Hello Bones Theory peeps,
I hope you’re all well! The inspiration for this post came from the fabulous piece Sarah did a few weeks ago about The Integrity of the Characters. I noticed quite a lot of discussion in the comments about Booth and his notorious fig tree, which got me thinking about Booth and sex. From a purely literary analysis point of view, you understand. Mostly.
What I was thinking is how much do we really know about ‘Booth the lover’? (Not enough is the short answer), but I decided to really think about his character and what we’ve been shown because I think this is one of the areas where we’ve only been shown tiny snippets of information – leading the imaginative viewer to fill in the blanks.
I’m going to take 5 examples where we’ve been shown something concrete about his sex life and talk about what I think we can take from each one.
- Booth the prude?
Throughout the show, Brennan has made a few comments about Booth being a ‘prude’ or having ‘hang ups’.
I don’t think there is any actual evidence that these things are true – there are two clear examples I can remember where Booth was dismissive or judgemental of people’s sexual choices. The first in Death in the Saddle where he was mildly (and amusingly) horrified at the idea of pony play and again in Science in the Physicist where he acted a bit superior because he didn’t agree with the relaxed attitude some of the employees / students had about having sex with each other.
In Death in the Saddle, we see his disapproval stems from the use of role playing to remain at an emotional distance from your partner. Booth said, ‘if you don’t want to engage, just stay at home and, you know…’
Death in the Saddle also gives us a simply wonderful moment when Booth and Brennan are discussing role playing and he asks her incredulously whether pony play interests her. She says no, but must admit that in ‘sexual situations’, she has ‘engaged in role playing’. The way Brennan looks at him when she says this line is pure gold. She’s so seemingly innocent, while subtly playfully aware of the effect of her words. Talk about planting a seed of an idea and leaving it to grow.
And in ‘Science in the Physicist’ he was slightly dumbstruck by the relaxed attitude of the students – (I have to agree with Booth when he said that for most people, someone bursting in with a gun would rather spoil the mood), but again, we see from his discussion with Brennan that what he’s not comfortable with is the Doctor asking Brennan out so soon after the death of his fiancé. He gives the ‘good people leave marks’ analogy, which is one of my favourite Booth speeches. This reinforces the idea that for Booth, sex is really about respecting and engaging with who you’re with.
Curious Brennan then asks him straight out, ‘so, you’re not a prude?’ and Booth laughs and says ‘moi?’ in the sexiest fashion imaginable. This is not a man who’s insecure about that area of his life.
I’ve always found it quite amusing how Brennan has repeatedly called him prudish, because I’ve seen it as a type of goad. I believe she says it because sub-consciously, she wants him to prove her wrong. I think it used to annoy Brennan in earlier seasons that other people got to experience that side of him (Cam in particular) when she didn’t. She’s naturally curious about what it would be like, which is intensified because he’s refused to talk to her that much about it.
I don’t think Booth’s a prude at all. I just think he’s a mature man who’s quite private. I remember in an early season he said that he’s ‘a gentleman and gentlemen are discrete’. Can’t you imagine Pops instilling that in the teenage Booth?
2. He’s got a few years under his (cocky) belt
If I’m arguing that Booth is a mature and private man now, it’s not with the feeling that this has always been the case. I imagine the youthful Booth to have enjoyed the considerable advantages of his handsome athleticism. Sometimes the series has alluded to the fact that Booth is obviously a very attractive man – (Perotta asking if he works out, ‘nice car, nice bod, nice face. Nice’ in Queen bee etc) and sometimes Booth has alluded to his younger adventures himself. Him under the bleachers comes to mind, as does him dating the twins (tell me I’m not the only one who picked up on a definitely naughty undercurrent to that particular conversation!?).
Assuming we can rely on the timelines Bones has given us over the years, we know that Brennan lost her virginity at 22 and Booth at 16. We also know from an earlier episode that Booth is five years older than Brennan, which means that collectively he has 11 years more experience than her. Now, obviously this doesn’t mean very much in actual terms apart from being a fun-Bones-maths-factoid, but it sort of makes me even more aware that Booth had pretty much 20 years experience with women before he even met Brennan, reinforcing the idea that there’s probably a wealth of stories we’ve never even heard about.
3. He’s quick to fall…
I’ve already mentioned that the inspiration for this post came from seeing the comments about Booth’s behaviour under the fig tree being out of character. As far as I could tell, the main arguments about ‘fig-gate’ being out of character were;
He wouldn’t sleep with Hannah then because it seemed like he’d just met her
He wouldn’t sleep with Hannah under a fig tree because it’s a public place
He wouldn’t sleep with Hannah under a fig tree because it was the middle of a war zone (!)
I’m going to play devil’s advocate with each of these arguments:
He wouldn’t sleep with Hannah then because it seemed like he’d just met her…
Ahh yes. But it strikes me that this is something of a double-standard. In the 100th we saw that Booth was very keen to sleep with Brennan not long after meeting her and had she not put the brakes on, he definitely would have. I’ve seen arguments since that we’re glad they didn’t because then they’d be missing the depth of emotion and connection they have now, but I’ve never seen anyone say that they’re glad they didn’t because it would have been out of character for him to do so on account of the fact he had only just met her.
