The vehicle of tonight's story is Bones and Booth's reaction to Sweets' book, which is about them. Sweets thinks that if only they let themselves really kiss, once this happens, the dam will break and they'll give in to their deeply held love. Intent on correcting what Bones and Booth see as this mistaken interpretation, the two proceed to tell Sweets the story of how they first met - a year earlier than he and we had assumed.
The story is delightful in details. Cam is still a New York coroner, and she and Booth are a little closer to the time in the past when they had been a couple. Zach is Bones' assistant - a pleasure to see him and his incisively original mind back on the job. Jack is a little rougher at the social edges than he is now, but every bit as brilliant. And Angela's on the verge of being hired by Bones, and indeed is at the end of the flashback.
But also in the flashback is the first kiss. The two enjoyed it, but ... Bones doesn't want to sleep with Booth then because both had a lot of tequila (I've never found that reason very persuasive in a narrative, but ok). They later, after the case is solved, get into a fight - of course - and Bones stalks away, saying she hates Booth, and will never work with him again. This will keep them apart for about a year.
Back in our present, Sweets is persuaded that he indeed may have had it wrong. The narrative of the past has convinced him (Sweets and we have to assume the story we've been told is 100% true - I like thinking there's always a possibility that Bones and Booth guilded or otherwise subtly distorted their story - see Alfred Hitchcock on the unreliable flashback). But in a really class move, Sweets shifts from vexed author to loyal friend and shrink, and strongly urges Booth and Bones to take the plunge now. He urges Booth, the gambler, to make the first move.
Which Booth does, after he and Bones leave Sweets' office. And the kiss has the same result: the two love each other, but it is not going to go anywhere, just as it didn't back in 2004, not now, because Bones does not have the same "open heart" as Booth, as she tells him. I'm still not sure or clear, after tonight and after all of these years, exactly what she means. (My wife says that means that Bones doesn't want to risk her current relationship with Booth for a full romantic relationship - because if that relationship doesn't work out, she might not be able to continue their current working-friend-love-without-sex relationship. He's a gambler but she is not.)
But I guess that's part of the appeal of the show. Two people who can't live with or without each other - a prime example of that, if ever there was one.
Booth says he'll have to move on - I don't believe that. It's also not the case that neither has cared deeply about anyone else since they started working together - Bones was crazy about some guy for a good part of a season a few years ago.
And so Bones, the show, has somehow managed to develop the characters tonight, without disrupting the tension that is the centerpiece of the show. Just as it has done for all of these years.
An impressive, continuing accomplishment indeed.
Bones 100 and 200 podcast reviews
See also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15
The Plot to Save Socrates
"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News
"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book