Now most people know that my favourite Bones eps are the theme-y ones. As has already been pointed out, this one has an important theme – belief in various forms, how it manifests in people, how it touches our lives. So, yes, I quite enjoyed it, in spite of the niggle that’s been gnawing at me incessantly since S1, i.e. that, with Arastoo’s various soul-barings and those of others, we probably know more about some of the interns’ backgrounds and experiences than we do about Hodgins’. Sigh.
I’m not convinced that anyone who killed a member of his family, for whatever reason, would leave the body engulfed in flames on an altar for all to view, nor that horn implants would be quite that obvious or successful, nor that, given a church fire, the clergy’s reaction would be to kneel down in front of it and pray. On the other hand, it made for some neat and imaginative filming and effects. I particularly liked the view down onto the altar from the crucifix – one sacrifice gazing at another, or the glimpse from heaven into the pyre of hell.
I also appreciated the Gothic quality and hidden corners of that magnificent asylum. Again, the visuals – wonderful. Sheeting rain and shadows climbing the staircase like the iconic Expressionist Nosferatu image. Very Dracula, even to the secret depths, which, ok, did not contain coffins, but were certainly a gateway into death. An electrocution that looked a lot like a crucifixion.
In a world of different manifestations of belief, no one can say for sure whether any are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘deluded’. Hence the asylum was a marvellous metaphor for human existence in many ways; people living together in a group yet isolated from one another by the worlds within their minds. We had inmates who believed that they were the incarnations of evil, of good and of healing; we even had an employee who believed he was doing good in some measure by supplying heroin. A grim world that turns our ideas upside down and transforms everything from safe empirical black and white into grey. Who’s to say that the inmates aren’t right? And who doesn’t think from time to time that society itself is a madhouse?
And is evil real and active, or is it simply the reverse face of good? Do we all carry the seeds of it, which frankly I feel is a lot more creepy and dangerous? Arastoo’s Great Satan was something he battled every day in himself, rather than an outside force; I guess the reaction of Hodgins and Cam was understandable if a little simplistic. But his explanation was indeed extremely moving, in the same way as Booth’s anguish at killing someone he could relate to as a father and a real human being.
To insert humour into all this darkness was a massive achievement in which TJ played no small part. The nunchuck scene and its attendant dialogue were hilarious. ‘Knock yourself out. I did.’ Lol! But of course he had some other splendid lines. My favourite was the plaintive, ’I don’t want to be the Great Satan, I just want to be a minor demon.’ And a thorn in everyone else’s flesh, obviously! Love the way he still has that childlike resistance to authority that sees him coming in to work in an ‘inappropriate’ T-shirt.
In the end, the driving questions behind this episode have to remain unresolved. It’s interesting, however, to contemplate the similarities in the way that belief drives both Brennan and Booth, though at first glance they seem to be polar opposites. Both may experience events that seem to teeter on the brink of true evil; yet both can wake from this abyss to face the new day, inspired by the fact that there is some order and beauty in the universe – no matter what the source.
word count: 661
"We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love." - Angela Montenegro