Bones Theory

A Critique of Season Six: Part One

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Hello, hello! I hope this weekend is treating you well so far.

I want to take some time to discuss my complete reactions to season six in full. (Warning: THERE IS A LOT! 😀  ) There were many moments I liked (stay tuned for Top Five Tuesday: My Fave Season Six Moments), but I also had some major issues with the season as a whole. I wanted to wait until the entire season was over to fairly weigh all of my thoughts. We talked yesterday a little bit about how hindsight can be 20/20 when it comes to BONES, and yes, it’s very possible that within a few episodes of season seven, I’ll be fondly looking back to the time when Brennan was left sitting alone at Founding Fathers.

Or maybe not.

And I think it’s fair and important to judge the season based on what occurred. Not on what any of the writers said later in interviews. Not what I or other bloggers justified as underlying motive. Not what I or others ‘want’ to believe, but what actually happened on screen on nearly two dozen Thursday nights. “Okay,” you might say. “But what you saw is different than what I saw.”

Yes, that is true—for each of us, as Booth said, “our perceptions are always colored by what we hope, what we fear, what we love. We do the best we can”.

But beneath that, is it possible to disregard expectations and emotional reactions and weigh the season as a whole? I think it is. That’s what I’m going to attempt.

When I do that…when I judge the episodes themselves, I come to four main issues:

  1. The over-use of under-developed plot threads resulted in lack of quality.
  2. Hannah’s character was unneeded, poorly executed, and thankfully had little to no effect on Brennan and Booth’s storyline.
  3. Booth and Brennan were treated unfairly as characters, and the ‘punishment’ they suffered did not fit their ‘crimes’.  Likewise, the ‘fix’ they received did not resolve their ‘punishments’.
  4. From a season and series perspective, using the baby/pregnant storyline as a “gotcha” was evil, but not in the genius sort of way.

I’ve already written about 400 words—just in intro! 😀  Like I said, this is a long essay. It’s so lengthy that I’ve made it a three-part series. I’ll deal with point 1 today, point 2 tomorrow and I’ll delve in to points 3 & 4 on Monday.

Another quick note before I get started: Usually I try to give credit whenever I can, but in this instance, I will be very vague, “A friend said this,” or “I heard several people argue this” etc. I had many conversations with people who privately agreed with me on some points but very publicly supported season six.  To be fair, I also skewed more toward the positive in public ( for example, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything” was my Hannah philosophy as much as possible), and the point of this essay is not to call any person out.  I will leave it to each of you to eventually comment on your own actions and reactions, agreements and disagreements.

Okay, then, let’s get started!

Do Red Herrings Make For Blue Viewers?

A long time ago, I read a fan fiction story about Booth and Brennan getting together, and at the moment where Booth revealed he wanted more in their relationship, Brennan sort of pushed Booth away because she didn’t think she had what it took to make him happy. She said that she loved living in the city and didn’t want to have a big family and get married and move to the country. And Booth very calmly told her he’d never once said he wanted those things.

I can’t remember the name of that story or the author, but I know for sure that I read it before Cinderella in the Cardboard in season four, perhaps even before Baby in the Bough in season three. I don’t remember even where I read it, but I clearly remember my reaction, which was… “What?!?!”

Was that possible? Was it possible that Booth had really never said he wanted to get married and have more children? And at that point in the series, yes, it was true. That his desire to get married became canon later in the series does not negate the truth of what that fiction writer had written as early as Santa in the Slush. And it was the first moment I realized that I had made some assumptions and that assumptions were dangerous blinders.  I had an idea of what ‘happily ever after’ would look like for Booth, and it was based on my personality and not the ‘facts’ of Booth’s actual words. Had he ever said he didn’t want to get married? No, so there was obviously some room for interpretation there. But the point is that where there was room for interpretation, there was NOT room for definitive statements. Does that make sense? Booth believes in love. Booth believes that making love to someone is more special than casual sex. Booth has never cheated on any woman he’s been with. Ever. These are all Booth statements. They do not mean he automatically wanted 2.5 kids in the burbs filled with nights reading the paper, smoking a pipe and waiting as Brennan set the table for dinner. (Note—this wasn’t what I had in mind or anything, but I certainly had equated love with other things, haha.)

