Bones Theory

Memo From the Universe


Morning all…

When I finally got to see the ‘Doctor in the Photo’ episode, no thanks to dratted time zones and evening work functions; the only benefit here being that I had plenty of red wine on board before I watched, surprisingly, I didn’t cry – not sure if that was the alcohol, or the fact that I had some real life bad news at the time that placed these fictional events into a context where I simply couldn’t go there emotionally…given time and a second viewing, a good cry might be on the agenda.

Overall, the episode delivered a raw and intimate portrait of Temperance Brennan. Emily Deschanel spoke recently in an interview of the contradictions in her character and the work that she has been doing from an acting perspective. It certainly paid off. Not knowing anything about acting methods, I imagine that this episode was exhausting in every way; physically, emotionally, mentally – whether a person has life experience to draw from, or uses strategies to create a pseudo-cache of experiential memory, it all speaks to the stellar talent that this woman has…but I’ll just truncate the fangirl ramblings here.

I’m not going to reiterate some of the very well articulated thoughts already posted in other reviews of the episode, except to say that I agree that it was Brennan’s 100th, Booth’s reaction was spot on and there was an element of redemption for Sweets in this episode which has made me put aside my Duck a l’orange recipe.

Hannah’s physical presence in this episode did come across as somewhat  superfluous if you look at it superficially, but in my red wine haze last night, I considered another perspective. The scenes at the dinner table, in the diner and in Booth’s office were all dynamically very different to the Hannah scenes seen prior – which have, to me, have always come across as being intrusive in the B&B dynamic, it’s all been about Hannah, or Hannah and Booth. Obviously, DitP is an episode from Brennan’s perspective, but the scenes communicated a turning of the tables…Hannah was the third wheel instead of Brennan. The interactions between B&B were the focus, with Hannah clearly being relegated to the role of sticking her oar into the only thing still left in the ‘what is between us, is ours’ bag. I’ll also comment here that I really enjoyed the Brennan slam dunk in the office argument…Hannah was eavesdropping, it was none of her business – from the perspective of the storyline, I think it was important that Brennan showed that while she’s accepting of Booth’s new relationship, it’s not a blind acceptance of Hannah. There is a concessional boundary that Hannah gets as Booth’s girlfriend, (unlike the hard line that the Squinterns get)  but Hannah crossed the line & Brennan let her have it both barrels – I see this as completely congruent with Brennan’s character. I also think that there is a symbolic purpose to the scenes as well (and having only seen the episode once, I could be proved wrong here). Booth is physically placed between Brennan and Hannah, at the dinner table, sitting in the diner, sat behind Booth in his office…Hannah almost becomes spectre-like, hence, we the viewers are immediately wondering why the Hell she is even there. (Here’s hoping for an exorcism )

Could I also have an uncharacteristic ‘squee’ at the “She is me” mention? To me, this is an epic nod to the 1997 X-files episode ‘Elegy’ where Scully has a similarly confronting experience with her mortality. If you haven’t seen this episode, do yourself a favour during the winter hiatus and get it on Netflix – it may give you some idea of my immediate response of the parallels that I’m alluding to here.

As for Micah, I thought that his character was simply stunning – those interactions were really the only thing that kept Brennan tethered to reality, and dare I say it, sanity. I’ve got no clue as to whether he is real or not…but if you asked me to make a call on it, I think not. It would be lovely if he wasn’t and the actor is cast in a ‘real’ character role later in the season – that would be a wonderful touch, particularly if Brennan needs another ‘Memo from the Universe’If anyone from FOX is reading this post…you can have that idea for free

My theory around Micah is that he is a symbolic personification of the Jeffersonian, of Brennan’s ‘House of Reason’– and the meaning of his name (who is like God?)  is no accident. Temperance Brennan doesn’t believe in God, she believes in the tangible, rationality of science…but she feels safe and loved at the Jeffersonian, she can be herself. Did anyone else notice that Brennan was consistently as comfortable in her interactions with Micah as she has ever been, with anyone else in her life in those delicious moments when she opens up? In an episode filled with sadness and stoicism, she smiles genuinely, even laughs, when speaking with Micah and is uncharacteristically affectionate toward him – within the context of my theory, she loves Micah as a personification of the Jeffersonian.

