I know this is an episode revered by many Bones fans because of the first appearance of alter egos Roxie and Tony. Personally, I love it for the scene where Zack takes a hugely deserved swing at Hodgins. And visually, it's a feast. From the majestic pan over the US at the beginning to the dazzling lights of Las Vegas (and the barely avoidable, ubiquitous Elvis, in case you hadn’t guessed) to the well-realised casino/gym/autoshop and the gambling chips and cards on the screenwipes, there is imaginative integrity of atmosphere maintained here. Sadly, the same creativity cannot be ascribed to the moulding of the characters, who are all basically stereotypes and very superficially drawn – the old gambling hack, the ex-boxer running a gym, the loan shark, the fiery Latina fighter (Roxie and Tony are, of course, deliberate clichés. I’m sure Emily used both that gum-chewing and the accent in the first Spider-Man film). The mob in the background is so shadowy that we don’t see Sweet Pete properly till the very end – again, something of a trope. Then again, this is a very glitzy, superficial world, so there is some justification for peopling it with ‘types’. I guess I’ll just have to suppress my expectations of a chorus from Bugsy Malone. Lol.
Essentially, this is a study of passion, with its dark younger brother, obsession/addiction, and of the risks we are prepared to take, even the degradation we are prepared to undergo, for its sake. Brennan and Booth are passionate about the truth and will take endless risks to get near it. Zack is an obsessive (“Zack measured the fist size!”) and only responds to Hodgins’ goading and hits out at him when Hodgins accuses him of lacking passion. It’s through his desire for money that Nolan has sunk to his present level, and his explanation of his downward spiral could be applied to the life of long-time pathetic loser Frank Daniels, Booth’s former associate, who now spends his half-life travelling around, bumming money off his friends and failing to maintain relationships, or Booth in less happy times, or indeed any of the gamblers whose ‘hit’ is actually the sensation of the win: “That’s what happens when your luck turns in this town. You keep hoping it’s gonna turn round again, hoping you’re gonna get back to even. But you never do.” Don Morgan’s $8000 loan for Billie’s supposed breast implants is a risk that doesn’t come off for him. The calculated risks taken by our principal pair, on the other hand, are successful; Brennan at her craps games (even though she was counting cards), Booth going undercover as a fighter. And maybe there is a metaphor in that final BB scene when Brennan admits having trusted to her ‘beginner’s luck': “I haven’t lost anything since I’ve been here, so I figured if I bet on you, then..” “….I couldn’t lose.”
Random comments, hopefully in reasonably chronological order. Would anyone even have noticed Billie if Federal Prosecutor Mason Roberts had not been high profile? Certainly the newscaster at the end doesn’t acknowledge her, much to Brennan’s annoyance. Booth and Brennan are both being judgmental again; Booth wonders why he has dragged the best forensic anthropologist all this way on the word of a prostitute, for which Brennan rightly castigates him, but not long afterwards she is quite ready to believe that Don Morgan has beaten his spouse – note how openly incredulous she is when he suggests her deafness might have been due to ‘too many soccer balls to the head’ as a child.
Booth finds the casino and the ‘sound of winning’ very difficult. We haven’t fully explored his gambling past before, this is interesting. Brennan’s worried about him, but not enough to stop her trying out this fascinating new pastime. She’s lucky none of the casino employees actually responded to her admission that she was cheating!
And they find out that Billie was almost certainly an illegal ultimate fighter. I notice Hodgins is rather too knowledgeable about this. He seems to have a minor addiction himself to what he calls ‘modern day panem et circenses’ – he can’t stop watching it on cable. Still, at least he has some awareness of popular culture. When he references the Godfather shortly afterwards, he meets such blank looks that he begs, “Please, someone, buy a DVD player!”
The scene where our heroes go into disguise to infiltrate the group is very amusing and has a nice shorthand introduction where we just see Booth’s ankles as he gets his sock suspenders sorted. Darn, forgot to look at the socks – did anyone spot whether they were unusual/brightly coloured? Brennan is unwilling to put on the high heels and sexy black dress that create Roxie. She thought Booth wanted her to be a teacher type. So he has to explain that he meant the hot teacher that drives the boys crazy. That would be me then. Hee. And then Brennan gets the call from Cam, and Booth gets caught murmuring that Bones is HOT. I don’t think Brennan’s description of the Vegas weather convinced Angela. Tempe does look hot, and acts it too, able to present Nick Arno with $2000 (which she won at a craps game the previous night) from the warm nest of her bosom. The advantage of having a Dad who liked Clara Bow. Booth is very impressed with Roxie. In fact, later, as they watch a fight, he puts the brake on Brennan’s endless lectures on the anthropological significance of it with the request: “Come back to me, Roxie!” and is rewarded with an instant response from the other persona “Oooh, look at all the sweat!”
