In September of 2005, I had just moved into a shiny new luxury building in the financial district. Unfortunately, the building was still under construction and it wasn’t equipped for cable just yet. These were the dark days before Hulu and On Demand, when if you missed something on TV, you just missed it. Knowing my plight and distress with not having access to Season Premiere week, my friend and co-worker Renee would tape shows off of HER television every night and deliver me video cassettes every morning, which I would promptly watch and then give back to her the following day to start the whole process again. A Buffy and Angel fangirl, Renee handed me my tape one morning and said she had recorded the new David Boreanaz show and she thought I would like it. And that is how I saw the pilot of Bones for the first time.
Bones fell off my radar for a bit until I met a guy at my sister’s wedding in October 2007 who raved and raved about how awesome Bones was and how much he thought I’d like it. Never one to turn down the advice of a boy I was interested, I went back to Bones and was like “WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN WATCHING THIS THE WHOLE TIME?” Bones filled the giant gaping hole that The X-Files had left in my heart. I binged the first two and a half seasons and fell in love with Temperance Brennan’s giant brain, Seeley Booth’s giant heart, and the way Seeley Booth and Temperance Brennan loved EACH OTHER. I watched those first 2.5 seasons SEVERAL times over the course of the writers’ strike that winter and my first live episode was “The Man in the Mud,” which was THISCLOSE to making this list, purely for that sentimental reason.
Kelly was much more eloquent than I could ever be in regards to what made Bones resonate with the audience, so you should just go and read her intro in the posts for episodes 20 – 11. All I will add is this: I know a show is good and in my BONES (ha!) when it drives me to fan fiction because those forty-two minutes with the characters every week are just not enough. Seasons four and five were like shipper CRACK and I was regularly going to fanfiction.net (cause that’s all there was, dear youths) after every episode to find stories that would FINALLY break the unbearable sexual tension. In fact, the only time I’ve ever tried my hand at WRITING fan fiction was a Bones one-shot where Brennan casually confessed her love over Mee Krab and Booth literally choked and she had to do the Heimlich maneuver. I abandoned it after two paragraphs because I just couldn’t get Brennan’s voice right. (MAD PROPS to those of you who can get her voice right.)
My love for Bones has been an up and down relationship over the final seasons (seriously, I’m not kidding about nearly quitting after Sweets), but those first six seasons will always remain an ultimate TV comfort food for me. But what’s important with a long running series is sticking the landing. The back half of season 11 found me getting excited about Bones again, with the finale reveal of Zack being the first time I remember YELLING about Bones in a long time. And then, with Sage falling in love with the show in its Eleventh Hour, I embarked on a rewatch and it reminded me just how much this show has meant to me over the years. I’m so sad to see it go but I am so HAPPY that it’s going out with a (literal) bang.
It was interesting because when Kelly and I decided to do this list, I was anticipating that we may have a lot more of a debate when it came down to picking our Top 20. Yet when we sat down to compare our lists, the top 10 were virtually identical, give or take a placement or two. These are the DEFINITIVE episodes of Bones. Enjoy. — Kim
10) “Two Bodies in the Lab” (1 x 15)
This is one doozy of an episode. It’s the episode that gave us “Knight in Standard Issue Body Armor” because Booth was really letting his alpha male flag fly. It’s the episode where Brennan refused to let Booth shame her for online dating (JEALOUS MUCH, SIR?) and where she’s all “I have sex deal with it.” (Hero.) It gave us “Hot Blooded” (which Sage waxed poetic about in our Booth post). Booth literally got blown up and he also bonded with Hodgins for the first time. We got a hospital scene where Brennan blows off the poor internet sod to sit by Booth’s side and watch old movies. But perhaps most importantly, it’s the episode that gave us the first Booth/Brennan hug. And let me tell you…that moment was worth waiting for.
One of the reasons I love Bones is that it took them fifteen episodes before they put Brennan in GENUINE peril to the point where Booth needed to rescue her. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good rescue scene, but I also love a heroine who is able to take care of herself. What’s even better is that when Brennan DOES get herself in a bit of a pickle, it’s not because she made a stupid move or charged into a dangerous situation without any back-up. It’s because she got too close to the truth, prompting Kenton (a typecast douchey Adam Baldwin) to HAVE to try to get rid of her. And even then when she knows she is in trouble, she fights Kenton all the way and damn near escapes on her own. Temperance Brennan will NOT be damseled unless she is literally gagged and dangling from a hook by her wrists.
