Bones - Season 6, Episode 15 (Review)
The Killer in the Crosshairs
The episode opens with cross-cutting of two parallel stories: Jacob Broadsky gets ready for his day in a hotel, giant rifle propped up against the wall, and Brennan is jogging when Booth, on his day off, joins her. As Booth and Brennan get coffee, Broadsky sets up shop in a warehouse and kills a man who is carrying a briefcase full of money. He leaves the corpse, and the gooey bits quickly liquefy and get eaten by rats.
Booth, Brennan, and Miss Julian are called to the scene. Based on the presence of the rats and the state of the body, Brennan estimates it has only been a matter of hours since the victim died. She also estimates, based on the heart-shaped superior (pelvic) inlet, that the victim was male. Booth confirms this with his clothing and ID: Walter Crane. The hand-made copper bullet Booth finds in the wall and the manner of death - severing the spinal cord from the brain stem at the level of C5 - both suggest Broadsky's work.
At the Jeffersonian, Mr. Nigel-Murray is restraining himself from divulging random factoids because his sponsor thinks it's his way of distancing himself in interpersonal relationships. The cause of death, Nigel-Murray confirms, is high velocity (penetrating) trauma resulting in the severing of the spinal cord. Brennan points out, however, that Walter Crane was born and raised in Virginia, but the nitrogen isotope ratios from his bone apatite suggest he was a midwesterner. Hodgins discovers that the money the victim was carrying was counterfeit: it had been bleached (sodium hypochlorite). The victim was actually Walter Coolidge and was in the witness protection program for ratting out a man named Ortiz. Booth questions Ortiz, who said that Broadsky called him and offered to kill Coolidge.
Since Broadsky's victims are all people who got away with something, Booth thinks that Broadsky must be getting information from someone in law enforcement, a tip-off a la Dexter. He and Brennan run through a list of U.S. marshals who had connections to both the Gravedigger case and the Coolidge counterfeiting case. Eventually, Booth suspects that Broadsky's informant is Corporal Paula Ashwaldt, a decorated war veteran whose life Broadsky saved in the field. Booth confronts Ashwaldt, who admits to having given Broadsky information about the Gravedigger case. When pressed about the security of her computer files, Ashwaldt admits that she trusted Broadsky; she offers to go through her files to see what had been tampered with if Booth will give her time before arresting her. She is then quickly dispatched in the next scene, having committed suicide.
Booth and Brennan head to Broadsky's property from Episode 11 to see if he's there. He's not, but circling carrion birds lead them to a dead deer. The fragmentation of its skull indicates it had been used as target practice, but Booth can't figure out how the shot was accomplished. Brennan brings the deer back to the Jeffersonian to see if the team can reconstruct more about the kind of weapon used. Hodgins finds out that the bullet fragments are titanium and tungsten with other alloys. What's interesting is that it's a big bullet - 110 caliber - and that it fragmented into over 150 pieces, yet there is no sign of impact at the tip. Angela suspects that the circuitry found in the venison was part of the bullet, designed to allow the shooter to detonate the bullet in a difficult-to-access location.
Meanwhile, Booth finds Broadsky in his house. Broadsky suggests that it's Booth's fault that Ashwaldt is dead and that it'll be Booth's fault if he's collateral damage at some point in the future. Jarred by this encounter, Booth seeks out Sweets to ask why Brennan seems to equate Broadsky and Booth. Sweets reassures Booth that he has a moral compass that Broadsky lacks.
The sophisticated bullet leads Booth and Miss Julian to Mr. Winkler, an arms manufacturer. He can't give them much information about Broadsky's intentions, but Broadsky did happen to give Winkler the exact specs for the room in which the intended victim would be shot: 30x18 feet, marble paneling and floor, and a 12-ft-high copper ceiling. Before Angela can cross-reference this with plans on file for D.C., Miss Julian realizes that it's the women's room of the federal courthouse. Based on her reconstruction of the practice shots taken on the deer, Angela thinks that Broadsky's going to set up on the rooftop at Riggs and 18th Streets. Booth and Brennan hurry to the roof but don't see Broadsky. They realize, as they're talking to Miss Julian about the possible victims in the courthouse, that the men's bathroom is identical. They race to find Broadsky and set up a clean shot, but Booth only manages to disable Broadsky's weapon without killing him.
