Bones Theory

Vintage Bones: The Soldier on the Grave- Does Booth Have the Ability to Make (and Keep) Friends?


Good morning,


I feel as if we’ve talked about many, many things here at Bones Theory, and sometimes I’m never sure if I’ve repeated questions, etc. All of that to say, if I DO repeat a question or discussion topic, let me know. But one of my favorite series-wide things about BONES is that Booth, the “Partners share things; it builds trust” guy is/was basically a loner who was opposed to partnership.

That isn’t the same as building friendships, of course. Many people have friends and work alone. Many people have successful working relationships but few friends. I just think (and I’m not the only one, so I’m not claiming credit for it) it’s interesting and amusing that Booth spouted all of this information about partnership when he had never had a partner before.  It doesn’t take a broken leg to know that it would hurt to have one, but still…do you think Booth was trying to keep Brennan close to him however he could and sort of made stuff up as he went along? Hmmm…possible.

It’s not just a symptom of BONES that what we see are the characters mostly interacting only with one another–I suppose it’s just as fair to ask if any of the characters are able to make or keep friends outside of their work environment. Obviously it costs money to add characters who have little to no meaning in the course of the series, so why not just have the team eat meals together and share drinks and go to hockey games, etc, right?

But even if that were not the case, would the character of Booth have the ability to make, and keep, friends? Or is he always too in control of what and how he’s feeling about himself? All of his current friendships (that we see) are work-related. I suppose Dr. Wyatt is the least work-related, but it’s not exactly a friendship, and we don’t ever see it either.

I’ve never been the type to declare my sisters as my best friends, etc, but when Jared invites Booth to come with him to India as a friend, Booth shoots it right down and says they won’t ever be friends; he’s his brother.

Sweets is also a possible friend, though that line can be weird in that they aren’t equals in a lot of ways, and it is still primarily a work relationship.

We see he had (in season one at least) some contact with a friend from the war (named Hank, putting us on a road to characters named Hank all of the time! Maybe Hart Hanson really wanted his own name to be Hank and so he’s overcompensating, haha), and there are the later instances (see you in season four!) with Teddy Parker, but that ‘friendship’ is also mired (not in a bad way) with Booth’s sense of protection and responsibility, so I am inclined to believe it doesn’t count fully in the friendship department.

Can Booth have friends with no pressure? Is Cam the only one? He also feels responsible for her in a way, but there is also that level of friendship. We’ve talked before about how the writers did away with anyone in Brennan’s life who would be a support for her besides Booth (Dr. Goodman, Zack, Angela to an extent in S4-S5), but I’m wondering if the same is true for Booth. Is the fact that he has no friends (that we can see) a means to insist he confide in Brennan when it counts? That there is pressure on his friendship with Brennan (in season one and beyond) is an understatement–though I think there is also the argument that once they agree on their set bounds, they both find it easy to be together and spend time with one another.  But does Booth have the emotional capability of meeting someone, forming a friendship and it just being chill? Or is he always too guarded, too quick to keep everyone else at arm’s length?

Things like his charm and professional success seem like tools in that vein. He can be charming to women, but that’s as far as it goes. He is good at his job, on the ice, at the range, etc, etc, but it’s a status thing that leaves him unapproachable. I don’t know…thoughts?

What caught me this time around in the ending of this episode was this line from Booth to Brennan, at the encouragement of his Army buddy. He does tell her that he has to be able to tell someone about his time as a sniper, but just before that, he says, “I have to be honest…about myself.”

I think that says a lot. He can fight for justice and such, he can be the best there is to be at what he wants to put his mind to, but deep down, he sees parts of his life as something he needs to hide. All of that secrecy is not just about the war (as we now know), but also has roots in his childhood and feeling rejected by (at this point, Rebecca) people he loves. He works very, very hard to make things right, but that doesn’t always mean being honest about himself.

What do you think? 

Here is your B&B of the Day:


The “Even if they don’t understand the words coming out of each other’s mouths, they still speak the same language” B&B

From The Soldier on the Grave: Season One


18 thoughts on “Vintage Bones: The Soldier on the Grave- Does Booth Have the Ability to Make (and Keep) Friends?

