Bones Theory

IAYA: “You’re A Good Man, Booth”


Hello and Happy Bones-Premiere Day-Eve!


Are you still reading this post, even after the title? Haha, if you are like me and you find yourself annoyed at the frequency in which Brennan (or anyone else) says “You’re a good man, Booth” (or some iteration), know you are not alone. It’s like that weird stretch of episodes where it was said that Cam was a coroner in New York…sometimes there was context and sometimes not!

ANYWAY, the point is that there have been these weird times when Brennan has pulled out the “You’re a good man, Booth” during the series. It’s weird because…we know that already, as the audience. I think we’ve known that the whole time–it’s established pretty well in the pilot and other S1 episodes.  And I think Booth, despite his sometimes having low self-confidence, ultimately knows that he is a good person. He has said it several times, and for the most part, when Brennan (or other characters) tells him he is a good one, it’s not like he’s really emotionally touched about it. He doesn’t deny it, and it’s mostly like “okay yeah, great, let’s move on”.  In that way, I think Booth controls his destiny a little bit. Despite everything that he has experienced, he knows he has made a conscious effort to be good and/or do the right thing when possible.  The scene from the end of Killer in the Crosshairs is a good example of it.

So…if it’s not for the audience, and it’s not for Booth, and looking past the fact that the writers just have the hots for Booth’s moral character and it could just be unfortunate repetitive writing (i.e. the weird mention at the end of Heiress on a Hill) …as I was watching some S9 moments and a few other scenes, I started to wonder whether or not Brennan saying that Booth is a good man is actually affirming her own life/choices.

If other people have had this idea before, speak up. I’m sure I’m not the first.  But I think Brennan says it to just reaffirm to herself that he is good. Like, for everything Max *is* to her (or Zack, or Stires, or whoever) , Booth is more. There is a deeper level of steadiness to Booth, and she translates that to good.  Not necessarily predictability (though she does value that scientifically), but more accountability and trustworthiness and mostly drama-free, and she values all of those things as ‘good’, which is different than Booth’s definition of internal goodness. Brennan is not one to keep quiet on her own accomplishments, qualifications, or strengths, and I think she considers that her choice in Booth is another success in a way–so when she says it, she’s affirming her own choice making skills. She also wants to affirm him, but like we talked about a few years ago with the 5 Love Languages and B&B— one of Brennan’s is (in my opinion) Words of Affirmation, so it’s important for her to verbally say what she thinks about Booth…more important than it is for Booth.


What do you think?




26 thoughts on “IAYA: “You’re A Good Man, Booth”

  1. Sorry, just dying of laughter over here: “…looking past the fact that the writers just have the hots for Booth’s moral character” 🙂 🙂

    Sarah, you may be taking a deeper level approach here. For me, it seems like its most likely unfortunate repetitive writing, perhaps purposefully done for the more casual viewers at home (like my parents who put on “their shows” only to fall asleep mid-episode!) who don’t dissect every episode into microscopic pieces. Kind of like the Cam thing too. I think they feel they have to restate it for those people to sort of prompt their memories to previous episodes/situations. Its also probably why they don’t feel the need to tie up loose ends or finish out storylines on occasion 🙂

    But if I’m gonna give them credit for a deeper meaning, I wouldn’t necessary say Brennan would be saying it for herself, but to reassure Booth. I don’t think he ever heard it as much in his entire life, from being a small child up till now. His mom was gone, and his dad never said it to him growing up. Brennan knows about his “cosmic balance sheet” and his desire to “never be like my dad”…and they’ve had that conversation that even though it hurts sometimes, he likes that she always speaks the truth. So when she tells him “he’s a good man”, its just helping to reaffirm that in his mind, and he can trust she is telling the truth. He’s never had someone to back him up and support him when he’s down like Brennan can. With her, he is filled with confidence as an agent, husband, and father, that he’s never felt before. (Likewise, when Booth has reassured her on many occasions when she doubts herself that she’s smart and she’ll figure it out.) They support each other. To me, Brennan repeating that phrase is a way to support Booth.

