Bones Theory

Gazing into the Abyss: Battling the Monster in the Mirror

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Hello BONES fans!  I’d like to discuss Seeley Booth and Jacob Broadsky and how they stack up against each other, taking you on a journey into morality and ethics.  I’d also like to compare how Booth and Broadsky match up against another protagonist/villain pairing:  Temperance Brennan and Heather Taffet. Taffet has been called an Evil Brennan.  Does Broadsky deserve the “Evil Booth” moniker?  Let’s run a comparison to scenes from ‘Boy with the Answer’ to ‘The Killer in the Crosshairs,’ but with a slight fictional twist, adding a little subtext to the scenes.  Bear with me; all shall become clear soon.

We know that Booth served in the Army as both a Ranger and a sniper.  Booth left the Army as a Master Sergeant, which is considered a senior Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) rank.  I would assume Broadsky was also a Senior NCO given that at some point, he had a mentor-student relationship with Booth.  By virtue of their NCO status, both Booth and Broadsky were professional soldiers during their time in the Army.  By professional, I use the definition proposed by Samuel Huntington, a prominent theorist on Civil-Military relations.  A profession has three distinguishing characteristics:  Expertise, Responsibility, and a Corporate character.  Both men honed their expertise by attending numerous schools and countless training exercises.  They upheld their responsibility by adhering to the chain of command and rules of engagement in their combat operations.  And they were part of an organization (The Army) that provided a sanctioned outlet for their skills.

Booth has transitioned in his career to another professional group: law enforcement. He has retained his expertise in marksmanship and added new skills to fit his job. Booth also has retained his sense of responsibility as a sworn law enforcement professional in the FBI, which is an organization that enforces standards in relation to the conduct of its members – much like the Army does

On the other hand, Broadsky has his expertise (case in point Taffett…headless…1400 yards plus…enough said). But Broadsky has arrogated to himself the decision and responsibility for taking out ‘targets.’  There is no responsibility to society at large, nor a sanctioned organization.  Broadsky is not a professional.  Now, keep this in mind as we explore some scenes with Booth and Brennan in their struggles against the Gravedigger and Broadsky.

The first scene that we’ll revisit is where Brennan is expressing doubts about going head to head with Taffet.

BRENNAN: She was laughing at me, I – I can’t let her win.

BOOTH: She won’t.

BRENNAN: You hope. She may be amoral, but she is brilliant.

BOOTH: Well, you’re more brilliant.

BRENNAN: What if her dispassion makes her more logical. What if that gives her and advantage over me?

BOOTH:  You know… you and Taffet are a lot of alike.  You both use science and intellect to analyze and interpret forensic evidence for your own ends.

Wait a minute, Booth never said that right? In fact, he comforted Brennan and supported her efforts.  Well, what about this scene?  It is Booth telling Brennan that he dropped his charges against Taffet in order to be able to testify as an expert witness.

BRENNAN: Caroline said you can’t give expert testimony if she’s prosecuting your case.

BOOTH: I told Caroline to drop my charges too. I’m not gonna let you do this alone. She’s gonna see the judge tomorrow morning at 10 and then we can dive in on all this.

BRENNAN: Thanks, Booth.

BOOTH: We’re partners. That’s what we do. Right?

BRENNAN: If Taffet is acquitted on this count, she can never be tried again. Maybe that’s why she wanted us to find the boy.

BOOTH: Bones…I have to ask.  Caroline told me about what you said on the platform, about getting some hard evidence they can’t dismiss.  What do you mean Bones?  Are you planning on…on manufacturing evidence, or are you going to do this by the book?

Now I know you are all screaming:  Hold up!  Booth didn’t say that either.  He openly supported her efforts and even gave her one of his patented guy hugs.  So right now, I’m 0 for 2 on scene accuracy.  Let’s try some scenes from Killer and see what Brennan has to say about Booth and Broadsky.  We’ll return to the different lines that I wrote and why they have meaning in this discussion.

The first scene in Killer is with Booth and Brennan on their way to Paula Ashwaldt’s cabin, where Broadsky had been experimenting with ammunition used in his kills.

BOOTH:  Ashwaldt said that Broadsky’s been using her cabin because he likes to hunt.

BRENNAN:  Well that’s an understatement.

BOOTH:  Well, she’s going through her database right now to see what files might have been tampered with.  We’re gonna get this guy, and he’s not going to keep doing this.

BRENNAN:  Your words are quite ironic.

BOOTH:  What do you mean?

BRENNAN:  I would imagine that Broadsky would say the same thing as he stalks his prey.

BOOTH:  Except, I’m the good guy, and he isn’t.

BRENNAN:  Well, but you both led a life in which you were paid to take lives.

The second scene is just as Booth and Brennan are getting Booth’s rifle and then heading to the roof of the courthouse in an attempt to locate Broadsky before he kills again.

BRENNAN:  Booth, I find I want to ask you a question, but I find it makes me anxious.

BOOTH:  Okay, well go.

BRENNAN:  Forget it.

BOOTH:  Whoa whoa whoa.  Wait a second.  Partners don’t say forget it.

BRENNAN: Okay, here’s my question.  Are you doing this so you can kill Broadsky or because it’s the best way to stop him?

Now let us return to the fictional statements I had Booth make to Brennan in response to her worries.  Most of us intuitively understand why Brennan is not similar to the Gravedigger.  But let’s analyze this in terms of a profession.  Both women have specialized knowledge of their fields.  Where they differ are in the second and third points.  Taffet has inverted her sense of responsibility and is using her knowledge of the legal system and forensics to cover her crimes, while Brennan works within the system to serve justice.  Brennan has remained within the constraints of the Medico-Legal lab, the FBI, and the Justice Department while Taffet has struck out alone, and for her own ends.

Looking at Brennan’s words in the first scene of killer, she has constructed a syllogism, which is a specific type of logical argument where a proposition is inferred by two others, known as premises.

When I was brainstorming ideas for this essay, my good friends Sam (Skole) and Andrea (AngieBC) came up with some interesting analogies.  Sam made this argument as a comparison to what Brennan was thinking:  Brennan analyses & interprets forensic evidence.  The GD analyses & interprets forensic evidence – therefore Brennan is the GD

Brennan’s words to Booth are in the same form:  Booth led a life where he was paid to take lives.  Broadsky led a life where he was paid to take lives – therefore Booth is Broadsky

Both of these arguments rely on another, hidden premise:  If one person does the same thing as another, then they are the same.  The same in this case is meant to be the same morally.  As we have seen however, the argument that they do the same thing leaves out all of the context that was discussed above.  Booth retained his expertise, responsibility, and corporate character.  Broadsky has retained his expertise, but has discarded the other two, and has acted as an escalating manner in his kills, from a convicted murderer, to a confessed counterfeiter in witness protection, to a cop who is still undergoing trial, in addition murdering to an innocent victim that he has termed collateral damage.  Booth is not the same as Broadsky just as Brennan was not the same as the Gravedigger.

The second set of scenes reinforces the concerns of both characters.  In each case the evil character has knowledge of one of the partner’s areas of expertise.  In each case, the other partner calls into question the integrity of the challenged partner.  Booth questions Brennan in the fictional scenario by asking if Brennan will manufacture evidence and Brennan by asking if Booth is going to kill Broadsky instead of attempting to bring him to justice.  Each action would be outside the code of ethics for their professions.

How would Brennan have reacted if Booth had actually uttered those words to her instead of offering support and sympathy?  My opinion is that the words would have distressed her, and may have even broken her further.  I believe that Brennan’s words had the same effect on Booth.  Yes, Brennan eventually stood by Booth, and that was important.  But she spent the early half of the episode questioning him, and when she did support him, Brennan didn’t offer any line of thinking other than that she trusted him.  That may be enough for Booth, but I think a lot of people prefer to be supported more than just because.  As a person trained in cultural anthropology, Brennan should have known or been able to reason her way though this problem.  That she doesn’t and that she calls into question Booth’s morality is a disservice to him, especially in the first scene, where she all but calls him a mercenary. 

