Bones Theory

BRENNAN WEEK: Brennan and Family


Hey hey! Sorry for the delay on this post. And hey, congratulations to Emily Deschanel on her most recent wedding! I don’t think the fact that it was a surprise to us means that it was a rush job. I’m thinking she’s just pretty private. And I’m also thinking that we really do love her for that. Pal Camila ( @cammylopez ) said it best when she tweeted HH and said, “give Emily my best wishes for a successful blending of familial obligations as well as monetary & property consolidation”. HA!

And if you haven’t already, then pop on over to read my review of the season six premiere and weigh in! I recognized a lot of your names (I think!), so you may have already checked it out.

It’s time to round out Brennan Week, and I’ve got to say, I’ve really enjoyed our discussions about Brennan as well as when we talked about Booth. And it’s time to tackle Brennan and Family, like we did with Booth. I’m using similar categories for Brennan to sort of break it down: Love, Daughterhood, Responsibility, Sisterhood.

Let’s start with sisterhood and work our way backward.


As far as Brennan and Russ, we don’t have a TON of storyline to dissect. But what we do have is good. I like that we saw her early on forgive Russ for his leaving her when he was 19. When he put it into perspective, she began to understand the truth. I almost said it was his mistake in leaving her, but I think Brennan feels that she’s almost better off having been left to her own defenses. Thoughts on that? Do you think she would be as successful today if her family had remained intact? I also love The Knight on the Grid, and Brennan’s interactions with Russ and the way she has to defend herself when Russ accuses her of sort of playing him right into Booth’s hands. And I love that she helps Amy and Hayley too. And also, I like in Santa in the Slush when Brennan and Russ kind of bicker about him lying to Hayley and Emma about being in prison. I would just like to put in an order for more Brennan and Russ scenes!

On the flip side, I think it’s fair to include Angela in this section about sisterhood. I kind of wanted to wait until after the premiere aired (so, if you haven’t seen it yet, then I guess…spoiler alert!) because I loved the scene with Brennan and Angela when they discussed it metaphorically. Hahaha!  When done right, Angela and Brennan have one of the best friendships on television. And for the most part, it’s almost always done right. I am really hoping that they continue to have more scenes together this year. I loved Brennan admitting that she loves Angela as a sister, and Angela telling her that she will be Auntie Bren so to speak. I love that they are both just completely themselves with one another and it totally works. And I’d say they are pretty close. And I have two of my own sisters to use as a control.


You know, we could sort of lump her feelings for Booth into this category and NOT into ‘love’, as I think Brennan often correlates one with the other. Her expression of love is a feeling of responsibility that she has toward Booth. Often it’s protecting him, whether it’s from danger, his own insecurities or from her existing emotional love toward him. But we’ll talk more about that in the love section.

I see Brennan taking responsibility for Sweets as an expression of family. And specifically, this year, she hosted her family and co-workers for Christmas, which was very special.

Though the grad students really are her students, we don’t see as much interaction between Brennan and them. Cam sort of inherited that part of it. And I don’t know that her responsibility of her students falls into the ‘family’ category. But in the case of Sweets, Brennan shows a clear understanding that she has a role to fill, as a friend and as family for Sweets, like Booth does.


I do think Brennan will be a mother some day. I’m not sure how that will work itself out, whether she’ll adopt or have a baby with a man (for example, someone named Seeley Booth), or if we’ll even actually see it (I really hope we do, because I think it lends itself to some amazing drama, emotion and comedy). But since we really don’t have much to go on there, I decided to talk about her sense of family as a daughter. It’s a real sticking point for her personally, as it upsets her balance of justice and what is right and wrong, as well as her self-identity. Maybe it was when she was locked in the trunk of a car (you guys, I can’t even think about that without crying!), maybe it was when began writing the names of foster families that didn’t work out on the bottom of a shoe, maybe it was when she watched Russ drive away, who knows, but at some point, she decided she ‘preferred’ to be alone. Max has never really mentioned anything about her childhood like, “Oh, you always were a lonely awkward girl” or anything like that, so I really do think that she began her tightly wound armor of reason after her parents left. It’s hard to say whether or not Max would have ever re-entered the picture if Brennan’s mom’s remains hadn’t been identified at the Jeffersonian. What do you think about that? If Brennan and Booth had never begun that case, Max may never have tried to bond with her again. To be fair, Brennan had already asked Booth before then to help her take a look at her parents’ file, and he’d agreed (Man on the Fairway). But now that Max IS back in her life, he’s pretty much made it a point to make sure she doesn’t shut him out. So Brennan has some tension there. I like that she doesn’t always totally trust him, but I like that she really does love him. It’s interesting because the very reason she accepts Max is because Booth has counseled her that it’s the right thing to do and very clearly explained why and yet, she can’t see that she can love Booth for the same reasons. I like that Max’s presence brings a different touch of vulnerability to Brennan. Fun Fact: Pal Sleepless loves the part in Boy with the Answer where Booth is like “Thanks for sticking me with the bill again,” to Max and he just shrugs and tells him it’s Booth’s fault that his wallet was stolen in prison. It’s just SUCH a father-in-law/son-in-law moment, and she was the first to point out to me that Booth says ‘again’, which is sort of fun in this idea that the three of them have dinner together sometimes.  I don’t think we’ve seen the last of any Max/Brennan situations, which means I hope we haven’t seen the last of Max/Brennan/Booth situations.