  2. I’ve actually connected it to Booth freaking out over Brennan equating him to Brodsky. He really worried that Brennan might think he was just like Brodsky and needed to hear her say Brodsky is bad and you are good.

    From that time on I think she thinks that she needs Booth to hear it so that one he knows he’s a good man by her definition and two he knows she’s on his side.

    I think this is her way of showing love and loyalty. She knows he worries about the things he’s done in the past and she wants to affirm to him that he isn’t a terrible person.

    On the other hand Brennan also needs that affirmation. How many times have we heard Booth tell her she’s a good person, she’s not a bad anything.

    The both need confirmation from the one the love that they are good.

  3. Some intrepid YouTuber should go back through every episode, pull out the “Booth is a good man” moments and set them to the theme song from Charlie Brown. They might need a Part One and a Part Two, though, because I’m sure there are so many it would go over the time limit for videos.

  4. Ooh oohh – I have a double for you: S8 The Roller Derby episode we get ‘Booth is a good man’ from Cam, followed by ‘Booth is a very good man’ from Brennan.

    Coming just after ‘The Twist in the Plot’ where Booth does his video for Christine and he states that he is trying to get into Heaven, I do find the comments repetitive and OTT, but I tend to agree with BB, that it is done to Spell It Out for the casual viewer. Just like the ‘Your Son’ ‘Our Daughter’ references that are made.

    And, yes, Booth has a son…in case you forgot… 😀

  5. I honestly think this is an Occam’s Razor situation, and that it’s just repetitive writing and laziness on the part of the story editors. I think everyone on the writing staff knows and agrees that Booth is a good man. Since there is a different person who writes each episode, maybe they have a character mention it during an episode and they don’t realize that the writer for the previous episode had a character tell Booth he was a good man too. And it’s not just Brennan who says it. Angela said “You’re a good man, Booth” last season. Cam said it. I think even Hodgins said it. So if this is supposed to be Brennan’s way of reaffirming her life choices, it doesn’t explain why all of the other characters have said it too.

    On a kind of related note to that, the early post on Mental Floss’s Facebook feed this morning (great nerdy website if you’ve never gone there before) was about a 16-year-old boy who sent a questionnaire to 150 novelists in 1963 asking them if they intentionally placed symbolism in their writing and if it bothered them if readers saw symbolism when the writer never intended it. Most of the writers who answered felt that readers usually saw things that weren’t put there intentionally by the writer, although Saul Bellow was more blunt stating “Symbol hunting is absurd.” Kind of a harsh response, but I think it’s applicable to this question.

  6. Ok, I decided to do about 5 minutes of extensive research to find out how often Booth reassures Brennan. It’s slightly harder to do because he doesn’t always use the same phrase like “the-phrase-which-shall-not-be-named” 😉

    1. Prince in the Plastic-reassures Brennan she can play with her child
    2. End in the Beginning-reassures Brennan she’s not cold, she’s Iceland
    3. Night in the Museum-reassures Brennan she is great, will speak well, and changed history
    4. Change in the Game-reassures Brennan that having a baby is a wonderful, good thing
    5. Boy in the Time Capsule-reassures Brennan she’s better than Smurfettr
    6. Cinderella in the Cardboard-reassures a Brennan that someday she will believe love is transcendent and eternal

    There’s more, but that’s what I could think of just off the top of my head. So he is always telling her she’s smart and capable and great and pretty and awesome 🙂 He just gets to say it different ways.

    • But most of those situations she is asking for reassurance. She was telling him she felt insecure about something or another– and it something that has rarely occurred in S9. Its very different from the random “you are a good man” thrown in when it doesn’t make sense to the situation at hand.

      For e.g. in Turn in the Urn– Booth was being incredibly judgmental about a rich guy just because he assumed the rich guy was getting special treatment– how that warrants “you are a good man”, I have no idea?? Especially since at the end of the episode he flashed around his FBI badge to get special treatment himself.

