Bones Theory

Is Booth’s Heart MIA? A Look at Both Sides


Hey! So, if you were around Twitter Saturday afternoon, then you know that I was hanging out there in order to avoid the task of cleaning my bathroom. As pleasant as that eventually was, even more (actually) pleasant was a small conversation created by a question I kind of just tossed out there, basically wondering why Booth is sort of being vilified for being honest (‘very serious’ ‘as a heart attack’, etc) while Angela says, “You’ll die loveless and alone” and we all kind of chuckled. 

Each person who replied was really on point,  and helped me come to the conclusion that there was a flaw in my logic. The scenes can’t really be compared like that, as they were completely different. Though the same subject was being discussed, Angela was joking, and Booth was being very serious. But the residual effect of the conversation showed me that maybe it’s a good idea to provide a place where people can see both sides and kind of once and for all state their opinions and then move on.

Also, up front, I think we have to disqualify Hart Hanson’s recent statement that they didn’t intend for Booth to appear to be aware of Brennan’s look of confused pain at his admission. Do I believe Hart Hanson when he says that? Yes. Do I think it’s true that they didn’t want that? Yes. However, even if it’s believable, it’s not admissible. Right? The reality is that it is what it is. It’s a conversation between a sexy scientist and a sexy FBI agent, and we can’t change what it is. 🙂

I’m talking about this…

 Also, I’m limiting this discussion to ONLY the scene between Booth and Brennan on the subject. I’m not including any ‘evidence’ from later in the episode where Brennan talks about this with Angela and Booth talks about it with Caroline and Sweets.

To keep it fair, I’m limiting each argument to only 350 words and exactly 350 words. Also, I’m not going to tell you which POV I really agree with. I’m (hopefully) just presenting two equal arguments. To get into the debating mood, I had to turn on some cocky music, and this time I chose Broken Bells. It always makes me want to get up in people’s faces with a little groove and be like “Now what, baby? Boom!” Yeah, be glad this is not a video blog! I’m sure you’re also glad to know that even when debating myself, I’m a total dork.

But enough about me, let’s get to it!

Yes, Booth was insensitive, and he acted incorrectly.

He’s the heart person. Brennan told him this in the pilot episode after he stood up for her with Cullen. This isn’t news to anyone. He’s the one who should have been able to push through the awkwardness of the reunion and be more sensitive to her. Was it bound to be a little awkward? Sure, probably. But he should have known that ahead of time and planned to really gauge her reactions. Whether or not Brennan has ever admitted it in the past, he HAS taken on the responsibility for taking care of her emotionally. “More than one kind of family”, “Everything Happens Eventually”, “Yeah, Bones…a miracle”, “Brain and Heart, Bones. Brain and Heart”, “You will (believe in love)…I promise”; quotes like that only scratch at the surface of examples of how he’s been the compass of her heart. And that’s not a love thing; that’s a partner thing, and that’s a friend thing. In Dentist in the Ditch, she expresses that she values his thinking system on love and emotions, and in Gamer in the Grease, she tells him that while she doesn’t always understand it, she can see that his ‘math’ (aka, logic system) works. Likewise, Booth has been SO private about his personal life in the past that it’s really not fair for him to just be like “Bam!” and sort of lay it all out there. He once got on Sweets’ case about the same type of thing. “Don’t you know that you can’t rush her?!?” When he sees that she might be uncomfortable, he should at least give her a reassuring smile or something and change the subject. He should reassert to her that no matter what happens in his personal life, ‘nothing’s going to change’ between them, as he promised in Fire in the Ice. We’ve been led to believe that Booth understands her better than anyone, even herself sometimes. And even if he has moved on and found someone else to love him for thirty, forty and fifty years, he still owes her the respect of understanding that it’s a touchy subject.


No, Booth was not insensitive, and he acted correctly.

He was just being honest with her, something Brennan claims that she values very highly. “Why are you being so secretive?” she has asked him in the past. Plus it’s important to remember that they were having a conversation. She asked him if it was serious; she was curious herself. It’s not that she tried to change the subject and he insisted on following her and telling her about it. Likewise, she reiterated his simile that heart attacks are serious, and so he replied, saying they were ‘very serious’. Though the subject matter isn’t what we want to hear, this tone of conversation honestly isn’t anything we haven’t seen between them before. Think back to the end of Girl in the Mask when Brennan challenges him and brings up the idea that love might not be worth it and asks him how he would feel if Parker died. It’s somewhat insensitive and Booth sort of flares up at her and tells her not to even talk about something like that. And he reiterates that love is worth it.  And some viewers think that since this is season six, there should be no question between the two of them as to what the other is thinking, meaning that Booth should see the look on her face and KNOW that she has feelings for him, or at the very least, feelings of uncertainty about him dating someone else. Well, let me say this. Over the past two seasons, Brennan has dated Booth’s brother, Booth’s boss’s boss (though he asked her not to, as a friend) and told him she was not going to change for him. Booth doesn’t necessarily owe it to her to consider her romantic feelings toward him, even if he DID in fact suspect that she does have them. This is like in Dwarf in the Dirt, when he told GGW that Brennan doesn’t love him, that he’d KNOW if she loved him. We haven’t been led to believe that Booth would know if Brennan was honestly in love with him unless she said it from her own mouth.

