So, what do we think about Bones‘ most recent FBI addition, Special Agent James Aubrey? Should we keep him around for a while? Well, according to the votes that really count, Booth’s unflappable yet ballsy protege fits right in and actually kicks some fairly impressive — albeit subdued — ass. After reading our list of reasons we believe you’ll agree Agent Aubrey, portrayed by John Boyd, earned the right to purchase his own little Mighty Hut at the corner of Adorably-Mentally-Dextrous Street and No-Bull-Shit Boulevard in the Bones Universe. Too much? No way. This Quantico grad is an exceptional ‘Guy Friday’ for Booth and a formidable addition to the discriminating brain trust of the Jeffersonian Medico-Legal Lab.
Let’s first admit that it’s human nature to resist change; to compare the new to the old and find the former woefully lacking. Well, the comparisons stop now. Sweets is gone and Aubrey is here; not as a replacement, simply as an addition. As Brennan would say, “Inertia demands that we move forward.” To which Booth would then add, “… And murder waits for no man.”
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Reason #1: Hodgins and Angela are Already Impressed
Aubrey’s spent time with Hodgins both in and out of the lab. The entomologist and the newest member of the team enjoyed some rather lively rapartee on the way to examine the fallout shelter of the Hoover aide who hoarded top secret FBI files which were supposed to have been destroyed. As they bump along in Hodgins’ classic Mini Cooper, Aubrey, whose knees are almost tucked up under his chin, chides Hodgins, who takes the ribbing in good humor.
Aubrey: “Where did you get this car, anyway? From a British toddler?”
Hodgins: “Excuse me. This baby is a classic.”
Aubrey: “People think calling something classic makes you forget that it’s junk. But hey, enjoy.”
It’s clear Aubrey’s mellow affect combined with his valuable insights have caused Hodgins to hold the younger man in high esteem. It’s difficult to describe this ambiance or aura Aubrey possesses. He’s low key, but no wallflower. He’s bright, but doesn’t make a big deal of it. He’s a live-and-let-live kinda guy, who probably got along with everyone in high school though he was neither class clown, jock, teacher’s pet, or brainiac. The aura he exudes is one of quiet confidence in himself combined with a healthy appreciation for other people’s expertise, expertises which he finds genuinely fascinating and really cool.
As for Angela, Aubrey has won her over as well — not that he made it a goal to impress her — by being able to make connections out of seemingly disparate facts laid out before them by the Angelator. In such a short period of time Angela and Hodgins have accepted James Aubrey as a bright enough bulb on the tree to earn himself a seat at the table of The Jeffersonian Avengers.
Reason #2: He’s Already Provided Case-Breaking Assistance
I started out hoping to write a tidy little paragraph about the invaluable contributions James has brought to the group, but as I scrolled through the four episodes the has to his credit, I found many more great examples than I’d anticipated; great stuff that just shouldn’t be overlooked. So, here’s my list of his biggest contributions, many which he did without prompting by Booth:
- Located the stolen car that leads to Sweets’ killer whom he recognizes as Kenneth Emory.
- Collected and reviewed files and security tapes from Bethesda Presbyterian Hospital so they could find a reason to reissue a warrant for Sanderson’s company.
- Identified Desmond Wilson as the individual who kept copies of Hoover’s files.
- Found the audio wire which proved Desmond Wilson had Hoover’s blackmail files.
- Figured out that Glen Durant would have stashed the files somewhere he considered sacred, leading to Brennan figuring out they were in the exhibit at the Jeffersonian.
- Located Jerold Norsky, the security guard from Presbyterian Hospital who witnessed everything.
- Realized that a public figure like the Pundit wouldn’t risk being caught with his pants down (pun in tended) in a public, which leads Angela in the direction of finding Whitehouse’s soundproofed S&M sex dungeon.
