Author has written 14 stories for Bones, Saving Grace, and Closer.
I'm a former 'Bones' addict, beginning the painful withdrawal process.
I got hooked on ‘Bones’ because, yes, it was entertaining - and I love a kick-ass female lead (although that’s a redundant point, because Brennan doesn’t really kick ass anymore), but mainly because it appealed to me on a cerebral level. The cases were suspenseful (The Epps arc/'Aliens in a Spaceship') and moving ('The Boy in the Bush'/'The Woman in Limbo'/'Stargazer in a Puddle'/'The Boy in the Shroud'), and always had a significant impact on the team. The understated humour derived from the camaraderie between the characters ('The Man in the Fallout Shelter'/'The Man in the Bear'/'The Man with the Bone') and always seemed genuine; never contrived. The characters themselves were richly-woven and complex, and they evolved naturally and progressively in each episode. The writing was of a consistently high quality, intelligent and witty, and I had a real affection for – and could relate to - every single cast member, despite their unconventional quirks and foibles. Delving into their psychology was fascinating, particularly in respect of Brennan (I really felt like I ‘got’ her, and that’s part of what inspired me to pick up a pen in the first place), and it was compelling to watch Booth chipping away at her stoic façade, too.
I loved the supporting characters and relished every moment of their interaction, and Brennan & Booth had the most fascinating dynamic I’d ever seen – opposites on the face of it, but kindred spirits underneath it all; two damaged individuals searching for a real connection and learning to understand each other better than anyone else ever could. They had an amazing on-screen dynamic and the kind of earth-shattering chemistry that would re-define the Richter scale if you were to attempt to quantify it. However, back then their chemistry wasn't simply about unresolved sexual tension and taunting the fans with a constant stream of 'will-they-won't-they' gimmicks, it was about two people with painful pasts being drawn to each other, despite their differences; two people whose vastly different outlooks on life, when combined, could provide the ammunition to solve even the most complicated of cases. Their back-and-forth banter - and the juxtaposition of their respective ‘facts vs. intuition’ methodology - was riveting without ever becoming formulaic and, as the episodes wore on, BB developed a mutual respect and understanding for each other, even while they continued to push each others’ buttons. The burdensome load on their shoulders seemed to lessen in each other’s company and, as the parameters of their professional relationship continued to subtly shift, I found myself completely enchanted - which is really saying something, considering that I rarely become invested in heterosexual ships.
And yet my enjoyment didn't stem from wondering whether Booth was finally going to pin his partner against the wall and kiss the living daylights out of her; it stemmed from watching a woman who had been left so jaded and hurt by her traumatic past - a woman who sought refuge in a solitary existence and convinced herself that love was attributable to hormonal secretions and chemical imbalances because everyone she had ever cared for had walked away - find her soul mate and learn to trust again. And, despite my sexual preferences, I could see that the noble, stubborn and sensitive Seeley Booth was exactly what she needed - someone who would never betray her, someone who she could place her faith in without worrying about being misguided. Sure, he challenged her, disagreed with her, rolled his eyes at her social ignorance and lack of tact, but he was always there for her and - at least back then - accepted her for who she was and didn’t try to mould her into who he wanted her to be. I was watching a man who found his answers in human interaction and psychology, a man who looked to God for guidance, fall in love with a woman who contradicted all of his beliefs. And that was truly amazing.
And, somehow, all of this occurred in a context that also managed to focus on the intricacies of the other characters' relationships, the dynamics of a mismatched but cohesive team, and an overarching narrative that was always driven by intriguing and complex cases - cases where the victim was treated with empathy, cases which were never just about another day on the job.
