Bones Theory

Sweets: Booth’s New Surrogate?


“Since Bones was already invited to the reunion, we can get more information if she’s seen as an alumni.”

“Alumna, yes.”

“Yeah, great, correcting my Latin, not the best way to make friends.”


“Okay, great, see you later.”

“Wait, Agent Booth.”

“Yes, Dr. Sweets?”

“You and Dr. Brennan are in the same motel?”

“Yeah, but they’re not adjoining rooms.  Okay Sweets, look, they’re not joined.  See, the bathroom.  And I’m closer to the ice machine.”

“No, I’m merely asking because of your feelings for Dr. Brennan.”

“Alright, I get it, alright Sweets? I respect that, but you know what?  I’ve moved on, I already even have a date for next week.”

“Oh, really, who might that be?”

“Thanks, take care.”

“Who might that be Booth? Booth?  Who might that be?”

Death of the Queen Bee – S05E17

While watching Mastodon in the Room and The Couple in the Cave, I found myself intrigued with the new dynamic between Booth and Sweets.  So, Booth is giving personal advice to Sweets and then sharing some of his feelings with him.  I mean, what?  And then I watched The Maggots in the Meathead and there was more.  Even though there was a typical sarcastic undertone in it, Booth says, “From one friend to another, I’m fine.”  Don’t get me wrong, I like it.  But there are some overlays to it.

Overlay 1: Booth respects Sweets professionally and with thanks to Brennan and GG Wyatt, has developed a brotherly attitude towards him.  But it is a tough call to say that the two have truly been friends – isn’t it?  I mean really friends?

Overlay 2:  With Booth and Brennan’s relationship still in a gnarled state (oh, the pain, the pain), Booth may be using Sweets as a proxy (possibly even a surrogate??) for Brennan.

Overlay 3: Booth is feeling more self-assured right now, but is being confronted once again by his re-surfacing truths regarding his feelings towards Brennan.  By convincing Sweets of his own happiness, Booth is hoping to create validation for himself.  I will say, however, that this overlay is not really one I am doubting.  It is the first two.

So, I thought about the questions that were floating around in my head with these overlays.  Are Booth and Sweets friends?  Is Booth hoping for a stronger relationship with Sweets?  What is the point of all of this meandering in my head?  And how does the quoted conversation at the beginning of this post fit in?  Let me take you on my journey.

During the first session with Sweets (Secret in the Soil), Booth immediately has his defense mechanisms out in full strength.  He is snarky, he is belittling (and c’mon, you know Booth gets that way – I adore him, but we all have our faults).  Sweets does two things that will earn Booth’s respect.  He enters his own “zone of truth” by telling Booth that he has succeeded in intimidating him, but at the same time has made it clear that Sweets is the one that can control the fate of the partnership.  Asserting himself as intelligent and in control is a good way to get through to Booth (like Brennan did, no?)

There are numerous instances where Booth demonstrates a definite respect for Sweets’ expertise.  (In fact, this is one of the things I love about Booth – he is not afraid to ask questions and is not afraid to look to all theories if it will help him find the murderer – look at how he listens to Hodgins, even in his conspiracy theory mode and Avalon, etc.)  My favorites include The Knight on the Grid when Booth brings Sweets in on the Gormogon case against Brennan’s wishes, The Verdict in the Story where Booth acknowledges that “Sweets is brilliant” as well as identifies that he would be good for profiling with them and helping with interrogations, and The Perfect Pieces in the Purple Pond where Booth looks to Sweets to get a feel for the victim through his bedroom to name just a few.

In The Finger in the Nest, The Bone that Blew, and The Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Booth still goes to Sweets for his professional expertise, but in a personalized way.  In FitN, it is Booth’s worry about Parker finding the finger and if he’ll be traumatized.  In BtB, it is for wondering if he is doing the right thing by not sending Parker to a private school and in BDitN, it is out of concern about Parker’s questions about why Booth doesn’t have a girlfriend.  These episodes are where I consider, well, maybe Sweets is Booth’s friend.

