BONES 10×21 Debriefing: “Life is Essentially Uncertain”

(c) FOX

Having the penultimate episode of the season deal with the murder of a yoga instructor was clever. Among many things, the discipline allows you to control your body and mind, through breathing and relaxation techniques. This episode is in many ways doing that for the audience: it’s calming in its resolutions, reminding us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

There are times in life when you get through a rough patch and you barely have a respite before being hit with something unexpectedly worse — but you dig deep within yourself and eventually grow as a result of it. This has been true of the show this past season: for such a normally joyous and escapist show, this season of Bones has been pretty gloomy. Yes, there was a stretch hallways through in which the sadness wasn’t as present (with some actual relief in the middle), but the heartbreaking third seems to be approaching its end, just in time for the finale to shake it all up.

In this episode, how do the characters deal with the past year’s trauma? Booth is about to celebrate his 30-day-sober milestone and working hard to regain Brennan’s trust. Hodgins and Angela are actually putting the money where their dreams are and moving to Paris.

Before I make this way too long, let’s recap Bones 10×21, “The Life in the Light.”

Yoga Beard

A body is found when a fire at George Washington National Park is finally extinguished after three days. The victim was a caucasian male, mid to late 30s; the fixation to the right tibia and fibula suggest heavy motorcycle accidents. Particulates under the fire retardant indicate the victim was doused in gasoline, meaning he was the source of the fire.

Angela’s facial reconstruction finds a match in the criminal database: Micah Stanbow, who used to be part of a small biker gang. During his questioning, Dale Brock, the recently-released leader of that gang, reveals that Micah got himself in a gnarly wreck six years ago, one that left him unable to ride a bike again. He also shares he hasn’t seen Micah in years.

(c) FOX

(c) FOX

Back at the lab, Angela finds that the bracelet the victim was wearing has the word ‘warrior’ in Hindu engraved on it and, in turn, also finds out Micah led a yoga class himself. (He actually co-owned the studio with his girlfriend.) Brennan and Booth investigate this further, interrogating his girlfriend Nan after one of her yoga classes. According to her, Micah was in a silent retreat at the time of death, which is why she didn’t report him missing.

Meanwhile, Hodgins is looking into the victim’s sandals, particularly its threads, to see if they can retrieve the steps he took; also, Cam informs Hodgins and Angela she’s just found evidence Micah was dragged into the woods, not followed. On the bone side of the equation, Wendell finally discovers a relevant fracture in the victim’s left zygomatic with radiating fracture lines, which indicates this is a peri-mortem injury (he was hit in the face) caused by rounded object — but this was not the injury that killed him.

Later at the FBI, Angela uncovers pictures of what seems to be Micah’s lover– Elizabeth Collins, a student of his. Aubrey brings her in, providing interesting tidbits, like the fact that Micah and Nan had an open relationship or that Micah had helped her keep her anger issues in check through breathing exercises.

The following morning, Brennan finds some defensive injuries in Micah’s limbs, suggesting he fought with his killer. Moreover, Hodgins uncovers traces of aluminum in the damage to the victim’s cheek that Wendell found, meaning he was hit with an aluminum cylindrical object.

Booth and Aubrey pay a visit to Nan to find more about their open relationship arrangement. She tells them how it worked for them and directs them to Danato, an artist and previous lover. Coincidentally, the only out-of-place element Hodgins finds in the sandal back at the lab is oil paint, which Angela quickly determines is two more days from curing. Thus, Micah must have stepped on this on the day of his death. Sure enough, Booth and Aubrey visit Danato, whose face looks beaten up. The catch? The wounds were caused by stumbling down the subway stairs. Danato  envied what Micah had with Nan, but was good friends with him; plus, the reason his friend had dropped by that fateful day was to show him some yoga poses to ease his pain — however, Micah got a phone call and left before they got started.

Back in the bone room, Wendell determines cause of death! He bled out due to a transection to the femoral artery, as a tiny nick in the left femur indicates, caused by a wide, V-shaped incision (a wide-angled blade). Moreover, he finds more nicks to the left-side ribs 5 and 6 and the right humerus, but the difference between them points to three different blades.

Where did Micah go after Danato’s? Social media holds the answer once again, Angela and Aubrey find where Micah biked after Danato’s home: Nat’s Place, where he met Dale. The just-released felon was asking for a favor: $20,000 to pay off his child support bill and start things right. Micah had agreed to do it, but never showed up at the bar again.

