Friday, September 18, 2009

Bones Episode Review: 5.01 "Harbingers in the Fountain"

I'm back, baby! This may not be up to par to my old stuff, and a little light (if you call 2500 words 'light') but I hope to be back on track for good now and even, fingers crossed, fill in the remainder of Season 4 as we go along and get the inevitable interruptions in new episodes. Time will tell!

With one last caveat I will get on with it - there are no images to break this up. I may get to edit the post this weekend as I find some, but no promises yet.

So, settled in with a cuppa joe, or some chocolate, or whatever and I hope I do my rep justice! I could have easily gone on two or three times this with all the subtle aspects of this episode.

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Harbingers in the Fountain

I was not one of the people who had pure hatred in my heart for Yanks in the UK but I must say that Harbingers was a faaaaaaaar better Season Premiere for fans, in my opinion. We had no over-the-top characterizations to show newcomers who did what and no boring recaps that took up space. I felt that everything flowed together and this episode was far more for us committed fans than anything.

The case – who can pay attention to a case in this premiere?

I really did have a hard time paying attention to the case. I would say that Booth’s issues from the end of Season 4 and all the resulting question marks greatly overshadowed that. How many people who were eagerly awaiting the return of Bones put something like “I wonder what kind of gross body they will have?” as one of the main aspects they were looking forward to?

That said, in hind sight, I actually do miss the lack of body ick in this episode. I did not appreciate the CSI-like computerized ‘dig down’ to the bodies under the fountain. It felt incredibly forced and fake and I hope that was a premiere-only tactic. The realist in me immediately thought – there’s no cavity around that skull and we’d just be seeing dirt!

I’ve watched the episode twice now and the connection as to why the doctor tried to knife Brennan is still lost on me. Did I just zone out on this twice now, due to the other plot threads, or was it unclear to others? Poisoned by antifreeze – check. He’s shredding files – check. He was offered the water-doc position – check. Was he in on it all along and he knew it was all a sham or what?

I had one moment of panic in regards to this case. When they have trouble finding the head honcho and Booth starts to get a wee bit speech-y I thought “oh no, please, not another serial killer this season!” We’ve had Gormogon and the questionable wrap-up of the Gravedigger already - that’s more than enough! I was incredibly relieved to dodge that bullet again, for now. (Please, please, no more of them – find other ways to bring the team together and/or put people in peril if you must!)

I loved what the case brought out in each team member and the questionable tactic to get the DNA. It’s usually very satisfying to see them bend the rules, just a bit – especially when it comes from Brennan.

The psychic – Girls Do Have Fun!

I loved Avalon. I must admit that Cyndi Lauper has a lot to do with it. Am I the only person in the world who has seen her previous foray as a psychic – Vibes? She was even better, more over the top there, but this was still a fun portrayal and, as long as they keep her fresh and her interactions interesting, I welcome her return in any episode. If the only thing she does is plot-device-for-BB then it will tire quickly but, as she was called “Angela’s Psychic” I have a feeling she will be sticking her nose in elsewhere as well.

The Interns – less is more

Interns, what interns? Didn’t miss 'em a bit and it felt so homey, even in the my-little-brother-is-out-of-town-indefinitely-and-no-one-can-replace-him kind of way. This episode, more than any since Zack’s departure, brought home how much the interns stick out like sore thumbs and become shtick comedy devices. I loved the feel of this episode and I hate to think of losing this feeling again so soon.

Caroline – give her their spot, please!

I know it is impossible, as Patricia Belcher is appearing in the new Chevy Chase show Community. But I hope we still see much more of her. The character just makes any episode in which she appears.

Caroline: You killed the bad guy dead. I know you hate that, but it always makes me a little glad. Does that make me a bad person?

The sums her up perfectly, with characteristic cheekiness that you can’t resist.

Did anyone else burst out laughing at the sight of the infamous car Booth smashed? I am so glad it has returned. Even the sounds as it drove down the road and they talked work inside it made me grin. The woman is the total package – hilarious, irreverent, smart, and more.

Brennan: He should be convicted of murder (convictions for other crimes is not enough for her)
Caroline: Luckily, you two have me to pick up the slack when you fall short
(Booth starts kissing her)
Caroline: That's right, you should kiss me. What's wrong with you, Seeley Booth?

I’m sorry I can’t think of anything more profound to say but “More, more, more MORE Caroline!”