But perhaps there’s a bigger issue at hand, and we’re over thinking this. Maybe it’s like we talked about already, that Hart Hanson will use any character in any way he sees fit in order to develop Brennan’s character. We’ve seen that before, that it seems like whenever Brennan has an emotional revelation, Booth is having some sort of lack of it. Like when she knocks on his door in Cinderella in the Cardboard and tells him she wants to believe in love, he kind of chokes. And likewise, in season five, in Tough Man in the Tender Chicken, Booth is feeling insecure, thereby allowing Brennan to have a moment of emotional confidence in encouraging him that he’s ‘still got it’. So maybe it’s still really all about Brennan.

Either way, let’s hash it out, and then let’s hug it out, because honestly, it’s ripping us apart, and I think we’ve kind of got to move on from it and see what happens.

As always,

Peace, Love & Bones


PS…I don’t really use foul language here at BT (or anywhere, really), so I’d appreciate it if you all would do the same while discussing this issue. Thanks!


19 thoughts on “Is Booth’s Heart MIA? A Look at Both Sides

  1. I agree with the second position, but I think it’s simpler. Bones asked. Booth answered. Booth is just telling her the truth. She (and we) may not like the truth, but it is the truth (for the moment anyway).

    Some have commented that he’s looking away from her and that that’s callous. I think quite the opposite. I think that he doesn’t want to see her reaction one way or the other because either way, it’s going to tear at his heart.

    If she’s sad, what does he make of that? Does it mean she loves him? If it does, what does that mean? Has she changed her mind about being together? If she has, what about Hannah? That’s one big can of worms.

    If she isn’t sad, then he has to face that she really doesn’t love him and never has. Or, maybe she loves him so much, she just wants him to be happy and so is encouraging this relationship. What’s a guy to do?

    Booth may look like he has moved, but I think that it’s only on the surface. He was pleased to hear that he wasn’t the only one Bones didn’t contact. He may not be sad like he was after ep 100, but I think he still seems tentative or subdued. He’s still processing his experience in Afghanistan and he has a lot to deal with now that he’s home.

    It has been observed that it’s one thing to be happy with Hannah in a war zone, lonely and broken-hearted. It’s quite another to be happy with her when faced every day with Bones.

    • Great job Sarah, as always. I agree with the second position, Booth was just being honest, not insensitive. He needed to move on for now and find some happiness and he has. I do believe that Booth does not know that Brennan loves him, see Dwarf in the Dirt. I also believe that he still loves her and wants to keep their friendship and partnership alive and may feel that by moving on romantically he is actually helping to keep that part of their relationship alive and healthy. I hope that makes sense.

  2. I agree with the second opinion also. Even if he did see her moment of pain does that mean he should not have told her about Hannah? He was the mature one, he told her as soon as he could, did not evade, she does not want him, he has a right to try to find happiness. No cliche here about Hannah showing up with Brennan not knowing of their relationship.

    He has a right to show hapiness with Caroline about his new love. I also do not think he was demeaning Brennan about the missing link comment. He was focused on his hot gf.

    I waffle from day to day whether I want to see him happy with Hannah at the expense of BB’s friendship. That is what I miss the most. I also do not want to get attached to Hannah because she will leave at some point and I do not want to feel that pain also. I know, I am a wimp. Can you tell I am B & B all the way.

  3. Hmm…I mostly agree with the second position, with just a slight dash of the first position. I think he needed to be open and honest with her the way he was, but I also think there was just a little bit of attitude in him, something almost slightly defiant, that he could have done without. Does that make sense? Like, instead of saying, “As serious as a heart attack,” he could have simply said, “Yes, I think it is,” and we and Brennan would have still got the jist of it. He just seemed to want to brag a bit, you know? So I didn’t really like that. Brennan definitely deserves honesty…she is always honest with him, and she did close that door, so he was right to tell her that he’s moved on. I really like what Angelena said above about him being scared to see her reaction, because either way it would probably hurt him a little.

