June 7, 2012

Picking a Bone with Bones

Bones wrapped up an utterly disappointing seventh season a few weeks ago, and I've been gnashing my teeth about it ever since. (This is probably a good time to point out that if you don't care about Bones, you might be bored by this blog post. Also, here be SPOILERS.) There are a lot of things I could tell you about, but here I'll stick to the blindingly obvious ones.

In my opinion, Bones excels when its seasons have a concrete focus. Usually the focus is a super-villain whose take-down requires a full twenty-two episodes of investigating and sciencing and kickassery. This season, it was all about Brennan & Baby!, and it was done in one of the worst ways possible. Before I start blowing my head off I'll mention two things I did like about this season.

Let's start with the positive: a new super-villain in the form of murderous tech-genius Christopher Pelant (played by Andrew Leeds). He could have been the glue that held season seven together. Too bad he only appeared in two of the thirteen episodes. (I assume he'll be receiving fuller treatment in season eight.)

Second positive: the ending of the last episode, "The Past in the Present." Not surprisingly, Christopher Pelant is in it. But the big news is Brennan's choice at the end of the episode. More on this later, but I think it creates some interesting potential going into the next season. (Or the unaired episodes that Fox claims are still part of this season?)

Now to the awful awfulness that was the rest of season seven. The crux of the matter is that Bones chose to make Brennan's pregnancy the hub around which the season revolved. Not only was this a huge mistake plotting-wise, the way the show dealt with Brennan and Booth's characterization and relationship was a huge disservice to everything they'd spent six seasons building up.

A pregnancy immediately following a grief-tinged one-night-stand between Booth and Brennan isn't exactly how I wanted it to go, but I accept it as a starting point because there weren't a lot of choices when Emily Deschanel was pregnant in real life.

So here's the deal: Brennan is pregnant. And somehow between the season six finale and season seven premiere, Brennan and Booth turned from being adamantly NOT TOGETHER! into DUTIFUL COUPLE!, giving each other pecks on the lips with the ease and comfort that comes from being married too long and not investing enough time in your relationship. What crap. Fans wait six seasons for Booth and Brennan to get together and THIS is how you do it?

While Booth would immediately want to have a family with Brennan after he finds out about the pregnancy (he's just that sort of traditional guy), I REFUSE to accept that Brennan (the real Brennan) would settle that easily. The Brennan I know would say, "Hold up! Where does it say that I need a man to raise a child?" Then she would point to some obscure study done in some obscure aboriginal tribe somewhere where the mothers raise their children in a collective, multigenerational, matriarchal clan.

The real Brennan would allow Booth to be a father to her child because she understands the importance of family and how important family is to Booth, but she would NOT roll over and say, "Guess this means we're a couple now!" Season seven should not have been about Booth and Brennan house-hunting. It should have been about Brennan and Booth negotiating the scary fact that they're going to have a child together, and trying to figure out what that means vis a vis their relationship with each other. Because despite the fact that they're meant for each other, Brennan and Booth are very different people, and it is their differences in large part that have kept them separate for six years. Just because there's a baby involved doesn't mean those differences suddenly melt away.

But wait! you say. By the time season seven starts, they're already together! So all that negotiating could have happened, you just don't know! And that's another problem right there: the audience just doesn't know. As far as we know, Brennan and Booth zapped from NOT TOGETHER! to DUTIFUL COUPLE! instantaneously. Cutting past the crucial relationship building stage is a disservice to the show and to the audience members who have been waiting six years for just this. Beyond everything I already mentioned above, I wanted sparks! Once upon a time Brennan and Booth had spark, and this would have been an excellent place to bring that back. Instead I got platonic pecks on the cheek. The kind you give your grandmother.

And let's not get started about the fact that Booth's first child, Parker, only makes one token appearance, and the only thing he's there to say is, "I totally love my new sister so much!" Seriously, what happened on this one? I'm picturing a show writer going, "Hey, wait. Didn't Booth already have a kid?" And then the guy sitting next to him replying something like, "Oh yeahhhhhh. Totally forgot that one, dude." Booth has been presented as a very traditional, family-oriented person. Forming a new family with Brennan & Baby! with so little involvement of his own son goes against everything I thought I knew about Booth.

So, yeah. Pretty much the only thing Bones did right with the Brennan & Baby! phenomenon was not having Booth propose to Brennan. That would have been even more disastrous.

Now I'm going to talk SPOILER SPOILER SPOILERS for the last episode, so stop reading if you don't want it spoiled.

Still here? Hi!

The one thing I'm really interested in is Brennan's decision to fall off the grid with baby Christine at the end of the season. Given the circumstances it makes complete sense (they're battling a super-villain who pretty much owns the grid), as does the decision not to warn Booth that she's leaving. But will Booth see it that way? I'm sure he'll look at it logically and understand Brennan's reasoning, but emotionally it could be gut-wrenching. His child is gone. His partner is gone. Effectively they've abandoned him. So even if Booth understands the reasoning, that loss could really hit him hard in his traditional-family-oriented-protector-dude gut. I want him to feel lost and betrayed, even as he knows this was the only way. I hope he's dealing with this as season eight opens, and that he's not just happy-happy-joy-joy and understanding.

...And that's pretty much it for me. What did you all think of this season of Bones? Any thoughts as to where it might go in the future? The comment box is yours for the taking!

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