I actually think Brennan equates love with family. Like we said before, there’s not much indication to think that Brennan was anti-love before she was abandoned by her parents. It’s one of those things (her abandonment) that I tend to forget sometimes, and I struggle with it, as far as what she’s allowed to sort of blame on that and what she isn’t. I DO think that SHE gets incorrectly blamed for ‘abandoning’ people when it’s not the case. We’ll talk about that another time. I also think that Brennan doesn’t really know what love is. I say this not because I don’t think she’s capable of love in the generally accepted sense; I believe it’s that she has an idea of what love is and doesn’t think what she feels or thinks constitutes it.

She associates love as a feeling, whether it’s security or dopamines. But the truth is that she does love. She has trust and loyalty. It’s ironic because most couples who have been in relationships for 20+ years (or 30, 40, 50) would probably say that there was a time when their emotions wore off, and they had to make a conscious choice to love the other person. ‘To Love’, as in, a verb. And yet Brennan fears that the feelings and emotions she DOES currently have for Booth (and I do believe she has them, and that this is the crux of her internal conflict) will fade and she will disappoint him in that way. But the reality is that, yes, that’s actually normal. And when the emotions aren’t as strong or desperate, then there is the steady confidence of a relationship/partnership built on trust, loyalty, etc. What’s awesome is that since she’s been celibate for awhile, there’s not this sense that she feels she would be tempted to cheat on Booth.  We’re not seeing her with sexual partner after sexual partner. At least, that’s my two cents on that. I think it’s more that she’s afraid that in thirty years, the spark might be gone, and that Booth will regret choosing her. The reality is that it’s exactly what Booth wants. He wants to grow old with her, to just be with her. Right?

So, I find that incredibly encouraging. Brennan doesn’t have the wrong viewpoint. She just doesn’t see that she does have the right viewpoint. One of these days, we’re going to see her realize it. We’re going to see that she doesn’t have to change much at all. And that what she believes about love is really true. And I think she’ll admit it to herself, to us, and to Booth then.

What do you think? Like I said before, it’s been a TON of fun chatting with you all over the past couple of weeks with Booth Week and Brennan Week and the 5th Anniversary post. I’ll just be honest with you, my real life kind of is begging me to sort of concentrate on it right now, and I’ve really put it on the back burner for BONES the past three weeks or so. So again, I’m really happy with BONES right now, and this blog, but if I don’t happen to post every single day in the next few weeks, I haven’t been captured or anything. Though if I had, you’d send Brennan out to find me with a shovel, right? And Booth would nurse me back to health while wearing fatigues, right?  That’s what I’m talking about.

Peace, Love & Bones,


PS…after you comment below (hint, hint!), here’s a link to some photos of Emily Deschanel’s casual wedding reception/brunch. Can I just say that I LOVE that her tag is sticking out of her dress? I really think she’s awesome!  (link courtesy of @forensicmama )


5 thoughts on “BRENNAN WEEK: Brennan and Family

  1. Brennan and family…at first glance, the two words don’t seem to go together, yet over the last 5 years, we’ve seen her grow from a largely lonely individual to someone who has many people in her life that care for her. It’s lovely, isn’t it?

    I have two things to say:
    1) Brennan and her graduate students…does it bother anyone else that she hasn’t really been taking direct responsibility for them? I’m a graduate student, and if I was being relegated to someone else (i.e. Cam), I’d kind of be pissed. She’s supposed to be a mentor, and she is when she’s around, but it’s not quite right, you know? I think part of the reason is that she got too close to Zack and it blew up in her face, so maybe she’s not as willing to get involved with them, or maybe it’s because there’s just too many of them? Either way, she should at least be setting their schedules and giving them direction, but it’s mostly Cam that’s doing the directing, and that’s no good. I have to say I’m a little disappointed in her for that, simply speaking as a graduate student myself. 🙂

    2) RE: Brennan’s relationship with Max: I think Brennan is more willing to accept the concept of familial love (and in turn parental love) because she’s already experienced it first-hand. When she was a child and her parents were still around, she loved them and they loved her. She is familiar with that sentiment, despite the fact that she was detached from it for so long. I think love of any kind scares her because of the hurt that it can cause, but romantic love is still something she hasn’t experienced, at least with complete awareness, and she lets her brain override any heart emotions that come up.

