Disclaimer: as of the writing of this post, I haven’t seen the season 6 finale because it hasn’t aired yet. I feel at this point it won’t affect how I feel about what we just witnessed, so fingers crossed!
Ok, I get it; I totally get what HH was doing when he upended our TV world in the 100th and told us to have patience, that we would be rewarded at some point. I feel in hindsight that we’ve been given a gift; a gift that took two years to unwrap. A gift that definitely didn’t feel like one when Brennan broke Booth’s heart in the 100th, when he lost all hope on that bench in the season 5 finale, when he flaunted his new relationship in front of Brennan in the season 6 premiere, when he broke her heart in Doctor.
The real gift, I guess, came from the two-year renewal. A gift that could not have happened with all the intensity, the depth it has if Hart hadn’t been given the freedom to change the direction of the show bit by bit, “organically” as he likes to say, over an extended period of time. A one year renewal would not have resulted in the prolonged emotional separation of our favorite ship-the potential year to year alienation of viewers being always in the back of the network’s and the producer’s mind.
But two years? So what if you left some viewers behind? You could tell your story the way you really wanted to, the one filled with pain and frustration and anger, with joy and redemption, without the ever-present ratings system hanging over your head like a hangman’s noose, always dictating how the story unfolds. Not that Bones ever did poorly in the ratings-it just felt that way from all the caterwauling heard in cyberspace. But it could have, so telling that story just the way HH wanted to was definitely an act of courage. To rock the boat when you didn’t have to? Hart was a brave, brave man in my book.
Not, mind you, that I loved every part of my gift. My “dark night of the soul” as I like to call it here came with last year’s finale. For some it was the 100th, for others it was Hacker or Hannah. The Beginning in the End left me angry and despondent (four idle weeks with the kids between the end of school and summer camp didn’t help), and just barely capable of tuning in for season 6. My source of aggravation came not from Brennan’s departure but from the frustration I felt in seeing Booth literally begging for a reason not to go to war and not getting one from a single person on the show-not Brennan, not Caroline, Parker or Cam. It was painful and left me shaking my head in disbelief.
But I tuned in to the sixth regardless, because the show had never disappointed me before and I had faith in HH’s abilities to tell a story. We’ve talked a lot about faith here, and that is exactly what it came down to for me; faith and trust. He asked for patience, and given how much enjoyment he had given me before, I was willing to be patient-he had earned it. Could the story of Booth and Brennan’s journey not just as individuals but as a couple have been told in a way that was more palatable to viewers? Maybe; the Booth/Hannah relationship wasn’t fleshed out enough for some; the distance between B/B left many unhappy and slightly ill. Certainly we can almost unanimously agree that the infamous sunglasses scene didn’t come off as was probably expected. But here’s the gift part: what we did get was a vision from a story writer; a vision uncompromised for the most part by ratings pressures or viewer expectations. A full love story, as complex and nuanced as anything that could be compressed into 40-some minutes of viewing time could be.
Without that gift of time, I’m not sure that Brennan’s recognition of what she was losing by wrapping herself in imperviousness or Booth’s new-found sense of patience would have been nearly as believable. There were many frustrations along the way and more than a fair share of “filler” episodes (The Finder and Feet come to mind) but we got great, awesome stuff with incredible emotional depth as well, like Doctor in the Photo and Daredevil in the Mold. Those scenes with DB and Ed were raw, mind-blowing and entirely believable, not the least because so much had happened before to set the stage for those cathartic moments.
Now that we have some distance and can view this two-year arc as a whole, I get to see how beautifully these last two seasons mirror and parallel each other and it makes me glad that I stuck around. In season 5 we see Booth, uncertain and unbalanced, wearing his love for Brennan on his sleeve. He misreads the situation and acts impulsively, setting in motion a chain of events that feels like a rollercoaster ride. Brennan distances herself emotionally and physically, unwilling to take a chance for fear of being hurt, or hurting back. They reunite, Booth held together by the band aid of Hannah, and Brennan with a new understanding of what she was missing. But it took feeling the void of all that had been taken away by Hannah’s presence for Brennan to come to terms with the full impact of that loss.
Episode after episode she, and we, felt the awkwardness and the sadness inherent in that distance from Booth. He was there, but not in the way that she had come to need or that we had come to expect. It all leads to Doctor in the Photo and Brennan’s uncharacteristic move to knowingly put herself at risk, make herself vulnerable and become the gambler for once. She lost for the moment, but unlike the 5th season finale, she stayed put without closing herself up, something the old Brennan could not have done as summed up by Cam early in season 5.
And Booth? I believe that after Daredevil he came to terms with the fact that he couldn’t just cover up old wounds and hurts by moving blindly along and tossing the dice again as he had in the past. Gambling had been his solace after his childhood just as Hannah became his crutch after Brennan. But pain has to be acknowledged and understood before any healing can take place and any real forward movement can occur. He had to hit rock bottom for the thrill of the reckless gamble to wear off. So now I do understand why the agony of his rejection in the 5th finale had to happen. Without that, he might not have been forced to take refuge with Hannah. Without Hannah, Brennan would not have had her world turned upside down. And ultimately, we wouldn’t be where we are now. We might still just be coasting along, missing some incredible scenes on the way. It might have been Mulder and Scully, Jag, and Ross and Rachel all over again. Will they or won’t they until the bitter end when truly much of the magic has gone.
For some, maybe this season already was too late, but I don’t see it that way. A matter of perception, I guess. Like I said earlier, seeing the two years as a whole and not just as a collection of individual episodes has given me a new appreciation of the effort and courage it took for the show’s producers to allow their main characters to embark on this journey. And the two seasons really do parallel each other in many ways.
I immediately thought of the upside down man on Avalon’s tarot card, the one that signified Brennan, when the world-turned-upside-down reference was made in Doctor. Avalon said that Brennan was at a critical junction, between life and death. She didn’t mean a physical death in that opening scene; she was referring to the death of the heart. If she couldn’t see the world in a different way, she was going to miss her chance. After the quiet suffering of the first half of the 6th season, this is exactly what she came to understand in Doctor. That sense of loss gave her the courage to finally take a chance and open her heart, regardless of the outcome, because feeling something even when painful was better than not feeling at all.
And Boy with the Answer/Beginning in the End and Signs in the Silence/Hole in the Heart mirror each other nicely as well. In Answer, a dead child that can’t be helped; in Signs, a living one that was saved. Brennan wanting to leave one case behind while embracing the other. In both sets of cases threats hang over one of the main characters, the Gravedigger in one and Broadsky in the other. But in the end, Brennan deals with the strain in a completely different way. Where in Beginning she closed up and ran away, in Hole she opens her heart and stays, trusting she has what it takes to make things work. Lovely stuff indeed, with many more parallels between the seasons that maybe you all can all provide.
So now we’re back to a one year renewal where things may once again become “safe,” or maybe not. Maybe we need a little safety, to feel comfortable again for a while given all that has happened. After all, it has taken two years of upheaval, not just three days, for our world to be righted again. But I’m glad that HH rocked the proverbial boat, and I’m still a shipper all the way-maybe more now than ever.
I love my gift, Hart.