In The Boy in the Time Capsule, Sweets says to Booth, “You were that guy, weren’t you, Agent Booth.  You were the golden boy who could get away with anything just by turning on the charm.”  Booth responds, “That’s ridiculous.  You don’t even know who I am.”  To me that means Booth wants him to know him.  In Fire in the Ice there is the scene in Sweets office where he is right up in Booth’s face about confronting his issues about his father.  It was a great, intense, moment and I almost believe that Booth just might have cracked if Caroline hadn’t interrupted.

fire in the ice - Sweets' office

Fire in the Ice

fire in the ice - Sweets- Sweets' office

Fire in the Ice

I think it is thanks to Brennan that Booth has any sort of relationship at all with him and that is a bit why I think Booth might actually want more with him.  Few people know much about Booth and Sweets is rapidly becoming one of them.  Inasmuch as Booth does not open up to people, there is relief when you realize when you can open up and I think a part of Booth wants that with Sweets, but he struggles with that because he also feels like the older, wiser, protective brother around him. The Dwarf in the Dirt shows Booth most directly approaching Sweets in an effort to affirm a friend relationship, but unfortunately, Sweets gives Booth the “wrong” answer, sending Booth to GG Wyatt.

And so, Booth still resisted personal conversations with Sweets. Until now.  Suddenly Booth is having real, personal conversations with Sweets.  It’s heartwarming, but I wasn’t sure why until:


couple in the cave - Sweets and Booth

Couple in the Cave ("Ride the wave")

I realized where the crux was: the quoted conversation at the beginning of this post between Sweets and Booth while Booth is in Brennan’s hometown for the reunion; the episode immediately following the fateful 100th.

Seels wrote in her episode review for Death of the Queen Bee:

“How exactly did Sweets know about Booth and Brennan’s conversation in the 100th?  Didn’t you think that was implied during Sweets’ conversation with Booth?”

Sure Sweets can make assumptions, but when he does that, Booth shoots him down flat.  So, even though I’m frustrated that we didn’t see this conversation, I think Booth did tell him about the 100th fiasco which gives me my a priori insight into what I’m seeing now.  And this, finally, brings me back ‘round to the first 2 “overlays” I mentioned with the final question(s):

Booth definitely has an “older brother” relationship with Sweets, but does he want Sweets to really know the true Booth and develop a true friendship?  Or, is Booth merely using Sweets as a temporary vessel until Booth’s and Brennan’s relationship re-builds itself?


15 thoughts on “Sweets: Booth’s New Surrogate?

  1. My “Booth trusts Sweets as a friend” moment was in Foot in the Foreclosure when Booth left Pops with Sweets in his office to keep him company and to play dominoes.

    Booth *knows* that it is Sweets’ nature to probe, and even knowing that he still left his beloved Pops with the kid, with the possibility of the two of them having a conversation about Booth just hanging there. And Booth didn’t even hesitate. Because, beyond all the teasing (which is classic “big brother-ish”), Booth cares about Sweets (thanks in part to Brennan, who suggested they “find a place for him”) and more importantly…he trusts him. I’ve never thought it was more obvious than it was at that moment.

  2. I think the difference in Booth’s relationship with Sweets is based on B/B no longer going to sessions with Sweets.

    It may not be definite, just implied, but I don’t think they are ‘patients’ anymore. I know Booth had to see him for awhile last season after his tumor…but now that Sweets’ book is done (debunked?)…there should be no reason for Booth or Brennan to attend sessions.

    Therefore, Booth’s relationship with Sweets is purely professional now…ie profiling, helping in interrogations, etc. Booth has always said he liked Sweets as long as he wasn’t trying to ‘shrink’ B/B. So I think Booth is much more comfortable with Sweets now…Sweets can ask Booth questions, but Booth doesn’t feel like he HAS to answer them amymore, and I think that has made a huge difference.