The Brennan I fell in love with was a highly intelligent woman with a steep learning curve, someone who struggled to understand the finer nuances of social interaction, but made a valiant attempt to do the right thing regardless, a woman who distanced herself from cases because she “connected too much,” and someone who had innate empathy and a tangible sense of vulnerability lurking beneath the bravado. Self-preservation often took precedence, but there was no denying that every case left her feeling emotionally conflicted ('The Man on the Fairway'/'The Woman in the Garden'), and every betrayal cut her to the core ('The Girl in the Fridge'/'The Headless Witch in the Woods'). This was a woman who visibly struggled to reconcile her yearning to forge meaningful relationships with her crippling fear of loss and abandonment, and I found her both fascinating and oddly easy to relate to. I quickly grew to love her with all my heart, and every time those beautiful azure eyes became glassy with tears, I wanted to hug her and never let go.
Now, however, I can’t stand the Brennan who isn’t remotely attuned to her partner’s feelings (as per the first 30 minutes of ‘The Critic in the Cabernet’), the Brennan who is selfish, insensitive and hurtful (her comments to Booth about his parental inadequacies in 'The Bone That Blew,' her prejudices towards the Muslim intern in 'The Salt in the Wounds' - which seem even more inexplicable when she later goes on to treat Dr Tanaka with the utmost respect in 'The Girl in the Mask'), the Brennan who was willing to believe that Booth was a loser based on the supposition of a virtual stranger, despite her supposed objectivity and the fact that she had directly contradicted Jared's observations in the past ('Conman in the Meth Lab'/'The Wannabe in the Weeds').
Season 4 Brennan is apparently oblivious to the attraction that she was all-too-aware of in earlier seasons (see the tag scenes from ‘The Truth in the Lye,’ ‘The Boneless Bride in the River,’ ‘The Woman in the Sand,’ ‘The Girl with the Curl’ etc etc). The new version of Brennan often doesn’t even appear to have feelings because she compartmentalizes them all away – and while she used to do that occasionally in the past, the writers never made her appear wilfully ignorant; there was always something going on beneath the surface (i.e. in ‘The Man in the Fallout Shelter’ it’s easy to see that her killjoy attitude towards Xmas is a cover for the loneliness and painful memories she experiences during the festive season).
I don’t recognise the woman who has to be taught by Sweets how to read facial expressions as though her social difficulties are the product of Aspergers syndrome and not her painful past, or the woman who has to have lessons in how to conduct a successful interrogation when there have been countless instances of her utilising psychology effectively in the past; blackmailing Booth into working with her and knowing exactly what to say to get a rise out of him in The Pilot, figuring out the identity of numerous murderers and forcing them to confess (e.g. 'The Graft in the Girl'), persuading suspects to release their hostages ('The Woman in the Car'/'The Man with the Bone'). People don’t evolve backwards, and Season 4 Brennan is far more clueless and unsympathetic than the Brennan we encountered in Season 1. Old-school Brennan intuitively knew that Booth was hurting and reached out to comfort him in 'The Man in the SUV,' 'A Man on Death Row,' and 'The Soldier on the Grave,' not to mention agonising over how her findings might impact on him in the latter episode. She squared off against Booth to defend a terrified woman against his intimidation tactics in 'The Woman in the Garden,' and had so much empathy for Jose's plight that she paid for the funeral of his sister and father and got him to open up when Booth had written him off as a lost cause. Season 1 Brennan made Ambassador Olivos shed tears of gratitude with her compassionate words in 'The Boy in the Tree,' and had to struggle to withhold tears of her own when telling Amy Cullen: "Sweetheart, you're not strong enough" to fight off cancer. That Brennan showed such empathy and understanding for Sean Cook and coaxed him into revealing the identity of his foster brother's murderer in 'The Boy in the Bush,' and realised from non-verbal cues when she'd said something untoward and was instantly remorseful (her comments about Catholicism and having a child out of wedlock in 'The Man in the Fallout Shelter').
