Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Pain in the Heart

Brilliant, exceptional, episode. Emmy-worthy.

Written by Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan.

It's funny because since I knew that Hodgins and Sweets were still part of the cast, I was pretty sure they weren't Gormagon (though I was hoping Sweets would be and a recent tweet from DB saying that Booth was gunning for Sweets made me think that maybe the Gormagon story was still alive in current episodes). Yet, even though I also knew that Zach had left the show, I never suspected him.

When the show started, I figured Booth's funeral was someone's dream and Brennan would wake up thinking how close she came to losing him. I was surprised that it turned out to be real and don't actually like the comic way that was handled. Booth had been shot two weeks ago. While I think Brennan's initial response would be to numb herself to the pain and while her outbursts at the funeral were both in character and revealing of her feelings of guilt and regret, her angry reaction to finding out Booth was alive was played for laughs that I found unrealistic and unentertaining.

He said he assumed she didn't cry because she knew the truth. No kidding! She didn't have to cry, but at least she could be relieved to see him and we should have seen her heart jump, before we saw her punch him.

I also think that Booth and Brennan have already come too far for her to correct Sweets when he called Booth a loved one. Although she said that he was her "partner" and, as with Mulder and Scully, I think the word partner comes to mean a relationship as close as husband and wife, closer for the MSR, actually. So, in a way saying partner expounds on Booths' being a loved one rather than contradicts the notion.

I agree with Brennan that Booth should have personally told Brennan he was alive, rather than just put her on a list. But come on, where were his ex-wife and kid at that funeral? She should have caught on that it wasn't the real thing.

Also, why didn't anyone else show any particular joy at him being alive or anger at having been deceived? One moment Angela is telling Brennan that going to the funeral was one of the hardest things she's ever done (which seems a little much) and the next, she has basically no reaction to Booth being alive, other than to smile a bit.

The show is noteworthy for its humor and I applaud it, but it really hit on territory that was a little too serious and sacred to be played for laughs.

If I hadn't been mildly spoiled and known it wasn't Sweets (although I still had lingering doubt) or Hodgins (I never thought it was him), this episode would have had me tense throughout. As it was, I was on the edge of my seat. But the suspense would have been stellar if I'd been watching this first run. I'm sorry I missed that opportunity. The episode was already basically a 10 for me, I can't imagine how much more my appreciation would have been enhanced, if I'd approached it entirely unspoiled.

I am enjoying the Booth, Brennan, Sweets trio a bit more and chuckled when Sweets insisted that they were deliberately not commenting on the fact that he'd been on tv (for the Gormagon story), but I was livid when it was revealed that he decided not to tell Brennan that Booth was alive. He said he did it for security reasons. If the FBI thought it was ok for Brennan to know, what right has he to think otherwise? Booth believed that story and should have been more upset and indignant on Brennan's behalf and sorry for what she went through. He didn't seem to much care, except to the extent that her not knowing made her grouchy. If not for that, whether she thinks he is dead or not doesn't seem to phase him.

I was so relieved when Brennan told Sweets that she knows when she is being experimented on and she said Booth would have beat Sweets up if he'd known the truth. Well, she's more violent than Booth. Why didn't she beat Sweets up? That's what Booth wanted her to do. I hate the fake feelings and frivolity that mark the first half of this episode. Yes, it's fun, but it undermines the characters in the end. Of course, the touching last half is remarkable. And I guess it's supposed to make you not take the earlier levity seriously. But if you do, you'd have to conclude that Brennan liked Zach a whole lot more than she does Booth.

Yes, the comment about Booth trying to force pie on Brennan as a form of seduction was funny. I wasn't sure that Booth heard what Sweets said, because he just came back and told them to stop talking. He didn't react to what they had been talking about. But later in the diner when he refuses to get pie himself, much less try to ply her with it, we see that he did hear and it's hilarious. It's not that the jokes in the show don't work. They really do. It's just that some of them shouldn't be there, perhaps.

Brennan coming into his apartment and walking into the bathroom was not as funny as the writers probably thought. It was just too ridiculous. But I did like Brennan commenting on the fact that Booth didn't react to her presence with modesty. He didn't cover himself up -- much. Her noticing it kept me from having to complain about that. Brennan's unfiltered outspokenness is really a distinct character trait and Hanson should be proud of his creation. I find her quite original. I like Emily. If I loved her, I might think as much of Brennan as I do of Scully. Booth is not as unique as Brennan, but DB is so funny that Seeley is easily a stand out among tv FBI agents and police officers. When Hodgins tells him that he expected to see more ex-girlfriends at Booth's funeral and Booth says, "so did I" I'm bowled over. It's a throwaway line. It's over in a second and Booth's facial reaction is just to raise a brow, but DB does it so smoothly. His comic timing often rivals that of great comedians.