When I think of the end of this episode, I compare it a LOT to The X-Files‘ “Irresistible”. That’s the first episode where SCULLY winds up in a situation she’s not able to get out of on her own. It’s the first time Mulder charges in and rescues her from the bad and it’s the first time where Scully allows herself to break down and cry in Mulder’s arms. The same goes for Brennan in “Two Bodies in the Lab.” Brennan doesn’t allow herself to be vulnerable in front of many people in those early days and her breakdown at the end of this episode comes from a genuine place of terror for her life. Her relief is palpable when she collapses into Booth’s embrace and clings to him for dear life. Will I ever be over the way he lifts her off the hook using his own body weight? Nope. It’s so hot. For me, this is the moment they truly became partners. — Kim
Brennan: Look, I am an adult Booth. I see men. I go out with them on occasion. I sleep with them.
Booth: Hey, you know what? That’s cool but you don’t even know who this guy is that you’re meeting.
Brennan: I have trekked through Tibet avoiding the Chinese army. I think I can handle meeting someone for dinner.
Booth: Fine, you know what? You have fun with Dick431 or whatever his handle is.
Brennan: Yeah I will.
9) “The Blackout in the Blizzard” (6 x 16)
You ever think you know what hope is and then this six-season-old procedural is like, “No, let me tell you”? That’s “The Blackout in the Blizzard.” For Booth and Brennan, this was the promise of a light at the end of the tunnel: a literal date on two pieces of paper. And then they burned the paper, because they wouldn’t need hope if they knew anything for sure.
This episode is an astonishing little thing. It’s got Sweets in a World’s Greatest Grandpa sweater and cool science; it’s also got two expectant parents coming to terms with overwhelming news while a couple on the brink moves closer together. The fact that it weaves so many disparate elements into a nice cozy blanket instead of, well, a grandpa sweater is a bit of a miracle, but if you look carefully, optimism is the common thread holding everything together. And it’s all made possible by a blizzard that forces everyone to finally sit down and talk.
These people should have been snowed in years ago. There’s something charming, usually, about how much Booth and Brennan can say in so few words; when it comes right down to it, they just know. But conversation is still key, and it’s no accident that every step forward in this episode starts with a talk. Booth opens up to Brennan about his father, and they’re considering their relationship in no time. Hodgins knows Angela needs to do more than just curl up in silence, so he tricks her into comforting him—a trick that works because they don’t tend to share Booth and Brennan’s communication issues.
Hodgins’ ability to immediately find the joy in this situation still floors me. If his kid can’t look through microscopes, he’ll just take up the piano. The optimism of this show is not in everything going as planned but in finding ways to work with obstacles and grow: to not only make the best of a situation, but to make it mean something. There are things that we have to let go of to move forward (chairs, anger, expectations). But the sacrifice is worth it. It’s no accident that Booth’s “one perfect day” with his dad is eventually the same date he marries Brennan. —Kelly
Brennan: A substance that is impervious to damage doesn’t need to be strong. When you and I met, I was an impervious substance. Now I am a strong substance.
Booth: I think I know what you mean.
Brennan: A time could come when you aren’t angry anymore and I’m strong enough to risk losing the last of my imperviousness. Maybe then we could try to be together.
8) “Mayhem on a Cross” (4 x 21)
Lance Sweets, my baby duck. Up until this point, Sweets had either been used as comic relief or as a stand-in for the audience in terms of commenting on Booth and Brennan’s relationship. “Mayhem on a Cross” gives Sweets a backstory…and boy does it get dark.