    I guess he just seemed to be putting distance between them, even when he was telling her about Hannah, and throughout the whole episode. I know you vetoed mentioning the other scenes, so I won’t go there. 🙂 I guess I just felt like we were back to Season 1 Booth where he’s being slightly standoffish – cocky, yet closed off.

    It’s funny…I really like the title of your post, asking whether Booth’s heart is MIA. In some ways, I’ve been afraid that it’s been MIA since Dentist in the Ditch, when he had abandoned his belief in true love (i.e. when he made Brennan nauseous). That scene made ME nauseous, and ever since then my heart has sort of not trusted Booth in the heart department. Isn’t that awful? And then, I think it was all sort of clinched for me in the premiere and reflection back to the finale, when it was his hand that first let go at the airport. I feel like that moment was HIM letting go…of her, of his feelings for her, of his heart. That too makes me nauseous.

    So, in answer to your question – yes, I think Booth’s TRUE heart is MIA. I hope it comes back soon… 😦

  4. Hmmm…I do agree that Booth is the heart person, but I think in this case the heart he was trying to protect was his own. If he had any hope of maintaining whatever progress (in terms of moving on) he might have made in his 7 months away from Brennan, this time he had to protect HIS heart first. Yeah, it sounds cold, but it’s true. So no, I don’t see that conversation (or his apparent dismissal of the “look”) as mean or inappropriate, but necessary.

    Did I hurt for Brennan in that moment? Heck yes! But I also felt bad for Booth too. A lot of people seem to see his need to try and move on as a betrayal of Brennan rather than a necessary step that he, as a mature person, needed to take – hence the tunnel vision, weeping, and gnashing of teeth about Hannah.

    Okay, so he came back with a “serious” girlfriend. Yes, he “says” he’s moved on. But he’s also clearly angry and bitter, and both of those emotions are not consistent with someone who HAS moved on. If he had truly moved on, then he probably WOULD have taken more care in how he approached Brennan (as a friend rather than a spurned would-be lover) but the fact that he didn’t proves that he hasn’t. Or at least it does in my humble opinion.

    And for those who think his snarky and angry attitude is out of character – I offer as evidence the first half of season one where his actions were likely at least partly influenced by her initial rejection of him.

    For the record, though, it kind of frustrates me a little bit when I hear people take sides (Booth vs. Brennan) in regards to their relationship (or lack thereof). Shouldn’t we be able to feel empathy for both of them rather than tossing blame around about who dropped the ball when or who was more cold and unfeeling?

    I hope I’m not coming across as mean or snarky myself, because I certainly don’t mean to be. Thanks for another interesting and thought-provoking post!

    • I agree, Stephanie, there is no blame. It takes two to make a relationship work.
      Booth’s defense mechanism is to either be snarky or make a joke. His “serious as a heart attack” comment seemed to be a bit of both.
      One could say that he brought up the topic of “did you meet anyone special” to rub it in that he had, but I think that was his way to make sure that Brennan knew before anyone else. And as Angelena said, what is he to do with Brennan’s hurt feelings?
      It is my thinking that Hannah was the right person at the right time. Sure Brennan is THE person for ALL time, but she is not available to Booth at THIS time. We can be all female-romantic and self-righteous that Booth should just *know* everything about Brennan all of the time, but as perceptive and in-tune to her as he is, he has his own issues and filters getting in the way. He is imperfect.

      • Janet – great point about Booth having his own “filters and issues.” I agree completely.

        I’ll admit that I love it when Booth does his “knight in FBI standard issue body armor” routine with Brennan. It’s my favorite part of his character. And I definitely think there was an emphasis on that side of him in S4 & 5. Because of that, I think it’s easy to forget the way he acted towards her in S1 and even at times during S2.

        We may want to see him act the knight all of the time, but he is a human character after all and as such, he’s just as flawed as the rest of us.

  5. I don’t think Booth did anything wrong. Even though it may seem that Booth should be the “heart” guy and therefore should realize that Brennan actually loves him too, but I think he’s always known Brennan to be a person who tells the truth no matter what. So when she rejected him, he believed her–like he always do. Booth is a “man”. I don’t think we’d like him as much as we do if episode 100 ended with him moping all over the place. Haha. It’s not Brennan fault either. It’s complicated. ><" Then again…they've worked "around bigger things". Hehehe. I'm just gonna keep on wishing ^^.