Another sort of official “blink at the TV screen and say ‘that’s not what I had in mind’ moment” was in season three, after Verdict in the Story, when Brennan and Max were hugging and Booth was walking away. I wanted more. I wanted, I don’t know…some sort of group hug with Booth and Brennan and I guess maybe Max, but mostly just more BB hugging, and certainly NOT Booth walking away.  So what I did after that moment (okay, after watching it 30 times) was to write a fanfic story where I ‘fixed’ the ending to how I wanted it to go. I’d been writing little fic stories off and on, and I really liked doing it. Now I read some (most) of those stories, and they are gaspingly terrible. BEYOND bad. And I remember getting reviews and some of them would sort of go like this “Oh, I love the Booth you’ve created here” or “I’m so glad Brennan said that because she would NEVER say that on the show”, etc. And while those were very complimentary ideas from the people commenting, I was left sputtering, something like, “What? No! I didn’t ‘create’ a version of Booth here. My Booth is THE BOOTH!”  Hahaha.

But when I read them now, I see that it was true what they were saying—the stories were often more about me or what I wanted to see happen than what was actually true to the characters or in character. I was using those characters to fit a story plot I had in mind. Once I had that realization, I sort of lost the taste for writing ‘fics to fix’. Not to say I haven’t written other ones, but for the most part, non-fiction is what I spend the majority of my Bones-time on. The show’s the thing, so to speak.

But also at the time, as I’ve mentioned before, I was struggling with teaching, and then over the next few months, I was starting a new career, and Bones-world was very safe. I was using it to escape and to make new friends, and I liked it. But when my real-life issues were resolved (…ish, haha), then I sort of had to decide… did I actually even LIKE the show that much? And I have to keep asking myself this question: Do I like BONES?

When I did the 100 Days of Bones project, I was constantly caught off guard by moments I’d forgotten (good and bad) and by lines of dialogue I’d been mis-quoting in my mind. I don’t want to delve through all of that, but I’m just bringing it up to say that I know I sometimes view the show based on my own experience. But having said that, I also think I can separate from that and measure the show fairly. My criticism of plot threads that went nowhere is not based on my own personal reactions to the storyline but based the fact that the quality of the story suffered. I would have gone along with just about anything the writers did, so long as they’d actually developed it and wrapped it up. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end, and this season had too many beginnings, almost no middles, and a few hasty ends.  Every ‘ending’ should feel like a new beginning, but that’s not what happened here (with the exception of the final two minutes of the season—and we’ll discuss that more Monday).

In season six, I heard a lot of justification from fans, and I wrote a lot of it too. “Surely we just need to wait and it will ALL BE EXPLAINED! EVERYTHING HAPPENS EVENTUALLY!” etc, etc. To the tune of Dr. Wyatt’s “May I counsel hope on that front—hope and patience”, I was honest in my discomfort at the plots (for example: Hannah: Why I’m Nervous, Why I Shouldn’t Be and Morning After Q: Are You Okay?) but also willing to see how the writers wove everything together in a way that would make sense.

And as the season progressed and ended, there wasn’t really a finished tapestry—a mosaic of threads that formed a cohesive unit. It felt more like my 7th grade Home Economics efforts to make a pillow. In other words, a clear pattern, crappy execution, poor seams, but in the end, filled with enough stuffing that I can still rest my feet on it.

It’s not that I had a laundry list of demands and felt slighted when they didn’t occur my way…it’s that the writers set up plots and then never completed them. There are several, but here is a small list to show what I’m talking about:

  1. The coffee cart (From the season five finale)
  2. Booth and gambling
  3. Hannah being shot and Booth promising to go after the shooter
  4. The dramatic character changes in the interns
  5. The “We’ll be ready” written dates

Were these moments just red herrings to throw us off the scent of what would eventually happen at the end of the season? Were the squintern reversals a method to bring intrigue to see who would die?  In my opinion, these methods were not justified by the resolutions involved. Did I need Booth and Brennan to have a conversation in which one of them mentioned the date he or she had written on their scrap of hot dog paper? Noooo, I didn’t need it, but I never would have ‘expected’ it if the writers hadn’t brought it up in the first place. See what I mean?

“Oh, that’s just one example, and Hole in the Heart cleared that up”.

Yes, it is just one example, but there are lots of others that can’t be solved by B&B making a baby.

“They can’t resolve everything. That’s unrealistic.”

No it’s not. Here’s the way to do that. Pick a couple of plots, introduce and develop them and resolve them.

“The show is episodic. They can’t have plot threads like that because new viewers won’t understand what is happening.”

Not entirely true. This has been proven earlier in the series, as many people have pointed out. Booth’s relationship with Cam, Brennan’s relationship with Sully,  Brennan’s relationship with Max, Booth and Brennan’s reaction to the therapy they receive from Sweets are just a few examples.

Beyond what I listed above, there were more organic plots that never really went anywhere (Daisy’s misinterpretation of Brennan’s true motives, for example, as well as how this affected Sweets and his reaction to B&B. Or perhaps Angela and Brennan’s friendship and Brennan’s observations of Angela’s pregnancy. Cam’s accusations that though almost every person left the Jeffersonian, it was Brennan’s fault that things fell apart—causing Brennan to realize her value to the people of the lab is vital). None of these plots were intrinsically good or bad—they just were not developed, and THAT is bad.