I believe that Brennan was out of line, but not out of character in her questioning of Booth.  She was emotionally torn and hesitant to ask Booth the question in the second scene, and she did ultimately place her trust in Booth.  The general tone of the season six has led many fans to give the benefit of the doubt and moral high ground to Brennan in any dispute.  Perhaps the writers believed they could continue that trend here in Brennan’s questioning of his integrity, which was so different from ‘Boy in the Answer’, where the split in their partnership and personal relationship hadn’t yet developed and fans were still hoping for a Booth and Brennan reconciliation.

A final scene may shed some additional light on this analysis.  It is where Booth seeks reassurance from Sweets about his actions and tries to understand why Broadsky is acting the way he is.

BOOTH:  I don’t get it.  Broadsky was a good man.  I don’t understand what happened to him.  I mean, what gives him the right to make these kinds of calls?

(minor transition comments)

SWEETS:  Being the cause of someone’s death, no matter what the circumstances, leaves a man with a great burden.  And people deal with that burden in different ways.  You know, some, some celebrate it.  They relish the power as a way of justifying what they’ve done.  Others like Broadsky; they justify another way.  They feel that it’s their destiny to mete out justice.  They convince themselves that they have the moral high ground to make these calls.  It’s the only way they can live with what they’ve done.

BOOTH:  What about me?

SWEETS:  From my perspective, you’re a healthy man.  You can accept what you’ve done:  the pain, the sadness, and regret that comes with it.  You know, not everybody has the strength to deal with that reality.  It’s a testament to you; that you’ve built this life with family and friends who love and respect you.  Booth, that can’t be easy.

BOOTH:  It kills me that Bones thinks that taking someone’s life means nothing to me.

SWEETS:  Have you talked to her about it?

BOOTH:  I don’t go there anymore.  That’s over.

This scene takes place in between the SUV scene and the courthouse scene.  It is also after Broadsky confronts Booth in his apartment.  Booth is not a demonstrative man, but he is reassured by this conversation.  Sweets takes an emotional tack here instead of logic, but his point is the same.  Booth remained within the strictures of society and transcended what he went though:  Broadsky did not.  Booth’s anxiety and hurt over Brennan’s questioning of him comes out clearly here.

Was Brennan wrong in questioning Booth the way she did?  I don’t think she was wrong so much as she was insensitive.  Where I did think she was wrong was in not giving Booth the reasons behind her thought process and how she decided to trust and stand by him.  She probed him and sought out his reaction.  Brennan is using an empirical method of thinking and is testing out all the possible options. It was important to Booth that she did so, but I believe that he would have been more reassured if Brennan had done some of the same kind of analysis that was conducted here.  Her words failed to reassure Booth until she said she trusted him.  That led him to seek out Sweets, which is something he rarely does, and would normally be loathe to do after the events in DareDevil.  Sweets offers an emotional analysis instead of a logical one, but it is one that points to the same result:  Booth has acted morally, however difficult his circumstances, and he is significantly different than Broadsky.

Did Brennan need to analyze all of this in the way that she did?  I don’t know for sure.  I do think Brennan knows how sensitive the subject is to Booth, both because he seeks constant reassurance from her and because of the difficulty that he had in telling her about Raddick or about his kill numbers.  In light of that, her remark about Booth leading a life where he was paid to kill people, while strictly accurate, was quite painful to Booth.  In ‘Dwarf in the Dirt’, Brennan has a conversation with Dr. Wyatt in which he concludes by complimenting her for being able to distinguish between accuracy and truth after she reports the changed behavior in Booth after his brain surgery.  If we apply that analogy to the scenes above, then Brennan is still accurate in that Booth received a salary while his primary duty position was as a sniper.  As a sniper, he did have to kill people.  But is it true that Booth was paid to kill people in the same manner that Broadsky was?  It isn’t to me, even beyond the analysis of a profession.  The salary Booth received was incidental, not fundamental, compared to his desire to follow his orders and his duty.  Accuracy and truth were not the same here, and that led to some painful self doubts in Booth.

What do you think BONES fans?  How did you perceive Brennan’s statements about Booth and Broadsky?  And how do they fare in comparison to Booth’s actions in ‘Boy with the Answer’?

I’d like to thank Skole and Angiebc for their help and insightful comments while constructing this essay and Skole for a very helpful suggestion that improved the flow of my arguments.  Special thanks to Sarah for suggesting the motive for the way the scenes were written in Killer and for the idea of the truth vs. accuracy comparision from Dwarf.

References:

The title of the essay is a paraphrase of a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche.  “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”  Accessed from:

http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Friedrich_Nietzsche/

The concept of a profession was taken from my military experiences.  I used this page on Officership as a Profession to help construct my specific arguments.  Accessed from:

http://www.usma.edu/committees/honor/hrp/third/3-2e.htm

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47 thoughts on “Gazing into the Abyss: Battling the Monster in the Mirror

  1. For email purposes. Will post a real reply once I let it sink in further. 🙂

  2. Congratulations on your first Bones Theory post 🙂 It was a pleasure to read the culmination of your great ideas, that great brainstorming session, and a really succinct comparison of Booth & Broadsky. You’ve really added a lot of credibility to this piece by bringing your own experience and expertise into the mix.

    Bravo, my friend!

  3. I must say that I do not consider Brodsky the “evil Booth”. The only similarity between them was their beginning profession, a sniper for the U.S. Army. They are both patriotic men; but, Booth’s definition of right and wrong is wildly different from Brodsky. Booth believes that the taking of a life takes something from him. He feels the loss of life very deeply. Brodsky thinks nothing of the taking of lives. If an innocent person gets killed because they are in the way, then he considers them collateral damage. This is a phrase that Booth absoutley hates and this leads me to believe may have been the reason he left the Army. He no longer wanted to be an executioner. Booths’ quest to bring murderers to justice is important to him. He had done this for the Army, from a distance. He saw that evil people were killed and therefore he was the executioner. After he left the Army, he became the arm of the law that seeks out murderers and causes them to be brought before the court to be tried by their peers. He is no longer the sanctioned executioner. He is an agent of justice. Brodsky is a murderer. Nothing he is doing is sanctioned. He is killing people that he believes to be evil. There is no justice in this. This only revenge.

    The sad thing about Brennan’s lack of faith in Booth is that this makes Booth very unsure as to whether what he is doing is right or not. He counts on Brennan to have his back, to be on his side. When she makes statements about his sniper past, it clearly makes him upset. It makes him question whether or not Brennan is really on his side. Brennan really needs to sit down with Booth and talk to him about his past. The “Brodsky is bad and you are good” speech was good and seemed to reassure Booth; but, it does not really explain to him why she is on his side when she thinks that he is a killer also. She needs to come up with a rational reason why she does not consider Booth a killer and tell him. He admires her intelligence and seems to love her more than most. We all know that Booth is very insecure when it comes to his sniper past and in his relationship with women (especially Brennan) and Brennans lack of faith in his past just doubles his insecurities.

    • Brennan has always questioned Booth, sometimes quite insensitively, so I wasn’t surprised by the ways in which neither of them was really connecting with the other in the episode. I do think it’s interesting that Booth defines their partnership in Daredevil as “we argue, we go back and forth” but never quite sees the back and forth here. In the end, she uses his “we’re good people who catch bad people” as a basis for reassuring him.

      Booth, however, takes exception to her comments immediately in the conference room and I would have to agree with Brennan that there was nothing in what she said that suggested she thought Booth was bad like Brodsky. She just doesn’t pick up on his insecurities and, in a way, mocks them out in the field when they find the deer.

      I saw her questions/comments to Booth as being her way of figuring out how to deal with him. Unfortunately, she uses the “backhand full of knuckles” approach more so than any other. I think she backs off a couple of times with him because she is so uncertain with him. But in the end, she gives him enough reassurance to maintain the partnership. Given everything, that’s something. Her status with Booth is just that of being a partner and while neither have been completely faithful to the “just partners” aspect of their relationship, being so literal, she probably is trying to figure out where they stand with each other.