  7. I always find it interesting when there is a discussion of this phase as I say it to my hubby all the time …

  8. I had Fire/Ice on the other night – and I recalled the end scene conversation as another one of those moments, though I get caught up on the “Lucky Luciano” being a hockey fan. The (paraphrased), “I don’t know your father, but I think your made of pretty great stuff” or somesuch.

    And not that it’s germaine to the topic at hand, but watched Double Death last night so as not to spoil New Girl and Mindy before we could watch them later, while waiting for Chicago Fire’s premiere. I know many don’t care for that ep but the Hodgins speech gets me every time.

  9. So I interpreted Killers in the Crosshairs slightly differently. In that episode they have Sweets say that the issue wasn’t so much Brennan questioning Booth but Booth questioning himself and projecting that on Brennan. I think that was evident by the fact Booth had jumped on Brennan’s comment at the beginning of the episode in the conference room about snipers working alone as a comparison to Broadsky. I think Booth was already at a point where he was questioning himself on a personal level and Broadsky brought another set of his demons. I think from the beginning of the episode we saw that he wanted to be close to Brennan but he was afraid to find out what she truly thought about him after everything that had happened. He was afraid that Brennan thought the worst of him because he was thinking the worst of himself.

    I do think Booth is deeply insecure with himself as a person and with all of his actions. He is someone who constantly requires external validation for his self esteem because he is not secure in himself as a person. Brennan in some ways has become sensitive to that– I think a lot of times she believes he needs to hear it.

  10. OK I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. The truest line that Brennan ever said to Booth IMO came in The Finger in the Nest when she compared him to the killer dog: ‘He has warm reassuring brown eyes and is capable of great violence.’ By any objective analysis, Booth is a killer, capable of great violence. His kill sheet was 50 during the Epps period and he acquired further kills in later episodes and many apparently in Afghanistan. Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa are good people. Military snipers are military snipers. Their job is to kill people. No matter the greater good, killing is still taking lives.

    The Bones writers and especially Hart created a character who came IMO again directly out of Angel, someone who had done great evil and was trying with all their might to atone, to balance the cosmic sheet, redemption through transformation [The He in the She]. But how to present this character as a sympathetic one? By giving him a stream of moments when he is shown as being empathetic, supportive and fighting on the side of right which Booth continually does.

    I think this is where the constant litany of ‘Booth is a good man’ comes from, a literary device to balance the violence that Booth is capable of and is shown demonstrating. Is it annoying and repetitive? Hell yes. Especially in The Heiress in the Hill when Brennan says it as if she expects Booth to jump for a biscuit like a ‘good boy’. Do I wish they would abandon this device used to constantly tell the audience to be sympathetic to Booth? OMG yes. If we didn’t like Booth, we wouldn’t still be watching the show. Give it a rest, writers, for all our sakes.

    • > “Do I wish they would abandon this device used to constantly tell the audience to be sympathetic to Booth? OMG yes” <

      That is a really good point of it being a literary device to derive sympathy. The problem is it starts to come across as preachy– telling me how I should feel about a character instead of allowing me to draw my own conclusions. And for a rebel in me it actually drives me in the opposite direction. Being told he is a good man for being judgmental about a rich people makes no sense to me so then I just feel manipulated. In contrast, I have no trouble believing Hodgins is a good man because they do it in a quiet understated way– they don't make a big production of him being a good man.

      • Initially I think this was a Hartian trope: ‘Booth is a good man.’ Etc, etc, etc. He has said it over and over again in interviews over the years and maybe it is embroidered on a cushion in the writers’ room or framed as a primary theme message over their door but it is so annoying and has only gotten more so the more they have used it. I remember in season 6 in interviews he used this same excuse for all of the crap that went on with HB, how Booth was a good man who wasn’t fooling around, he wasn’t playing games, he was totally serious about their relationship &etc. So for me I now connect the statement with that season which to quote MJ *deep breath* *deep breath* (moving away now from the computer.)

      • And of course S6 is the one season where I do not think he acted like a “good man” at all.