Why bring them up to not resolve them? These aren’t novice writers—this is season six of a TV show. This issue isn’t new to season six by any means, and some of you might be thinking, “Well, some of them just haven’t been explained… yet”. I don’t want to be rude, but pardon me if I don’t hold my breath.  I feel like that’s what we were thinking all season, and even last summer, before season six even started. When the news dropped that Booth would be returning with a girlfriend, I was sad. Not that  ‘All Things BB’ have to be happy all of the time, but I just knew there was no way to end it well without characters getting hurt, and I dreaded that. Other people were giddy with the news, and as the first episodes of the season aired, it was more about proving that what was happening was all a set up to what WOULD happen. But those “what would happens” never actually ‘did’ happen.

“It will become clear to Hannah soon that Booth and Brennan are very, very close, and she’ll get jealous, but eventually she will see the light and help both of them come to terms with their feelings. This is why this is happening.”

Did that happen?

“All of the squinterns changing is a metaphor that Brennan is evolving”.

Was it really?

“Booth needs to come to terms with his past- his gambling, his father, his time in the military- and this season will be about Booth’s character development”.

Did that go anywhere?

“Well, something HAD to happen. Otherwise, they’d be exactly where they were after episode 99.”

Did it? Have they changed that much?

All of these statements (and more…and again, some of them from my own lips and fingertips!) were justifications, and over time, I found myself accepting the justifications as facts, when the reality is that the show doesn’t really provide evidence to support them as facts. Not everything has to have a ‘moral to the story’ or anything like that, and I can read between the lines, etc. But some of the issues were so blatant that to leave almost all of their resolutions up to the readers’ interpretation was not good. I don’t see anything wrong with analyzing and overanalyzing every moment and making predictions asking questions or anything like that—this blog revolves around that! But at what point do I allow those interpretations to overshadow the reality that some episodes just weren’t that good? That the plot diagram was discarded for whatever reason?

“Seels! Baby, this is how they chose to write it. They are the creative forces, and this is their show to do what they want with it” is what I hear.

And my response would be, “Okay, but creative power isn’t synonymous with quality. But where is that line? Is it absolute power, so to speak?  There are things I don’t think were very well done. Hannah scenes were uncomfortably bad, for example. And not in a ‘this is a legit awkward moment between three characters in a certain situation’ sort of way, but just…cringeworthy.  From a writing perspective, they should have chosen one or two plot threads, developed them from start to finish and brought resolution, also keeping the integrity of cases and the rest of the squint squad as B-plots.”

“Oh, yes, that makes sense,” I would receive in reply. “Those moments were bad, but…of course the writers have so many demands on them from the networks—really, they can’t always do everything the way they want to. It’s a shame they didn’t have enough time to tell their story.”

Okay…so which is it?  Obviously it’s not a black and white issue, and the answer is most likely ‘both’.  But the reality of that answer is NOT a justification for glossing over poor writing.  Putting the ‘what I love’ moments (Adele’s Make You Feel My Love at the end, or “Eureka- a gathering of guidos!”) into the “Oh, the writers are AMAAAAAAAZINNNNNNNG” column while shoving the less than desirable moments in the “Oh, the writers’ hands are tied by pressures we don’t even know about” seems like lazy critiquing to me.

Was I happy this entire season? No, but that’s my reaction and that’s on me. Is there still room to recognize that beyond personal opinion, the flow was disjointed? I think so.

In the end, it’s not the plots that upset me, it was the way they were handled. When situations or conflicts are created but not resolved, the focus of the storyline is removed from the characters and lands on the plot, and that is what procedurals and sitcoms are made of. BONES has proven itself to be better than that–deliberately better.

“Okay, Sarah, so then aren’t you doing exactly what you said you didn’t want to do? Impose your opinion of what good storytelling and writing is on the writers?”

When you put it that way, I guess I am.

Peace, Love & Bones

~S

PS…Since this is a 3-part series, I’m keeping the comments closed until Monday.

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16 thoughts on “A Critique of Season Six: Part One

  1. I am in complete agreement on this. It is, to me, the least controversial of all the issues raised in this series. They did put out a lot of propositions that were never resolved. Between HH and SN’s tweets and the actual show a lot of expectations were set up, but not delivered on. The reverse was also true: a lot of things happened that didn’t have sufficient set up and left us with more questions than answers.

    Perhaps the most obvious is the final scene. I loved it, but, WTF, where did that come from? When did Booth stop being angry? Was it simply a matter of will after Signs? Did Brennan really shed her imperviousness, or was that simply grief pushing her over the edge in Hole?