There was a mention of a nine year association between Micah and Brennan – BONES is sketchy on timelines, but is nine years the length of time that Brennan has been at the Jeffersonian? Interestingly, nine is a spiritually significant number in Numerology and in some religious literature. Dante’s Inferno has nine circles of Hell, with the structure of his entire epic being written in blocks of threes and sixes to make nine. There are 99 Cantos +1, representing the parts in the sum of the whole. In Numerology, nine is the end of a cycle, returning again to the beginning with the number one. There are also parallels with the Tarot as well – so I am going to very pleased when Harmonia returns with her deck of cards. (Can I just say that as I write this, it all feels a little creepy, that perhaps there is a Math geek just like me in the BONES Writer’s room?…but maybe I’m just going to rationalise it and put it down to being slightly hung over).

I also wondered within the context of my theory about the references that Micah makes about attending lectures at the Jeffersonian. The issues that Brennan takes on board from their dialogue around the perception of the Universe being turned upside down, the messages breaking through the white noise of existence. The lectures are discussed as a valuable past-time, symbolically representing the life lessons that Temperance Brennan has learned during her time at the Jeffersonian. It was also lovely that Micah brought Brennan cookies. This came across as a bit of comfort and a shout out to her inner child – remember Max and his bag of Snickerdoodles? (which as an Aussie, I had to Google)

Of course, all of this is just my reaction, my first thoughts, my process. What do you think…do I need to bake some Snickerdoodles and go and have a lie down? Is Micah real? Does it matter if he’s not? Was this episode/experience solely for Brennan to come to terms with emotions for Booth, or just to ‘feel’? Thoughts? I know you have them!


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.

23 thoughts on “Memo From the Universe

  1. I don’t know if we’ll ever find out if Micah was real, which was probably the whole point…and it does make it fun to speculate 🙂 I agree with you though, my opinion is that he is not real.

  2. Your mentioning that Booth was in the middle of Brennan and Hannah whenever they were in scenes together was a very good observation. It did not click with me when I first saw the episode; but, you are right. Booth is stuck between two women that he cares about and really doesn’t know what to do about it. I really hated when Hannah interfered in Booth and Brennan’s argument in Booth’s office. I thought it was very intrusive. When the episode started out, I did notice that Booth took great pleasure in Brennans’ ability to break down the death of the chicken. He thought it was fun and you could see that he was proud that Brennan could do something like that. I also thought it was cute that Hodgins watched the whole thing with an amused smile on his face. I thought it was interesting that Hannah was not over joyed in the trick. Being a reporter in a war zone, she had to have seen plenty of death and yet she doesn’t like it when Brennan talks about how a chicken died. I just thought that was weird. At the time, I thought Hannah might have been unhappy that Booth liked that kind of entertainment. She doesn’t seem to understand how Booth operates so maybe she has never seen the creepy side of Booth and Brennans job and how they compensate for it.
    When I saw the episode the first time, I thought Micah was real and was one of the two people in the world that Brennan can talk to with comfort. At this time, she is cut off from Booth’s closeness and is unable to talk to him like she needs to so Micah is the only other soul she knows that she is comfortable with. I have seen the episode two more times since it first aired and now I am not sure if he is real or not. I am still leaning towards reality. I like to think that there is someone else, besides Booth, that Brennan can talk to and not worry about how or what she is saying. Micah gets her (like Booth does) and she needs that friendship.

    • I really like your perspective on the moment in DitP that I privately refer to as ‘murder most fowl’ (Yes, yes, I write parodies…deal with it *snort*). When I saw the first FOX promo, I saw the expression on Hannah’s face & I thought “Wow” she is clearly grossed out. I agree, Hannah probably doesn’t have the perspective that everyone else around the dinner table…which following on in my own theory makes her the ‘fifth’ wheel in that scene.

      The only other comment to add here, is that journalists don’t make the news, they just report it. The rest of the characters sat at the table are part of the news…in the case of ‘murder most fowl’ – this reporter’s reaction was an emphatic ‘WTF’! (Back to the studio…to our anchors, Booth & Brennan – LOL!)

  3. Thank you for this, I truly enjoy your post, and I feel the need to say something, although I don’t really know what. So I think I’ll just go with the moment. First thing, I truly loved Doctor in the Photo, and the ep left me in an incredibly happy place. I was suprised about the many different reactions this ep created in Bones Twitterverse, but I think DitP forced every single one of us to join Brennan on her own road of overidentification – and with my own story being a happy one, it just made me happy.