In typical fashion, Gordon-Gordon Wyatt is the one to cut through all the bullshit and get to the heart of the matter. (Side note, I don’t think we’ve praised the INSPIRED casting of Stephen Fry quite enough. He brings the perfect amount of bemusement and gentleness to the role.) I love the relationship between Sweets and Gordon-Gordon in this episode. It’s a passing of the torch, with Gordon-Gordon quitting psychiatry to pursue his culinary dreams (which it’s never really discussed how BRAVE that is, but Gordon-Gordon Wyatt is my hero). It ALSO sets in motion the events that culminate in the 100th episode. But what it really does is solidifies Sweets’ place in the Jeffersonian family…which is everything he’s wanted from the very beginning. (MY HEART.) John Francis Daley is SO WONDERFUL in this episode because he allows us to see the scared and vulnerable little boy beneath all the quips and psychobabble. The way his face FALLS when Gordon-Gordon spells out exactly what happened to him is devastating. I just want to wrap him in a blanket and shield him from the evil of the world.
The moment where Brennan sees the literal scars on Sweets’ back is fantastic because the reveal comes out of the blue. What’s amazing is that despite her many social missteps is that Brennan KNOWS not to comment on it to Sweets’ face. It’s only when Gordon-Gordon comments on their OWN traumatic childhoods that the pieces click into place for Brennan. They are more alike that she thought they were. The amazing thing about Temperance Brennan is that once she is told how to process something, she fucking UNDERSTANDS and she does it. After Gordon-Gordon explains that they need to show their metaphorical scars to Sweets, she’s like, “Yep, okay.” She’s SO OPEN in the moment where she blurts out the story about breaking the dish; she gives away that part of herself without even thinking TWICE. It’s a beautiful moment for her and a stunning performance by Emily. It’s such an interesting contrast to Booth, who, despite being very emotionally open in other area of his life, clings to the darkness of his childhood with an iron fist, refusing to share it with anyone else if he can help it. (Remember, getting the “My Dad drank.” out of him in “The Con Man in the Meth Lab” was like pulling teeth.) Booth doesn’t like admitting weakness and to him, being the child of an abusive parent IS one. It’s so telling that even after admitting that he would have killed himself had it not been for his grandfather, he immediately turns it back around to Brennan. “Are YOU okay, Bones?” (It’s also interesting that he delivers that whole line to HER instead of Sweets, who they are supposed to be comparing scars with.) It’s such a deep and complex moment for him and it blows my mind that people write Bones off as just a procedural.
Sweets: Would you agree that they have both, uh, sublimated their attraction to each other out of fear of endangering their working relationship because their working relationship is paramount to both of them?
Gordon-Gordon: Alas, I’m afraid I wouldn’t agree with that, no.
Sweets: Wow, which part?
Gordon-Gordon: Well, everything you just said. Yes, one of them is acutely aware of that attraction. Struggles with it daily, as a matter of fact.
Sweets: Wow. I’m sorry I keep saying that… but which one?
Gordon-Gordon: It’s your book, Dr. Sweets. I would never tell you.
all episode gifs via drtemperancebrennans.tumblr.com
Ah yes, THIS SCENE. There is much debate about exactly who Gordon-Gordon is talking about here. The obvious answer is Booth, as he’s the one whose more in touch with his feelings and also is the one who is all HEART EYES all the time. But in MY mind, Gordon-Gordon is talking about Brennan here, mainly because of his use of the word “struggle”. I think Brennan is highly aware of her attraction to Booth but she’s also terrified of it because she doesn’t understand it. What’s BRILLIANT about the handkerchief scene where Sweets finally “sees it” is that David and Emily make it ambiguous. What makes him see it? Brennan’s gentle and lingering pat on his chest that she takes away after realizing what she’s doing? Or the way that Booth reaches up to grasp her hand, only to be too late, so he touches the place her hand was and gives her a LOOK? WHICH IS IT? (It’s totally Brennan.)
Lastly, I have to shout out this episode for giving us the HILARIOUS “Ska-LEH” moment. I screamed when they brought that back for season 12. — Kim
Gordon Gordon: So now, you’re mostly alone in the world. But they had time to save you. They gave you a good life, and that’s why you believe that people can be saved by other people with good hearts. That’s the gift your parents left you. That, and the gift of a truly good heart. That gives you a deeper calling I do not share.
7) “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” (1 x 09)
Every long-running series has a Holiday that becomes their signature Holiday episode. For Friends, it’s Thanksgiving. For The Simpsons, it’s Halloween. For Bones, it’s Christmas. Bones ALWAYS pulls out all the stops for Christmas.
