This year’s Christmas episode lacked the emotional impact of Season 1’s quarantine and the puckishness of Season 3’s mistletoe kiss, but it did have something going for it: Shirtless Booth. His clothing became evidence after a man dressed as Santa robbed a bank with a bomb strapped to his chest, exited to meet Booth, and blew up. Watching Booth grow increasingly uncomfortable as Brennan slowly removed his tie, his shirt, his “cocky” belt buckle and his pants (“I’m just gonna start reciting some saints”), was worth sitting through the rest of the hour that while okay, never quite lived up to its potential. It had nice themes — no one should be alone on Christmas, there are different kinds of families, the spirit of the season is worth embracing even if you don’t believe Jesus was born in December — but I didn’t get to know the victim or his mother well enough to tear up when Bones decided that she wanted to go to the funeral because no one should have to bury her son alone on Christmas morning. “You know what, Bones, sometimes I think your heart muscle is bigger than people give you credit for,” Booth said. That’s true, but only because the writers don’t always allow her to flex that muscle when she should.
The case itself went downhill after all the goop was collected (Santa teeth and bones as shrapnel = kinda awesome). It turned out two people who met at debt counseling called the exterminator and forced him to rob the bank. A two-way radio was the trigger for the bomb, and it went off because some man with a pirate radio show came on the frequency to rail about big business corrupting democracy. In the end, he felt so bad he vowed to stop his show, signing off “Peace on Earth.” I wanted to feel something, but again, I didn’t.
Emily Deschanel’s sister Zooey guested on the episode as Margaret, a second cousin Max (Ryan O’Neal) tracked down so Brennan would think she was having a family holiday and wouldn’t spend her Christmas vacation doing volunteer work in El Salvador. Am I a total Scrooge for finding the sister jokes grating (save Booth saying “You’re right, there’s no resemblance whatsoever” after Margaret corrected him)? I can’t decide if “Margaret” was lame or needed to be an episode unto herself to be fully appreciated. Quoting Benjamin Franklin for an hour would have been annoying, but I think it’s interesting that both these women closed themselves off to others. I want to know her backstory.
Brennan ended up hosting a Christmas dinner for Max, Margaret, and her family from the Jeffersonian. It was sweet the way Booth, who didn’t have Parker this holiday, jumped up to save Brennan’s toast, as though they were the couple hosting the dinner party together. Seeing them steal a look and a smile at each other during the hand-holding moment of silence (Brennan’s compromise on Booth asking to say a prayer before eating), was also sweet. But part of me wanted the episode to end with the camera panning under the table and seeing their hands linger before they separated. Too much?
What did you think of the episode? Did they have enough fun with nearly naked Booth? (Hodgins: “Where’s your chest hair?”) Did anyone else stop and think There’s no way Brennan got Angela’s Maverick and Iceman reference? Who else wanted to slap Michelle when she told Cam she wanted to spend Christmas in Hawaii with a friend’s family? (Cam’s argument — if they didn’t spend the holiday together they’d never be a family, just two people who live together — was good, but would a teen on her way to the airport have done a 180 so quickly?) And is this the guest spot you would have chosen for Zooey?