“The Woman in the Whirlpool” is a heavy-hearted, though well written and expertly delivered portrayal of two people deeply in love, but struggling with the consequences of addiction. Booth is despondent and as long-faced as Baryard Dawg in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons while Brennan is subdued, but holding steady. The theme of the carnage of addiction reigns throughout as the team investigates the death of a woman obsessed with cookie jars to the exclusion of her friends and family.
The team cannot help but see the parallel between the ravages of the victim’s obsession and the destruction of Booth’s addiction. Booth sees this as well and, in the very end, opens his ears and heart to begin to understand and accept the consequences of his actions. It’s going to be a long haul, people. However, to quote Sweets’ love story about Brennan and Booth, “It is their friendship that is the foundation of their relationship, not the fickle nature of love.” This quote, recited by Aubrey at the end of “The Woman in the Whirlpool,” provides Bones fans hope.
Bones Recap: Do Brennan and Booth No Longer Love Each Other? >>>
A Baptism Gone Terribly, Terribly Wrong
As the episode opens, we witness a riverside immersion baptism that turns out to be a complete disaster. Unfortunately, for Brother Tepper, the mighty Potomac lacks the redemptive powers of the River Jordan. Instead of beginning a new life in Christ, Teppet wins himself a lifetime of psychotherapy when he emerges from the drink with the water-blasted skeletal remains of a cookie jar collector taking a piggyback ride around his neck. How the skeleton managed to remain in one piece while the poor sod ran all over the place screaming is a mystery, but this is television, so we’ll go with it.
Remember When All We Had to Talk About was Bathtub Sex?
Because that’s what parks are for, right? Well, this playground conversation is significantly more somber than the last one. Since Booth hasn’t moved back into The Mighty Hut 2.0 yet, it’s clear that Brennan understands that there is no easy fix to their situation. Ever the scientist, Brennan’s acceptance may require some reliable evidence. And who can blame her? The man put his family in harms way. Angela, however, is thoroughly pro-Booth, despite her past skirmishes with the man.
A Despondent Booth Goes Through the Motions
An uncomfortable and defensive Booth attends a Gamblers Anonymous meeting where he barely mouths the Serenity Prayer, and then indulgently blows off his sponsor, Gavin Chadwick, portrayed by guest star Alex Skuby (King of Queens). It’s not enough just to show up and you can’t heal your broken marriage without working the program, he reminds Booth. It’s clear by what Booth is not saying that he’s still denying that this has even happened to him. He’s just not ready to be fully responsible for his actions. And did I sense a tinge of resentment toward Brennan for kicking him out. That’s denial, people. The fact that Booth is only attending one meeting a week says he’s not ready to get serious. Someone committed to recovery goes every day. Sometimes twice a day. Whatever it takes. Hear that, Booth buddy?
An Extremely Smooth Set of Remains
At the scene of the crime, Booth notices the smooth cranium and the sanded down remainder of the skeleton, and Cam notes that the victim’s posterior viscera resembles pulled pork. The King of the Lab suggests that the state of the remains could be as a result of being stuck in a hydraulic system. Like a whirlpool, adds squint on deck, Jessica. Later, Hodgins once again is the star player when he leads the team to an ID despite the abraded facial architecture. The victim is fifty-something Leslie Hodsoll, a single mother, hardware store employee and cookie jar aficionado.
Brennan Doesn’t Answer Booth’s Calls
Brennan ignores two calls from Booth while examining the remains. Was that rude? Later Brennan tells Jessica that addiction is destructive and distracting for everyone, so her dismissiveness is more likely about being able to remain focused while working. It’s also avoidance, but there you have it.
Hodgins and Angela later discuss their best friends’ marriage. Angela tells Jack she would do exactly what Brennan did if she were in her place. She says Booth should be fighting to get her back. This makes complete sense to Hodgins, who wonders if the nastiness of their chosen professions is responsible for creating such a chasm between the most solid couple Jack knows.
Aubrey Keeps Close Tabs on Booth
True to his word, Aubrey repeatedly checks in with Booth about his recovery. Booth is evasive and defensive when it comes to Aubrey, and not nearly as indulgent as he was with his sponsor earlier. Already my heart is sad and soggy, folks, but I’m also grateful that the Bones Fairies are trusting us with a realistic portrayal of an addict’s struggle.
The Victim is an Obsessive Cookie Jar Monster
The first suspect is Ted Thompson, Leslie’s boss at the hardware store. When the team discovers that Leslie was slowly being poisoned to death, Booth and Aubrey head over to Leslie’s house where they meet her college age daughter, Courtney, who hasn’t seen mom in three weeks. Courtney introduces the boys to Leslie’s cookie jar collection for which the victim had long been obsessed to the exclusion of her only daughter. Courtney felt that her mother cared more about her jar collection than she did about her kid.