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Reason #3: He’s Eccentric Enough to Fit Right In
Idiosyncratic? Maybe a little goofy? Consider an affinity for children’s films and video games with lots of action and mythology. Okay, that does sound like just about any techie with small kids, but this guy actually enjoys those films; probably goes to them alone. Ew, does that sound creepy? It’s not. There’s a purity about Aubrey that has no room for creepy. At the oddest moments he’ll make an innocent and off the wall comment in such a way that you know it’s just part of who he is. He unabashedly fawns over a sleeping Christine. “I gotta get me one of them, ” he says. Guys his age don’t usually say that kind of thing. “This place needs an espresso machine.”
The best scene where this is displayed is when he’s in front of the Angelator with Hodgins and Angela while they scan the organism chart of all those involved in the conspiracy. They attempt to figure out who’s at the center, and all of a sudden Aubrey has a brain fart and can’t think of the guy’s name though he knows he knows it. Here’s how he manages to tap into that knowledge:
Aubrey: “Oh! It was, uh Damn, what’s his name? It was, um …”
Hodgins: “Wait, you weren’t even born when Hoover died.”
Aubrey: “No, n-n-no, I’m a history freak when it comes to the Bureau. Figured I should know about the place I work. Uh, what movies have you seen lately?”
Hodgins: “What? We’re trying to destroy a shadow government here, Aubrey.”
Aubrey: “Yeah, yeah. But if I’m distracted by something else, it’ll come to me– it’s how the brain works. I don’t know why, but, uh “
Angela: “Ice Age. ‘Cause we have a kid.”
Aubrey: (Scoffs) “You don’t need a kid. I love all those films. Rio’s pretty awesome, too.
Oh, but the one that you should really see … Wilson! Desmond Wilson! L-Look him up in the Bureau database.”
And — Boom — they find the guy who leads to Durant, the center of the FBI conspiracy organism!
Reason #4: He’s Unflappable
He just doesn’t get intimidated. Geez, Booth stuck a loaded gun up the guy’s nose when they first met. Does Aubrey fight back? No, he compliments Booth on his technique. “Nice move bringing me down that way. You’ll have to teach me that one,” he says. See, unflappable, I tell you. Another guy would have at fought back or gotten pissed off.
Being able to hold your own unflinchingly is important when it comes to being invited to the party by Booth and Brennan. With these two it’s sink or swim. Aubrey, he’s the kind of guy who rolls over to do the back stroke while squirting a stream of water into the air, then whistles a happy tune, only stopping when you look at him funny. When he notices he doesn’t get embarrassed, he just says, “What?” He doesn’t need your approval.
In “The Lance to the Heart,” after being shirked by Booth repeatedly, Aubrey does the unthinkable — he lets Booth have it right between the eyes. Boom. Wait. What? “You’re an idiot,” he brazenly tosses at the senior agent. The response he gets from Booth is one of a focused bull gearing up to rip a red cape to shreds. Aubrey’s lucky he didn’t get a mouthful of Boothy knuckles at that point.
The impressive part of this scene is that Aubrey didn’t throw a tantrum and he didn’t walk away; he did the opposite. He advanced and spoke forcefully, though calmly, and identified exactly what was happening inside Booth emotionally, then provided him with a new perspective: “When you treat me like crap, you treat Sweets like crap too”. Even though he called Booth an idiot, his affect was magically not at all one of disrespect. Now, that’s a combination of great writing and good acting .. and great establishment of character.
Reason #5: He’s Got Fantastic Eyebrows, Et Cetera …
Most distinguishing physical character? The man’s got killer expressive eyebrows. Man, his whole face is an amusement park ride. Best scene to prove it is in “The Purging of the Pundit” when Booth asks Aubrey about his memories from kindergarten. I can’t describe it, you’ll have to go see it for yourself. A man with expressive eyebrows, a formidable forehead, great teeth, and firm (but not too big) biceps will hold my attention longer than the average guy. Add some dark hair and a wry, almost-mumbled sense of humor, and my heart starts to skip a beat. Where was I?
The thing is, you have to find the guy who’s face is interesting to watch and whose voice is interesting to listen to. I love the low tone Aubrey speaks in and the was he sometimes does it out of the side of his mouth. In the ’60s he would have been that cool uncle with the cherry stained pipe hanging out one side of his mouth as he talks.
