Monday, October 5, 2009

Bones Episode Review: 5.03 "The Plain in the Prodigy"

I found this episode neither great nor horrible. I would call it… uninspiring?

Which is sad, considering there are aspects of this episode that truly are inspiring, or at least worthy of a deeper connection. The victim and his talents were heartbreaking in their loss. Cam’s growing relationship with Michelle…

But it just didn’t touch me or make me think “Wow, I can’t wait to talk about this one!” I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. But, going through it piece by piece…

The case

I liked this case, from the forensic side. The only thing it lacked was true Bones-y gore, but I’m glad it’s missing because to laugh over this body would be disrespectful toward the tragedy of the victim’s lost life and potential.

It had a great list of red herrings. Was it the girl? Her boyfriend? The father? The girl’s brother? The friend? In the end, it was none of these. There was absolutely no clue of the huge turn the case would make into a sudden resolution. Normally that would make for bad TV but it fit perfectly with the victim’s story. His loss was senseless and abrupt. It’s okay that the discovery of the killer was the same.

That said, however, I disliked most of the writing where the Amish were concerned. It’s a mass of contractions; everything is all over the place. They are supposedly so isolated that there are absolutely no markers of modern life on him, yet they live near a town that assuredly produces the emissions that show up in isotopic analysis, drink well water, like approximately 20% of the entire US, and the son has a job in town where he would be exposed to electricity and almost certainly eat available foods. The one thing I remember about my visit to Amish country 15 years ago was that Amish believe photographs to be graven images and against the most basic of God’s laws – the 10 commandments. Yet they accept a photograph of their son? It makes for good TV that they accept the video player but I truly believe that would not happen. And, to get just a bit nitpicky – Yosef sounds like a California surfer dude, weed or not!

Even Brennan’s knowledge and attitudes seemed to be all over the place. She seemingly does not know that males would be dominant in such a culture, yet she knows the customs of Rumspringa well. She also seemed overly dumb at the beginning. I don’t want to arm-chair FA here, but I cannot believe she would not instantly look to the victim possibly being Amish immediately upon tallying up the various markers.

Would that be conjecture?

In the end, I think they did the heart of this case well, but left most of the brain outside with the cars, musical instruments, and buttons.


Why do I just want to give the guy a big hug? He seems like he needs it. His frustration with the team is firmly affixed, like he puts it on with his lab coat before he walks in. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, but I think he’s getting a little too close to jerk territory with his attitude. I felt that the slave reference was uncalled for (how many times has Zack had to do just that, looking like the Great Kazoo (sp?) no less). But, it sure was funny, and no surprise she didn’t get it.

  • Why are you talking like that?
  • Clark – I got bit by God knows what kind of bugs out there.
  • Brennan – Perhaps Hodgins can identify them for you.

He didn’t have a lot of screen time in this episode, but what he got mattered. He fit seamlessly into the action. He didn’t take over anything and he wasn’t there for pure comedy, for a change. I could get used to Sweets on this lighter level.

It did give me a little time to think about his relationship with Booth. Does anyone else feel that it is very different post-coma? Booth treats him like an equal now instead of the little brother that needs a good hazing. This may be a stretch, but it almost feels like Brennan’s insistence on trashing Sweets is a not-so-subtle way to remind Booth of how ‘they’ are supposed to treat him. Like I wouldn’t be surprised to see her try to get him to run out on Sweets while he’s making an important point or analyzing them a bit too deeply. This level of respect seems to be what Sweets always deserved and maybe always had, but the joking and teasing and hazing always got in the way. I doubt it will last and it’s not completely serious anyway. Maybe just one more step on his recovery?

  • During the Crusades, Knights used to lock up their wives and daughters.
Inappropriate, funny, random – Hodgins in a nutshell. There’s no deep Hodgins here, just ‘just right’ Hodgins, between this, his love of the fauna evidence, and his emerging soliloquy on the meaning of rocks. Perfect.


Free spirit. Mother. Lover. Nothing but gore is taboo to the woman. She may not know what she wants or where she’s headed or have any real emotional maturity and self-awareness beyond the outer level (I promise I am not trying to be mean here!) but she will put herself aside in a heart beat to help someone else. If Michelle were in the room instead of Cam she would happily tell her directly about Brian and how to have sex responsibly. The only barriers Angela has are her own internal walls. What she is, she is completely. She has no reservations and it makes you wonder what ‘minimum’ age Angela would set. I have a feeling she would strongly resist setting one at all, but would eventually stop at ‘gross’ or ‘wrong’ at some age below 16.

