Brennan: I am improving.
Brennan: Yes, I’m… quite strong.
Booth: Yeah, well, you’ve always been strong.
Brennan: You know the difference between strength and imperviousness; right?
Booth: No. Not if you’re going to get all scientific on me.
Brennan: Well, uh… a substance that is impervious to damage doesn’t need to be strong.
Brennan: When you and I met, I was an impervious substance. Now I am a strong substance.
Booth: I think I know what you mean.
Brennan: A time could come when you aren’t angry anymore and… I’m strong enough to risk losing the last of my imperviousness. Maybe then we could try to be together.
Hello Bones Theory pals! A few weeks back, Sarah graciously invited me to write a post for our little chats and offered the sage advice of “write about something you love.”
When I set out to start writing, I thought that I was going to discuss what I had come to think of as “The Tempering of Temperance Brennan”. I was going to talk about why I love the above conversation between Booth and Brennan at the end of “The Blackout in the Blizzard”, and how her growth is analogous to the process of tempering.
But it’s funny how the thing you think you’re going to write about doesn’t always work out that way… because as much as I was trying like crazy to get something cohesive to come together, it just wouldn’t work.
Not in the way I wanted it to, anyway.
There was a lot of discussion and negative backlash amongst BONES fans regarding the above exchange between Booth and Brennan in that scene. Personally, I loved her speech and didn’t really understand the backlash; I just found it to be so very, very Brennan.
So I asked the question: how does a substance, in this case Brennan, get from being impervious to being strong? What’s the tempering process at work? But the more I thought about the exchange, the more I found myself wondering if Brennan’s analogy is really as accurate as I first thought.
And that’s when something clicked… bear with me for a moment, I promise this is going somewhere.
In the above conversation, Brennan states that when she first met Booth, she was an impervious substance; however, the more I thought about it and started trying to come up with examples to support my hypothesis about tempering, I found myself wondering if she was really as impervious as she’d like to think.
Early in season one, Brennan tells Zack that to work on cases and not let the wasted lives he encounters get to him, he has to put his “heart in a box”. Putting one’s “heart in a box” is not the same as being impervious. Someone who is impervious would not need to put their heart in a box.
Someone who is impervious would not recognize her new partner’s distress and comfort him after he had to take one life to save many.
Someone who is impervious would not share a very personal story to connect with a scared little boy to get evidence in a case.
Someone who is impervious would not be able to so passionately testify on behalf of a murdered girl who was chained up, drugged, left to die and then tossed into a refrigerator upon her death.
Someone who is impervious would not spend all afternoon on Christmas searching for an elderly woman just to tell her that her fiancee did not abandon her decades before.
Someone who is impervious would not change her plans and stay with her partner to watch television in the hospital after he saved her life.
Someone who is impervious would not reach out to her partner and lay her hand on his arm while he recounts the story of one of the most difficult days of his life.
Do you see the pattern here? With every single episode I examined, the more examples I came up with of how Brennan is NOT impervious.
So the question then became, if she’s not impervious; what is she?
And if she’s not impervious, what does her speech to Booth really mean?
And is it, in light of “The Hole in the Heart” and “The Change in the Game”, even important anymore?
At the outset of the conversation that spawned all this thinking, Brennan states that she sees herself as “improving”. I think that her “improvement” is really more the fact that she can finally see for herself how much she has grown and changed since she first met Booth; because she has grown and she has changed.
Season one Brennan would never admit to Booth that she is jealous of his belief in love and his desire to lose himself in another person as she does in season four.
Season one Brennan would never toast love as she does in season five.
Season two Brennan would not put her own reputation on the line to save her father as she does in season three.
Season two Brennan would not creatively interpret the data for Booth’s peace of mind as she does in season five.
I could keep giving you example after example of how she has grown and changed, despite her assertions in the hundredth that, as a scientist, she is incapable of change. Clearly though, she is capable of change; and it’s been a beautiful process to watch.
So, where does that leave us? I think the question I’ve finally arrived at is, was she ever really impervious? And if she wasn’t, (because I don’t think she ever truly was) what was she?
Is it possible that her speech was a way for her to tell Booth that she was willing to give him time and space?
Was she telling him that she’d wait for him to be ready to take the next step, and when he was ready and the time was right, she would be too?
Was her speech simply an admission of her readiness to step beyond her carefully constructed comfort zones and take a chance on true happiness?
Or was it something more?
And in light of the events of “The Hole in the Heart” and “The Change in the Game”, are imperviousness and improvement even factors anymore, or is the change in the game going to mean a change in the vulnerabilities these two face together?
What do you think Bones Theory? Let’s discuss!