Bones Theory

From Tessa to Hacker: How B&B Have Shared the Same Relationship Track


Hey, hey!

So…it hit me the other day that I was working under a bit of a misapprehension regarding Booth and Brennan and their romantic relationships with other people. In my mind, I was thinking that their journeys toward one another (and, I guess that is my official notice to you that for the record, I’m on that ship) were different…but they aren’t.

Let’s take a look back at the past five seasons and see how B&B just might have more in common that you might think. I’ve chosen five love interests for each partner, as follows:

Booth:                                                        Brennan:

Tessa                                                          Peter

Rebecca                                                    Stires

Cam                                                             Sully

Perotta                                                       Mark/Jason

Catherine                                                  Hacker

While the timelines don’t match up perfectly, (and there are a couple of exceptions,  for example  David, that Hastings dude and Jared), I think it’s interesting to see their mirrored relationship paths, particularly in light of episode 100.

Let’s get it on!

  1. Tessa & Peter: The ones who just wouldn’t get it…

Quick questions: Is Peter the physicist? The one who couldn’t tie his shoes? If so, then great. If not, then there is another guy that we haven’t considered. Do you think Tessa is the one Booth refers to in ep 100 when he says he is seeing someone “Casually, but she doesn’t really like my hours.” (S5:TPitSotW).

But either way, let’s discuss. It’s clear before the opening credits of the Pilot that there is animosity between Booth & Brennan, but within 15 minutes, we see Brennan visited by Peter, an ex. He’s there for some sex, or at least the TV. But he also (in a bit of crappy dialogue) tells us that Brennan is emotionally distant and cold.

It’s interesting to me that the first break up we see that Brennan has is because, in her words, “We fought all the time and don’t like each other anymore.” To me, that sounds like not just a relationship to satisfy biological issues. When she denies him his “booty call” (again, her words), it reinforces this idea.

Brennan’s reaction is more than just insulted intelligence. Hart Hanson has always argued that Brennan is not cold, and I agree with him. She does have emotion, and yes, she does keep that emotion locked up at times, but she is not emotionless, and she is not cold. She does have a lot to give. Peter never would have understood her. He would not have valued her mind equally to her body. He would grow to resent her spending so much time at work.

When we first see Booth’s relationship with Tessa, it seems more stable and domestic. But is it really? In the first episode we see of Tessa, The Man in the SUV, Brennan surprises Booth by showing up at his apartment mid day. It’s clear he and Tessa are involved in a quickie, or at least, it think it’s safe to assume this. It’s awkward, but super funny when Brennan and Tessa try to have a conversation, particularly Booth’s face as he watches both. But intriguing to me is the look on Booth’s face when Tessa says she’s a corporate attorney to keep ‘the fat cats fat’. We can tell that Booth is not really the type to care about corporate anything, particularly lawyers.

But it’s the final scenes that are the most revealing:

We see Booth and Brennan at Wong Foos and Booth is telling Brennan that he doesn’t want the honor associated with his shooting, “No pleasure in taking someone’s life.” Brennan puts her hand on his arm and encourages him not to feel ashamed, he saved a lot of people. He looks to her for reassurance and she smiles back at him. He asks her if she wants another drink, and she reminds him that maybe he should get home, that Tessa might be worried about him. The special moment between them is slightly broken as Booth realizes she is right. He gets up and leaves (taking his wide shoulders encased in that blue dress shirt with him), but first thanks Brennan for her help. What help could he be referring to? That she helped him get Fareed? Possible. I believe it’s that she helped him put things into perspective. She helped him talk about it.

The next we see him, he’s sitting at dinner with Tessa. There are no words exchanged, and it’s clear  that things are not perfect between them. Let the record show that I’m not a Tessa hater; I just think that final scene shows that Tessa will never quite understand Booth either. We don’t know how they met, but however it was, it’s clear that for as long as they’ve known each other, Booth doesn’t seem to confide in her about the rough parts of his day. I can imagine her asking how his day went, and if he tries to honestly talk about it, she cringes and tells him she only wants to hear the good parts. So, Booth begins to repress some guilt and feelings he has about his job and his past.

