kelly is the next step. He corrects her – the first thing to do is to tell the victim’s parents – and gives her a sad and shaming look as if to remind her it’s not a competition, it’s a murder case. (Granted, we have lots more competitions between Brennan and Cam to come, but nonetheless – I’ll take the hints that I can get.)

The scene with Cam when he spells out his loyalty to Brennan is simply wonderful – one of those moments I might have watched over … and over. He pauses before giving that perfect line, “I’m with Bones, Cam. All the way. Don’t doubt it for a second,” and David Boreanaz makes it clear that the pause isn’t because he’s uncertain, but because he is so absolutely certain that he wants to ensure that Cam gets the message. The great thing is that he’s not protecting Brennan’s life; they’re not up against a blatant threat of violence a la “The Woman in the Garden” or “Two Bodies in the Lab.” Instead, he’s protecting their relationship. A subtle difference, maybe, but definitely a difference. Progress!

Booth also gets to do some tough-cop stuff in this episode (I always love it when he slams pictures down in front of a suspect during interrogation) as well as some adorable dad-type stuff, during meetings with Kelly’s little brother. He charms Alex during his first visit to the FBI, so that Alex trusts him enough to come back later on.

The kid asks him if he’s a big shot, and although Booth immediately starts to say no, he changes his mind and says, “Yeah, look at that, eh? Special agent, in charge, Seeley Booth.” It’s super cute, and it’s also one of those rare moments when Booth seems to look at himself through another’s eyes and to realize that humility is sometimes less important than reassuring someone that he’s a real-life hero.

Brennan

During the first foster child story, “A Boy in a Bush,” we learned a bit about Brennan’s own experiences and watched the way they enabled her to connect with kids in similar circumstances. We see that again in “The Boy in the Shroud” – she eventually helps Kelly to tell the truth – and we also see more directly how her past alters her connections with adults, especially Cam.

Brennan is both exasperating and excellent in this episode, perhaps even more than usual. Since the bones don’t require much work she’s free to focus on the story of the case, and she avoids dealing with her own emotions by reminding people over and over again that the pipe wasn’t the murder weapon. She tells off Cam angrily:

“I thought before we arrest Kelly Morris for murder based solely on the fact that she’s a foster kid, we might want to find the place where Dylan Crane actually died. Point of fact, the pipe, if that’s even what it was, was not the murder weapon. The evidence, if anybody cares, shows that Dylan Crane died from a fall.”

Go Brennan! Emily Deschanel does a superb job indicating how this frustration is different, even if Brennan as a character doesn’t fully understand. In this case, she isn’t just the rational scientist offended when her colleagues stray from the facts, she’s also the hurt foster kid who feels misjudged, misunderstood, and most of all alone.

She seems least alone during her scenes with Kelly, when she pushes her to get at the story of what really happened. She describes how Kelly cared for Dylan’s body, and when Booth points out that it’s a strange thing to do right after murdering him, Kelly shoots back, “Well I’m pretty screwed up, didn’t you hear?” It’s one of the best lines in the episode, and it’s as though Brennan is speaking as much as Kelly herself. Brennan takes what Booth gives her, about how difficult it can be for foster kids to trust other people, and uses it to understand Kelly, to understand herself, and finally to explain herself to Cam:

Brennan:It’s not completely, my fault. I was a foster child and, apparently, Booth says that, Booth says that I have, something about control issues and the weight of the world.
Cam: That sounds like Booth.
Brennan
: I think he meant that, if I’m going to share responsibility for these cases I’m going to have to learn to stop controlling everything, too. Does that make sense? Psychology is not – I really, I really hate psychology.

They agree on their get-out-of-jail free system, and then they bond over Booth.

Brennan:Booth told you I was a foster kid didn’t he?
Cam:Ok yes, he did, but he did it with a good heart. And I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t let him know, please.
Brennan
: He’s gonna know that you told me the second he sees us together.
Cam: Its true, he’s awful like that.
Brennan:He reads people the way that you read pathology reports or I read bones.
Cam: Oh god, I know, I hate – well I don’t, really.
Brennan:I know.

Brennan/Booth

The episode gets so serious that it’s easy to forget there’s actually a great comedy scene between Brennan and Booth, when they go out hunting for information about Dylan and Kelly. They’re not having much luck until Brennan spots some people she thinks they should talk to. Booth presses her on why:

Brennan:Because they share the same unique sociocultural identifiers as Kelly Morris.
Booth:You mean, like teenagers.
Brennan: Yeah, exactly.
Booth: No, you know what, they will melt away before we get half a sentence out.
Brennan: You just— (walking away from Booth)
Booth: Okay, but hey, you know, what do I know? I’ve only been working the streets my whole career.

Of course it quickly turns around. Brennan makes a fool of herself when the kids don’t respond the way she’d hoped, and Booth does them same immediately afterwards when he initiates a drug bust that turns out to be a sandwich bust:

Booth: Uh, I’ll cover you. Go see what they’re dealing, Bones.
Brennan: What? I hate this part where you stand with the gun and I have to go do the looking.
Booth: Bones, I got you covered. Just go. (to the suspected dealers) What are you selling? What do they got there, Bones? What do you got, huh? What is it?
Brennan: Ibuprofen, uh, multivitamins. I think these are sandwiches. And condoms.