During their final San Diego Comic-Con panel, the cast was asked to name their favorite episodes. Michaela Conlin picked “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” as hers, and it’s easy to see why. Remember how I mentioned in Part One of this countdown how much I love bottle episodes? Well, this is the first one Bones ever did. This episode works brilliantly because while we’ve spent eight episodes getting to know these characters, we truly don’t KNOW them yet (and THEY don’t know each other). “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” starts to fill in the blanks with these characters and these two days in quarantine are how the Jeffersonian Team starts to go from being merely colleagues to becoming a family. This is when we find out Booth has a son (LITTLE BB PARKER THOUGH). We learn that Zack comes from a big family and that Angela is a menace at office Christmas parties and has a famous father. Hodgins has a secret snowbunny hook-up that we never hear from again. And we get a massive peek at the wounded heart beneath Brennan’s prickly exterior. Yeah, she hates the holidays. But not for the reasons that she lets people think.
What I love about this episode is despite the banter and the antics, it has SUCH an air of melancholy about it. I ENTIRELY blame the use of Tori Amos’ cover of the saddest Christmas song of ALL TIME, “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas.” It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen this episode, I STILL tear up when everyone’s loved ones come to visit, while Brennan watches them from a distance. (I always cry when this happens on Survivor too, I’m such a sucker for naked and pure emotion.) Christmas is such a funny holiday because it IS about family at it’s core and family is SO COMPLICATED. The knowledge that Brennan lost her family around the holidays makes everything click into place in regards to how the audience sees her. Her walls are there BECAUSE she’s been so hurt in the past. She had everything that made her feel safe and loved ripped away from her at a time when it is supposed to be cherished. She carries not only the pain of losing her parents but the immense guilt of what went down during that first Christmas she had with Russ and the presents she refused to open. It’s so painful to watch how the team bonds together to make their own little Christmas while Brennan keeps her distance…because she just CAN’T. (It’s also important to note that while she can’t participate, she never tells the others NOT to do it.) “The tree is really, really beautiful, Ange. Really.” MY HEART.
Even the CASE Brennan seeks to solve is tinged with sadness. Poor Careful Lionel and his love Ivy Gillespie. It’s so tragic how he died trying to make a better life for Ivy and their baby. It’s so tragic how Ivy spent the next 50 years thinking that the man she loved abandoned her. “You’ve given me my LIFE back,” Ivy says, when she visits Brennan on Christmas morning. Sure, Brennan hands Lionel’s granddaughter a penny worth a hundred grand that day, but she does SO MUCH MORE than that, as Booth says at Wong Foo’s. (What happened to Wong Foo’s?) She gives Ivy the gift of knowing that Lionel’s love wasn’t a lie. That’s worth so much more than a hundred grand.
The real kicker of this episode is the end though. With all of her colleagues off celebrating with their families, Brennan pulls out a dusty box from under her desk. (SHE KEEPS THE PRESENTS IN HER OFFICE, MY HEART.) She sits alone by the Angelator Christmas Tree and FINALLY opens the gifts her parents left her so long ago. Which, while we see Brennan’s REACTION to the gifts, we never see what they WERE, so file that under one of the great TV mysteries we’ll never know, right along with what Jim wrote on the card for Pam and what Josh inscribed Donna’s book with. Tori Amos croons in the background. Brennan cries. I CRY.
As to not leave this section on a devastating note, let me remind you that we have this episode to thank for letting us know what Jack Hodgins was packing underneath that lab coat and for that I’ll be forever grateful. –Kim
Angela: You have to find the girl and tell her what you know. Don’t you see? You can give her the answer that you never got.
Angela: I’m sorry, sweetie, but it’s true. You have a chance here.
Brennan: To say what? “Merry Christmas, Ivy Gillespie, your fiancé was murdered and your life was ruined, but hey, at least you get to know what happened to him.”?
Angela: Don’t you wish somebody had said that to you?
