Two Ducks in a Row: Bones “The Woman In White” Review
Rings. Kiss. Vows. Hitched. Two happy ducks in a row. At last.
Oh, my good Lord, they did it. With ‘The Woman in White’ Bones brought the gold in a wedding episode that was nostalgic, but not mawkish; sweet, but not sickeningly so; and emotional, but not melodramatic. In short, it was surprisingly satisfying. What made it so was how quintessentially Bones-y it all came together.
With numerous nods to details from their lengthy partnership, and despite a storyline riddled with emotional upheaval and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) were eventually able to find and focus on the only things that really mattered: that their chase was over, their ducks were lined up, and their vows were delivered. In doing so without breaking out of character or skimping on substance and humor, Bones fulfilled on the ambitious pinkie swear made months ago by the executive producers; a promise that the fans would get the wedding they wanted, but in a way that only Bones could do it.
When there’s this much hoopla surrounding a coupling—including an obnoxious number of previews, spoilers, interviews, and still shots—there are bound to be disappointments, right? Fine, but so much was done right in ‘The Woman in White’ that focusing on the picayune would be, well, petty. For example, we can digest the absences of Squinterns Fin, Zack, and Vincent Nigel-Murray (off making hot sauce, locked up in a mental institution, dead), but the absences of one Russ Brennan, Jared Booth, and Baby Christine were strange in retrospect. Not a complaint, just an observation. Next time you’re in an elevator with Hart Hanson, please ask him what the deal was with that, then come back and report to the rest of us.
Here’s what happened, and what went well.
‘The Woman in White’ opens with a wedding rehearsal being interrupted by tag-team cell phone ringers. The practice is presided over by guest star straight man and Emily Deschanel’s real life husband, David Hornsby, playing Father Harrow. Yeah, that took chutzpa. Despite skepticism (by yours truly) that Hornsby’s presence could derail the ambiance of this long anticipated make-believe marriage, the actors used the absurdity of the situation as a point of humor, turning what could have been awkward for all into a delightfully amusing farce.
The practice put on hold, Booth encourages the team to keep Brennan busy with the decades-old remains of an unidentified female while he picks up Parker (Ty Panitz) from the airport, discovers Max’s (Ryan O’Neil) muddy satchel full of suspicious greenbacks, meets with Aldo ‘If-Anyone-Has-Any-Objections-Keep-Them-To-Yourself Clemens at the church, and lights a candle in Christine Brennan’s name.
Meanwhile, Hodgins (TJ Thyne) starts a pool on when the nuptials will be cancelled, Angela (Michaela Conlin) presents Brennan with a old, borrowed, and blue Parisian hairpin to wear at the wedding, and Brennan callously blows her off as she single-mindedly focuses on the case despite various stages of undress, wet nail polish, and a head full of saucer-sized curlers.
Brennan’s floundering awkwardness during these scenes are highly uncomfortable to watch until you understand what’s going on. However, we have seen time and again that this is the behavior Brennan reverts to in times of intense duress. In season eight’s ‘Partners in the Divorce’, Brennan and Booth didn’t just banter as usual; Brennan froze while they fought like Rottweiler’s as they tried unsuccessfully to reconnect after her stint as a fugitive. Ouch. Most recently in ‘The Secret in the Proposal’, we saw Brennan and Booth at odds in the wake of Booth’s marriage jilt, with no clear way to put an end to the cycle of destruction. In then end, just when you think all is lost, the wonderful happens, and the two come together and recommit to their faith in each other.
In ‘The Woman in White’ Brennan’s stilted behavior at the lab borders on being forced and ridiculous until Angela confronts her—God bless Angela. Brennan emotionally confesses to Angela that her feelings about the wedding are overwhelming and confusing, but the case is something she understands, and that’s why she keeps going back to it. And now we understand.
The air cleared, Brennan mounts the laboratory platform, performs a cursory inspection of the remains, delivers several commands, and goes off with Angela to do girlie wedding stuff. Angela is touched, of course, and all is right with the world. That is, until the church burns to the ground, Parker spills Chicken Con Carne (?) all over his tux, the wedding is postponed, and Brennan goes back to working on the case.
It wouldn’t have been Bones without the crime quadrafecta: unrecognizable remains, a mysterious cause of death, a surprising motive, and an ill-fated killer. It would have been easy to skimp on the science with so much else at stake, but the details and delivery of the case’s progress was impressively substantial enough to make it believable.
This would not have been possible without a whole team of squints at the ready to attack the mystery. Enter Dr. Clark Edison (Eugene Byrd), Arastoo Vaziri (Pej Vahdat), Wendell Bray (Michael Grant Terry), Daisy Wick (Carla Gallo), Colin Fisher (Joel David Moore), and Dr. Oliver Wells (Brian Klugman). The sqinterns—called upon by Edison, Hodgins, and Cam to make it appear Brennan was not needed in the lab—provided a fair amount of humor as they competed for top dog distinction and bickered like a set of five-year-old brainiac sextuplets. This was also a good ploy to bring these recurring characters to the wedding location.
