Bones Theory

Bah Bones Humbug!


{Edit from Seels: No Morning After Q this week, since we’ve got an ongoing Q in our “Best Christmas Ep Ever” discussion, which is here…if you haven’t voted yet, be sure to do so by midnight Pacific Time on Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve, yay! As Booth would say, it’s both an eve and a day…it’s (say it with me now), a Christmas Miracle! Okay, okay…now let’s hear from the lovely Skole!}

Well…Ho, Ho, Ho! It’s Christmas week. The silly season is upon us once again…and I intend my last statement very literally – because when it comes to this time of year, I get a little…well, humbug about the whole thing. I’m not a fan of Christmas…but I am a fan of BONES Christmas episodes, which may appear to be an assertion that indicates an imminent psychotic break, but I assure you it’s not insanity; it’s just an inability to suspend reality. I’ll try to explain by inviting discussion of the Season 1, 3 and 5 BONES Christmas episodes from the humbuggery perspective (Yes, it sounds quite naughty when put that way, but it has such a lovely Christmas-y ring to it…).

Temperance Brennan: Both Naughty & Nice In The Lab


The thing that makes the episodes something special to a humbug like me, is that they are so wonderfully, bittersweet. The world of BONES is full-bodied and fortified, probably a lot like that glass of port you’ll be sipping on; but when it boils down to the bones of BONES we get plenty of stories about bad things happening to good people. It makes my humbuggy heart sing – okay, okay, a heart ‘cannot’ sing – let’s just make some squinty reference to endorphin-triggered effects on cardiac contractility and get back on track.

I work at a hospital and we tend to get a little…well, irreverent when it comes to Christmas decorations, because the decorations don’t really change the reality of the job. That doesn’t mean we don’t get into the spirit of things, far from it…here’s a picture of my office door decoration as proof. The tag on the bag says “Squint Toys” because this is my rendition of Santa getting stuck in the Jeffersonian chimney…my bad! I made the skull Christmas wrapping paper myself.

Just a few days ago I was dressed up as a pink Christmas elf…I’m talking bright pink, with pigtails and a black tutu. I’m not submitting a photo of that, because trust me, redheads shouldn’t wear pink…ever. You see, even humbugs can have BONES-style fun at Christmas!

People who work with death, dying and bad stuff happening to people can, understandably be cynical about Christmas. It doesn’t matter how many decorations are hung, how many cookies or how much eggnog is consumed…at the end of day, it is impossible to put aside reality and be artificially joyous. The fact that Christmas episodes of BONES explore this honestly is a great thing in my opinion. In The Man in the Fallout Shelter, there were so many reasons to destroy the Christmas experience thrown at our favourite characters, I mean, who could enjoy that experience?  Well, Booth could with his fortuitous reaction to the anti-fungal drugs… Santa in the Slush had bad things happening to people at Christmas; the security guard having his Christmas money stolen, Brennan’s family in Federal prison, Booth not being able to see his son. Likewise, in Goop on the Girl, the poor mother of the patsy Santa who had to bury her son at Christmas. Brennan’s empathy was portrayed perfectly as a person who works with the goopy side of life – even though you can detach yourself to a point, Brennan showed she has humanity… “Isn’t it heart crushing?” Yes, Brennan. It is. No matter how many horrors you’ve seen.

Dark events are just a little darker at Christmas…and conversely, light things are just a little lighter. Christmas is not a happy time for many people and if it is a tough time for you and yours, I hope you can tough it out, or just adopt Daisy Wick’s stance and tell people that you’re not a humbug, you’re just waiting until March. For Brennan, Christmas is not really filled with happy memories, but over the years, she seems to be appreciating that even though she doesn’t enjoy it herself that others place a lot of value on the season.

The message of Christmas that I get from BONES is an open acknowledgement that bad things happen to good people at Christmas, and that a little levity goes a long way, as do good deeds to those who are in a bad place. Apparently, it’s also really cool to kill Santa.

So now, I’m curious. When you watch a Christmas episode, are you being a humbug like me?    Do you think the BONES writers have something against Christmas and Santa in particular?

Let’s Discuss!