    While I was not one of those who believed that they needed some big airing of mutual grievances, I’d have liked to see more of the discussions that we’re left to believe happened off screen. I didn’t need to see the sex in Hole, but there’s a baby coming and we really don’t know the state of B&B’s relationship. We’ve had hints, but do they see themselves as couple now or what? I’m not sure.

    I also agree that they can and should have done better. I’m left wondering two things:
    1) How much is because they realized that Hannah was a huge mistake and they had to reverse course quickly?
    2) Despite their denials, how much did Emily’s real life pregnancy impact the Change in the Game? They did say (before she got married, let alonepregnant) that they wanted to revisit the issue, but I don’t believe we’d have had a pregnant Brennan now if we didn’t have a pregnant Emily.

    These questions just lead me to the conclusion that either they didn’t know where they were going in the first place or that they were surprised by fan reaction and then had to come up with a new plan on the fly. Either way: not conducive to good writing.

    • I agree with you Angelena – particularly about how Brennan wouldn’t be pregnant now if Emily wasn’t. I don’t care how many times they say it was always the plan, I call BS.

      I wish they’d just be more honest and say ‘yeah, sure – Emily’s pregnancy sped that particular development up somewhat, but, you know what, who cares? Booth and Brennan love each other and would have got there eventually.’

      In the same vein, why can’t they say ‘yeah, we thought Hannah would bring an interesting element. Unfortunately, for various reasons, it didn’t work out that way’

      A lot of the time, I think the writers are so busy trying to avoid clichés or ‘the obvious’ that they go too far the other way and meet the clichés round the back anyway.

      I mean, they tried so hard to avoid the ‘big moment’ when Booth and Brennan got together that they jumped straight to what has to be one of the most common fanfiction summaries ever…’Booth and Brennan spent the night together, and now she’s pregnant!!!! How will they deal with this new twist in their relationship??? Angst, fluff and hilarity ensues’ I’ll tell you one thing, I have avoided every fanfiction story that started that way because I thought they were trite, obvious and unrealistic. Shows what little I know! It’s exactly what they did.

      To be honest, I do kind of wish they would pick a storyline and see it through. They spent six seasons going round and round the houses to get to this point, 120-odd episodes of character development, and understanding their motivations and actions and thoughts and desires and then, boom! from 0 – 100mph in 2 episodes flat and we aren’t allowed to even MENTION that it was kind of quick, without being accused of wanting BonesPorn! (I’m sorry, that still makes me livid) Not to mention the comments about ‘isn’t that what fanfiction is for?’ . Hmm, well, apparently they’d know as their recent ‘twist’ is lifted straight from fanfiction…

      Oh dear. In the words of the ever-lovely Chandler Bing… ‘can open…worms everywhere…’ 🙂

      • I love your analogy about the bad fanfic summary.

        I will see your Friends reference and raise you a Seinfeld reference.

        Booth and Brennan, yadda, yadda, yadda, she’s pregnant.

      • But, Barbara, you yadda yadda’d over the best part. 😉

        Oh man, loving the Friends and Seinfeld references.

        Sarah, thanks for pointing out my biggest gripe with season 6, though I’m not sure I realized it was my biggest gripe until I read your post. It still baffles me that they (writers) are capable of such brilliance, even in S6, (see Doctor, parts of Blizzard, Hole, etc.), yet they let so much just slip through the cracks. To me this was the season of missed opportunites. I was incredibly hopeful at the end of season 5 (crazy, I know), because I thought they laid the groundwork for some great moments and stories to come. Um, hello, where was my coffee cart scene? Yeah, we did get a cute one, but the scene in my mind is AMAZING. I mean, EPIC.

        Sigh. At least season 6 taught me not to let my expectations and hopes cloud my view of the Bones reality.

  2. Season 6 had plenty of plot holes and unresolved issues. I kept waiting for the end of the season for those issues to be resolved and they never were. New ones were opened up instead. The season seems too disjointed and the Hannah arc was way too long and should have never ended in a proposal and rejection. Hannah was shot and had to have surgery when Brennan saw her x-rays. They never showed her recovery or how that affected Booth. They never finished the story she was working on. When I look back on other seasons, they seem to fit better than season 6 does. Season 6 did have some great moments and some stellar writing and several of the episodes are top ten worthy so I can’t blame it on the writing. How can some episodes like Dr in the Photo, Bullet in the Brain and the last two be so fantastic and some of the others be so weak? I think part of the problem is trying to fit in specific story lines that are outside what Bones is — like the Finder and the New Jersey Shore episode (though I am sure some would disagree with me on that that one).