All of the women mother in their own ways. Angela arms people to take on their problems and choices directly. She specifically does not tell people what is right or wrong, but instead tries to equip them in whatever way they need to take on their challenges directly. Be it a kind word or strong advice she will be there for anyone she cares about. I could strongly disagree with many of her choices but that’s not the point of Angela herself who tries very hard not to do that to anyone else.


Smooth Cam is such a long lost memory right now and it’s great. Dealing with her new responsibilities has left the poor woman a complete mess, comparatively. She’s still dressing all-Cam, but mentally she is all over the place. She can’t talk, she’s running around frantically like Edith Bunker, she’s not overly case-focused (except when the man, Hodgins, tries to join her girl talk with Angela), and she can’t seem to pick her path. A very un-like Cam way to be. She is so used to just ram-rodding straight ahead, no matter who she has to challenge to get her way.

Her attempt to talk to Michelle about sex is a great example of how mushy she really is. It was only slightly above Brennan attempting to do the same. Brennan would have her on cohesive thoughts but be no better at reaching a 16 year old. She does cover all the bases though, if a bit haphazardly. From the physical ‘secretions’ to the religious implications and the emotional truth:
  • There’s no such thing as ‘just sex’, Michelle. Every time you give a bit of yourself to the person you are with.
That line has truth in this area, but could mean so much more for the characters of this show. Like Wendell’s line about daring to dream last week, I feel like little lines are being dropped that mean much more than their face value. Am I looking too deep?

One more question – Do you think parenting an orphan will help Cam understand Brennan any better?

Booth and Brennan

I mentioned last week how Brennan looks to the world for her self-worth and I think that idea continued in this episode. Booth could easily chose a personal relationship or his faith over anything the world could offer or even that he himself valued in the form of a gift. Whereas to Brennan this was about denial of true self value for the wrong reasons, for Booth, if given time to explain himself, I think would have a lot to say about why that was not the wrong decision at all. This case gave yet another illustration of their completely different internal structures that go far beyond their differences in religion, music taste, vacation destinations, etc. They have such fundamentally different experiences in their lives that, while they can know how the other thinks, I’m not sure how much they can every really understand it. (That’s not to say it’s remotely a relationship killer, but something they need to understand about each other and accept.)

When it comes to religion, it is no surprise that this case brought the issues to the forefront yet again. Booth glosses over aspects like the Pope’s hat while that is all Brennan can see. The concept of faith, and that level of relationship with God, who cannot be seen (no different than talking to her dead mother, to Brennan) is completely unfathomable to her. The only way she can even begin to attempt to understand it is to deconstruct it which defies the whole purpose. It’s like breaking apart why you love someone. The pieces don’t make sense without some assumptions and inexplicable bits holding it all together.
  • We reject Satan, they reject buttons
Side note – it bothers me that they use Catholicism as a stand-in for Christianity as a whole. Not all denominations have all these ornate trappings. It may be a bit easier to use as a discussion point, though and just ‘taking the easy’ road. It fits for Booth’s history for him to be Catholic, but as a Christian I have to say that Catholicism does not speak for me at all!

I am glad to see the Cocky belt buckle return. Now if Booth can only rediscover the attitude that MADE him love that Booth-y belt buckle. (Seems that he didn’t even understand what ‘being Booth-‘ means when he used the term. ) I think they are doing a great job in characterization and showing the difference as he rediscovers himself. Even his jokes seem more natural and less zing-y (except for the ‘buttons’ thing). He has less armor around himself than before. The coma took down his walls as well as his flair and while parts of it are missing, I think he could do without a few of those bits, don’t you? Confidence is sexy, but so is vulnerability. He’s still a bit off-balance between the two, but I hope he doesn’t swing completely back to armored, untouchable, squirmy confidence any time soon.

Booth threatening Perry was one step toward his old self. It doesn’t matter that he has zero responsibility for her and his only real tie is through his ex-girlfriend. Booth will protect anyone he deems in need of it and Michelle no longer has a father. It is a fundamental aspect of his character that may not even need rediscovering.

The ‘minimum’ age talk was a brief but meaningful discussion between them. 16 vs 22. At 16, Brennan’s life was in complete disarray with her family completely gone. It is not surprising with the emotional trauma that she looked at sex completely from a technical standpoint, with no emotional ties. Though, if that was Michael Stires she slept with there clearly were emotional aspects somewhere down the line. Why pick 17.5 as the minimum age, though?
  • Inference, not conjecture.
That line felt very much like a “do as I say, not as I do…” It made me smile. Brennan is far less ‘perfect’ on logic and conjecture than she thinks she is.

