Hey there BonesTheory friends! Are you as impatient for the MLB break to be over as I am so we can start watching (and discussing) new BONES episodes again? I thought so. To help pass the time, let’s dive back into the brain of one Special Agent Seeley Booth and look at the flip side of an issue that has been hotly debated since…well, since it happened. We’ve all heard the argument that if Booth had only read Brennan correctly in the 100th episode, if he had understood her conflict, he would have never made the decision to move on. Well, what if that wasn’t the case? What if Booth actually read Brennan perfectly? And if he did, what does that say about our favorite forensic anthropologist and her devoted FBI partner? I thought you’d never ask! So fasten your safety belts and hang on to your FBI standard issue body armor (you’re probably going to need it where we’re going) as we head back to the 100th episode and the moment that changed the course of Booth and Brennan’s lives forever…
“I’m that guy. Bones, I’m that guy. I know.”
“I’m a scientist…I can’t change.”
“Can we still work together?”
“Yeah…But I’ve gotta move on.”
Let’s be honest here folks – how many of us have watched this scene so many times we could quote it in our sleep? Analyzed every word and probed every facial expression until we think our heads are going to explode? (Guilty as charged). How many of us have discovered that after all that brain-numbing thought, we still don’t understand? We don’t understand how Brennan, who in our way of thinking has been in love with Booth forever (whether she realizes it or not), could say no. Or how Booth, who knows how Brennan’s mind operates better than anyone, who knows that it takes her time to adjust to an idea before she can learn to adapt to it, could give up on her so quickly. And most of all, we don’t understand how a scene that started with such sweet promise could end in such complete heartbreak. As our favorite FBI psychologist, Dr. Sweets, once said, “What happened between you two?” Well, let’s see if we can figure that out.
In a recent blog post, Sarah (Seels) characterized Booth as, “desperate to love and be loved” (“Hannah: Why I’m Nervous; Why I Shouldn’t Be,” 10/7/10), and I agree with her assessment completely. And yet, it’s not enough that he be loved by just anyone, is it? It has to be Brennan. We’ve watched his feelings for her build season after season, always kept carefully under wraps (perhaps as much for his protection as for hers), until the strange magic of a shared experience (the coma dream) brought those feelings rushing to the surface, where they bubbled with a growing intensity until the day Sweets issued a challenge Booth just couldn’t refuse. This is the point at which we start looking for someone to blame for what went wrong. I mean, if Sweets had just kept his mouth shut that night in his office, Booth would never have gambled, right? But what if Sweets had kept his mouth shut? Would it have changed anything? If the events of the previous five years were any indication, I don’t think so. Either Booth already realized that Brennan needed time and was patiently waiting for her to decide on her own that she wanted to pursue a real relationship with him (if or when that ever happened) or he simply lacked the courage to upset the apple cart.
And then, of course, there’s the issue of Booth’s apparent inability to read Brennan correctly. Booth told Gordon Wyatt in The Dwarf in the Dirt that Brennan couldn’t be in love with him because he would have known if she was, leaving us to assume that he was either suffering lingering effects from his brain surgery (despite what GW told Sweets earlier in the episode) or he had a mastodon-sized blind spot where her feelings for him were concerned. Only, what if that wasn’t the case? What if Booth actually understood Brennan’s conflict perfectly and made the decision to move on because of it?
I’ve thought a lot about what might have been going through Brennan’s mind that night, and I believe what we saw on her face was the struggle between her brain and her heart. At times it seems like the relationship between Booth and Brennan is merely an onscreen depiction of Brennan’s internal battles between brain (herself) and heart (Booth) – and this scene is a perfect example. Brennan knows intellectually that she and Booth are not compatible. But she also knows, in her heart, that she has feelings for him – in fact, I think she’s known for awhile. Whether she would classify those feelings as love is immaterial, it’s enough that she knows. Why? Because knowing creates a conflict between her brain and her heart – and Brennan’s brain is so dominant that she will choose brain over heart almost every time. And that’s what she did that night. In the face of what seemed like insurmountable odds, she took the familiar road. And really, who can blame her? It wasn’t without pain – for either one of them, …but in her way of thinking, it was her only choice (and I don’t think she ever had any intention of changing her mind).
