Monday, July 6, 2009

Guest Episode Review - #104 "The Man in the Bear"

Time for the next Bones Season 1 Episode review: The Man in the Bear! 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
This review is written by Sarah, aka ForensicMama of the Bones Spoilers blog.

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The Man in the Bear

Imagine my shock (and delight) when I saw that we were being invited to do reviews and imagine how happy I was to see that nobody (and I was surprised at this!) had chosen The Man in the Bear yet! This is the fourth episode of Season One and in my opinion, the first winner of the series. If anyone was watching for the heck of it, then I’m sure that they were hooked with this episode. Even Hart Hanson was quoted as saying that with this episode, they realized that they really had something. And I’ll show you exactly why that’s true!

The episode opens with these two lovely folks.

Meet Eat-Your-Heart-Out-Metaphorically Denise and Likes-to-Eat-Bears-Literally Sherman. One is digging through dead bear carcass and the other is trying (unsuccessfully) to get her to stop. Good thing she didn’t listen to her gut (our ours!). She kept digging away and was lucky to discover this little gem.

Let’s start with the background music. The music in these earlier episodes conveys more of a serious tone. The music in the more recent episodes make one take note of the light hearted banter and joking. In these earlier days there were much darker jokes and humor. By the fourth episode Booth and Brennan were developing the relationship of today, chock full of light flirting, sarcasm, and bickering.

Booth: An autopsy revealed more bones in the bear’s stomach and intestines.
Brennan: An autopsy on an animal is called a necropsy.
Booth: Yeah, you know, it’s pretty crucial we get that straight right off the back.

Brennan is quick to ask sarcastically what Booth needs her for. Booth explains how the case was bumped to him and he hands Brennan the flash drive. I love how these two play off one another. Nowadays it’s probably second hand to them, but even in these earlier episodes, they’re a fantastic acting duo.

In this scene we get the first dose of high-octane flirtation for this episode. Brennan says that they bumped it to him because he works with her. They exchange some words, but beneath the exchange is a heat that will soon make the interactions between these two one of the hottest things on TV. They smile and Brennan examines the photos. This whole bit where Brennan talks about kerf marks reminds me of one of Kathy Reichs’ earlier novels. A certain somebody was doing his reading!

Brennan gives her diagnosis. And my favorite part? Booth reiterates, “Somebody was dismembered and fed to a bear.” Brennan replies, “That’s one possibility.” Booth makes a face. It seems that even four years later, this kind of gruesomeness still reaches the soft heart (and stomach) of our favorite FBI Agent. And Brennan? She’s still unaffected. She’s become quite versed at putting her heart in a box when it comes to corpses and dead people.

Their little chat ends with Booth saying to Brennan (after she objects to going to Washington State) that, “Just because you say it in that definitive tone doesn’t mean it means anything.” Then we get that gorgeous charming smile of his which is probably insured for a million dollars by some Hollywood insurer. He’s adorable, even with that stupid Season One hairdo and wardrobe. We’ll forgive him and blame it on the Wardrobe Department. By the end of this scene, viewers can’t help but to want to root for them in every facet possible. Brennan is difficult, Booth is charming. And if they weren’t so much fun to watch we wouldn’t have any issues turning off the television!

Note the next scene: Full of Brennan-like naivety and Bones-like humor. Brennan doesn’t waste time complaining to her superior, Dr. Goodman. She says that Booth has the authority! Booth has a gun! He’s the one people like!

Brennan: And secondly?
Goodman: Secondly, it’s time to live a little, Temperance. Connect with other people.
Brennan’s face is priceless.
Brennan: Are you suggesting that I take this opportunity to have sex with Booth on a field trip?
Goodman: Good God, where is Dr. Freud when you need him?

Too bad Sweets was still a fresh-faced college kid in 2005. He would’ve wet his pants with that exchange.

In exactly four minutes and sixteen seconds, we’ve gotten doses of gore, humor and romance. We’re already hooked. We’re intrigued with the whodunit and the will-they-won’t-they elements of this show. No wonder Hart Hanson knew he had something good on his hands with this episode!

Then we’re on the road. Our first official Bones Road Trip. Booth and Brennan are talking and Booth says he gets only fifty dollars a day. Brennan doesn’t get a limit. It seems that this is how our Hero will always be treated. He saves the day and he gets to stay in crappy motels and eat lukewarm motel food. They bicker back and forth. We grin throughout it all. Can these guys get any funnier? And to think that David and Emily do this back-and-forth a lot to warm up for their parts. But at Episode Four, these two are still getting used to being around one another and luckily for viewers, it really doesn’t show that much.

