Hello, and welcome to part two of this series. If you recall, I’m sort of once and for all working through my issues with season six—hoping that once I’ve got them down in print, it will be a sort of catharsis, and I’ll be good to go!
- The over-use of under-developed plot threads resulted in lack of quality.
- Hannah’s character was unneeded, poorly executed, and thankfully had little to no effect on Brennan and Booth’s storyline.
- 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’.
- From a season and series perspective, using the baby/pregnant storyline as a “gotcha” was evil, but not in the genius sort of way.
Yesterday I discussed my dissatisfaction with unresolved storylines, and today, I’m going to talk about Hannah. That storyline was also unresolved or at least wrapped up very hastily, but I find myself not dissatisfied that it’s just over. *breathes a sigh of relief*.
Specifically, I’m going to talk about how despite the chronological order of the plot-lines, it’s a fallacy to state that the current relationship status of Booth and Brennan happened because of the Hannah storyline. It happened in spite of it. Just because something occurs before another something occurs does not assume a cause and effect relationship between those two instances. Over and over after Hannah was gone, I heard people say, “As much as we hate to admit it, Booth and Brennan wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for Hannah.” And that is just simply not true.
For one thing, it partially negates the reality of the pre-Hannah Booth and Brennan partnership/relationship. But also, Hannah never *really* came into contact with B&B in their B&B ness. There were Booth and Hannah moments (mostly in his apartment), and there were Booth and Brennan moments, and there were Hannah and Brennan moments (I’m hard pressed to say which were most uncomfortable to watch, but I’m leaning toward the Brennan and Hannah moments, which just made me crazy). Sure, there were moments where all three of them were together at the same time, but they almost always revolved around case work unless other people were present. There were certainly character dynamics there, but none of which linger to this day, as far as I see.
Brennan had already come back from Maluku with a desire to be more open toward the people she cared about. This did not change throughout the season. Booth’s main revelations and character change for this season came in Signs in the Silence, when he told Brennan he wanted the love in his life to be about more than luck. Those are series-wide plot threads and themes that were not related to Booth moving on or not.
Booth and Brennan would have happened (and did, and are) whether Hannah was ever in the picture or not. The journey that B&B are on is one that was set in motion a long time ago, and I’m not trying to be fatalistic about it, but more I’m just saying that the moments Booth and Brennan had together this season were not Hannah related—they were moments that were part of that existing journey.
One ‘issue’ for lack of a better word that causes people to think that Hannah was necessary is that two amazing Booth and Brennan moments (her teary confession of regret, his teary confession of vulnerability) occur in episodes that Hannah happened to be in, but neither one is really Hannah related. How do we tell the difference? Because we know the characters of Booth and Brennan. We’ve known them for 110+ non-Hannah episodes, and we see their motivations. We also now have the luxury of seeing the after-effects of those two moments, and in both cases, Hannah is a non-issue for each one.
Okay, you might say. So what you’re saying is that Brennan did not have her realization and make her confession because of Hannah?
And my answer is, exactly.
I contend that if Brennan had really been thinking of Hannah in that moment, she never would have told Booth she had regrets. That would have been a cruel, vindictive move, and Brennan is not cruel and vindictive, and she especially was not cruel and vindictive in that moment. She was open, she was vulnerable, she was honest with herself and with Booth, and her admission could have been revealed to anyone and still been very meaningful.
Well, let me backtrack a little bit. It was more meaningful because she DID tell Booth, but the way I see it, it wasn’t a “I want revenge” or selfish “Booth is mine” sort of moment. Booth told her he couldn’t, and he brought Hannah’s name in to the conversation. Brennan saw his reasoning and the facts and agreed, but that’s not the same thing as the moment being caused by Hannah’s presence nor a culmination of Hannah moments. Other moments earlier this season that just so happened to have Hannah in them were more about Brennan’s sense that Booth had pulled away from her. Imagine a scenario in which she overhears Booth and Parker talking about going swimming somewhere else. Brennan would have had the same reaction she did– bummed out. Imagine a scenario in which Booth is going to visit Pops and he doesn’t invite Brennan. Imagine Booth stays away from the lab. Imagine that Hodgins and Angela are going to announce their pregnancy and Booth decides to hang out with some hockey teammates. All of those scenarios could have just as easily happened and been just as true to Booth’s storyline. And Brennan’s reactions to those moments would have been the same as they were in the show. Some things she would have cared about, and some she wouldn’t have. She would have frowned and considered things and begun to feel regret as she began to realize how worth the risk Booth is. Those reactions Brennan had weren’t jealousy over another woman in Booth’s life–she was fairly pragmatic about it, and in fact, she was almost over the top in her acceptance and understanding as well as her efforts to make a friend in Hannah. As we know, this friendship lasted as long as Hannah was in Booth’s life.
We never saw Brennan being mopey about Hannah. She felt a twinge in Body in the Bag when Hannah told her what Booth had told her, but it would have been the same reaction if Cam had told her that Booth had told her of their conversation. Or Sweets. Or Jared, etc.
Everything revolved around Booth. That’s not to say that Brennan revolved around Booth like some poky little puppy or anything like that. I just mean that when it comes to Booth related things or issues, he’s the deal for Brennan.
The both of them are just centered on one another (which brings up another question for another day: Does ‘the center’ control them, or do they have to actively agree to be the center?).
Others have argued here that Brennan’s struggle in season six happened because there was distance between her and Booth, and I agree with that. Others have also argued that Booth pulled back in the season six premiere, already prepared to set some distance between himself and Brennan. I agree. Others have argued that Booth was likely to have cared about Hannah, but it wasn’t until she moved to DC for him that he fully decided to commit to her. I agree with that also. But what’s to say that if Hannah had never come that Booth wouldn’t have still been stand-offish toward Brennan.
