Spotlight on Bones: I Knew You Wouldn’t Give Up

“Hart and I both hate serial killers as a rule.”—Stephen Nathan.

“I’d always said I would never do car scenes.”—Hart Hanson

I like the executive producers of Bones because they break their own rules. “Aliens in a Spaceship” violates every one of Hart and Stephen’s guidelines. It’s basically one giant car scene made possible by a serial killer, and it’s my favorite episode of the entire series. Because you don’t actually need rules if your characters are interesting.

Brennan and Hodgins are buried underground, in a car, by the Gravedigger, a serial killer who doesn’t negotiate. She buries people alive and sets a ransom, and if you can’t get the ransom together in time, you lose. This puts our characters in a bind: the ransom is steep, and Hodgins’s multibillion dollar corporation won’t pay because HODGINS HIMSELF has a rule. No proof of life, no payment. The Gravedigger won’t provide proof of life, so our characters are forced to go rogue, using their smarts to find Brennan and Hodgins on their own.

The Gravedigger’s game is simple but effectively maddening: She can’t be touched, can’t be persuaded, and can’t be appealed to. All elements of humanity, all traces of compassion, pride, or greed, have been replaced by heartless logic. The Gravedigger operates like a kind of machine, a faceless serial killer robot whose system exists so our characters can escape it. She follows all the rules in order to let us focus on the characters who break them: the ones who won’t take no for an answer. The Gravedigger lacks compassion because our characters are fueled by it. The Gravedigger is inhuman so we can see that what makes our characters human is what makes them great.

This is a show about people who don’t fit the profile and who are more than psychology. When 12 hours have passed and Zack suggests that they’re too late to save their friends, Booth snaps at him for assuming that logic can hold any of them back. “This is Bones we’re talking about, and Hodgins. You really think they didn’t find a way to extend their air supply? Hell, they found a way to send us a message, to ask us for help! And you wanna give up because of math.” YEP. There’s our Booth. Always focused on the people. People can do extraordinary things.

And he’s right, of course. Brennan and Hodgins have turned that car into a makeshift science lab that basically runs on the power of supportive relationships and science. Brennan saves Hodgins’s life with a risky operation, and Hodgins figures out where they’re buried using a perfume he bought for Angela. Because he loves her. Awww. Love saves the day. Brennan and Hodgins then work together to text that information to Booth. There’s no hint of intellectual insecurity between them; they just encourage each other to keep being smart and compassionate.

After extending their air supply, Brennan reveals her master plan: use the explosives in the air bags to blow their way to freedom. Or possibly die, depending on how deep they’re buried. It’s a risk they have to take, but they’re basically staring death in the face, and they’re scared. Hodgins, who’s already written a letter to Angela, invites Brennan to say her own goodbyes. He doesn’t push. He just holds out the paper and waits, giving Brennan something that she needs but never would have initiated: a chance to consider what matters in this world and how to leave it.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that we’ll probably never know what Brennan wrote. JJ Abrams says that boxes are always best before they’re opened, so, letter, you can be my mystery box.

Meanwhile, Booth is all kinds of desperate. He and the squints work together to decode Hodgins’s text, and it’s Zack who finally figures everything out (KING OF THE LAB). Their work’s not done, though, because as it turns out, Brennan and Hodgins could be anywhere under here.

So close and yet so far. Everyone looks for clues—everyone except for smarmy profiler Vega, who just shakes his head like, oh well, tough break. Throw him on a table again, Booth.

Brennan and Hodgins, just a football field away, are still staring death and/or Congress in the face. They’ve rigged the dashboard with explosives; all that’s left now is to touch one wire to another and watch it blow. Hodgins reaches a hand out to his boss. “Dr. Brennan, it’s been a privilege.” He means it. The two of them are different now. Hodgins and Brennan are always friends after this. Always. But he doesn’t push her into anything too emotional—he just keeps it respectful and professional and thanks her for doing what she does. The rest of his fear and his love is understood. I LOVE HIM. IF I CAN’T HAVE BOOTH I TAKE HODGINS.

Hodgins might be willing to keep it professional, but Brennan feels this moment too deeply for a handshake. She pulls him in close. Brennan hurts too, you guys.

“A Light on a Hill” starts playing, and you know that something sad and sweet and epic is coming. Everyone’s losing hope now. They don’t realize that they’re seconds away from saving each other.

Hodgins and Brennan share one last look. This is it. They touch the two pieces of wire together, and back on the surface, Booth sees something explode. It’s just a little pop of dirt, but it’s all he needs.

I would like to introduce all of you to the moment I fell in love with Seeley Booth, or maybe realized I was already in love with him. Look at him go. He just takes off down that hill. He doesn’t look back. Booth doesn’t wait for anyone or think of anyone but the woman he’s running for.


He’s so desperate and so focused. Can we talk about how weird it would be to paw through the dirt like a dog and know that a person is under there? It’s such a chilling relief when Brennan’s hand shoots through the dirt and clasps onto his. Booth pulls her out like the strong soldier that he is, and let’s be real: It’s hot. He’s got her. He’s giving everything he’s got, and he’s got her. Around him, everyone else has finally shown up to help. It’s about time.

