November 4, 2010

Bones - Season 6, Episode 5 (Review)

The Bones That Weren't

Episode Summary

A skateboarder breaks into a construction site and trips over a human skull peeking out of the recently-poured concrete. After Booth and Hannah discuss her going to Anacostia to ferret out a dirty cop, Booth, Brennan, and Sweets meet up in the diner for some "squint" talk about first-order logic. Thankfully, they get a call about the skull in the pavilion. On site, Brennan estimates the skull is male from the angle of the jaw and estimates the individual was in his late 20s from the wear on his teeth. At the lab, they realize that there are no other bones, just a cast of the bones in the concrete. Viziri is back, ostensibly from a stint as a cultural anthropologist, and he suggests injecting a barium-sulfate slurry into the concrete and then using fluoroscopy to create an image of what is encased therein. Clearly the tissue decomposed first, as the resulting image is of a skeleton rather than a body. Further investigation reveals that the left central maxillary incisor had a dental tattoo on it, which points the team at the identity of the individual. Angela borrows an additive stereolithograph from the archaeology department and "prints" a 3D replica of the skeleton based on the cast generated by Viziri, who notes that the victim had "turned out hips," high arches, and (anomalous?) muscle attachments at the hips and shoulders. The victim was a ballet dancer. After a brief foray to a dance studio, where we meet a woman whom the victim injured accidentally, we head back to the lab, where Dr. Saroyan finds circular microfractures on the skull, which Viziri interprets as evidence of breakdancing. Hodgins shows up and mentions that he's found evidence of Blastomysis dermatitidis, a fungus that attacked the bone. There was an outbreak in Kalorama Park a few months ago. He also found flecks of bronze. Booth and Bones head to the park, where they meet a lot of buskers, including a guy dressed as a statue who only talks in Shakespearean quotations. Their additional suspects include the park's janitor and a couple of the buskers who knew the victim. At the lab, Viziri notes that there are nicks to the right tibia, femur, and ilium, the back of the 10th rib on the left side, the left transverse process of the T6, and the right scapula. Angela concludes that the victim was pushed off a high portion of the construction site and into some exposed vertical rebar. Dr. Saroyan notes that the transverse process injury does not line up with the rebar-inflicted punctures. The victim was stabbed and the fungus was introduced. Hodgins and Viziri conclude from their swab of the Dumpster that the fungus may have come from the sharp trash poker that the janitor carries around. However, this does not tie him specifically to the murder. Brennan realizes that the perpetrator may have left a handprint while attempting to "bury" the victim under plastic. Hodgins suggests trying vacuum metal deposition of gold, which binds with the lipids from the fingerprints. They get a handprint from a small child or a woman with small hands, and they invite the ballet teacher and the busker in for questioning. After they handle the glasses in the interrogation room, Booth has enough evidence to arrest the busker for the murder. The busker and the victim were both pickpockets, but the victim apparently crossed the busker, and she got mad. Oh yeah, and Hannah gets shot in the leg, then bonds with Brennan over gifting in the hospital.

Forensic Comments
  • Estimating sex based on the angle of the jaw is pretty sketchy. I'm honestly not even sure what that means - gonial eversion? Definitely wouldn't trust that sex estimate. Similarly, our teeth are so lightly worn in the age of processed food (and some people grind their teeth) that I doubt Brennan could estimate late 20s so specifically. I would want to confirm with the plastic skeleton that the sex was male (not "a male" as Booth said - it is either "a man" or "male characteristics" - yeah, picky).
  • I'm not up on my slurries, but the barium-sulfate injection combined with the fluoroscopy sounded reasonable to me.
  • Angela got the stereolithograph from the archaeology department. Maybe at the Jeffersonian, archaeology is that well-funded. Most of us don't have 3D printers just lying around. Nor ones that shoot lasers in all directions. Fancy.
  • I don't buy that the victim had "turned out hips." This seems to be a ballet move, but I'm not sure what the concomitant change to the skeleton would be - some sort of exostosis on the anterolateral head of the femur?
  • I really wanted to complain about Brennan's pronunciation of malleolus, but it seems I am wrong. Or rather, in my defense, I use a classical Latin pronunciation (malleOlus - as I took 10 years of the language) rather than an Americanized medical pronunciation (mallEolus).
  • Blastomysis dermatitidis is the organism involved in blastomycosis, a fungal infection that causes lytic lesions in bone. I didn't realize it could completely eat bone, though, nor that it could survive in dead bone. But maybe this part is realistic.
  • Picky consistency issue: one of the wounds is to the left transverse process of T6, as noted by Viziri, and it shows up on Angela's image that way as well. But Dr. Saroyan says that the anomalous wound is to the right transverse process of T6.
  • Hannah must have crappy doctors that none of them noticed an avulsion fracture of her femur.
  • The vacuum metal deposition technique is really pretty cool.