I mentioned that a couple of times, and heard back, “But how would they do that without making Booth look like a complete jerk?” And I’d argue back that if they’d done it right, it could have been done, and it would have been better as far as both of their character developments. Here are a few organic storylines that already existed that could have put Booth on edge.
- Sniper storyline (The ‘threats’ he received in Boy with the Answer)
- His dad (so much room there—so much possibility!)
- Pops dying or being sick (sad to think about it, but it’s true!)
“Oh, but all of those storylines would have required guest stars, and that gets tricky, and…”
Yes, true, but Kathryn Winnick was a guest star, and I’m not going to get into that except to say these two things:
- I’ve heard (but have no direct knowledge) that she has been quite good in other TV roles.
- Other guest stars have done more with much less screen time.
Yes, in the end, the show happened the way the writers wanted it to happen, as discussed yesterday and a lot of other days 😀
But my point is that the writers themselves were also very careful not to have Hannah leave any lasting impression. In that way, she was true to her own character (and studying her character would be fascinating!). But her character was not necessary to the plot of this season.
“But what about his line, ‘I have to move on’? Doesn’t that make him a liar if he doesn’t actually do it?” I would hear, and my response was “not necessarily.”
Booth did make an attempt to move on, a couple of times. We hear him tell Sweets that he has a date (Death of the Queen Bee (though who knows if it’s true!), and he does date Catherine. He’s tentative there, and cautious, and obviously not kissing her outside of a pool hall and telling her his deepest heart-issues, but still…he’s trying. Imagine a season where he just tries, on his own, to be himself and work hard, and possibly move on. If the writers would show us scenes of him dealing with loneliness in his apartment or personal family struggles or something like that, it would have made sense, and it could have worked. THEN, the result is a ‘purer’ Booth. Not in the sexual way—I didn’t care about that—but in the strength of his character way. His motivations would have been clearer, instead of, for example, the scene at the end of Sin in the Sisterhood that is vague at best. He would have genuinely struggled and changed and experienced growth from his personal journey.
Supposition, of course, as Hannah did come, he did ask her to move in with him and he asked her to marry him and all of that.
This sort of goes back to yesterday’s “but it didn’t actually happen” idea, but this reminds me of something TJ Thyne said about the Hannah vs Brennan issue, back in September, 2010. It was during an interview with pal Marisa Roffman and Hart Hanson, and when asked what he thought, he said this…
TJT: Here’s my feeling on it…my feeling is if Brennan goes up against someone who is vivacious and sexy and sassy and smart and has it all and can fight and in the end, [Brennan] wins her man, then God, you’re going to be so much more excited for her!
Except it wasn’t so much that Brennan was even against Hannah, which might have been very deliberate on the writers’ part. But to avoid that cliché, it just resulted in blah. There wasn’t a victory, because there wasn’t a fight. There wasn’t a fight, because that’s not Brennan’s style (or Booth’s), and as I mentioned before, she loves Booth and never would have gone there. Who knows how long they would have remained partners realistically, but still…from what we saw, there was no sense of jealousy.
That brings us to Booth’s ‘moment’ in Daredevil in the Mold. After that moment, I was convinced that the Hannah storyline had been mostly a waste, but I was willing to wait for the rest of the season to see how it played out. And as episode after episode went by…she was barely mentioned.
One argument I receive is “Oh, well, Booth threw those peas, so that means he really loved Hannah”.
My answer is, “He did love Hannah, but the peas were mostly just annoyance at Sweets”. We’ve seen him annoyed at Sweets before, like when he stormed in to the interrogation observation room when Sweets was feeding Perotta questions about his dad, and later when Booth once again called Sweets out for asking questions about his dad (see a theme?). Because the word “Hannah” was mentioned doesn’t mean his throwing the peas was about that. It COULD have been, but it just wasn’t. If the writers had really shown Booth struggling a lot, it would have made sense. But they didn’t, and he wasn’t—not really. His angst for the rest of the season was Broadsky related (again…could have been just that), with the singular annoyance of Walter Sherman.
Hannah happened, but there were a lot of other moments that happened at the same time and within those Hannah episodes that have nothing to do with her. And to attribute the resolutions or effects of those other moments TO Hannah and that storyline is just false reasoning.
If Hannah hadn’t been around, would Booth and Brennan still have had conversations about whether or not love was real? I think so. If Hannah hadn’t been around, would Brennan have still come back from Maluku, more open to the possibility, only to find Booth tentative? Seems like it. If Hannah hadn’t been around, and Booth had kept himself distant except for a real ‘just partners’, would Brennan still have felt the loss and expressed her regret to him? Yes. If Hannah hadn’t been around, would Booth have acknowledged Brennan’s regret, but been strong enough to say something like, “The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but I just can’t, Bones. I can’t go there again.”
If the answer to that last question is ‘no’, then it’s a Booth issue, and it’s not Hannah related. So the writers gave Booth a crutch (Hannah) to fall on after Brennan expressed her regret and did NOT make it about his character growth, nor his ability as a grown man to rationally choose not to be with Brennan if he didn’t want to. The writers set him up to fail in that moment, because they didn’t give him the strength as a character that he needed to be in order to face his truths.
That’s getting into tomorrow’s topic about how badly Booth and Brennan were treated, so I’ll stop there for today. See you when the sun’s shining!
Peace, Love & Bones,