  6. I think I fall more towards the second one. While I can totally understand how some of his behaviour in the premiere could be seen as stand off-ish, maybe even a little cold, I just… I don’t see any other way he could have been. Even if he did catch that flicker of emotion on Brennan’s face, what was he supposed to do? Call her out on it? Possibly hurt her more and drive her even further away? I think what’s interesting about his character is that while he does know everything there is to know about Brennan, when it comes to him specifically and what she thinks about him, his vision is a little cloudy. This goes back to the S5 episode “The Dwarf in the Dirt” (one of my favourites) and when he tells Gordon Gordon that he would know if she loved him. I think, in her own way, she was already showing signs of love at that point, yet he didn’t see them that way… he didn’t recognize her growth. I think he’s sort of stuck in this headspace where he’s convinced he isn’t good enough for her and in the process, that distorts the way he sees her.

    Does that make any sense?

    And as for the 7 months apart. They weren’t contacting each other and he, for the time being, has convinced himself that they can never go “there”. So he’s gonna try to move on and be happy, he deserves it. And while that may be easy to do when the love of his life is on the opposite side of the world, it becomes a whole another story when he’s back to seeing her every day.

  7. It is hard to figure out and I enjoy reading everyone’s point of view. I have seen some interviews with Hart and the bottom line for me is I miss their connection, chemistry and deep friendship. I have not seen a lot of it since the 100th episode. I kinda think what we saw on the premier was a Booth that is hurting and coping the best way he knew how. I did not really see him as being insensitive to how Brennan feels but more of letting her know not to worry about him emotionally because he has moved on. I guess a pride thing. I know I have done it. When I am hurting, I let the other person know I am fine because I don’t want them to worry about me any more. I don’t know that I am going to enjoy this process with the two of them and I hope that they figure it out and start trusting and connecting each other again and not having any secrets.

  8. BTW – I wanted to address the “MIA” title – clever . . . but I’d say that Booths heart isn’t missing in the sense that he is being mean or insensitive; I’d say that it is missing in the sense that he doesn’t really know where it is right now, either.

  9. Insensitive implies you do something without taking into account its effect. This is more along Brennan’s lines. Booth knows people well; he knew the effect his words would have. Regardless of what Hart thinks, DB played it as a small dig. Was it nice? Not really, but Booth isn’t a saint, and I personally like him more for all the imperfections he has and how he tries to to be a better person. The whole show is about damaged people coping the best way they know how, and sometimes it’s not pretty. Booth’s heart is all there, just very, very bruised-look at the offhand way he says he thought she only didn’t want contact with him.

    I also feel he’s trying hard to convince himself as well as everyone else that he realy loves this woman; that after having been abandoned by his father and rejected by Rebecca and Bren, he’s still worthy of someone’s love. Sometime soon though, those protective bandaids he’s put on his heart are going to start coming off, and it won’t be pretty either (but it’ll be highly watchable!)

  10. I absolutely don’t think Booth was in any way insensitive or wrong.

    I very much feel that Booth’s heart had taken a real beating before he left for Afghanistan. From having his hopes dashed in the 100th, to trying desperately to keep hold of Brennan when he felt her slipping away after the Gravedigger trial, he was trying so hard to stop the centre from slipping and he couldn’t.

    By the finale, I think he was realising that he couldn’t hold her there, she was pulling away and he had to let her go. That’s why he didn’t kick up more of a fuss about her leaving; if you love someone, you let them go.

    He’s been really honest with her since the 100th. He told her he wanted to give it a shot. That he had to move on and finally find someone who was willing to love him. He told her in the finale that things had to change. We can’t be surprised that things are different now they are back. He specifically said things had to change. And change they have.

    Frankly, I think that if Booth was being insensitive, he had grounds. I think people sometimes forget that he’s not just there to love Brennan and show her the way; he’s his own guy and he has insecurities and issues of his own. Just because he’s ‘the heart’ doesn’t mean he’s capable of constantly stepping over his own crushed one to tiptoe around Brennan’s, especially since he doesn’t think she loves him.

    Booth’s heart is not MIA. It was crushed and he’s just trying to let it heal.

  11. I agree, he’s not being indifferent, he’s just being honest. Isn’t that what Brennan wants from him, honesty? I just rewatched the scene, and it’s interesting that Brennan is fairly happy until the “serious as a heart attack” simile. Is it just a “back home with Booth” high? Is she happy that he’s doing what he said he’d do (we know it bothers her when he does something against what he says he is doing or believes)? I’d like to think it’s both.

