Soooo I found it so hard to credit that no-one had travelled this way previously that I looked through all the threads twice and then used the search function to make extra sure. Search came up with plenty of results, because this ep contains so many quotes and so much material beloved of TJ fans everywhere. Angela accepts Hodgins here! People use this episode on their signatures, quote scenes from it as their favourites; but it hasn’t got its own personal thread! A fact which I will remedy with no further ado. Such a joy to re-watch.
This has a really serious study running under and indeed within the main case; it is all about intimacy and relationships. How does a relationship’s dynamic change if it becomes a marriage? Does it need to become a marriage? Do men and women want different things from relationships (Booth to Cam: “You think all a man wants is sex?” Concession from Cam: “Of course not. Beer too. Chips. Salsa...”)? Can we allow others to be free spirits like Angela and Carly without becoming possessive or hurting? The stroke of brilliance is that the victim is a celebrity chef, so that we can see food throughout as she saw it: “a way of loving”. When Cam makes the jokey food remark I just quoted, she and Seeley are very nearly teetering off the subject of the wrinkly finger she has revived with fabric softener, and onto that of their former relationship. When the epilogue takes us to Brennan and Booth together, they aren’t in a relationship yet. In fact, Brennan has not long lost Sully. But she has troubled to make Booth a spectacular mac and cheese (“Always gotta eat”) and that means something – just count how often the pair of them are sharing food and drink at the end of an episode. It’s definitely sparking. On this occasion there is even an unveiled sexual reference “You like it?” “I’d like to be alone with it!”
The case is reassuringly straightforward. Abby stabs her best friend Carly (with a rather beautiful and incredibly sharp ceramic knife which she then breaks into tiny pieces that only Hodgins is able to identify) out of envy for the other girl’s success and jealousy for her own boyfriend, with whom Carly was having a passionate fling; she hides the body and locks herself in the boot of the car so that the attack may be seen to be that of an outsider stealing the restaurant’s takings, apparently considering neither the fact that it’s unlikely that a witness to a murder would be spared, nor the fact that bad weather would mean that no-one hiked along there to save her for a much longer period than she intended. Within that little miniature we have some interesting dynamics – a ‘free spirit’ married to a jealous and easily riled man with an alcohol problem, an unhappy but unmarried pairing, one partner of which is ‘playing away’, a close female bond turning sour and a lack of trust veining the entire group.
Meantime, back in the lab, various combinations of people are discussing Hodgins’ emotional situation and their own. We have:
Brennan and Booth – a long talk as they reach the location, pull on their radiation suits and access the remains. It starts with Hodgins and Angela (I don’t much like Brennan’s secret smile as she reveals Angela has refused Jack again) but broadens to talk about love in general (“it’s something that can’t be measured in your lab”) on a surprisingly intimate level. “Me and my partner talk baseball,” grins their accompanying officer.
Then there’s an awkward team moment, with Zack blithely blurting out to all and sundry where Hodgins was planning on taking Angela on honeymoon if she accepted him, which she hasn’t. “People,” says Jack sternly, “Angela and I are cool, ok? She’s complicated. I will figure her out though, just like these electric bones.” Bless.
Next up are Booth and Cam in the aforementioned finger-softening scene – no-one was hurt in their relationship because neither was taking it very seriously.
Angela and Hodgins action now. More of those food metaphors. Hodgins, give ME an orgasmic grilled cheese sandwich! But also with the sushi, because it is Angela’s mention of it that inspires him to realise what the glow is “You are brilliant, you are my muse!” he bounces at her, like a lab-coated Tigger.
Afterwards we have one of those girly confidences where Angela and Tempe get their heads together. “Are you still torturing Hodgins?” asks Brennan, and they launch into quite a deep conversation, Angela complaining that she is unable to indulge her impulse to say ‘yes’ because she always has Brennan’s voice in her head telling her marriage will hobble her personal and legal freedoms, Brennan regretting that she misses so much by not being open enough to the idea of being bound to someone else. “You’re a difficult best friend to have” Angela tells her, and it’s a phrase that echoes in the last scenes where Abby is sobbing out “she was my best friend, my best friend”. Unclear whether this is a kind of self-horror or revulsion at Carly’s betrayal, but it brings the Angela/Brennan relationship into sharp relief. They care and they are loyal.
A brother scene follows hard on the heels of the sister one, though Booth really doesn’t want any part in the talk Hodgins appears to be having and is definitely alarmed at the manly hug to which he is treated at the end of it. Hodgins is unwilling to drive Angela away by tying her down; maybe their relationship does not need to become a marriage. Booth is not very happy that he is being accused of driving Rebecca away and he is completely unaware of what he is supposed to have ‘got’ when Hodgins tells him it means a lot that he gets it!
.And here are our main pair in the car, where many of their very personal conversations take place. And here Brennan tells Booth she is not as cold as people make out. Just because she thinks marriage is an antiquated ritual doesn’t mean she doesn’t want Angela and Hodgins to be happy.
Speaking of Angela and Hodgins, we are about to get the moment we have been waiting for, as Hodgins lines up all the stinky, shiny seafood to ask Angela to be his love. Gloves now come off literally and metaphorically, because Hodgins is making himself utterly vulnerable here. It’s a bit annoying that immediately after she has said she wants them to get married she uses her power to insist that he gets a big wedding together in a week (“Right away. Next week. I could change my mind.”). But the actual moment is a magical one:
Angela: Yes. Yes. Let’s get married.
Hodgins: No, no, this is not a proposal.
Angela: I know. That’s why I’m asking you. That we’re enough, just this, no pressure for more – that’s all I ever wanted. Hodgins, say something.
Hodgins: You’re insane.
Angela: Is that a yes?
Apart from all this brilliant team interaction, a lot of which is sadly lacking in recent seasons, there are other reasons I love this episode. One is that the solving of the murder is a joint effort to which everyone contributes – and everyone except poor Booth ‘gets it’ at exactly the same instant. Then there is consistency, with Hodgins and indeed Brennan being reminded of when they were buried alive by the Gravedigger. And finally, much of it is just laugh-out-loud funny. A lot of the humour in the early part of the ep comes from the fact that the bones are glowing mysteriously. “We can turn her around and pretend we’re at a rave,” quips Cam. But everyone seems to expect Hodgins to solve the issue immediately. “It’s not like we get a human light bulb in here every day”, he protests...”Why does everyone around here think my job is so easy…I am not a party trick!”
And one of my all-time favourite quotes as Hodgins discovers the slivers of ceramic in the car: “Unidentified particulates. The two sweetest words I know.”
There is a wonderful bit of pantomime at the end; the squints back at the lab enacting what they now know has happened while Brennan and Booth listen in the car. They’ve just established that Abby must be lying about what happened to her unless the boot was filled with pillows – she should have suffered more bone damage. “Of course. It fits the scenario I was working out. So obvious”, they chortle. “English, remember? OK?” responds Booth drily. So they act it out for him. Hodgins: “I’m Abby, you’re Carly.” Zack: “Why am I always the murder victim?” And although Hodgins agrees to leave the consensual sex on the back seat to the onlookers’ imagination (after all, they don’t know when exactly Ben and Carly satisfied their mutual hunger - see what I did there? - in the car), everything plays out exactly as it did in real life, right down to Abby’s scaphoid being fractured by the heavy bracelet her friend was wearing. As I was watching I couldn’t help wondering why there wasn’t more blood a) in the car and b) on Abby. It was repeated stabbing with an extremely sharp knife. She had to drag the body to the deserted house. She should have been covered in it.
Regardless, a great lesson on how to advance a plot at a decent pace at the same time as skilfully developing characters and relationships. I loved this.