  3. “None of these plots were intrinsically good or bad—they just were not developed, and THAT is bad. Why bring them up to not resolve them?”

    You know, I’ve been struggling with these same thoughts since Season Three with the Gormogon/Zach debacle.
    This was not a matter of Eric wanting to leave the show like VNMs death was. In fact, he was blindsided by the decision. So I’m not at peace with it. Still not. And they can say over and over it was the strike season, blah blah….but there was no reason still to do what they did. And I mean more than Zach. An overabundance of missed and botched storylines.

    1. Gormogon-awesome and creepy serial killer, so many twists and turns….and then….he ends up being nobody?? A nobody that we didn’t even get to hear speak, or know his backstory, or know WHY he became Gormogon? They shot him, its over. Ugh. I thought that was shoddy.

    2. Zach-I’m sorry, but I still don’t buy Zach as the apprentice. He asked Booth about going to Iraq and sexual positions, he lived with Hodgins, he had this “family” around him, and so I would think he would have either bounced ideas off of them, or not have been influenced by some random man at the symposium. How does Zach’s “logical” brain think its totally fine to murder, cook, and eat people…and make some skeletal figure? How does that provide anything good? Then they gave us a clue that maybe Zach didn’t realy do anything by Sweets’ visit. They dropped that like a hot potato.

    3. Fat Pam–It’s minor in comparison to Gormogon, but I thought she would have made a really great recurring character, or at least a mini-arc. She was so deliciously creepy! But more importantly…

    4. Booth’s “death”–Firstly, the actual Girls Just Wanna Have Fun scene is great. And Brennan taking out Fat Pam was great…but the next episode….somehow, they were able to fake his death even though his shooting was not planned, and for what? To take out some (again!) random man, whom we don’t hear speak, we don’t know why Booth was after him, or what he did to merit this elaborate death of Booth set up! I mean that’s kind of a big deal for all your coworkers and friends to think you’ve died, mourn for you, to capture a random criminal of whom we know NOTHING! Ugh!

    The writers could have chosen any one of these storylines, developed them, and finished out the season strong…saving the other loose ends for the next season. I remember someone on BT saying they were also going to work on Booth’s backstory that season (wow, they were going to pack that season in weren’t they!) and they’ve still left that untouched. To me they simutaneously ruined multiple potential storylines right there at the end of the season that they didn’t have to! It’s still upsetting as I type this! haha

    BUT….

    You know, at some point I had to get over it. Should I quit watching the show? Should I give it a chance? Out of curiosity, I gave it a chance. And they did help the Zach situation with the revolving interns. At first, I didn’t get it, but I like it. They are interesting, and fun, and bring out different things for our main characters.

    So am I happy with everything in Season 6? No. But I didn’t hate the season. I’m still on the fence about being “happy” about the baby, since I do believe it was brought on by Emily’s pregnancy and was not organic to what they’d planned, but you know, I’m gonna reserve final judgement till next season.

    But season three…still gets me, you know? haha Oh, Bones, I just can’t quit you!

  4. I’ve read all three posts, so I hope I don’t overlap, and bring later points into my present point. Seels I agree with you all the way. I think you explained it very well. I have felt cheated all season. It felt like the writers, used this storyline to drag out the season, so they wouldn’t have to deal with the ‘curse’, yet.
    After watching DotQB, I felt like Brennan was feeling some regret for her decision in the 100th, I thought that maybe the writers would show her regrets for that decision, and the next season would see them together.
    I never thought they would get together by the end of season 5; I hoped it, but I never thought the writers would do that. So, at the end of season 5, I felt like maybe they both needed the time apart to grow toward each other. Like the saying,”absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I spent that summer thinking that they would come back realize what they lost, and by the middle of season 6, be together.
    Everything in ‘Bones World’ moves at a very slow pace. This I attribute to the writers wanting to keep the show on the air as long as possible.
    So, when I heard that Booth was showing up with a girlfriend, I thought, well maybe they want Bones to suffer a little, because she hurt Booth so bad. I thought it was unfair, but possible. Then I started watching season 6.
    The writing went downhill from there. There were a few good stories, but overall, I felt that I could have stopped watching at the end of season 5, pick it up halfway through season 6, and not miss anything.
    That is poor writing. Since HH makes the final decision as to what airs, I blamed him. I was angry that he would take it down this path. I didn’t see any reason for this storyline. It made no sense to me, but I continued to watch. As I looked back on the season, I have only one thought that makes sense to me. That HH wanted to drag out the inevitable, that he didn’t want to face the ‘curse’, so he made us watch this horror of season 6, to eke out one more year.
    That is unfair to me as a viewer. I have watched Bones from the first episode, as I have said many times, so as a loyal viewer, I felt cheated, and I lost my faith in HH. Now I look forward to season 7, albeit, warily, and hope the writing will come back to what it was before.

