Bones Theory

Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity: In Defense of Seeley Booth


Fun fact! Pal Jen (NatesMama) emailed me with an article she’d written titled “In Defense of Seeley Booth”, and I had to laugh, as that was already the title of the post I had planned for today. Great minds indeed do think alike. Here’s the link to her article, if you are so inclined. It’s really worth a read! 

I guess this post is sort of along the lines of the Booth Has Not Changed post I did a few Mondays ago.  I wanted to sort of keep myself accountable; did I really believe what I’d said. And  likewise, I think it’s always a good idea to sort of revisit things, to see if they are still true.

And then it sort of hit me. Can things be true at one point but then not true later in time? I guess we’re getting into relativism in some ways, but I’m just wondering if it’s true that Booth loved Brennan and wanted a life with her and it’s possible that he could love Hannah currently.

Can they both be true? I think the answer is yes. In my own life, I’ve loved different men at different times, in different ways also. There were moments, in each of those times, where I considered the feelings I had for that man to be it. The end all…that was final. But, whether it was physical distance or emotional or whatever that moved us apart from one another…now I think of each one (mostly, ha) fondly with a general affection, but not with as fiery of a passion.

Now…do I currently work day in and day out with any of them. No, I don’t. Would that complicate matters, especially if I were in a serious relationship with someone new? Yes, possibly. And is it also true that the love/partnership/etc that Booth and Brennan shared is ‘more’ than what I’ve had in my relationships? Yeah, I think it’s fair to say that.

So it’s impossible for me to call Booth out on this idea that he’s promised to love Brennan for the rest of his life. I just see no proof of that. He said he wanted to find someone to love him for 30,40,50 years. That’s not the same as declaring his lifelong love for someone. He’s called the “knight in shining FBI standard issue body armor”, but here’s the thing about armor…it’s meant to protect the person wearing it.  His FBI deal (Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity) is the shield he guards his heart with, literally (bulletproof vest) and figuratively (“Bones and I…we’re just partners.”).

A lot has been said about the fact that Booth felt the final sting of rejection from Brennan in the season five finale, but I’d argue that it comes sooner than that. No, not in the 100th episode, but in The Boy with the Answer. THAT is when Brennan doesn’t answer his question about the reassurance of their partnership. That’s when he asks her to stay and have another drink with him, and she gets into the cab again with no promise of seeing him the next day.

That is also, I believe, when Brennan is making good on her belief that Booth needs protected from her. Yes, she verbalizes that to Angela in BitE, but the thoughts and all of that are there in the penultimate season five ep. She feels as if Heather Taffet wants revenge on her, and Booth was/could be a victim in that scenario. She must protect Booth from a broken heart (not possible) and also from physical pain.

But this post is about Booth, so let’s get back to him.

I don’t want to project my issues onto Booth, but we do share some similarities, as I’ve mentioned before (I believe). He sort of suffers from the ‘oldest sibling’ issue of feeling guilty when something good happens to him. I also deal with that sometimes. Maybe it’s not the oldest sibling thing, maybe some of you feel that too, no matter your birth order. But there’s sort of this ingrained ‘sacrificial’ element to it. “Don’t walk away from the shopping cart; your little brother might see you and follow your example,” or “You’re the oldest, it’s your responsibility to…” etc. Booth’s family life is the complete opposite of mine, so in his scenario, there’s even more of a self-imposed sense of responsibility.

Running alongside that, however, is this desire to sort of have something, all to ourselves…something good. When it happens, sure, you struggle with guilt, but when it doesn’t happen, there’s not so much disappointment as just confirmation that you didn’t deserve it in the first place. But there’s also a slight flare of anger there. Why is it so unfair, we might ask in a low moment we’re ashamed of later. Why can’t just once things work out the way we want them to?

And I think that might be where Booth is at. It’s unfair. INCREDIBLY unfair that Brennan is ‘open enough to see it’ right now. If we feel like Brennan is sort of a tragic story at this moment, I’d argue that Booth is in just as much of a quandary as she is. That’s why I loved Skole’s post so much on ‘Hell’, as it reminded me, from a literary perspective, that this is a natural plot line…for comedies, in the classical sense. I read it and thought, “yeah dummy (me, not you), duh.”  If you take a classic comedy, let’s say The Importance of Being Earnest compared to a classic tragedy, for example, Oedipus Rex, there is a clear plot diagram (I won’t draw it for you, but you know what I’m talking about). It’s always darkest before the dawn, or as pal Smurfs and I like to say, the shadow proves the sunshine. We’re not watching a tragedy. That gives me hope.

