Bones Theory

BRENNAN WEEK: Temperance Brennan. In Love with Her. Building a World Around Her



“Temperance Brennan.

You’re in love with her; you’re building a world around her.”

Before Dr./Chef Wyatt said that to Booth, I think Hart Hanson may have looked himself in the mirror and recited those words. Maybe he talks to himself with a Stephen Fry accent. Oh, please, BONES fans, you know do it too.

Quick little plug here. Tonight, I’ll be co-hosting a live chat during the BONES premiere, and I’d love for you to join. Here’s the link where you can set yourself a reminder to come and chill once the time comes. We’ll be keeping the window open after the episode and after the West Coast feed, too.  BONES love spans across time zones, as we all know.

And I’ll be back later today to round out our episode reviews with #106, but for now, let’s talk Brennan.

When I first got into BONES, I read everything I could find on it, and one piece was a review of the Pilot episode. It described the first scene with Brennan and then with Booth coming in, saying something like “allowing the viewers to see David Boreanaz as a co-lead before the credits”. In my impressionable mind, I was like, “Okay, they are completely equal.” I accepted that.

And DB and Emily Deschanel ARE co-leads; don’t get me wrong. But the show is called ‘Bones’ for a reason, and that is because above everything else, Hart Hanson is focused on her character development. Not that other characters haven’t been developed, and thank God that they have. BONES gets lots of credit in the media and in our hearts for having well rounded side characters. But what I’ve learned since reading that review is that the reality is that for every other single character, any storyline/plotline/development must coincide with Brennan’s character development. Her character is the sun around which all other characters revolve.

I really believe it’s true.

But you want more? Is that it? Fine, I’m prepared to give it to you, Booth-charm style!


See, you agree with me already!

I’m going to tackle one ongoing thread to illustrate this point, and then I am going to discuss three characters at length.

Cam & Michelle:

BONES fans were happy to see Michelle come along, as it provided some good storylines for Cam, but the reality is that the major take away is a combination of three revelations from Brennan.

  1. That she shows heart when she supports and encourages Cam to adopt Michelle (Doctor/Den)
  2. That Brennan has been celibate (when Cam fears the positive pregnancy test is Michelle’s.) (Proof/Pudding)
  3. 22. (Plain/Prodigy)



Dr. Goodman:

HH once mentioned something about how he really liked Dr. Goodman’s character but felt he needed to begin to remove any support around Brennan that wasn’t namely Seeley Booth. Brennan really respected Dr. Goodman, and he gave her a lot of good advice. But he had to be eliminated. Haha. Maybe it wasn’t that evil-minded, but it’s true. The character was eliminated in order for Brennan to be forced to rely more on Booth. This is of course also in addition to Brennan being forced to deal with Cam as a rival of sorts.


Ah, it kind of seems so long ago, doesn’t it? It feels weird that we’re getting closer to the point where there are as many non-Zack episodes as Zack eps (my count: 60). But if you go back and watch the early season one episodes, Brennan and Zack were close. As close as Brennan and Zack could get with anyone, I guess! He really cares about her and admires her, and she feels the same and takes her role as his advisor very seriously. But in order to rock her world of logic and rationality, the character of Zack had to become a source of tension for her. For example: Zack goes to war. In the resolution of this scenario (Zack returning from war), there is not much between him and Brennan. Rather, the tension arises between B&B in that she is mad at him (Booth) for encouraging Zack to go. Zack’s recovery isn’t really touched on (debatable on whether this is a casualty of the writers’ strike), and so something ELSE must happen to truly separate him from Brennan. He can’t just leave and get a new job. He had to betray her.  And in the end, several fans felt betrayed. But HH and Co were merely continuing to scrape away at people/things in Brennan’s life that hinder her character development (particularly regarding her relationship with Booth) in order to move her along as a person.



Ah, this can’t be right, right? Is everything that happens to Booth really for the benefit of Brennan’s character? Well, maybe not every single thing…but I think a lot more than we originally thought. This is COMPLETELY my opinion, but based on articles I have read or interviews I have done/heard, I think this issue of Brennan’s character being paramount annoys David Boreanaz. I think he WANTS to see more of Booth’s storyline developed, as he often brings it up. And yet, as each season goes by what we really get for Booth are storylines in which we might learn more about him, but really, there’s not a lot of development there.  But DB keeps mentioning it, so…gotta give him that!

Back to Booth, there are a few main ways in which his character is really…well, used…for the sake of Brennan’s character development: family, health, love.


