My TV

03 April 2009

Revisiting Camille Saroyan

By // TV

I’ve been enjoying the way Bones is leading to the inevitable Booth and Brennan shenanigans all season long, with the often goofy, character-centered episodes that have become a staple of the show’s fourth season. But it was a nice change of pace to have this week’s episode of Bones focused on the back story of Camille Saroyan. Too often, the level-headed, sensible Saroyan takes a back seat to her far more eccentric colleagues, reduced to nothing more than a dry wit and perfectly sculpted arched eyebrow. This week saw her dealing with the death of an old love in a way that was simultaneously heartbreaking and believable (you could see the pain on her face in every scene, but Camille is nothing if not a professional, and she did her damn job). When the hurt teenage daughter that could have been Camille’s tells her “Maybe [he cheated] because he knew you weren’t good enough. Maybe he was just waiting for the right moment,” she takes a moment. She’s clearly broken and sad, but Camille is a true and complete adult (a rare commodity on television) and she swallows it all and says, “maybe.” I love that Camille is enough of an adult that she doesn’t blow up on a mourning teenage girl just because she said that meanest thing she could think of.

On top of this, the renewed emphasis on Bones and Camille’s differing world views was a welcome return to their original strange chemistry. The two strong, brilliant women disagreeing can be amazing, and brings out the best in both of them. But when they agree, and bond over their shared inability to deal with people, it’s gold.

Camille: Questioning people isn’t really my thing. Most of the time I just want to beat them until they tell me what I want to hear.
Brennan: I know. It can be quite frustrating.

And Brennan and Camille bonding over Camille’s desire to save her once-would-be-daughter (referencing the pain Brennan once felt in being a foster child, tossed through the system) was probably one of the most beautiful moments in the series history of non-Booth/Brennan chemistry, and really emphasized how far they’ve both come.

While the Camille-focused storyline breathed fresh air into the show, there were still a lot of sticking points, where the show seems incapable of getting the tonal balance quite right. The angela is uber horny storyline was sort of stupid, and I’m inclined to side with intern of the week Craig that it’s inappropriate in the workplace. But the payoff with the “romantic partner” coming in to get Angela to back off (but in true feminist solidarity, not being angry at all, but sympathizing with the plight of a woman trying not to reduce all her relationships to sex) was almost enough to make me forgive the ridiculousness of Angela being reduced to a mass of hormones throughout the rest of the episode. Plus, it led to some pretty funny analysis (and objectification) of the male actors on the show.

My favorite?

Angela: [re: Hodgins] He does have a terrific ass.”
Brennan: Perhaps that’s why you’re always making him leave.

And oh my god was the fantasy sequence inside the hypnosis sequence idiotic. It was funny, but it didn’t fit in an otherwise serious and moving episode, and like the recent boat apparition and emphasis on the supernatural, didn’t seem to belong in a show quite so rooted in science (although “Uh… dude? You’re blocking my way.” to the giraffe was pretty funny).

All together, a damn fine episode. Hopefully we’ll get more of this type of character building, and less being trapped on a boat in the upcoming episodes.

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