      I see their relationship in a continuum of sorts; Brennan has tried to maintain their connection with her awkward comments and “joking” with him when he was with Hannah and now, as they try to re-define what they are, she is still trying to make sense of who he is and how they relate to one another. It’s still awkward, she’s still pushing his buttons and sometimes doing so in a way that is blunt, but in pushing those buttons she allows him a chance to question himself. She pushes, he pushes back and in doing so, we know that he is not ever going to be like Brodsky by pursuing something that is unsanctioned by the law. Yes, it’s insensitive and she might not be consciously trying to be his conscience, but she succeeds nonetheless.

    • some one needed to question his motives… Booths going all lone wolf with the Brodsky case, this is when mistakes are made and rules are broken because one person decides to take the law into there own hands. Booths statement Brodskys mine is him taking the law into his own hands this is very similar to Brodsky. Booth as a whole is not like Brodsky but Brennan has a point the way he is dealing with Brodsky is exactly the same. Brennan was pointing out those similaritys warning him off from going to far in Brodskys direction. There is a balance needed and Booth is toeing the line- I Know this probably wont be appriciated in this Blog because this is pretty much a Booth worship site but Booth is on the edge in my opinion.
      AS Brennan said last season, she is the person who will say the awkward things that need to be said. She never implied to my knowledge that she thought Killing was easy for Booth, just that it could be easy for a person like him to go rouge like Brodsky.

      • I don’t think it would be ‘easy’ for Booth to go rogue, but I do think he has it in him. And when you take the meat off the bones, there’s no difference in him killing Broadsky ‘for the greater good’ than there is Broadksy killing Taffett ‘for the greater good.’ Except of course, that Broadksy gets paid for that. But it’s interesting that Broadsky is the person who contacts the victims about killing the criminals, not the other way around.

        I think Brennan sees that, and she wanted Booth to see that, hence her very pointed questions.

        We Brennanites have to stick together. 🙂

      • Booth certainly was on the edge and he put words into Brennan’s mouth. She didn’t suggest he was like Brodsky until Booth brought it up. She never said that he wouldn’t find killing easy– she’s had enough experience with him to know the truth. Booth is externalizing his inner conflict and putting it on her because she’s being the pesky gnat who is questioning other aspects of his role as a sniper. I agree with you. If anything, her constancy provides him with the wherewithal to really push back and remain within the limits of the law.

  4. I’m not sure I really understand what’s being said here. That Sweets’ assurance to Booth was better than Brennan’s? And Booth’s assurance to Brennan was better than hers to him? That the responses are different came as no huge shock to me. Their reactions were more in line with their respective characters. Brennan may have gotten better with some things, but I think we always see her make insensitive remarks, more unintentional than intentional, these days.

    Sweets is a trained psychologist. Booth has very serious issues. I doubt that anyone with issues of that depth can find complete relief and comfort in just a best friend or significant other. They would certainly be encouraged to seek professional help. I will say, though, Brennan has in the past suggested that Booth talk to Sweets, so I think she understands she may not always be the best one to handle his emotional struggles. That’s why her offer is to stand by him, not to help “fix” him. Booth is a fixer, and that’s why he responded the way he did.

    From what I saw at the end of tBitB, Booth accepted the heart of Brennan’s words vs. the words themselves. There are have been other times where Brennan has had to restate her opinion several times in order for it to sound good to Booth. She’s not good at it; it’s not like people come knocking on her door all the time for reassurance and advice. There have been instances where Angela and Booth have, but they don’t usually get bent out of shape out from Brennan’s atypical responses. I can see the desire in Brennan to want to be helpful in that way, but I really don’t think she’s that person.

  5. I’m still trying to figure out the how “Boy with the Answer” is being compared. What’s the point of the fictional statements?

    Booth’s self-doubt was of his own making….not Brennan’s. Booth was reading into everything Brennan said…the conference room w/ Caroline, car scene, etc. Booth even jumped to conclusions about Sweets self-doubting him. I love the fact that Sweets asked, “Was Brennan questioning him or was Booth questioning himself?” (summary of the office scene)

    Brennan wasn’t being insensitive….Booth was just being OVERLY sensitive!

    • Yes, thank you. Brennan does question Booth about why he’s going after Broadsky but she didn’t “spend the first half of the episode” questioning him. Booth accused her of doing so in a scene where she hadn’t implied anything bad about him. She didn’t immediately see how he was feeling and rush to comfort him as he might have done when the situations were reversed, but I don’t think any of her earlier comments meant that she actually believed Booth and Broadsky are the same.

  6. Brilliant piece, very insightful and well written. I agree with every point you made. I hope you continue to contribute here. I would like to write more, but this was so well done I think any attempt I made to contribute wouldn’t compare, even as a comment.

  7. Could it be that the questions and comments Brennan poses to Booth are another indication of the partners being off-balance and distant with one another more than a question of Booth’s moral judgments? Certainly, Brennan’s whole approach to Booth in this case suggests that she is still not making a clear connection to Booth and is seemingly insensitive to him.

    Booth, however, creates the tension between them first. He objects to how she phrases her question in the conference room about how snipers work alone. There is nothing in how she asks the question, as she points out, that implies she is lumping Booth in with Broadsky, but Booth takes exception to what she says.

    Later, when they are looking at people in the US Marshall’s office for connections to Broadsky, Booth finds the person and Brennan observes that “you admire him (Broadsky).” Of course, Booth makes the distinction between himself and Broadsky telling her that he does not admire what he’s doing now. Is she being insensitive? No. In this case, she’s making an observation that has the weight of truth behind it. Booth did admire Broadsky at some point, just not now.

    Is Brennan being insensitive later when she questions Booth about how he and Broadsky are similar? Yes. Not in a way to be cruel, but in her clunky way to understand. Had Booth been less obsessed with Broadsky, he might have seen her words for what they were coming from her. But they essentially seem to be challenging his position rather than offering a means of supporting it or clarifying it.

    The partners are definitely not communicating well.

    Whereas in The Boy with the Answers, their inability to communicate with one another is evident as well, Booth’s support for her doesn’t really win the battle at the end of the day. He provides her with more emotional support where she needs something more logical to come out of her funk. But it doesn’t work because she is so emotionally battered by the end that she drives off alone in the back of the cab.

    Her attempt to logic Booth out of his funk doesn’t quite work either until Booth confronts her at the bar. Her response is exactly what he needs to hear. And she tells him that she’s “always” going to be at his side in support and while simple, she offers up both logic and emotion.

    I do think the two episodes were meant to explore in some way how closely the characters were to their evil adversaries, but I think they were meant to show just how “broken” the partnership is. Brennan would never do what Taffet did, but Booth did do what Broadsky did. Big difference in how they will each react. Brennan’s fear is that she cannot protect the people she cares about and that she will be impotent to bring Taffet to justice. Her emotional disclosures on the stand do show just how upset she is just as Booth’s conversation with Sweets reveals his angst. Every time Brennan questions Booth in Killer, it’s almost as if he starts to defend himself because there is the fear that he has the capacity to be like Broadsky. (One can argue that Booth spends a great deal of his life trying not to be like his father. That kind of approach to life is tiring and telling, especially if he is confronted with the evil of a Broadsky who is acting as judge, jury and executioner. It shows us another side of Booth’s guilt.)

    Brennan offers to give up her own need for revenge to pursue something more noble– justice for the boy in the freezer within the sanctions of the law. Booth’s options are somewhat limited; he can neutralize Broadsky within the sanctions of the law. That’s noble, but as Caroline continually points out, it doesn’t seem like such a huge priority to bring him in. But Brennan acts like a conscience for him by continually questioning him.

    In the end, Brennan really does win the battle with Booth. Logic and emotion combine to draw him closer to her as a partner. The partnership is repaired at the end; neither one of them is leaving and Brennan makes it clear that they are together.

  8. When Brennan questioned Booth about his intent to kill Broadsky, I don’t think that showed a lack of faith in Booth. She deals more with truth than justice. Their work is to find and apprehend criminals, not to find and kill them. This was an exceptional situation. I think she also needed to be assured that this was the right thing to do in order to help him.