In the end, I think there were some very important aspects in this episode that are lost on initial viewing. It feels like filler and, in some ways it is. But if every episode were a Con-Man or Harbingers we would have a soap opera, not our beloved Bones.

PS - I’m sorry I cut corners and left out more extensive quotes. I will try not to put it off so long next time. This episode just really did not bring out any strong impetus to get on with the review ASAP!


BB Shipper said...

> There’s no such thing as ‘just sex’, Michelle. Every time you give a bit of yourself to the person you are with.

That line has truth in this area, but could mean so much more for the characters of this show. Like Wendell’s line about daring to dream last week, I feel like little lines are being dropped that mean much more than their face value. Am I looking too deep?>

Wendy are you suggesting here that the writers are setting us up for some Cam/Booth complications down the road.... I ask because if there is not such thing as 'just sex' (and both Cam and Booth have now said that same line)...could we be looking to see some yet undiscovered attachments for Cam as it relates to Booth....

Oh gosh, I dont want to think about it...but I must admit it would make sense ...

P.S. Thanks as always for the review. My tendency is to gloss over things and go for the fluffy superficial things (hey..that makes me happy!) - but your reviews always make me think and look deeper which brings another level of enjoyment to the episode when I rewatch.

Kate said...

Nah, I wouldn't worry about Cam. I think both she and Booth knew they were a short-term thing.

Can't speak for Wendy, though.

Wendy said...

No, I didn't mean Cam/Booth or even either one of those two in particular.

It could refer to things that have happened or things that might, and characters thinking things through before hand (like Booth taking '2nd best').

Glad you like them BB Shipper :)

Jessica said...

I agree that this isn´t an episode I´ll rewatch again and again but it was a good episode and as always I rewatch the episode 2 or 3times, and some of them 10 times :), just to see if I missed certain things that's why the reviews are great to read because there is always something I've missed and everybody has a different point of view that's what I like about OWB

Jeannie said...

Could Clark's frustrated attitude originate in the fact that he is not an intern per se but an accomplished doctor of forensic anthropology? Because he's incredible in episodes where he gets treated as one, see Verdict in the Story.

As for the DVD player, I assumed that Booth and Brennan took that with them again when they left? I thought that was why they were waiting outside, to give the family some privacy while watching.

Thanks for the review! I'll rewatch the episode now trying to see it through your eyes.

Tony said...

Wendy, I don't usually post comments, but I have to say, kudos to you. I am firmly opposed to any type of critics, because I believe that critics tend to tell people this is good and this is bad, while I like to make up my own mind. That said, I loved how you always expressed your personal view and didn't try to force it onto people. I agree with your assessment of this episode almost completely. I personally liked this episode better than most, because along with the usual ensemble interaction, it gave me something to think about. It was somewhere towards the ending, where Bones said: " What Levi discovered the gift he had... Would their God really want them to deny their son than?" It made me think about people perception of life and the potential that's hidden in any of us. How we can live all our lives without ever discovering what greatness we can achieve. That, for me, made the whole episode different from the others.

Emma said...

Hi Wendy, many thanks for your lovely review, as always. I've been reading them for a while but never commented before, so I hope this is OK.

I agree with you that they went a little overboard on the heart and perhaps did not bring in the brain enough in this episode. This is my main point of contention with the episode, because there's a fundamental lack of balance there as if they're trying to over-sell the emotional impact.

I have many things to say, but let me stick to one or two, I don't want to get all annoying and boring. Both ideas are on Brennan.

First, I don't find it surprising that Brennan finds it difficult to understand why Levi would choose his community over his talent. She chose her talent, after all, and she may feel that she had an obligation (towards the world in general) to do so. But I think she's doing some retrospective rewriting of her own past too. Unlike Levi, she didn't really have a choice because she didn't have a community or a family or someone who loved her to go back to. Her genius was all she had, and I can't help but think that part of her wishes she had a choice. I think this is why she doesn't criticise Levi in front of his parents: because part of her envies him his choice, and understands it. And she wants Booth to confirm to her not that Levi's choice was wrong, but that her decision to follow her talent was at least in some ways right. She's just afraid that Booth would somehow be critical of her choice.
The fact that he doesn't answer... well, I don't know what that means.

Second, I seem to have latched on to Brennan's use of the word "waiting" when she explains why she first had sex when she was 22. Your first time should all be about someone who's totally "googoo" about you, Booth says, and I don't think that Brennan would disagree. It's just that it never happened for her, so she just tells herself that she was waiting for someone sexually experienced. You just settle for second best and try to make it look as if it was the rational thing to do. I was really sad for her here.