  5. Ahhh Sarah. How is it that you torture me all weekend with this and when the time comes that I can finally have my say, I’m almost afraid to say it? This series of posts has been very…thought-provoking for me, although apparently not for the same reason as everyone else. I was a little bit upset when I read this first post on Saturday. Okay, maybe not a little bit. A lot. In fact, I even opened a Word document and started taking notes on the things you said that I disagreed with. And then I closed it. Partly because I decided it wasn’t worth obsessing over all weekend (I did anyway) and partly because I decided that I really needed to take some time to try and assess my reaction – both to season six and to what you’ve written about it – objectively (if that’s even possible) before I worried about what I wanted to say and how I was going to say it.

    I’ve asked myself (and my husband) a lot lately if I am willing to excuse “weaknesses” with Bones that I wouldn’t be so willing to excuse with other shows (House, for instance) because it’s Bones. The honest answer is that that’s very possibly the case. Part of that is due to my desire to look for the positive in what happens because wallowing in angst and negativity just isn’t worth it for me – been there, done that and it made me miserable. Part of it is a sense of loyalty to the show. Are either of these inherently bad things? Obviously everyone has their own opinion, but I’m not so sure they are.

    The other issue that your first post forced me to revisit is the question of how exactly I view Bones – because I’ll be honest, most of your dropped plot points don’t really bother me that much. Initially I considered the possibility that it’s because I’m too stupid to know better. I may have a degree in English, but I haven’t been in an academic setting in 11 years and I’ve been out of the workforce for almost 8. From a literary perspective, writing for Bones Theory is probably the most critical thinking I’ve done since college (one of the reasons I love it). But since I don’t think I’m particularly stupid, I’m choosing to believe that I simply view the show from a different perspective.

    One thing I’ve learned about my TV viewing habits since I started writing for you and participating in the discussions here, is that my acceptance of a lot of things in entertainment depends heavily on how well I can relate it to real life. I’m not necessarily talking about cases or technology here (both of which require a certain suspension of reality in most forms of fictional media) or the completely fantastical characters (vampires, etc) that are the basis of shows like Buffy or Angel, but about what happens in the characters lives and how they interact with each other. Just how much this facet of storytelling matters to me became painfully apparent this spring with both House and season 4 of Angel (specifically the storyline involving Connor and Cordelia). The result is that House lost me completely and I lost a great deal of my enthusiasm going into season 5 of Angel (which has since been restored). I’ve never had that issue with Bones.

    Take the coffee cart and the dates. When I look at those examples, I don’t see dropped plot points as much as I see events that didn’t happen because life didn’t work out the way it was planned. I get that the writers had to specifically choose to not follow up these issues, but in both cases I believe the resolution was believable. Had B&B come back after a year (instead unexpectedly after seven months) as planned and NOT met at the coffee cart, I think THAT would have been a dropped plot point. As it was, I believe the writers chose to give themselves as much leeway as they could going into the summer, knowing that they still had to plan season six. And I’m okay with that. Under the circumstances, I’m actually glad that we never saw the coffee cart scene. I don’t think it would have been the joyful reunion that a lot of people think it would have been. Rather, it would have been just as painful as B&B’s reunion in Mastodon.

    I see the personality changes in the interns as an attempt by the writers to take advantage of the time jump to mix things up a little bit. I think it failed for the most part, but I’m not so sure it ever had anything to do with Brennan (which by my way of thinking makes it a character issue, not a plot issue). I know we discussed the possibility that it was connected to Brennan here at BT, but as far as I remember, that was never mentioned as fact by anyone connected to the show. Ditto with any sort of development or resolution of Booth’s gambling issues. Of course my memory sucks at times, so it’s entirely possible that I’m forgetting something and I will be summarily forced to admit that the writers really did screw that one up.

    Of your five plot points, the only one I really think they dropped the ball on was Hannah getting shot. If that had been Brennan, Booth would have been roaming the streets of Anacostia ready to shove the business end of his weapon in the mouth of whatever crooked cop was responsible for her getting hurt. But then Hannah isn’t Brennan…which was, perhaps, the point all along.

    I know you gave other examples, but this comment is already horrifically long (and, gasp!, I haven’t even responded to your other two posts yet), so I’ll let it go at that. See you in part two. 🙂

    • I agree with you about the coffee cart, Stephanie. I never thought it was much of a plot point really, and since they didn’t return in a year, it became moot.