    Yes, I think Booth and Sweets are friends now…and I’m not sure it has much to do with Brennan at all.

  3. Another great post idea!

    I felt it was implied that somehow Sweets figured out that Booth got shot down by Brennan, otherwise, it didn’t make sense what Sweets was asking about B&B’s hotel room arrangements during Death of the Queen Bee. And it bugged me that this was just another scene we never got to see played out on screen. If Sweets actually asked Booth if he followed through being the gambler in the 100th, I can picture Booth just giving Sweets one of his “looks” that spoke volumes, because we know Booth is very good at showing his feelings in his facial expressions. I’m not convinced a word had to be said.

    Booth has come to trust and respect Sweets’ professional, work-related opinions, but he only approaches Sweets for advice on the people in his life…Parker and Pops, for example…but not anything deeply personal about himself. I assume it still holds true that Booth believes if he opens up to Sweets, Sweets would feel compelled to divulge information to his superiors and jeopardize his job. And Booth definitely will not open up about his feelings for Brennan. That subject is way too personal (what goes on between us is ours).

    This season I love it that Sweets sees through Booth’s façade of happiness and is concerned for Booth’s welfare. Even though Booth has told him time and again that he’s just fine, and his life is great (with Hannah), Sweets doesn’t believe that for a minute . Neither do we. Booth is the big brother to Sweets…a role that fits him perfectly, but I don’t believe it’s a surrogate for B&B. Nor is it a friendship, as I would define one. What I do see is a level of comfort between the two that I think will be very important later this season, because something will happen forcing Booth to confide in Sweets – and not necessarily voluntarily. Just my guess…and the fact that I’d like to see this take place…because Booth won’t be able to keep it altogether down the road.

  4. My favorite Sweets line: “Okay, I’m a magic eight ball.” and he walks off upset because Brennan undermines his expertise. It’s in season five somewhere but I can’t exactly recall the episode.

    I loved this post. I, too, have thought about the role of Sweets in Booth’s life. I think Booth is more of a brother to Sweets than his own brother. I agree with what you had to say all the way. And I really wish we could have seen that scene/moment when Booth (somehow) let Sweets know that Brennan rejected Booth.

  5. Sweets has definitely grown since he first met B/B, but I believe he’s still too immature for Booth to consider as an equal or surrogate; this fact coupled with Booth’s compulsively private character and mistrust of intellectuals act as barriers to a traditional guy friendship. I don’t think that Booth will ever have that kind of honest, no-holds-barred friendship with anyone but Brennan; she’s the only one he can completely open up to, and even there we see he has a hard time.

    Booth kind of picks and chooses what he wants to hear from Sweets partly because I think he sees Sweets’s comments as probing and/or condescending, unlike what he hears when Cam talks to him. That he chose to follow Sweets’s “gambler” advice was a surprise, and I think mainly a result of being caught off guard. Given the disastrous result, it’s hard to believe that Booth will be gunning for much more relationship advice from Sweets for the moment. I’m not saying that there isn’t a genuine element of concern and friendship in Sweets’s interactions with B/B; at times he’s almost like the kid of divorced parents rooting for a reconciliation a la “Parent Trap”. But often the confidence he has in his professional skill blinds him to the fact that he doesn’t have the requisite life experience to back it up.

    Sweets might eventually get on a closer footing with Booth and the fact that his own emotional life regarding Daisy is in disarray probably makes Booth feel less threatened by Sweet’s knowledge and use of B/B’s personal backgrounds. That being said, though, his comments about Booth and Hannah are again less than helpful and just serve to fill Booth with anxiety; after all, what’s Booth supposed to do after he just told Hannah to move in? Questioning the speed of that offer serves little purpose because we all know there’s no way Booth would ever take it back; it’s not the kind of advice Booth is willing to hear.