Dialogue

Tonight's dialogue is brought to you by the conversation between Sweets and the human statue, which went on (almost) entirely in Shakespeare quotations. To wit:
  • An honest tale speeds best being plainly told. - Richard III, IV.iv
  • Truth is truth to the end of reckoning. - Measure for Measure, V.i
  • There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. - Hamlet V.ii
  • By Isis, I will give thee bloody teeth if thou with [Robert] paragon again. - Antony and Cleopatra, I.v
  • Were we burdened with like weight of pain as much or more we should ourselves complain. - Comedy of Errors, II.i
  • One may smile and smile and be a villain. - Hamlet, I.v
  • A cutpurse of the empire and the rule, that from a shelf the precious diadem stole and put it in his pocket. - Hamlet, III.iv
  • Where the offense is, let the great axe fall. - Hamlet IV.v
  • I can no other answer make but thanks and thanks. - Twelfth Night, III.iii
  • How far that little candle throws his beams, so shines a good deed in a naughty world. - Merchant of Venice, V.i
And that, kids, is what you may be able to do some day with your English lit degree: write throw-away dialogue for a TV show.

Ratings

Forensic Mystery - A-. The mystery of how the victim got encased in concrete was pretty good, and there was sufficient misdirection about the murderer. Because there was no real drama surrounding the victim (e.g., family, lover, etc.), I have to dock this a bit.

Forensic Solution - A. Between the barium-sulfite slurry and the 3D printer and the fancy fungus, plus lifting very latent fingerprints, this was a stellar forensic solution. Well, except that most of the solution was not of the anthropological variety - the bones really just IDed the person.

Drama - F. So the drama of the forensic part was pretty good, although I wasn't that interested in the victim because he's not shown as having anything that he was living for (e.g., family, lover, job). But the Hannah parts were interminable. I thought that I had no connection with the victim, but I have even less connection with her. I cringed every time she showed up on the screen. The writers have done very little to make me care about her, to make her a real person, or to make her relationship with Booth seem realistic. In an episode that was supposed to hold some drama about Hannah's life, I was not feeling it. At all.

Overall, though, I really liked this episode. There was good forensic science, and the plot moved along quite nicely. The writers made me smile when the statue broke character (oh, how I miss the sphinges along the Via dei Fori Imperiali in Rome!) and made me come around to the dark side of loving an episode of Bones with "An honest tail speeds best being plainly told." With episode 5, Bones is (I hope) finally hitting its stride.

6 comments:

Heather Turner said...

This season is really not working out so well. Some pretty bad episodes in the lot. This episode in particular is sticking out for poor writing, a weird cheese-a-thon , also, crappy directing.

Thanks for this blog- your points are dead on!

Heather Turner said...

ps. what was the deal with that Shakespeare guy? boy did they have some time to kill in this episode. :(
hope next one is better

Bone Girl said...

Aw, I liked the Shakespeare guy. It actually gave Sweets something valid to do. Plus, random Shakespeare lines! The writers found appropriate language from a variety of plays, even if it was Hamlet-heavy.

But I do agree that there were a bunch of time-wasting threads: Hannah, the dancing dude in the park (impressive, but not really relevant), and Shakespeare. Those are things they could have cut to make us more interested in the murder victim.

Heather B. said...

Yeah, that whole "turned out hips" thing is bad medicobabble. The only place you'd see markers indicative of a ballet dancer is in the distal ends of the metatarsals and phalanges-- and that's only for female ballet dancers who've danced for years in pointe shoes. Otherwise you'd just see what you'd expect from a very flexible athlete.

Heather Turner said...

I agree with how cool on its face the Shakespeare-fluent character was. I was more criticizing the point that it felt tacked into the show for no reason, other than to have Sweets do his bit part in the case. Most of this particular episode just felt contrived, like the total lack of mystique about the victim's identity.
Booth and Bones walk into some park and randomly run right into flake street performers who were friends with the victim... then the Shakespeare guy, then the terrible Hannah stuff.
yikes.

I'm much more pleased about tonight's episode-(07) was much more in the vein of previous seasons, with an interesting case to solve and none of the main character roles were overdone. There were a few different strands of storyline going on, which worked out great without being overworked.

I guess every good show has a slump season somewhere in the mix after aging a few years.

onix said...

how about the victims hips were in that posture, wich an unpractised person couldn't be? (as a result of a lack of practice) what i dont get, maybe i should reread, is how the skeletal impressions got there if he wasnt dumped there as a skeleton. corpses in vulcanic ash (or concrete) leave corpse shapes even with the bones dissolved. (and how did that happen in fresh concrete?) (decides to throw a piece of bone in concrete on the next occasion) also i would guess in some or perhaps many cases you could make that kind of assesment from a skull only. however must say it would be general characteristics and not a jaw's angle there for me. the thing is people identify sex after bony characteristics of a face, they can do so for a portion of faces, perhaps 30 percent, (woman prefer half bony faced man, not man with exagerated testosterone effects in the facial bones)

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