I love listening to music. Play me a song with a pretty melody and meaningful lyrics and I’m almost guaranteed to be completely captivated. Pair a song with an especially touching scene in a movie or television show and I’m a weepy puddle by the time the credits roll. We all know, and have discussed before, how adept the Bones production team is at using music to enhance their show. Consider the scene at the end of The Boneless Bride in the River where Brennan, having just watched Sully sail off into the sunrise, turns around to see Booth standing at the other end of the dock as Fisher’s “You” plays in the background. She’s obviously not happy to see him. He is, after all (more than either of them will ever likely admit), at least part of the reason she stayed behind. But he’s there, and, well, that has to count for something. And the music? The music makes the moment just about perfect…
You make me run
You make me want to live
I could give countless more examples (and I’m sure you all could as well), but since that’s not actually the point of this essay, we’ll have to stop at one (although you’re welcome to chime in with your favorites later on in the comments). Let’s just say that, without a doubt, music makes the Bones experience that much better. And if you’re at all like me, your iPod or MP3 player is home to more than a few “Bones songs” (as my kids call them).
So one evening I was listening to my iPod while making homemade flour tortillas (taco night!), brainstorming ideas for my last Bones Theory blog post (Into the Looking Glass: How Angela & Hodgins’ Relationship Mirrors Booth & Brennan’s, 11/20/10), and trying to keep my 2-year old from eating flour and uncooked tortilla dough (blech!), when one of those “Bones songs” (“My Ghost” by Glass Pear) started playing. Now I’ve mentioned at least twice before how much more beautiful I think the scenes at the end of The Dwarf in the Dirt are because of this song. In my opinion, it’s pure poetry. I typically have to listen to it two or three times before I can go on to the next song, and that night was no exception. But that night, as I listened, one line in particular grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go:
“How can I love without grace?”
And for the first time, instead of just singing along, I asked myself what that line really meant. “If you can’t love someone without grace,” I thought, “then what does it mean to love with grace?” Well, in my way of thinking, loving with grace simply means forgiving when you’ve been wronged. My husband and I have been married for 10 ½ years and we learned very early in our marriage the value of extending grace because, like it or not, sometimes the people you love the most are the ones you hurt the worst.
Booth and Brennan are no different. Their partnership/friendship/surrogate relationship – whatever you want to call it – has grown consistently stronger over the years despite, or perhaps because of, some pretty major wrongdoing on both their parts. I’m not saying they have some magical ability to forgive and forget with hardly any effort or that they love each other blindly – it’s quite the opposite sometimes actually. The fact that they mess up and say and do mean things to each other is a large part of what makes them human. But ultimately it’s their ability to say “I’m sorry” and “it’s okay” that really matters.
I’ve thought a lot about what forgiveness between Booth and Brennan looks like and I’ve come to the conclusion that while the apology isn’t always spoken aloud, much less formally accepted, their ability to forgive one another is still illustrated quite effectively in their willingness to let go and move on. Yes, I know, “let go” and “move on” are interesting word choices considering where we are now, a third of the way through season six, but stick with me here. I’ll get to current events later; first I want to look back at five examples of forgiveness from the first five seasons.
The Girl in the Fridge
This first example is interesting because it takes place fairly early in season one. Booth and Brennan are essentially still learning what it means to be partners and what Booth does to Brennan at the end of the episode when he tells the prosecutor to use Brennan’s time in the foster system as a tool to force her to relate to the jury better has the potential to shatter that fragile bond completely. Brennan is mad – and rightly so. “You had no right!” she says.
When Booth apologizes to Brennan for his actions,
she replies, “You had something to accomplish and you found a logical way to get what you needed,” and then reluctantly admits, “I probably would have done the same thing.” Apology offered…and accepted.
The Pain in the Heart
By the end of season three, Booth and Brennan’s partnership is pretty well established and I think their friendship is as well. So it comes as no surprise that Brennan is furious with Booth when, after believing for two weeks that he had died protecting her, she not only finds out he’s still alive but that he didn’t call to tell her he was okay.
Booth tells her the FBI was supposed to notify her that he was still alive and he was only following protocol since it was a matter of national security, but Brennan refuses to accept this excuse, insisting that he should have disregarded protocol and called her personally. He had broken protocol in the past, after all, and put her life in danger because of it. Booth somewhat grudgingly promises to find out why she wasn’t told, quipping, “Next time I die I promise I’ll tell you.” It’s perhaps not the most sincere mea culpa, but it’s apparently enough for Brennan who responds, “I’ll look forward to that.”