He’s probably heard that before. One of the things I’ve always loved about B&B is that while they don’t always agree with the other, they are always willing to listen, even about the rough parts of each other’s day. In fact, they seem to welcome it. (As seen in Brennan’s reaction to Booth at the end of Mummy in the Maze, Season Three and in Booth’s reaction to Brennan in Judas on a Pole, Season Two).

Conclusion: What Peter and Tessa can’t offer to Brennan and Booth respectively is the ability to really understand them. Their pasts, their jobs, their partnerships, their very beings.

2. Rebecca & Stires: There’s some history there…

Yes, we’re mostly talking between seasons one and two here, but what Rebecca and Michael Stires do have in common is that their relationships with Booth and Brennan are defined by their pasts and the thread that binds people who are sexually intimate with one another.

With Booth and Rebecca, we don’t know much about how they met or whether they really ever did get along much at all. We just know that Rebecca got pregnant, at which point Booth proposed. At which point…she refused him. It sounds like they tried to give it a go after that, but my impression is more that Booth wanted to make it work. Rebecca tells Brennan and us that they missed their moment, and Brennan tells her that Booth feels insecure about his success as a father. We never see Rebecca after that, but it’s implied that she does make Booth’s life difficult in some ways regarding Parker.

With Brennan and Michael, I think that based on Brennan’s reveal that she was 22 at the time of her first sexual encounter (S5: PitP), we may infer that Michael was her first lover. He’s only around for one episode, but we see that by this point, while Brennan says they are only in a platonic relationship (to Angela), she does sleep with Michael again and is caught off guard three times. First of all, when Booth tells her that Michael is working against her on the case, secondly when Michael is hesitant to associate with her outside the courtroom and thirdly when he discredits her on the stand. Interesting is that when Booth also sells her out, his is the only apology Brennan accepts. Perhaps because she senses it’s the most genuine.

Conclusion: More than Tessa and Peter, there is a sense that it is possible that things could have worked out between Brennan and Stires and Booth & Rebecca. Perhaps it’s just the way things began for both of those relationships that turned them sour. I’d like to think it’s because in the end, B&B are too good for Stires and Rebecca.

3. Cam & Sully: The colleagues

This section could also be titled, “The ones that made me the most nervous”, because out of all of the relationships mentioned in this post, these are the ones that are the most genuine and have the best chance for success. It’s not a perfect comparison, as Booth knew Cam before meeting Brennan, and actually…he also knew Sully (just not in the same way of ‘knowing’ if you catch my Old Testament drift), but I think it still works.

With Cam and Booth…at the beginning, I wasn’t a fan. Looking back now, I can see that we had nothing to worry about from Cam’s perspective. She has never been in love with Booth and has been able to see through him from the beginning. Is it possible that she was being a good friend to him by having an affair with him? To me, they were both in that relationship with eyes wide open and out of friendship. I am guessing that Cam knew the score, perhaps more than Booth did, but she doesn’t hold it against Brennan in any way, even when Booth breaks up with her after she’s been poisoned by Epps (S2: Man in the Cell. And for the record…that’s just a bad day all around…).

As far as Brennan & Sully, I think Sully was very invested in a future with Brennan. My opinion is that Sully did not leave Brennan; she chose not to leave with him. It’s a small distinction, but it does make a difference. Not to harp on it, but to me, it is not a coincidence that after Booth drew the line on the bench (S2: MitC), Brennan entered into a meaningful relationship with someone else. After the 100th episode, I saw these episodes involving Cam and Sully in a new light. Before the 100th episode, I always kind of wondered if Brennan really knew what Booth was talking about. Knowing now that they had a glimpse of a romance from the very beginning and watching her face when she tells Booth she gets it…well, she gets it! Is Sully a 2nd place prize? Possible, I guess. But what if the first place prize says he’s not an option?

Conclusion: What does it say that the most meaningful relationships B&B have had are with a pretty and competent doctor at the Jeffersonian and a confident and handsome FBI agent? I’d say it says a lot. Also interesting is that B&B are the ones who broke things off with Cam and Sully. However…do you think either of those two (Cam, Sully) would really have stayed around to be a third wheel? I think…not. I think Sully knew the score as well and just took a chance. If she’d have gone with him, then score for him. That she didn’t reinforced his hunch that there was something special between Brennan and her partner.

