Thursday, May 25, 2017

Throwback Thursday - Bones - Aliens in a Spaceship - Review and Episode Awards

Note: I was originally going to review the Farscape pilot, only to learn partway through that it had already been covered. So I turned to a genre that gets a bad rap on SpoilerTV…the crime procedural. While all crime procedurals have a typical episode layout, not all shows are created equal and definitely not all episodes are created equal. Here's one of my favorites.

Bones - 2.09 - Aliens in a Spaceship

Summary : 

When Brennan and Booth are called to investigate the discovery of possible alien bodies, they come into the path of a brilliant criminal. Brennan quickly surmises that there is nothing extraterrestrial about the case, but instead two teenage brothers were locked inside an airtight container, which was then buried. It's the MO of an anonymous kidnapper called The Gravedigger, who only sends coordinates to locate the missing after the ransom is paid. Thus far, no one has found any evidence as to whom The Gravedigger is so Brennan's team takes up the challenge. Before they can get too far, both Brennan and self-proclaimed "King of the Lab" Jack Hodgins are kidnapped by The Gravedigger and buried alive in a car. There's only 12 hours for the rest of the Jeffersonian team to find Brennan and Hodgins before they run out of air.


The Countdown - The episode has a built in intensity that most crimes do not have, given that the murder has usually already occurred. By only allowing the team 12 hours to solve a crime that no one else has in years and by taking away 2 key members of the team, it forces the others to rely on their strengths but also to think outside of the box, something that makes intern Zack Addy very uncomfortable. When Hodgins and Brennan are able to send out one 8-character text, the team must decipher not only what it means but who the message was intended for. Usually Brennan takes the focus in the lab work and she often finds the all-important clue. By taking her out of the equation, it allows the others and in particular, Zack, to really shine.

Brennan and Hodgins - The shortened clock also allows for Brennan and Hodgins to make an uncharacteristic emotional bond quickly and still be believable as well. Up to this point in the series, Brennan generally had extended screen time with Booth and Angela, but not many others. This is the first real extended time we have between Brennan and Hodgins and for me, they make the whole episode. Although both suffer memory loss, together they deduce that they were taken in the parking lot and that Hodgins was run over, leaving him with a severely broken leg. At first, the two are awkward together and it is obvious that for all the time they have shared a lab, they still do not know each other well. Brennan doesn't even know that Hodgins is rich, which leads to the best banter of the episode as Hodgins explains to Brennan that she's really not wealthy, even with her book sale money. However as the situation gets more dire, they bond. Hodgins admits his love for Angela and Brennan agrees to leave behind a goodbye letter just in case things do not end well. In their final scene together, Jack tells her that "it has been a privilege" and they hug. Anyone who knows early Temperance Brennan knows what a huge deal that is.

Serious MacGyver Time - While the non-buried Jeffersonians take the lead on the case, it is actually Brennan and Hodgins that work together to save themselves. I like that Brennan is never a damsel in distress and these two never give up, combining their skills to do the impossible. Together, they find and then create fresh air to extend their time beyond the 12-hour deadline, rig a phone to send a message out, and manage to get themselves free from the buried car. Brennan even does a little leg surgery. For those who like Scorpion's inventiveness, this is the episode for you. While there is some out and out brawn in this episode, provided by Booth, the clear focus is the brains of the combined group.

4. The Ending - Nope, I'm not talking about Angela and Hodgins starting to hook up or any shipper leanings about the Brennan and Booth relationship. I'm talking about the non-ending. The Gravedigger gets away with it. The homicidal kidnapper is not caught until 2 seasons later. One of the biggest complaints about procedurals is how they are all the same. Crime - clues - red herring - arrest. I really enjoy how not only does The Gravedigger get away with it in this episode, but they still have very little clue about who the killer is. It obviously sticks in their craw as much as it did mine, because up through season 4 they sometimes make mention of how they are still working on the one that got away. To this day, The Gravedigger is one of my favorite episodic villains. According to IMDb, that was almost not the case. They apparently shot scenes with Janine revealed to be the killer but then decided not to use them. Smart move. I like how they left the episode open-ended and then revealed an entirely different villain later on. Janine would have been too typical and lessened the brilliance of The Gravedigger. It does now make sense though why she looks so sour at the end.

The Speeches - Let's face it. Booth knows how to deliver a good threat and a rallying speech. Nowhere is Booth's frustration at the ticking clock more apparent than when he threatens Vega. It's downright chilling. Then when things are at their bleakest and the countdown clock hits zero, Booth will not let the Jeffersonians give up. Yes, he's a little harsh in his manner but he's a ex-Ranger on a mission and his resolve bucks up the ever analytical Zack, who has started to feel the whole thing is a waste. I love how Booth reminds them that the countdown is just math and that Brennan and Hodgins know how to work the impossible, how he reminds them that they are all brilliant and that no one else can do the things that they can together. They're a team and they work together until everyone comes home. In the end, he's telling the troops to have faith like he has faith, which lead to….