We’ve gotten to see more and more of Booth’s family as the seasons have progressed. Parker is probably the character who is the most “Booth’s” as far as any interaction with him is primarily for Booth’s character development (or to serve as a B-plot to a case involving children), but there is one way in which Parker’s presence affects Brennan: during Santa in the Slush, Brennan realizes that her father may be as lonely on Christmas as apparently Booth will be without Parker and she decides to stay.

But when Rebecca was around, there are three main points that really serve Brennan’s character better.

  1. Brennan realizes that Booth ‘satisfies his biological urges’; she may or may not feel jealously over this, but definitely curiosity.
  2. Brennan realizes that Booth doesn’t like gossip and she promises to keep quiet about his personal life.
  3. Rebecca tells her that she and Booth ‘missed their moment’.

Then Jared comes along, and his primary role is to annoy Booth and allow Brennan to see that her partner has a blind spot where his brother is concerned. Even in Con-man, an episode that seems to reveal SO much about Booth…it’s really more about Brennan’s awareness of him and his goodness. And it continues later on, when they talk about brain-raisins and India and Brennan’s reaction is that she wants to be bad. Jared is also there to serve as a source of conflict for Brennan when Booth is captured. Finally, when Jared gets engaged, we see that Booth deals with it a little bit, but the main point of that plotline was that Brennan was anxious that he’d seemed to change character and that she was beginning to come around to the Booth’s way of thinking about love.

The same is true for Pops earlier in Season Five. Yes, we learn more about Booth’s background, but it’s in the context of how Brennan will act and react with the information. Does this make sense? Booth’s character isn’t being developed in any way here. We’re learning more exposition about him, but there is not really a change in his behavior. On the flip side, Brennan is the one who sort of butts in on grilled cheese and dominoes and keeping track of meds. It all comes back to Brennan.


Poor Booth. Besides season five, there wasn’t a single season in which he hasn’t suffered physical ailments in order for the writers to further Brennan’s character development. But don’t worry…we’ll talk season five in the ‘love’ section.

Season One: He’s blown up at her apartment. She begins to value their partnership more (after he also saves her life), and she cancels her date with David to stay in Booth’s hospital room and watch tv.

Season Two: He’s captured by criminals. Brennan must put aside her feelings and align herself up with Max in order to save him, lying to the FBI in the process.

Season Three: Booth gets shot in the chest. Brennan’s reply when he reminds her of that? “Once! That only goes so far!” Um, okay, Brennan, sure. It only goes so far. If ‘so far’ is like 100 years, then yes. 

Season Four: Booth gets a brain tumor. Because almost dying in her arms wasn’t enough for her to recognize her feelings for him, Booth must undergo even MORE physical pain until Brennan gets the picture.

It’s all there to serve as development for her. Poor, poor Booth!


This is the one I have the hardest time arguing, because I do believe that the writers fully value Booth’s need for love as highly as Brennan’s. But I also still think that his expressions of love toward her and her rejection of them come into line with her storyline more than his. This is also the one thing that makes me the most nervous. We don’t usually talk spoilers here at BONES THEORY, so I’ll be vague. But my main concern is that the more we see in season six of Brennan understanding her love for Booth (and I really believe that we will see this), the harder Booth is going to have to fall. When we’ve talked about Booth angst in the past, we’ve mentioned that maybe when all of this is said and done, Brennan will be the one to save him. And I think that’s true. But it still makes me sad for him. With future…storylines, I just feel like the happier Booth gets, the harder he’s going to have to fall, and I dread that for him. It’s kind of like he doesn’t deserve that pain. Yes, yes, I feel that in the long run, he will be very happy with Brennan (and it’s this blog’s opinion that this will happen), and that he might even see that any pain he faced to get to that point will be worth it. But I just can’t help but feel that the more he cares…the happier he gets, the sadder he’s going to have to get before he and Brennan can really connect. I don’t mind Brennan dealing with her emotions. In fact, I say…we had best be getting some of that! But with Booth, I would just as soon spare him some pain, I think.

History suggests that it will not be the case, and he’ll have to suffer once more for the sake of her character fully coming around to the idea of loving him.

After looking at it like this, it’s kind of like, “Oh man, Brennan…is she even worth it?” And ah, there’s the rub, because something about her makes us say ‘YES!’. It’s her innate strength combined with vulnerability. It’s in the way she is a genius but genuinely wants to know more. It’s in the way she might not respect what Booth stands for, but she can always respect him. It’s in the way she seems to keep failing at relationships but continuing to try. It’s in the way she wants to be a good friend, sister, partner, daughter, teacher, all of it. It’s in the way she knocks on Booth’s door and drinks his good scotch and tells him she wants to believe in love.