6) “The Man in the Morgue” (1 x 19)
“The Man in the Morgue” is an episode of firsts: the first appearance of Caroline Julian, the first hint of Hodgins and Angela’s upcoming flirtation. It was also the first episode of Bones I chose to show Sage, and if her post on her binge-watching experience is any indication, she’s blocked that out completely. I don’t know what that means. I do know that Brennan’s trip to post-Katrina New Orleans was scratching my X-Files itch years before I watched The X-Files. Voodoo murders and forgetting spells are an exciting departure for this show, and you’ll have to forgive us for ranking this episode so high when it’s probably not the most accurate representation of the Big Easy. You can watch Treme for that.
Where this hour sings is in its handling of Booth and Brennan’s trust in each other, which at this point they give as much out of instinct as out of experience. It’s a mark of Brennan’s integrity that she considers the possibility that she could have killed Graham; it’s a mark of Booth’s loyalty that he never does. If he had to choose, Booth would put his “sort of partner” before his career. He already has. What’s even better than his explanation for being nice to her—she’s good at her job—is that it isn’t about what Brennan can do for him. He just thinks it’s hardcore that she scares murderers.
Brennan makes a point in this episode to link belief systems to a kind of hive mind; everything from our instinctive response to of snakes to our opinion on what does or does not constitute a zombie is influenced by our environment. Brennan’s environment has never been nice to her, but she doesn’t align herself with others; she aligns herself with the truth. Booth recognizes this, and he’s starting to go against the grain to align himself with her. Taking her mother’s earring from a crime scene does “prove something”: that Brennan has already proven herself. She can’t do anything other than march up to a mystery and poke it in the eye.
Bonus points go to this episode for being an endless font of great Hodgins scenes. Dark sorcerers really do suck, man. —Kelly
episode gifs via drtemperancebrennans.tumblr.com
Brennan: “I’ve noticed that very few people are scary once they’ve been poked in the eye.”
5) “The Doctor in the Photo” (6 x 09)
Remember when Bones dedicated an hour to a woman’s concern that no one really knows her? I still have a hard time believing it sometimes. Like, remember when Bones did the Stewie hallucination? That’s the same show.
It’s not that I’m surprised to find Bones capable of telling a story as cut-to-the-heart personal as this. For all of its broad strokes, this is a show capable of great intimacy, and it has never treated its female characters as anything less than full human beings (a novel concept!). It’s just that we don’t often get this kind of hour on television, one that gets at the root of a woman’s insecurities without thinking any less of her for them. Brennan’s problems may be in her head, but that doesn’t make them any less real.
Speaking of roots, we need to talk about the tree that fills the lab, making the same work that Brennan fears is pulling her away from the world look like a vibrant, life-giving thing. But of course, the tree is still dying in the end. Brennan’s work is valuable and good and fated to disappear. It’s all equally true. No one verbalizes any of this; it’s just in the atmosphere. From its visuals to its T.S. Eliot quotes, there’s something about this episode that reads like a short story.
I remember the buildup to this hour so clearly; I still can’t see Brennan alone in her bed without hearing the opening to the extended promo that I watched on a loop in a room that, in my head, always seems to be dark. I remember expecting, in my single-minded naiveté, that this episode would change things right away with Hannah. I’m so glad I was wrong—not just because Booth wouldn’t be Booth if he left his girlfriend for Brennan as though he’d just been waiting for a signal, but because the focus of this episode should not be Brennan and Booth.
This isn’t an episode about a turning point for a couple; that’s far too external. It’s an episode about a woman’s inner life, a claustrophobic, disorienting dive into the fear that our lives will never touch each other. The turning point here is Brennan’s declaration that she’s “fine alone,” which is only because she’s realized that she doesn’t have to be—fine or alone. —Kelly
episode gifs via drtemperancebrennans.tumblr.com
Brennan: So now I’m the one behaving irrationally? So that I can feel something? You want to stab me?
Sweets: No. Dr. Brennan, I consider you one of my closest friends. You’re not alone in this world. It’s one of the many ways you’re different from Dr. Lauren Eames.
