It’s not happening, ever. Just wanted to clarify. Because I refuse to believe anything other than B and B are together now-like TOGETHER together-, and it’s going to stay that way until the show ends. I don’t object to a fight here and there, maybe a slamming door ending one episode and a thorough and fairly graphic reconciliation the next-but that’s as far as I’m willing to go. Still, it’s a long time to November and the mind starts to wander (hey, at least these thoughts are family friendly…) WARNING: massive doses of psycho-babble ahead.
So as a totally theoretical exercise, who do you think would get hurt more in the event of a falling out: our lion-hearted Seeley Booth, or our formerly impervious and now strong Temperance Brennan? Until recently, I was with Cam in her opinion that if Booth cracked Brennan’s shell and things didn’t work out Brennan might not recover emotionally. Not that she’d end up with Zack in some padded room, just that failure with Booth would make it very difficult for her to trust anyone else again relationship-wise. She’d closed herself off so much after her parents left and had become so rigid in terms of what she would (or could) accept that another failed connection might become her last real one, in part because of the effort it took to get her to take another chance on intimacy in the first place. Her previous liaisons appear to have been transitory, fueled more by what seemed like physical need, at least up to Sully. Sully got her and she almost let herself go all the way emotionally with him; but in the end, she couldn’t.
Booth seems to have had more by way of regular, long-lasting romantic relationships in his life. He certainly wasn’t scarred enough by the way they ended to stop him from giving Cam and Rebecca yet another turn on that ride. For much of the series, he came across as the more emotionally resilient half of the B&B duo, the one whose heart was open enough to embrace another relationship when a current one came to an end. I mean, he wasn’t thrilled when Tessa essentially dumped him, but he forged ahead. He possessed Zen-like optimism throughout, even “moving on” after Brennan left on her dig (ha! as if…) If past history was any indication, he’d be the more likely of the two to move on more easily, no?
But I believe that something happened on the way to the forum; something changed in Booth as he fell in love with his partner; something that ended up leaving him the more vulnerable of the two. My guess is that up to Brennan, Booth had never allowed himself to really be known by anyone; he showed people what he wanted them to see, the take charge, perfectly capable guy with few weaknesses-like he did with Hannah.
I feel that at the beginning of their relationship Booth thought of Brennan as a sort of personal project, something he could “fix” (and I don’t mean that in a bad way); but what he hadn’t counted on was the fact that she would change him as much as he changed her. With the other women in his life he remained cavalier, confident; well, cocky. I honestly think that in his mind he really was the way he projected himself to others, invulnerable to a fault. If you believe it enough, then it must be true. He started out that same way with Brennan; aggressive and confident, except she kind of offered a brick wall that he couldn’t just charm to bed. She was the mystery he couldn’t solve, and the desire to put her back together began to take the place of the sexual aggressiveness he had displayed in the past. He got comfortable with her on a different level because sex had been taken off the table (this idea had been explored in an earlier post), and I believe it allowed him to really let his guard down around her. He couldn’t rely on sexual charisma to win her over. He was forced to bring something else forward: the real Seeley Booth, faults and all. And he grew to appreciate that she actually seemed to like seeing that side of him; that she didn’t judge or think less of him.
Booth also respected Brennan’s honesty and the comments that mostly came without judgment or pity. He became increasingly vulnerable around her, showing parts of himself as a person that the other women probably never got to see, like when he told his judge friend on Soldier on the Grave that he had never talked to anyone about his wartime experiences and then proceeded to tell Brennan about the man he shot in front of his son, or when he told her that his dad drank. In part this is because Brennan had shown the same faith in him and his capacity to understand her. I feel that she let her guard down first with her revelations about her family history, and he followed suit. Although maybe he had set the tone for their relationship with his pre-pilot gambling confession-hard to tell. A good example of this dynamic was Mayhem on a Cross, where Brennan offered a personal story for Sweets’ sake but Booth only offered his for Brennan’s.
The two times we’ve seen Booth at his most vulnerable-in my opinion in the 100th and in Daredevil-he was with Brennan, reacting to something she’d said and revealing a hidden part of himself in the process. I’m a firm believer that the pain he showed at the bar was not really about Hannah, but about how he still was feeling about Brennan’s rejection. Hannah brought the moment in the 100th back with a vengeance for Booth, magnifying it, as well as all the other times that people had walked away from him. All of his failures and vulnerabilities were laid out for Brennan to see in that drunken moment, the biggest one being that he couldn’t get others, especially Brennan, to love him in the way he loved them. Those episodes leading up to Daredevil already show him conflicted, his attraction to Brennan surfacing up all over again despite all he’s done to convince himself that Hannah’s the one. But he could never really be himself with Hannah. Only Bones ever made him feel comfortable and safe enough to do that, and he missed her that way. Stripping down emotionally over time, though, comes at a price: he can’t pretend to himself that he’s invulnerable anymore.
That’s why I think that if something ever happened to the B/B relationship, Booth would be much worse off than Brennan. Considering that he pretty much went to the most dangerous place in the world when she left last time, I’m actually afraid for him. He’s been rejected so much in the past that I think he’s the one who might not survive another abandonment, especially because this time he’d be losing not just the woman he loves the most, but the family that’s finally so close within reach. It’s not like I think he’d commit suicide or anything; he loves Parker and he’d love the baby too much for that. But subconsciously, I think he would tend to gravitate to all sorts of dangerous assignments. Gambling with his life, instead of poker chips.
Why do I believe it’s different for Brennan? In some ways, her journey was the opposite of Booth’s. It wasn’t that she viewed herself as invulnerable, but that she built up all these defenses because she understood all along that was so vulnerable to pain. It’s what so many people commented on in Sophia’s “Ask the Questions” post. What Brennan needed was to desensitize herself enough so that she could tolerate the pain around her, something that came to a head in Doctor in the Photo. Kind of like allergy shots. She was primarily able to do that by trusting Booth bit by bit because if an experience didn’t work out, she had him to fall back on. She also implicitly trusted his judgment about people. When he asked her to give her dad a chance because it would turn out ok, she felt she could rely on what he said.
To go back to Sophia’s post, Brennan surprised herself with her personal strength after Doctor and I think she’d be ready for almost anything at this point. She had already lost Booth on a personal level and after Doctor came to accept the fact that she had to let him go. She seemed at peace with that decision and it makes me believe that if for some reason something like this happened again she could survive that, too. Besides, she would have the baby to connect with on a daily basis, as well as a built-in support group in the Jeffersonian staff. Booth, apart from Sweets and sometimes Cam, would essentially be alone again. Not a good place for him to be. Which won’t happen, ever. Just sayin’.
So what do you think? Booth, Brennan, or both?