(c) FOX

(c) FOX

Back at the lab, the ladies start speculating the victim might have been pushed through an aluminum window frame. Angela concocts a scenario:  the aluminum frame was 2 by 4 feet long, and the victim was holding the back of his head. This latter fact inspires Brennan to look closely at the back of the skull, leading her to find a slight depression fracture caused by the corner of a blunt instrument. Meanwhile, Aubrey has found that Micah had the 20 grand, but that was also all the savings he and Nan had. Plus, the particulates found in the depression fracture correspond to Tibetan bamboo, like the tablet covers they sell at the yoga studio. Finally, Booth realizes the lawn furniture set at Nan’s place was missing a coffee table with the exact measurements they were looking.

Therefore, Booth and Brennan bring Nan in for questioning and she refuses to admit the truth– she hit him with the tablet, after which he fell through the glass coffee table. Not only did she dispose of the body, but she also got rid of the table. However, the repeated blows to Micah’s head caused the tablet to start recording — a video that they conveniently  find on her Cloud account. After watching the incriminating video, she confesses to doing it because he was going to give all their money to a criminal. Brennan does correct her: he was helping a friend rebuild his life.

Life is Essentially Uncertain

The worst part of the storm is over: Booth and Brennan have reconciled.

Much like the entire storyline, I’m sure this resolution stirred up some controversy and dissatisfaction by its choices. (I cannot think of something that has had that effect since the beginning of season 6, or certain things in the Pelant arc.)  I’m also aware a lot of people will be happy — especially since Booth and Brennan will be back together (no one likes to see them apart). Depending on who you ask, this angst-ridden storyline is either their favorite story in a long time or another contrived, annoying plot point whose ending put the characters back to square one. I don’t judge either position, but I’ll say I’m pretty thankful the show has committed to this storyline and didn’t back down from its ugliness; it has particularly shaken things up and moved the characters along to some places.

That first scene is probably as awkward and painful as they probably intended it to be, but it gets the point across: while they still very much love each other, Booth and Brennan are unsure of how to act around each other. They all want Booth to stay home, but it is still hard because those lies still sting. It’s understandable, though: Brennan is someone who mostly makes decisions when the facts all add-up, and as much as her heart wants her to say yes, her brain reminds her of his betrayal. It’s an interesting conundrum: there is no guarantee Booth will not gamble again, but has he mostly beat that addiction?  Booth takes the weight off her shoulders and does not make her say no to him staying over in front of Christine.

Booth is actually about to celebrate a big milestone at GA: 30 days sober — he will get an engraved chip and a celebratory cake, and in turn must give a speech. He brushes its importance off, much to Gavin’s surprise. As the sponsor says, victories should be celebrated, despite the life-long work you have to do to keep this disease in check. Booth has high standards for himself and where he wants to be, so he just wants to keep it within the group, without bringing Brennan in. When she later hears about it from Gavin, who asked about what cake flavor preference Booth would have (a very sneaky way to inform Brennan), she’s upset he didn’t share that with her, since it also concerns her. That doesn’t last long. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

Despite these two instances, their interactions are very comfortable and aren’t as awkward from this point forward.

Firstly, they go to interrogate Micah’s girlfriend together, discussing Micah’s past and obviously more at ease with each other than they’ve been in awhile — Booth even teases her a bit. At the studio, she even rubs his arm when he cracks a joke, getting Nan’s attention. Compared to their awkward hug-kiss the night before, this is a step forward.

(c) FOX

(c) FOX

Their next scene together is at the Diner, where they lose track of time enjoying each other’s company, having some dinner and pie for over two hours. It’s obvious they are entranced and having a good time; had Max not called to remind them it was after 10, they could’ve gone on. I couldn’t not think of all those evening dinners and post-case drinks earlier in their relationship and how similar they were to this. As last week’s episode reminded us, the foundation for their relationship comes from their friendship. They might be a family now, but years ago, it was hard to not see them a life-long companions/partners (even if it never turned romantic), so having a scene echo that shows their progress in their way back to each other. Moreover, they were both so happy— this is the most we’ve seen them smile since the arc began, so watching Brennan crack a joke or two, or Booth promise she’ll soon be living in a world governed by his rules of Physics… it was heartwarming. Since she needs to get home, he promises to pick up the tab; the awkwardness resurfaces momentarily as she leaves, mostly because they both wish he was going home.