  1. “I think that says a lot. He can fight for justice and such, he can be the best there is to be at what he wants to put his mind to, but deep down, he sees parts of his life as something he needs to hide…He works very, very hard to make things right, but that doesn’t always mean being honest about himself.”

    I think that you hit the nail right on the head. Someone asked the question on the IMDB board last night (a Bones newbie) about why Booth doesn’t have full custody. They were talking about how legally he could totally fight for custody to have Parker more. I chimed in with the fact that Booth has a lot of issues that may have had him not fight for custody. He might think he doesn’t deserve it, he might be trying to be not like his dad and more custody means he might show Parker his “Boothy” side, in a bad way. He’s also insecure about his relationships with people sometimes too, and also he might just be trying to appease Rebecca so that there’s no fighting around Parker.
    So anyway, that’s a topic for another day, but I think the reasons I used in that argument works here too.

    We get glimpses of Booth’s friends, such as Sully, and the friend from Asia (totally blanking on his name)…apparently he has hockey friends….but again these are all work based relationships. Why is this? Probably a mix of the reasons above. Booth doesn’t like to let people close. He has insecurity issues. He feels like the “Shrimp” he was a boy, who’s father hit him. He also doesn’t want to let people close. His past not only prompted him to try to be a good guy, to be strong and help others, but his past is also still with him, today, affecting him in negative ways.

    Thankfully, in his new relationship, he has someone who has those same issues from the past, that made her the awesome person she is, but also affects her in negative ways. She has Angela, but besides that, its basically work only. We even saw her online dating to expand her social contacts, though she is a rich and famous author/anthropologist. So both B&B are similar in this way. Although, we have gotten many glimpses of the team at Founding Fathers, smiling and having a great time together…so they’ve been working on it! And even if they are work friends, B&B actually do have friends now….so that’s pretty good for these two former loners!

    • In a way I think he is honest with himself. He honestly believes that there’s something wrong with him that people don’t love him enough to stay with him in any relationship for long. His past is his proof to him: his mother, his father, Rebecca, Tessa, Hannah and the list goes on.

  2. I agree that he doesn’t like to let people close. You are right on about him not being honest about himself. He’s always afraid he’s not good enough, or that people will be shocked by the things he’s done. I do think that he is capable of maintaining friendships though. Like the guy from Asia. There was a real friendship and respect there, and I loved that. It was nice to see Booth with a friend that he genuinely enjoyed being around.

    Despite how charming and social Booth seems, he is really more of a loner. He’s never liked working with people, and doesn’t go out of his way to make friends. Until Brennan of course.

    I really think he made up a lot of the partner stuff as he went, as a way of being closer to her than normal partners, and helping her open up. I think we all know that most partners don’t do most of the things that B&B do! Guy hugs, ice skating in the night, bringing thai food at midnight, etc.

  3. I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that even though Booth had not had a partner before, he did seem to know a lot about how to be a partner. I guess I attributed that to his being in the military and all his experiences that he had and it just translated into his working life.

    I thought it interesting that when he was having lunch with Hank that as soon as Hank mentioned talking to someone – his “girlfriend” – that he abruptly had to get back to work and left. Why? Was it that he didn’t want to talk about it at all – even though he was the one that initially brought it up to Hank? Was it worry about how anyone would react/accept his past? They were having this conversation and as soon as it turned to him, he was out of there. I think that shows that he doesn’t like to focus on himself, what he did, how he handles it – especially with others. He “deals” with it himself, internally.

    I do think that he can make friends, but it seems to me that all his friendships have been surface level…until Brennan.

  4. Regarding Booth and partners, you’re right that he’s never had an FBI partner that we’re aware of, but all snipers have a partner, so he’s had partnerships and I would guess that a sniper and his partner have to have a pretty close relationship to make what they do, work. So, he does know about partnerships even if he’d never had an FBI partner (I’d even venture to say that he didn’t have FBI partners BECAUSE of his experience as a sniper).

    As to making and keeping friends, I think that as a person who isn’t willing to share things about his life with people probably has trouble having close friends. I think his connection to Brennan has a lot to do with that shared past trauma.