4) “Judas on a Pole” (2 x 11)
We are not at ALL biased that “Judas on a Pole” was directed by David Duchovny, who proved himself to be the dramatic hoe that we always knew him to be. (The CINEMATOGRAPHY of that final scene with Max on the roof, y’all. I’m so sad he never came back and directed another episode.) It’s such an inspired choice to have David Duchovny direct an episode of Bones because if anyone would have an idea of how to handle the Booth and Brennan dynamic, it would be the man who played Fox Mulder. (In the episodes of The X-Files he directed, David proved himself to be one hell of a shipper after all.) Shades of The X-Files are ALL OVER this episode, from shady and crooked FBI higher-ups to Booth doing a SIGNATURE Fox Mulder move when he gently takes Brennan by the chin so he can look her in the eye at the end of the episode.
Of course, this will always be known as the episode that introduced us to Max Keenan and set in motion a story that wouldn’t be resolved until the end of the following season. I would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall for the Max casting meetings. Ryan O’Neal was an INSPIRED choice for Max, with his movie star good looks and larger than life personality. You take one look at him and just go “Of COURSE this is Brennan’s dad.” He’s JUST shifty enough to make you not trust him but at the same time he makes you want to put ALL your faith in him. Max is SUCH a complex character and O’Neal’s performance is so layered. You see both the kind and loving father and the crook and the RUTHLESS killer all in one smile. (How about the grin he gives Booth right before he runs off with Russ? It says so much.) Knowing what I know NOW, it’s OBVIOUS that Father Coulter is actually Max. He knows too much and his sudden appearance is just a little to convenient. But let me tell you…when I was bingeing my way through season two, this reveal knocked me on my ASS.
I have a LOT of feelings about how this whole Father Coutler charade plays out. You know who I actually get angrier at when I really think about it? Russ. I get that Temperance has ties to the FBI and the whole situation is super dangerous. But I ALSO get that Brennan’s trust is not easily earned. After everything that the two of them have been through and how far they’ve come in restoring their relationship, it really burns me up that Russ knowingly lies to his sister and tramples all over her trust. (Listen, I am sure Max could have gotten away all on his own and Russ is just too much of a chicken shit at the time to face up to the things HE has done. He can join Bill Scully in the bad brothers club.) It just shows that all his loyalty lies with his father, rather than his sister, who NEEDS him. The fact that Temperance Brennan, whose heart is SO fragile, had to watch her family leave her behind AGAIN is devastating. Even if she has a new family that she can fall back on.
Which brings us to that final scene. Brennan is SO SMALL in that moment where she confesses to Booth that maybe she’s just a person that doesn’t get a family. And there’s one thing that Temperance Brennan should never be and that’s small. That’s WHY Booth takes her by the chin and forces her to look him in the eye. He’s saying “NO. That’s not how this works. *I* will be your family. I *AM* your family. Those weirdos in there? *THEY* are your family. You are NOT alone. You never have to be alone again.” It’s SUCH a loving gesture from him and it’s one that she tosses back to him. “We are, all of us, YOUR squints.” They are ALL a family. By choice. And those? Those are the best kinds of families. — Kim
episode gifs via drtemperancebrennans.tumblr.com
Booth: You know what? I’m sorry..that you had to go through it again. Watching your family drive off, leaving you behind. I’m sorry.
Brennan: My Father is, is-
Booth: He’s your dad, and he loves you.
Brennan: You know…I’m just…I’m just one of those people who doesn’t get to be in a family. That’s…
Booth: Listen, Bones, hey. There’s more than one kind of family.
3) “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole” (5 x 16)
I have pages of college notes with countdown clocks to Bones’ 100th episode doodled in the corner (I did fine in the class, thanks), and I still wasn’t ready for this. “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole” is the puzzle piece that makes this whole thing make sense. It’s the lynchpin. Why did Booth and Brennan take so long to get together? This is why.
Booth and Brennan tried once, and it didn’t work. He took from that experience that he couldn’t push her; she’d have to be the one to make the first move. She took from that experience that she should never make a move; in her mind, she’d ruin it somehow, and the closer she and Booth became as friends, the more unwilling she was to risk what they had. In the aftermath of this hour, there were complaints that Brennan shouldn’t have turned down Booth or that he shouldn’t have given up. But if Brennan could be swayed so easily, they’d have hooked up already. And Booth respected her right to say no, just as he respected his own right to happiness.
