Bones Theory

Brennan’s Choice: Home for the Holidays


The recent post about Max got me thinking about Booth and Brennan’s own relationship and whether they would have ended up together (as it now appears) but for the fact that Booth pushed Brennan to repair her family relationships first. Did her acceptance of her family and her ability to open up her life to them make it easier to add Booth to that list? Or would they have ended up together regardless because the attraction was so strong?

My personal theory is that, although accepting and loving her family didn’t directly lead to the Change in the Game, it did contribute greatly to it by opening her up to the possibility of trusting people and letting them be a part of your life. Of course, she learned to trust Booth first, but in a way it was easier and safer for Brennan to get comfortable with others in a family setting before she could venture out completely on her own with him. The three Christmas episodes particularly come to mind as showing the progression of her feelings about having a family and allowing them to get close to her once again. (Okay, so maybe I’m a bit fixated on Christmas, but onward!) And notice how I conveniently skip the Thanksgiving episode-not a favorite holiday of mine to begin with and not a favorite episode either (for obvious reasons), although I would argue that it fits in with my theory too.

In Man in the Fallout Shelter-and Booth and those amazing biceps-we have a completely isolated Brennan, upset that she can’t go on her dig and forced to face the holidays with all its hoopla in the company of her co-workers. The closest she’s to anyone at that point appears to be Angela, while the rest of the people (Booth included) are little better than implements she relies on to get the most important thing in her life, her work, done. We’re also given a fuller picture of her circumstances by being told about her one heartcrushing Christmas. Christmas is painful, representing the start of all her troubles as well as the beginning of her self-imposed isolation. Nowhere is this made clearer than when the lab-squad loved ones make their visit through the glass. Everyone has a visitor except for Brennan, who watches guardedly from the sidelines. We see her keeping herself apart, but we also see longing in her eyes. She appears to want what the others have, but isn’t able to reach out for it as evidenced by the fact that she can’t  make herself join them when they gather around Angela’s tree to exchange gifts.


We all know how it ends. Brennan, the loner, is able to put back together a family of sorts for others by reuniting Ivy with the memory of the man she loved. In the process, she also lets herself share a part of her life with Angela and even Booth, who wasn’t in the room when the conversation started but was allowed to hear her story anyway. As everyone rushes out in a frenzy to be with their beloveds, Booth stops in his tracks and offers to temporarily include her in his family even though her earlier words had really hurt him. But all is forgiven, because Booth can see past her cynical defenses. And miracle of Christmas miracles, Brennan accepts his offer and allows herself to be part of a family again in Sid’s restaurant-if only for a little while.

She’s alone once more at the very end, but probably closer to her own family in that present-opening scene than she’s been in a long, long time.


Fast-forward to Santa in the Slush and its fabulous extended-scene kiss. Booth is now pushing the idea of family on Brennan who is once again planning to get the hell out of Dodge for the holidays. She’s also being directly pressured to celebrate the holidays by her dad from the comforts of his jail cell.

But dad pleading or not, I believe it was Booth and his strong love of family that turned the tide for her. We often see Brennan watching Booth, examining him for clues about human behavior. In many ways she wants to be like him as noted by Gordon Gordon, especially in his ability to connect with others. Not that Booth is a paragon of social relationships, just that he seems to be very good at them when it really matters. She sees this when he interviews witnesses and when he’s with his son. Being able to relate to a witness is an important Booth-skill which Brennan wishes she possessed, but I believe she really values Booth’s relationship with Parker the most because it gives her a window into what she once had but lost. Again, we have a little Brennan faux pas when she bluntly tells Booth that he’s upset because he can’t have Christmas with Parker. Booth is annoyed but not really hurt by her words, in direct contrast to Fallout where we see him visibly upset when she mentions his illegitimate son.