    I also agree with Shrinkymojo; I can’t imagine any universe in which Booth gave Sweets a detailed account of his 100th moment with Brennan; at most I think Sweets inquired and Booth’s expression or his “butt out” coupled with the B/B weirdness post 100th was enough to cue Sweets in.
    Given all this, will Sweets and Booth ever share a completely equal friendship? I doubt it-I see it more as a really good big/little brother thing; but I do think that no matter what happens between B/B, Booth’s level of comfort with Sweets will continue to grow bit by bit, especially now that he isn’t under Sweets’s official “care”.

  6. Thank God someone is questioning this new and weird “friendship” vibe between Booth and Sweets; here I was thinking I might be going crazy.

    I think it’s “normal” that Booth starts expressing more and more kindness and proximity towards Sweets – and he had been, for me it started under Brennan’s influence, probably since the failed double date/therapy session and, more consistently, since “Mayhem” – but the two of them going out on the field together (Brennan has mostly been confined to lab work and, more recently, the interrogation room; and still, the latter only in this last episode) and trading relationship war stories (no pun intended!)? That’s just plain weird. What happened to the guy who never felt comfortable discussing relationships with “the kid” and who merely stated “I do fine” on the subject?! Seriously, Booth, what have you been putting in your coffee these days?

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the Booth/Sweets dynamic could still be interesting and a lot of fun but, like a lot of things in this season, I don’t like how it’s being told and it just feels “forced”. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong very soon; here’s to hoping! 🙂

  7. OK if i was more awake i’d post something brilliant and insightful. OK it would be mostly ramblings but more than what i’m going to!

    I think Booth and Sweets relationship has come on leaps and bounds since they first met. Are they firmly in that ‘friend catergory’? Not sure, but they are awfully close.

    One thing….it was implied in Queen Bee that Booth told Sweets about thre 100th but that beggers the question. Does that mean ‘What’s ours is ours’ is no longer true??! From Booths perspective anyway?

  8. Wonderful post, Janet! As I said to you earlier, I love me some Baby Duck analysis! These are some of my thoughts on Booth and Sweets: I really agree, that they have a brotherly kind of relationship with each other. Also, I’m not quite sure how it evolved into this, but I think Booth feels partly responsible for ‘taking care’ of Sweets. I think back to ‘The Man in the Mud’ and ‘Mayhem on a Cross’ and how Booth feels the need (sometimes with some probing) to take care of Sweets. Maybe some of that is just because that’s part of Booth’s personality- There has, after all, been extensive talk about how he likes to make things right. However, I don’t think he ever reached that point with Zack, which makes me think that there’s more to Sweets’ and Booth’s friendship. Sometimes he tries to fight it, but I do think he does have a sense of affection and friendship towards Sweets. I don’t think it’s a surrogate relationship, I just think that their friendship is evolving.

  9. I think that you’re right on target here — Sweets and Booth have definitely gotten closer. Is it friendship? Is it brotherhood? I can’t tell. I do think that you’re right, though, Booth seems to be clinging to Sweets a bit more. Sweets is being brought along on so many trips out, that it almost seems like he is Taking Brennan’s place in that way. They also trust each other more, which is why they have been talking about things that are a bit more personal. I think they have found some sort of common ground. In Death of the Queen Bee, Sweets knew something about what had happened. Maybe he just guessed, and guessed correctly. Maybe Booth told him. Maybe Brennan told him (after telling him about Booth’s changes post-brain surgery, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if she told him). Maybe they both did.

    Booth isn’t going to want to be around Brennan a lot if he still has feelings for her — it would make him uncomfortable (and would make his girlfriend wonder, I think). Hannah has a job, so we know that he won’t be around her a ton, but he’s around her enough, they do share an apartment. Booth isn’t a lab person, so he’s not going to be there. Who else can he turn to during the work day? We’ve never seen Booth with friends outside of the squints and Sweets. Sweets works in his building, and they work cases together. Obviously they’re going to work with each other more. Sweets is also in the same position — he can’t be around Daisy a ton (we know what happens when we’re together), and he doesn’t fit in at the lab, so who else does he turn to? I think this is what’s going on — they both don’t have anyone else that is a friend to talk with about what is going on in their lives.