    I think that we can’t look at this scene without the context of the 100th episode. Booth could have been really insensitive afterwords towards Brennan and told her that she frustrated him by not being ready, pestered her about it, tried to make her jealous, and then date a girl that looks and somewhat acts exactly like her. Thank goodness Booth is not that guy, and is not stupid (that 100th episode last scene is a bit too real for me). Sure, Booth’s now with Hannah, but he’s not parading her in front of Brennan, that would be insensitive (for example, if he had that scene with Caroline in front of Brennan, or showed her picture off to everyone, instead of just those two). Instead he’s going “here’s my girlfriend, I like her, and I’m happy,” just with Brennan. He respects her opinion. She’s his friend. And he’s doing what he said he’d do, he’s moving on. He’s not walking up to her and saying “what is wrong with you, why didn’t you accept me?” like the guy I nearly dated did. Brennan is hurt, sure, but possibly more by the idea that it’s serious than that he’s found someone (we’ve already seen him try to move on once, and it wasn’t horribly serious, which gave her a chance at him again, and now, she probably doesn’t see a chance). I honestly do believe she wants him to be happy, and that she is on a small level aware about her feelings about him. I also agree that this is all for Brennan’s development. Situations like this are isolating, and so, so confusing to people that don’t read people and their own emotions well. Through this forced isolation, so to speak, I think that Brennan will be able to look at herself, and her partner in a way she hasn’t before (basically an extension of Maluku). She can finally look at Booth and think “wow, I really did want to be in a relationship with him” and ask herself if she’s ready yet. That’s the big question. Is she ready yet? She definitely thought about it (“I had no inclination for sex or romance”…. Romance? She actually said romance? Is she hinting at something?), but is she actually ready to be in a relationship with him?

    So no, Booth not being insensitive (and thank goodness, for that). Time to take an awesome journey, folks.

  12. As much of a shipper as I am, I will go with choice #2, with a little hurt part of my heart still unsure. Rationally, Booth should move on, and his attempts to do so make sense. Until Brennan is ready to show him otherwise, he can’t just keep waiting for her. The ‘serious as a heart attack’ seemed as worded to get a dig in – like he didn’t care about how she’d feel about the info. In the past, the Booth that we saw would have been more delicate about his words (likely just to say things the way he thought they should be said, not for her hyper-rational expectations). In this scene – and in others we won’t talk about here 😉 – he seemed dostant, cold. Hopefully this is a protective stance for himself, and we’ll see it chip/fade away soon, or the Booth that we all love will be MIA.

  13. As much as I want B/B together and happy…I am along for the whole ride…and Hart succeeded in the premiere in making me happy for Booth that he had found someone.

    I don’t think there was anything wrong with the way he told Brennan about it either…it was definitely best to get that information out there right away.

    Of course, I’m holding on to the hope that this whole situation is necessary in bringing B/B together 🙂

  14. Just found this site because HH tweeted it. I have to agree with position #1. Although Booth’s actions are understandable, when he said “serious as a heart attack” he was distant and rather cold toward Bones. Almost like he was shoving the fact in her face. Left at that I would have thought he is just trying to protect himself. But when it is coupled with the scene where he makes fun of Bones behind her back with Caroline, on an issue that would deeply hurt Brennen if she had overheard that, it made me see Booth in a different light. I remember commenting once to someone years ago that HH had created a perfect male hero character. No matter what Booth did, or what mistakes he might have made, at his core he never betrayed his values and morals, and he always treated Brennen with respect. But the scene with Caroline made him seem like a jerk, IMO and for the first time since the show started, I disliked Booth in a BIG way. You can attribute his coldness toward Brennen in the beginning reunion scene as misinterpretation, the effects of war, or trying to protect himself, but for me, the scene with Caroline, I think it took what I disliked about his attitude at the beginning and magnified it and morphed it into seeing him as being cold, unfeeling, and a little heartless. Interesting conversation. Thanks for letting me stop by here.

  15. As much as I love Brennan, I can’t accuse Booth of being insensitive here. She’d rejected him, they spent months on opposite sides of the world with no contact. And she asks him if he’s found someone else and he answers honestly.

    I hurt for her, and I hurt for him, but unless they’d fallen into each other’s arms immediately on their return, they were both going to end up a little bruised, no matter what.

  16. I don’t think Booth was being insensitive.

    I think he was trying to reassure Brennan that there was no reason for them not to work together. Their partnership was important to him and he wanted her to be able to continue with that and not have to run away again. Their working together is the one relationship they are comfortable with so Booth just wanted to lay the groundwork for that from the get go.

    I don’t think he realised how difficult it would be, seeing her again and all, but it had to be done so Brennan could feel at ease knowing he would not broach the subject again.

    OFF TOPIC – Booth seems to give the girls he dates a second chance – Rebecca, Cam, even Brennan. Brennan actually rejected him twice – their first case ever and then the 100th. Of course he would not broach the subject again and had to move on.

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