Bones - Season 6, Episode 18 (Review)
A couple on a blind date in a forest in West Virginia stumble upon a corpse covered in silvery checkerspot butterflies. At the scene, Brennan notes that the angle of the mandible and the brow ridges indicate the victim was male, and wear on the mandibular teeth suggests he was 40-50 years old. Hodgins finds a goat tethered in a copse nearby, and Brennan notes a sulphur smell. Interestingly, all the blood has been drained from the man's body and there are non-human bite marks to the 2nd-6th ribs on the left side.
At the Jeffersonian, the team confirms that the heart is missing. Mr. Nigel-Murray shows an x-ray that indicates the victim's right ankle had a surgical implant and also shows that there is bone damage to the ribs from long, fang-like teeth. Nigel-Murray further notes that puncture marks normally result in pits in the cortical surface of the bone, which are not present on the victim's remains. The body also yields spiny bristles and reptilian skin cells from an animal that no one can recognize, so Nigel-Murray and Hodgins jump to the conclusion that the man was killed by a cryptid - specifically, a chupacabra.
Angela notices that the victim's clothes were basically brand-new, indicating he was not normally an outdoorsman. Booth circulates the victim's description to local hotels and finds out that Lee Coleman, the renowned myth buster, had been staying at the Pine Tree Manor in order to go in search of and debunk the myth of the chupacabra. Booth and Brennan check it out and meet Randy, the proprietor, and Melissa Lawson, the activities coordinator who helped Coleman on his adventures a few days prior. Booth questions Coleman's producer, who puts them on the trail of a pet psychic that Coleman once debunked, Miss Michaels, whom Sweets goes to question.
Meanwhile, Angela and Hodgins go in search of the hidden camera Coleman was using to not-catch the chupacabra, and Nigel-Murray finds triangular bite-marks made by one lower and two upper incisors. However, Hodgins quickly realizes from the GC mass spec analysis of the bite mark swab that the mixture of ingredients - bisphenol-A, dimethylpropane, and amorphous silicon - that it is not spit. The reptile cells are from a Mexican spiny-tailed iguana, and the needles are from a boar. All these point to a chupacabra hoax.
Coleman's producer comes to see Booth and puts him on the trail of Terry Beamis, a cryptozoologist whom Coleman got booted off the Wilderness Network. Beamis now runs his show, Seeing Is Believing, at 2am on a public access station. When Booth and Brennan arrive at the studio, Beamis is talking about the Bukit Timah Monkey Man, an immortal hominid that lives in the forests of Singapore. Meanwhile, Angela is isolating the background audio track in the video of Coleman. She finds the mating call of a white-tailed deer and some other sound. Nigel-Murray notices a uniform separation of both ankles, as well as separation of the cervical and lumbar vertebrae. Saroyan confirms that she found abrasions on the ankles as well, meaning the victim was hung upside down, the way one would drain blood from a deer. Hodgins identifies the mixture in the bite mark: Jaw Jelly, used on taxidermized animals. Brennan thinks that a tooth from a taxidermized bear was used to stage the injuries.
Brennan and Booth head to the Pine Tree Manor and find a stuffed bear head missing an incisor. They also find rope burns on Randy's hands and ropes in his closet covered in Coleman's skin cells. Randy admits to Sweets that he didn't kill Coleman but that he did stage it to look like a chupacabra attack in order to drum up business for his motel. Angela finally identifies the sounds: the deer mating call was man-made, and the second was an ATV. The killer was out hunting. Booth and Brennan confront Melissa Lawson with the bullet, which I guess they extracted from the heart that Randy buried somewhere. She puts up her hands, and the case is solved: Lawson accidentally shot Coleman because he wasn't wearing an orange vest, and when she told Randy, he staged the attack.
- As usual, age and sex were glossed over. The body seemed pretty gooey. No genitalia present? Mandible was the best they could do? And dental wear? Ugh, don't get me started on the problems with using dental wear to estimate age (it's affected by diet, whether or not you grind your teeth, etc.). They didn't feel like confirming the victim's identity in any way... DNA, dentals, etc.?
- Angela and Hodgins go to the forest to find a camera with no protection from the killer who's out there. And without blaze orange, which is kinda dumb. How did the police miss the camera right near the body? Would audio that Coleman missed have been picked up by a video camera?
- Why was Lawson out hunting for deer at night? And why would her ATV have been caught on the audio of the tape right after Coleman turned it off? If she accidentally shot him, shouldn't the audio have picked up the shot? Did she ride up on her ATV, jump off, and shoot him accidentally? I'm confused about the sequence of events there.
- Why did finding the bullet mean that Lawson had to surrender? I guess the bullet is traced to her (specific) rifle?
- What was time of death estimated to be? It takes a concerted effort to stage a chupacabra attack - did Randy just have reptile skin, boar hairs, and other stuff on hand?
- Booth: "Animal or psycho?" Brennan: "Probably."
- Brennan: "I'm not familiar with the yada yada yada myth."
- Brennan: "I do not accept the premise that cryptozoology is a science."
- Nigel-Murray: "Did someone just drop a raisin into milk?"
Forensic Mystery - C. They figured out who the guy was immediately. From a vague description. Little forensics needed.
Forensic Solution - C. The bones gave the team some information about the bite marks, but there wasn't really any other forensic work in this episode.
Drama - C. No one liked Coleman, lots of people wanted him gone. There was no viewer investment in the character or in the people who were under suspicion. This episode was seriously boring, but at least there wasn't any dumb drama (I can't hate on Vincent, although I do wish they would write him the way they used to) or major issues with the few forensic techniques they showed.
Chupacabras now remind me of my favorite local Mexican restaurant, which has Tacos Chupacabras on the menu (it's a mix of steak, chicken, and chorizo). Mmmmm, now I want some chips and salsa.