    I’d say that they’re very much like brothers, in this regard, and I think that it is also friendship, but I think you’re on to something — there’s a little more to it than that.

  10. I’m not quite sure how I would define the relationship between Sweets and Booth although I will say I think it is evolving in a mostly natural (not to mention interesting) way. Sweets does work for the FBI and his expertise in profiling and psychological issues is useful to Booth (and there’s really no reason for the couples therapy anymore since his book is either undergoing yet another re-write or has been trashed completely) so I think it makes sense for the writers to bring him outside the office more.

    IF Booth has been using Sweets as a surrogate for Brennan though, I don’t think it’s in a personal, friendship kind of way, but rather professionallly. So far this season we’ve seen Sweets in the field and in the interrogation room with Booth – both things that B&B did together (most of the time) in previous seasons. This was especially obvious in the first few episodes. I think it’s interesting that as the season progresses and B&B settle back into their partnership, we’re seeing her start to take over those responsibilities again. One thing we saw in last night’s episode was Sweets out in the field WITH B&B. Although it’s something we’ve seen before (Devil in the Details), I almost wonder if he’s there now to act as sort of a buffer between them – kind of the next step in their reacclimation.

    I think Booth and Sweets personal relationship is a lot harder to define than their professional relationship. Yes, Booth does look to Sweets for advice from time to time on personal matters, but so does everyone else. I think Sweets clearly sees Booth as an older brother but I’m not convinced the feeling is mutual. And I’m somewhat confused as to why Sweets would come to Booth for romantic advice when he’s clearly skeptical of Booth’s relationship with Hannah and the only other “relationship” he’s seen Booth pursue since he’s known him went down in flames. But I digress.

    This is certainly an interesting topic and something I think (or at least I hope) we’ll see further development of this season.

  11. I think Sweets and Booth are friends. I think their friendship has developed much more off screen then on and so now seeing it on screen we are going whoa wait a minute, but I think signs and glimpses have been there and building. Sweets knowing about the 100th episode incident (and I believe he did) is a good example of this. I think we cannot say Booth told him about this, but would not have other deep or meaningful conversations with Sweets because he is a private person. I think it is foolish of us to think that Booth talks to no one about his life and that anything with Brennan stays secret because of “what is ours should stay just ours”, should apply carte blanche. Not only is that far fetched, but I think it is a very unfair thing to do to Booth – make him aloof or alone. That is not the type of person his character shows him to be. Private yes, but not closed off. Look at Brennan she often involves Angela, her best friend, in matters where her relationship with Booth is concerned. I think that is human nature and to be expected. I think the things that should remain private between them are more like the meatloaf story. I think it is wholy unrealistic to think that Booth never discusses his life or what he is feeling or what is going on simply because it is about Brennan. I think he would not be able to be the compassionate guy we love if he held everything in and had no one to talk to , discuss things with, etc.. I also think we (I mean the women posters) attack this friendship from a female point of view, which is distinctly different then how men view and engage in friendships. If we men were looking at their relationship my guess is they would see it as a pretty good, solid friendship. My guess is if you asked both Booth and Sweets they would say they were friends. Men and women have very different requirements for friendship and different ways they pursue those friendships. Therefore I think it is hard for us to fully embrace or understand Booth and Sweets on a friendship level because it seems so different then what we would expect from a friendship. Also while I think Sweets is young I think he is not immature and he has often been the one that Booth turns to for help. I think because Booth is such a private person he ribs and rebuffs Sweets in order to feel less threaten by his proximity (both physically and emotionally), but not because he does not need him or count on him for advice and friendship. I actually think this behavior is a solid case for proving how close they actually are, where Brennan gets logical when things get to emotional I think Booth gets “snarky” and tries to close off. Also I think Sweets understands this and even though Booth makes jokes at his expense or calls him kid Sweets doesn’t take offense or back down but stays right there or pushes right back, yet another offer of proof of the true nature of their closeness. I think what we are seeing now in regards to their onscreen friendship is that Booth feels more isolated and confused and so he needs support from Sweets in a more physical presence kind of way then he did in the past seasons. It is almost as if he is using Sweets as a buffer between himself and Brennan so he does not have to be too close to her. I think in that there comes that feeling of he is using Sweets as a surrogate, but he is not he is using him as a friend. In reality he needs his friend in order to navigate this new dynamic. I think often Sweets gets the short end of the stick, but again proves his loyality and friendship to Booth by not only understanding this but by willingly taking it. Finally I think another reason why Booth is drawn to Sweets is because he sees a lot of himself reflected in Sweets. I think they are more alike then not. I think they have a lot of the same characteristics and traits, even some similar flaws. I even think their love lifes are similar – but that is a different post. I think it is a natural friendship and one that I am excited to see grow. I also think that a lot of Bones fans kind of hate on Sweets, but I get the feeling that if Booth were around he wouldn’t tolerate it and he would defend him without even thinking twice.