For someone like Booth (again, in my opinion), I think he’ll sort of go back and forth about it. He’ll wonder why things can’t…just once…work out for him in the way he has in mind. After having no one who loves him (in his mind), now he has two women’s emotions on his hands, something Booth would take incredibly seriously.

Is there a teensy part of him that might want to yell at Brennan, “You had your chance!” Sure, maybe. But he might not even mean it. It’s more a reflection of feeling like you just want to stand outside on a starry night, open your arms in frustration, and yell as loud as you can, hoping that somewhere…someone is listening and understands your pain.

Did Booth actively look for love? I’m not sure about that. How much time passed between the scene on the bench between B&B in Beginning in the End and the airport scene? Also, I’m not sure. How much time has passed since they’ve returned? I don’t know that either.

Is he perfect? No. Does he probably have more pain in store? Unfortunately, yes. Does this break my heart in advance? Resoundingly, yes.  There is no way this ends well. THAT’s been my issue with the H storyline…not so much the idea of it or the execution, as it’s been discussed at length. It’s just my complete dread in the fact that there is no possible way it ends well for all three people involved. Not possible.

Having said all of that, Booth has remained a faithful partner, a brave warrior and a man with integrity in all of this. Again, not perfect…but still good. I loved what pal Cynthia said the other day about B&B, and I may talk more about it someday, but here…

When Brennan started talking in the car on Thursday’s episode, I wondered whether or not she would bring it up. I was saying to myself, “Are you really going to go there? Really? Don’t you know what his reaction is going to be?” I squirmed my way through the first time (I had to look away from the screen because I couldn’t deal with both the words that they were saying and the looks on their faces at the same time–it was just too much emotion).

But then after several viewings of that scene (this was before I got to 100), what I came to feel was pride in how brave and honest she was. That’s the thing that I keep thinking about Brennan–is that she is as honest and straightforward as she knows how to be the minute she realizes something. There are no games with her. The only thing she knows how to do is to tell the truth as she knows it at that moment, regardless of what effect it might have. I sometimes honestly don’t think her mind works in a way that anticipates how others might react to her statements. When I was asking her “Don’t you know what his reaction is going to be?”, I think I realized that she doesn’t. When she says she’s a scientist, she’s not kidding. She doesn’t do well with predicting or anticipating psychological reactions–she does much better when she’s analyzing, interpreting and drawing conclusions from data that’s already there.

And so–in this scene, she’s discovered something and the only thing I think she knows how to do is to say it honestly. She’s discovered a regret–in my mind because she has finally had an observers view of multiple perspectives on data that we as watchers of the show have (or think we have)…the data of herself and the way that she relates to others. And I think there’s one person that she shares her discoveries with. He’s sitting right next to her and happens to be related to the discovery.


Is that fair to Booth? Is it really fair for him to be expected to both be her ‘problem’ and solution? How hard is it that he can’t really be her ‘answer’? I feel like if we’re stunned by it, and if Brennan is stunned by it, then Booth is just as stunned if not more. Jen wrote in her post that…

“Brennan might compartmentalize well, but she could actually learn a thing or two from Seeley Booth in that area. Yes, he wears his heart on his sleeve, if you know when to look. But it’s fleeting and almost always squelched immediately.”


And I still contend that Booth has confidence in the ways of the heart, except when it comes to Brennan’s affection for him. For the first time ever…EVER!…it’s out there, on the table, and it’s his call. What will we see from him? (no spoilers, please; that is rhetorical, haha). I’m guessing we’ll see a man with a lion’s heart, caught in a new cosmic balance sheet, though not completely of his own making. We’ll see him suffer a bit (oh heart, may you break only into easily fixed pieces instead of millions of shattered shards), we’ll see him grow stronger, we’ll see him love and be loved.

Fidelity. Bravery. Integrity.

Seeley Booth.

Thoughts from you?

Peace, Love & Bones,



18 thoughts on “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity: In Defense of Seeley Booth

  1. *sigh*

    Poor Booth. Is it bad that I ached a little more for him than I did for Brennan in that scene in the car? Yeah? Ah well.

    I ache for both of them. It’s going to get worse before it gets better…but it will be amazing television in the interim.