The Booth who I held in such high esteem was the best Agent the Bureau had on their books - considerate, sombre, intense, tortured; a man with a wry sense of humour that reared its head when things got to be a little too much, a man who was intelligent enough to hold his own while verbally sparring with his formidable partner, and a man who was aggrieved and angered by injustice. Now, I find it hard to recognise the goofball who licks his lips and experiences a craving for potato chips while surveying the body of a teenaged girl ('The Salt in the Wounds') and then goes on to shamelessly steal from a corpse and instigate an all-singing, all-dancing medley at a funeral ('Double Death of the Dearly Departed'); the man who cracks jokes at crime scenes and purposefully acts stupid to appease his partner’s social ignorance, the man who – like some kind of rookie - has to be guided through interrogations and told how to do his job by a shrink who may possibly be the most ineffectual character ever written, given that the writers have to invent a new (and highly unlikely) skill for him every week to make him appear remotely useful... hypnosis ('The Doctor in the Den'), helping car salesmen to better their technique ('The Bones That Foam'), inside knowledge of circus lingo ('Double Trouble in the Panhandle'), black metal bands ('Mayhem on a Cross'), the blues culture ('The Science in the Physicist').
I personally think the height of escapism is finding a show that speaks to you on a profound level, not a superficial one, and it makes me so sad and frustrated that ‘Bones’ rarely fulfils that criteria for me nowadays – especially when I’ve seen concrete evidence that the writers are capable of doing so much better. I didn’t sign up for slapstick or farce (‘Double Death,’ ‘The Bones That Foam,’ ‘Double Trouble,’ ‘Yanks in the UK’), cases that are treated like a joke and fail to resonate with the characters or the audience (with the sole exception of 'Conman,' ‘The Finger in the Nest,’ 'Mayhem on a Cross' and ‘The Girl in the Mask’), I don’t want to be subjected to a barrage of gimmicks – the hyper-analytical Brennan deciding to have a baby on a whim purely so Stewie can make a cameo, opting to browbeat Booth into giving her his sperm because she would rather have something that she's never wanted - a baby - than make a move on the man who she's desired for years, Booth himself. How very logical. Being transported to an alternate universe so Motley Crue can take centre stage, Booth having hallucinations just so David Boreanaz can play a game of ice hockey with his idol, giving the cast countless opportunities to play dress-up and act ridiculously OOC at the circus and in the AU episode, watching Brennan give up her once steadfast beliefs to become Booth’s ideal woman and lose all of the traits that made her such a unique character in the first place.
I actually don't think HH has any plans to get BB together in the foreseeable future (I've lost count of how many times he and the cast have alluded to the "Moonlighting curse") and I can only see what's left of BB's natural chemistry diminishing as the writers invent more and more outlandish scenarios to stall the inevitable. That's what they've been doing for most of this season - amping up the UST with countless gimmicks and then pulling back at the last minute. We’ve had BB getting up close and personal while sharing a trailer in 'Double Trouble,' Booth throwing Brennan up against the wall in ‘The Science in the Physicist,’ Brennan fumbling around Booth’s crotch for his cell phone, two scenes where Booth only seems to have a bad back so Brennan can press herself up against him to fix it (because it didn’t seem to bother him when he was wrenching that door open during ‘The Hero in the Hold’ and when he was lifting weights in ‘The Salt in the Wounds’), Booth forcibly evicting Brennan from the diner in ‘Cinderella,’ placing an arm around her shoulders and squeezing her half to death etc. That kind of chemistry, to me, is completely contrived - and all about lust and UST, not love. I think the writers are taunting (and will continue to taunt) the shippers by putting BB in forced situations where any other red-blooded couple would undoubtedly succumb to their attraction, or teasing us by suggesting that BB might finally confess their feelings ("What, you've never loved anybody and not told them?" “You believe that love is transcendent and eternal - I want to believe that, too” etc), and yet they never follow through. Worse still, they have the characters vacillating between awareness and cluelessness, struggling with their feelings one week vs being in complete denial/obliviousness the next. They're upping the ante, but I rarely see a beautiful love story anymore, just inconsistent, lazy, schizophrenic writing and a mass of contradictions. Given the lack of continuity and the fact that the majority of episodes show no signs of linear progression, it’s hard for me to accept that there’s any form of natural evolution going on between BB at all, and I think by the time they do get together (if they do), everything that was unique and special about their relationship will have been lost.
