Hey there Bones Theory friends. Happy Wednesday to you all! A couple months ago, we had a wild and wonderful celebration of all things eventually here at Bones Theory, aptly titled “Eventually Week.” As you all know, it’s practically impossible to discuss Booth, Brennan, and their “eventually” for an entire week without the subject of marriage coming up at least once. Would they? Should they? Do we even want them to? It’s a hotly debated issue in the Bones world, and one that I believe deserves its very own post. Okay, make that two.
Before I get started, I want to lay all my cards out on the table and say that I am very much in the “Booth and Brennan should get married” camp. It’s kind of like admitting that I’m a shipper and because I am, I can’t help but write posts from a shipper’s point of view. I believe in the sanctity of marriage and so when I say I want to see Booth and Brennan eventually marry, it’s not because I want to see a wedding (far from it, actually), it’s because I want them to make what I consider to be the ultimate commitment to each other. Rynogeny’s excellent post (“The Love in the Partnership,” 2/17/11) quite convincingly shows that what Hart Hanson and the Bones writers are creating between Booth and Brennan is so much more than just sexual attraction – it’s a love that’s meant to last forever. And the way I see it, marriage is the glue that holds that forever together. It’s a, “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, until death do us part…even on the days when I wake up in the morning and I can’t for the life of me remember why I married this person in the first place” kind of commitment. And I want that for them.
That the issue sparks a lot of debate is understandable, since, quite frankly, Booth clearly wants to be married and Brennan doesn’t. Well…at least he did and she didn’t. I get the distinct feeling that the tables may have turned a little bit in recent episodes, but I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?
The central argument against marriage between Booth and Brennan is Brennan’s long-held belief that, anthropologically speaking, marriage is an “antiquated ritual.” Ipso facto Colombo Oreo, her marriage to anyone, Booth included, would be completely out of character. Or would it? There’s been a somewhat subtle, yet still marked, shift in Brennan’s views on marriage in recent seasons that I think changes the game completely…and I know I’m not the only one who’s noticed, because it’s been mentioned by several people on several different occasions here at Bones Theory.
Now I watched all or part of at least ten different Bones episodes in preparation for this post, and to be completely honest, I’m still not sure I’ve found all the relevant references to marriage. I’m counting on you all to fill in any blanks I’ve missed because we’re going to use the evidence we collect today in our part two discussion (tomorrow) of the reasons why Brennan’s philosophy about marriage may have changed.
As we all know, Brennan’s initial opinion of marriage is quite negative. We (the viewer) get our first taste of her views on the issue in the season two episode, The Woman in the Sand. Their investigation into a double homicide in Las Vegas requires Booth and Brennan to go undercover as, “a couple of hot high rollers,” named Tony and Roxie.As they dress, Booth sets up their cover story:
Booth: We’re newlyweds, I said. Taking Sin City by storm; ready for action!
Brennan: Well, you know marriage is such an archaic institution.
Booth: Listen Bones, I know what I’m doing, okay? I’ve done this before. Just stop arguing.
Brennan: Well, I’m not. It’s just…I don’t need a piece of paper to prove my commitment.
Booth: Fine, we’re engaged.
Brennan: Why would I be okay with engagement?
Booth: Whatever Bones, alright? We’re a loosely committed couple of hot high rollers with money to burn.
And with that, the writers set up what looks to be yet another major conflict between Booth, who by his own admission (to Brennan in The Cinderella in the Cardboard and later to Hannah and Sweets in The Daredevil in the Mold) wants to be married, and Brennan, who doesn’t even believe in the institution.
Brennan’s negative view of marriage resurfaces in The Glowing Bones in the Old Stone House (also season two). And as expected, she and Booth again butt heads on the issue. This time the topic of discussion is Hodgins’ two failed marriage proposals to Angela. Booth and Brennan discuss the issue both at the beginning (“People fall in love and they get married. That’s what people do.”), and the end (“Just because I think marriage is an antiquated ritual doesn’t mean that I don’t want Angela and Hodgins to be happy.”) of the episode. Brennan also has the following exchange with Angela part-way through:
Brennan: You know, if you want to be impulsive, why don’t you just say yes?
