(Edit from Sarah: Sorry for the delay on this one today! It’s all my fault. I thought it had posted, but I had it set to private. As if! 😀 )
One of the most common opening sentences used to describe Bones to the
(poor people who don’t know what they’re missing) uninitiated is:
‘A cocky FBI agent and a prosaic Forensic Anthropologist work together to solve gruesome murders’
I’ve always thought this doesn’t really come close to what this show, and its characters, are about. There is a lot more to Booth than his sometimes cocky demeanour. And considering a definition of ‘prosaic’ is ‘lacking in imagination and spirit’ I think we all know it does a disservice to the lovely Dr B.
But thinking about Booth and his sometimes cocky nature, led me to wonder whether he always had a quiet confidence that between him and Brennan it would ‘all work out eventually’?
In short, has he always known that eventually they’d get together, or was it an unknown to him? A fated event that was bound to happen or for a long time, a love he believed to be unrequited? Has his relationship / partnership with Brennan in seasons past been a source of affirmation of his self-belief or a deconstruction of confidence followed by a building back up?
Booth is a man who has said he believes in fate, ‘that ol’black magic’ and that there is ‘someone for everyone. Someone you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with’. Does he still believe these things I wonder? Has his eventual relationship with Brennan proved him right, or has he now moved past these ideals, to a place where he wants it to be ‘more than luck’.
In some ways, I think one of the clever things this show has done is slightly reverse the stereotypical gender roles of the leads when it comes to romantic relationships. In early seasons we hear Brennan talk about and engage in sexual relationships more frequently than Booth. Apart from Tessa, it’s not until season 2 that we see Booth with anyone at all – and even then they get it out the way quickly by alluding to the fact that Booth is not lacking for partners by showing him with two women within one episode. After that, there’s barely a hint of it until H.
In the early days of their own relationship it was Brennan who made overtures to move it forward sexually, not Booth. There are several moments in the first two seasons where I get the feeling that had Booth let it, Brennan would have been more than happy to engage in some physical urge satisfying. There are two scenes that make me think this. In Woman in Limbo in season 1. Booth shows up at Brennan’s house at midnight with Chinese. They eat, chat about their parents and their pasts and share a very intense moment of loaded eye contact. After which Booth breaks the spell of their look by exhaling, stretching and quite abruptly making a move to leave. I think he knew where that evening could have led and was stopping it in its tracks before things went a bit far. Brennan on the other hand is completely relaxed, I think she’d have been ok with either eventuality.
The second time that comes to mind is in Truth in the Lye. In the next to final scene, Brennan mentions (while all up close and locking him in that blue gaze of hers, while he swallows and shoves his hands in his pockets) that she’s sure Booth isn’t short of prospective sexual partners, in a way that might be construed as a subtle play to show she might not mind being one of them. Again, I think Booth pulled back at that moment when perhaps Brennan would have proceeded.
And of course, all of this comes after what we saw in the 100th, which was a Brennan who asked him if he was seeing anyone and later suggested they have sex. Booth was delighted at the time, but he was also the person who told her he thought ‘this was going somewhere’. Brennan didn’t in fact want this to go anywhere at all and ran off to the cab to stop things, while getting irrationally angry with him the next day. This led to her refusing to work with him for a year. It’s no wonder Booth was careful not to let that kind of situation arise again.
What I’m getting at, is that while the well trodden path of TV and movies often has it that it’s the woman whose task it is to slow things down, in Bones, that’s kind of been Booth’s role. That’s interesting, I like it.
What does all of this have to do with whether or not Booth always knew he’d get his girl eventually?
Booth is a man who knows he’s hot. He just does (he’s not blind). He’s known from their first case that Brennan found him attractive. But he waited. After that first case, he never overtly went there again until he asked her to try for something more between them in season 5. I’m starting to think that he always knew there was more between them than sexual chemistry and he wanted to wait until it really would mean the ‘start of something’.
Now, I don’t know many (any) guys who are as good looking as Booth. His face, his body, his mannerisms, his charm. The dude has the goods. But I’m willing to bet that in real life, guys who look like Booth aren’t as nice as Booth. In fact, this is one reason I can identify as to why I love the show so much. There are hints that he was less evolved when he was younger, at high school and college, but even those are tempered with the information that Booth was always respectful of the women in his life, however temporarily they were there (I like to this this came from Pops)
So, Booth was confident that Brennan wanted him physically. But was he confident that she would eventually want him personally? Did he hold back in those early years in the belief that they’d get there eventually? Was he talking about them in those moments – when he told her there was someone for everyone, that everything happened eventually, that she too would one day experience transcendent and eternal love?
Or did he believe she had once wanted him physically but wasn’t interested in more? He’s a man who we know has well hidden, but deep insecurities about being wanted as a person. About being enough. He’s known many women who have happily gone to his bed, but none who’ve wanted to stay the course. This led us to speculate in season 6, once we realised that there was a lot he hadn’t shared with the beautiful and happily vacuous Hannah, that here was possibly a man who didn’t think a woman who knew all there was to know about him would value him enough to stick around.
And has Brennan helped or hindered these thoughts over the years? After the beginning of season 3, she didn’t make overtures towards sleeping with him casually again – partly because she knew him well enough to know he thought there was more to have and partly because she was starting to look at what she really wanted. So on the one hand, he had a woman in his life who told him that she knew he’d never give up, that he was a good father and a good man. But at the same time she dated his friend, his brother and his boss.
I think that in the end, as so much did, it came down to the coma dream. He came out of that knowing with absolute certainty that what he’d felt all those years before was right – this is the woman to build a world around. But that brought into stark focus the fact that she wasn’t in that place at all.
I think prior to season 5, he put quite a lot of stock in fate. After season 5, he really didn’t believe it ever would happen – not least because she assured him it wouldn’t. He had to let go of a lot of what I think kept him going in earlier dark times of his life. Trust in fate and destiny, magic and romantic ideals. But although it was painful, I think he came out the other side of it in a much better place. A place of honesty and intimacy, a knowledge that good relationships require a lot more than luck, and that the rewards can be higher than you barely ever dared to dream. One thing I want to see from season 7, is a Booth who is incandescently happy and who can scarcely believe his old friends fate and the gods have seen fit to heap on him such a multitude of familial riches.
So – what do you think? Did Booth always know they’d get together eventually? Was he biding his time, waiting for her to ‘catch up to her own reality’? Or did he believe his feelings were mostly one-sided? Jump in, can’t wait to hear your thoughts!…