    I loved her, “I got the signals, Booth,” and I want to mention another beloved x-files ep: “All Things”. Anyone still remember Scully’s monologue in the beginning?

    “Time passes in moments, moments which, rushing past, define the path of a life just as surely as they lead towards its end. How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen, to consider whether the path we take in life is our own making or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed.

    But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes? Might we then see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life? And, seeing those choices, choose another path?”

    Somewhere between the two paragraphs of this epic monologue, which I still know by heart after all those years, I see Doctor in the Photo. It’s a Temperance Brennan who stops, who suddenly sees the whole picture, sees that she might have a choice. With eyes wide open she takes stock. She doesn’t want to drift anymore.

    It doesn’t really matter that Booth turned her down (we know it’ll all work out in the end) because Doctor in the Photo isn’t about the two of them, isn’t about their relationship. It’s all about her. About opening eyes. I love the end of DitP, when Brennan enters the Medico-Legal Lab, looking around like a child who sees something beautiful for the first time. And in some way, she does.

    And – of course metaphorically speaking – I want to look into those big blue eyes, take her hand and say, “Welcome to the world.”

    Well, this turned out to be quite a pathetic comment.

    • No, your comment wasn’t pathetic. I liked your thoughts on the episode. I liked the episode also and don’t see why people are so angry about it. I am a big X-Files fan also and love the references Bones makes in the show about it. Don’t down grade your comments. They seem pretty insightful to me.

    • @Nelliesbones – Your comment was excellent – not a shred of pathos in sight!

      I’m a fellow alumna of the X-Files universe & I agree that ‘All things’ was a beautifully crafted episode that propelled Gillian Anderson toward the top of my personal list of totally awesome people I’d love to have coffee with one day. I completely agree about the parallels that you have identified, particularly with respect to the tone and spirituality of the episode. ‘Elegy’ came to my mind because of the dialogue ‘she is me’ and the communing with the dead. Scully has a session with the FBI shrink which also was reminiscent of the Brennan and Sweets scene.

      I’ll join you in your metaphorical ‘Welcome to the World’ and call shotgun on taking Brennan’s other hand. Your comment was very insightful 🙂

      • Thanks to both of you 🙂
        Of course you’re right regarding the “She is me” line, it’s just that “Elegy” somehow doesn’t *feel* right. It was desperate, creepy even. The Doctor on the Photo is so soft. Words like “destiny”, “serendipity” and “revelation” come to my mind. It fits the three-days-pocket-universe of “All Things” so neatly. (Although I don’t remember anymore if “All Things” expanded over three days.) But, to sum it up, I’m no one to protest when it comes to x-files analogies, the more the merrier 😉

  4. My thoughts about this outstanding episode is the same of yours. But differently of you i cried. And i’m still cry everytime i watch. I hope Micah be real. I’d love see him as a Male Brennan’s friend on Jeffersonian. She can have a Male BFF why not ? Much better, sincere and sweet than Hannah.Emily and don’t have more words to describe how extraordinary actress she is so we ahve to do is just watch and be delighted w/ her every week.I love this article the bottom of my heart.

    • @wellsbones It really is great to see any scenes where Brennan gets relaxed enough to be herself…and those scenes were the light against the shade in this episode. Without Micah. I don’t think I could have watched without crying buckets.

      Obviously, I’ve had a fangirl outpouring in the main post & I don’t want to transform Bones Theory into an Emily Deschanel fan site (Hahaha! Seels), but I’m with you…Ms Deschanel makes the show something very special. 😀

  5. I understand why fans reacted neg and pos to this epi. It was not Bones. It took the viewer to watch without question. It was verging on the supernatural. And as one regular viewer noted to me that Brennan looked nuts. It wasn’t welcoming to a regular fan, more for the loyal fan. It wasn’t really an epi from Brennan’s pov, just that she was in every scene.

  6. As a Bones episode it was good but not classic. For it to reach that level, for me, I needed to see more of the other characters reacting to Brennan’s trauma without her in the scene. i.e if we had a scene with Booth driving to his place, sitting outside in the car reflecting. Or the squint squad worried how to help Brennan chatting in a corner. Emotionally the 100th epi hit a greater punch, it was a more well rounded and more simple story telling, imo. And Micha? Bones isn’t Lost or sci-fi Hart, lol, it shouldn’t require fans to even question what is real or not.