4. Perotta & Mark/Jason: The provokers of blatant possessiveness

I suppose this is the biggest stretch as far as a ‘pairing’, but…well, will you just go with me on this one? You will? Ah, thanks!

We do know that Brennan slept with Mark, but not Jason. What is interesting to me is that Booth verbally approves of both men (though not that she is seeing both of them at the same time) but also sort of crashes her dates with them. He arrives to interrupt her morning after with Mark and interrupts her date at the diner with Jason.  Once she confesses to him (and Sweets) that both men broke up with her, he feels sorry for the rejection she felt but also tells her that there is someone special for her. Someone she is meant to spend the rest of her life with.

Sue me if I’m reading too much into it, but I think he’s talking about himself. My impression is also that this is the point in which Brennan begins to be celibate.

I’m going to say that Booth did not sleep with Perotta, but I’d say she was interested, and it was fun for me at least to see Booth flirt with someone who was interested in him. What I like about the entire Perotta situation is that Brennan noticed and then took action, telling Booth that he was the only FBI agent she wanted to work with. Translation in my book…Brennan wants to be the woman Booth wants to be with. Booth tells her not to worry and to forget about Agent Perotta (S4: FitI).

Brennan is staking a claim on Booth, and not just professionally, although it seems to me that if Booth were to sleep with Perotta, it would be to satisfy biological urges, something Brennan has claimed to encourage.

Conclusion: At this point in the series, B&B are no longer willing to step aside while the other finds a meaningful relationship.

5. Catherine & Hacker: The pursuers

This section could also be titled, “Good is the opposite of great”. Is there anything wrong inherently with either Catherine or Hacker? No…and therein lies the problem. They aren’t bad…just different than Booth and Brennan. B&B are both sort of re-learning the steps to dating, having relied on their surrogate relationship for quite some time. Catherine and Hacker are both fairly aggressive, but it also lets us see that Booth and Brennan are highly attractive and worthwhile people. B&B also (seemingly) willingly confide in one another regarding their dating life; this is different than any other ‘outside the partnership’ relationships we’ve seen on the series. Where B&B differ is that once Catherine expresses her interest in Booth, he shows nervousness, but then his charm and easy smile with Catherine later (and when he’s explaining it to Brennan) prove that he is gaining confidence. Brennan on the other hand shows confidence with Hacker from the outset (including earlier in season five, Night at the Bones Museum and Proof in the Pudding), but when we see her on dates with him (NatBM & Predator in the Pool), she is awkward and often speaks of Booth.

Conclusion: With both Booth and Brennan’s feelings and emotions laid out after the 100th episode, they both have to choose to form ‘social contracts’ with other people. The relationships with Hacker and Catherine are deliberate and completely…on the table, so to speak. The question remains…are they over?

Based on this research, it seems to me that while on the surface, B&B have been on different paths romantically, the evidence shows that these paths have been quite similar. There is a lot to talk about! What do you think? Am I completely crazy? Did I miss anyone? Remember…no spoilers of ANY KIND!

See you next time when we discuss, “Why would Dr. Wyatt tell Sweets that B&B are very similar but then agree with Booth when he says they are not compatible?”

Peace, Love & Bones



8 thoughts on “From Tessa to Hacker: How B&B Have Shared the Same Relationship Track

  1. Thank you for this! I can always appreciate thoughtful theories and solid character interpretation. Looking forward to the next update.

  2. First, thanks so much for doing this more substantive blog! I love your analysis and thank you for providing this forum. Good Bones Karma for you!

    One of the reasons I think I am bones obsessed is not just that the acting is great, the forensics is cool, and the romance is a compelling motor for the story, but that lots of deeper cultural, moral, social issues etc. are covered in Bones. Like how to reconcile religion and faith (Booth) and science and atheism (Bones) and how two people who care deeply about humanity can express with just different styles, converging on solving murders together.