    • Thank you. I have had to point out in the past that as a sniper he had a partner, that is, Teddy Parker. Since that ended so badly, it makes some sense that he would be wary of having partners in the future, even if he didn’t feel that there were parts of himself that he had to hide.

      I see both Booth and Brennan less as loners than as people who are ok being alone, at least in part because they have always been so. I identify with this particular aspect of their characters. I would love to have more people to share time with, but it happens that I often haven’t had them, so I’ve learned to do things alone. One could argue that there’s something in me that causes that situation (for example, why are all my closest friends hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away?), and I wouldn’t disagree, but I still see myself as alone rather than a loner. And, I’m ok with that. I guess I’d admit that it is a protective device too. When I have had someone to spend time with, life’s vagaries have invariably brought an end to it sooner or later. Lisa moved back east. Kathy stayed in CA and I moved east. Mark moved to VT. Peter moved to Atlanta. Karen moved to TN. These are still my closest friends.

      Enough about me.

      I too have always thought that Booth was making up the partner stuff as he went along, especially guy hugs. He was drawn to Brennan from that very first moment in her classroom at American U. He wanted to know more about her and keep her close. “Partners share things” was the first step in that. Guy hugs made sure he could still keep hugging her even when she became leery of always falling into his arms when she was frightened. I love the look on his face when he gives her that first guy hug. He looks so happy, and you can just see that he’s thinking that this is exactly where he always wants her to be. She looks pretty happy and relieved too, but not the way Booth looks.

  5. Caroline!!…I also includd her as a good friends of Booth’s. We may only see them in work related situations but boy they are buds. I do get a vibe they talk about their personal lives: Parker, Brennan, Hannah, Going to war, Caroline’s husband, Sniper past…I really do adore them: funny, respectful, a little playful banter and flirty. . .the only person that Caroline truely likes is Booth and remember no one dares threaten him! eg Broadsky..or Caroline will be after you! Love Booth and Caroline.

  6. Warning: This video may cause intense squeeing, watery eyes, and extreme happiness!

    Thanks to jmg for finding this 🙂 !!

    • Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    • I love love love this! I love the male voice and how it really does sounds like Booth talking to Brennan. I love how the words of the song are matched with appropriate scenes from the show.
      One of the best fanvids imo.

      • I found myself starting to get a little misty eyed, I thought it was so well done! 🙂 And the slow way of singing that song in the male voice, I really liked it (not a Katy Perry fan usually)…but this was a fabulous video! Off to rewatch 🙂

  7. I think he has the ability to make friends, it’s just his willingness to be open with them. I believe Bren is the only one who really accepted him for who he is in and out.

  8. We really do not know a lot about Booth. What happened to his mother etc. Having friends means having to reveal yourself to them. Booth is not willing or ready to do that. The only people that have an idea about him are his army buddies and Cam – and even then not everything. Bren never asks any personal questions about Booth. She challenges him on character and other things but does not seem to ask pertinent questions about family ties. Booth is comfortable with this but I hope we get to hear about what happened to his mom and also see what happens when Bren lets him know that pops was the one that told Booth’s father to stay away.
    As long as the friendships are casual, Booth is ok. But I think the friendship he’s developped with the squints – the regular squints – is going to be a long and lasting one. Although he works with them, he knows they will always have his back and he can always count on them. And in reality, how many close friends does one need?

    • I think Brennan knows more than we think, and I don’t think she has to pry, nor does she feel the need to. Booth at times has offered up little bits of information of himself, usually about his father, from what we’ve seen. But we also know that there are conversations we don’t witness, because she knew why he would like an older telephone with a personal story behind it. Granted, he still probably knows way more about her than she him, but then again, him working her parent’s case definitely opened up that avenue.

      It’s interesting because Booth is very tight-lipped about personal stuff, but with Brennan I think he sometimes reveals more than he really plans to. But she’s a very good listener, and because she doesn’t turn it into an interrogation, he feels pretty comfortable opening up to her. And I guess sometimes he feels like he needs to get something off his chest and she’s the one he trusts the most.

