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bones.jpgBones‘ is my weekly, tv guilty pleasure. I watch not only because Booth (aka Angel) and Brennan are a reincarnation of the chemistry between ‘The X File’s’ Sully and Mulder, but also because of their ongoing faith vs. science debate. Booth plays the religion guy, who can intuit the emotions of others, and take regular leaps of faith, while Bones is the super-rational, brilliant, scientist, who has a hard time talking about love without reducing it to brain chemistry. Occasionally, the series airs an episode that explicitly explores this tension. Last week’s episode, “The Devil In the Details” was classic in this regard.
The opening scene takes place in a church. A Catholic priest is getting ready for mass, an altar boy at his side, when they smell burning, and discover that someone has lit a fire on the altar of the church, and a body lay across it–a body with horns! When Bones shows up to see the remains, she’s fascinated by the horns (and tail) but Booth is nervous to go near the body–he’s worried it could be the devil for real. For once he’s eager for Bones to denounce it all with science.


The best is yet to come: we find out devil-boy lived in a mental institution and thought he was the son of satan. When the gang pays a visit to investigate, they meet a beautiful young woman (a fellow patient with devil-boy) who believes she is an angel–the angel uriel to be exact. She claims to regularly speak to god and do god’s bidding, which possibly includes murdering devil-boy. The highlight is perhaps her painting: she’s covered a large canvas with a cross and devil-boy strung up on it, horns and all, with the lance pointed in the right side of his ribcage, just like Jesus, herself holding the lance. (If only I could order a poster.)
The entire episode danced between the totally fun, kitschy-religious, and more heartfelt ruminating on faith. Throughout, the characters struggle to understand the strange scenario before them, their personal religious and nonreligious beliefs, and the fact that it is taking far too long for their science skills to give them the comfortable explanations they so desire. My one wish was that the writers made angel-girl less cliche (she sees invisible objects–like her pretend lance, for example) and more like a classic Christian mystic figure, who has visions and communicates with God, but perhaps without such easily dismissible, child-like tendencies. This would have added to the tension between faith vs. science, but even more, between modern psychology’s tendency to diagnose religious experience.
Overall, though, the sillier side of the faith themes I enjoyed. A body with horns and a tail, plus a living girl who think she’s an angel–what will they think of next? In case you missed it, the full episode is streaming online on Fox.
Bones

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