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…)