  2. Sarah,
    Once again, I love your post and agree with wholeheartedly. Booth does personify “Fidelity, Integrity, Bravery” and yes, he is by no means perfect, but he always triesbto do his best. I also agree that he deals with a lot of guilt for both anything bad that happens to anyone and even some for having something good.
    I totally believe you can love two people at the same time and love different people in different ways at different times and none of it diminishes the strength or the truth of those feelings. I have.
    I agree Booth will be facing heartache in the future, and like you, hope it isn’t too bad.
    Jen, I will be clicking the link to read your essay next.

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  4. Do you think that there is a part of Booth that is still in protecting mode (both for himself & Brennan) when he responds to her? Not to take away from the integrity of “sticking true” to Hannah, but Brennan has clearly had a rough couple of days. He knows her and even though those are words that he wants to hear, he may not trust them very much at this point. She has not been herself and he is not really sure what all is going on. His lack of confidence may not allow him to believe that she will “feel the same way in the morning.”

  5. What struck me most about Booth’s response to Brennan’s revelation was when he said,” The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but those are the facts”. Facts are Brennan’s lifeline and he knows that. His words were carefully chosen to spare her, to protect her as much as possible from the inevitable pain. He never said anything about his feelings, and he may not for a while. But, he looked near tears when he asked if she wanted him to call someone. I think it hurt him to ask that as much as it hurt her to hear it. Beautifully done.

  6. I thought it interesting that Booth talked so quietly with Brennan in the car. Her declaration that she had “made a mistake and missed her chance” was powerful and so heart wrenching that I felt that Booth was trying to be calm in front of Brennan; but, at the same time he was confused about what was going on with her emotional outburst and was trying to figure out how to respond. That he said that he adjusted speaks volumes to me. It is not a rejection of what Brennan said; but, a fact that Booth felt that Brennan should know and understand what happened in the past between them was very powerful, emotionally , for him. His quiet response to Brennan told me that he was very sad about this whole mess but he didn’t know what to do about it. Booth was trying to be a friend to Brennan and not hurt her and at the same time he was trying to protect himself. She didn’t declare her love for him. She just said “she missed her chance”. How can he know what that means? Does Brennan even know what that means?

  7. I was somewhat heartened by the fact that many of the posts regarding Booth’s reaction to the confession were supportive. After all the “down with Booth” sentiment expressed in the last few months (though thankfully, not generally on this wonderful site) it was nice to see people appreciate the quandary that Booth is in and the fact that he is an honorable man with few options left to him at this point. He was as kind in that scene as he could be, not bringing up the past and his own pain, and he was also honest about the current state of affairs, not wanting to lead Brennan on in any way. There were complaints that he didn’t approach her physically but I don’t see how he could. His love for her has always been expressed through little physical moments and a hug now might be misinterpreted and might feel a little like cheating to him. He’s also deeply aware that he is the very source of her anguish and can’t at this point offer her any relief, hence his offer to get someone else for her. That he still cares for Brennan is beyond doubt-earlier he gets Sweets to talk to her, and most significant, he secretly watches out for her and follows her to the bad neighborhood.

    Regarding the ability to love more than one person at once, it is definitely possible but usually requires burying your feelings for one of the people if the other relationship is going to stand a chance. This is what Booth has been doing so far and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he would have feelings for Hannah. They have made her character likable, despite what we as an audience might think of her. She’s nice to Booth, to his son and to his friends and clearly wanted to be with him. It would be strange indeed if he didn’t have feelings for her.

    And I definitely agree that he’s in for his share of pain; he’s forced himself to move on because he couldn’t continue to work with Brennan otherwise and someone else has made a sacrifice to be with him, but that doesn’t mean that Brennan’s admission won’t start to gnaw at him. It does seem cosmically unfair to be offered what you always wanted when you can’t possibly accept it, not if you’re a decent human being. As someone else said (and I would give credit if remembered where I read it), Seeley Booth is the best part of the best of men, not because he is perfect, but because he always tries to do the right thing even when he comes out the loser in the bargain. These attempts will often lead to conflict because you can’t possibly make things right for everyone all the time-a choice between competing needs will have to be made, often at a price to oneself. But I have faith that ultimately Booth’s, and Brennan’s, goodness will be rewarded and that all their sacrifices will right the cosmic balance sheet.

  8. Fantastic insight into Booth’s mind, especially about how he may be experiencing guilt and anger in addition to pain and regret. He really did look physically ill in the car scene, with good reason.

    Cynthia’s analysis of Brennan’s thought processes about discovering and sharing her regret is also spot-on. I hope Brennan is still gathering data about relationships, though. She can’t give up yet!

