I cried about a math equation this weekend.
Last week’s Bones victim was a gymnast, her father a professor of theoretical physics. Gymnastic injuries don’t look too different than systematic abuse, and Professor Leon Watters is so reserved in the face of his daughter’s death that Booth has to suspect him. Booth doesn’t have patience for abusive fathers. I like that we’re trusted to get that. When the professor notes that his fatherhood isn’t enough of a defense, all Brennan has to say is “no,” and it’s loaded with all of Booth’s history.
Brennan respects her husband’s system, but she knows the professor better. She recognizes something of herself in his intellectual response to loss. If she lost her partner and daughter within a year, she’d bury herself in work just the same.
Other lives always fall apart when one life is taken. Booth and Brennan know that as well as anyone. It’s why they care. Brennan doesn’t let up from her gut instinct that the professor needs protecting, because she’s fierce and empathetic and forward like that. She realizes that he’s contemplating suicide when no one else does, and she talks him down using logic. That’s her brand of compassion. She helps people make sense of the world. Remember this?
Two plus two equals four. I put sugar in my coffee and it tastes sweet. The sun comes up because the world turns. These things are beautiful to me. There are mysteries I will never understand, but everywhere I look, I see proof that for every effect there is a corresponding cause. Even if I can’t see it. I find that reassuring.
Bones is really good at making logic into a beautiful belief system. Numbers and DNA strands and bone markers don’t take away any of the mystery of life. They only tell our stories from new angles. Every piece of a life broken down and viewed under a microscope is just more proof that we’re unique. The professor tells his daughter’s story the way he knows how: with numbers on a chalkboard, charting her first steps and highest arcs. He didn’t think he knew how to relate to his daughter, but they saw the world the same way. They saw it in movement.
Richard Schiff deserves a truck full of awards for this episode. He was so understated, so contained, but you could see in Professor Watters all of the little fractures of a grief too big to be expressed, especially by a man who was never good at feelings. I cried at every scene he and Emily shared together. Emily Deschanel did some of her finest work here, too, as Brennan just refused to stop showing up in this grieving father’s life. As the episode wound down, I was worried for a minute that we’d seen the last of Watters. As much as I love those B&B end scenes, I needed to see him again. It turns out Brennan did too.
She went back to check on a grieving father, because she’s kind. I think the heart of this show is that caring is an action we choose to take, that all of our actions affect others, and that we each have something very specific to give the world to make it better, to make it make sense. We need each other for that, and we need each other as we are, not as people who need fixing. But maybe a byproduct of liking someone as they are is that we fix them anyway. Booth and Brennan stand at the heart of all of that, but the scope of the show is not limited to them, and it never has been. When they leave each other for a little while to be with people they barely know, I remember how big this show is.
I think I just found a new favorite last scene of Bones.