Sweets – subtly trampled

Sweets is normally mercilessly trampled in every episode. Again, he is beaten up a bit, as usual (would be wrong if he weren’t) but I was glad to see him a bit more balanced. Yes, Booth pushed him into recertification a bit, but Sweets continued to get his points across (even if they fell on deaf ears) without looking like a completely wounded puppy. He rolled all over Booth for a change with this brain talk (more on that below) and he even stood up to Angela a bit:

Sweets: Why is facial hair the marker of an adult male? Why not height? I'm tall.

He did seem a bit overly defensive on that point though. I’m not sure if it is only his normal defensiveness about his smooth-as-a-baby’s-butt face or that plus a slight hint of Angela getting him a bit hot under the collar. Time may tell on that one.

Cam – the boss doesn’t always yell

One of the most annoying things, to me, about the Bones Season 4 premiere was how over the top each characterization was portrayed. Cam, in particular, was one of the worst examples of that with her yelling and berating and her insistence, 2 years after joining the team, that everyone remember she was the boss. I was thankful we didn’t have to see that again this year. All-knowing Cam is much, much nicer. She’s the den mother who knows what each person is feeling and thinking and she respects boundaries, even while she wishes to just fold everyone into her somewhat standoffish arms and take care of them:

Cam: Dr Brennan! Would you care to hug?
Brennan: Why?
Cam: Okay. I’m good with that.

She’s not seen Brennan in weeks and, like any mother of adult children, she misses her ‘kids’ and struggles between her caring and respect for them.

As I wrote this, it occurred to me that her newfound motherhood may be softening her a bit and giving her new perspective on a different ‘in charge’ role that informs her role as boss of the lab?

Angela – cool chick with toys and looks

Angela was in her element – supporting Brennan while pushing her to stretch her own limits, not sleeping with anyone, using cool toys she (probably) designed herself, and looking fabulous. She was in the mix of every part she could be and not taking any crap from anyone. She was very well balanced. Maybe celibacy does a girl good?

Hodgins – where’s my conspiracy theorist?

Hodgins went through a lot last season with Zack and Angela’s, effectively, betrayals. He lost his crazy conspiracy theorist edge and went through various stages of depression, anger, and doormat. I’ve been waiting patiently for old Hodgins to return and I am disappointed there seems to be so little of him showing. Will we ever again see Hodgins spout off crazy facts about torture, poisons, and bugs that do incredible cool (gross) things? Or will all of his lines be given to interns like Vino in the ever rotating circus? I would have to say that Hodgins, while having a few good moments (like calling himself a slime ball, in a good way and his one sub theory that offers hope for the Hodgins of old), was really a disappointment in this episode. The guy has a wonderful crazy meter and it was just dialed way too far down!

On to the tough stuff – Booth and Brennan.

I am honestly not even sure where to begin on these two and I think it is impossible to separate them fully in this episode (which I don’t mind). Since Booth’s coma it appears that, despite distance, they truly have been completely linked together. We are told they have not spoken in weeks and the awkwardness between them in instantly apparent. We have no idea what they actually said to each other during Booth’s time of confusion and the inevitable revelations about both her book and his dream. Obviously it was all eye opening, at least to the point of both of them wishing they could shut them again.

Booth is a man’s man (with a splash of metro…) and the loss of his faculties has to have hit him hard. Despite his efforts to “resist regimentation” through silly socks, flashy ties, and his cocky belt buckle, work is his life. He lives to atone for his past by catching bad guys and weeks on the sidelines has to have been a blow. Even more than that he had to face physical and mental recovery that he has been through has to have made him question his manhood and his role as protector of both loved ones and people in general. He’s not been able to work, remember himself completely or even apparently speak normally. I would not be surprised to see this as a running theme this season, or at least for a few episodes, as both his memory of himself and his rebuilding of his ‘self’ – walls and all – continues.

Brennan did what Booth could not – ran away. It is not unexpected that she would hop a plane at the first opportunity. She received confirmation that Booth, physically, was recovering, and as one would will not deal with her own emotions, much less those of another, she had to abandon ship and regroup from the emotional exposure of Booth’s illness, his coma revelations, and his recovery. I would imagine that her own wall building was swift, if a bit shaky in foundation.

But they can’t stay away from each other forever and almost like magnets they move back together in her office (loved her sitting on him) for a very awkward reunion. They are unsure around each other, for the first time in a very long time, and the continuous sidelong glance at each other speak volumes to the unanswered questions and raw emotions between them.