      The burning dates – Vincent’s death made those moot too, but such a big deal was made of it – I mean that’s a long scene, with plenty of dialogue specifically about writing down those dates! More dialogue in the Hole in the Heart bedroom scene would have solved that easily. Ever literal Brennan could have referenced the burned dates and Booth could have said they didn’t matter, or he was past his date or whatever. But then the audience would have understood what was going to happen and TPTB would get their shocker finale.

      Hannah getting shot was probably dropped when TPTB realized that most of the audience didn’t care who shot her or why.

      There’s nothing wrong with defending the show – most of us here have invested a lot of time and energy into this program and we want to make our efforts worth it.

      But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with critiquing it either. I think there’s a difference between bashing (“The show sucks and Hart sucks and I hate everything”) and a reasoned critique “Here’s what didn’t work for me as a viewer and here’s why.”)

      TV is a product and we are consumers. If I am served a poorly cooked meal, I tell my server. If I buy a sweater that unravels after the first wash, I contact the manufacturer. I don’t see a difference between those scenarios and expressing my unhappiness with the writing of the show.

  6. I’m decidedly in the minority on all of this, which is why I’d largely decided not to comment. I’ve got nothing new to say and figure there’s no point in revisiting recent experiences.

    But I’m puzzled by something that no one has adequately explained to me yet, so I’ll throw it out: what, exactly, is the benefit to the show/writers of making Brennan pregnant simply because Emily is? I don’t see one, I really don’t.

    • Well I have an explanation, but I don’t know whether or not you will find it adequate. (I suspect not).

      The benefit to the show/writers of making Brennan pregnant is the same benefit that any show/wrtiers receive in making a character pregnant.

      Stories need tension and conflict to keep them moving (I hope we can at least agree on that). A pregnancy is a gold mine of tension and conflict and the plot bunnies all but write themselves. How will the pregnancy affect the relationship/work./where they live/how other characters react. How many viewers are already eagerly anticipating the comedy value in Hormonal!Bones and Wacky Dad!Booth? These are tropes that have been used in countless television shows and they keep being used because they work.

      The birth of a main characters child is always a ratings bonanza, right up there with weddings. So that’s another benefit. I have no doubt that Baby B&B will be born during fall sweeps.

      Specific to Bones, the show, writing in the pregnancy NOW gives the writers the opportunity to 1) skip writing a scene in which Booth and Brennan actually talk about their issues and what happened to them in season 6. IE no need for them to write their way out of the mess they made in season 6 (I realize that my use of the word “mess” is subjective).

      There was a time gap between Hole in the Heart and Change in the Game – a time gap that was necessary to make a pregnancy plausible. There will be another time gap in between the finale and the season 7 opener ( a time gap that allows them to use ED’s actual pregnancy). Now, is it possible that B&B will discuss their relationship, feelings, Hannah, stuff that happened in season 6 in the course of season 7? Yes, of course there is. Is it likely though? If they are already several months into the relationship and expecting a child, is it logical that they would only then get around to discussing their conflicts that happened a year ago? I don’t think so and I think it would say something horrible about the strength of their relatinonship if they never discussed these huge issues after months of being together and expecting a child together. I don’t expect any discussion of season 6/Hannah to occur in season 7. The show has moved on.

      The show also avoids what Hart and Stephen Nathan both claim is the “revolting” honeymoon period. I don’t know if they actually think that (the did not seem to think Hodgela were revolting, as we saw their honeymoon period) or if that is just their PR reason.

      The biggest bonus of all for Bones, though, is that because B&B are so different, every single discussion and conflict between them in the last six years can be rebooted. Money, religion, education, marriage, gender roles – they can re-write every single bickering car conversation or warmhearted coda moment and just add “Because of the baby”. Season 7 will be a breeze to write, IMO.

      I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Easy storylines to write might mean better writing. I don’t know if there will be a season 8 – frankly I don’t see how this show can work with two babies/toddlers. So much of B&B’s dynamic revolves them working, traveling, just being alone together (frequently in a bar). I enjoy that dynamic and I don’t know how a baby fits into it. (Unless it becomes like so many TV babies and simply disappears after its birth). But if season 7 is well-written, I’ll absoutely enjoy it and bid a fond farewell to the show with peace and love in my heart.

      I guess my question to you would be “Why would the writers make Brennan pregnant if it DIDN’T benefit them?”

      I seriously doubt they did it because it represented a writing challenge and they wanted to challenge themselves.

      • Regarding ED’s pregnancy they had pretty much two choices; hide it, or use it. Hiding it might have been ok, except that I believe that she creators wanted B/B to get together by the end of season 6 and her very advanced state of affairs by the time they start filming in July would have been hard to deal with without things becoming kind of ridiculous. If they just started going out, we’d all be expecting the sexual sparks that come with that. Difficult to do when you have to lean over a pretty significant way to kiss your acting partner. And anything much more involved than a kiss would have been, well, weird; for them, and us. I guess they could have kept them apart, but how much would be we all be complaining now? I suppose they could have sent her somewhere by herself on some dig with the understanding that they were together, but same result for us as if they’d never hooked up.