Angela: Because I’ve also got you in my head telling me that marriage will hobble my personal and legal freedoms. You’re a very difficult best friend to have.
The third and final episode dealing with Brennan’s negative view of marriage comes in season four. And it’s a pretty major episode. In The Cinderella in the Cardboard, Booth and Brennan investigate the murder of a bride-to-be with serious infidelity issues. They have the following intense confrontation on the subject of marriage in the middle of an interview with the plastic surgeon who performed an un-sanctioned, somewhat freaky sounding, toe-shortening surgery on the victim,(and who mistakenly believes he’s found himself in the middle of a very heated lover’s quarrel):
Brennan: Self-mutilation for an antiquated ritual? It’s barbaric.
Booth: Well come on, marriage is very important to a lot of people Bones.
Brennan: No it’s ridiculous. No one can guarantee how they’re going to feel about someone for life. We’re not a monogamous species.
Booth: Marriage has been around since the beginning of time.
Brennan: Women from Amazonian tribes expressed their love by spitting in their partners faces. I hope we’ve progressed past that.
Booth: Okay, well you know what, sometimes love trumps logic.
Brennan: Love is a chemical process which causes delusion. An intellectually rigorous person would never get married.
Booth: Never say never!
I’d like to say that Booth’s last line is a beautiful bit of foreshadowing, but it’s somewhat negated by the fact that Brennan later responds to his assurance that he will marry one day with a somewhat ominous, “that’s impossible to know,” but I digress.
Before I move on, I think it’s worth mentioning that there are two other season two moments where Brennan could have made marriage an issue, but didn’t: She tells Rebecca in The Truth in the Lye that she understands why Rebecca rejected Booth’s marriage proposal (she didn’t want to be one of those people who had to get married) and she agrees, without argument, to be Angela’s maid of honor in Stargazer in a Puddle. In the first case, I think Brennan had a much more important objective – to talk to Rebecca about Booth’s abilities as a father (not debate the merits of marriage). In the second case, well, Angela’s her best friend. And the look on her face when they hug? I think it speaks for itself.
In terms of concrete evidence that Brennan has changed her views on marriage – there isn’t much. And yet what little we do have is pretty significant. The only verbal confirmation that any change has occurred is a statement Brennan makes, in passing, to her cousin, Margaret, in the season five episode, The Goop on the Girl. “Marriage is something you need to have a reason to enter into,” she says. “I never found that reason.” While it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the institution, it’s a pretty clear indication that she could eventually marry given a good enough reason. And the only explanation I can come up with for why the writers had her make that statement is because they intend to one day give her that reason.
Of course, what Brennan chooses not to say on the subject of marriage in season five is just as important, in my opinion, as what she does say. There is no mention of antiquated rituals, chemical processes, or delusions when she toasts Jared and Padme’s engagement at the end of The Dentist in the Ditch or when she toasts Angela and Hodgins’ marriage in The Boy with the Answer.
And in The Death of the Queen Bee, she and Booth go undercover to her high school reunion, posing as a married couple – again without any debate or complaint from Brennan (in fact she seems quite comfortable in her role, and even goes so far as to wear a wedding ring). Why? We know she’s not afraid to speak her mind, so the obvious conclusion is that she doesn’t say anything because she no longer feels the need to.
I have one final thought (more like a rhetorical question actually) before I set you all loose in the comments section, and it is this: what was the turning point? Now I say this is a rhetorical question because while I want you to think about it, I don’t necessarily want you to respond to it today. There must have been a turning point that occurred somewhere between The Cinderella in the Cardboard (season four, episode 20 of 26) and The Goop on the Girl (season five, episode 10) that triggered Brennan’s change of heart. I do have my own theory as to what event led to the change and why. The episode in which I believe it occurred has not been mentioned today primarily because it figures prominently in tomorrow’s discussion. How’s that for a tease?
If you’ve made it this far – thanks for reading! The comments are yours, so tell me: what do you think about the moments I’ve mentioned? Are there any I’ve missed? Is this change in Brennan real, or are we making much ado about nothing?
See you all tomorrow for round two – same Bones time, same Bones station!