Bones - Season 6, Episode 20 (Review)

The Pinocchio in the Planter
Episode Summary

A terrible child actor falls into a planter at a new playground and finds a skeleton. Brennan, Booth, and Hodgins respond to the scene. Brennan estimates the sex as male based on a large and projecting mastoid process and the overall robusticity of the skeleton. Moderate osteoarthritis of the humeral head puts the man in his mid to late 40s. Hodgins notices a swarm of Necator americanus, hookworm. Based on the dispersal rate of hookworms - exactly 1 foot per day - Hodgins and Brennan conclude from a hookworm that is 3'4 1/16" away from the bowels that the victim died 3 days, 8 hours, and 45 minutes ago.

At the Jeffersonian, Wendell notices the victim had been beaten. Severe blunt force trauma at the coronal suture and across the sagittal ridge suggests cause of death. There is also an open fracture of the clavicle. Based on the smart car key found nearby, Angela discovers that the victim was Ross Dixon, who had been missing for four days. Remodelling of the facial bones indicates that, all in the last year, Dixon had been punched in the nose twice (fractured nasal bones), in the eye once (fractured left orbital socket), and punched in the jaw once (hairline fracture along the mental foramen). The trace element on the broken clavicle turns out to be titanium, and Hodgins and Wendell assume it's from a surgical implant that left a 37mm gap in a rib and osteitis around the fracture site.

Booth finds a videotape of Nicole Francuzzi assaulting Dixon after an award ceremony. In questioning, she admits the assault but notes that no one liked Dixon anymore. He had joined a club that trafficks in radical honesty called The Honesty Policy. By speaking the truth, the members feel they are freeing themselves of making a good impression. Booth, Brennan, and Sweets hop into her suh-weet ride with its auto-parallel-parking majik and meet the club's organizer, Burt Iverson, Esquire. The key suspect quickly becomes Toby Holcomb, the cranky clown (Andy Milder from Weeds). Back at the FBI, Holcomb admits he hung out with Dixon the night of the murder, but Dixon left to have dinner with someone.

Based on Dixon's stomach contents - goat cheese, tomatoes, truffles, and corn meal - Hodgins and Saroyan think that he ate fancy pizza shortly before his death. The truffle pizza is a particular luxury of Farini's, where a waiter named Jonah Hinkle was seen getting into a fight with Dixon. Hinkle, who happens to be Dixon's son, saw his dad for the first time in months that night and noticed him arguing with a woman wearing a neck brace and driving a car that had been in an accident.

Meanwhile, Wendell notices faint microfractures in a diagonal descending pattern anterolaterally on ribs 4-8, which Brennan guesses constituted a minor crushing injury from the seatbelt in a rear-end collision. And Hodgins finds that the piece of bone Wendell found is not bone at all but carbonized wood. Angela, though, points out the nerve fiber running through it, and Wendell thinks it's a new, cutting-edge, biocompatible piece of wood used in Dixon's rib fracture. This means that Dixon was indeed bludgeoned by something titanium. Hodgins and Angela find that the monkey bars at the new playground are coated in a titanium paint and suggest that one of the disassembled bars was the murder weapon.

Booth meanwhile questions Dorothy Emridge, the driver of the red convertible. She admits she was having an affair with Dixon and that he was in her car at the time of the accident. Her lawyer, Burt Iverson, shows up and insists that Emridge could not have committed the crime because she suffered a left laminar fracture of her sixth cervical vertebra. Brennan requests the xrays to confirm, and does see the fracture - but notices the pointed mental protuberance of the mandible, which indicates the xray was from a Caucasian individual, not Emridge, who is African-American. Booth gets a warrant to have the monkeybars disassembled, and Burt Iverson's fingerprints are found on the inside of one of the metal pipes. Dixon had found out about Iverson's plan to use Emridge to get a big settlement from the car accident. Dixon wanted to tell the truth, so Iverson killed him.

In the B and C stories, Angela and Hodgins mope about the possibility their baby will be blind, and Wendell tells the truth in order to score more hours at the Jeffersonian.

Forensic Comments

  • I'll buy a large mastoid as a quick estimator of sex, but using osteoarthritis to figure out age? I feel like a broken record, but any number of things can contribute to osteoarthritis of the humerus: playing tennis, rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, etc., can all cause bone degeneration beyond "normal" wear and tear.
  • I couldn't immediately find if there's any truth to the assertion that a hookworm can crawl exactly 1 foot per day. That seems insanely specific and convenient. But if there were worms with a known lifecycle present, why couldn't Hodgins just look at the mass of them in the bowels to tell the time of death? Why did the victim have hookworm anyway? I thought that would figure into the plot or solution somewhere along the line, but it didn't.
  • Brennan calls it the CORonal suture; while the dictionary agrees that is an accepted pronunciation, I've never heard it that way. Her "mental proTRUberance," on the other hand, is just flat out wrong.
  • Who reported Dixon missing? We're told that his wife left the country and he hasn't talked to his grown kids in six months. He no longer had a job, and the people in his honesty group didn't seem to know he was missing (and many didn't care).
  • I could do without the product placements in my crap TV shows, thankyouverymuch.
  • Wendell notes signs of osteitis around the rib fracture. Osteitis is a general inflammation of bone, and it would usually show up as proliferative lesions. The picture shown was hard to distinguish, but I saw no obvious evidence of osteitis.
  • You can't introduce Andy Milder as a guest star and then not have him do it. Disappointing.
  • I am happy Wendell said "anterolaterally" - not enough proper anatomical-directional terms are thrown out on the show - but thought until the third or fourth time rewatching that he had said "interlaterally."
  • The area around the nose is the most clearly diagnostic of "ancestry" of an individual. Is the mental protuberance even a valid way of estimating ancestry? (My books are out of reach at the moment and it's not like I use these features in my own research. But this site has a good list, and chin ain't on it.) There's just no good reason Brennan would key into the shape of the mandible when much of the nasal structure was on the xray.
  • I got nothing this week, even with the truth-telling experiment. Bland dialogue, bland drama.

Forensic Mystery - B. This episode was mostly focused on finding the killer, since it was pretty easy to ID the victim. I did think it would turn out to be the clown, so the writers managed to trick me.

Forensic Solution - C+. There were a bunch of fractures, the patterning of which was kind of interesting. And the bone-wood implant was interesting (even if the injury that warranted it was never explained). But the whole "telling race from the chin" was lame-o.

Drama - C-. I would have given this a straight up middling C, but the Angela-Hodgins storyline dropped it because of their pathological inability to be adults about their entire relationship.


Jeanni said…
I was actually just studying for my osteology final this morning and the mental eminence is not in any way associated with race. Sex yes, race no. Even if she could conceivably say it's a sign of robusticity that would point toward male or African American, not white. The osteological inaccuracies always bother me.
Lara Newell said…
I also heard "interlaterally" and mentioned to Trey that that's not an osteological term. Glad to know it was a real osteology term!

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