Honestly, Sherry, that was practically a short book! How can I possibly say anything new about this ep now?! You've covered both the good and the poor bits!
I get what you mean about the Jekyll and Hyde quality of this piece, but I think the fresh insights, humour and situations created by a fly-on-the-wall documentary style mitigate the slightly unbelievable situations it drags in its wake, on balance. This was true when Buffy did it and it is true of Bones. There are certain inevitable questions: how did they get permission to go in there? How are they getting people to talk about one another in front of each other? How could they possibly know that fact? But the effect of the unfamiliar camerawork and the exposure of the characters’ thoughts and feelings compensate to a great extent, and there is also a delight in absorbing extra little continuity touches to the history we already know – it’s a little gift to the loyal viewer. I enjoyed, for example, seeing and hearing more about Booth’s history, Brennan’s experiences as she grew up and Angela’s reasons for staying in a supposedly temporary post when her real intention was to paint in Paris (“cute v ruggedly handsome”, lol!).
And in addition it’s funny. Laugh out loud funny in places. Hearing members of the team discussing one another is amusing (Egyptian room references much appreciated), though contrived in some of the interviews. As Sherry says - some of this is forced and shallow, and annoyed me nearly as much as it did her! Have Brennan and Booth really not sorted out her feelings about the ‘Bones’ sobriquet? How obvious and strained do Cam and Arastoo have to be on camera as they lead up to Cam’s cute, but unlikely proposal? And does Booth really still think Hodgins is ‘weird’ and that ‘squints’ are alien beings after all these years of working side by side with them? On the other hand, it’s moving to hear the team talking about Sweets, Zack and Vincent – it happens so rarely, and is a poignant nod to series continuity – and Angela discussing Hodgins’ paralysis.
Some scenes really did jar, despite being revealing and interesting. Someone on Alex Duffy’s production team must have gone to a good deal of trouble to gain permission to film all the scenes with kids at the school and at the Booth/Brennan household. Love Brennan’s reaction on learning that her daughter wants to sell cars. Kudos to her for accepting Christine’s choices at the end. And then the camera in an FBI interview room and filming a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting! This could all have been done in a much more credible way.
Hodgins neatly turned out to be King of the Lab and King of the Swabs (liked his disbelief at “beaten with a fish?”) in this episode. I was surprised there wasn’t more on his conspiracy theories – excellent angle for a documentary – but then there’s a lot more to him than that these days. Why is it that I giggle at his enthusiastic boasting about his little victories but feel my hackles rise when Brennan starts telling everyone how wonderful she is?
There was some serious tension between Booth and Brennan during this case. I don’t quite understand how they can both be so stubborn and dismissive, the one of gut instincts, the other of the value of science in making empirical judgements – surely they are less of a caricature these days, and realise that these qualities complement one another to bring success? Can someone please start writing these people consistently convincing?
The case – an accidental killing due to business issues focused round the non-sale of a particularly grotesque set of T-shirts - was somewhat subordinate to all this, especially given the plot advancement of the Cam/Arastoo relationship. However, its progression and Booth’s gradual move from aggressive suspicion to sympathy towards the victim’s father were nicely paced, and it was very satisfying to see the teamwork that finally solved the crime; Aubrey examining the relevant finances, Hodgins dating the killing from trash and finding the phone (how could they be so sure it was the victim’s phone btw?), Angela calling up the cell log, and Brennan’s endless re-examining of the remains for fresh clues – “You’ve looked over these remains at least twelve times, Dr Brennan,” remarks Alex Duffy.
The ending could have been extremely twee and saccharine, but that little list of ambitions so encapsulated the fundamental natures of the team that it was affecting and refreshing. After all, the key to Angela is her love of beauty; Aubrey is a child at heart; Arastoo is a family man; Hodgins seeks truth anywhere and everywhere; Booth is a giver of huge integrity.
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"We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love." - Angela Montenegro