  9. Oh Booth, how we love thee…

    I really enjoyed your post about this. We all tend to put Booth up on a pedestal, and yet we’re quick to knock him off as soon as he says something honest that isn’t entirely selfless. That’s pretty unfair of us, isn’t it? I mean, he’s a great guy and he deserves all the best in life, yet we can’t seem to cut him some slack when he decides to put his own interests first when it comes to his love life. There are a fair share of Brennan-bashers too, especially for the same reasons, but somehow I feel like she has it easier from us fans.

    In reading your post, it made me reflect on my own fleeting experience in loving two people at once. Believe it or not, it made me understand Season 6 Booth a bit better. You see what an influence you have! 😀 The one time this happened to me, I was getting over a break-up with my first boyfriend while a new guy was pursuing me. I’m the type of person that doesn’t give her heart easily, and when I do give it away, it’s for keeps. I was devastated over the break-up, but I had this great guy interested in me who just wouldn’t give up. Going through all the stages of grief, I came to the conclusion one day that I simply had to let the first guy go – acceptance – and this allowed me to start a relationship with the new guy, though in order to maintain that acceptance, I had to physically and emotionally distance myself from the old boyfriend to give the new relationship a chance. It was made hard by the fact that we did see each other every day (though not like B&B do). Ultimately, with time, I was able to move on and my life has never been happier, since I married the guy who didn’t give up. 🙂

    Now, I’m not saying that I want Booth to give up on Brennan and be with Hannah! I guess my point is, I now understand his need to distance himself from her in order to try and move on. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to deal with finding out the person that you loved and let go does indeed love you after you’ve already moved on. That just seems too painful and unfair, but such is the reality of B&B at this stage. Booth did the only thing he could that was fair to all parties – he showed Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity by not clouding his conscience and told the truth as it stands, despite the pain it will cause him and everyone involved.

    Ultimately, we all know what we want, and sadly that means that all parties are probably going to experience more pain than we want to see, but I guess that’s what makes this show so great. BONES is not afraid to take the difficult road when it comes to storylines, and it gives us fantastic, heart-breaking, exhilarating moments that touch at the heart of humanity. I guess we all just have to buckle down and wait for the conclusion of this ride.

  10. I believe we can – and do – love more than one person at a time, because each love is different with a different individual. Each one having their own assets and qualities that attracted you to that person in the first place.

    And I wholeheartedly agree that the final blow for Booth was not the 100th but in The Boy with the Answer – when he really lost hope. The anguished tone of his voice and pain on his face in the DitP car scene when he was replying to Brennan showed how much it hurt him to say what he did to her…because he does not wish to add to her despair, but the reality of the situation is clear. Booth is being as honest with her as she is with him, and to have him respond any differently would have been a disservice to who he is…because he is an honorable man. His fidelity, bravery and integrity are not even in question, in my eyes. I’ve seen nothing to make me assume otherwise.

    I actually felt more sadness for Booth in the car than for Brennan, because now Booth is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. True to his nature, he will carry on as best he can, but it will ultimately rest squarely on his shoulders to continue working with Brennan and being with Hannah…keeping everything as normal as possible under the circumstances. That’s a lot of pressure on Booth, and I’m not convinced he’ll be able to hold all this together. Booth’s love for Brennan is so much stronger than what he has with Hannah, and it will prevail, I have no doubt, so there will heartache for him…knowing what he now knows..and feels morally helpless to change, because of who he is. So…Booth can’t win. He’s got the most to lose.

    Now I’d like to pose a question that’s been bugging me – maybe one that deserves its own post. What if the roles were reversed? What if it was Brennan that got turned down in the 100th…moved on…and found someone new? Would everyone be as upset about HER finding a new love? I’m thinking, no. People wouldn’t hate her for doing what Booth is doing. So…why the double standard? Why do we expect Booth to act differently than what we would expect from Brennan?

    • Great post. I think the reason we would not hate Brennan as much is because we don’t think her relationships will last very long unless it is with Booth. Booth offered her a different kind of love than she has known before and she does not know how to have that with anyone except Booth. Does that make sense? Her dating never bothered me but when Booth dates, it always have the potential to turn series.

