A recurring story in Bones is the mystery of what happened to Brennan’s parents, Matthew and Christine, who disappeared without a trace when she was just 15 years old. After being abandoned by her older brother Russ (Loren Dean), Brennan spent the rest of her youth in foster care, which is one of the main causes of her uneasiness when it comes to forming deep connections with people.
In the season one finale, titled “The Woman in Limbo,” viewers finally learn more about Brennan’s early life. When the Squints are tasked with identifying unknown remains from the Jeffersonian Institute archives, everyone is shocked to discover that the Jane Doe is actually Brennan’s mother, Christine. The entire team struggles to figure out exactly what happened, especially Angela (Michaela Conlin), who shares a sister-like bond with Brennan that will be maintained throughout the series.
Brennan always assumed her parents died in a tragic accident, and when she found out her mother was still alive two years after leaving home, she questioned everything she’d ever known. Brennan is clearly disturbed by this discovery, and the episode marks one of the few times in Season 1 that audiences see the character’s softer side. Despite dealing with corpses all day, Brennan rarely ever becomes emotional, but Deschanel’s nuanced performance in these scenes shows the depth of Brennan’s humanity.