    • Well, I disagee the episode isn’t Brennan’s POV. Everything felt topsy turvy because it was–for Brennan. While she insists on ration and logic, she isn’t immune from having her worldview turned upside down. She’s been close before for various reasons (with DitD and TBitMT in this past year, case wise–and emotionally, even as early as season one, her visceral reaction to finding out about her mother shows how seriously she occasionally breaks down). This situation strikes me as a perfect storm for her most intense emotional, intellectual, and spiritual experience yet: she’s got the situation with Booth, she’s watching Angela’s happiness (she’s got to be a little jealous), and dealing with her failure in Maluku (I’m sure she blames herself for their not finding anything). Hence, the strangeness for Brennan personally and the strangeness of the episode for us.

      As for Micah, I don’t find it so strange, especially when viewed as a personification of the Jeffersonian. In other words, I don’t read it entirely literally. She spends so much time alone in the Jeffersonian…and she strikes me as the sort who talks to herself. I’m a grad student, when I’m hard at work on a paper I frequently talk to the screen. I don’t expect an answer, but it helps to talk out loud–especially when it’s the only noise around you. Hearing my own voice helps me figure things out, and Brennan’s reactions with Micah remind me of this dynamic.

      At the same time, he could easily be real–we’ve seen vignettes of Brennan spending the night in the J, but never really been with her when she’s pulling the all-nighter like we have in DitP. There’s never been a reason to see him before. She’s had Booth or Angela to pull her out of the lab, and for multiple reasons they weren’t available to her this time.

      • Nicely put @Andrea!

        I see where @Chris and @Katie are coming from, but have to personally disagree. We’ve been watching Brennan and hundreds of characters interacting and reacting to her for well over 100 episodes now. I don’t see the Doctor in the Photo as an attempt to turn BONES into an episode of some alternate reality sci-fi show, the viewer is falling ‘through the looking glass’ with Brennan, into the maelstrom of feelings that this case has triggered in her vulnerable state (lack of sleep, overwork, emotional stress, the confronting similarities that the victim has with her). Nor do I see this as any kind of deliberate attempt to mess with the hearts and minds of the fandom…I’ve said this before and I still maintain that what fans think, what fans want, have very little, if any influence on what we see. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and reaction, which is necessary to drive an interesting debate, but not really valid to become the subject of debate. What is screened is done and dusted long before we see it.

        This episode had a very surreal tone to it, which goes some way to explaining why a cursory overview doesn’t really give a satisfactory or straightforward story to take away. It was thought provoking, and things which can make a person think in response to what they have seen is not a bad thing. I don’t want to be spoon fed by an episode of BONES.

  7. I agree with Chris, Micah real or not? It is getting tiresome that we are suppose to look out for epi clues. In this and other epis. It is like a running joke with the PTB to drive the fans nuts. Like the 3C comment by them on the S5 finale commentary! I just don’ t find it amusing anymore. If I had to guess Micah is Brennan’s imaginary friend. And wow lets not even go there what that would mean if that happened to a adult friend in the real world…

  8. I really like your symbolic views on Micah, and I agree that some of it is probably not accidental, but I still believe Micah is real.
    I just can’t see Brennan having an imaginary friend for nine years (he does not seem to be new for this case or he would not have been there for the last scene when everything else had returned back to normal). The other things she imagines are just distortions of actual existing objects (the photo and the sound tape) not completely new creations complete with histories and own philosophies and stories (not to mention cookies).
    I’m also not surprised thet she is so afectionate with him, and he understands her so well, because if he works there for nine years than she knows him longer than she knows Angela and Booth.
    It doesn’t bother me that Booth doesn’t seem to know him either. The few times that Booth would be alone with Brennan at night in the Lab, it would not be surprising for Micah to leave them be or simply greet them in a way that would not cause Booth to know or remember his name. As you said, he is from Brennans world, and sort of an embodyment of the Jeffersonian, and that would not mean much to Booth.

    I googled snickerdoodles too! Along with many other american foodstuffs over the years. I’ve never had donuts, twinkies, or Mac and cheese :).