I love it when there’s just the right mix of self-righteousness and good-natured teasing between them. Back at the FBI they’re still getting along, and Booth asks Brennan what they should do next. She gives a little smirk and says, “That’s up to Cam, isn’t it?” But Booth insists that he’s asking her, and she haltingly answers that they should work the same as they did before Cam. She seems almost aware of what he’s telling her (yes, Brennan, you’re top priority!), and it makes her comfortable enough to talk about her failed foster families without having the information dragged out of her – until Booth refers to what “experts, psychologists, like that” say about foster kids. Just like that Brennan’s back on the defensive, and they both know that it’s not really about the case but about her relationship with Cam. It’s a great scene from a time when Booth was figuring out how to be her friend and Brennan was figuring out how to let him be her friend. (Yes, they’re still figuring this out, but the dynamic has changed.)

There’s no resolution in the moment, but clearly their conversation about trusting others and taking on responsibility reverberates for the rest of the episode, and they even learn to trust each other more. They figure out the answer to the reenactment puzzle together, with Brennan asking the question that leads Booth to finally understand what happened. When they meet with Kelly again to try to convince her to tell the truth, they look at each other as if they’ve made a plan together for how to talk their way through the interrogation, and after Brennan tells Kelly exactly what Booth told her – “the weight of the world is not on your shoulders” – she looks up at him to see if she did all right. When they bring Kelly and Alex together they share absolutely gorgeous looks, with Booth understanding that Brennan’s re-living her own abandonment all over again, and Brennan aware (maybe not consciously) that with him as her partner she doesn’t have to fear abandonment any longer.

Swoon. Yes, those few moments make up for no closing Brennan/Booth scene, and make it overall an excellent, excellent episode. I’ve changed my mind even as I’ve been writing this review – I think there’s plenty of chemistry. Perhaps I’ll watch it again right now …

~*~ ~*~~*~

Of course there are also some great one-liners and exchanges that I didn’t mention above:

Brennan: (to Booth when the body is discovered) No natural gas or propane, no
explosions, no fire?
Hodgins: No corrosive chemicals—
Brennan:What ... do you need me for?
Brennan
:(to Hodgins, who’s been rummaging in garbage) You do not smell like a rose.

Brennan: (chasing down a kid at the crime scene) We’re not gonna hurt you! – (pulls him down) – Okay, I hurt you a little bit but that’s only because you ran.

Cam: (to Hodgins) When it comes to bugs,
smile, crud, and compost, you’re the man.

Booth: (to Hodgins,upon finding Kelly Morris at the garden) Okay, go distract her.

Hodgins: Why me?

Booth
:Well, because apparently, I look like a cop.

Hodgins:What do I look like?

Booth:What are you, my straight man? Go!

Cam: (to Angela) Can you run a scenario through
your magic, holographic, crystal ball thingy?

Cam: Not everyone’s brain works as fast as yours. I have to mull
sometimes. Are you familiar with that concept?
Brennan: Yes, I just always thought it was a waste of time.

16 comments:

Kate said...

I love this episode! Both story lines are really good, the music is PERFECT, and it has the best Hodgins moment when he quotes the botanic garden procedure to Kelly. "FBI, not a perv." Hee hee.

CupcakeBean said...

Very nicely done review! Great job! =)

Kate said...

Procedure=brochure.

D'oh!

Anonymous said...

great analysis, one of the best reviews from this site!

Eli said...

Great review and get extra cookies from me for the pictures in the review and highlights of the scenes. (like what Wendy did)
Season 2 is still my favourite season

Jeannie said...

I always thought that Angela did make Cam and Booth the loving couple during the re-enactment on purpose, too, simply because it amused her.

And that "I'm with Bones, Cam." exchange is one of my favorite Bones-moments ever.

Denise said...

It's one of my favorite episodes and I absolute agree with what was said before - it's one of the best reviews, very much in the way of Wendy's reviews - detailed, illustrative and interpretive - very well done.
Is there a way to get to know who'd write this review?

Wendy, is there anywhere a link to go straight to the guest reviews? Maybe I'm too stupid, but I always can find the guest reviews only by making some detours.

Denise said...

I just saw it's Kay who wrote this review. Kay, thanks again. I forgot to add you're not the only one who is crying when "Bring on the Wonder" is playing. The song is wonderful and those scenes/moments during the song are heartrending and not easy to forget.

Wendy said...

Denise, if you click the links at the top of this review "Season 1" and "Season 2" they take you directly to the lists of all guest reviews.

Denise said...

Wendy, thanks for the quick answer. Yeah, I saw that link at the top of this review. But when I open my browser first and go to your blog I'll land first on the page with your master list of episodes and reviews , because I've bookmarked your blog at this page. There I couldn't find a link to the guest reviews. Maybe you could put a link to the guest reviews on your master list page?

Eli said...

Actually the name of the reviewer is on the 1st line of the segment. You won't notice if you jump direct to the review.

em-jay said...

Great episode! Thanks for the review.

Love "Bring on the Wonder."

LOVE Zack--"Are you having a moment?"

You're right, Leah Pipes (Kelly Morris) is definitely one of the best guest stars.

Thanks for the great review!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy I am not alone in reading that B&B moment at the end with the foster kids (Bring on the Wonder in the background) - AS - a B&B moment. There are not in the diner but they are so connected and in sync even in this heavy sad moment.... it was not cute or funny but what we get is so much more..its to see how connected they are without words (Em and DB are such good actors!...they blow me away sometimes)

K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
K said...

Thanks for all the comments -- this review was a blast to write! (I modeled it after Wendy's because I love hers, so I'm glad that came through.)

And the scene at the end where the kids say goodbye is most definitely a B/B moment in my mind -- so beautiful.

gabriel said...

I would also like to add that when Brennan talks to Kelly in the interrogation room explaining how she felt, I imagined that the writers might have had B&B in their minds too (Kelly not feeling alone in the world because of Dylan etc., same with B&B). I find lots of parallels like that in the cases and the main characters' lives.

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