The wonderful, Bones-y thing about this hour is that it ends on such a shock but still feels hopeful. There’s a thrill to watching this team get together: This is the beginning of a love story, for Booth and Brennan but also for everyone else. With its pilot callbacks and season 1 hairstyles, this episode could have been paint-by-numbers fanservice, but it’s just too joyful to play as a gimmick. Too unpredictable, too—my college roommate yelled, “They’re going to get interrupted!” as Booth and Brennan went in for their first kiss. In any other episode, they would have. (Full disclosure: That’s still my favorite Booth-and-Brennan kiss. She can’t stop smiling, and their noses meet so nicely.)
At one point in this hour, Hodgins looks at the life he nearly got to have and asks, “You ever feel like you saw something great that almost happened, then it didn’t?” We’ve all been there. But that great thing did happen, eventually; Bones made that great thing happen for 12 seasons. These people solved crimes. Booth and Brennan got together. So did Hodgins and Angela. “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole” is a kind of key that makes this whole story make sense, but it’s still just a few parts in the sum of a larger whole. As much as we were all Sweets at the end of this hour, no one moment could erase everything Booth and Brennan had been through. The fact that they could have the conversation they were most afraid of and still walk off arm in arm, leaning on each other, proved that much. They’d already built a story that stood apart. — Kelly
episode gifs via drtemperancebrennans.tumblr.com
Booth: “You know when you talk to older couples who, you know, have been in love for 30 or 40 or 50 years, it’s always the guy who says, ‘I knew.’ I knew. Right from the beginning.”
2) “The Verdict in the Story” (3 x 13)
BONES DOES COURTROOM DRAMA.
I love a good legal drama. It’s the one thing missing from my current TV landscape. (Seriously, where The Practice when I need it?) “The Verdict in the Story” is the culmination of what I call the “Brennan Family Arc” and boy, do they stick the landing on this or what?
What is beautiful and painful about this episode is that it pits Brennan’s blood family against her chosen family leaving Brennan standing in the middle. The entire Jeffersonian team is testifying for the prosecution because it’s their JOBS to do so. None of them WANT to put Brennan’s dad in prison and it’s clear that they are all doing this because they have to. Here’s the amazing thing about Brennan though. She wants them to do their jobs. She believes in justice and she believes in the system. She expects the best from her colleagues because that’s what she’s trained them to do. Brennan’s sense of right and wrong runs DEEP and even though her friends are working against her, she doesn’t hold it against them. To Brennan, this is about what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s not about loyalty.
Booth: Probably because she’s your best friend…
Brennan: Well, you’re my friend and you don’t mind.
Booth: I mind. We all mind. Except for Zack.
Brennan: Well, in that case, Zack is the only one thinking clearly. I had to give Hodgins permission. I don’t know what’s wrong with everyone.
Booth: It’s not what’s wrong, Bones. It’s what’s right.
But you know whose sense of LOYALTY runs deep? Angela Montenegro’s. And she refuses to help put her best friend’s father in jail, even if it means being held in contempt of court. Her “I plead the first” moment is an ICONIC Angela moment (“Sweetie. This is one of those times when I know what’s right and everybody else is confused.”)
I think Angela taking a stand for friendship is a big part in what helps Brennan start to realize that sometimes the heart should win out over the brain. Because the thing is…she doesn’t WANT her father to go to jail for the rest of his life. She knows that Max has done horrific things and he SHOULD pay for them. But she also knows that he’s her FATHER and that he stopped running because he wanted to prove to her that he wanted to be in her life for the long haul. Even if it meant being in her life from a prison cell. Russ’s whole “Why didn’t you keep running?” spiel is another reason why he’s the worst. He doesn’t GET it. But Brennan does. When Brennan turns to her father and says “You stayed for me,” the pieces are starting to click together in her brain. Combine that with a moment where it seems like they’ve found forensic evidence to exonerate Max and all of a sudden Brennan has HOPE. Maybe she can have both of her families. She’s devastated when they find the actual murder weapon in her apartment (curse all her tribal relics!) and that’s when she turns to Booth for advice.