Booth: You know, you’re really a smart a--, you know that?
Brennan: Objectively I’d say I’m very smart, although it has nothing to do with my a--.

Booth tells Brennan she can take him out to dinner and put him on her tab. She says that’s not very ethical, but Booth dangles a gun (metaphorically) in front of her face. This is the Brennan of Season One. The Brennan who likes to shoot things, people, targets and other objects. Of course she took the bait! “We’ll start with breakfast.”

These two were fun to watch from the start. The opening of the very next scene starts with Booth saying, “Small town America. Gotta love it.” Brennan is quick to say, “This is not a small town. Chontala, Guatemala, 150 people. That’s a small town.” She takes things way too seriously. She’s literal to the bone and funny as ever to watch. I’m sure there were some people who were turned off by her literal nature, but the way that these two characters contrast one another leads to endless amusing and interesting situations.

Interesting situations as in this big revelation of Booth’s past:

Brennan: What took you to Guatemala? Ecotourism?
You could tell that Brennan was trying to get to Booth through sarcasm, but Booth doesn’t flinch.
Booth: I went down to shoot somebody through the heart from 1500 feet.

Have you ever noticed that there’s a bit of a formula for Bones episodes? The formula is the same as ever in Episode Four. We’re given a sneak-peek at the killer and two of the potential suspects immediately in Denise, Sherman, and Dr. Rigby as Brennan examines the hand. Brennan reveals that she sees saw marks and once again, there’s one of my favorite quotes from Sherman, “That’s not good. People gettin’ sawed up and ate by bears.”

Brennan goes to ship off her box of body parts and she and Charlie the Overnight Guy flirt lightly. Where some women might think, ‘He’s below me intellectually,’ Brennan holds no romantic illusions concerning romance and relationships. If anything, Charlie the Overnight Guy is nothing but a set of perfectly developed hips. But what do we really get out of this scene? The fact that Temperance Brennan isn’t just a walking talking brain. She is also beautiful and sought after by the male populace. This, in turn, adds to the famous Booth/Brennan romantic tension we’ve all come to know and love.

Then we get the first peek at our Squints of the episode: Zack and Angela. Poor Zack is so hard on himself because he can’t figure out the kerf marks by photograph alone, but Angela promptly reminds him after suggesting he upload the info to her mainframe that Brennan couldn’t figure it out either when she was a lowly grad student. But as she walks away she calls him Z-Man. I can’t remember another time she calls him Z-Man. But you gotta love Angela for nicknaming people (Z-Man, G-Man, Bren…). She’s really such a spunky character and a nice contrast to the brainy scientist-types, which is one of the reasons why Hart Hanson created her. But it seems that she’s become less witty as the seasons have worn on. Or maybe she’s just more of a round character than in Season One. Not just a pretty face to crack jokes. I haven’t decided yet. What do you think?

Booth goes gum-shoeing. He talks to the Sheriff who does a great job, along with the setting, to make us feel like we really are in Small Town America. The Sheriff nods at the towns people, tipping his hat. People greet him, “Sheriff” as he and Booth stroll down the street. Then the Sheriff mentions that Ann Noyes, a hiker, has been missing for two weeks. He brushes it off as getting lost in the woods. “Her parents said she was an experienced hiker. Psh.”

The officer and Booth talk some more and he mentions how poachers sell bear gall bladders on the black market which is possibly another reference to a Kathy Reichs novel.

Brennan walks into the small office and introduces herself saying, “I’m with him [Booth].” The officer says, “Suddenly I wish I was FBI.” Is Brennan just a piece of meat? Or do these small town guys so seldom see women that they have to hit on her at the very first opportunity? Booth laughs it off. In later seasons, he might have told the guy to respect his partner in a very threatening tone.

Booth: Now that you’ve met Bones, you’re all about the inter-agency cooperation, huh?
Sheriff: Bones? That’s not any way to talk to a lady.
Brennan: Thank you.

Apparently by the fourth episode, Brennan wasn’t quite used to the pet-name, but at least she didn’t tell Booth, “Don’t call me Bones!” –A phrase that after Season One has only been uttered once (by my memory… correct me if I’m wrong) in a very amusing conversation between yet-to-be-conceived Sweets and Brennan.

But Brennan can’t get away quite yet! The lovelorn Sheriff is quick to ask if Brennan has dinner plans. Brennan actually looks like she’s going to consider it, but Booth ushers her away (protectively?) and says, “We’re working.” Hearts go a-thud all over the fandom. And this isn’t the last time Booth would usher Brennan away from a potential love interest.

Back at the lab: Enter Toni. Hot Courier Chick. Hodgins swoops in and flirts with the Delivery Goddess.

