Bones - Season 7, Episode 4 (Review)

The Male in the Mail

Episode Summary

At the post office, Saroyan, Brennan, and Booth find a series of boxed packed with human remains.  From the wear on the lower incisors and the mandibular angle, Brennan notes the victim was a male in his early 20s.  His head was dismembered at an unspecified cervical vertebra, and there are other marks of dismemberment on the acromion processes of both scapulae.

At the Jeffersonian, Hodgins uses a fancy-pants eye surgery laser to cut open the cardboard box.  Once they get out all the bones, Edison notes that the victim had a sesamoid bone at the second metacarpal of his left hand.  The weapon that was used to dismember him was a blade that was uniform with vertical striations.    Angela traces the label on the boxes to a Ship-n-Print in Hyattsville, MD.  As Booth and Brennan head over there to check it out, Edison finds a hit in dental records for an Oliver Lawrence, who worked at the store.

B&B interview the front desk guy, Tony Dunson, but quickly ask to speak to the manager, Connor Trammel.  Trammel notes that Oliver was a good employee and went missing a while back.  There was also a bunch of staff turnover around the same time, as he and a group of employees - Sheila Burnside, her husband (Hugh?), and Ralph Berti - won the lottery.  He no longer speaks to them, though, since he's still working at the copy shop and they've squandered their riches.  Hodgins and Edison finally work out the weapon that dismembered Oliver - a guillotine best fits the profile of the weapon, and Brennan realizes that the industrial paper cutter in the shop matches pretty well.

Back at the Jeffersonian, Edison notes that there were microfractures to the victim's third and fourth left ribs, as well as his left radius, leading Brennan to conclude that there was a fistfight.  There are also different weapon marks - this time, there are kerf marks, on the right scapula (acromion), humerus (greater tubercle), and ulna (olecranon).  The victim was hit on the shoulder and elbow with a tiny saw.  Meanwhile, Hodgins is still boiling the boxed body and comes up with a sternocleidomastoideus muscle for Saroyan, who sees a piece of tape embedded in the muscle.  This suggests that the victim was killed when his right subclavian artery was severed.  Edison thinks the weapon may have been a tape gun and has Angela compare the blades of the guns used at the Ship-n-Print to the marks on the bone, and one matches.

One of the last jobs that was run on the company's printer was of a woman sitting on the copier, with a man's hands cradling her butt.  Based on the distance between her ischial tuberosities, Brennan thinks the woman was Sheila.  Based on the slight deformity of the left second finger, Brennan thinks the man was Oliver.  Because of this evidence and because of the location of the injuries on the victim's right side, Brennan thinks the killer may have been Hugh, Sheila's husband.  But the Jeffersonian team finally finds the smoking gun: a fragment of bone embedded in the victim's muscle.  This bone, however, came from the Buddhist necklace that Tony Dunson always wears.  He was shipping psilocybin mushrooms to clients, and Oliver found out.  Tony didn't mean to kill Oliver, but it just happened.

Oh, and Booth's father died.  I actually missed the first few minutes of the show (stupid DVR), so I didn't get the explanation.  But lots of the show was about encouraging Booth to mourn for the father who beat him and whom he had cut out of his life 20 years ago.  His grandfather rightly chastizes Booth for being so callous that he (the grandfather) lost a son, and gives him a box full of his father's mementos.  Booth squints through fake tears at the benches he took from the baseball stadium in last season's power-outage episode, and he has a bunch of misty watercolor memories.

