After a decade away, Sully picks an interesting time to drop by the Jeffersonian
Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FOX
S12 E8
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I knew I liked Sully. But Bones fans, I didn’t realize how much I missed Sully.

When Tim “Sully” Sullivan (Eddie McClintock) dated Brennan back in Bones’ (stellar) second season, even Booth had to admit he was a cut above most of Brennan’s boyfriends. Tonight, from the distance of 10 years, Angela calls him “the only guy besides Booth who ever stood a chance.” And while the competition wasn’t all that great (the jealous professor, the murderer, the physicist who couldn’t tie his shoes…), I like to think that even if it were, Sully would still come away with the title.

Booth’s FBI buddy had a list of degrees a mile long and the skills to match. He built furniture. He played basketball. His teammates called him “Peanut” — and the nickname was ironic. Sully respected Brennan, and he pushed through her defenses without pushing her, but he also had a case of wanderlust, which is how he wound up buying a boat and sailing off to the Caribbean. When he asked Brennan to join him, it felt bittersweet but right that she chose to wave goodbye instead. She had to stay and help people, and she had to do it with Booth. But now that Sully’s back, I want to pull a Mulan’s grandma and ask him to stay forever.

After all this time, Sully shows up at the Jeffersonian because he heard about Brennan’s dad and wanted to make sure she’s okay. Because he’s a thoroughly decent person. Look at him! He’s dressed like he’s ready to shoot a granola commercial! And he was right to check on Brennan, because she isn’t okay, and both she and Booth are surprised to find that as Brennan suffers, so does their relationship. She’s pulling back from her husband and burying herself in work, which gets a lot easier when a body turns up — in Canada. See ya later, Booth.

Booth, who’s all but begging his wife to let him in, doesn’t want to go. He tells Brennan he loves her and wants to be here for her, but Brennan says the best thing he can do for her right now is give her space, and he listens. The next day, Booth and Aubrey land in Newfoundland (in a plane so tiny, you just know Booth hates it) to investigate the murder of Sarah Abbott, an American citizen whose body washed up on the shore.

Sarah, age 22, lost her parents in a car crash when she was eight. Her grandma Stella, who raised her after that, passed away just four months ago, and there’s a picture in Sarah’s pocket of one of Stella’s paintings: a local alcove she called “Secret Harbor.” That at least helps explains what brought Sarah to the island. Booth sets out with the FBI’s in-country contact, Officer Gilda Sandling of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to track down that cove.

As it turns out, that’s exactly what Sarah was doing — with everyone in town. While showing the painting around a local bar, Sarah caught the attention of Adam Hitchcock, slimy American son of slimy American real estate developer David Hitchcock (imagine him as… whichever hotel chain owner you hate the most in this current climate). The Hitchcocks are in town scouting land for a new luxury resort, and Adam offered to drive Sarah around so he could make a move on her. Sarah’s temporary landlady, a local celeb in the jerky world — and thus Aubrey’s hero — says she heard Adam tell Sarah she’d regret turning him down.

Ever the entitled rich kid, Adam has a past: a sexual assault accusation that his father made disappear. He’s also been accused of blackmailing contractors. Booth does not like him at all. He gets in Adam’s face, and Gilda apologizes for it, thanking Adam for his time and calling Booth “out of line.” But this isn’t a matter of Canadian politeness; Gilda just doesn’t want to lose the economic boost a major developer could give the town. I’m so disappointed in Gilda right now. She tells Booth she’s not trying to shut him out, but it’s too late for that — Booth is already feeling pretty shut out. His wife is back home showing photos of their kids to an old flame who has a sandwich named after her.

NEXT: Murder and Sully

It’s true: Sully owns a sandwich shop. He’s living his dream. He even named sandwiches after Booth and Brennan: Booth’s is a triple-decker meat and cheese (it’s on rye, so Booth approves), and Brennan’s is the Tempe Tempeh (perfect). She shows Sully photos of the kids, and Sully reminds me of how wonderful he is when he quips that they’re “probably not too smart.” (“Of course they’re smart!” “I’m KIDDING.”)

How well has Brennan kept in touch with Sully? It’s clear she knows a little something about what’s been going on with her old friend — she knows he doesn’t live on the East Coast, and she knows he’s been dating a musician. But that’s Facebook friend-type info, which would make a lot more sense if I believed that Brennan ever checks Facebook.

The squints have questions, too, and it’s surprising to see so many of them worry that Booth and Brennan’s relationship could be in danger. What are they, anxious Bones fans? (Kinda.) While Hodgins keeps a level head, reminding everyone that Sully is a prince, Clark gives in to his inner office gossip. And when Aubrey asks Angela to give him the scoop on Sully and Brennan’s past, even Ange seems worried that Brennan could seek comfort in the arms of her ex. Grief affects everyone differently, but no matter how upset Brennan is, that seems unlikely.

