In case you weren’t aware, queen of the lab/personal life hero Temperance Brennan stabbed a guy with a hypodermic needle on Monday. She even smiled a little bit before she did it, and then she sassed the guy when he yelled at her.
I literally clapped at the end of that scene, but honestly, the whole episode deserves a standing O. It gave us the very best Brennan–the one who tells the truth and does not flinch.
Remember that scene? It’s a classic. Back in the eighth episode of the series, appropriately titled “The Girl in the Fridge” (I love how literal the Bones titles are. It’s exactly how Brennan would name them), Booth gave Brennan a dead body in a refrigerator. AND IT WASN’T EVEN HER BIRTHDAY. That’s a way better gift than an old dustbuster, which is how Brennan’s ex-prof greets her. Michael Stires suffers from a serious whimsy deficiency, y’all.
He and Brennan get right down to business satisfying biological urges (a.k.a eating Italian food. There’s sex too), and it’s all well and good until Stires turns out to be a witness for the defense, not to mention a pompous jerk who thinks Brennan won’t mind sharing her bed with him after he blasts her character in court. Shut it down. The only man who gets to sit opposite Brennan at a trial is Special Agent Seeley Booth, Special.
Stires has the jury convinced that his “former student” is cold–that she sees the victim as a set of numbers and not as a person with a story. He couldn’t be more wrong. Brennan sees every victim’s humanity first, but she’s not great at what Tina Fey would call the “flash-charm handshake” side of life. Brennan isn’t interested in playing a part or winning people over. She’s just interested in telling the truth. The facts are on her side here. She trusts people to respond to that, and she’s genuinely disappointed when they don’t. Maggie Schilling’s life isn’t a game, but everyone else is playing it like one. Brennan won’t.
It’s Goodman who sets things right: Goodman, with his melted caramel voice and James Earl Jones authority. He informs Brennan that she actually earned her job over Stires because she’s the more reasoned scientist–and she cares. That’s what makes her so compelling: she cares about the integrity of the individual as much as she cares about the integrity of the science. Goodman gives Brennan permission to tell Stires to go to hell. So she tells Stires to go to hell.
Brennan’s confrontation with her former mentor is magical. She’s all backbone: fire underneath, but cool to the touch (like Iceland) because she knows she’s so much better than him. Michael ought to know it too. The two of them identified bodies in Central America once, and she was scared then. He gave her some advice.
“‘We tell the truth. We do not flinch.’”
“You flinched, Michael.”
I knew I loved this character the moment she said that. It’s like her mission statement. She doesn’t rest until she has the truth, and she’s never scared to speak it. Anyone who’d rather protect themselves than protect others isn’t worth her time.
Brennan’s a strong woman. Too many storytellers think they can rush their way into an empowered female protagonist; all she needs, to quote a flawless Michael Caine character, is “sarcasm and a gun” (I’m not knocking Miss Congeniality I LOVE MISS CONGENIALITY). Brennan sometimes has sarcasm and sometimes has a gun, but she’s not strong for either of those reasons. She’s strong because she has confidence. She’s smart and bold and knows the value of her work. She’s also a constant reminder that caring is not a weakness. It’s a strength. It makes you fierce. Nobody can stop Brennan from doing or saying what she believes in.
She doesn’t flinch, and that’s what I love most about her. So here’s to the first time Brennan gave me goosebumps, standing in a courtroom hallway, and here’s to the fact that she keeps surprising me with her fearlessness even now. You’ve still got it, show.