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Bones 2.21 Stargazer In A Puddle

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:54 am
by ThyneAlone
Season 2 is probably my favourite overall, but the reason I was immediately drawn to this episode is a very unusual one for me – it was the title. It stirred all kinds of ideas in my head; I had a strong image of a puddle with the starry sky reflecting down into it, the concept of moving away from the clods of earth and soaring into eternity – and of course that famous Oscar Wilde quote that we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. So I was already enamoured of the victim before I even started watching, but the episode turned out to be much more than a good investigation; there was great humour (lots of jokes, which almost becomes significant, given Brennan’s early remark “Jokes are the way we manifest our hidden desires.”), even in some quite intense scenes, a lot of chemistry, compassion (Brennan in particular showing what she has learned about empathy in these first two years), good continuity, some fantastic personal interaction and a subtle entwining of the case and the events in the characters’ lives. As a bonus there is the special treat of Cam looking askance at one of Jack and Zack’s experiments, this one with Spam!

And the theme of all the action here, from the killing to Max’s reappearance to the big wedding, is love.

The dead girl’s story is a simple and poignant one. Chelsea Cole was 22 and had a kind of progeria which gave her the body of an old woman and the mental capacity of a six year old. The initial thought is that she died from a gunshot wound to the head but it transpires that this was a hole left by some brain surgery she had at the age of three; in fact her mother, desperate to ensure that her utterly dependent daughter does not outlive her, has poisoned her with an overdose of her own old AIDS medication. We learn that Chelsea was obsessed by the stars and spent much of her time gazing up at them and drawing them with great accuracy. She saw them as signals from heaven showing people the way home.

Multiple stories play out in the background to all this. Booth has to face the dilemma of having to pursue his partner’s father and jail him as a felon and a murderer, Max having turned up under the misapprehension that Tempe is getting married (their face-off in the car park later on is extremely funny and ends up with both rolling on the ground in pain). Zack receives his call up to Iraq and goes to Booth to satisfy his curiosity as to what he can expect. Brennan gets to see the video her mother made for her on her sixteenth birthday. And Angela and Hodgins are running round frantically to arrange their imminent nuptials; this includes two attempts to find a best man, Brennan’s acceptance of the invitation to be matron of honour and the always welcome appearance of Billy Gibbons not only in Hodgins’ hilarious request for Angela’s hand but also walking down the aisle to give her away to the wonderful accompaniment of ‘Gimme all your loving’ on the harp.

Some nice significant moments:

Booth and Brennan find the decorated pebble that Chelsea took with her into the puddle and Brennan reads the legend on it while looking at Booth; “I love you.”

Booth to Brennan, speaking of her parents, but maybe thinking of some of his own experiences: “It’s hard to trust someone who’s abandoned you.” Later he makes it clear to Brennan that Max deliberately allowed himself to be captured so as not to put her through another desertion.

Brennan’s about-face; before watching her mother’s video, in which the latter begs for forgiveness and understanding for a betrayal occasioned by love, she tells Cynthia Cole, “You threw away your own daughter. Why would I do you a favour?” But after the video, she goes to visit Cynthia and says that she understands that she did something apparently unforgiveable out of love. At which point ‘I love you’ comes full circle, as she hands Cynthia back the pebble.

Angela asks Hodgins if he wants her to change her name. What he replies is not only brilliantly sensitive and tactful, but also acknowledges his awareness of Angela’s needs and, I suspect, her power over him: “Do you want me to want you to change your name?”

Zack replies to Booth’s query as to why he has come to him for information about the Iraq experience: “You know more about duty and honour than anyone I know.” Of course, Booth has just proved this by identifying and then arresting Max despite his own ambivalent feelings about him.

The final moment of the season; abandoned at the altar by Hodgins and Angela, Booth and Brennan exchange a significant glance at each other and then look at the bewildered minister. “What do we do now?” asks Brennan.

There are some beautifully honest, often funny scenes between people who care about each other. Brennan might not believe in marriage, but when Angela, with guileless simplicity, asks her to be her matron of honour, she hugs her emotionally, says she feels honoured and vows to carry out her duties, without caring “how awful the dresses are”. Hodgins, on the other hand, gets a negative response from Zack (after finally managing to get him to say anything relevant) – later we learn that Zack has thought hard about this – if he is best man and then gets killed in Iraq, the wedding will always be a sad, not a happy, memory.

Cam’s evolved. The experiment team has come to her to ask permission for their little Spam aquarium effort, and she is relaxed enough to smile. “You get anything out of sea chimps,“ she quips, ”and I’ll buy you each a car!”

My ‘best bit’, apart from the adoring look on Hodgins’ face as he turns to greet Angela in the church, is the former’s meeting with Angela’s dad. He actually feels that this bred-in-the-bone Texan will want a formal request for his daughter’s hand. Billy, however, knows his girl, and comments drily that if Angela hears anything about this interview she will probably kill them both! His final, mystifying advice “Always play it in the key of G demolished” draws a Brennan quote from Hodgins, a wondering “I don’t know what that means..”

There are only a couple of things that irritate me about this excellent character study. One is that the whole build up to the wedding, and, indeed, to Zack's imminent departure, has been rushed and artificial, in contrast with the more natural development of Zack's personality and of the Hodgins/Angela relationship over the previous two seasons, and the other is its ludicrous denouement. Really, writers? This pathetic plot device claiming that Angela was legally married four years ago? How would she have forgotten something so recent? How can she claim she thought it wasn’t ‘real’, when there is proper documentary evidence? How is any of it believable (and of course it only gets worse in season 3)?