    And for their discussion in the car, I didn’t disagree with what she was saying. But perhaps she should have saved her philosophical musings for someone else. I agree with whoever said that the situation made Booth overly sensitive. Neither Brennan nor Sweets think Booth is really like Broadsky, because they know Booth is at heart a good guy. They do trust him, but they have both questioned him at various times. Sweets just caught on to the fact more quickly that Booth wanted it spelled out for him because he was the one having the difficulty making the distinction. Brennan eventually got it, and I think she gave a pretty good response.

    And the point about she should have said more…this is starting to sound like a familiar refrain for both of them in these discussions. Sometimes the “more” has been said in times past, so it makes me less worried because we know how they really feel even if they don’t communicate it at certain times.

  9. I am one of those who doesn’t quite follow the argument here.

    I see the situations and the reactions as quite different. Note: My main computer is in the computer hospital so I can’t go back and check details. Nonetheless, I shall go forward.

    In Killer, Brennan, as per usual, is emotionally tone deaf. As a result, she manages to hurt Booth before she manages to convey her support. Booth, of course, doesn’t help matters by putting off clearly confronting her about it until the end.

    In contrast, I don’t recall Booth doing anything similar in BwtA. He never equated Brennan with Taffet in the same way as Brennan does Booth with Broadsky in KitC. He, as usual, understands that Brennan is having a very hard time keeping her perspective in this case and does everything he can to reassure her that it will work out ok. She is smarter than Taffet, and they will ultimately win.

    I don’t think Brennan ever sees herself as like Taffet in the way that Booth sees himself as possibly like Broadsky. Brennan had no prior relationship, certainly no mentorship, as Booth had with Broadsky. Brennan’s concern with Taffet is that, given Brennan’s emotional upheaval, Taffet will be able to beat her at her own logical game. Brennan’s fear is not that she is too like Taffet, but that Brennan is not bringing her A game.

    So, while Booth may see a monster in the mirror, I think that what Brennan sees is a weaker version of herself — a disappointment to her, but not a monster.

  10. I think Brennan absolutely had to question Booth on his motivations, so that she could be comfortable that he is who she thinks he is. Brennan doesn’t jump to conclusions or follow blindly. She asks questions, she studies the subject or subject matter, she looks at the evidence and then she decides.

    I also think she had to ask Booth those questions because *someone* had to. In a way, her questions were acting as Booth’s conscience.

    I have another whole set of problems with the Evil Booth/Evil Brennan comparisons with JB and the Gravedigger. Similar methods do not make similar people.

    Loved this post. Loved it.

    • Brennan doesn’t jump to conclusions or follow blindly. She asks questions, she studies the subject or subject matter, she looks at the evidence and then she decides.

      Thank you. This is actually the heart of the matter in my opinion and why Brennan comes out on top of these comparisons.

      I think it all relates back to The Proof in the Pudding. In the end, Brennan has to deceive Booth as to the identity of the remains so that his world is not turned upside down with the knowledge that the government he worked for and trusted is capable of malicious lies. When it is strongly implied that the remains were in fact JFK, it begs the question: If you trust too much in authority and never question what you are told, are you morally culpable when you take actions, which in any other context would be morally wrong, based upon that trust? Taking the ethical questions at the heart of TPitP to their logical conclusion, is Booth morally responsible for killing targets they may have been innocent if his government lied to him and he didn’t know they were innocent? I think, in fact, this is what Brennan was really saying to Booth in TKitC: If you don’t question yourself, if you don’t question what you are told, you are in fact as morally and ethically responsible as the instigator of the act comitted based upon that trust. To paraphrase an old maxim, ignorance of the truth is no excuse. It is YOUR responsibility to find that truth and act accordingly. To Booths credit, I believe his guilt and oversensitivity to the Broadsky dilemma stems from the fact that he knows this, deep down.

      • Absolutely. She acts as his conscience in many ways and especially in this episode. Yes, she is blunt. Yes, she could be labeled insensitive. But she challenges him enough for him to question himself. That’s why he ends up going to Sweets. He misreads Brennan throughout, really, but in the end, it is Brennan who reminds him, right or wrong, she is standing beside him.

        Brennan knows the dangers of secrets– look at what she does for a living; she gives names back to the nameless remains. Her own world was turned topsy turvy by the knowledge that not only did her parents knowingly leave her and her brother behind, but they did so because they were hiding their true identities. Her “mania” for the truth is far healthier than coddling Booth and telling him, it’s okay, you’re not Broadsky. While she’s not saying he is Broadsky, she is pointing out similarities that Booth already sees. That’s why he is so sensitive. That is why her “insensitivity” is necessary for him to understand the truth of himself. While it still begs the question of whether he was culpable of committing crimes since he blindly obeyed the government’s directive, it does ease the tension between them and shows that she is really advocating for him. At some point he may come out of this a healthier person because he sees the truth behind his actions. He might have been serving the greater good in a legally sanctioned action, but he must know on some level that he was killing the brother, father, son of someone. That still has to weigh on him.

      • Booth was not an assassin for his country. He was a sniper for the U.S. Army doing his job in war zones. This does not make him guilty of anything except his job. (I am a military brat by the way and I understand that some people do not understand what being in the military is really about). Booth feels guilty for killing the people he did because he is a good man doing a thankless job. A job that takes a strong heart as well has brains. Killing someone is not something to take lightly; but, doing your job in a war zone is not immoral or unethical. He would not have questioned what he was doing because he was saving lives. That is what a sniper does, be it an Army sniper, a police sniper or a FBI sniper. They do their jobs to save lives.

      • Booth was not an assassin for his country. He was a sniper for the U.S. Army doing his job in war zones.

        If he killed one innocent person based on the lies of his gov’t—I hate to break this to you but the gov’t does in fact lie, often with impunity–he was in fact an assasin in the strictest sense of the word. And let’s not forget that not all of his targets were on the battlefield. He took out one guy at his son’s birthday party. How did Booth know the guy was guilty of what he was accused of? Because the gov’t said so? The man had not had a trial to decide his guilt or innocence so there is no way of knowing. In effect, Booth allowed himself to be used as a tool of people who had taken upon themselves the power of judge, jury, and executioner.

      • He took out the guy in Bosnia, a war zone.

      • “He took out the guy in Bosnia, a war zone.”

        Yea, but that brings its own set of questions about the use of a US Army sniper in Bosnia, which technically a NATO involvement and not a US war.

        And that’s not what this blog is about, obviously, but it does make the line between sniper/assassin a little muddier.

  11. As a whole, I think Killer in the Crosshairs aimed at trying to demonstrate Booth’s feelings of uncertainty and disequilibrium with the whole situation – including his disequilibrium with Brennan.

    I would agree that Brennan does not, fundamentally, mistrust Booth or his intentions – or that he is a good guy. However, her questioning (without ever disclosing her whole process, as you’ve mentioned), calls to mind The Con Man in the Meth Lab in which, after almost 4 years of evidence, Brennan allowed herself to be swayed by one evening with Jared and question Booth.

    I do not think that Killer is *quite* the same in that Brennan’s statements/questions are so obviously off base – but really, does she not know better by now? Yes, in the end she usually “gets it right” so that Booth understands and believes her, but even that pause between Booth saying “you just have to trust me” and Brennan responding with “I trust you” is longer than I would expect. Some might say that she has lost some of her trust in Booth this season, but I don’t actually see that. And if she has, I don’t completely understand why (and before y’all give me the list of reasons, I see “some” possible reasons why, but they are not convincing to me – the whole “move on” is not a trust issue to me).

    Looking at Rankor01’s “fictional” Booth statements, I would say that Brennan would not take issue with them, but it does demonstrate a fundamental difference between these two. Booth saying “you’re more brilliant” to Brennan appeals to her logical side (she would agree with his statement) AND her emotional side, regardless of whether or not she wants to acknowledge it. Brennan may still not know, precisely how to do this with Booth, but surely she knows that she has to work through the logic to the point that he can at least see her conclusions? Because, in the end, Booth always accepts her conclusions. Her learning curve is still too steep right now in this area.

    Looking over my comments, I am debating whether or not to temper them, but meh, this is where I’m at, I think.