But then maybe I'm completely wrong.

we can live all our lives without ever discovering what greatness we can achieve Oh, I really liked that about the episode too. :)

cordy said...

@Emma: I like your perspective on Brennan. That she chose her talent and believes she did the right thing, but at the same time envies Levi that he had a choice, a family to go back to. A family that can provide the same level of gratification that she can find in her intelligence and the resulting acceptance/success in her field.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a good episode.. but then i do like when Booth can let some of his dark side out and looking out for Michelle the way he did was perfect

I am a fan of Clark and not just due to knowing his on screen girl.. who would have been perfect to pop up again with him as she did have that talk with Angela... but i digress. Clark who is a Doctor, was annoyed that he was being treated like a regular grad student intern and thought he might accomplish more in the lab… besides being stuck being food for the bugs in the heat. I think he plays well and i still want him to get a full position there, ie what Zac had and someone (Wendell) to get the spot as the student helper.

Dijea said...

This was not my favorite episode, however it had its moments.

The Booth/Sweets thing is important because Booth is vulnerable and looking for Sweets to find what's missing. We need Gordon Gordon Wyatt.

I love Clark's sarcasm, I like Wendell & I like Mr. Nigel-Murray. I could care less about the other interns.

Waiting for Thursday! Thanks for the review

Anonymous said...

This is historynut.
Thanks, as always, for your insights, Wendy. I look forward to reading your takes on each episode.

I thought this episode was ... off in some way. After thinking about it, I decided it was the usual weaving together of the case and the squint and B/B side stories that was not as smoothly done as they can be.

The Cam/Michelle story worked with the case; the other stuff ... didn't. Somehow.

Just my opinion.

Jeannie said...

Interesting theory on Brennan, Emma. Makes sense.

As for why Booth doesn't answer, well, the easiest answer would be because he's still mulling this over. Or because he doesn't want to agree with her that following a career because of a gift is everything in life. It's more or less a variation of the money theme they discussed last week, only this time it's about jobs or a talent.

Anonymous said...

Great review, thanks!

A little perspective on your side note - you dislike the use of Catholicism as a stand-in for Christianity as a whole. I can understand that, but I don't think the writers are attempting to use Catholicism as a stand-in from the more generic idea of "Christianity". I think they want to delve into the specifics of Booth's and Brennans belief.

I, for one, find this very refreshing because as a Catholic, my faith is not "Christianity" it is Catholicism. Core to the Catholic faith is that Christianity is only realized in the Catholic Church.

I can totally appreciate that those of other faiths wouldn't want Catholicism used as a proxy for their faith, but I for one find it really nice not to have my beliefs lumped in with those of several other religions.

Anonymous said...

OK Bones viewers - has anyone else noticed DB/Booth's makeup this season? He looks positively ODD, especially his mouth. Like he is wearing a pale pink mod 60's lipstick. His skintone looks off as well.

At first I chalked it up to maybe an off day, but it's been consistent in every eppy this season.

His mouth is very distracting.

Anonymous said...

They have switched to a new kind of film, or something, this season. Digital?
Maybe that is making a difference.

Anonymous said...

I get distracted by how often David licks his lips. Does that bother anyone else? I wonder if he's aware how often he does that...

--B. Booth

Anonymous said...

Anon I agree about DB and him looking off I just put it down to the fact that in his personal life he would have been all over the place with the arrival or impending arrival of his daughter. anyway good review again Wendy look forward to your next one.

em-jay said...

Wonderful review, as always, Wendy!

This episode was so sad to me; however, there were good parts of it. I loved seeing Sweets put together the "practice piano" and then start to "play" it. Also, protective-Booth when talking to Perry was so in-character. Like you said, I'm glad that they are slowly working him back to his full self, but there are things that are inherent to his personality and character that have not changed. I like too how it was pointed out that his protection of Michelle could be very similar to his protection of Brennan because Michelle is basically in the same situation as Brennan as a teenager.

As far as the case, I wonder if it made me more sad because of SO much back story on the victim. It seemed that we found out more about Levi than we usually do, and we sympathized with the case that much more. Or maybe it was because music is very important to me...

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the comment about DB's mouth! I noticed it, so paused my dvr, and looked more closely - it almost looks like he has something inside his lower lip. Maybe he's had dental work done. Do hope they can get him back to looking like he did - it is distracting!

purple.shirt09 said...

I completely agree with you the episode was uninspiring. The murder victim was really the only interesting aspect of the show. How the team investigated wasn't the same as it usually is. Honestly, I knew who did it right away also. I can't say it any better than this episode was a dud and I hope to see more episodes like the previous two.

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