At the beginning of every season, I always think, “Okay, Brennan wasn’t ready, but she is NOW.” For example, after Booth and Brennan are left standing at the altar after season two, my naïve little mind thought, “Okay, they will confess their love for one another in season three. Yay!”

Yeah…about that…

Of course when I watched season four, I thought, “She wasn’t even anywhere CLOSE in season three! Season FOUR is when it’s going to HAPPEN!” and you know, we all know that it…didn’t.

But when I watched season five, I thought. “Season four would have been too soon, but this is the year. This is when eventually becomes reality!”

I don’t know if it’s good character development or if I’m being brainwashed, ha!  But I will say this, after season five, and after watching the season six premiere, I’m thinking…okay, she’s ready. No more major steps backward. Not that she knows everything. I’m saying, she is ready to really figure this out. She’s open to it; and she’s still been resistant to forming bonds with any other man. I think she’s past the point where she can close herself off to people and matters of the heart. This may end up being the most sad for us watching, as she tries to close off and realizes she no longer has the capability, and so she’ll sort of have no choice except to just go for it. YES!  I guess that’s me being sad about it! Haha.

She once told Sully that he was worth the risk. And what I’m saying to you is that Brennan’s worth the risk. I think it’s really worth tuning in this season to watch her gorgeous character unfold and blossom in her way. Stop worrying about the three S’s: spoilers, speculation, SOs. Yeah?

As she said herself, she’s awesome. And she is. And we love her. And we’ve come this far with her. We can’t let her down now.

And who knows, maybe HH will even let her look like this.

As Pal ShepHerdsTV said the other day, BoothChickaWowWow!

Whoo! Let me know what you think? Agree? Disagree?

As always,

Peace, Love & Bones,



9 thoughts on “BRENNAN WEEK: Temperance Brennan. In Love with Her. Building a World Around Her

  1. I truly have nothing else to add except that I think you’re right about Booth hitting rock bottom and Brennan having to save him. Gambling again? The breakup with you-know-who? Something health-related? Who knows. But you hit it on the head, it’s going to cost Booth.

    But look what he’s going to gain in the end…

  2. Hello there!!

    Only a few more hours left! HOORAY!!

    Well, that was definitely something to think about. I can see what you mean about Booth always getting hurt as a way for Brennan to realize something about love and grow as a character.

    I enjoyed reading that and am now even MORE excited for the premiere tonight!

    And I’ll definitely head over to the live chat later!


  3. WOW
    What a great article. I was getting nervous over the summer that “eventually” was never going to happen but I feel a lot better now after the last few weeks and an interview I saw of HH. Love your blog. Looking forward to following it more.

  4. You know, I have to say I never realized just how much I loved Brennan as a character until you started this Brennan Week. 🙂 Seriously, I always thought I loved Booth more than Brennan, but now I think I’ve switched teams. Haha!

    I found your analysis of Brennan’s character development very interesting, with lots of food for thought. I’m trying to stay positive about this season, but I can’t seem to shake my trepidation. I’m such a weirdo…I absolutely love reading about angsty storylines in fanfic, but the thought of having to watch it this season makes my heart hurt a bit. 😦 Sad Brennan kills me, and I think we’re going to see sad Brennan quite a bit. I will watch with baited breath and my heart in my throat.

    I just wanted to make one comment too about what you and Jen said about Booth falling and hitting rock bottom, and how it will cement (concrete? haha) the B&B relationship. I don’t want to see our characters hurt that much, but when I thought about it in a personal context, I totally got it. Your comments made me think of my own personal romance with my husband, and it hit close to home. One year after I started dating my husband we hit a rough patch with his health which sent him into a depression. The emotional burden of taking care of him and being in school wore on our relationship heavily, to the point that when he hit rock bottom, I had to make a choice and I gave him an ultimatum – stay with him if he promised to get help, or leave for my own sanity. I will never forget the night I chose to stay…it was the defining moment in our relationship, and I knew by making that choice that if we could make it through this obstacle, we could make it through anything together. And we have, for 8 years now. 🙂

    So there’s hope for B&B after all! 😀

  5. I’ve always been more interested in Booth’s story than in Brennan’s story. I feel like you have done an excellent job at delving more into her story and her character. I am anxious to see what will happen in this upcoming season. Of course, inside, I’m hoping that by the end, Brennan will finally see what she’s supposed to see and make things right and then we’ll all be happy.

  6. Ah, now, Brennan-fans, please hear me out during this post.

    First of all, and I will put in reminders, I really do like Brennan and her character. I love her interactions and I love how she really does love and belong to / with Booth.