        So they sucked it up and said “you wanted them together, well, theyr’e definitely together now!” They used the existing situation to create furor and literally shake things up. i don’t necessarily think it was the easy way out either. Easy might have been showing all those early relationship things that make us all go squee regardless of the other non-B/B storyline. Now, they’re going to have to do that without the “politemness stage” and I don’t think that’s going to be achieved without a little creativity. Hart Hanson also said recently that he never thought that getting two extra seasons at the end of season 6, let alone one, would be as difficult to achieve as it was. Maybe he was afraid that with a maternity leave break and things appearing iffy on Fox it was best to give the people what they want, even if it wasn’t necessarily the way they wanted it. Better two thirds of a full season of Booth and Brennan together than a surprise “no season 8 renewal” and a very hurried get-them-together-at-the-very-end scenario. It’s sort of a lemons/lemonade situation (not that ED’s pregnancy is anything but a blessing-no lemons there!) Maybe it was the most practical, rational thing to do under the circumstances and better perhaps than keeping up the will they/won’t they situation for another 6 months. It worked for me, at least.

    • Just to clarify: I didn’t mean to sound as if I was asking about the benefits to making Brennan pregnant. I’m aware of those.

      But the dominant theory seems to be that the primary reason they went that way was Emily’s pregnancy. If she wasn’t pregnant, Brennan wouldn’t be. And that doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t see that being able to film ED’s real pregnant body for a few weeks instead of using the pregnancy suit justifies a whole story line. (But then, I’m in the minority in my view of the writers and the story.) So if there are benefits to the story line tied directly to ED being pregnant, I’d like to understand them.

      • *Not having to hide the pregnancy. I don’t think it’s as simple as “filming ED’s real pregnant body for a few weeks.” If the show returns to production in July, as it has previously, and they film until she delivers, that’s three months. Three months of not having to constantly factor in the placement of microscopes and desks and camera angles. Plus, the reality is that women do not just get pregnant in their bellies. Emily’s pregnancy will show in the rest of her body too. And as maria points out, creating any level of physical intimacy between B&B while trying to work around the pregnancy presents additional logistical challenges.

        *Being able to use ED’s maternity leave as Brennan’s maternity leave. (One of the options on the table, per Hart, is a few Brennan-less episodes.)

        I agree that Emily’s pregnancy doesn’t justify a whole story line. But I don’t think that opinion, and the opinion that they figured that there were enough benefits to a pregnant Brennan to go ahead and take advantage of ED’s pregnancy are mutually exclusive opinions.

      • As I pointed out in my post a few weeks ago (the Fertility in the Story), we’ve all seen shows try to shoot around a pregnant leading lady, and it is invariably beyond lame. I just don’t see Temperance Brennan carrying around a gigantic purse.

        It’s also not just shooting around the baby bump. Emily will have physical limitations being that far along in the pregnancy. If Brennan isn’t pregnant, then they have to figure out how to justify Brennan being more sedentary, doing less physically (like climbing fences and such), etc., etc.

        And, wasn’t that one of the contributors to the Moonlighting curse. Wasn’t Cybil Shepherd pregnant (with twins?) somewhere in there and maybe was out of shows for a while?

  7. All I can say is you hit it on the nail. Angelena and I talked privately about this…a lot so I don’t really want to re-hash what we said except that I agree with everything you said. I’m tired of the justifications for poor story lines that go no where. It’s refreshing that you said something I’ve often thought….do I really like Bones anymore? IDK??? What I do know is that i did branch out to watch other TV shows that I found quite enjoyable…more so than Bones…and so there is a world out there that is just as good if not better. My dissatisfaction with Bones began in Season 5 so what happened this year was just a continuation of poor SLs and changes to characters that I did not enjoy watching but in my desire to “wait” with a hopeful attitude that things would change for the better…I hung around. While I can look at this season and see some sort of logical plot about B&B’s emotional journey at this point in time…it doesn’t negate the fact that there are still poor SLs in the last 2 seasons which can’t be ignored and thus I can’t say….I’m a fanatic about this show. The honeymoon is over for me unless they can pull things together next season. I don’t have an opinion about the pregnancy issue. It doesn’t really matter to me. I just want good stories from start to finish and I don’t want to write a FF in my mind or in a post that helps me enjoy an episode more. If it’s a bad epi…then let’s call it a bad epi and be done with it.

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