He wouldn’t sleep with Hannah under a fig tree because it’s a public place…
Well, I can’t say I know much about the fig tree population of Afghanistan but I’m willing to bet they found a private spot. This is still Booth we’re talking about afterall. However, thanks to Truth in the Lye, we do know that Booth and Rebecca had ‘maybe not for you’ sex while on a stake out, which inherently suggests a location outside their respective apartments.
He wouldn’t sleep with Hannah under a fig tree because it was the middle of a war zone (!)
You got me. This one is a tad ridiculous. But perhaps no more ridiculous than falling in love with a war correspondent in a war zone in the first place. I call ‘let’s-make-it-sensationalist’ writing on that one.
The above three points made me think that daft locations aside, we do rather hold Booth to different standards depending on whether we approve of who he’s doing it with. I’ve read enough fan fiction to know that there is a segment of the audience who wouldn’t mind one jot if, and when, B&B get together they get their groove on in pretty much every location we’ve ever seen on Bones. Similarly, I know there are viewers who would feel they’d betrayed the dignity of their positions if they made like Hodgela and got it on everywhere (Incidentally, at least unusual / unlikely spots aren’t exclusively Booth-ed – Cleopatra’s bed!? Tut tut.)
4. Hello Tessa, meet Hannah
I was thinking about how we’ve seen how Booth behaves in relationships a grand total of twice in six years (I’m not including him and Cam, although I thought they were sexy and (with hindsight!) kind of adorable in their own way, I did think Truth in the Lye was a one-off the first time I saw season 2 and was surprised a few episodes later when they were like, ‘oh yeah – those two who have barely spoken in 4 episodes? They’re a couple’)
So anyway, him and Tessa. Him and Hannah. Are there any parallels? I couldn’t think of many to start with, before a very important character trait jumped to the forefront of my mind. Nooners! Haha. But seriously, in season 1 Man in the SUV we see a lovely shot of DB coming out of what we assume is his bedroom putting his shirt on to answer the door to Brennan. A bed-head Tessa appears a moment later pretty much only wearing one of Booth’s shirts (I still think she could have at least covered her bra up, but hey this is about Booth’s supposed prudishness not mine!). It’s not clear what time of day it is, but considering Brennan is at the lab in the scene before and a scene later they’re at the FBI discussing the victim ID (and Booth’s still wearing the shirt we saw him put on) I’m going to take an ‘intuitive leap’ and say it’s day time.
Fast forward six seasons and Booth and Hannah are making up for lost time at his apartment in his lunch hour. He gets out of bed and puts his shirt on (while holding one of his socks and with his dice on the bedside table – awesome!) A coincidence I’m sure, but still an example of his behaviour remaining consistent over the years.
As a side note, I just watched a few scenes of SUV to find out what time of day it was, and was struck by how far these kids have come. Can you even imagine the fallout if they’d finished the scene with Hannah in the way they did with Tessa? He opens the door to Brennan and Hannah appears from the bedroom wearing nothing but his crisp, white shirt. It makes me shudder to think of it 🙂 But it proves without a doubt that we have come a long, long way since then – what was played for humorous tension in season 1 would have been soul-wrenching in season 6.
5. Two people occupying the same space…
And here we get to the crunch. The reason I think we hold him to such a high standard and the root of the disappointment sown at the bottom of that fig tree. You promised us more Booth. Two people becoming one, breaking the laws of physics. How is it possible that the man that said that, eventually had sex with someone other than Brennan under a fig tree in a war zone? But I think the answer is in the truth of that. Someone other than Brennan. I think what I’ve seen more than anything while looking back and thinking of ‘Booth the lover’ is that while there’s things he’s said and done and alluded to, none of it was with her.
I feel like over the years, Bones has given us a few gifts or hints of what might be in their future. ‘Eventually’ is one of them, and this moment is another. Maybe having sex with Hannah under that fig tree wasn’t out of character. Maybe having a woman turn him down and go on to become his partner, friend and great love is more out of character. But maybe also the making of him. He’s become someone else’s standard and in the end, I suspect that will make all the difference.
So, what do you guys think? Was it out of character for Booth to have sex under that fig tree? If so, why? Does anyone actually think he’s a prude rather than just private? How curious do you think Brennan is? Have we, the audience, moved the goal posts on him in terms of what we expect depending on which woman he’s involved with? Do you think they’ve waited too long to get Booth and Brennan together in the sexual sense? Are they as hot now as they were in seasons 2/3? Do you still see sparks or would it be ‘weird’ to see passion between them now?
I’ve missed some cracking moments out – ‘ploughing the field’, ‘I do fine’, ‘part of me was’, I laugh during sex!’, ‘sex is never free and easy’, so even though I know it’s a hard subject Bones Theory friends (ahem), it’d be great if you helped a gal out and weighed in with your thoughts! Keep it clean please… 🙂