    Indeed, the show is called Bones for a reason. Totally agree. And, I totally agree with seels, here, about the characters supporting the development of Brennan’s character. However, in a show such as this one and with its longevity, character focus is bound to change. I am not saying that it should stray from Brennan to Booth, but I think that the natural progression has lead to Booth’s character becoming the more complex one right now. While it is true that Booth’s character has not fundamentally shifted and developed like Brennan’s has, it is poised to do so. Perhaps the writers did not originally intend for this to happen, but it has nonetheless. We have seen many things occur that have shaped Brennan into who she is and will ultimately be. With Booth, though we have seen glimpses into his past, we have not seen a lot of development overall – which is why I think that needs to happen. I can’t say that it will, but I for one would sure like to see it.
    Where is my rambling going, you ask? I am asking myself that, too, believe me. Brennan has developed so much that while I can understand her position at the 100th episode and the Season 5 finale, I cannot completely sympathize with her right now. To put it bluntly, I feel like this is the season that she needs to grow up and figure things out for herself. Booth, while perhaps not going about things quite the right way at the 100th, did come out with his feelings. He took a risk. He took a risk with someone who he has essentially been teaching to love and desperately hoping that the love would ultimately be pointed towards him. When I look at how much effort (not that it’s wasted – it is all worth it) Booth has put into helping Brennan grow (and yes, I believe that Brennan has helped him grow, as well), well, I get sort of frustrated with Brennan. If it were a woman doing all of this for a man, I would be frustrated with the man as well. Brennan is a grown, intelligent woman. It is time for her to take her own risks.

    Now, remember what I said at the beginning: I really do like Brennan and her character. I love her interactions and I love how she really does love and belong to / with Booth.

    My final thing: while recently re-watching the finale I was remembering how I felt when basically everyone was telling Booth to go to Afghanistan. There was a line with Caroline where Booth says, “You don’t want me to go?” and she said to go or stay, it wasn’t up to her. His son is telling him to go. And Brennan is saying absolutely nothing to dissuade him from going. Does she not know what this decision means to Booth? She is rational, yes, but a bit selfish. My heart hurt for Booth in this episode. Cam is having a regretful conversation with Brennan about her leaving. Everyone is at the airport bidding Brennan farewell. And Booth: everyone is letting him run away.

    I do not begrudge Brennan going to Maluku. It actually makes logical sense. I begrudge the idea that we might be expected to feel sad for her and “missing her chance”. I want to see Booth figure things out. I hope (and I think I agree) that seels is right that Brennan will be the one to “save” Booth. And I really hope we get to see his character develop so that we can see this happen.

    Thanks for reading through my ruminations. Honestly, I haven’t had this much fun analyzing fiction since being on a Book Club board with Barnes & Noble while we were waiting for the 7th Harry Potter novel to come out. 🙂 So, a great thank you to seels for putting this all together!

  7. As much as I like to think Booth and Brennan get an equal share in the story, I believe you’re absolutely right – both about Booth’s character development happening in the context of Brennan’s and in Hart Hanson’s devotion to developing Brennan’s character.

    The emphasis on character evolution is one of the (many) reasons Bones is such a good show and I suspect S6 will not disappoint on that front. But I also think that said character development will be very painful at times for both B&B and therefore painful for us (the viewers) to watch. Here’s hoping all that pain eventually results in some very spectacular fireworks!

  8. OMG, that is a gorgeous picture of ED.

    And what can I say, except you’re absolutely right! The show IS called Bones for a reason and as dreamy a character as Seeley Booth is (and he is!), the fact is that I think Brennan is the more interesting character. Not that the woman named Temperance Brennan is more interesting than the man named Seeley Booth, but that in general a genius forensic anthropologist who is socially awkward is more interesting than a handsome FBI agent. does that make sense?

    Anyway, I do agree that there’s going to be some major pain coming up (for both characters). I mean, maybe I’m projecting, but I think in the premiere we could already tell that Booth is not as happy as he wants to make everyone else believe and neither is Brennan. My 2 cents 🙂

  9. But my main concern is that the more we see in season six of Brennan understanding her love for Booth (and I really believe that we will see this), the harder Booth is going to have to fall. ….I just feel like the happier Booth gets, the harder he’s going to have to fall, and I dread that for him. It’s kind of like he doesn’t deserve that pain….. But I just can’t help but feel that the more he cares…the happier he gets, the sadder he’s going to have to get before he and Brennan can really connect. I don’t mind Brennan dealing with her emotions. In fact, I say…we had best be getting some of that! But with Booth, I would just as soon spare him some pain, I think.

    Wow, Sarah. Do you pick lottery numbers, too? Because now that we’re past the Hannah thing, this was just Spot. On.

    It’s too bad I can’t clap and type at the same time. 🙂

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