Thursday, August 27, 2009

Guest Episode Review - #209 "Aliens in a Spaceship"

It's long past time to start posting Bones Season 2 reviews, but it appears you guys have lost a lot of enthusiasm for finishing them, with the new season so close. So far, this is the only S2 review I have received. Kudos to Jeannie for doing such a good job and being so quick, with all her other responsibilities!

Season 1 Reviews (all but 1 complete)
Season 2 Reviews (still need almost all of them)

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Aliens in a Spaceship

Disclaimer: As some of my fellow guest reviewers have already pointed out, English isn’t my native language, either, so I'd like to apologize for all language mistakes I made. But if this makes you watch the episode again, I’ve done my job.

"Aliens in a Spaceship“ is one of my favorite 'Bones’ episodes of all times. Emmy-worthy, if you ask me. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this episode justice but here’s my try:

The Case
Meet the Gravedigger (or simply GD for his friends)! My favorite 'Bones’ villain. We first hear about him when the two aliens (aka two mummified teenagers in a beer vat) are discovered and identified as Matthew and Ryan Kent, two previous kidnapping victims that were never found after their father (as instructed by the FBI) refused to pay the ransom. He’s still understandibly bitter about that and regrets not having listened to the "K&R guy“ Thomas Vega, the self-proclaimed leading expert on the GD who advised him to pay. When Brennan and Booth interrogate him he shows up with the journalist Janine O’Connell, his co-author of the book on the Gravedigger. (Side note: What a creepy woman!!! Nobody can make me believe that she’s not somehow involved in all this, and not just as a writer. I’m really curious to see what the showrunners will come up with this year since the case resolution they presented us with in "Hero in the Hold“ was less than satisfactory to me!)

Booth is rather mean to them but Vega declares he’ll help the FBI anyway because he wants the Gravedigger caught. However, the clues are rather vague and the team hasn’t made much progress on the case. And then it happens - the GD strikes again! He takes Dr. Brennan from an underground parking lot, just as the other victims. And he takes Hodgins, too, for he was following Dr. B. to inform her of something he’d learned about the case. Tough luck for the poor guy. They have a little blackout and when they come to they find themselves buried alive in an old car. That can't be good.
(I’m taking the liberty of putting the events into chronological order here. This coming-to-part was actually the pre-credit teaser, everything else is shown as a flashblack. But since this is my review, it's my rules, right? :-))

Meanwhile, Booth is out for dinner with Cam, and it sure looks as if there is trouble in paradise to me. Cam wants Booth to go to New York together for the weekend but he doesn't seem to enthusiastic about the idea. Cam tries to convince him by saying that they are both two adults without any obligations who aren’t cheating on anyone. Actually, I’m not so sure about that and neither seems Booth. Also, he questions her why they have to keep their relationship secret. Cam thinks it's nobody's business, and that's proof enough for me that she's not 110% into this, even though we recently learned that there is nothing bigger than 100%, heh. He receives a message on his voicemail where the GD informs him that Brennan and Hodgins have been taken and will suffocate to death if 8 million dollars aren't transferred to some obscure account on the Cayman Island within the next 12 hours. Notice how the GD knew exactly whom to call? Not Brennan's brother, not Brennan's boss, not Hodgins' accountant (or whoever handles his money). Booth. And Booth is a man of action, calling in Vega and Janine again and playing the message to them. My suspicion of them increases as Janine seems to be surprisingly well informed about Hodgins’ status. Hm.
The team has to reveal Hodgin’s wealth to Cam, and Booth reassures Angela that he’ll pay the ransom even if it might cost him his job. Awe. I love Booth. He assigns them all jobs and they get to work.

Brennan and Hodgins are not your typical kidnap victims, though. They get all McGyver in their car. However, while they check their limited equipment it becomes apparent that Hodgins’ leg is hurt, and rather badly, too. He needs surgery on it, and since there is no medical doctor available the next best doctor will need to perform it. Hodgins doesn’t seem to have much confindence in her medical skills and makes one last confession before she cuts him open: He’s nuts about Angela and bought her an unbelievably expensive perfume to demonstrate that. (Note to Hodgins: Simply telling her would have been a lot cheaper.)

Meanwhile, things aren’t looking so good in the lab. Booth can’t get the ransom together on time, and he, Cam and I don't think that it was a coincidence that the GD took Brennan when he did.
So it’s up to Brennan and Hodgins to figure something out and they don’t disappoint. With the help of said perfume, a camera and -ahem- dirt Hodgins manages to find out where they are, and they even come up with a very clever way to submit that info via Brennan’s cell phone that can be worked for about 5 seconds. And so Booth ends up with a very cryptic message.
However, he can’t figure it out and so he takes it to the „brain trust“ aka the squints. They have pretty much given up hope since the 12 hours are up but finally, Zack solves the code, and off they go! (Side note: When Zack starts getting the code and walks over to the computer, he looks so dorky for some reason! I’ve replayed that scene multiple times.)

Do I even need to say that Brennan and Hodgins are being rescued? Also, we are rewarded with a slow-mo of Booth running, a man on a mission! And a great song is playing in the background (Margot & The Nuclear So And So's - Light on a Hill).