John Boyd has Humphrey Bogart’s cool demeanor and a wry humor that floats just below the line of irreverence. Adding to his aura of eccentricity is his updated Cosmo Kramer-esque coif and widow’s peak and a nose reminiscent of Jason Lee (My Name is Earl).
One gets the sense that physically, Aubrey’s never been a big person and he never starred in any athletics (except maybe golf), but he could wield a bat, sink a basket, and kick a soccer ball as good as anyone else. He’s masculine without being macho. He’s smaller than Booth physically, so not competition in the alpha male realm. This also makes him a good match for the alpha agent.
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Reason #6: Aubrey is Brennan Trained and Bones Approved
Brennan was willing to brief Aubrey on technical forensic terminology so he could go into the interrogation room with Booth. When has she ever done that for someone she met less than a month prior? Brennan even recommended the Booth take Aubrey instead of her into the field on a particularly dangerous call. Brennan knows Booth’s circle of people he trusts has to be larger than just herself, Christine and The Avengers. She trusts Aubrey to be part of Booth’s inner circle.
Reason #7: Booth Respects Him
This is the most important reason of all. Granted, when we first saw Aubrey he was lurking in the Sanderson Inc. lobby staring out the window at newly-released-from-prison and highly skittish Booth. This sets Booth’s Spidey senses tingling, so he ambushed the new guy and puts him in a choke hold. From there forward Aubrey is available to Booth, anticipating what’s needed next for the case. Need research done? Aubrey’s already done it. Need to know who inherited the Hoover files or how much money the purging pundit makes per year and who might want him dead? Aubrey’s already on it. Want to know if the pundit’s wife’s alibi is rock solid? Aubrey’s checked it out. This is exactly what Booth needs while he’s on the mend from being screwed by the system he’s dedicated his life to. See, aubrey is the quintessential Guy Friday.’
Now, I am predisposed to search for the good in just about any character the Bones fairies might throw at me. Time and perspective have shown that those Tinkerbells Tinker-Bonesies know what they are doing way more than half the time, and when they don’t, well, they have a knack for getting incredibly lucky. That’s the organic Lightening In a Bottle Bones magic we’ve discussed before.
So, when it came to Aubrey, I accepted him; liked him just fine. Then, whoa boy, then he had that Come To Jesus confrontation with Booth mentioned above in #4, my cup runneth over. Wow. Aubrey stood up to the senior alpha agent. He was neither intimidated by, nor domineering toward, Seeley Booth. He’s a lot like Brennan that way.
He’s quietly aware of the magnitude of the opportunity he’s been given just by breathing the same air as Booth and The Avengers, but he’s not star-struck by it. He knows he has earned the invitation and he has the seal of approval from Sweets, plus, Booth did pick Aubrey to work with him.
Here’s another thing that has endeared him to Booth, though it was subtle and Booth is most likely completely unaware that it’s happening. Aubrey is intelligent, but he doesn’t use big words. He’s not self-deprecating, but he’s not pompous either. Case in point: again the conversation between him and Booth on the topic of kindergarten. Aubrey speaks like an American, not like scientist:
Aubrey: “Look, everyone’s too precious about school nowadays. They call coloring a small motor skill. To me, if you’re interested in something, you get smart at it.“
Booth: “Yeah, exactly.”
Very Boothy language. Boom.
There you have it, folks. The Bones fairies have done it again. They’ve successfully introduced a new character into the fold, a character who will play a significant role in the lives of all those fighting crime and solving murders with Brennan and Booth. Most importantly, however, is that he is a worthy colleague (I can’t bring myself to say ‘partner’ because that’s Brennan’s role) for Booth.
The evidence is clear: Special Agent James Aubrey kicks ass and fits right in with Booth and the Avengers at the Jeffersonian Institution. But don’t just take my word for it, below there’s a little something from The Avengers themselves and the actors who play them. Enjoy!
Bones returns on Thursday, October 30 at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)