So we go straight to the end where Brennan voluntarily (if begrudgingly) agrees to stay with her criminal-element clan despite the fact that she’s already arranged for her dad to spend the holidays in the family oriented setting he wanted. She didn’t have to be there to make most of her dad’s wish a reality-but she chose to be. I think that in that trailer we see her surprise at the fact that she’s actually enjoying being part of a family again despite the perils of homemade booze. And the girls opening their gifts with Russ and Max presents a nice contrast to Brennan opening the gift by herself in Fallout. We see her at ease with her family, particularly when she shares that AAAAHHHHH! moment with Booth over the phone. Our Booth, who is slowly but surely becoming a big part of her life whether she wants him to or not, and who brings Parker along to complete the family picture. When she says “I love my gift, Booth,” she isn’t just talking about the tree, but the whole experience she’s having at that moment. One of many gifts he’s given her over the years, and in an important way, a gift she allowed herself to have and made for herself as well.



And then there’s Goop on the Girl with its highly evolved landscape of broad shoulders, narrow hips and perfect acromia.

This time Brennan isn’t being pushed by anyone into a familial holiday party-she’s planning one herself because she’s been told that spending Christmas alone means that no one loves you, and she apparently doesn’t want the people she’s closest to feeling that way. There’s little doubt in my mind that the main person she didn’t want feeling that way is one very special agent Seeley Booth, since she brings up that fact that he’s been “shunted aside” by his own family and will have no one to spend his favorite time of year with. Again, her words are borderline insulting (although she means well), but this time Booth doesn’t even bat an eye at her bluntness. His assertion that “that’s a sweet invitation” is about as genuine as it comes. Sure, she backtracks a bit about the party in the middle when forced to include her quirky “cousin” in her family gathering, but there she is at the end serving canapés with the best of them. She made that family happen for her: her lab friends, Sweets, the cousin, her dad, but mainly Booth, who immediately dropped his plans to invade Rebecca’s Christmas and went with Brennan instead. She’s his family too, now.


So all in all, I think that the Christmas episodes and to a lesser extent all the rest with Max and/or Russ in them show us a Brennan first struggling with and then openly accepting the notion of family after pretty much being pushed there by Booth, who in the process also encourages her to reconnect with her dead mother’s memory. She’s slowly integrating all of these people back into her life and giving them a place there. Without these moments, I’m not sure that she would have ended up appreciating the power of close relationships with all the trust and compromise they require. They are risky and hard, sure, but she’s also seen how rewarding they can be.


And I think that exploring close relationships within a somewhat safe family context made Brennan more receptive over time to being in a family with Booth (wow, never thought I’d live to say that-remember that cartoon that Hart sent around with the cob-webbed skeleton on the bench and the caption “waiting for Booth and Brennan to get together”? That was me, I swear! Hey, just a thought, maybe our puckish Caroline is Hart’s alter-ego on the show…) Anyway, to my mind, these family experiences had almost as big an impact on Brennan’s desire to be with Booth as the Maluku/Hannah debacles.


On the other hand, I could totally relate to the argument that Booth was always the safer bet in terms of exploring stable relationships (think Max…) With Booth’s notions of love and commitment though, I don’t honestly think she felt he was at all safe for her at the time. Thoughts?




P.S., I swear-I’ll try to avoid Christmas posts for a while. (Though a Xmas episode with a little red-bowed baby Booth might be nice…)







23 thoughts on “Brennan’s Choice: Home for the Holidays

  1. Christmas in May, is A-OK with me! 🙂

    Your post was wonderful! I loved the Christmas episodes study, what a lovely progression we’ve had! Brennan has learned to incorporate her “surrogate family” in with her “real” family over the years.

    I’m thinking here of Sweets’ assertation that B&B had a surrogate relationship. Well, I’d go a step further and say she made the whole team her surrogate family. Angela her sister, Zach/Vincent her baby brothers, Hodgins the fun cousin, Booth as “husband”, crazy aunt Caroline, etc. Over the years, she has reincorporated Max, Russ, and now Margaret into her life and looking around the table at her Christmas party, you see how Brennan has expanded her circle to include more people to love and surround herself with, even though she may not fully realize it, or admit it if she did. It’s a very heart warming scene. Even as every person in her life opens up a new way to be hurt, ie Max could leave again, Zach/Vincent’s departures, Booth could leave…she’s opening herself up to people and to potential hurt, and I love the fact that her character is at the place where she can make these steps as she grows.

    Also, the last Christmas episode gave us this lil Booth gem:

    Booth: Oh wow! Who’s this, your sister?
    Bones: No. Um, my second cousin.
    Maggie: I’m Margaret.
    Bones: There’s no resemblance.
    Booth: What do you mean? You’re both beautiful.