      • I totally agree that Brennan has never had a connection to a man in the way she does with Booth. And we do dismiss her “flings” because we know they won’t amount to anything. But what if one of them did turn serious? In my little scenario and truly to be a role reversal, this would be a real possibility. So…just wondering if that would precipitate the same kind of disapproval that we’re seeing now. I’d like – really – to be proven wrong, but from what I perceive, fans would be more tolerant of Brennan because they identify more with her and would rationalize and accept her decision to move on much more easily than they did for Booth. I’d hope the reaction would be equal, but I have my doubts for these reasons. Does that make sense? Someone please tell me I’m delusional! I think about these things way too much. LOL!

  11. I believe Booth is in love with Hannah, but I also think he loves and understands Brennan in ways that he can never love and understand someone else. Remember the scene in last episode where Hannah explains why nobody missed the doctor. When he looked at Brennan in that scene, he knew what she was thinking, and it worried him. If one of them hurts, the other hurts, and that still goes
    So now Booth knows that Brennan is unhappy. Is he going to be able to stand watching that? And what if Brennan crawls back into her shell. In the past he would never have allowed her to, but now? As he said, the last thing he wants is to hurt Brennan, so it must be painfull for him to see her hurting (and it’s not like he can escape to Indonesia to avoid that pain, because he has Hannah). Perhaps he also knows that that same hurt that he sees in Brennan is what drove him to Afganistan(danger) and Hannah in an effort to overcome it.

    I am not surprised that many fans on other sites are dissing Booth, because directly after the 100th episode many people were dissing Brennan (and saying the show was ruined now and they were going to stop watching etc. etc. etc.) It’s just frustration and I wouldn’t worry about it.

  12. My heart hurt for Booth in that scene.

    I hurt for Brennan as well, of course i did. To come to such a realisation but too late? It’s heartbreaking…but whatever way this goes i think she is better for it. Brennan needed to feel that pain, that emotion. She needs to grow as a person, and she can’t do that if she never FEELS. So, all in all i think she needed this moment. This realisation. This regret.

    But Booth. Oh Booth, he is now in a situation not if his making. He moved on, found a woman he could love who could love him. And now this…how is he supposed to handle this? There’s no blueprint for him to follow, no way he can navigate his way through this without hurting Brennan, Hannah and himself. He’s never wanted to hurt Brennan, and in this moment she left him no choice. And that will kill him.

  13. Oh!! The wound is opened! For both of them!! The game is on!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Lovin’ all this angst!! 🙂 🙂

  14. This will be very interesting to see. How it’s handled by all involved.As long as in the end Booth and Brennan find their way back to each other,I’ll be happy and very relieved. 🙂

  15. I really disagree with all the hating Booth stuff, so i’m glad that you made this post Seels. Because we are so learned in Brennan’s past and current situations (the show is called “Bones” after all) we sometimes forget about what Booth has gone through with regards to family, and military etc., as well as what he is currently going through, not only with his feelings for Brennan, and now Hannah, but also the stresses that he must feel from work. So all this “it was Booth’s fault, he should know better” stuff annoys me sometimes.

    Anyways, back on track, I believe someone can love more than 1 person at a time, but for different reasons and in different ways. I doubt he could know Hannah as well as he knows Brennan (Hannah did say he knew her well, but then again, i’m sure Brennan felt that way about 4 or 5 years ago, there’s been a lot of growth since then). I also this Booth’s love for Brennan also stretches over a lot of the different areas i.e. he loves her for her beauty, and truthfulness and quirkiness, but also for the fact that she has grown so much due to him and that she listens to him… and the list could go on.

    Also, about what you said about his “older sibling” syndrome and the sacrificial element that it brings. I’m an older sibling myself, so I agree completely that you feel as if it is your duty to give something up so as your younger sibling can have it or doesn’t have to deal with it. I also have the part where if something good happens to me I struggle with the guilt so much, it hurts, but then when I don’t get my way I just deal with it, and usually the teasing that comes from my brother as well. I feel that it’s unfair though, and I wish something would go right for me for once, but then the whole vicious cycle starts over again. However, this happens to me in every relationship I have, pretty much; not only my brother, but also all my friends. I agree Booth must’ve been going through his “this is unfair” moment up until now (it would explain why he has been sortta off since PitSotW) but I also feel that he will now go through the guilty phase; he has now been presented with how sad Brennan is and knows that he has been feeling good while she has been struggling and so now i expect he will start to feel guilty, and this will probably show up in his relationships.

    Thanks for the post 🙂

  16. There is a way that it can end ok. Booth and Hannah have to start mutually realizing that they want other things. Booth starts realizing that Brennan is the woman for him and Brennan continues to love Booth.

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