  11. My first thought was that it was due to poor repetitive writing especially since S6. I can remember Max saying it in S4 The Bone That Blew (?) and there I felt it really meant something. I don’t know or recall if it was said earlier. I think Brennan saying it so much is OOC and OTT. She has reassured Booth in many ways and many times from the beginning. It bothers me that Booth went to Sweets in Crosshairs saying Brennan thinks taking a life means nothing to him when that is completely untrue. Check back HH/show/writers to the early seasons. Mummy in the Maze jumps to mind where at the end Brennan says to Booth she’s sorry he had to kill someone because she knows how much he hates to take a life. That has been a theme since the pilot. There have also been times, especially in the early seasons, when Booth thought very well of himself and said so to Brennan. He’s confidant in his abilities as a sniper for his country, as an agent for an agency he believes in, in spite of Kirby and not knowing how he feels now (S9 finale-S10), says sternly he’s a good father to Rebecca (early S2 I think) and other instances. So to later flip and have Booth be insecure I find hard to follow, though I can see someone becoming insecure about some things due to time and circumstances, so I can let some of that go. I’ve watched from the beginning, fell in love at the gun range and have had to wait for episodes and seasons, so some changes in the show that haven’t made sense to me have been hard for me to handle. No secret there. 🙂 I do love this show and it’s characters and so I do get upset when “those that be” seem to either deliberately hurt the show or the fans or really just don’t care. It’s the only show I’ve ever invested so much time and emotion in and sought out a fandom, which I did after the 100th, and did eventually settle on only being here in this very special place. Brennan & Booth both had their self doubts but mostly kept it to themselves until they started trusting and confiding in each other in a natural way. Now I feel it is forced. It’s not them. They’re confident in their knowledge and skills and what they believe in and have supported each other no matter what unconditionally, and yes, not without some self doubt along the way as they experienced various events in their lives.

    Yeah! Parker! Ludicrous! A prime example of either really poor writing or really not caring.

    And then there’s Zach, who I really loved, even if I’m the last one standing on that point.

    • But Booth also worried that his past (at least as a sniper) wouldn’t make him a good father and he thought that was why Rebecca turned him down. So I do think he has had an insecurity about being a good father from the beginning. Although I am not sure that Booth having an abusive alcoholic father was in the original plan or something they came up with later to give the character more of a plot.

      • When Booth first spoke to Brennan about his parents he said that his father had flown jets in Vietnam and his mother wrote jingles for greeting cards. I don’t think originally the writers planned to make his history as tragic as Brennan’s but it made for good drama. So Dad became an abusive alcoholic and Mom deserted her kids to become a dancer or a singer or whatever the writers needed in any particular episode.

      • And when he finds out that BRENNAN’S PARENTS ABANDONED HER does he say ‘hey, my mom did the same thing!” No, he doesn’t and FOR SEVEN MORE YEARS HE NEVER MENTIONS HER AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN ….

        *deep breath* *deep breath* *deep breath* ommmmm…..ommmmmm…… ommmmm…..

        Backing away from the keyboard now….

      • bountypeaches, I think Booth’s concerns about his past not making him a good father or husband were reasonable for any good person. I think any insecurity he had was a reasonable amount. I just think this plotline has now gone over the top and shoved on us and like you said, doesn’t let us make up our own minds.

        In Limbo Booth speaks well of his parents to Brennan and like MJ said we don’t hear otherwise for years. It wasn’t like Booth not be honest with Brennan even at that point. Booth would have told her the truth, so I have to also go along with EL that the writers changed Booth’s story as time went on.

        Ironic as they have shipped Parker off to Siberia so Booth doesn’t have to deal with anything regarding Parker or Rebecca. Parker had been an important and integral part of who Booth was and his life since S1. Parker needed to continue to be included IMO. That would have been more realistic. Too many lines, storylines, and changed storylines that were important to the show and fans have been thrown away, and yet we can’t get rid of “you’re a good man”.

    • Lindy I don’t disagree with you because I do think they changed things around as needed to suit the plot– like transferring Brennan’s story about being saved by her grandfather to Booth. Personally S1-3 was an entirely different show.

      But I also think they had enough material that the way they wrote Booth “could” fit with the way they are projecting him now.