  12. @Lenora, that depends on which side you’re on. A sniper is by definition an assassin. He’s paid to kill. Just because it’s government-sanctioned killing doesn’t make the victim any less dead.

    We can say he’s a patriot, but you know, terrorists think they’re patriots, too. Point of view is everything.

    • Point of view is indeed important. I’m thinking many (most?) of us here are okay with the connotative meaning of assassin (which would put Booth on the side of good, Broadsky on the side of, well, not good) vs the denotative – which absolutely makes all the difference in this instance.

  13. Another thing Brennan never said she would not help Booth if his intentions where un-ethical, she was willing to forget the question and carry on with the plan. Brennans question was really what am i getting myself into? not- are you doing the right thing?
    Partners never say “forget about it”- it was her way of keeping communication open and to take some of the burden by knowing what he intended to do she would have taken a share in the guilt (?) and in her mind lessened Booths. They are partners co-dependant a single entity, the burden should be on both there sholders for there partnership to be equal.

  14. I struggle with these issues that are brought up because to me; Brennan knows Booth is fundamentally a good person and she doesn’t need to question his motives. It seemed to me like she was doubting him and so at the end when she said she would always be by his side like she always had, the ‘like she always had’ didn’t ring true for me. I understand it better now — thanks to AmandaFriend and others.
    I don’t think either of them were comparing themselves to their ‘evil twin’ in the sense that they were thinking ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. In Boy with the Answer, Brennan is questioning whether or not her emotional connections will make a conviction less likely. The Gravedigger’s motivations haven’t been clear to me throughout that arc. Taffet seems to be about the game kind of like Epps rather than about the ransom money. Sure Brennan likes to win but it isn’t a game…. she is all about the satisfaction in finding the truth and in bringing justice. Booth isn’t comparing himself to Broadsky either. More likely, he is thinking he and Broadsky had a similar job in the past and he respected Broadsky and now Broadsky has become a person Booth never anticipated nor understands. He is saddened by his former mentor’s actions not wondering if he is the same. B & B need to have more conversations about all this so they can understand each other better.

  15. *stares at the blank comment box for a moment*

    OK…first off congrats on your first Bones Theory post. And a corker it is too! 😀

    Secondly…you now I think you’re awesome right? Because I do. Really really do…but I think I may be missing the point. I don’t really understand what you’re getting at here. That Booth IS like Broadsky? Like he ISN’T like Broadsky? That Brennan was in the wrong? That she was insensitive? I’m not completely sure but I’ll try and explain my thoughts on the matter.

    The problem I have with comparing the Booth/Broadsky scenario and the Brennan/Taffet situation is that the two are fundamentally different. For starters Booth and Broadsky share the same past. They are both experienced snipers. They have a history. You said yourself that at one point they had a mentor/student relationships and it’s clear from Booth’s reactions that, at one point, he had a great deal of respect and admiration for Joseph. I also see them as having a very similar mentality. They are both working towards justice. Booth is working, with Brennan , to bring justice to those that have wronged within the law. Broadsky is working, on his own, to bring justice to those who have wronged outside of the law. Is his thinking twisted? Yes. He rationalised killing an innocent woman by referring to her as ‘collateral damage’ but (you knew there was a but coming right?! LOL) is Broadskys thinking really that unexpected? He comes from a place (the Army) where collateral damage is a by product of what they do and what they are hoping to achieve. So this mentality he has, that a life lost for the ‘greater good’, is understandable. So really…he’s not that different from Booth. They just have a different idea of what needs to be done. I’m not saying Jacob is right I’m just saying that they are a lot more similar than you suggest. I mean Caroline herself said that Jacob isn’t a priority (paraphrasing here because i can’t remember the exact words!). I think if he’d never killed the innocent woman she’d be more than happy for him to carry on as he was.

    (side note- I have just taken some painkillers so if the rest of this makes no sense that is why! LOL)

    But Brennan and Taffet…they are a whole other kettle of fish. The only similarity between them is their intelligence. They are both genius’s but beyond that they are completely different. They have no past. Before Hero in the Hold they had never met or interacted on even a superficial level. Their lives are completely different. Brennan has a support system surrounding her (as much as she may resent this at times). From what we know Taffet was a loner with no friends or family to speak of. Other than their intelligence level they have no similarities.

    So, for me, I can’t compare them because the two situations are too different.

    OK, that may have made no sense so I’ll move on 😀

    You mention further down that, while Brennan wasn’t wrong in questioning Booth she was in fact insensitive. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. For me, as his partner, she had the right to ask that question of him. Why? Because his motives were questionable. Do I believe that Booth will always do the right thing? I like to think that yes, he will. But the situation they were in, the meaning it carried for Booth was different to anything they’ve experienced before as a partnership and Booth wasn’t acting like himself. His focus was…intense. Almost obsessive. So, from Brennans point of view, she had every right to ask that question. And you know what? If the answer had been so straight forward Booth would have given a straight answer. But he didn’t. That alone tells me there was more going on in Booths head right then…possible a similar thing to what was going through his head in Bullet when he let Broadsky walk away. He must feel guilt for that. Another person died because he let Jacob walk.

    (Small side note- We seem to forget that yes, Brennan and Booth are friends. BUT in the field they are partners…and you have to be able to ask your partner the hard questions because you have to be sure. Their friendship can’t take priority and Brennan shouldn’t be expected to pussy foot around him when it’s relating to their work. It works the other way. Booth has pushed Brennan hard in the past, as her partner, when their work demanded it of him. They have to be able to differentiate between the two without feelings being hurt. End of side note! LOL)

    On to the scene with Sweets. I’ll admit that this line from Booth…

    ‘It kills me that Bones thinks that taking someone’s life means nothing to me.’

    …pissed me off good and proper. She never said that. I don’t think she has ever believed that, even at the beginning of their partnership. Brennan didn’t tell Booth anything he didn’t already know. On paper he is similar to Jacob but the path he chose is very different. The fact that Booth chose to read this in her words and actions makes me question him…does he really not know her? Or was he so busy feeling sorry for himself that he didn’t think?

    For me, in this episode, Booth was overly sensitive. I’m not blaming him, it’s understandable. Recently I’d say Booth has been more at ease with his past (the sniper section of it. The rest is still a mess! LOL) but this brought it all to the forefront of his mind again and I can see why it was a sensitive subject for him. But that’s not in any way Brennan fault. And the fact that he went to Sweets? About bloody time. I find it somewhat unfair that we expect Brennan to be able to ‘fix’ Booth or understand what he needs at all times. She’s not that person. She understands Booth more than she understands anyone else but still there are gaps in her social skills that leave her limited in how far she can help. So I was pleased he went to see Sweets. Most people have someone else they can turn to for their different needs. One person can’t be all to someone else. Brennan has Angela for the things Booth can’t help her with. Booth has Sweets. That’s the way it is and personally I wholeheartedly approve.

    What I find interesting is that you see a higher tolerance for Brennan within this season. Now, I must be hanging around with the wrong people because I seem to spend half my life defending her! LOL

    Right…that’s me done.

    Like I said this may have made no sense and I may have completely missed the point of you post. (Actually I guarantee I have! LOL). Feel free to put me straight Adam 🙂

    • Adam pointed something out to me…i said the first time she had contact with Taffet was in Hero.

      I need to clarify.

      What i mean is that Hero in the Hold is where she first has contact with Taffett, as oposed to in Aliens where it’s the faceless GD…who everyone assumed was male! LOL

    • You stated my thoughts better than I did!

      • When HH described Taffet as the “evil Brennan,” I was surprised. It never occurred to me that Brennan had an evil twin in the Bones world, but it makes sense.

        But you are right– Brennan only shares genius with her; Taffet’s adheres to a kind of insane interpretation of the world.

        Booth and Broadsky share a similar past but Broadsky perverts the motives for seeking justice. In fact, he’s directing the kills from selecting the targets to executing them. Booth’s sole role was to execute the targets. (I know, I know, the connotation for “execute” is not one we like to think of with Booth, but it is denotative-wise correct.)