    And thanks for those screen caps of Parker and Daddy Booth, and of course Goop Booth. 🙂

  2. That first screengrab of Brennan . . . wow. How beautiful she is.

    I think you’re spot on with the evolution of family involvement leading to B&B involvement. It’s sort of scientific isn’t it? She’s rethinking her theory of involvement vs. being alone one step at a time.

  3. I think the want of a family is the driving force behind a lot of Booth’s agenda. When he first met Brennan he found a woman, that he was totaly fascinated with, who was essentially alone in the world. To Booth, this probably seemed the saddest condition that someone could be in. He had Parker and at one time he had Rebecca. He had experienced the horror that his father created in his early childhood and craved the happy family, a family that he could call his own. He knew that a loving family could be had and seeing Brennan all alone made Booth see that even though he may not have Parker in his life all of the time, Parker is his son and he does love Booth. This is more than Brennan had. When Russ and Max showed up, I think Booth tried his best to get Brennan to see that family (even criminal family) is better than no family at all. By getting Brennan to try to accept her family, to understand that family is something you don’t walk away from even when they walk away from you, I think this gave Brennan the strength she needed to see that emotional involvement in others is beneficial to her well being and not a burden that she always thought it was. By also getting Brennan to accept her family back into her life, this allowed Booth to also become part of Brennan’s family. I think that Booth was firmly in Brennan’s “family” by the time Goop In The Girl came along. Brennan always wanted to flee the country everytime the hollidays came up; but, seening that Booth was going to be alone during his favorite time of the year made Brennan want to be there for him. She also knew that if Booth showed up at Rebecca’s family vacation this could have repercussions that Booth might not be able to live with; so, she came up with a family dinner for Booth. Not for her father, not for herself; but, for her best friend. Her family dinner was a way to protect Booth and also a way to give him the family togetherness he needed during Christmas time. I think this shows remarkable emotional growth on Brennans part. She had gone from someone who didn’t get to have a family to someone with an large extended family (the squints, Booth, her father and a even a quirky cousin that drove her a little nuts).

    Maria, I love the Christmas episodes also and I would really like to see one this year also. With Christmas, we have had the hot kiss, the sweet tree scene in the parking lot, the boyish Booth so happy to see the apartment of Santa, Parker running away to be with his Dad, the “I’m just looking for evidence” and the listing of the saints. Gosh I just love it all.

  4. I love Christmas in May. 🙂

    It’s amazing how much she has grown over the years. I really hope we get a Christmas episode this year… with Baby Booth!

  5. I think it was a combination of both. IMO Brennen needed to form a bond with Booth, so she was able to create a new bond with her father. As the mother of four grown children, I have noticed that my relationships with my extended family is very different now, than it was when they were young. I think at first, she created a new relationship with her father, because the childhood memories were too painful. then as the relationship grew she was able to incorporate the childhood into it. I think this is still happening with her and her father, and I think the baby will increrase some of those childhood memories.

    Her Dad told her that if your alone at Christmas then nobody loves you. I think she really believes this, and she knows what it feels like to have nobody love you, so she tries to create Christmas for her extended family. Although Brennan has a difficult time showing her feelings to others, she does have very strong feelings for those around her, and she wants to lake them feel loved. Booth included.

    Once her relationship with Booth began to grow, she was able to bond with her father, and once that relationship grew, she formed a stronger bond with Booth. The relationships that she has formed over the years, strengthen each other. It took all of them to build the one that she has with Booth. Did I explain that right? I know what I want to say, but the words elude me today. IMO if you removed any of those past relationships, it would have taken her longer to bond with Booth, if at all.

    I believe that her relationships are symbiotic of each other, and she needs all of them to create who she is today. I also think thses relationships will help when the baby comes.

    Thanks for the Sants eps, I looked back at them, and I realized how much I loved them.

  6. I like what you’ve done with this post Maria! I think you’ve managed to successfully illustrate the progression in Brennan’s emotional development and her ability to accept her family into her life (something that’s been developing pretty much since the early days of the show) by looking at the three episodes that most effectively demonstrate that change.