Author: Skole

I'm an irreverent Yorkshire lass, who got shipped to the colonies in the 80's. Taking every opportunity since, I've ended up with a cornucopia of mad skills and qualifications...think insufferable 'Jack of all trades' - everything fascinates me. The FOX TV show BONES is fascinating. I stumbled across it in 2009. Having worked clinically with bones (a decade of trauma Orthopaedics) I have a good LOL at the chest X-rays and CT scan slices of skeletonised 'victims' that have expanded lung fields, cardiac shadows and diaphragms...I could find a solution to that...Hart, call me. Despite being a fairly serious, reserved type; there is a flamboyant creative energy in me that simply begs to be unleashed. Writing is one way that I balance my brain-bending workload.

8 thoughts on “Bah Bones Humbug!

  1. I don’t say i’m humbug by the Bones x-mas episodes. I love to think HH SN and company is showing to us that even worse things could happen w/ good people on X-mas in the end you have your family ,your friends and the love of your life to get through this w/ you. You’re not alone cuz there one more kind of family. Merry X-mas.

  2. I agree with your overall assessment of the Bones Christmas episodes, but I don’t think the writers “open acknowledgement that bad things happen to good people at Christmas and a little levity goes a long way” formula is that much different from the formula they use for any other episode (a certain humorous irreverence coupled with the the rather sobering reality that there is pain and suffering in this world). I think it’s our perception of the season that makes them seem so bittersweet.

    And yet, I can’t help but think that the take-away message from all three Christmas episodes (as it is with many of the regular Bones episodes) is meant to be uplifting. We are meant to believe that despite all of the mean, nasty, horrible things that go on in the world, there is still hope.

    Here’s my take:

    The Man in the Fallout Shelter: The scene where Brennan opens the card and presents from her parents is certainly said, but I think we are also meant to feel a certain sense of triumph as well. Even the story of careful Lionel and Ivey Gillespie, tragic as it seems, is ultimately uplifting. After all, in some small way both Brennan and Ivey found peace.

    The Santa in the Slush: Easily the most happily irreverant of the three, and yet, we get the typical Hollywood happy ending. Yeah, Booth is grumpy most of the eipsode because he isn’t going to get Christmas with Parker, but everything still works out in the end (even if it’s not quite the way everyone expected). Heck, even the Brennan criminal element, who have to celebrate Christmas in an inadequately decorated conjugal trailer, get their Christmas tree – albeit from a distance.

    The Goop on the Girl: Sad. Yes. Tragic. Yes. And yet…we’re still left believing that redemption IS possible. At least that’s how I interpret Owen Thiel’s radio broadcast. And thanks to Booth and Brennan and the rest of the Jeffersonian team, the victim’s mother didn’t have to bury her son alone on Christmas.

    Hmmm…I guess I’m not very humbuggy after all.

  3. I love the Bones Christmas shows and have never thought any humbug thoughts while watching them. Each show actually shows us the true meaning of Christmas, which is, family and friends. Booth, who obviously loves Christmas very much always seems to get the short end of the stick and yet in the end he seems to be happy. The look of pure wonder on his face in “Santa In The Slush” , when he visited the apartment of the dead Santa, says it all to me. He was like a small child seeing the home of Santa. He just looked overwhelmed and truly happy.
    Even though Bones presents us with a murder and some unhappy characters in each Christmas episode, we get to see the professional at work, trying to solve the crime with humor and humanity. Bones shows the human side of the cops and techs. They have to do their job, as nasty as it can be sometimes, and yet they still find a way to celebrate Christmas. I find that very thoughful. We know being a cop, or doctor, or nurse, etc can be tough anytime of the year; but, I imagine it can be very trying during what is supposed to be the most cheerful time of the year. My Dad was career army and how well I remember when my Dad was sent to Vietnam when I was a kid. He was fighting a war during Christmas, seperated from his family and friends, in a foreign country. He didn’t want to be there but duty called and he had to be there. As tough as it was on him, he kept the Christmas spirit. He was sad to be away from his family but he managed to send letters to each of his kids with small presents. He could have been a humbug; but, he did his best not to be. That is how I see Bones. These people have to do a job and they do it. They try not to be humbuggy and for the most part they are not. The truth be told, these Christmas shows make me sad and happy at the same time. That is how life is and that is how Bones shows life. I really appreciate it.