So yes, things are on track! Brennan wants to be the one who informs him about the case updates, instead of a surprised Cam. However, things sour a little when Cam’s comment makes her realize that maybe she should’ve been invited to the celebration of Booth’s big milestone. She probably didn’t make much of not being invited, but is upset at learning about it — she’s been affected as much by this and thus also deserves to be there to celebrate his accomplishment.

Thus, she ends up showing up at the meeting. Before she gets there, though, Gavin gives a short but succinct speech on how Booth is a class act and a true representation of what this group should strive for. Booth, in turn, thanks everyone in the room for their help, since he couldn’t have done it without him — and is unable to get anything else out when he sees Brennan. Though she initially updates him on the case, she’s actually coming to take part in his small victory here, even if Booth is underplaying his progress by saying he still has a long ways to go. As she sweetly corrects him, they’re in this together and thus, they both share the respective challenges and victories.

Back at chez Booth after the case is done, Booth is finishing reading his fifth book to Christine before she goes to bed. Before leaving for the night, Booth suggests to his wife he could come a couple of mornings the following week to take their daughter to school, but is met with a visibly shaken and emotional Brennan. She doesn’t really answer but does ponder what is going to incite him to stay sober, if being out of the house is his current motivation (one of the things, according to him). His answer to this? Knowing that he won’t have a second chance if he screws up again. For the second time that day, Brennan decides to go with her gut instead of logic: she has faith in him. Plus, life is uncertain: if we waited to be sure about something, we might never act on it. Therefore, he should spend the night with her and he agrees with her — they both know she doesn’t mean one, but every night; they are finally on the same page, and will face any other challenge together from now on.

She’s come so far, and Emily Deschanel’s nuanced performance continues to be so, so great.

Hodgins et Angela vont à Paris !

(Please, excuse my French.)

Oh, Billy. Billy, Billy, Billy. What were you thinking when you named your poor daughter Pookie Noodlin

Yes, indeed. Bones finally revealed Angela’s real name and, as you can read, it’s as cringe-worthy as you might have imagined. When Hodgins finds Angela’s passport in her desk — she needs to renew it if she is one day going to move there — he also finds the piece of information Angela’s been hiding all these years. Angela likens it to something you’d name a pet you hate, but Hodgins is still the best, sweetest husband ever and makes her feel better. (However, I snort every time he declares his love for her by using her real name. Sorry, Angela.)

(c) FOX

(c) FOX

After hearing that declaration, Hodgins decides to start looking into Parisian real estate again, even asking an unsuspecting Angela what home was the one they liked a few weeks back. Later, in the same setting, as they relish how good a team they are, he shows her the pictures of the home to inform her that the dream is now a reality. The house is now theirs — she seemed ready, they’ve been at the Jeffersonian for ten years and deserve to see “something new, to live a new life.” This is the end of their dream talk and the start of actually making good on them. Seeing them so happy makes me happy.

However, not everything’s rosy: leaving Brennan and the rest of their friends behind is a downside to all of this. She is reticent to move if Brennan needs her because of all her personal trouble, though the anthropologist reassures her Booth and she are going to be fine. Brennan is surprised by Angela’s bold move: as she has a career in DC. However, Angela replies this was only meant to be temporary and she’s been here longer than she expected to be — she doesn’t want to know everything in her life, she wants to be surprised by it. This forces Brennan to admit that she also wants that and that she didn’t think she’d be there for as long, either. The hug is so heartfelt and the range of emotions in Brennan’s face is great.

As much as I loved the scene between Angela and Brennan, the Hodgins-Angela scene with Cam at the end was fantastic. The married couple, particularly Hodgins, is wistful about the lab and the big changes ahead. As they toast to that, Cam appears to check on what they needed to tell her. It’s amazing how much Tamara Taylor conveys with the looks on her face: she’s already fearful of what her friends are going to say to her when Hodgins offers her the beaker with wine, but the heartbreak and sorrow at the realization of what Angela is about to announce when she brings up her dream of living in Paris?

Let’s toast to change, indeed.

