The Bikini in the Soup
A dead body is found in a tanning bed, and the team is called in to investigate. There are no signs of a break-in, and Dr. Saroyan hopes it was an accident rather than murder. Brennan thinks that the individual was female based on the mastoid process and rounded frontal bone. A sternal rib end suggests she was in her 30s. As the team is surveying the body, an eyeball rolls backward then collapses, oozing vitreous humor down the face.
At the Jeffersonian, Brennan says that, based on the state of decomposition, which was accelerated by the heat and UV radiation, the woman has been dead 32 to 38 hours. Dr. Edison notes a fracture to the zygomatic arch and a mandibular fracture at the symphysis, but Brennan notices that those fractures are remodelled and thus a few years old. Dr. Saroyan found alcohol and traces of Diazepam in the victim's tox screen, making her think that the victim popped a pill, had a drink, and fell asleep in the tanning bed. Dr. Edison then finds sharp force trauma to the fourth and fifth ribs as well as superficial nicks to the corresponding thoracic vertebrae. The victim had been stabbed through the heart, so she was indeed murdered. Hodgins finds what looks like a butterfly wing in the victim's hair, and Brennan further notes that the victim's index finger was broken around the time of death.
The victim is identified as Wendy Bovitz, a wedding planner. Booth and Sweets talk to Darren, Wendy's assistant. He suggests that Wendy was overwhelmed by the Erickson wedding because Warren Erickson was demanding and had threatened Wendy when she went over budget on his daughter's wedding. Angela brings Booth Wendy's laptop and shows him a file labeled "in case of death." The file is a photograph of Wendy with bruises on her face and the caption, "If anything happens to me, it was my husband." Booth tracks down Greg Bovitz, who is driving a horse-drawn carriage to a wedding. The Bovitzes were temporarily separated, and Greg suggests that Wendy's file referred to her first husband, Tom Berry, who had a history of abusing her but who was subsequently killed in a bar fight. Greg also suggests Booth talk to Warren Erickson because of a screaming fight they had.
Booth and Brennan head over to the wedding of Erickson's daughter, Raina. Erickson is angry about the wedding details and Raina is upset that she isn't getting everything she wanted. Brennan gets a call from the Jeffersonian team that the victim's finger was dislocated at the articular capsule and that Saroyan found epithelial cells underneath one fingernail. Brennan asks Erickson for a DNA sample, which he refuses to give. Fortunately, his son is a convicted criminal and his DNA is on record with CODIS, which should give them enough information to tell if the skin cells are a match. Based on his psychological profile of Erickson, Sweets thinks that he could well have snapped and killed Wendy.
Back at the Jeffersonian, Hodgins has identified the errant object in the victim's hair. It was not a moth or butterfly wing, as those would have membranes. The rigid, polarized walls indicate it was vegetation, and Hodgins runs a capillary electrophoresis. He determines that it was Oncidium, an orchid blossom. Wendy was either wearing an orchid in her hair or was smacked on the head with an orchid. Edison and Saroyan discuss the DNA results from the epithelial cells under the victim's nails. There is a 65% match with the brother in prison, suggesting that one of his relatives left DNA on the victim. Edison immediately assumes it was the father, but Saroyan points out a segment of DNA that indicates it came from a woman. Booth and Brennan quiz Raina on her whereabouts at the time of the murder. Raina admits to having gone to Wendy's house and fighting with her. But they made up after their brief quarrel and fight.
Edison sets to work on figuring out the murder weapon. Based on a reconstruction of the ribs, he enlists Angela's help to recreate the shape of the weapon. It was vaguely star-shaped and cylindrical, likely tapering to a point. Hodgins somehow determines that the murder weapon was cast iron, probably hand-forged. Angela finds out from the victim's computer that she had recently transferred 50% ownership to Darren and that she had left the entire business to him in the event of her death. This fact leads Booth and Brennan to question Darren again, suspecting that was a motive for murder. He denies it, but they notice him putting bride and groom cake toppers into Raina's wedding cake. The shape of the post that anchors the figure in the cake matches Edison's reconstruction of the murder weapon.