Zack: You bogarted my package.
Hodgins: You panicked and froze, my man, thus the package came into play. Also, incorrect use of the verb bogarted.

Somebody give Zack a cookie.

Moments later, Brennan is wrist-deep in bear scat in the woods. Booth and Sherman hang back. And then there’s another notable quote:

Sherman: She ain’t the squeamish type, is she?
Booth: I’m gonna go out on a limb here, Sherman, and guess you don’t get a lot of eligible, good-looking women coming through town.

Booth gets down to business with that statement.

One very good thing about Season One is the amount of time that’s spent working toward solving the case. Later seasons have devoted less time to case, but we’ve been traded with something else that we really shouldn’t sniff at: character development and plenty of it.

Zack earns his cookie when he beams Brennan images of tooth marks on the bone. “We don’t just have a killer on our hands, we have a cannibal,” Brennan concludes. What’s more interesting than a cannibal? Nothing goes more against nature than cannibalism. And Hart Hanson doesn’t waste time turning disgusting into humorous. Why is it that someone is always eating fast food meat of some sort when Brennan talks about cannibalism? The poor Sheriff is wharfing down on what looks like a cheeseburger during this whole discussion. He goes out on a limb and asks her if she’d eat humans.

Brennan: I’ve never been offered human flesh before.
Booth: But if you had?
Brennan: That’s an interesting question. I’d have to measure my own social inculcation against objective scientific inquiry.

Brennan is objective and scientific to the end. Viewers are laughing and the Sheriff is getting indigestion all in one fell swoop. During this particular discussion between the three, Brennan makes a good observation. Whoever is eating these uncooked people is going to get sick. The plot thickens.

Back at the lab, the squints are doing their lab thing while Hodgins is pacing and waiting for his delivery AKA Hot Courier Chick. Angela throws in a classic line, “It’s like a zombie movie” and “Somebody gnawed on this arm like some kind of man-corn?” Gotta love Angela. I really miss some of those one-liners of hers.

Hodgins throws in the first of many (two, actually, in the whole series) Peruvian Soccer Team comments then our Zackaroni is called upstairs. He looks like a little kid in a candy store—or a boy in a Victoria’s Secret shop—as he throws off his gloves and sprints upstairs. Hodgins then asks Angela, “If we were a Peruvian Soccer Team crashed in the Andes, who would you rather eat? Me or Zack?” Angela sighs and nods at him. He asks “What?” Sometimes I still wonder what that was all about. Maybe I’m dense. Maybe Angela would rather gnaw on Hodgins. But who can blame her? Back downstairs, Zack finally gets to hit on the Hot Courier Chick. And apparently she could ‘just eat him up’. Zack is simply adorable. And the look the Courier Chick gives him could spark forest fires.

In Aurora, we get our first hint, as viewers, that Dr. Rigby is the bad guy when Brennan chats him up and asks him about Prion Disease. Rigby hints that Charlie and small town gossip were the cause of the cannibal rumors. But we all know that he’s sweating it, hoping his brain won’t melt from Prion Disease. He’s good… but not so good that he won’t get a bedpan to the face later on!

In D.C., Hodgins and Zack are so funny. Hodgins is jealous and angry about Zack ‘zooming’ the courier. They discover ‘a flap of skin with a tattoo’ in the excrement. Angela uses her artistic genius to reconstruct the tattoo from three teeny pieces of flesh. I love it whenever Angela gets to use her artistic skills to help solve a crime. Sometimes I feel that she, Hodgins, and Cam are both underused. But after all there are only sixty minutes in an hour and a lot to squeeze into that hour. The Haida Sun tattoo belongs to Adam Langer who used to come up and visit Sherman. They go over to Sherman’s, Brennan does her Anthropology thing, then Booth takes off after Sherman when he bolts with a crappy flashlight that quickly goes out. Brennan takes the strange colored meat in the freezer along with a saw to compare to what they found.

Booth and Brennan bicker away in the car. Man, they’re funny when they bicker in the car! (I once read that Emily and David do this so well that when they’re short on time in an episode, Hart Hanson lets them do an impromptu car scene.) Brennan actually listens to Angela’s suggestion and they find ‘fun and a drink’ in Aurora’s (probably only) bar. The guys of the town cut in and out, taking turns dancing with her and trying to discuss the investigation. Brennan thinks they’re all pumping her for case information, but it doesn’t go over Booth’s head that they’re all just trying to bed her. Could I just ask for one thing? That these two dance one more time. This one scene has been played and replayed over and over and I can’t count how many fanfiction writers have written such a scene between the pair. It also amps up the heat between these two in the series. Once again, it’s one of those things that makes you realize how great the chemistry between these two are. On the case again, Brennan is assuring the audience that she stinks at colloquialisms when she says that Booth dropping the button is ‘an old snake chewer trick’. Classic Bones! One good thing about this series is that there haven’t been any major changes in these characters throughout the last four seasons. Changes have been, for the most part, subtle. From the beginning, Booth was sarcastic and a little funny and Brennan was serious and na├»ve.