  12. I’ve been trying for days to make time to read and respond to this.

    Although I don’t think Sweets is becoming Booth’s new surrogate – I don’t think anyone can do that, actually, because I think his relationship with Brennan is completely unique – I do think they’re becoming closer. There’s still very much a big brother/little brother dynamic there (I thought that apparent in many ways in The Shallow in the Deep, actually) but it’s expanding a bit, with Booth opening up more to him (albeit reluctantly.)

    I do think Booth told Sweets about the conversation in the 100th, though I doubt it was a satisfying conversation for Sweets.

  13. I’m not sure what the writer’s are planning here, and I find that they portray Sweets as so young and precocious that for Booth and he to be close friends would be anomalous. I think that Sweets is like a little brother (family) in that they have grown together by proximity at work and the sessions with B&B. I think that he is not a surrogate, but rather a buffer for now, for Booth who is uncertain in his current relationships with both Brennan and H.

    I don’t think Booth told Sweets anything about the end of the 100th, I think it would not be in character. I think Sweets knew that they left the office and must have addressed it in some way, and he realized that they have not been as relaxed with each other since that time, thus it was not resolved in a positive way.

  14. Great post. I think ‘surrogate’ brother is completely possible. Sort of a ‘do-over’ basically, because things with Jared are just so tense. But also in that way, it sort of means that it’s not possible for Booth to ever completely be open to Sweets, which is probably how it should be. Sweets’ head would likely explode. hahaha. HH once said that he sort of had to take away all of Brennan’s non-Booth resources, as far as people she could really confide in or bounce ideas off of, and we’ve seen that as a series-wide theme, that Booth is the answer-giver to her, if that makes sense. And i think in the same way, Brennan will always be Booth’s answer-giver, for the really important stuff. While he doesn’t always bounce ideas off of her, and sometimes he does ask Sweets, I think when it really comes down to it, B&B wiill be the ones for each other. Of course, that’s not really what ‘surrogate’ means; it means a replacement or temporary fix, basically. So i’m not sure. Is Sweets the temporary fix? Sure!

  15. I think Booth is very good at revealing only as much as he wants to reveal about himself, whether it’s his past or his feelings about Brennan or their situation. But Sweets (as annoying as I sometimes find him) is very (very very very) good at pulling responses from both Brennan and Booth that uncover more than they want to share. IMO, Booth knows that and it’s why there’s sometimes an edge to his conversations with Sweets. He seems to be a little nervous at times when Sweets starts asking questions.

    Wasn’t it B&B’s very first session with Sweets when Brennan got all in his face because he made some sort of off-the-cuff comment about Booth’s humanity? She just lit into Sweets for that, and her reaction spoke volumes about their relationship without either having to explain anything. That’s part of what makes him good at his job (most of the time). His needling causes reactions that give him answers. I think that makes Brennan and Booth uncomfortable around him at times.

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