Forensic Comments
  • As always, the mandibular angle is a terrible way to estimate sex and dental wear is a terrible way to estimate age-at-death.  Both are hugely error-prone, and even given the sparse remains Brennan had to work with initially, she could have used more accurate methods to assess sex and age.
  • Sesamoid bones occur in the hands and feet all the time.  (A sesamoid bone is one that forms within a tendon, like the patella or the pisiform.) In addition to the two large sesamoid bones everyone has, most of us have one or two sesamoid bones at the toe end of our first metatarsals.  I'd think a hand sesamoid bone was interesting, but I wouldn't expect to see any deformity in a living person and certainly wouldn't use it as a positive ID on a person.
  • There's no way the antiquities department at the Jeffersonian would let Hodgins and Edison whack the crap out of fake bones with their ancient, priceless weapons.
  • Ischial tuberosities are not like fingerprints in your pants.
  • The location of injuries on a victim doesn't necessarily correlate with the handedness of an assailant.  Many of us southpaws use our right hands just as often as we use our left hands.  Then again, I guess I would use a tape gun left-handed.
  • The only pregnant-Brennan mention this week comes with her adjusting her bra excessively, so there wasn't much cheesy dialogue in the forensic side of the plot.
  • Actually, the show was pretty much all business this week, except for the Booth's-dead-father plot, so there isn't much dialogue to comment on.
  • Oh right, and there's that new FBI agent, Genevieve Shaw.  She was suck-uppy, which is not a good trait for an FBI agent to have.
Forensic Mystery - C-.  The writers threw so many red herrings at us I got a mouthful of caviar.  The mystery felt rather clumsy.

Forensic Solution - B+.  The forensics seemed reasonable.  Brennan's portable xray was fancy but not unrealistic, and even Angela's re-creation was within the realm of normal possibility.  Other than the usual odd choices for sex/age estimation, the forensics were alright.

Drama - C+.  Maybe it's because I missed the first few minutes, but killing off Booth's father (whom we've never actually met) seemed like a cheap ploy to pad out the drama this episode.

Next week:  Oh man, are we only up to episode 5 next week?  I know this season started late, but it seems loooong already.


Is there something ...different about this season? Other than the fact that Bones is pregnant, obviously.

I watched the first six seasons on Netflix over the summer, so perhaps its just that I'm used to watching 3-4 episodes at a time, just feels like its way slower and less interesting. I'm missing the broader narrative arcs that defined the earlier seasons - where's the big bad for this season? Sigh.
You might be right that there's no obvious conflict this season. Last season we still had the will-they-won't-they dynamic between Booth and Brennan (complicated by Hannah, whom everyone hated). There was the possibly-blind-baby drama with Angela and Hodgins which was reasonably well done. I think there was some conflict with Cam's daughter about college. And didn't Brennan's father make an appearance or two?

Last season wasn't cohesive by any stretch of the imagination in terms of an overarching theme. But this season is worse. There's no plot except the pregnancy to continue from episode to episode. So that could be why it feels both drawn out and boring.
Last season there was also the Jacob Broadsky storyline, placing him as the "big bad" of the season.
Monica Segura said…
As someone who has logged some serious time behind a paper cutter, I can promise you, that those injuries weren't made by that cutter. That type of equipment has a hydraulic clamp that presses paper (or whatever) down before the blade is engaged. on its lightest setting it'll crush a tin can into something the thickness of a matchbook.
Anonymous said…
Here's another problem: the whole cutter thing.

First up, those blades are changed out and sharpened on an average of every three months. So the markings being consistent? Forget it. And that's not mentioning that bone and sinew are a LOT tougher than paper.

Next, they are, by OSHA regulations, supposed to have guards to prevent accidental injuries. Every one I've worked with had both a plexiglass shield isolating the blade area and required two buttons about 30" apart to be pressed at the same time. Dismembering a body in one? Not gonna happen.

Finally, there would have been a LOT of blood in and around the machine. It would be nearly impossible to clean up one of those cutters after it had dismembered a body -- a quick flash of the Magic Light would have shown a LOT of blood. Especially inside -- there are a LOT of gaps and crevices and whatnot for the blood to flow.

Yeah, I spent way, way too many years using those things...

Wow, I didn't know that so many of my readers had logged time behind an industrial paper cutter. Good to know if I ever need to dismember a body... ;-)
Anonymous said…
Was it just me or was there some chemistry between Seely and the new FBI agent Genevieve Shaw??? I didn't enjoy that at all.

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