        And that’s where Booth is questioning himself. I thought he really wanted to open up to Brennan and talk to her as he had talked to Sweets, but for reasons you point out, he cannot. Brennan is keeping in line with his definition of their partnership and her personal skills are such that even if he went to her, he would still have to explain himself so much to her that I doubt it would be as effective as going to Sweets for reassurance. (Booth almost deliberately boxes out Brennan by putting words into her mouth from almost the beginning.)

        He and Broadsky are the top snipers. Broadsky makes at least one call (in Bullet in the Brain) that is borderline immoral. Booth actually “understands” what Broadsky did in killing a hostage taker. But his inability to reign in Broadsky then eats at him. Look at the last scene in the diner during Bullet for a different take given what we now know. He was “impotent” to stop Broadsky and instead of him leaving (like Brennan leaving at the end of BwtA) everyone leaves him. He’s failed to get Broadsky. That wears at him. He fails to get the woman he wanted. That wears at him, certainly in a different way, but it does. As GG would say, “he can’t bring his weapon to bear” and he’s missing the mark. He’s got to lash out at someone and that person happens to be Brennan who is, in her own inimitable way, questioning him.

        You are right, Laffers, Brennan never said anything to Booth about not being understanding about him killing. It is Booth’s own insecurity and feelings of inadequacy that are eating at him, making him lash out at one person whose opinion he values. Why he won’t go to her is interesting since he doesn’t just cut her out of the investigation. He could, but he continues to use her as “partner” going so far as to make her his spotter. He’s really torn in how he sees her– is she supportive or the person he wants to be supportive? He’s angry, but who is he really angry with? She’s trying to clarify things for herself and probably for Booth, but ultimately he cannot recognize that.

    • Hey Laffers guess what! I actually agree with you say here, I’d say all of it, and while normally I don’t disagree completely with you…just a few key issues…this time I have nothing in what you’ve said that is in conflict with what think. The world may be tilting on it axis! 😀

      No really I agree; I have no idea where Booth got the idea that Brennan thinks killing his easy for him. She said nothing in this episode to indicate that, and she’s said plenty over the course of their partnership that she knew it was difficult for him; that he hates it when he has to kill someone, and she’s apologized when he has killed in defense of her. For him to accuse her of that here was just so wrong.

      I was as lost has her when he snapped at her in the conference room that he was not like Broadsky. She’d in no way indicated that she thought he was. I think that was his own fears coming forward and from that point on in the episode there is nothing Brennan could have said that he wouldn’t have read that way.

      When she questioned him about what he was going to do when he found Broadsky wasn’t her thinking he was out to commit murder. I think she was just asking for clarification of what was going to happen; in a way to try and force him to know ahead of time what he was planning. He had been acting so different from his normal self throughout the episode that you just have to question…what are you doing…what are you planning on doing.

      I am very glad that at the end she was able to get through him that she didn’t think he was the same as Broadsky and that she thought they were very different…good vs. bad, and that she would always be right there beside him. To me that’s a big deal for her, she’s always said that you can’t know what will happen and how you’ll feel in the future, so to say that is huge.

    • Just jumping in here quickly to add 0.02 to the evil twin issue.

      I acknowledge that Booth / Broadsky & Brennan / Taffett are not mirror images of each other…but it is like a distorted fairground mirror image. Both sets of antagonist protagonists have sufficient similar traits or personality profiles to be compared. Rather than boxing them into ‘good’ or ‘evil’, I prefer to think of the characters in terms of their impact on their worlds…’order’ versus ‘chaos’. Booth and Brennan are the characters that enforce order; Broadsky and Taffett unravel it to trigger chaos.

      Sorry to twist it all around again…

      • See i don’t see ‘sufficient similar traits’ or ‘personality profiles’ between Brennan/Taffet for a comparison to be made.

        They are both geniuses yes but that is their only similarity. There would beed to be more things relating the two for a valid comparison to be made.

  16. I think that if Booth was “overly sensitive,” that’s just his way–and I love him for it. He takes things personally, particularly where his relationship with Bones is concerned. I’m not saying he was right to believe that Brennan saw him in such a negative light, but it’s a testament to his character that he desires her approval so strongly. Her approval shapes how he sees himself, and he wants to be able to see himself as good and just. The fact that he doubts himself so often breaks my heart, but it’s also what makes him our Booth (who is so much more than just an alpha male!)

    Along similar lines, if Brennan was “insensitive,” that’s just her way–and I love her for it, too. She needed to understand, to gather evidence. I’m thinking of Con Man in the Meth Lab here. It was hard for me, at first, to accept the fact that she questioned Booth after all of those years, but she only questioned because she cared. She accepted Jared’s evidence because it came from a person who knew Booth’s personal life better than she did. She just wanted to help.
    Here, I think her motives were similar, but I also think they indicate progress. Brennan asked the questions that she need to ask; she needed to be sure of Booth. This time, however, I don’t think she ever for a second doubted his fundamental nature. I think she believed the ENTIRE time that “Broadsky is bad…you are good.” She didn’t say it until the end, but that doesn’t mean she ever doubted that Booth is good. I think she just needed to understand why “Broadsky is bad.” When she asked Booth to clarify the differences between his actions and Broadsky’s, she was trying to get a sense for Broadsky’s morality–not Booth’s. At least that’s how I see it. After all they’ve been through, that’s what makes the most sense.

    • When she asked Booth to clarify the differences between his actions and Broadsky’s, she was trying to get a sense for Broadsky’s morality–not Booth’s.

      That is very good. I like it.

    • Ah, an excellent read on what was happening with Brennan. The idea that she was trying to get a sense of Broadsky’s morality makes a lot of sense to me.

    • Yes! I agree with this!

      For me, the way Brennan questioned Booth in the Killer in the Crosshairs fit very much into how I perceive Brennan’s brain. Brennan appears, to me, to compare everything to her own past experience and knowledge in order to build upon that knowledge, but is unable to see the opposite side of that, that each person has their own individual perceptions of what is happening around them. I completely agree that she’s trying to get ahold of Broadsky’s morality. She’s basically using what she already knows (Booth) to understand what she doesn’t know (Broadsky). It’s basically ethoarchaeology (which is actually partly anthropology) — basically studying a similar current culture to get an idea of a past culture. It’s not entirely accurate, and I think it’s the same way here. We have the evidence of Neanderthals, but we don’t see what this evidence means. By studying a similar group of modern people (yes, this was a real study in the 60’s) we can see that when the men in certain more modern groups go out and hunt and cook the game, the evidence for this can be very similar to what is left behind by the Neanderthals. Brennan sees Broadsky’s evidence, and only his evidence, not his motives. She knows what Booth did, and so then she can ask questions and follow him around and understand why Broadsky is doing what he is doing. Actually, I’m pretty sure this is part of why Brennan became Booth’s partner — to understand the motive of the crime (which has been something she has been struggling to understand on and off since the first episode).

  17. Hart Hanson has said many many times that if the Gravedigger is “Evil Brennan,” then Jacob Broadsky is “Evil Booth.” From that perspective, I think your comparison between the two is completely valid. I don’t know that I agree with every point you’ve made, but I do think it’s a valid comparison.

    Honestly, I struggled with Brennan’s questioning of Booth during The Killer in the Crosshairs. I understand the argument that it was necessary given Booth’s erratic (and potentially dangerous) behavior regarding Broadsky, but she’s known him for how many years? She knows the guilt he carries over the lives he’s taken and how much he struggles with his past as a sniper. If Booth should have known Brennan well enough to know that she wasn’t comparing him to Broadsky, then I would argue that Brennan knows Booth well enough to know that while she was not out of line in questioning his actions (and the motivation for those actions) as they related to the case, that her questions should have come with a certain amount of reassurance as to what she knows to be true about his overall character.

    Was Booth being overly sensitive in that episode? I don’t think so. Broadsky threatened his son. That alone would have been enough to mess with his head. Add to that Booth’s guilt over his past as a sniper and the fact that Broadsky was a trusted friend and a respected mentor before he went rogue and I think Booth’s sensitivity on the subject was justified. We are meant to see just how hard this is for him. To be fair, I also grew up in a military family, so maybe that changes my perspective a bit or makes me somewhat more likely to feel sympathetic towards Booth in this case, but I just cannot blame him for his struggle (or for believing, however incorrectly, that the person HE trusts the most, doesn’t trust him).