The character relationships

First mention of the King of the Lab! Hodgins still hasn’t gotten over the date fiasco with Angela and struggles hard with the fact that she doesn't want a relationship with him. As a result, he acts insecure around her, making everybody else uncomfortable, too. Poor Zack tries to step up for him but gets scared back into his place by Angela.
However, something good can come out of something bad - after Hodgins is rescued from the buried car, Angela is clearly happy to have him back. When he has trouble sleeping and opens up to Angela about it she is really touched and takes him home to make him feel safe. That is such a sweet and honest moment between the two of them that I get teary-eyed every time I watch it. That’s just the way I am. :-)

Cam is still somewhat fighting to get accepted by the team at this point but this is the first time we actually really see her take charge; maybe because Brennan isn’t there? And while she’s not overly contributing to solving the case, she does a good job organizing the squints. However, I really hated her "This is exactly why I was sent here. You guys are brilliant, but you won’t make intuitive leaps." Was that to convince herself, the squints or the viewers that she served a purpose on the show? (Don’t get me wrong, I learned to love her later but she really bugged me at this point.)

As a side note, I loved the fact that Angela was sent to call Brennan's brother Russ after the kidnapping. I love consistency.

Brennan and Hodgins. These two will never have the same relationship again as they did before they were both taken by the GD. Close-to-death-experiences tend to knit together people closely, and I was reminded of this when I later watched "Man in the Mansion" where Brennan is forced to testify regarding Hodgins. She showed this 'I've been buried alive with this man and I trust him with my life’ attitude there that clearly came from this experience. Their interaction in the car is touching, and the Emily and T.J.'s acting in this episode is outstanding.

The Booth and Brennan of it all

I love Brennan in this episode.
There is one moment when they talk to the father of the dead twins and he asks her if they died painfully, and she answers that suffocation is like ‚falling asleep’. Booth’s expression is both surprised and proud that she told the grieve-stricken father this gentle lie, something the Brennan of earlier episodes would have never done. She’s definitely evolving in that area.

Also, this is a major shipper episode, full of subtle hints that I much prefer to all those overt talks about sex that we’ve had lately.

When I first saw Booth having dinner with Cam, I was painfully reminded of the fact that they were still in a relationship. However, his expression when she insisted they weren't cheating gave me hope. :-)

This case is Booth’s personal hell. First of all, the woman he loves (in a professional, partner-kind-of-way, of course) got kidnapped. The prospects of getting her back alive are dim. But he also must feel that he failed as Brennan's protector, seeing how she was taken while he was out on personal business with Cam. Will that affect his affair? I think so, and I firmly believe that this episode marks the beginning of the decline of that relationship between Cam and Booth.

When he slams Vega onto the table in his office at the FBI after he tells Booth that he needs to accept the fact that his partner will most likely die, he reminds me of the Booth we saw threatening the gangleader who had put out the hit on Brennan at the end of "Woman in the Garden“, minus the gun. But it’s obvious that Booth will not be messed with, and Vega clearly gets that message, too.

Religion is a running theme in the series, and it also comes up during this episode.

There is an exchange in the car between Booth and Brennan in the beginning that goes like this:
BRENNAN: Had it occurred to you that God is a lot like The Grave Digger?
BOOTH: Wha…What?
BRENNAN: He lays down the rules. Not way to question him or negotiate. Then it’s almost as though he doesn’t care how it works out. Either you do as he says – make some sacrifices and they’re delivered or you don’t and you end up in hell.
BOOTH: You know what? I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say things like that because I really don’t want to get struck by lightning.
BRENNAN: Do you go to church every Sunday?
BOOTH: Yes, I do.
BRENNEN: Can I come with you?
BOOTH: No. You can’t.
BRENNAN: Why? It might help me to understand.
BOOTH: I am not going to help you disrespect God in His own house. Okay, if you want to do some kind of , ya know, anthropological study – turn on the religious channel.

Booth is very clear on this. And yet, at the end of the episode we see him take her to church even though he knows she'll disrespect it and be inappropriate in her very special way (and she doesn't disappoint). And he still does it. Is there any better way to say "I’m so grateful that I didn’t lose you?“

Hodgins also brings up faith while they are underground:

BRENNAN: Booth will find us.
HODGINS: You have a lot of Faith in Booth.
BRENNAN: No. Faith is an irrational belief in something that is logically impossible. Over time, I’ve seen what Booth can do. It’s not Faith.
HODGINS: No offense – and I’m not just saying this because you filleted me with a knife – We are out of air. We don’t know if our message got out, much less if anyone understood it and we are buried underground. What you have is Faith, baby. Sorry. The baby thing is a reflex.
He’s right. What Brennan has is faith, baby. (Sorry. The baby thing is a reflex. :-)) Even if she refuses to give this feeling a name, it's there, and that is all that matters.
And she’s not alone. Booth has the same faith in her. How do we know?

BRENNAN: (voice breaking a bit) I knew you wouldn’t give up.
BOOTH: I knew you wouldn’t give up.
Ever since this episode has aired, there has been a lot of speculation about that note Brennan wrote before Hodgins and she set off the explosion. Personally, I don’t think it will ever show up again and that’s fine with me. Some things are better left to the imagination. But feel free to speculate what it said and whom it was to. :-)

And last but not least, I read a lot of ‚complaints’ about the fabulous rescue scene when Booth has pulled out Brennan and Hodgins and drops right next to Brennan and they both smile at each other. Why was there no hug, no expression of undying love? Personally, I think that scene was done just right. There was so much emotion piling up at that moment, and a hug would have been way too much, for the characters as well as the audience at this point. Instead, the writers opted for a much more telling end scene at the church that became one of my favorite ‚Bones’ codas of all times.

One last thing: Since 'Bones’ is a show that can laugh about itself, did you spot who got to say Brennan’s infamous "I don’t know what that means?“ during this episode? Bonus points if you do!

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