  4. I don’t think the writers have anything against Christmas or Santa. The episodes are all happy in their own Bones-y way. It’s hard to make a really feel good episode when there has to be a murder involved. I honestly think all the episodes are actully pretty happy and in good spirits, or that’s the impression I get. There are some depressing parts like Santa being blown up and the fact that Brennan’s parents disappeared around Christmas, but the nice moments like Booth and Parker bringing the Christmas tree, the Christmas dinner at Bones’ house and Ivy finding out the truth about Lionel make the episodes more happy than sad, I think.

  5. I don’t think the writers have anything against Christmas. Rather, I think they get something society mostly misses: that the true meaning of Christmas isn’t that miracles always happen or that it’s somehow the time of year when death and darkness take a holiday, but rather, it’s a time for focusing on hope, on becoming aware of what we have rather than what we don’t, that in the midst of darkness and despair we can find good, or create good, for ourselves and others.

    I’ve got a sister and a niece who are nurses, and I think the hardest professions to be in at Christmas must be medical, fire, and police work – those who see that neither natural death nor human cruelty ever pause.

    And yet, so often, Christmas is when we see the best in people towards strangers, that which says, ‘no matter the darkness, hope remains.’ A family was burglarized here two nights ago, and all their gifts for their two kids taken…the cops investigating pooled their money, collected from others, and replaced the gifts. We saw this in my family a few years ago when my nephew lost his house (and a beloved dog) in a fire ten days before Christmas. He had insurance, but what made that year was the efforts from near-strangers to make sure they still had the best possible Christmas.

    That’s what I see in Bones. No miracles of the ‘death takes a holiday’ kind, because that’s not real. That’s not what life usually gives us. Instead, we have a woman burying her only son on Christmas morning, alone. And yet eight strangers give up their Christmas morning to show her that her son mattered, that they understand he was a good man, just doing his job. That for a little while, she’s not alone, after all. Does that lessen the pain of burying him? No, it doesn’t. But maybe, as she goes forward into a lonely life without him, the knowledge that in a world where people can take her son from her in selfishness and greed, there are also people who will give up Christmas morning to stand with her will somehow make a difference.

    Similarly, in a world where two members of a family are in prison, it’s still possible for love to make a Christmas – even including a Christmas tree despite rules against it. Hope and joy despite the darkness.

    And for the woman who’s spent her life believing she was alone and unloved by the man she’d believed in? Nothing Brennan or anyone else can do can bring Lyle back to Ivy. But Brennan spends all Christmas Eve hunting for her to tell her the truth – that she was loved, after all. It doesn’t bring him back, doesn’t undo all those years she’d believed the worst of him. But the knowledge she was loved makes a difference to Ivy, and in giving her that, Brennan begins stumbling toward her own closure over her parents.

    So that’s what I see in the Christmas eps. That in a world where terrible things happen (sometimes through no one’s fault (natural death), or, what’s even worse, when people do those terrible things to others, human beings can still reach out to offer one another hope. I spent my fourteenth Christmas knowing my mother had only weeks to live (she died Feb 6) and yet, the other thing I remember from that Christmas was the people who took the time to make it as special as possible for us, who, over and over, sent the message, ‘you’re not alone now, won’t be alone then.’

    In other words, I see the same message in the Christmas eps as I do the entire series: in a world that can be dark to an incomprehensible degree (whether it’s a young girl abandoned by her family right before Christmas or all the ways people can kill one another), there’s more than one kind of family and a love can grow that’s deep enough to survive anything (even Hannah!)

  6. I don’t know if the writers have anything against Christmas, but they DO have this somewhat giddy and sadistic tendency to gross us out. We haven’t had too gross of bodies this season, but things like Cinderella in the Cardboard…Gamer in the Grease…ick to the nth degree!
    So in that way, it’s not an antagonistic feel toward Christmas, but just more of a fun and needling way of being edgy and all of that. I love it. I think it’s funny, especially when combined with Booth’s somewhat innocent approach to Christmas and Brennan’s anthropological viewpoint.

    And I gotta say, I love your door decorations.

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