When Sweets says that Hodgins might be the killer, Brennan objects and insists it could just as easily be her. Sweets says no, because of her deep emotional tie to Booth. Well, it's fine that he is ribbing her about that emotional tie, but it's stupid, since Hodgins is ENGAGED to Angela. So, that should exonerate him too, especially since he's much more social than Zach. I can see why Zach didn't occur to me, but why did the psychologist miss him too, since he exhibited a lot of loner, serial killer traits. He even discussed his social isolation when he came back from Iraq. I guess they intended to make him the killer even then. It's been a theme since the show started. Why would Sweets not suspect him immediately? I can see that the hand explosion probably threw them all off, but Sweets should have been looking askance at Zach even before Gormagon's latest move.

In the hospital room when Hodgins gives Zach the painkiller, which shuts him up, I really don't think it would work that fast. And even if I didn't know that Hodgins was still with the show, I don't think that would make me suspicious of Hodgins. Too obvious.

As for the denouement: it was artful. Brennan realizes that Zach must have known that Gormagon didn't use dentures and that the teeth were real. She says this, but Cam doesn't realize the full import of her words. When she's in her office and says it to Booth, even though I knew where her mind was headed back in the lab, to hear her speak the truth aloud still hit me, as does the time it takes for Booth to catch on. Zach is so far off of his radar that it has to be spilled out. Zach lied. "Why would he do that?"

Cam's the same. Even though Brennan's reaction in the lab should have clued her in, when Booth comes to the door of the hospital room and says he needs her to leave, I got a chill.

The confession was perfection. Booth says he needs a name. He is urgent, impatient. Would he have threatened Zach, if Brennan hadn't been around? Or would he have remembered how Zach always looked up to him and played upon that? Well, I didn't initially think that would be an option because I guess I didn't know that Zach would still be himself. I thought he would be a killer who had tricked them all and wasn't really the man they believed they knew. I didn't know that he would be unmasked as just the Zach he'd always been, though a murderer. As she approached his bed, I thought that Brennan would react with anger and betrayal (an extreme version of her anger with Booth over his faked death), with a "so you fooled me" attitude and go cold towards Zach, but the way she did just the opposite, but while still playing to his logical side was very moving. The greater good is more important than one human life right. Then why did he risk everything just to avoid hurting Hodgins. By the time she gets to that point, I gasp a little (and I think Booth does as well). His love for Hodgins means something.

It doesn't mean I hold him less culpable. Um, they all think he was a victim and want things to go easier for him, but HELLO. First of all, I never thought his mind was that weak that he would succumb to a homicidal mastermind. Second he's not that much of an unworldly loner. He came from a big Michigan family. His family loved him and even if he didn't have friends, he grew up interacting with other humans. I don't think he would be such easy mental prey. Third, he didn't just fall victim (or apprentice) to an ordinary killer. This guy was a CANNIBAL. Even if he only targeted people who were part of a secret cult hurting society, like the lobbyist that Zach killed (aha, so Zach is the one who jumped out of the closet at the end of the last Gormagon episode, which was really effective), how can you believe that the murderer you've chosen as master is really out to help the world, when he is eating dead human flesh every night?? I mean, Agatha Christie made both Hercule and Miss Marple killers in their last novels. They did it because they knew the suspect would have gotten away with the crime and they were the only ones who could intervene. I might not have approved of Christie's decision, especially to have both of her series' lead characters do the same thing, but I understood the rationale and I suppose Captain Hastings understood too. But if Hercule Poirot had sliced up his victim and fried him up for dinner, I think Hastings would have been horrified.

It's not the murder or association with a serial killer that should have turned Zach's friends off, but the alliance with a crazy cannibal. How do you fall under the thrall of a loony pervert like that? Maybe the audience could have given Zach an out as the characters did, had Gormagon been any less . . .gormy.

The ending was fine, but anticlimatic, almost pedestrian, compared the hospital confession, peaking when Brennan pressed her forehead to Zach's and he laid out the details of what he'd done with their mouths nearly touching.

Cam says forget Zach and Sweets points out that she's lashing out angrily only because she cares. It makes me think of my failed hopes for a Cam/Zach romance. I do remember when Cam wanted Zach off the team, but Brennan fought for him. She thought he would not make a good trial witness, could not engage enough with the jurors. The past episodes do play in nicely with the revelation of Zach's crimes. I'm glad they didn't rewrite history to make him bad the whole time, but let us know he was only approached by Gormagon a couple of months ago. Since we know he had emotional problems in Iraq, we can say that he was particularly vulnerable then. Might even have been suffering from PTSD. So, I can really accept him being a murderer as consistent with the continuing story -- just not maneater's assistant.

Constituting Zach's prized possessions were the gifts that he had gotten from them. I guess the writers want us to forget that big Michigan family, who loved Zach and were loved in return. Brennan says she never gave Zach anything. Hmmm. I bet if I rewatched the series, there'd be a Christmas show or something when she gifted him with a token. When he left, when he returned. I bet she gave him something, but I'll take their word for it for now.

Great show. I trust this made their emmy reel for that year. Although, I'm not sure you could appreciate how well-written this script was unless you'd been a longterm, regular viewer of the show and understood all of the characters. You need that background to fully grasp how expertly all the pieces of humor, affection and suspense were so seamlessly fused together. The combination makes a pièce de résistance.

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