PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


'Bones': Just Don't Call Him Shorty

The new season of Bones celebrates Bones' extraordinary high-achieving rationalism, and nevertheless chastises her when she tries to apply her reason to relationships.


Airtime: Thursdays, 9pm ET
Cast: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin, T.J. Thyne, Tamara Taylor, John Francis Daley
Subtitle: Season Seven Premiere
Network: Fox
Air date: 2011-11-03
I'm not normal, I'm extraordinary.

-- Bones (Emily Deschanel)

The Bones Season Seven premiere finds Booth (David Boreanaz) and Bones (Emily Deschanel) beginning their new life together. Now visibly pregnant with Booth's child, Bones approaches their relationship and family plans with her trademark rationality. Whether dealing with her own hormone-induced mood swings, their living arrangement, or their marital status, Bones' instinct is to use reason to make decisions. She wants to be cool and clinical, like she is solving cases. But Booth wants her emotion and empathy to rule the day.

In presenting these seeming opposites, the new storyline repeats the series' longstanding formula, Bones as both unique and typical. What's changed is the manifest effort to domesticate her: while the show celebrates her extraordinary high-achieving rationalism, it nevertheless chastises her when she tries to apply her reason to relationships. (In this, it recalls Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie, those ancient primers of extraordinary women's corrections.) Bones, for all its philosophical discussions of what's "normal" or not "normal," again treats Bones as a charming eccentric whose difference only serves to reinforce them for other people.

In the seventh premiere, "The Memories in the Shallow Grave" (airing Thursday, 3 November), Booth wants them to buy a house together. Bones, predictably, thinks anthropologically. Citing her own paper on the Iroquois, she lectures Booth that in that tribe, the men moved in with the women. "But we're not the Iroquois," Booth points out.

She presses onward, describing how that tribe was matrilineal: women owned property and managed society. Besides, she argues, since she's more rational and -- no small thing -- has more money than Booth, Bones thinks she should decide where they live (read: her apartment). She's shocked when Booth replies, "You know what? We're family, Bones. Even you should know what that means." While granting Bones the ability to contextualize their tensions culturally, the narrative nevertheless chastises her insensitivity to her vulnerable male, and by the way, re-naturalizes what "family" means.

Bones becomes a problem Booth has to solve. His solution comes in the next episode, "The Hot Dog in the Competition" (airing Thursday, 10 November), where he convinces her to switch roles and adopt his point of view. Again following the show's oft-repeated formula, he prompts her to express emotion and she then treats him and others more sensitively. The simple binary of their reason versus emotion, rationality versus passion dynamic is only exacerbated by the pregnancy. Yes, we get it: this is what would happen if Spock hooked up with Kirk.

Even as it wrestles with these familiar themes, the series expands the roles of supporting characters. Angela (Michaela Conlin) and Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) have their infant son Michael in daycare at the Jeffersonian, and Angela keeps sneaking him into the lab to see Hodgins, against boss Cam's (Tamara Taylor) wishes. The baby proves irresistible: Bones watches and learns, Angela urges her to overcome her fears, borne of her own negative foster care experiences as a child.

The new season also introduces a new character, Cam's new lab intern, Finn (Luke Kleintank), a troublemaking 18-year-old who completed his undergrad degree while in juvy and will have his Ph.D. by age 20. He's got a thick North Carolina accent, red hair, and a Carolina Mudcats baseball hat (not the Durham Bulls, too cosmopolitan a minor league baseball reference). Hodgins keeps calling him "Opie" to put him down. In turn, Finn calls Hodgins "Thurston." Is this a 1970s Disney movie?

When Cam asks Finn why he's so smart, he replies, "Some people are born with a knack for shootin,' some singin,' I've got a knack for thinkin,'" Asked why he was in juvy, Finn says, "A few mistakes when I was a sprout, but now I'm as honest as the sunshine on the back of a honey bee." When discussing a case with Cam, Finn says he found "something here that is as odd as my cousin Bobby," then insists he should have realized a key fact in the case because he "grew up eating barbeque."

"Not ain't, isn't," instructs Hodgins, "This is the Jeffersonian, not a fishin' hole." Finn comes back: "Excuse me, sir, but elocution was not on my application. And it doesn't seem to bother anyone else here how I talk, so I'm gettin' the feelin' you're just doin' it to make me feel bad, 'cause I'm different than ya, which right now, is makin' me feel pretty glad." The lesson is obvious, but Finn goes on, "Just because we speak different, don' mean we can't understand one another. After all, we both speak science. And that's all that's important in here. Right?" After he exits, Cam punctuates the showdown: "Oh, snap!"

Still, and as always, doing good work earns a team member respect. When Finn discovers key evidence, he and Hodgins establish "an understanding," where they can trade friendly insults. When Hodgins says, "Quick, what's a Southern colloquialism for shock and amazement?" Finn answers, "Well, hack my legs off and call me 'Shorty.'" Hodgins laughs, "Well, Shorty, we got ourselves some evidence."

As Hodgins' prejudice is apparently solved by the end of the episode, it looks like we'll be stuck with the one-dimensional Finn. I'm bored and offended. Good trick, Bones.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.