As they approach Sherman, who is sitting alone in the woods waiting for them, Brennan learns from Hodgins and Zack that the meat is from a bear. Sherman was the poacher. Sherman makes a deal. He’ll help them find the particular stand of trees they needed to find in exchange for freedom. But instead of just finding a body, they find a ‘Satanic Stonehenge Circle’ and the bodies of Adam Langer and Ann Noyes. One body is missing his arm and the other is missing her heart. Dr. Goodman uses his superpowers to figure it out and says that there will be two more victims.

We’re back at the Morgue and isn’t it amazing how Dr. Rigby knows exactly how long Ann Noyes has been dead? He’s either very smart or the killer. I’ll give you a hint. It’s the latter. I really like Sherman’s character. He seems to talk in code sometimes. I wonder if Brennan understands him half the time. There are a lot of strong actors in this episode. There have been some episodes where certain characters just rub me wrong because they either don’t seem very realistic or they’re terrible actors, but every actor in this episode seems strong to me, which is why it’s one of my favorites of Season One.

Zack beams new images to Brennan and she realizes that the indentations on the sternum were made by a sternum spreader. The pieces fall together for both Booth and Brennan and they go to find Dr. Rigby. Brennan tells Booth as they walk into the morgue that it’s moments like these that she needs a gun. Booth sighs and gives her a gun, then tells her not to go shooting everything. Can we have some more Gun-Toting Brennan?

Brennan: What part of his body should I hit?
Booth: The part that isn’t me.

That’s my girl!

They walk into the morgue and the bodies are gone. Booth asks rhetorically what Dr. Rigby is going to do, take him into the woods for a late-night snack? Brennan says that if she were him, she’d destroy the evidence. Sure enough, Nutty McNutterson is burning the bodies in the incinerator. He tries to explain, but Booth says, “Look, you’re nuts, k? We don’t need to hear the rambling psycho-speech on why you did it.” The good doctor is smart when he tries to appeal to Brennan’s rational side when he starts to say that she’s an anthropologist and ancient civilizations, blah, blah, blah… Then comes the bed-pan to the face! A bed pan is the worst way for a bad guy to go out. It’s the most amusing, but probably the most emasculating for his part.

The next scene is pretty important. It’s also funny. The guys are waiting for Toni and Angela joins them to watch.

Hodgins: What are you doing here?
Angela: Are you kidding me? It’s like watching The Clash of the Horny Titans.

Hot Courier Chick arrives with a package for someone. She asks who is going to sign for it. Zack clarifies that the act of signing is an analog for choosing. Isn’t Zack a sweet-talker? Hot Courier Toni checks out her prospective love interests and chooses… Angela? Angela seems to be impressed and thanks Hot Courier Chick. Is this the first glimpse of bisexual Angela? I think so. And it really is true to her character. If anybody would be open to that, it would be Angela.

Hodgins: That is so hot.
Zack: Why? Why is that hot? It’d be hotter if she’d chosen me.
Hodgins: Oh, this is definitely hotter.

Bones is famous for its last scenes. Nowadays they’re usually romantic or angsty. But in this final scene, Booth and Brennan are eating breakfast. Booth is eating steak and eggs and Brennan is having cereal and juice. Booth looks disgusted after Brennan mentions that the doctor might have licked his fingers after surgery so he says, “I should just become a vegetarian.” Brennan’s reply is so her, “Or, as an alternative, just don’t eat people.” Booth seems to regain his appetite then Brennan starts talking about Charlie and says, “His hips and thighs are perfectly developed for strength and maneuverability.” That gets to Booth at last. Talking about eating people can’t wreck his appetite, but that particular image did it! He pushes away his plate, no longer hungry, and Brennan offers him a bite of her cornflakes. What are friends for? Answer: Talking about (in no particular order) cannibalism and the hips and thighs of Overnight Guys over breakfast!

I recently asked Hart Hanson about The Man in the Bear on Twitter about that interview where he said that he knew he had something with this episode. He said, “Yes, that’s true. It was the first ep to persuade the network that a forensic show could be funny. Plus there was DANCING!” I really can’t argue with that kind of logic! Season One of Bones was definitely going through growing pains, there’s no doubt about that, but this episode was wonderfully written, directed, and acted out. It was a classic from the start and carved the path for the Bones which we have become so enamored with that exists today!

Images courtesy of Bones Fans Online.

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