This woman was as crazy about her jars as some people are about television characters, or Star Wars figures, or Superman comic books, or Pokemon, or shoes, or hunting, or Pez dispensers, or bootleg Grateful Dead albums, or food, or music, or Precious Moments figurines, or Fanfiction, or whatever. Pardon the digression, but don’t we all have something we’re a little obsessive about? Some thing or person whose existence in the world fills us with glee and gives us a rush of fresh adrenaline? To be obsessed is to be preoccupied intrusively, and to a troubling extent. I can relate to that, totally.
However, Leslie’s obsession could have killed her, if she’d been exposed to enough of the toxins emitted by the old ceramic jars. Leslie had already allowed her obsession to ruin her relationship with Courtney. Kathy and Kerry Reichs, the writers of “The Woman in the Whirlpool,” said in our exclusive interview that they wanted viewers to think about our own obsessions. Kerry Reichs’s exact words were:
“With Booth struggling with his own addiction, it becomes an interesting foil
to look at these characters and to see how we
all manage our compulsions in healthy ways and unhealthy ways.”
Bones Exclusive Interview: The Writers Talk Brennan and Booth’s Future and a Whirlpool Death >>>
The B&B Lunch That Never Was
The first time we see Brennan and Booth together is during an uncomfortable almost lunch at the diner. What strikes me most about this scene is Brennan’s pleasant smile when she sees Booth. It’s not an excited look, but his fine face still makes her happy despite their current troubles. At the end of their encounter is a well-placed “I love you, Booth.” Throughout Brennan is respectful, but candid with her husband, just like she was the night she kicked him out.
Booth, on the other hand, wants to talk about coming home; but Brennan is clear that he’s not fully present the gravity of his transgressions. He’s not as cagey as he has been in the past on the topic of gambling, but he’s not himself, either. The lunch ends with her leaving abruptly.
Is Addiction Purely Psychological, or Does it Have a Physical Element?
Brennan and Jessica uncover that Leslie had been shot 20 years previously in a robbery. Brennan wonders if her obsessive behavior could be a result of the brain injury. While it is plausible that physiology is partly responsible for addiction, I worry that what this means we’re going to go down some “brain injury rabbit hole” with Booth. Thankfully, that never materializes during this episode. Whew.
Leslie Had Been Unsinkable … Until Now
Leslie’s internet activity leads the team to Leslie’s cookie jar dealer (another relationship she’d ruined because of her obsession) but that’s a bust. However, the scene with the dealer provided excellent commentary on the lack of accountability for egregious behavior made possible by the anonymity of the internet. “The internet is full of nasty bitter people,” says Cheryl. (Take that, haters of the world. Keep your vitriol to yourself.)
Cheryl says Leslie was lusting after a Babe Ruth cookie jar that she sold to Scott Simon, another obsessed person, but this one is obsessed with Babe Ruth. He can hardly put his devotion into words! He says the door of Leslie’s house was unlocked. Fiberglass leads Aubrey and Jessica to Jessica’s attic where they find Simon. Simon is set free when he tells them Leslie had stolen Babe Ruth from him. Angela then finds proof that Leslie was in Orlando when someone used her home IP address to put her entire collection of jars on sale. This points back to daughter Courtney.
From the Mouths of Babes
Courtney doesn’t know it, but she provides the kick in the pants that starts the avalanche that finally awakens Booth from his slumber of denial. She explains that she just wanted her mother to show that she was more important than the damn jars. Isn’t that what Brennan is asking Booth for as well? Courtney and Booth have similar backgrounds, so when Courtney says she realized it was time to grow up and move on from her past, Booth sees that it’s time for him to do the same.
The Murderer Provides the Final Impetus for Booth
A fingerprint on a broken champagne bottle proves that Leslie’s boss, Ted, is the killer. The first suspect was the killer, Squint Squad 200! Leslie had used Ted to break into Simon’s house to steal Babe Ruth. Then she dumped Ted. He tried to destroy her cookie jars, but she jumped in the way and got killed.
In one of the best scenes of the episode, Ted explains that he felt like he meant nothing to Leslie. She died protecting the one thing that was ruining her life. When this finally gets through to Booth, he gazes intently at Brennan as if the scales of denial have fallen from his eyes. Without uttering a single syllable, his look says everything. Boreanaz delivers emotion of the scene in a stunning and understated and powerful way. That’s when he realizes what he has to do.
Later, with his head finally dislodged from his derriere, and despite an invitation to visit Christine, Booth knows what his long term priorities are. Only then does he go to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting and admit that he’s hurt his loved ones and wants to understand himself better so he can get his family back. I stinkin’ love you, Seeley Booth. And finally the real work can begin.
From the Mouth of Another Babe
Aubrey (He’s a babe of a fashion!) is the one who quotes Sweets’ love story to Jessica in one of the final scenes. Jessica asks if Brennan and Booth will get a divorce. Aubrey says, “Never.” And he has evidence to prove it.
“It is their friendship that is the foundation of
their relationship, not the fickle nature of love.”
~ Dr. Lance Sweets
Bones airs Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)