I think it’s clever that we have a lab scene that touches on both passion and violence, so I’m going to use that as an excuse to quote the whole thing. Deal with it!
HODGINS: We’ve all been in a fight or two we wish we hadn’t.
ZACK: Not me.
HODGINS: You’ve never fought – never thrown a punch?
ZACK: Never saw the logic of it.
HODGINS: It’s not about logic. It’s emotional. It’s anger.
ZACK: I don’t get angry. It’s not rational.
HODGINS: What if you were sitting on the beach and someone kicked sand in your face?
ZACK: I don’t go to the beach.
HODGINS: Work with me here, Zack. There has to be something that would piss you off. What if I call you a scrawny twit who can’t hold a normal conversation with a ten-year-old?
ZACK: I don’t have much in common with a ten-year-old – and though I don’t know what a twit is, I am thin and lack muscular definition.
HODGINS: Dude. You are a Vulcan. And a dull Vulcan at that.
ZACK: Can we please work?
HODGINS: Now you’re pissing me off. You’re a freak, man. Anger is a part of being human. Grow a set!
ZACK: I would really like to work, Hodgins.
HODGINS: You know, it is not enough to be some robotic second-rate grad student.
ZACK: I am the most valuable and accomplished grad student who’s ever been installed in the Jeffersonian.
HODGINS: …And you’re gonna be a grad student the rest of your life, because you have no fire.
ZACK: I’m working on my dissertation!
HODGINS: Ah, please, you’ve been saying that for years. You’re a poser. You don’t have your doctorate because you have no drive, no passion for what you love.
(ZACK PUNCHES HODGINS SQUARELY ON THE NOSE)
ZACK: It’s not what you think.
HODGINS: You got pissed!
ZACK: No – striking you merely seemed to be the most practical way to get you to be quiet and focus on work. But I didn’t realise how much it would hurt.
HODGINS: Nice punch, though!
ZACK: Thank you. And my dissertation will be finished before the end of the month. Have the chemicals been extracted yet?
HODGINS: Looks good.
ZACK: Dr Brennan wanted the results as soon as possible.
HODGINS: I’m moving! (head on one side, very sexy) You’re not gonna hit me again, are you?
Booth being laid out by a fighter who turns out to be a fellow agent is unexpected and fun. So is Brennan’s volunteering him to fight (“I’m volunteering you to throw one. You could lose with your hands tied behind your back”). Bringing Latina fighter and Billie’s last opponent Marisol in as a piece of human evidence is a neat touch too, but the star showing in this ep is the brilliant juxtaposition of the lab reconstruction of the girls’ fight with Booth’s unanticipated confrontation of the behemoth, Monroe. The quick cutting between these scenes is total genius.
And Booth wins, thanks to Brennan’s observations regarding Monroe’s weaknesses. Again, good comic material, as she pushes round the arena trying to communicate with him in Squintish. But it’s neatly contrasted with Angela’s earnest attempt to understand why anyone would fight, and her humbling in the face of Marisol’s overwhelming love for her 2-year-old daughter. A love that makes her ready to let someone get away with murder – this is serious passion.
I’m glad we got at least something in terms of lab action this episode. Initially I thought it would all be Booth and Brennan, and I didn’t spot much in the area of Jack and Angela unease following their ‘Girl With the Curl’ withdrawal into the Friend zone.
“This is America’s frying pan!”
Marisol to Cam: ”I’m gonna kick your skinny ass.”
Cam to Marisol: “Honey, I’m from the Bronx. Don’t think for a second you scare me.”
Bones: “Why are they booing?”
Booth: “they find it more fun than cheering.”
I am beginning to get very irritated by the long, significant looks Booth and Brennan are starting to exchange at every opportunity. Stop it. Please. It’s like we, as viewers, haven’t got the intelligence to work out what’s going on!