I truly enjoyed this episode, because it was evidently the light at the end of the tunnel. Having a man who had escaped a life of crime (by accident), rebuilt his life (by teaching yoga, of all things) and was now adored by all his friends was an interesting choice because of some of the thematic parallels involved in there, especially in the resolution. The case as a whole was interesting even if I suspected of the girlfriend once it became obvious she was the only one to mention the silent retreat.

On the personal side of things, we have a storyline that’s winding down and another one that is back at full steam.

Hodgins and Angela’s decision is not unexpected. Most of the team has struggled with the lack of control over some of the recent events that have affected them, and how it’s forced them to reevaluate the way they look at their jobs. Tonight was not the first time Angela mentioned the temporary nature of a position she’s held for over ten years, yet what drives her is not how unfulfilled as an artist she feels but the distress she’s seen her friends in. Paris has always represented the epitome of what she seeks — right now, it’s a fresh start far from the world of murder, where she discover new things. Now that they have the money, they have the financial stability to do this. However, there are already some doubts creeping in since she’s leaving more than her job here — her friends, especially Brennan, are here, and they are so important to her. While seeing Hodgins and her so happy about their decision was lovely, the scenes in which they tell their friends are really sad.

(c) FOX

(c) FOX

As that storyline is just beginning, the main part of the gambling arc is winding down: by the end of the episode, Booth is back home. While Booth had the bulk of realizations last week, Brennan had a small journey towards accepting there is no empirical proof Booth won’t relapse again and that she needs to trust her gut and Booth’s progress in this. Seeing her admit that out loud, as she asked her husband to stay the night with her, was extremely satisfying. They will still face challenges and Booth will have to work on keeping his addiction in check, but the worst part of it is over now.

I also enjoyed the fact that the initial awkwardness at home soon dissipated — it was delightful to see them have so much fun around each other, ignoring the passage of time and joking around… slowly getting their groove back. It’s clear Booth has been working hard and demanding a lot from himself, so much that he doesn’t believe the big 30-days-sober milestone was worth all that celebration — I wish that scene had been much longer, because I would have loved to see more of Booth at the meetings, and more of his recovery. Would this be thrilling TV, knowing a lot of the things he would say? Maybe not, since there might have been some repeated beats here and there… but I still wish we had seen some more.

I also have a lot to comment on the final scene, which  had interesting shadings and was part of the reason why I wish the storyline had spent more time delving into Booth’s psyche as he fought this addiction again. While we know what caused him to fall off the wagon, we don’t have an explicit mention of what his drive for recovery is. Brennan thinks it’s his family, but he explicitly said it was just one of the things — Booth’s a family man, always has been above all and it’s what he cherishes the most. I personally think he’s probably realized he was on track to make the same mistakes his father made, which is what he’s always worked hard to avoid. He’s also always strived to be a good man in spite of that and the burden of his sniper days, so disappointing his loved ones and losing himself to this probably affected him profoundly, even if he was in too deep to realize so. Yet, I cannot be completely sure: Booth has always been a guarded character whose internal thoughts have been up to interpretation, but he’s definitely grown.

Furthermore, I remember wondering back at the start of the arc whether Brennan was his motivation back in the day but I still hit the same wall: without knowing anything about what a gambling addiction entails, I feel that if Booth beat it 10-11 years ago, it was not just because of a person he was infatuated with that he wasn’t even sure he’d ever see again, but the feeling she had awaken within him to be a better person (maybe realizing his current lifestyle wasn’t for the best); thus, I don’t think family is the only motivation he has now. A big one?  Yes. The only one? Hm. I can definitely see why some people would argue against this, but there has to be more. I feel like Brennan’s assumption is a good example of what the characters say not being necessarily reflective of how the writers feel about something (in this case, Booth’s motivation), but what the character thinks or perceives.

As for what the arc’s meant, it’s supposed a big shift in the control vs. stability  balance that the writers have used to establish the reprioritization theme for the year. (See more in last week’s recap and the original post that put it all together for me.) Booth and Brennan have overcome the biggest hurdle between them— it’s only appropriate it was something so personal, since your own demons are always more difficult to fight and overcome than something external/outside of your control. It’s definitely allowed them to reflect on their lives as they are right now, and if anything, Hodgins and Angela’s decision might be a kickstart for them to follow suit. Just because there are no obvious consequences right now doesn’t meant there won’t be, at least on a character level— one of the show’s strengths lies in their characterization and their evolution, as showcased by how Brennan (particularly) has dealt with this, which I continue to admire. I mean, she’s now at a point where she lets her heart lead in more than one aspect of her life, and I find that to be beautiful.