However, Angela finds out that Greg Bovitz used Wendy's computer to check his email not too long before the murder. He must have found that she'd given away her business to Darren, Brennan reasons, and killed her. Brennan reports to Booth that they found the murder weapon with traces of the victim's blood on it as well as horse hoof oil. The evidence is circumstantial but all points to Greg Bovitz as the killer. Booth and Brennan interrogate Bovitz and, by comparing him to Wuthering Heights' Heathcliff, Brennan gets Bovitz to confess to having killed his estranged wife.
The episode ends with the various characters getting their Valentine's Day presents. Dr. Saroyan gets a limo with flowers in it; Edison dresses as Cupid and makes double entendres for Nora; Hodgins splices rose DNA with a slime mold that he names Angelicis montenegris; and Brennan steals what I think were tommy guns from the Roaring 20s exhibit at the Jeffersonian and brings them to the shooting range for Booth.
- The forensics this week seemed pretty good to me, overall.
- Brennan always seems to go for the cranium in estimating sex. There was a pelvis with a sufficiently exposed pubis for estimating sex through primary traits; why go for the secondary characteristics on the skull? At least the secondary characteristics were valid.
- Edison finds nicks to the anterior bodies of a couple thoracic vertebrae; but the bodies shown appeared to be lumbar. They were far too thick to be T4-5.
- Anyone know if capillary electrophoresis would be a reasonable thing to do? And whether it would pinpoint a genus?
- Are cake toppers generally made out of cast iron? I guess the idea was that these particular cake toppers were hand-made for Raina and her husband, and that one of those specific cake toppers was the murder weapon. Otherwise, I don't understand how Brennan found the actual murder weapon with traces of the victim's blood on it.
- The victim still had Raina's cells under her fingernails from their altercation when her estranged husband killed her? Did she not wash her hands in between? I guess we don't always wash under our fingernails, so some time could have elapsed.
- Would Brennan's tricked confession from Greg Bovitz stand up in a court of law?
- Another week, another hybrid slime mold! At least the writers didn't call it a phylogenetic mold this time.
- Brennan can just borrow historical guns from the Jeffersonian? And take them off premises? And shoot them? Also, if anyone knows what specific kind of guns they were, I'm now curious.
- Oh, and as usual, the fibulae are placed medially when they should be lateral in a skeleton laid out in anatomical position.
Fact Checking Brennan's Trivia: Wikipedia tells me that Coco Chanel did indeed return from a cruise in 1923 with a tan and started a new trend. Various things happened on February 14 in history: James Polk was the first president to have his photo taken (although it may have been 1848, not 1849 as Brennan says), Oregon was admitted as the 33rd state in 1859, and Alexander Graham Bell applied for a telephone patent in 1876. It was also, of course, the date of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
This Week's Literary Quotation: "I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you / when I sit alone or wake at night, alone / I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again / I am to see to it that I do not lose you." - To a Stranger (1900), Walt Whitman (in Leaves of Grass)
Eerie Similarity to My Life: The victim had a photograph on her computer with the caption, "If anything happens to me, my husband did it." This actually gave me pause because I was an assistant on a forensic case in which a very similar thing was said: by a husband, about his wife, to his elementary school-aged son shortly before he (the father) doused himself in gasoline and set his car on fire. It's something I'll likely never forget, particularly because it's so horrible to put such a doubt in your kid's mind about his mother when he's just lost his father.
Forensic Mystery - A-. Pretty good this week, although the victim's identity was found quite early on. I definitely prefer the episodes where the team has to pull from their bag of tricks to figure out the ID. There were plenty of people who had access to the victim's house and who were upset with her, so there was a good amount of redirection and false confidence in who the murderer was. Even without any real amount of back story on the victim, I was interested in her life and death.
Forensic Solution - B+. Also pretty good forensic work. Age and sex seemed reasonably determined, and the fracture patterning suggested old injuries, perimortem injuries, and the actual cause of death. Still not clear on how they found the murder weapon, how there was still blood on it, or how they tied that weapon to the murderer. The end of the episode seemed a bit sloppy at tying up all the loose ends so that everyone could be shown doing their V-Day thing.
Drama - B. There were no big revelations this week, which was fine by me. A few hints at the Brennan-Booth pairing, and some very lame Valentine's Day related anxiety for Edison, Hodgins, and Saroyan. Tonight's episode is also number 14 - coincidence?!? Yeah, I think so.