    And I definitely think there’s validity in your assertion that Brennan’s ability to reconnect with her own family helped to lay the groundwork so to speak that has now allowed her to essentially create a new family with Booth.

    That’s all a very convoluted way to say good job, I like your thought process, and I think I agree with what you’re saying. 🙂

  7. How gorgeous is Brennan in that first photo? I mean, really.

    If season seven does nothing but get rid of the bangs, it will be a vast improvement over season 6.

    • Funny. But they definitely look better grown out. I heard that the bangs were for that movie she was doing.

    • Haha I didn’t really hate the hairstyle on ED, but I did hate it on Brennan if that makes sense. ED is gorgeous and if was just her on a red carpet or something I’d be fine with it, but such a chic, trendy cut didn’t suit Brennan for me at all.

    • The bangs have been styled better on Emily than on Brennan. They are just like a drape over Brennan’s forehead, while Emily wears them swept off her face. The point: the way Brennan wears them is horrible and heavy. The way Emily wears them is light and beautiful. The fact that it’s so easy to screw them up suggests to me that they should get rid of them.

    • ….Although ultimately, Emily could wear dirt and she’d still be gorgeous. 🙂

      • The woman is beautiful. It’s not a flashy kind of beautiful; although, I do think it’s the type that will endure.

      • That’s one of the things that makes this show different for me. Brennan (ED) is beautiful, but she’s not model-y beautiful. You know, too thin, fake boobs, hair extensions, etc.

        She’s amazingly striking but in a very natural way. Even her jawline, which Grace Kelly shared but always hid in photos, is an asset to Brennan/ED.

      • I think she’s beautiful, too. All three of the leading ladies are, actually. But I love that they never have to use their looks to do their job – it’s all about their intelligence, while still recognizing that they are beautiful. Other shows usually play up women’s beauty in commercial/unoriginal ways, for example, being sultry/sexy/seductive to obtain information from some unwitting man, or going undercover as a prostitute/escort just so they can be scantily clad.

      • She’s a “natural beauty” as they say. Best kind. Nothing phony about her. 🙂

    • Love them or not, those bangs will remind me forever of their “it happened one night” moment.

    • I tell myself that the bangs are symbolic; she is hiding her heartbreak under her bangs! I called them the Bangs of Despair once. I also thought she was wearing Trenchcoats of Heartbreak but even after Hannah left (and the bangs started being swept to the side) the trenchcoats continued.

      So I guess they were really just the Trenchcoats of Hidden Pregnancy.

      If season 7 has no bangs OR trenchcoats, I won’t care if B&B have flipping quintuplets.

  8. I love the Christmas episodes although Halloween has been awesome in the past. I’d love to see a very distraught Brennan not being able to wear her Wonder Woman costume!
    I think family has been huge on Bones – the family of misfits, their biological families. I definately think that season 7 family is going to be a huge issue as both Booth and Brennan make one together. Now if we could get a better friends gather at Brennan’s house scene in the future.

  9. What a lovely post with beautiful scenes. I think Christmastime really hits Brennan hard because it’s when her parents abandoned her so (pre-Booth) she avoids it and goes on digs. When she begins to trust Booth, she is in awe of his devotion to family and she knows she wants that for herself. Booth’s effort to help her reconcile is one of the things that made Brennan fall in love with him so in that sense it did help bring her to Change in the Game. I think Brennan still could have gotten to the Change in the Game without reconciling with her family but the reconciliation helped shorten the journey because it allowed her to see the value of family through Booth’s eyes.

  10. This is a great post, Mariu! I hadn’t really thought about it before, but you’re right that the Christmas eps really highlight Brennan’s growth. Take the way she, at first, scoffs at Booth’s idea that Ivy need to know what happened to Careful Lionel, to the way she takes charge of making sure that the blown up Santa’s mom isn’t alone for his funeral on Christmas morning in Goop on the Girl. I don’t think season one Brennan would have made that same overture, and I love that she did.

    I am with you in hoping for a Christmas ep this season; we’ve had one in seasons 1, 3 and 5, season 7 must have one, or it will break the pattern. Please, Hart, if you’re reading this, don’t break the pattern. 😉

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