In my family, the family table is really important. It is a big part of the day, and everyone is involved in the cooking and cleaning up. Most of our meals are homemade, due to allergies and nutritional requirements, so from a young age, my sister and I learned to cook. In addition to being taught the technicalities of cooking, we were also taught that cooking is a way of loving. We’re not the only ones that feel this way. On Bones, cooking and “family” meals are an important aspect of the show. From the increasingly regular after-case beer, to lunch in the diner, to holiday dinners in the lab or in Brennan’s apartment, the Bones “family” eats a whole lot, and most importantly, they’re eating with each other.
Over the seasons, important events have happened within Wong Foo’s, the Royal Diner, and the Founding Fathers. The squints celebrate Zack defending his dissertation and his new job, and the amazing “two plus two equals four” conversation happen in the Royal Diner, while some strong Jared Booth scenes happen, Pops tells Brennan what really happened with Booth’s father, Angela tells Brennan that she is pregnant, and Booth stews over Hannah’s rejection of his proposal in the Founding Fathers (and many other important scenes). Family appears often in both places – we meet Parker for the first time (outside of the Lab) in Wong Foo’s, and Pops and Hannah in the Royal Diner. In a way, it’s a way to “crash and rehash” as I like to call it, as a storytelling device, and it can move both plots along in an interesting way, without making them seem redundant.
We’ve seen multiple gatherings of the characters in each place, but none so important as the two Christmas dinners, one over Chinese food under quarantine in the Lab, and the other at Brennan’s apartment. Those were more traditional family dinners, there’s no other way to describe it. Do you think that the dinner in the Man in the Fallout Shelter was when the team started becoming more of a family? The previous morning, Goodman called them colleagues. They weren’t friends. Something started to change with that episode, and I’d like to postulate that it was with that meal (and the later creation and exchange of gifts) that the team started to become a family. In the Goop on the Girl, the team already was quite a family, and the new family of Cam and Michelle was included, along with Brennan’s father and second cousin Margaret. Hodgins and Angela even talked about it. Joining hands for a moment of prayer/silence was very much a “family” moment. Both episodes already emphasized family, so it seems appropriate that Goop on the Girl ended with a “family” meal.
One type of “family” meal that I nearly forgot is the carry-out meal. It starts with The Man in the Fallout Shelter (Chinese food), is carried over to Booth bringing Brennan Wong Foo’s in The Woman in Limbo, and then becomes a signature thing for B&B to share (I really, really, really love the “Thai food?” moment in the Girl with the Curl). I think that this shows the strength of their bond, and as the series progresses and as the team is included, the significance of the shared meal, in particular for B&B. Brennan brings Booth food in the Fire in the Ice, and he brings her pizza in the Proof in the Pudding. Both show that the partners feel concern about each other and care for each other like family.
This brings us to another important point: who makes the meals is also significant to the series. There are two characters on the show that indicate more than a superficial interest in cooking: Gordon Gordon Wyatt, and Brennan. For GGW, he is moving away from his original field and entering another, nourishing souls instead of dissecting them, to crudely paraphrase him (it’s odd, though, because this almost seems like a metaphor for the direction of the series, doesn’t it?). He cooks a meal for Booth and Brennan (and then tells them to go fetch Sweets) in Mayhem on a Cross, beginning their acceptance of Sweets’ “baby duck” role in their lives, and in a way, it is another “family” meal. Brennan’s interest appears with one of the victims, Carly, in the Glowing Bones in the Old Stone House, who was going to teach Brennan how to cook (and not really the technicalities, but more about the emotional aspect of cooking). The only time we see her cook is in Glowing Bones in the Old Stone House, Goop on the Girl, and Doctor in the Photo, all of which I count as “family” meals. In each of these moments, there is a deeper message that Brennan is trying to communicate. She may shrug off the mac and cheese, but it seems like she is communicating some sort of respect for her partner, and a wish for him to be happy. In Goop on the Girl, it started off being a meal so her father could feel loved (interesting, how preparing a meal indicates loving in this instance, when Brennan is still insisting that love (at this point) is not like that), and then it expands out into the whole FBI/squint “family”. Then Brennan cooks a meal for her friends (but not the whole FBI/squint family) in Doctor in the Photo, with Hannah and Angela both in mind. It is this scene that I often come back to, when thinking about Doctor in the Photo, because to me, it shows the discordance of the “family” unit. In a sense, the same message from before (cooking for family to show love) is still being communicated, but the reception seems to be a one-way street. It follows the idea of the whole season, as I mentioned in an earlier post, that season 6 was supposed to be discordant because the “family” wasn’t being a family.
So what does this mean, now?
Now that the team’s literal families are growing, and as the team strengthens, I believe that we will see both more meals and more frequent mentions or scenes in which Brennan cooking a meal is predominant. There will probably be more scenes at the Diner and Founding Fathers, or at least more significant scenes where the whole team is together. There could be more scenes within Booth and Brennan’s apartments, where they share a meal, like the ending of season 4. Maybe these “family” meal moments will move from the Diner and the Founding Fathers to their apartments and other places, like many of the meals were in the first two seasons and in the fourth. Maybe we’ll see some more Thai food, and soup from Mama. Maybe we’ll see Brennan (and hopefully Gordon Gordon Wyatt) cook a bit more. Maybe the table, whether it’s a lit [gurney?] or a coffee table or steps or a desk or an actual table, will become the family table once again.
How about you guys? Are you like Booth, with fond memories of a family table? Are you like Brennan and Gordon Gordon Wyatt, and use cooking as a way of showing love? Do you think we’ll see a noticeable change with food and cooking on the show? Can you think of any other instances? Do you have a favorite one?