Brennan whispers that Booth should get Hodgins, because she’s just been pulled from beneath the earth and she’s still thinking of others.

He loves her! He didn’t even need the perfume.

Booth, satisfied that Hodgins is taken care of, returns to Brennan and studies her face for a second, like he’s making sure that she’s really there and that she’s ok. Brennan just looks glad to see him. Booth found her, like she knew he would.

They break into relieved laugh-smiles. They’re just so happy to have each other.

Back in the lab, Hodgins and Angela have a moment. Hodgins wants to catch the Gravedigger right away, but Angela takes him back to what’s important. “We’re gonna start tomorrow, all of us together.” What matters tonight is not the killer; what matters is the team. Hodgins and Angela are going home together, and when he opens his eyes, she’ll be there. And Booth and Brennan? They’ll be at church.

Before she was buried, Booth refused to take Brennan to church; she wanted to observe, but he didn’t want to help her “disrespect God in His own house.” And then he pulls her from the dirt and basically whisks her away to church because he just has to go, and there’s no way he’s letting her out of his sight.

He doesn’t seem worried anymore that the lightning aimed at Brennan might hit him. Let it come. He’ll take any hit meant for her, and he’ll be next to her all the way. The song in the background repeats it over and over—“let me be next to you.” She doesn’t need to share his beliefs and he doesn’t need to answer for hers. Sure, he’ll still shush her when she says that God doesn’t exist, but it’s not even that he’s mad at her; it’s just that this isn’t the right place. In this one episode, they’ve come a long way toward accepting each other as they are.

Brennan: I’m ok 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.

Ok, now Booth and I are for sure getting married. What an answer. Just when Brennan is expecting a pat response about how God saved her from that car, Booth hits her with the humanism, and he shows her that they’re really not that different. Booth might thank God where Brennan thanks reason, but they both see people at the heart of it all. Brennan sees Booth’s faith in her team and feels comfortable admitting her faith in him.

“I knew you wouldn’t give up.”

Booth can’t really hide how glad he is that she believes in him.

He grins back at her.

“I knew you wouldn’t give up.”

It’s a great admission of the trust between them. They wait for each other. They believe in each other. They don’t give up.

It would have been so obvious for the writers to put Booth and Brennan in that car together. It would be so easy: ooh, all that sexual tension. What will they do trapped underground together; will they give in? That they didn’t do that—that they put Hodgins in that car with Brennan—says everything about what this show is. It says that this isn’t a show about two people in the same place who grow to like each other. It’s not about watching them realize how they feel, and it’s not about waiting for them to act on those feelings. It’s a show about two people with a lot of love between them who are finding their way to each other. It’s also about the team: about a woman who fights to keep her coworker alive with her, about a handshake that turns into a hug, about scientists all working together. It’s an ensemble. You take one of them away and Brennan and Hodgins are in that hole forever. And I’m thankful for that.

But what do you think? How do you take Hodgins’s handshake and Brennan’s hug? What’s in her letter? Is this one of Bones’s finest musical moments ever, or what—and how much do you love Booth in this episode? Just what are they saying with, “I knew you wouldn’t give up”? So much to talk about!


  1. “It would have been so obvious for the writers to put Booth and Brennan in that car together. It would be so easy: ooh, all that sexual tension. What will they do trapped underground together; will they give in? That they didn’t do that—that they put Hodgins in that car with Brennan—says everything about what this show is”

    Yes. This is a key thing about why I love this show. They are no different in using some of the cultural backdrops of our times, but most of the time they give it the twist to avoid the obvious.

    I have to say – back in Season 3 I might have been interested in Brennan’s letter, but I don’t give a fig about it now (and yes, my figurative reference is on purpose) :D. My favorite lines from this episode have always been Booth’s about “And you want to give up because of math”, Hodgins’ “It’s been a privilege” and Booth’s line about what he was thankful for.

    “I knew you wouldn’t give up.” I definitely think Brennan is revealing more than Booth is, here. I think Booth knows that Brennan’s logical mind isn’t going to stop. She and Hodgins would truly do everything they could. With Brennan’s statement, though, I feel like she is revealing to Booth just how much faith (baby) that she really does have in him – that she trusts him with her life.

    BTW, isn’t it awesome how Booth was the only one who actually saw the poof of the explosion? I don’t know why, but that bit has always stuck with me, too.

    1. Ohhh, the figs.
      I agree that it takes more for Brennan to say “I knew you wouldn’t give up” than it does for Booth. And I LOVE the moment when the explosion “poofs” and his eyes are just glued to it. Everyone’s looking, but Booth is the only one who’s really tuned in. He doesn’t even know exactly what it is, but he knows it’s where he needs to be. I’m not sure I can really explain it either, but his complete focus on her, even when he can’t see her, is just so Boothy.

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