Anyhow, enough rambling from me. There are probably many things I have not discussed, and things I probably missed in the episode. I really enjoyed the episode’s lighter tone and the ongoing, fantastic character work the show is known to do. Was everything perfect? No, but I have really liked the emotional arc these last few episodes (I value journey over destination, always) and how it’s contributed to the season’s arc as a whole.

Odds and Ends

  • I write this every week but apologies for the late recap. Blah blah blah, time zones; blah blah blah, taking care of someone with a broken leg. I hope you at least enjoyed my thoughts on the episode; I feel like I repeat myself or that I make no sense half the time. I promise I will work on becoming more succinct for next season’s recaps.
  • I am personally not sure how Angela was able to get married  if she didn’t change her name, but what do I know ? Or maybe a better question: why didn’t Hodgins notice it before? (Did she legally change it at 18 but it’s still a middle name of sorts?) Poor Angela, though.
  • Brennan’s look at Wendell when he questions whether she’s going with her gut is a thing of beauty, as is his reaction. I’ll also add Booth’s incredulity and Aubrey’s surprise, because they made me smile. She was obviously right, but it was delightful.
  • I’m shocked (shocked, I tell you!) Snapchat Peek-a-Pic stores all those pictures that should be deleted after someone sees them. Scratch that, I’m not.
  • Hope we get to see Gavin again next season. Loved his small role here. I crave more insight into Booth, and I’m a sucker for the characters’ past.
  • The fact this has all happened while Brennan was pregnant made it even harder to watch at times, knowing how happy they were about it. I also can’t emphasize enough how much I love Brennan and her evolution; it’s all paying off now and it’s wonderful. It’d have been so easy to blame any breakdown on the hormones but they didn’t. (When she was visibly upset, it was heartbreaking, though.)
  • Knowing they shot these episodes not knowing if they would come back (definitely hoping they would) adds an extra layer to all the sad parts.
  • Everyone knocked it out of the park, performance-wise, this week.
  • Next week: the season finale, now once again titled “The Next in the Last.” Here’s the promo (I have a million questions about it, but seeing Cam upset while talking to what seems to be Arastoo is upsetting me) and the stills for the episode.

… is a young graduate student that has been way too passionate about television ever since she was little. While she insists she doesn’t have a specific type of show, they all usually have strong but flawed lady characters, some derivation of the stubborn friends-in-love/friends-to-lovers trope, and they all make her yell at her tv a lot. She just wishes she had more hours in the day so she could actually write about this.
You can usually find her on Twitter, Tumblr, and at cassidy at

2 Responses to BONES 10×21 Debriefing: “Life is Essentially Uncertain”

  1. Good point with the case. It reminded me a tumblr post I read a while ago about the theme of this season being control and stability, and it definitely came to my mind while I was watching the episode.
    I truly enjoyed this episode so much. The character side of it was brilliant, from writing to acting. Brennan and Booth, Angela and Hodgins, the case and all, even the less important small moments. You talked great about the big plots, and mentioned the small moments too. It’s true there would be so much to discuss. But long story short, it was a fantastic episode, one that goes on my list of favourite episodes of S10 and ever, too.
    I especially love the part where you talk about Booth and his motivations etc. I would certainly love to be able to read Booth better, but there is only so much they can do in one or two episodes. And who knows, the show is not over! Yay! We have time to learn more about Booth.
    Anyway, this was a very well done review. 🙂

    • Cassidy says:

      I referenced that post last week as a major eye opener for me. I really saw the signs there but never put it all together until I read it. I’ve now added that post here again, too. It’s been all over the season, and it keeps coming up. Good point about it being related to the case, though! It’s definitely there, haha.

      So did I! Really, really liked it so much; definitely one of my favorites as well.

      That motivations part was inspired by my utter frustration this morning because it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot over the course of this arc. I can see why some people argue otherwise, but it seems like there has to be more than that. I am sure they’ll reference this from time to time.

      Thank you so much!! You should get a cookie for reading this monster of a post.

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