For Sarah, grief pushed her to research her family’s history, so Angela follows suit. She’s like… (Anybody? No?) According to local records, Stella Lewis, whose maiden name is listed as Stella Anders, was born in Newfoundland as Estelle Andreassen. And while Sarah was putting up photos of Stella’s painting in a grocery store, she ran into Lucy Andreassen, who turns out to be Sarah’s first cousin once removed. Neither Sarah nor Lucy figured out that Lucy’s mother was Stella’s sister, but they did manage to piece together that the two women knew each other.

Lucy took Sarah to Secret Harbor and told her she was welcome there any time, even when the family wasn’t home. That would have been a great example of Canadian politeness if it hadn’t gotten Sarah killed. She was impaled by a hunter’s arrow and then tossed over a cliff.

As for the source of that arrow, a woman named Kathleen, the daughter of the man who owns the local hunting shop, confesses to the crime, but she’s lying. Adam Hitchcock had his rich little heart set on shooting a caribou, so he bribed her into taking him to the Andreassens’ land. He saw movement and took a blind shot, and when his arrow hit Sarah instead, he paid Kathleen handsomely to help him cover it up.

So ends the juiciest scandal to rock this island since the jerky lady added teriyaki to the mix. And it’s not over yet — Sarah was found with an old Viking needle around her neck, so while the squints have been working her murder, Clark and Hodgins have also been searching for signs of Vikings. They find them, conveniently, in Secret Harbor; from the satellite images, it looks like there’s a whole settlement under there. Hodgins toasts their success, “To Vikings!” which is just about the most Hodginsy toast possible. And if they follow up on this story line, I’m going to have to demand a Katheryn Winnick cameo.

NEXT: Even more toasts

As for the other third wheel from Booth and Brennan’s past, he’s out enjoying a fancy dinner with Brennan. Sully tells her he’s happy to listen if she wants to talk about her dad, and Brennan winds up crying. It’s my favorite bit of acting we’ve seen from Emily Deschanel in years: The tears come out in a rush, and Brennan isn’t sure what to do about it. She tells Sully she doesn’t know why she’s crying, which, in early years, is the sort of thing she might have said when she meant she hated seeming emotional. But she’s fine with crying now; all she means is that she doesn’t know why she’s crying with Sully.

“Booth is the one who’s been here,” Brennan says. “He’s the one I’ve built my life with. So why am I letting you in and he feels so far away?” With Sully’s help, and maybe a bit of quality alone time, she gets to the bottom of it: She doesn’t want to have to worry about assuaging Booth’s guilt right now. She just wants to be sad without having to reassure Booth that she doesn’t blame him. It sure would be great if Booth’s past would stop putting them in this position.

We’re just psychoanalyzing the team left and right tonight. Sully tells Brennan he knows how it feels to be at the mercy of the grieving process; he lost his FBI partner the year before he met her, and looking back, he thinks that miiiight have had something to do with the whole sailing-off-to-the-Caribbean thing. As for why he didn’t come back after a year, that’s just love. Sully tells Brennan he knew she was going to choose Booth in the end. Everyone could always see it.

Sully packs up and heads out, and Brennan encourages him not to talk himself out of happiness with his 28-year-old oboe-playing girlfriend, who does sound pretty cool. And then Brennan goes home to the man she stayed behind for, reminding Booth that Sully means so much to her precisely because he helped make this possible. “Without Sully,” she says, “I don’t think I would have been ready for you.” Booth and Brennan are pretty much the only two people who never thought she’d sleep with Sully, aren’t they? Aside from Hodgins. And Sully.

And we haven’t even gotten to Max’s funeral. Brennan eulogizes her father with a lovely Viking tie-in about Valhalla and the quest for bravery; she imagines the Valkyrie would be pretty impressed by the fact that Max gave his life to protect his grandkids, but any good parent would do the same. “To me,” Brennan says, “the bravest battle Max Keenan ever fought was the one he began over 10 years ago, when he reentered my life. Since then, every day he has fought to show me how much he loved me and to make me believe that I could trust him again. And he won that fight.”

Not a bad legacy.

Bits and pieces:

  • “You’ve aged.” “Um, yes. Thank you?”
  • “Nålebinding” is Clark’s “skalle.”
  • Aubrey read up on local Canadian slang. I love him more by the day.
  • “Tim Sullivan: former special agent, now professional sandwich maker.” “Oh! Maybe my new idol.”
  • After all these years, Sully still does that cute little kneel thing before he hugs Brennan, like he’s asking for permission.
  • “So?” “So… so I see your point.”

Episode Recaps

Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz play a will-they-won’t-they crime-solving duo.
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