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'Bones' Season 9 Episode 20: Above the Law

Paul Levinson Paul Levinson
April 8th, 2014 7:17am EDT

Bones

A philosophically profound Bones 9.20, which tackles the issue of whether there's a more ethical course of action possible than just following the law.  The occasion is Wendell's use of marijuana as part of his cancer treatment, and the reaction of our major characters is instructive.

First, to give some  historical context, Socrates famously drank the hemlock and died, accepting the death sentence of the Athenian court, when given a chance to escape by his old friend Crito. According to Plato's account, Socrates said that although he may relentlessly criticize the state, he would never put himself above it, which is what evading its death sentence would do.

Now, as much as I admire Socrates, I always disagreed with him on this.  An unjust decision should not be followed, even if lawful.   There was once a law in the United States, for example, which said racial discrimination was permissible.  States made laws which enforced segregation.   Eventually, that law was overturned.  But was it moral to follow the state laws before the Supreme Court finally got around in 1954 to ruling segregation in education was unconstitutional?  I don't think so.  The better course of action was for people to violate the immoral state laws and defy segregation.

On Bones, Bones, Hodgins, and Angela - that is, the smartest people on the show - both support Wendell's decision to use marijuana, and continue on the Federal job at the Jeffersonian as an intern, even though marijuana is still illegal by Federal law.  In other words, they think there is higher calling and code of conduct than just following the law.   Booth and Cam think otherwise.

To Booth's credit, he eventually comes around, because he has a depth of character and Bones is a good influence.  Cam, unsurprisingly, does not - she fires Wendell, and only lets him come back to work when Caroline figures out a way that he can be hired as an independent contractor rather than an employee of the Jeffersonian.

Cam, in other words and I'm sorry to say, represents the worst kind of shallow bureaucrat in our society: the person who follows the law, blindly, and in the face of a clear ethical imperative to the contrary.   She's done this before, and the way her character has been behaving this season makes me wish Dr. Goodman from the first was brought back to head this wing of the Jeffersonian.

Photo Credits: FOX


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