  9. You know, I really hope Micah’s real. Everywhere, on reviews and such, it keeps saying that he’s just a figment of Brennan’s imagination. But what i find strange is that he teaches her things and he gives her food that she eats and he makes errors with his latin. We’ve seen that brennan’s rational, but not crazy. She’s not crazy. And it’s not as if she’s five and has an imaginary friend. He says he’s known her for about nine years (that’s right, right?) so I don’t think that Micah’s just some figment of her imagination. Please tell me someone agrees with me….

    • I don’t believe a ghost or figment would provide her with something to eat either. I am not sure where the idea originated that Micah is not real; but, I think it is probably not true. I have seen this episode three times and I believed he was real the first time I saw it. I then heard rumors that he was a figmant of Brennans imagination and that put doubts in my head as to what I saw. I have thought about it today and have decided that he was real, so, I agree with you.

    • I’m glad that they didn’t answer definitively whether Micah is real or not. That way whatever works best for indivuals can be the fact in their mind. I think he is real (especially since she saw him at the end of the three days when she returned to the lab and saw the photo of Dr Eames and she no longer looked just like Brennan. If those three days of the world being upside down had righted itself then she should no longer have seen him is he was a figment of her imagination.

      Now I know those that believe he was a figment will just say that ended after her last conversation with him…it was the last little bit needed to right her world. That’s fine for them, and the show allowing both points of view to continue is really a very good in my opinion.

  10. I think Micah is real for all of the reasons stated here. Also, he said he had his own sad story. Maybe one day we will find out what that story is.
    I am interested in your theory about Hannah being the third wheel in these scenes — I hadn’t thought of that before but since this is Brennan’s view of things, maybe Brennan thinks of her that way. I liked how Brennan said “Thanks for eavesdropping…” It was almost like she told her she was butting in — which she was!
    Loved this ep… now I have to watch X-Files so I can catch these references.

  11. Call me crazy, but I really don’t think it’s a big deal that we don’t know whether or not Micah is real. Of course I’m curious, but I don’t think the “reality” of his character makes the episode any better or worse. I think it’s a great episode regardless (I’ve watched it at least four times since it aired I think). I’ve never seen an X-files episode so I can’t make that comparison, and yes, it’s certainly a different sort of Bones episode, but still…wow!

    I loved the squeecap Sarah referenced in yesterday’s post mostly because I agree with JennyJenWho’s conclusions completely. There’s so much potential, so much hope, in the little glances in this episode. Maybe I’m reading too much into them, but man, it’s so nice to know that somebody else sees it too.

    And finally, Hannah. Skole, thanks for the positioning and fifth wheel observations. That’s very interesting and it’s something I hadn’t noticed. I do think I’m one of the few people who didn’t mind the scene in Booth’s office. I’m not sure why, but it just didn’t bother me that much.

  12. What if Micah isn’t real – but his whole persona was only present in those 3 days? Meaning – perhaps he really hasn’t been Brennan’s “imaginary” friend for 9 years, but the illusion that he has been is wrapped up in Brennan’s 3 day upheaval? Perhaps he no longer exists and will fade from her psyche? The mind can do amazing things when it wants to or needs to. I could imagine Micah as a temporary vessel for Brennan’s mind as it tried to cope with overwhelming feelings.

  13. I’ll be honest, i’ll be more than slightly annoyed if Micah turns out not to be real. I am annoyed by ambiguity on BONES, if only because the original premise and the execution so early on was very gritty, very real. Two people, Booth and Brennan. Sure, there are other people around, but to me, that was the deal. Science&Intuition. Brain&Heart.

    Like with Teddy, I was annoyed. And just when I accepted that I could go along with it and then accept it, for the sake of beloved Booth, then they go and say it was just a manifestation of his brain tumor. Bull crap!

    So, I guess to me, the idea of Micah being a manifestation of Brennan’s need to connect to/at the Jeffersonian…to me, that lessens the impact of her experience, and I find that frustrating. I don’t want the characters to be able to rely on past experiences that are not concrete. I want them to have facts. It bums me out to involve the supernatural.

    As far as the Hannah stuff, I think that’s a good point. I haven’t re-watched the episode yet, but if I remember correctly, you are exactly right.

    And I felt the EXACT same way about a teensy bit of Sweets redemption in this episode. You said it best though 🙂 Hahahahahahaha!

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