    I think you are right that there is parallel pacing with the love interests, and it makes me wonder if it is intentional or just a reflection of the larger pushes & pulls of the plotline unfolding. I hope it tells us that they are moving through these various lovers to finally get to each other, but I suspect there will be some more distractions along the way but I’m not sure what category they would fall into it. Bones came close to really caring with Sully but they seemed pretty incompatible to me.

    It seems to me that things are set up now like this:
    1) Booth, to his great credit, has exposed his vulnerabilities and laid his cards on the table, he loves Bones and is willing to wait, but he also wants to bevcoupled and can probably find someone who will make him very happy even it it’s not her “the one.” At this point, he might be heart-crushed but he shouldn’t have any regrets because he put himself on the line and gave it a try;

    2) for Bones, Booth is the one, even though she doesn’t believe in Singularity (ah, all the ironies), but how to get to a true and serene acceptance of this? I think that to get there she has to have some sort of epiphany, maybe in Indonesia with some shaman or something, that lets her trust and then integrate her feelings (maybe she can think of it as emotional intelligence) with her intellect. It will have to come from deep within in and she will have to reach out to Booth, pursue him (hot!), and persevere for perhaps a bumpy ride;

    3) I do think if (and I hope when) they finally get together, are together, at some point it will just be very easy, simple, and as if they had always been that way, but it will take a while longer to get there; this is how it can be soulmates (more ironies) even it doesn’t last 50 years!

    4) finally, if Bones can’t take the plunge, then the show for me ultimately will be an exceedingly depressing commentary on the capacity to love and the emotional cage in which someone like Bones must live.

    Since HH & SN got 2 seasons at once, I have to hope they have a wide and long vision for S5 & S6, and I really think they have to seize and grow the eros into reality in S6, given fans’ eagerness, and the natural course of TV shows, lasting more than 6 seasons is very very hard for character driven shows. I can’t really imagine more than 7, 8 seasons max!

    I like your question about GG (one of my favs!!) & Sweets and have some thoughts on that but I’ll await your truly enlightening posting before rambling on.

    Happy 4th to all!

  3. Great post, really well thought out and interesting. I have to say that while I hadn’t really looked at all the relationships in the same way, you made a lot of good points and I agree with most of them. Looking forward to the next post. @Andrewsmom1996

  4. I am stoked for this project! It’s a fantastic idea!

    I can’t wait for this one: “Why would Dr. Wyatt tell Sweets that B&B are very similar but then agree with Booth when he says they are not compatible?”

    Well Done!

  5. Hi Sarah!

    I just found this while checking your 100 days blog in hopes that you had posted something new there. I was pleased to find a link to this blog instead!

    I really enjoyed your analysis of their relationships. I don’t know if I can agree with you on all parallels, but you plead a very interesting case for each.

    I definitely agree with the roles of Tessa & Peter and Rebecca & Stires. (Btw, I think Peter is the physicist who couldn’t tie his shoes! Not sure that Stires was her first lover…she said she was 22 for her first time, while Stires claimed she was 23 when they were seeing each other. That could just be a continuity thing though. 🙂 )

    Looking back, Cam did look like a threat initially, but it’s clear now there wasn’t anything serious there. They’ve always been friends first, with some side benefits here and there. I think neither kidded themselves that it was anything more than great sex. They make much better friends than lovers. In fact, I LOVE their friendship, and I’m so glad Booth has someone that’s in his corner.

    Sully on the other hand, was someone to be concerned about. I say this because Brennan seemed to be really happy with him. I know she struggled with trusting him, but I think if he had not decided to take off on that boat, he could have been a real contender.

    Your comment about Booth’s reaction to Mark/Jason was really interesting to me. I agree with you, Booth didn’t seem too concerned about them (or more specifically not obviously jealous), yet he was intrusive about her seeing them. On the whole I think he’s always kind of been that way with every guy she’s dated/slept with on the show…very careful not to show his cards…

    I think Stires happened too early in the partnership for him to really get jealous…with David (the dating website guy) he was a little put off by that but I think mostly because of how she met him…Will Hastings he didn’t like the situation because he was a suspect…Sully he showed some signs of jealousy, but it was very subtle and he was largely supportive of the relationship, even telling Sully to not let Brennan bully him into quitting (interesting, since Booth seems incapable of taking his own advice, but that’s a whole other conversation!)…I already talked about Mark/Jason…Jared he didn’t like because it was his BROTHER for goodness sake (I still can’t get over that one)…and Hacker he had a problem with, mostly because he’s his boss (and he’s a doofus and not worthy of her). Booth has never openly demonstrated jealously – I think Sully was the closest we got.