As much as I love Booth’s revelations it felt waaaaaaay too neat. Part of me can see why he is comfortable discussing it with Cam – they have shared intimacy but it doesn’t seem that they have ever truly been ‘in love’ with each other. Booth is only shy with one person, the one he loves and he trusts Cam completely. But, at the same time, he seemed to so quickly jump into being able to say it. Questions arise as to how true the feelings are, thanks to this attitude and the cautions of Sweets and Cam. But the opposing force of Avalon is just a strong and though it seemed so neatly wrapped up by the end of the episode –

Avalon: You two are gonna keep doing things as usual?
Booth: Sometimes you got to settled for second best
Avalon: By the way, my cards tell me this all works out eventually
Booth: Oh, really?
Brennan: What all works out eventually?

I sincerely hope this is a struggle that is evident throughout the season and not just set aside indefinitely. If that was a big step backward and they just so back to business as usual with no struggles, no hints of what they feel and no nods to these emotions I will be one vocally angry shipper. You’ve let this out of the box. It doesn’t have to move in huge steps forward, but I hope there is, if not progress, continual exploration of these feelings.
And not just on Booths’ side. Avalon brought Brennan’s emotions swiftly to the forefront as well.

Avalon: The riddle you can't solve is how somebody could love you
Brennan: Well, I'm beautiful and very intelligent
Avalon: The answer to the question that you are afraid to say out loud is "Yes, he knows the truth of you and he is dazzled by that truth.

This is not a new struggle for Brennan. She has faced this baggage since her teenage abandonment with the loss of both her parents and her brother. She trusts no one but Booth and has even point-blank asked him if he will abandon her too. She has learned to put that fear aside (or at least bury it well) but she still does not believe herself lovable in that way. She hides behind rationale and uses it to break down her own emotional responses in the most dispassionate way she can manage so that she can remove herself from those emotions even further. Break them into little pieces and they can’t hurt you as much would certainly be a running them for her.
Avalon: The cards say only your top layer is rational. Underneath you're as crazy as me. And that’s a compliment.

Brennan began to change last season, and fan reactions were mixed. Some people objected to her changing her stance on anything, especially children. Some felt things were too sudden. I think the problem there is that Brennan’s transformations were handled very subtly (like her observing Vaziri) and Brennan, as a person, is not subtle. But I love it. That is one aspect of Bones I adore – people actually CHANGE! Very few people in life are stuck in a rut but it always seems that TV characters go season after season, year after year, through their ‘lives’ and experience monumental events and never change. They swing wide and always return to center. While I would agree that the cores being of a person is fairly constant, live and relationships do shape us and the fact that these characters react to what happens to them in profound and life-changing ways is one of the most interesting, attractive aspects of this show and I hope it never changes.

To wrap it up… Gordon Gordon’s speech last season about one half of this partnership being aware of their feelings and the other not sparked an incredible amount of debate. Is it Booth? Is it Brennan? I think the discussion is moot now that, on some level, they both know very well what they feel. Neither of them is ready to act on the feelings, but they simmer under the surface, closer than ever.

Booth: I love you...in a professional, atta girl, kinda way
Brennan: Atta girl kinda way?
Booth: Right back at you Booth. I love you too. Atta boy.
Booth nearly broke down the barrier but chickened out and Brennan’s eyes just screamed ‘do it’ (as close as her eyes will let her…). Once again, they both shied away from the truth in front of them. It was the closest they have ever gotten to making that leap and it bodes well for things to come!

PS “I got you baby”… loved it! I don't 'need' Booth to rush in and protect Brennan all the time but it was a good nod to his need to return to his 'protector' role and how great were all the things he whispered to her as she shook in his arms?

Bones Ratings: Harbingers in the Fountain

Bones may have taken 2nd place last night, but it still pulled over 10 million viewers and got props for increasing over the season 4 premiere. Hooray! Hopefully, with no schedule moves this year, the numbers will only go up from there!

8 p.m.

CBS:
"Survivor: Samoa" premiere (11.5 million viewers, 6.7/11 households)
FOX: "Bones" season premiere (10.1 million, 6.1/10)
NBC: "Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday" (5.7 million, 3.7/6)/"Parks and Recreation" season premiere (5 million, 3.2/5)
ABC: "Grey's Anatomy" rerun (4.3 million, 3.0/5)
The CW: "The Vampire Diaries" (3.8 million, 2.5/4)

Promo: The Bond in the Boot

The promo for Bones Season 5 Episode 2: The Bond in the Boot. It airs next Thursday.

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