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TV Snapshots: Paying attention

At the end of “Salt in the Wounds,” FBI Agent Seeley Booth is sitting across from Clinton Gilmour, a high school boy who has fathered several children with a group of high school girls who shared a pact to get pregnant, use Gilmour to do so, and then raise their children together on their own. One of those girls, Ashley Clark (who was 12 weeks pregnant), was murdered earlier in the episode in her efforts to secure the money she needed in order to contribute her share towards a house with the rest of the girls.

After the crime is solved, Booth confesses to his partner, Jeffersonian forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, that he doesn’t understand why a group of high school girls would throw away their futures to get pregnant and raise children. Brennan explains to him that anthropologically it makes sense that they did things the way they did because they’ve been taught by the culture “that women cannot count on men.” She points to Gilmour’s behavior, how he was glad to have sex with the girls without any of the responsibility. Booth then calls Clinton and meets him at the diner.

Booth: There’s something I want you to think about. Sex is never free and easy.

Clinton (smirking): I beg to differ.

Booth pulls out of his jacket pictures of the girls with whom Clinton fathered children and lays them one by one on the table in front of Clinton.

Booth: Because the fact is any one of these girls could change their mind, and you could be paying child support for the rest of your life.

Clinton (obviously shaken): Wait.

Booth: You see these four girls right here. You are responsible for bringing their children into the world. Whether they think so or not, they’re your responsibility. Your children, your responsibility. Do you understand?

He looks hard at Clinton.

Booth: And what you do about that will define what kind of man you are.

Clinton: Hold on a second.

Booth: You ignore that—ignore your children—that’s exactly what you’re going to become: a loser, a deadbeat. For the rest of your life. You know, there’s something else you should think about.

Booth holds up a picture of Ashley.

Booth: Ashley Clark. She was going to have your baby. According to our pathologist, it was going to be a boy.

The boy takes a deep breath.

Clinton: A boy?

Booth: A son.

Booth tears the picture of Ashley in half and then tears it again, and lays the pieces on the table, with the face of Ashley smiling up at them.

Booth: Who died. With his mother.

Clinton (upset): What did you have to tell me all that for?

Booth: Because you needed to hear it.

Booth looks at Clinton.

Booth: Do you understand?

The boy nods, and says quietly—

Clinton: Yes.
Every once in awhile, Bones comes through with a really good scene that brings God-talk into open spaces—like this one.

This conversation is brimming over with the breadth and depth of what it means to value others and life itself. Like recognizing sex has implications beyond the act itself. Like what it can do to people who live in a culture where that’s ignored. Like what it means to change the way you think about people and recognizing their sacredness. And then there’s the acknowledgement of a 12-week-old fetus as a child.

But I can’t help but be particularly struck by how all of these things are brought into open spaces because Seeley Booth is paying attention. Booth had no obligation to this boy. He could have just wrote him off and walked away at the end of the case. But instead, he chooses to intentionally sit down with Clinton and talk about what it means to put the best interests of others above yourself—about what it means to love.

How we respond to people does determine the kind of people we are. Are we people who respect the value of life? Because to do so is to consider the best interest of others before our own interests and desires. Booth put the best of interest of Clinton first. He took the time to talk with him, confront him with his behavior and how it hurts others, and convey what it means to be human, to value life and to love others.

Love isn’t just a feeling; it is the way we choose to look at, behave towards and treat others—and this scene gets at that in more ways than one. And that brings God-talk into open spaces.

(Image: Fox) miscctgy


Keanan Brand said…
I really liked this episode. Well, I wasn't sure about where it was gonna go at first, but the scene you described is awesome, because it brings the responsibility back around: an adult man mentoring a becoming man, if that makes sense, and doing so with wisdom and truth. There isn't enough of that in today's world.

It was confrontational, but it wasn't a lecture. And it's great that it was Booth who talks to the kid, Booth being a father himself, and a man of faith.
Carmen Andres said…
i agree - it is a good picture of speaking truth in love, i think.

i didn't mention in it in the post, but booth's actions are in stark contast to that of another boy he talks to you earlier in the investigation who says he doesn't have sex because of his "commitment to Jesus", but that same boy doesn't have very much respect for the girls he's with. i thought it an effective contrast between two ways we approach our faith. for the boy, his beliefs don't translate into his actions; his actions are indicitive of a shallow faith. for booth (who's catholic, albeit an unorthodox one at times), his actions indicate that his faith is internalized and he responds with love to those around him.