Faith vs. Science - I generally hate when Hollywood brings God, religion, or faith into the discussion. The only 2 groups that Hollywood still gives itself permission to hate and ridicule is white males and Christians. You can see it every time they bring up religion. It's getting so whenever a crime procedural has a Christian character, you can pretty much be assured that they are an adulterer, thief, abuser, or murderer. Therefore, I was really nervous when Booth and Brennan start talking about faith in the beginning of the episode. Booth is a believer; Brennan is not. What works so well in this episode is that both sides are given some validity. In the end, it is Hodgins that questions Brennan's self-proclaimed "non-faith" as he explains that she does have faith, just that her faith is in Booth and the people of her team. On the other side, the experience in no way changes Brennan's opinion about God as she tells Booth in the church where he stops to pray. It's a good reminder that the two sides are not enemies and quite frankly they have more in common than people admit. It does not have to be faith vs. science. You can believe in both.

Overall, I think this episode is a strong example of how a crime show can be a procedural but still have relevance. You don't have to have a serialized storyline to have strong character development or to delve into deep subjects. The best procedurals remember that while an episode is often built on the back of the case, the show is always built on the back of its characters. By mixing up character interaction, adding internal intensity, and taking characters out of their comfort zone, viewers get to see their favorite characters in a new light and watch those characters grow. No matter whether it's procedural or serialized, that's just good TV.

Episode Awards:

Best Reason to Watch / Best Character Interaction - Brennan and Hodgins
Best Scene - Hodgins tells Angela that he's too afraid to sleep in a moment of pure vulnerability
Best Snark - Booth, especially to those he feels are capitalizing on the misfortune of others
Best Character Background and Development - Hodgins
Best One-Shot Character - Agent Sanders, who is obviously still traumatized by the death of the twins
Best Trivia - I stopped watching Bones long before it's finale, but apparently Bones read the note she writes in this episode on her wedding day.
Best Quote - Brennan: "If we're less than 4 feet beneath the surface, this charge could blow us to freedom." Hodgins: "And if we're buried more than 4 feet deep?" Brennan: "Then the concussion will turn our brains into jelly." Hodgins: "Well then we can run for Congress so it's a win-win."
Biggest Douche - Vega
Biggest Aww Moment - Brennan and Hodgins hug before making their last ditch effort at escape
Biggest Joker - Hodgins, even in dire situations
Biggest Surprise - Brennan initiates the hug with Hodgins
Most Heartwarming - one brother gives his life to help the other / the father learns that he could not have possibly prevented his sons' deaths, even if he had paid the ransom
Most Disgusting - unsterile leg surgery in a car
Most Kick Butt - Booth, going after anyone in his way
Most Empathetic - Bones tells the father that his sons' deaths were peaceful
The "Welcome Back" Award - Benito Martinez from Supernatural, The Blacklist, HTGAWM, and American Crime / Julie Ann Emery from Better Call Saul and Major Crimes / Charles Mesure from Crossing Jordan, V, Desperate Housewives, The Magicians, and OUaT / Salli Richardson-Whitfield from Stitchers and Eureka

Great Quotes:

Hodgins: "No offense, and I'm not just saying this because you filleted me with a knife, we are out of air. We don't know if our message got out, much less if anyone understood it and we are buried underground. What you have is faith, baby. Sorry. The baby thing is a reflex."
Booth: "Man. Two kids, huh? I liked it better when they were aliens."
Booth: "I am not going to help you disrespect God in His own house."
Camille: "They'll fire you." Booth: "Oh, that's cool. One less reason to wear a suit."
Brennan: "I'm worried you have Compartment Syndrome." Jack: "Is that terminal? I mean within the next few hours?"
Hodgins: "There's something you don't know about me. I'm rich." Brennan: "Me too." Hodgins: "No, no, you're well off."
Hodgins: "Upside, me not breathing doubles your survival time." Brennan: "I'm not interested in surviving that way."
Brennan: "Oh thank God, I didn't kill you."
Brennan: "What are we surrounded by?" Hodgins: "Pain, despair…"
Hodgins: "If you can perform surgery out of thin air, then I can pull a little thin air out of thin air."
Brennan: "I'm okay with you thanking God for saving me and Hodgins." Booth: "That's not what I thanked Him for. I thanked Him for saving all of us. It was all of us, every single one. You take one of us away, and you and Hodgins are in that hole forever. And I'm thankful for that." Brennan: "I knew you wouldn't give up." Booth: "I knew you wouldn't give up."

Screencaps by Springfield! Springfield!,  FanPop, LiveJournal, Pinterest, Flickr, Fractured Simplicity, Bugs_n_Slime

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she reviews and/or creates polls for Teen Wolf, How to Get Away with Murder, The Librarians, and others. She also runs the annual Character Cup. She's addicted to Twitter, loves live tweeting, and co-hosts The 100 "Red-Shirted" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Previously she wrote a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."

No comments:

Post a Comment