    Brennan, she needs evidence. If Booth tells her something, then yes, I think the reason why matters (and I think Booth understands that for the most part). But I think Booth is different. He needed to hear that Brennan trusted him, but I don’t think the reasons why matter as much. It’s enough that she trusts him.

    Interesting stuff, although sometimes I feel like I’m at the edge of what I’m able to intelligently debate. Hopefully I don’t sound like a complete idiot! 🙂

    • Actually Broadsky didn’t threaten Parker. He threaten Booth…he said he’s make Parker fatherless. But yes I can admit just Broadsky mentioning Parker at all in any context would make Booth’s blood run cold. The thing is he was questioning Brennan’s belief in him long before Broadsky showed up at his apartment, so that can’t be used as the reason for the way he was reacting to Brennan.

      I think Broadsky a man he had admired in the past, going so far off of what Booth believes in that he could murder an innocent woman and just consider it collateral damage had Booth questioning himself: maybe wondering if he could ever reach that point, so he was looking for that same questioning in those around him.

      • I know that Broadsky didn’t threaten Parker’s life, but he certainly brought Parker into it by telling Booth that he wouldn’t hesitate to leave him fatherless. I would consider that a threat and I’m pretty sure Booth would too.

        I don’t remember exactly when the scene in Booth’s apartment happened in relation to the conversations in question, but I know it happened before he went to Sweets. Was it the cause of Booth’s sensitivity on the subject? No. Did it contribute to the tidal wave along the way? I think so.

    • That depends what you mean by “overly sensitive”. I don’t blame him for being sensitive on this topic, and I might well have reacted the same way if I were him. But it’s clear to me that his sensitivity is causing him to misinterpret her here – as you suggested, his belief Brennan doesn’t trust him is mistaken, and I think that’s what a lot of the debate here is about – was Brennan really implying that he and Broadsky are the same? That’s the apparent difference in the two episodes discussed, and if it’s true, a lot of people would be upset with her.

      So basically, this is just to say I think they’re both just struggling with trying to understand, and we shouldn’t be angry at either of them!

      • I’m certainly not angry at Brennan, I just happened to empathize with Booth in that situation. I guess I feel like I “get” why he was upset (I’m much more an emotions person than a rational person if you can’t tell). 🙂 Like I said, I think she was right to question him, I just wish we would have seen her soften her questions with some sort of indication of her trust (kind of like what she did in The Blackout in the Blizzard when Booth explained why he wanted the stadium seats). I wouldn’t necessarily have expected that out of Brennan in the past, but I think that’s something we’ve seen her do more often this season. What she said at the end of the episode more than made up for it anyway!

  18. There’s no doubt that Booth was being oversensitive about Brennan’s comments; we often see him react that way about things he’s unsure about, and I think that killing falls into that category. He knows that killing is bad, yet he accepts the notion that sometimes you have to kill in order to prevent bigger tragedies. Yet he never seems to lose track of the fact that at then end of the scope is a human being; the greater good doesn’t wipe out from memory the face of the kill nor the repercussions that killing has on others. This is what makes him so different from Broadsky. For Broadsky, the big picture as he sees it is all that matters. Unlike Booth who was tormented by the face of the little boy who’s dad he killed, Broadsky seems to have no problem wiith the concept of breaking a few eggs to make an omelette-hence the lady in the tub. But in Booth’s mind this doesn’t seem to be enough of a difference. They have both killed for what they perceive is the good of society, even when they are now be serving different masters. (Interesting though that now that Broadsky is no longer working for the military, he still feels the need to have someone directing his actions. Money doesn’t seem to be the main issue for him, yet he looks for people seeking revenge to give him the permission he needs to go after a victim.) Booth sees their similarities, which is why anything said about them sets him on edge. After all, he did threaten to kill the gang leader and also Vega in retaliation if anything happened to Brennan, so we know (as does he) that he too could operate outside the confines of the law if the circumstances warranted it.

    Objectively though and hypersensitivity aside, Brennan’s words in the car made it seem as though she thought the two men were a little too alike. We know she doesn’t really think that, but I don’t entirely blame Booth for reacting the way he did. Of course she couldn’t know that she was accidentally reinforcing his own doubts about himself, but the “you were both paid to take lives” still sounds cold, and makes Booth seem less like a soldier performing a patriotic duty and more like a hired killer, even to me.

    I’m not implying that Brennan was being critical; as she saw it she was just making a factual remark, but it wouldn’t be the first time that her words hit too close to home for him, and maybe she could have been just a bit more cautious with her phrasing. Just as he looks primarily to her for reaffirmation, he’s also really affected when she says something that is akin to criticism, which makes it all the more important for her to consider the consequence of her words. Usually he can blow off remarks relating to his professional competence but it’s harder when the comments go to his personal life. When she mentioned his child out of wedlock, when she said he could fit the profile of the killer in Mummy in the Maze, when she said he didn’t have any qualifications to enrich Parker’s education, or when she said he sabotaged his own successes; these are all examples of times when her offhand remarks have caused unintentional hurt. Booth of course makes everything worse by not asking her what she means and airing out his issues. In her defence, she can’t read his mind. He should also have dismissed his fears that she doesn’t think taking a life is hard for him. She’s told him plenty of times before that she knows how painful killing is for him. Masters of communication these two are not.

    Brennan’s already acknowledged that diplomacy is not her strong suit, and I believe that she’s been working hard to intertwine truth with empathy. The car comment was a slip, which everyone learning and growing is bound to have. And I for one don’t want her to be less honest; her honesty is exactly one of the things that Booth loves about her, and why he values the good things she says about him so much. Booth for his part has to become better at not holding everything in and letting it eat away at him, and in Blizzard it seems like he has started doing that as well.

  19. I’m not going into what I think about The Boy with the Answer, other than to say it’s not quite the same as Killer in the Crosshairs…and I’ll leave that for others to discuss.

    What I have seen this season are many episodes, if not most, that have been about how good people make a morality call and take justice into their own hands when the authorities have been ineffective…many times resulting in collateral damage. Their emotions take over and cause them to seek revenge when they perceive no other solution. I could run down the list, but here’s one example…

    In Bullet in the Brain, the father of the two boys Taffet killed is more than happy to pay the sniper to take out Taffet. By society’s standards, he is a good man who suffered a horrific event (losing his children), and we sympathize with him. Taffet was an evil person, but there’s a possibility she may go free. He makes the decision to pay the sniper purely from an emotionally-charged revenge standpoint. He knows it’s morally wrong, but does it anyway. Justice is served. What the father doesn’t know is that Broadsky killed an innocent bystander (the woman whose apartment he needed to carry out his mission)…but even when Booth tells the father about Tracey, he still believes he made the right call. Just like Broadsky, the father has rationalized that killing Taffet was justified.

    In Killer both Sweets and Brennan have doubts that Booth can remain completely rational, despite what they say to him. They each tell him what he wants to hear. Brennan says she trusts Booth (after some hesitation)…and Sweets tells him he’s handling all this in a healthy way (yet has an apprehensive look on his face as Booth leaves his office)…so I’m not so sure they’re convinced. I think it was in Bullet in the Brain where Booth talks about how each person has a different threshold for the capability of killing…and I think that thought will come into play now.

    Booth is caught up in a potentially similar situation with Broadsky, just as it was for all the other *good* people…it’s personal…and therefore, highly emotional for him. If Broadsky hurts or kills anyone else, will Booth remain completely on the good side? He’s already feeling guilty that Broadsky has gotten away twice…both times resulting in innocent victims becoming collateral damage…and I think this will weigh heavily on his actions in the third sniper episode.