  9. I’ve never particularly thought Booth’s a loner. More that he’s wary of people and doesn’t choose to let many become his friends.

    We’ve heard about various ‘Army buddies’ over the years, and we know he had ‘partners’ in the Army as others have pointed out.

    We know from what Booth has said to Brennan how seriously he takes the responsibility of having a partner. Maybe there just wasn’t anyone at the FBI he wanted to have that kind of relationship with at the time we met him. Maybe he’s like Brennan, and only wants to work with the best and no one else was up to his standard, who knows. With Brennan, he found someone with whom it was so beneficial to him he was willing to work with her. I don’t think it’s until New Orleans, when he races across the country to be by her side, that they call each other partners. By that time, he knew enough about her to be willing to be ‘partners’, with all the responsibility that entails, with her.

    We know that Booth gives himself completely to people – I think this extends to spotters and partners too. I don’t think he made stuff like ‘guy hugs’ and ‘builds trust’ up to get closer to Brennan physically or emotionally. I don’t think he’s that self-serving or manipulative. I think with the guy hugs, he was giving her an ‘out’, a way to give herself permission to reach out for that comfort while letting her know he wouldn’t read anything into it and that it’s not a sign of weakness to need that support sometimes. It’s things like this that reveal how emotionally-intelligent he is.

    We know that Booth watched Teddy Parker die and that he felt responsibility for his death for many years afterwards – it’s not surprising he didn’t rush into that sort of symbiotic partnership again.

    I think Booth found it easier to be close to people in the Army than ‘civilians’ because there is the element of shared experience – everyone there had been through it.

    Something that I think we often overlook as the audience is the fact that we mostly see Booth as he behaves with Brennan, which is frequently understanding, supportive and patient. He’s quite different with others and was especially different in certain situations in the Army. As he warned Broadsky, ‘you forgetting who you’re dealing with Jacob?’, Booth can be an incredibly threatening, dangerous man to his enemy. An extremely highly trained, devastatingly accurate, military weapon. He’s killed tens of people, was the best sniper in the world, gunned a man down in front of his son and has alluded to experience with kidnap and torture as well – I imagine, in the real world, people with that kind of background (not to mention the type of personality required to reach those heights of training) aren’t hugely open – for obvious reasons.

    With Brennan, he revealed these facts very slowly and found that pretty much nothing he told her shocked her. She didn’t judge. It’s hard for someone who has been let down, betrayed, abandoned and rejected as much as Booth has, along with natural instincts of wariness and alertness honed by years of training, to fully trust people or let them in.

    Can he make friends? Yes, easily. Is he always willing to? No. Can he keep friends? Definitely. Once earned, Booth’s respect and loyalty is absolute. We’ve never heard of a single incident where Booth has abandoned someone – one of the many reasons he’s the man for Brennan.

  10. I’ve said it before but this really isn’t one of my favorite episodes. In fact, I’d rank it with “Double Death of the Dearly Departed” as down at the bottom.

    But as far as the question goes, I don’t think we can discount the fact that Booth is a cop. Cops in general tend to create friendships with other cops, plus or minus friendships that existed before the person entered law enforcement.

    It’s a different, rather insular world when your job means risking your life on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis. It’s not surprising that many of them feel people on the “outside” just can’t understand the pressures.

    (Disclaimer: My father was a cop so I may be generalizing based on personal experience but I’ve heard others say much the same thing, very frequently.)

    • I think that is a good point MJ. In my mind it sort of brings up a chicken or the egg kind of question…Did Booth and Brennan pick jobs that would keep them insulated from the world, or did their jobs come first and then insulate them from the world?

      I’m leaning towards the latter, because Bones reminds us all the time that these two have some serious childhood issues. I think that Booth and Brennan both were “scarred” from their family issues, and then chose jobs that they could sort of hide themselves in. Booth’s job gave him a way to “atone” for his mistakes, have a purpose in life, and you always have people around you, so you don’t appear alone, even though you really are. I think Brennan also allowed herself to become a lab rat because it was “safe” emotionally. She could hide. So I think Booth sort of gravitated to the army/police/FBI to have that place of belonging without having to let people in…if that makes sense?

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