Here’s another question for you: right now, at this point in time – six episodes into season six – is Brennan in love with Booth? If she is, is she aware of it? (so okay…two questions!)
If you answered in the affirmative, there’s a good chance you’re not enjoying this season, perhaps to the point of giving up. A while ago, I began to realize that the people I was dialoging with who were unhappy almost all shared a view of Brennan different from mine. I understand their point. In fact, if I cock my head and, er, squint, I even understand why they see her the way they do.
I’m not going to tell anyone they’re wrong, because I’m not Hart Hanson. (If I were, I’m pretty sure I’d have more money in my bank account.) And I know that sometimes, no matter how hard we try to see something a different way, we simply can’t, and quite honestly…this is entertainment. It’s a TV show. You either like it, or you don’t, and shouldn’t have to strain your brain in an effort to enjoy it.
But still, sometimes, it’s possible that seeing something in a different light makes all the difference in the world, so I figure it’s worth a shot.
People who believe Brennan is in love with Booth and that she knows it point to changes we saw in her in S4 and S5 as evidence. The problem is that most of the things they mention I interpret a different way. In Cinderella in Cardboard, for example, she didn’t say she believed in eternal and transcendent love; she said she wanted to believe in it. Wanting to believe and believing are two different things. (I think it’s possible that people are so struck by her making that admission that they lose sight of what she is — and isn’t — saying.) In Critic in the Cabernet, she wants a baby, wants Booth’s baby, until he tells her if he’s going to be a father, he has to be involved. Suddenly she’s no longer interested. She wanted part of him, wanted someone to love. But she didn’t want the relationship.
In S5, we see her concern for him, her support for him. She becomes a student for his sake, and volunteers to be his village where Parker is concerned. She effectively lies to him to protect him. In many women, those and other such behaviors might well be indicative of someone who’s in love. But Brennan is not ‘most women.’
To tell you the truth, I don’t know whether she is in love with him or not, but I’m as certain as I can be without peeking inside Hart Hanson’s brain that she doesn’t know she is, doesn’t admit it to herself. She knows she loves him, but beyond that…how does she know that what she feels for him is what people define as being ‘in love,’ and, for example, is similar to what Angela feels for Hodgins? (And wouldn’t she expect it to be? For the emotions people associate with being in love to be consistent from person to person?) She doesn’t have any way of comparing what she feels for him to what others feel when they’re in love – it can’t be quantified. So she backs away, takes safety in their friendship.
Does she want to change that? I don’t think so. Why would she? Yes, the sex would no doubt be great, but is it worth risking what she has for? I suspect not. What she has with him is comfortable. Intimacy that meets her needs (and she assumes, his) but isn’t threatening. It really doesn’t even matter what she calls what she feels for him. It works for them.
And then she finds out in The Parts in the Sum of the Whole that it’s not working for him. He wants something more. I hear two different things at this point in my conversations with other fans. Some tell me that she was too afraid to say yes, afraid of failing him, afraid of losing him completely if it didn’t work. So she makes a sacrifice and says ‘no,’ when she wanted to say yes. I’ve also been told that if he’d not suddenly turned into an alien and been able to read her mind the way he always had before, he would have known she was afraid and reassured her.
But if her needs are being met through what she perceives as friendship, why would anything he said have made a difference?
Many of us are romantics who assume that everyone wants to be part of a couple, that even those who deny it secretly want it. But do they? Does she? Isn’t it possible that when she said no, she actually meant no at that moment in time? That she honestly believed friendship was what she wanted from him? I think so.
The second thing I hear from people is that he blindsided her. That Brennan never makes fast decisions and when he hit her with it, she didn’t have time to process it before he (apparently) retracted it with his ‘I’ve got to move on’ comment. They believe that if he’d given her some time, she would have come around, that he negated what he’d said before she could say yes. My problem with this is that she clearly still believes he has feelings for her – feelings she doesn’t return – the following week, in Death of the Queen Bee, and the week after that, in Predator in the Pool. In both episodes, she asks, ‘is this okay?’ before saying or doing something which might have proven difficult for him. She wouldn’t say that if she thinks he changed his mind between ’30, or 40, or 50 years’ and ‘I’ve got to move on.’
She knows he’s in love with her, and whatever it is she feels for him, she doesn’t want a romantic relationship with him.
Fast forward a few weeks, to The Boy with the Answer, when she effectively tells him that she thinks the relationships in her life – no doubt including him – are harming her. She’s lost her edge, fears she’s less of a scientist because of him and the others. Is this something someone who wants a deeper relationship would say? I don’t think so, I honestly don’t.
Generally, human beings change only when compelled to. If we’re comfortable and our lives are working for us, we stay the way we are. Even when we’re unhappy, or suffering, we don’t change until the pain becomes greater than the perceived risk in making the change. (Yes, I do have a background in psychology, why do you ask?)
Brennan’s life was working for her prior to his declaration in The Parts in the Sum of the Whole. Their relationship was working for her. After that night, she tries to get it back, to where she can enjoy the friendship again, just the way it was. And she wants that for him, too, which is why she encourages him to move on, to date Catherine. But it doesn’t quite work, so she runs.
And when she comes back, things are even more different. She has what she thought she wanted. She still has his friendship. That’s clear in many ways over the first few episodes of this season. But it’s turning out that what she thought she had – nothing more than friendship – wasn’t completely accurate, because it was more than that on his part. And perhaps, as it turns out, what she thought she wanted isn’t what she really wants at all.
Is she in love with him now? No, I don’t think so. I think she’s moving in that direction (for some, falling in love is a process) but mostly, I think she’s lonely. He doesn’t want that for her, which is why he keeps asking her to have dinner with them. But this was the life she chose (remember the comment to Cam in The Rocker in the Rinse Cycle about him wanting to share his life with someone whereas she didn’t?) and she’s now having to step back and look at the reality of that.
In his recent appearance on Rachael Ray, David Boreanaz described her response to Booth’s declaration in The Parts in the Sum of the Whole as, ‘she wasn’t ready.’ And maybe it’s just that simple. She wasn’t ready. But watching her reach that point is amazing, and when she gets there? It’s going to be an awesome thing to watch.
What do you think? We know Brennan loves him, but is she in love with him? Does she know she is, and call it that to herself? And if she is in love with him, when did it happen?’