    Brennan too hasn’t shown abject jealousy. Usually, we as the audience interpret her overt interest in his female acquaintances as jealousy, but it too is very subtle. She was very interested in Tessa, Cam, and Catherine, and was bothered by Perotta, but it was done so discreetly we as fans struggle to find true meaning in those scenes. We WANT her to be jealous, to prove to ourselves that she loves Booth, but we haven’t really seen it and so far she’s not talking.

    Booth at least has told her that she’s the one. She so far has remained stoic and silent, much to our chagrin. 😦

    Okay, I could go on and on about this…so I’m going to stop now.

    I can’t wait for your follow-up topic of GG’s two-sidedness!

  6. Hello!

    I just found this post now! Haha, very late, I know 🙂

    But I completely agree with everything you said and I like how put Booth and Brennan’s relationships side-by-side in a way.

    Thanks! 🙂

  7. And then there’s Hannah. Would we would have wanted to see Brennan have a boyfriend sometime between DITP and DDITM? What if she would have had a date set for BITS and then decide to not go to be with Booth in the end of the episode to help support him? After DITP we saw her come to the realization that she should “move on” in Body in the Bag so, really, her dating would have been…healthy. I’m not viewing this as “keeping” score or tit-for-tat or anything it’s just part of me really hates how Brennan was so alone and almost punished for her decision in the 100th episode and we didn’t see her “move on”. Looking back now post-S6, I think Sully was the most important relationship Brennan has had (that we know of) outside of Booth. I liked Sully, I actually really did. I think he loved Brennan, got her, and would have been good for her and to her. Should Hannah/Booth and Sully/Brennan be more of a comparison? Was Booth more serious about Hannah than he was about Cam…I like Cam better but yes, I think so. Hannah and Booth were “in love” and I don’t think Cam and Booth were. We know in PITP that Booth views the ending of his relationship with Hannah as his choice, “remember when I broke up with Hannah”…. I guess he came to fully accept the ending of that union as his choice because, really, he could have gone back to the way things were with her but he chose not to.

    Also, side note, kudos to Sully in Boneless Bride in the River. Sully just came right out and said “I’m worth the risk” and Brennan agreed. I respect that about Sully and I hope, somewhere in fictional land, he is happy and living wide:)

    • I would say there’s no question that Booth’s relationship with Hannah was more serious than his relationship with Cam. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he and Cam weren’t actually in a “relationship.” Their dynamic always smacked of “friend with benefits” to me. I think they were seeing one another exclusively (Booth doesn’t cheat, after all), but I think they both went into it with eyes wide open, understanding that it was temporary and fun but going nowhere. I don’t now if you read fan fiction or not, but there’s a series written by va32h (aka Barbara) about B & B getting together after The Daredevil in the Mold, in which she captures Booth and Cam’s relationship perfectly. The story is called Missing Moments Part One, and it’s in chapter two, The Perils in the Poses. You should check it out. In fact, if you haven’t read it, you should start with The Mourning After the Proposal and read the whole thing.

      As for seeing Brennan dating…I’m glad they didn’t go there. I feel like Brennan returned from Maluku more open to the possibility of a love. I don’t think she was actually fully ready yet, but certainly I believe she was getting there. After Doctor in the Photo, she was there. But at some point she also realized that she didn’t just want to be in a romantic relationship. She wanted to be with Booth. Period. I think that showing her dating (even casually, with no sex involved) would have been a step backwards for her. She finally believes in love, and she wasn’t willing to accept substitutes, even if that meant being alone (and for the first time, really lonely). She made her decision in the 100th to put Booth’s happiness before her own desires (at least that is how I think she saw it), and she stuck with that decision after they returned. Booth’s happiness was more important to her than her own. If that’s not love, then what it?

      I loved Sully, too!

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