“Brain and heart, Bones. Brain. And. Heart.” That’s the crux of Bones right there. Booth gives Brennan the assurance that listening to her heart is the right thing to do. Brennan’s lawyer says that the case is past forensics. It’s about the STORY at this point. As we all know from watching things like the O.J. Simpson trial, juries need both a good story and reasonable doubt to acquit someone. They need a good alternate version of the truth. It doesn’t HAVE to be a true story, just one that’s good ENOUGH.
Thus Brennan’s lawyer puts Booth on the stand and asks if anyone ELSE in the room had motive to kill Deputy Director Kirby. David Boreanaz is SO GOOD in this scene because you actually SEE the moment where everything falls into place for him and he realizes that Brennan is setting herself up as the alternative. “That’s a lot of heart, Bones,” he chokes out. IT IS INDEED.
Thus, Max Keenan goes free and Temperance Brennan gets a second chance at a blood family. My favorite thing is that EVERYONE knows what she did for her dad and everyone’s totally fine with it. (Caroline’s basically like “NAW SON” when Sweets asks if she’ll pursue a charge there. It’s great.) The lingering shot on Booth as Brennan hugs her father is one of my favorite shots of the series. She knows he knows. Brain and Heart…working together. — Kim
Booth: Okay. You’re not Dr. Brennan today. You’re Temperance.
Brennan: I don’t know what that means.
Booth: The scientist part of you got sidelined, temporarily.
Brennan: I still don’t know what that means.
Booth: Bones, just, take the brain, okay, put it in neutral. Alright? Take the heart – pop it into overdrive. (Booth imitates a car engine revving and pretends to drive. Brennan laughs.)
Brennan: Sometimes I think you’re from another planet. (Booth stops ‘driving’ and sits back up, across from her.) And sometimes I think you’re really very nice.
1) “Aliens in a Spaceship” (2 x 09)
It would have been so easy to trap Booth and Brennan together in that car. That’s what I keep coming back to: that Bones buried Brennan alive with Hodgins, because it’s about the team, because TJ Thyne is unsung, because you can face death at someone’s side and not be in love with them. Booth and Brennan just happen to be in love. And this isn’t a show about two people stuck together who learn to get along. It’s a show about two people with a lot of love between them who, with their friends’ help, find their way to each other.
“Aliens in a Spaceship” is so good that it makes this job easy. Do you need an explanation for why we ranked this episode first? Not if you’ve seen it. The critical consensus always seems to land on this hour of Bones for a reason: It’s a tight tribute to the characters’ strengths, which are also the strengths of the show. Brennan and Hodgins are resourceful, two intellectual equals with no pride between them. (“Tell me something I don’t know.”) Zack knows science; Angela knows Hodgins. Cam leads. Booth is the muscle, heart included. No one gives up, and everyone knows that no one’s giving up. It all comes down to faith, baby.
And Booth running down that hill.
Maybe it’s counterintuitive on a list like this to praise an episode for the way it bleeds into other episodes, especially an hour as contained as this one, and especially on a procedural. But this episode ripples through the show to just the right degree: It isn’t melodramatic, but the trauma lingers. For Angela and Hodgins, it’s how they got together. And behind every scene Hodgins shares with Brennan is the moment when he offers his hand, meeting her on her level, and she wraps him in a hug because she’s so far past hiding how deeply she feels. I’m not sure she’s ever able to hide from him again. Hodgins is the one who knew, even then, that Brennan had someone to write to. He might have even known before she did that she was writing her wedding vows. —Kelly
episode gifs via drtemperancebrennans.tumblr.com
Brennan: I’m okay with you thanking God for saving me and Hodgins.
Booth: That’s not what I thanked Him for. I thanked Him for saving all of us. It was all of us. Every. Single. One. You take one of us away, and you and Hodgins are in that hole forever. And I’m thankful for that.
It’s finale time, folks. Thank you SO MUCH for joining us for Bones Week, it’s been a blast celebrating this special show. Leave your thoughts on our top 10 episodes in the comments!
PS As you can see through both of these posts that we got 90% of our gifs from the drtemperancebrennans Tumblr. Anisha, we don’t know you. But your tagging system was an invaluable asset to these posts and I’m SO grateful your blog exists. EVERYONE FOLLOW HER. –Kim