    The question that’s been driving me crazy since last season, and the one that I hope is answered this season, is this – what will be the trigger that will make Brennan realize her feelings, and more importantly, override her brain to allow her heart to flourish and take a chance? I’m dying to know, and I can’t wait to find out!

    Great article Sarah! No worries on taking a break! You’ve been a posting machine! I’ll look forward to your next post, whenever it is. 🙂

  2. Great post – as always!

    I think what you said about Brennan being afraid that she won’t be what Booth wants in 30 years is right on point and very well stated.

    Oh, and Brennan’s lack of attention to her grad students has always kind of irked me, but I can forgive her that because (and only because) it opens the door for Cam’s almost always hysterically funny interactions with them.

  3. great post! as per usual!
    i got a few things to say:

    1) RE: past brennan (as in pre-abandonment): this has always interested me, the whole has she always been her usual brennan self or did that manifest after her parents left her… for some reason i think she was always slightly socially awkward, but it wasnt until her whole life changed, and probably had to move foster home and school alot etc that it became easuer for her to be more socially awkward and cut off from the world. all that stuff about marco-polo with russ and stuff sortta makes me think that although she was quiet people didnt completely alienate her, because her brother was “cool”, but then when he left they didnt care, and she didnt either so thats when she really became the Brennan we see today. And also, i think that is what is so wonderful about her relationship with Booth and everyone else at the Jeffersonian. She obviously feels comfortable enough to plant her roots and start spreading out her branches, something that she before tried to do, only to be let down by not only her family, but also society.

    2) I think that you hit the nail on the head with the whole 30, 40, 50 years thing.

    3) Yeah, that whole grad student thing confused me a little bit too, also the fact that (not so much now, but earlier on in season 4) she was such an unknown aspect to her when it came to the squinterns, e.g. when wendall thought she was hitting on him (hahha sooo funny!!! love that scene). but you would think, as they wer HER grad students, they would know about all her irks and quirks, prior to… hmm… personally i think that somewhere along the track cam just realised that if she didnt take control of the whole mentoring side of it then 1) they would never have any students at all or 2) Brennan would grow attached to them, like she did with Zak and when they left she would again become uneasy (like when Zak left for the war, and booth had to try really hard to get her back out to the field (although there was other stuff then too, but you know, she still misses Zak))

    anways their my thoughts 🙂

  4. “I almost said it was his mistake in leaving her, but I think Brennan feels that she’s almost better off having been left to her own defenses. Thoughts on that? Do you think she would be as successful today if her family had remained intact?” — I have to say, that if Russ was into drugs or alcohol or something awful like that, then yes, she would have been better off. Otherwise, no. Russ leaving was the final abandonment issue for Brennan, I think. We’ve been given the indicators that she actually watched him make the choice to leave, whereas she did not know, initially, that her parents did the same (different circumstances, of course, but even so). Her life would be different, surely, but how did she get into college with her current history? Who is to say that she would not have followed a similar path if Russ had felt he could make it work. Brennan was 15, not an adult, but not a little kid, either. I don’t know. I have a tough time saying that she was better off. I think that is just a line to make them (Brennan and Russ) feel better.

    “But in the case of Sweets, Brennan shows a clear understanding that she has a role to fill, as a friend and as family for Sweets, like Booth does.” — This is an interesting take, I think. Booth *understands* it, but I think for Brennan it is more instinctual, based upon her own experiences. She has an instinct to take care of both instances of foster children in past episodes and seems to consider Sweets in the same light (which is rather to his detriment, in some ways, based upon how disrespectful she is to him half the time — which raises another issue — Sweets is much more attached to Booth, but Brennan is the one who convinces Booth to “adopt” him. Perhaps Sweets does not fully realize Brennan’s role in this relationship?).
    When Booth reassures Brennan that there is more than one kind of family, I think she knows this, but he just helps her identify those feelings.

    “Max has never really mentioned anything about her childhood like,“Oh, you always were a lonely awkward girl” or anything like that, so I really do think that she began her tightly wound armor of reason after her parents left. ” — I fully agree with this statement.

    As for Brennan with a baby – my guess is we’ll never actually see that far . . . *sigh*. You know, the re-emergence of Brennan wanting a baby might be one of the triggers for the forward motion of the B&B relationship? Just a thought.

    Regarding the interns . . . I’m deciding that when they are investigating murder, they are more under the guidance of Cam, but Brennan directs them in the other areas of ancient remains and whatnot. Sometimes we just have to do some handwaving to justify TV fiction. Okay, we have to do A LOT of handwaving . . .

  5. I cannot leave a response that is well articulated and well fleshed out – no time due to real life! – but I loved this post, love Brennan, and love your insights. Hope we get to see her as she accepts ’emotional’ self.

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