      Quote from Man in the Mansion:
      BOOTH: You know what, doc? I am not the kind of guy who’s got anything to hide.
      WYATT: You know, I often find that when people declare what they are not, it almost invariably turns out that that’s precisely what they are.

      I think Booth was always intended to be a bit of a loner character. Brennan didn’t know how to connect but Booth did–yet the only person in his life was his son? For someone who valued human interaction he didn’t really have a lot of meaningful connections. At least Brennan had a best friend in Angela. Booth didn’t have anyone in his life he could talk to. He was dating Tessa but it was another relationship that was mostly a physical connection, not an emotional one– he couldn’t talk to her about his day. Even Brennan was able to open up to Stires about her day.

      In Boy in the Tree– Booth was the one that kept himself separate from all of them. Then by the Xmas episode we see Booth hasn’t even mentioned his son to Brennan. They had been partners for months and he still hadn’t mentioned the most important person in his life? For all his talk about partners share things– he hadn’t really done that. So the part about Booth not being the most open person (even to Brennan) seems like it fit with his character. Even in S3, look at how long it took for him to open up about a humiliating story. Obviously in Con Man and Mayhem — we see that Booth is very cagey about talking about his past. I could see Booth not wanting to mention his mom– partly because he didn’t want to think his mom abandoned him. Booth had rationalized it by saying she couldn’t handle a family.

      As for his insecurities — I guess for me it was more than just a normal level of insecurity. Contrast him to how they wrote Hodgins and how many times he proposed. Booth never bothered to figure out why Rebecca said “no”. He just assumed the problem was him. The fact that Brennan had to push Rebecca to talk to him means Brennan could tell it was something that ate at him. So even in S2 they set him up as someone who was insecure about himself– requiring reassurance.

      • bountypeaches, I agree S1-3 was an entirely different show and the show I fell in love with. There are points like Brennan’s grandfather,4:47, and other points throughout the series that they’ve changed to suit a moment and then don’t seem to care about. Lack of continuity and consistency get to me especially in this show because I felt the show set the bar high. One of things I liked about the Sully arc was the introduction of GG. I think he’s great. I think that was really good for Booth, and one thing I remember is how defensive Booth was about his father, quite different from S1. I agree with you about Booth’s personal connections or lack thereof and that he was set up to be a loner – until he met Brennan. I agree about Booth’s & Tessa’s relationship as well. Interesting Brennan’s insight into Booth early on – Booth did not balk, Booth is not a balker. Brennan was a people person with a big and empathetic heart from the beginning, just no self confidence that she was like that. I liked Booth in the lab and despite his grumblings I thought he liked being there as well, especially in Brennan’s office, but then they changed that too. Reminds me of when Brennan gave Booth his own access card, and when Brennan said to Booth all of us are your squints, and the infamous “we’re Booth’s people”. Love that one. I’ve often wondered if Parker wasn’t created when they did the S1 Xmas episode so Booth would have someone in his life and Brennan would be the only one who had no one, or if Parker really was part of the original storyline. I too contrast Booth and Hodgins throughout the series, especially when it comes to how Hodgins pursued Angela as opposed to how Booth pursued Brennan, Hodgins’ proposals to Angela and Booth’s proposals to three different women. I think Brennan’s and Booth’s relationship progressed well and they opened up to each other in a natural way, both with their insecurities and other issues until the breaking point. I just think at this point they’ve taken Booth’s insecurities too far and made too much of an issue of it. That much insecurity to me just isn’t Booth.

  12. I think of it less as a conceited- “good job me, you done well” as telling herself over and over that Booth is a good man for herself. That she doesn’t need to be afraid, because a good person wouldn’t hurt her without a good reason.

  13. I really think that when Brennan says “you’re a good man, Booth” she means “I love you”. I just watched “Killer in the Cross Hairs” last night and Booth says he can’t talk to Brennan about why he thinks she is equating him with Brodsky because “that’s over”. They are still not in a place where she can say “I care about you no matter what” so she tells him she thinks he is a good man. I think over time it became a part of the story’s love language. Just my opinion….

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