The tag scenes are engineered to create the illusion that Brennan and Booth are getting closer, when in actual fact, I think their relationship lacks the depth and meaning it used to be afforded. In previous seasons, the tag scenes were much more subtle but spoke of a deeper love and awareness, and better still, they developed from the fabric of the episode itself… ‘Jasper’/'There’s more than one kind of family’/’Mac ‘n’ cheese/ ‘Keep on Trying’ - there are countless examples, but they were all so intimate, and romantic. I didn’t see ‘sexual tension’ back then, per se… it wasn’t about lust and wanting to jump each others’ bones, but love, and wanting to forge a real connection. That’s what inspired me to write fanfic. Only a few eps this season have fulfilled that criteria for me. The rest have felt forced (‘The Skull in the Sculpture’), or gave me the impression that they came out of nowhere. Dealing with the relationship in this way doesn't resonate with me on any level.
People seem to think that being a true fan means taking whatever the writers throw at us with a smile on our faces and hanging on until the bitter end, even if what we’re seeing is an insult to our intelligence and goes against everything we learned in the past. I think being a true fan is respecting and loving the characters as they were originally written and expecting them to evolve in a believable and meaningful way, and being upset and frustrated when the writers butcher them beyond all recognition, ruin the integrity of their relationship and use the show as a platform for guest stars and ratings-grabbing stunts.
Wait and see doesn't wash with me any more. I feel like I've been playing the waiting game for most of Season 4 already; waiting for the writers to find their stride, make all of the cases mean something again and have an impact on the team, realise that slapstick is a poor substitute for intelligent writing and genuine wit, balance out the comedic elements with the emotional ones instead of vacillating between angst and farce and robbing us of any consistency in genre or tone, waiting for the characters to return to their roots (they did in a couple of sporadic tag scenes and for the duration of 'The Girl in the Mask'), waiting for some progressive and believable character development, waiting for the AU element of ‘The End in the Beginning’ to finish up so we could get back to the issues that really matter (we could have seen Brennan typing her concluding paragraph within the context of an episode that dealt with the harrowing fallout from Booth’s brain tumour, and it would have had just as much – if not more – of an impact), searching for some underlying profundity amidst the contrivances and the gimmicks. I'm all waited out.
This show once inspired me to spend months writing fanfic and weeks making fanvids, but now all I have left is bittersweet memories and an overwhelming sense of betrayal and disappointment. What I tried so hard to capture in my own work is being undermined by a crack team of writers and, as melodramatic as this may sound, I can't bear to watch the show - and Brennan and Booth's relationship - self-destruct any longer. I think the time has come where, like Brennan, I have to do the rational thing and try to distance myself from the joke that 'Bones' has, much to my despair, become.
My apologies for any creative endeavours that have been left unfinished, but I'm sure the more discerning viewers among you can appreciate why my inspiration - and motivation - has dwindled. 'Bones' used to provide a wealth of fertile material to work with; now everyone's been reduced to fanwanking, resolving missed opportunities and rectifying the writers' errors - myself included. I feel like Season 4 is mocking me for ever believing that Brennan and Booth’s relationship was extraordinarily special and deserved to be treated accordingly, and my stories now look like they're grounded in idealism instead of realism.
I'd like to extend a big and heartfelt 'thank you' to everyone who has taken the time to read and review my stories over the past year... and I hope many more old-school fans will stumble across them in the future, too.
PS - I'll also be removing some of my earlier efforts from the site. I've taken down 'Kindred Spirits' and 'The Blessed & The Damned' to date.
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