And in other plot news, Angela's father comes back to town and for some unknown reason demands to name his grandchild. Hodgins for some reason agrees to this, until the name is revealed: Staccato Mamba. Faced with this, Hodgins takes a stand and says that the baby will be Michael Joseph or Catherine Temperance. For his transgression, Hodgins is once again physically assaulted by his father-in-law, this time waking up from a blackout with a tattoo of the latter's face on his arm.
- As with Episode 11, there was so little forensic anthropology work in this episode that I don't really have much to say... So, chronologically:
- Does Emily Deschanel know how to run? I'd think the smartest physical anthropologist in the world would have perfected proper body posture and speed for most efficient bipedalism or something.
- Why does Broadsky need to snipe the victim in the warehouse? Can't he just go up to him and kill him with a regular gun and silencer? Also, if he was so close, why didn't the victim hear him talking near him in addition to being on the phone?
- Heart-shaped superior inlet needs a "pelvic;" the delivery on this phrase was so garbled I had to rewind 5 times to understand what Brennan was saying. As always, there are better ways to figure out sex of the deceased (and with his clothes still on, I'm not sure how she even saw his pelvic inlet), but at least the writers are trying to switch up the markers of sex from episode to episode? It would still be nice if they recognized once in a while that: "Skeletal age estimation is a multifactorial, extremely complicated facet of forensic osteology" (Dolniak et al., 2005).
- While you can get nitrogen isotope ratios from bone apatite, they reflect diet from the last few years of life, not origin. I assume that the idea was that someone from Virginia would have eaten seafood more often than someone from the midwest; differential consumption of seafood would be seen in the nitrogen isotope ratios. Sr, O, S, Nd, Pb, and other elements are a much better choice for origin than one that's a proxy for diet. Additionally, they were using bone, which is a record of the last perhaps 10 years of life, so the nitrogen analysis of someone who'd moved to D.C. more than 10 years ago and started eating seafood would be the same as someone who was born and raised there. This was really confusing to me.
Brennan's day off includes attending a lecture on the Peloponnesian War. I'd go to that. I was excited to see Nigel-Murray back this episode, as he's my favorite of the interns, but the writers didn't bother to give him anything interesting to say. Sweets didn't have too much to do again, but he was pretty good with Booth. The less said about the whole "Angela's father demands to name the baby" plot line, the better. I used to like Billy Gibbons as her father, but it's getting old. And I don't get why Hodgins and Sweets are scared of him rather than, say, turning him in to Booth for physical assault. I also figured out why Broadsky talks funny: he's played by Arnold Vosloo, who is South African (and played Imhotep in The Mummy - I knew I recognized him from somewhere).
Forensic Mystery - D. There wasn't a forensic mystery in this episode. Coolidge was killed by a long sniper shot. He was positively identified by something, I assume. There was no question about who was killed or really even by whom.
Forensic Solution - C. Since one person had ID on him and the other wasn't killed, there wasn't a lot of forensic anthropology work to be done. What was done - nitrogen isotope analysis - would not narrow down the victim's place of birth, since it was done on bone.
Drama - C. For most of the episode, I was terribly bored. I suppose the police work was good, but there were far too many leads and dead ends that needed to be tied up - like having Ashwaldt commit suicide off camera and even off dialogue (we only get a report after Booth takes a phone call). So the drama was fast-paced (except for the Angela's father storyline) but sloppy.
I managed to recycle several lines from my Episode 11 post that involved Broadsky. This is not my favorite recurring storyline, and I hope they spin this off soon because Bones needs more forensics and less police work.