In all fairness to Booth, he isn’t completely to blame for this fiasco. As it turns out, Sweets made the decision (in the interest of national security, of course) to not tell Brennan the truth because he felt her ability to compartmentalize meant that she could “handle” his death. Much to Booth’s dismay, Brennan agrees with Sweets, until Booth is out of earshot, and then she gives Sweets a tongue-lashing he won’t soon forget!
The Con Man in the Meth Lab
We’ve seen Booth get mad at Brennan plenty of times before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as mad as he was in this episode. I’m always a little shocked at the intensity of his anger when he asks her, “Do you think I’m a loser?” But at the same time, I can’t blame him because Brennan should have known better than to date Jared and she should have known better than to believe what Jared said about Booth instead of what she knew to be true. I don’t think it’s an accident that her toast to Booth, the “quiet man, the invisible man…the real alpha male,” at his birthday celebration sounds an awful lot like an apology. And forgiveness? Well forgiveness came in a smile,
a slight nod of the head, and a quiet confession to a trusted partner and friend.
A Night at the Bones Museum
It’s all about the egg.
Sigh. You’d think Brennan would know by now not to date people who are connected to Booth. It never seems to end well. When Brennan inadvertently tells her date, FBI Assistant Deputy Director Hacker, why Booth refuses to eat the meatloaf at the Founding Fathers and Hacker mentions it to Booth, well…he’s justifiably upset. Brennan doesn’t understand the reason why until Booth tells her, “what goes on between us is ours.” She apologizes by taking Booth to the museum exhibit opening instead of Hacker and when Booth calls her on it, she answers, “What goes on between us, that should just be ours. Isn’t that what you say?”
And Booth? Well, Booth is so willing to let bygones be bygones that he almost…
The Parts in the Sum of the Whole
It took me awhile to decide whether I wanted to use this example first or last because even though the episode aired towards the end of season five, chronologically the events in question actually happened before my first example in season one. I’m talking, of course, about the series of events that started with too much tequila and ended with Brennan slapping Booth and then storming out of the FBI building swearing that she would never work with him again.
This is the first wrong done between them and it has, perhaps, the farthest reaching consequences. It’s also a situation in which I feel they both held an equal share of the blame.
Sarah says in her 100DaysofBones review of the 100th episode:
“We have seen them over the years as they came to know one another’s issues and pasts and family lives, etc, etc, but for them to have…within the first week of knowing one another…just pinpointed right to the heart of each other’s…pain…I don’t even know what to say. Please tell me I’m not the only who just could not breathe. That Booth will struggle with the idea that he’s not smart enough for her for YEARS just so makes sense (along with the idea that she doesn’t want to work with him).”
And it does take years. For both of them. It’s thirteen months before Brennan even agrees to work with Booth again, and even longer before they are both able to move past their anger enough to build a successful partnership…friendship…relationship. Ironically, I think the events at the end of The Girl in the Fridge – Booth’s apology and Brennan’s subsequent forgiveness – are the first signs of that shift.
So where are they now? Well, I kind of think they’re back at the beginning (the real beginning). What if Brennan’s initial rejection of Booth’s romantic/sexual advances during the Gemma Arrington case was the match that ignited that firestorm of anger and bitterness between them? Feelings were hurt, mean things were said, and one thing led to another until everything just exploded. If that’s the case, then it’s possible that Brennan’s second rejection (which wasn’t inherently “wrong” by the way) at the end of the 100th episode had a similar effect. Only this time it was more of a slow burn. It took months before Booth’s pain and confusion finally exploded into anger in the heat of the Afghan desert. And now here we are. Booth is angry and bitter at Brennan for breaking up their partnership and not calling him once in seven months. He is essentially unable to let go and move on. So what they’re left with is the same tentative, uneasy partnership that characterized the first part of season one. The one glaring difference is that Brennan seems much more willing to forgive Booth’s sometimes bad behavior towards her than she’s been in the past. But regardless of where the fault lies now, they both bear some responsibility for the carnage. And this time, as with the first time, the need for apology and forgiveness is mutual.
So does that mean there’s no hope? Are Booth and Brennan destined to keep burning each other until there’s nothing left but ashes? I don’t think so. The apologies and forgiveness – they’ll come eventually. Why? Because despite the fact that we can’t currently see it and they won’t presently admit it, they both love each other deeply. Because inasmuch as a cool, pounding rain has the power to quench the fury of a forest fire, so too can a simple act of grace smooth over even the roughest edges of anger and bitterness. How can we love without grace? Thankfully for Booth and Brennan the answer is that we can’t.
So, what is your favorite Booth and Brennan forgiveness moment? Do you think Booth’s current attitude towards Brennan is indicative of a lack of forgiveness on his part? Does either one of them owe the other an apology? And finally, what does loving without grace mean to you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!