I actually "Angie" and "Hodgie" nicknames that popped up in s2. Brennan has always called her "Ange", so it didn't feel too odd. And she doesn't seem to mind--I'd be annoyed on her behalf if Angela had ever asked Hodgins not to call her "Angie" but it seems to be a genuine sign of affection.
I actually caught "Death in the Saddle" for the first time last night (I somehow managed to miss it completely first time through) and had the casting sides for series 4 in the forefront of my mind as I watched. And I think it's likely that when Hodgins is talking about his relationship with one of the grad students, it's likely not to be a death knell at all, but genuine frustration with the situation on a par with Angela's fears regarding the hypnotism thing in "Death in the Saddle".
I do worry a little about the writers throwing so many obstacles in front of Angela and Hodgins getting married, because I actually think that the steady progress forward and the knowledge that they being married will not change how engaging their stories are, or how much we invest in them as characters one iota. Because it's not about the "payoff" for me as a viewer at all. It's about watching the two of them on the journey. And married isn't the end of a journey--it's the start of a brand new one, which brings TONS of story with it. I think that knowing the Grayson story was meant to be played out in s3 helps give me perspective I wouldn't have had, if I'd come into s4 not knowing a lot of the production background about how the arcs in s3 were meant to go. I still cut them a ginormous amount of slack, for having to wrap up as much as they could in only 2 episodes. So it doesn't feel like the producers are playing cat-and-mouse, prolonguing the resolution of the Fiji Marriage Plot.
As for Hodgins and Grayson fighting--I think Jack will come out on top precisely because he and Angela love each other madly and for Hodgins, Angela is worth fighting for. It's not a possessive marking territory thing. She's not a posession, or a prize for one of them to win. It's genuinely believing that he'll lose the one thing that's precious to him if he doesn't fight for her. And being a guy, I don't think he realises that there's not at risk of losing her. He's probably threatened by Grayson because Grayson loves Angela and is stunningly gorgeous. And what geek hasn't looked in the mirror and thought "why would anyone pick me, over an Adonis?"
(other than the part where he has more money than God, but that would play into it too--because he wants to be loved for who he is, not the Trust Fund)
He probably doesn't have the kind of self-esteem to feel comfortable and secure in the knowledge that Angela loves him and chooses him 24/7. Which is why he needs the reminders. And the gentle reminder not to be a jackass. Getting dumped into the back of a garbage truck? I see it as a gentle reminder not to be a jackass and to trust in Angela and have a little faith in her, and their relationship. Not as the writers torturing Hodgins. And we love him, but he's still a guy and he'ss till going to do seriously dumb shit, because even the nicest guy on the planet will do moronic thigns blinded by a haze of testosterone, at least ocne or twice in their lives.
And this is also the guy whose last fiancee dumped him and married his best friend. And then cheated on said best friend. He has issues. I like that they're remembering those issues, and that backstory informs his character.
Rewatching parts of s2 last night, I noticed that despite Jack making the first moves (asking her out, asking her to move in, asking her to marry him) it has consisetly been Angela setting the pace of their relationship. Because for the first time, there are real emotional stakes, and she's ultra-conservative and cautious because she has something to protect. Unlike all her previous relationships (that we're heard about) she and Jack aren't casual. It means something to her, which is something I get the feeling she's never had before--because Kirk was the closest she came, and she still held back out of fear. With Hodgins, she held back because she was afraid of getting hurt, but she's given so much despite that fear. I think that's the lesson she learnt from Kirk's death. That being loved is terrifying, but loving in return is even more terrifying--but can be worth it.
And it's the fear to me that signals they have something real. Because you don't worry about messy office romances for the sake of being uncomfortable working with someone if they fizzle. You do genuinely worry about getting your heart broken only if your heart is truly at risk. And that's what sold me. Both of them are risking their hearts, in a very real way. Nothing casual about it. That's what makes them special too: the fact that Jack works very hard to be a great guy and the guy he believes Angela deserves, and he puts her first. He's, like, the perfect boyfriend. Oz from Buffy perfect. Wash from Firefly perfect. But that doesn't mean he's always right. It just means I find his characterisation consistent, even when he's wrong, and consistently endearing and charming. He drops the smarm and hits you with the sincere, and suddenly he went from "that cute Jack Hodgins who works in the lab" to "okay, wow. That was, like, stupidly hot" purely because of the truth in the performance and writing.
Okay, he bought her $3000 perfume after she'd asked him fit hey could stay just friends, but that's normal. He's a guy. Guys do stuff like that. And he's Hodgins. One of the things I love about him is how he doesn't give up. He looks for ways to say what he really feels in whatever way that he will be heard and understood, despite fear of rejection. In a totally non-stalkery way. That's part of what I love about the character. He's not afraid to put himself at risk, and he's not afraid of being who he is without apology. Whether that's not being afraid to cry, or giving Booth a bear hug, or asking Angela out because he can't imagine not at least trying. Bravado and all.
(plus it's cute when he gets called on the bullshit bravado he uses to cover his insecurities. The whole "That was a one time offer, baby" "Really? Huh." "What--no--what?" in The Girl With the Curl just charmed the pants off me. Seriously.)
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In a world full of Uma Thurmans, everyone has an inner Janine Garafolo who needs to be taken out dancing every once in a while.