We all know that Booth knows Brennan better than anyone and is acutely aware of just how dominant her brain is over her heart. Therefore, it makes perfect sense (in my opinion at least) that if he knew she was aware of her feelings for him in some capacity and still chose to not pursue a relationship with him that he would have been justified in believing she would never change her mind, regardless of any progress she might have made up to that point or how much time he gave her to change. Why does it matter at all? Because Booth knows only too well that given the right situation, Brennan will choose heart as she did during her father’s trial in The Verdict in the Story. That she couldn’t do the same for him, no matter the reason, must have devastated him.
If Booth hadn’t seen any sign of conflict in Brennan that night or had reason to believe she was unaware of her feelings for him, I could see the logic in him continuing to have “hope” and “patience” as Gordon Wyatt counseled. But she knew. She knew enough to make the decision difficult (for herself) and I now believe he saw that and he read the finality in it. He essentially gambled everything on that one moment…and he lost. We, as the viewer, know that can’t be the end of the story, but there’s no way he could have known, no matter how well he knew her, and to saddle him with that burden is perhaps a bit unfair.
It’s interesting how many times I’ve seen it mentioned since the start of season six that Booth is still not reading Brennan very well. I’m inclined to think, however, that it’s not his ability to read her that’s changed, but rather his response to her. We discussed in my last blog entry (“A Walk on the Dark Side: Examining the Logic in Booth’s ‘Abandonment’ of Brennan,” 10/6/10) how the events of the 100th episode, Brennan’s decision to join the Maluku dig, and her subsequent lack of communication with Booth during their seven-month separation, likely led to a great deal of bitterness and resentment on his part. It makes sense, therefore, that his lack of response to her pain in the first couple episodes of season six is merely a result of his bitterness towards her, a defense mechanism if you will, and not due to any inability to discern her feelings. We want to believe that he’s blind to her pain because it hurts too much to admit that he might see it and not care. But to make excuses for him essentially strips him of his humanity and that’s a far worse offense in my opinion.
Consider also, the progression in Booth’s response to Brennan between episodes two and three (of season six). Booth leaves Brennan sitting alone at the bar in the Founding Fathers at the end of The Couple in the Cave, seemingly without a second thought. But at the end of The Maggots in the Meathead, we see Booth torn between wanting to stay with Hannah and wanting to follow Brennan and make sure she’s okay. Remember the end of The Girl with the Curl where, in a scene that’s so electric it practically sizzles, Booth chooses to stay at the lab with Brennan rather than go home with Cam (his girlfriend at the time)? I think it’s only a matter of time before Booth is faced with that choice again. And just as he did then, I think Booth will, completely innocently, choose to stay with Brennan (whether it’s to finish paperwork over Thai food or returning to their old tradition of drinks at the Founding Fathers) rather than go home to Hannah. Why? Because she’s Brennan, that’s why.
You see, it’s not just Brennan’s walls that are cracking – Booth’s are too; and nowhere is that more evident than in The Body and the Bounty, where for the first time this season, we see them start to connect again. And as they connect, they begin to rediscover what it means to be partners (or as Sarah said, “everything”) – bickering about what makes the perfect murder, giving encouragement over lunch on a park bench, and being there, in the audience, with a thumbs up and a grin of support, as a fear is faced and found to not be so fearsome after all. It’s being all in. And friends, behind his walls, Booth is still very much all in. And it’s only a matter of time before those walls come crashing down completely. I can’t predict how or when that will happen, or even who will make the first move when it does. All I can recommend is a little bit of patience…and hope, of course.
So what do you think? Did Booth really know how Brennan felt about him in the 100th episode, or am I just seeing things? Are his walls starting to crack in response to the massive shifting he’s seeing in hers? Your comments are part of what make this blog awesome, so feel free to sound off below!