Next comes a cosmically ironic twist reminiscent of the modest young couple in O. Henry’s ‘Gift of the Magi’. In ‘Gift of the Magi’, a wife sells her tresses to buy a chain for her husband’s cherished heirloom pocket watch which it turns out he’d sold to buy a set of hair combs for her. The message of that story is about the lengths to which people will go to show their love for each other, and how priceless their love truly is.
In this Bones wedding episode, after the wedding postponement Booth despairs over being unable to give Brennan the white dress, the guests, the cake, the pomp and circumstance; all the fuss Brennan dreamed of as a young girl. Though he loves their everyday life, he knows how important it is to her that their wedding be an extraordinarily special day, not just a stop at the justice of the peace on the way to The Founding Fathers for free wings.
Brennan, on the other hand, believes Booth’s happiness requires a Catholic Church wedding. Devastated over the unavailability of a church at such short notice, Brennan allows herself to fall apart in her office, giving us an unprecedented view of her emotional commitment to Booth’s happiness.
Brennan and Booth finally come together in a tender scene where they each reveal they’ve been trying to make the other happy. Booth admits he’d be willing to wear elephant tusks and have a squirrel monkey do the wedding ceremony, (God bless that man) and Brennan says the only thing she cares about is that Booth is there with her (and she says she’s not romantic?).
Angela, the quintessential bridesmaid and the biggest B&B shipper, moves heaven and earth to arrange to have the wedding conducted at the Jeffersonian Rose Garden. How believable is this, really? Well, Hornsby, er, Father Harrow is most likely off fighting figurative fires, but they have Aldo ‘By-The-Power-Vested-In-Me-By-The-District- of-Columbia-And-The-Internet’ Clemens. The food and flowers had already been prepared for that day, and Hodgins pretty much owns the building. So … yeah, why not? I’ll buy that for a dollar.
The wedding back on and the case solved, the squints are invited to join in but must dress in period wear from a Jeffersonian History of Fashion exhibit. This was a strange and silly twist, however, it answered the challenge of getting those people to the wedding within thirty minutes wearing more than street clothes or lab coats. So … okay … let’s overlook the oddity of this development.
The vows were sandwiched between two slow-motion shots which added a creamy dreaminess to the proceedings: the walk down the aisle as Avalon ‘He-Sees-And Is-Dazzled-By-You’ Harmonia (Cyndi Lauper) sings a sultry version on ‘At Last’, and the wonderfully prolonged delivery of the first kiss as man and wife. The slow-mo was conducted at a speed which neither halted the progression, nor gave it a campy aura. I’m telling you, people, it’s a challenge to find much wrong with this episode.
Perhaps a first time viewer of Bones would find the vows quirky or silly. However, the Bones franchise made it clear in their promotional materials that these vows were written as a love letter to the faithful who have followed the show from time slot to time slot, year after year, and who will revel in the words encompassing the journey that brought them (and us) to this time and this place.
Not much more can be said to do justice to Booth and Brennan’s vows other than that they were perfect for who they are and what they’ve endured. There, I said it. Perfect. Booth tearfully spoke from the heart recalling when they first worked together and talked on the very spot where they stood to say their vows. He spoke of ducks and wars and serial killers and ghosts and snakes. His life’s smartest decision and greatest joy. And how the chase was over because they’d caught each other.
Brennan read from the note she wrote to Booth in ‘Aliens in a Spaceship’ when she thought she may never have the chance to tell him how he made her life messy and confusing and unfocused and irrational and wonderful.
So, there you have it, folks. Another very well-rounded Bones execution. For a show about the unlikely pairing of a sentimental cowboy sniper who believes in fate and angels and probably Santa Claus, and a brilliant exacting empiricist who vociferously eschewed the concept of marriage, calling it an antiquated ritualistic blending of familial obligations and property consolidation sealed by the delivery of one man turning over a woman to another like property, this was a coup well played.
So far this season we’ve had five truly outstanding episodes. There is no doubt that fans will continue, as they have for eight years already, to follow Bones all over the broadcasting schedule, even to Fridays when that occurs on the delayed new move date, November 15th, 2013.
Those who are up to date on all the promotional materials know that from the walk back down the aisle, Brennan and Booth live happily ever after … until Monday, November 4th* when Brennan and Booth go to Buenos Aires on their honeymoon and end up working a case with the local authorities in “The Nazi on the Honeymoon” (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
* Bones will air original episodes on Nov. 4th and 11th before moving to its new home on Friday starting Nov. 15, 2013.