    I see where others believe that Booth was too sensitive in Killer…but that’s who he is. He takes everything to heart. His talk with Sweets was long overdue, but showed how worried he’s been since Bullet in the Brain that others, particularly Brennan, see him as a cold-blooded killer. She never actually said that, so it’s Booth’s insecurity speaking here…how he sees himself is reflected onto others…the monster in the mirror is the image he fears. Sweets even confronted Booth about the rage he struggles to control…and Brennan does too in a similar way…when she talks about Booth being like Riley, the dog…with warm, brown eyes…and capable of great violence. Most of all, Booth knows this about himself…which is why he reacts so strongly to others pointing this out.

    Brennan’s questioning of Booth’s motives wasn’t so clear-cut that he could see what she was getting at, until she put it in simple terms…he is good, Broadsky is bad. That he understands. And this all goes back to their conversation in the car where Booth believes you are either good or bad, but Brennan says there’s a gray area. Will Booth be pushed into that gray area Brennan talked about? He may be confronted with that dilemma, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • The grey area is what I fear also. That is a dilemma Booth has to face and explain to people.
      Right now there a two options to solve the problem with Broadsky. First he can apprehend him and hand him over to the authorities or he can kill him. Then Brennan’s 2 questions come into play: “Do you want to kill him or kill him to prevent further murder?” The first one is plain murder, but killing him for prevention, without trying to see if he can’t arrest him first, is the grey area. Because Booth said Broadsky is his and so he is doing this on his own. That is a very tricky scenario and yes Brennan has the right to question him. And yes it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

      About Booth being so sensitive, can also come from his latest tour in Afghanistan. He said to Brennan upon his arrival home that he did most administrative work and that he arrested Hannah. So what was he doing in Taliban Territory saving her life? He must have had other duties. Maybe he was sent in to protect Hannah, after she did not obey orders not to go. He said:” just say we met at the field and leave it like that “He known’s he was the Hero again, which Brennan ask him not to be. Even if he did not kill the guy who was attacking Hannah, he shot at least 2 people we could witness, while rescuing the little boy.
      We don’t know what else he had to do over there and he is afraid to admitting that he killed more people. How can he explain to Brennan that there are more murderers for them to catch, because the number of his killings has gone up. This can’t be easy for him; because I do believe also that he is a good man, tying to do the right things in a horrible and cruel world.

  20. Fascinating post! I’m glad someone looked at that question of the evil twin thing, since HH made that comparison explicit. Having said that, though, I don’t think it’s a one-to-one comparison that Brennan and Taffet are alike in the same way that Booth and Broadsky are.

    There are similarities. Taffet is a brilliant woman capable of using the same kinds of skills to escape justice that Brennan uses to find justice, and Booth and Broadsky are also similar in that they use the same skills, one for profit (of various kinds), the other to find justice. But we know more of the ways Broadsky is like Booth – we know more of their shared background, know that Booth respected him even if they were never friends. We still don’t know anything about Taffet.

    In terms of writing, I suspect that’s because when they wrote Aliens, they weren’t thinking in terms of ‘evil Brennan.’ In fact, I’m not sure they were thinking that in Hero, even when GD was revealed to be a woman.

    Beyond those kinds of differences, there also key differences in how they respond. Brennan doesn’t look at Taffet and think, “am I capable of that?” – she looks at her and thinks Taffet may win because Brennan is no longer as much like her as she once was. She appears to regret not being more like her. In TBwtA, she says, “What if her dispassion makes her more logical. What if that gives her an advantage over me?…I just think…maybe I’ve lost my advantage because of all the people I’ve involved with now. All of the relationships, they complicate logical thought.” She’s not sure Taffet’s not better than she is. Not morally – she knows Taffet’s amoral and says so in the same conversation. But rather than look at Taffet and see an amoral woman and fear she could become that way, too, she looks at her and isn’t sure it’s good that she’s less like her than she once was.

    Booth on the other hand – his greatest fear is of becoming Broadsky. I think people miss that somehow. A lot of people who weigh in on these discussions have a black and white view of the military, seeing it as either an evil tool of the people or a savior that can do no wrong. But most of the people I’ve known who served – including a very, very good friend – understand that soldiers dwell in the grey. That what they do is necessary, but still comes down to imperfect, fallible people making decisions.

    So what I see from him all through the series is a continual fight within himself that he did the right thing. That lives – innocent lives – were saved because he was willing to kill a man in front of his son. And then he sees this man he respects, who he identifies as being like him, only he’s become the immoral monster Booth has feared being. Whereas Brennan looks at Taffet and says, “she’ll beat me (be better than me) because I’m no longer enough like her,” Booth sees his greatest fear coming true in Broadsky – if Broadsky can go ‘off the reservation’ and start making decisions on his own about who lives and who dies, might Booth do the same?

    That’s what he’s struggling with, and I think the groundwork for that was laid a long time ago.

    In terms of Brennan’s response – I have mixed feelings on it. On one level, it does seem as if his support of her is always unqualified, in a way her support of him isn’t always. But at the same time, if she’d told him up front, without thinking about it, ‘you’re not Broadsky, you’re not becoming Broadsky, you’re not capable of becoming Broadsky’ it wouldn’t have meant as much to him. Because he does doubt the morality of what he’s done, he needed her reassurance because he knew she wouldn’t give it if she didn’t mean it. She’s never going to say something just to make him feel better.

    At the same time, I think there was an element of honest bafflement on her part. I don’t think she gets (perhaps understandably, given Hannah) just how much her opinion of him matters, nor do I think it ever occurred to her that he could become like Broadsky. He looks at Broadsky and sees a man he never anticipated going rogue, and can’t see himself clearly enough to know what others know – that him doing that would be impossible. So she really didn’t get what he needed from her, because I think the possibility was so far out there for her. Yes, she allowed that he might kill Broadsky when it wasn’t strictly necessary, and that concerned her. But that’s not the same as thinking he might become Broadsky.

    But since that’s what he was afraid of, he couldn’t see the distinction and neither could she.

  21. Brennan is not placed in a position to decide if someone lives or dies; Booth is. And has been. When Brennan questions Booth, she is questioning his moral choices that can lead to the death of someone. In that death lies the potential for doing something that’s easier in a sense– killing Broadsky– than bringing him in. And in killing him, there’s the potential for committing an illegal act (like Broadsky) for the common good (preventing him from taking justice into his own hands and killing anyone who might also get in his way.) When Brennan questions Booth in her quest to understand, there are many layers of possibilities for Booth. Is he like Broadsky? Is he capable of committing murder to prevent a murderer from going free? Has he chosen a course of action that is sanctioned by the law?

    Broadsky has taken the route of expediency– by by-passing the legal system and killing the “guilty” he is meting out justice. When Brennan questions Booth or compares the two men, she is weighing their approaches for seeking justice. In many ways they are so similar that the moral/legal lines need to be made clear in her mind. If Booth were 100% sure of himself, then he would not be so likely to object to Brennan’s comments.

    Brennan acts as Booth’s conscience, although she’s not deliberately doing that. She’s trying to understand and she’s trying to clarify her own thinking. All along she sees the similarities in what they both do.

    When Brennan questions her own abilities against Taffet, she isn’t worried about taking a life, she’s worried that she cannot be utterly logical and objective anymore. Her fear is that they will not be able to find justice for themselves or find the boy Taffet buried. Her fear is wrapped up in saving lives. When Booth supports her, there really isn’t another side to take; Taffet clearly is evil. Her presence strikes at Brennan’s fear that she cannot be as smart and as dispassionate as Taffet and because of that, she may not be able to bring her down. (Clearly Brennan doesn’t see that emotion, especially her emotional outburst on the stand, can be as major a factor in bringing her down as science.)

    Throughout, Booth has faith in her abilities, but he’s not acting as her conscience. In fact, Brennan removes her own case from the proceedings and gives herself the high moral ground of seeking justice for someone else. She makes the case as much like the other cases they pursue. Booth can support her easily because she’s not aiming a gun at Taffet or wading in the grey area of morality such as maybe falsifying evidence. Brennan, who has to know everything about a case, is not sure she can know everything about the case of the boy and that is what frightens her as well. (And when it is Hodgins who has the “winning” evidence against Taffet, her role is only indirect which I think also leads to her need to distance herself.) Brennan is merely seeking to be able to think through everything without it being colored by the lives she needs to protect; it’s all too personal for her.

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