September 18, 2012

Bones - Season 8, Episode 1 (Review)

Greetings, Bones fans and h8rs. I’m back for another season of reviews (quick apologies for the delay in this post - I was otherwise engaged last night). I’mma try not to be too hard on the season this year – I mean, I will call out the scientifically sketchy, weird, and flat-out wrong things that make it into the script. But Brennan deserves a bit of slack: after all, it’s pretty great that a show about a female scientist is starting its 8th year on the air.


The Future in the Past
Episode Summary
Last season ended with a dramatic cliffhanger: Brennan was being framed for the murder of her friend Ethan Sawyer by an evil computer genius, Christopher Pelant. Unsure whether she'd ever be able to clear her name, Brennan took off with baby Christine and the help of her ex-con father, Max. Cue new(ish) theme music, with more medical-sounding doo-doos.

This episode takes place three months later.  Brennan has terribly fake blonde hair, and baby Christine, who isn't more than - what, 4, 5 months old? - is already saying "dada."  Angela, Hodgins, Saroyan, Booth, and Sweets are all still trying to crack the Pelant case.  Clark Edison has replaced Brennan and is doing a reasonable job of it, even asking the team to document their findings (which they apparently dislike because they're poor scientists).  Special Agent Flynn is also back to continue to be cranky at Booth.

Brennan has done some detective work on her time off, with the help of Max: they discovered that Pelant's high school guidance counselor went missing his senior (junior?) year. She was a runner, so they searched the woods in fictional Pitt Meadows, VA, and found her (super fakey skeleton) body, which Brennan excavated and pedestalled like the pro that she is.  The Jeffersonian team finds the body, after Brennan calls in a tip while disguising her voice. They also find a flower, which she and Angela have been using to communicate during her disappearance.

At the Jeffersonian, Clark notices the high nasal bridge, which suggests Caucasian, and her sternal rib ends put her at 35 to 39 at time of death. Her pelvic inlet shows she never gave birth.  The woman is ID'ed (not sure how) as Carole Morrissey, Pelant's high school guidance counselor.  Sweets pulls up Pelant's recommendation letters for Stanford and, using linguistic analysis, realizes that the one from Morrissey was written by Pelant, just before she went missing.  Angela, meanwhile, does some handwaving computer stuff and gets Miss Julian reinstated to the case because she showed her digital signature was forged (and she therefore didn't give Brennan money).

Clark is less successful in figuring out cause of death and the weapon that was used.  Saroyan notices staining on the trabeculae of the sternum, there's trauma to the back of the head, and a swab of the area comes up with red agate, a rock.  So this requires a visit from fugitive Brennan, who sees deep nicks on the 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae, as well as injuries to the 3rd to 5th lumbar verts.  More importantly, Brennan notices injuries consistent with Morrissey's being strung upside down and gutted: tearing of cartilage at the knee (lateral femoral and tibial condyles) and torn cartilage at the talus and medial malleolus. The body is almost wholly skeletonized, and yet the small bits of flesh that remain after 10(?) years are the ones that give manner of death.  Interesting.  Red agate was what Morrissey struck her head on before being strung up.

Hodgins gets results back from the swab of the vertebrae: tamahagane, or Japanese steel. Brennan suspects that the murder weapon was a Japanese sword that Pelant's father brought back from the Pacific theatre during WWII.  Although Clark thought Pelant had used something heavy, since he was just 16, he was actually a very heavy teenager, around 200lbs, so he could put a lot of force on a light object.  Booth gets the sword from Pelant's family, and Clark shows that that weapon matches the sharp trauma to Morrissey's cervical vertebrae.  Pelant is taken into custody with this evidence.  

Angela meanwhile figures out the triangle of code that was on Ethan's wall - the edges of the triangle represent the three sides of Pelant: the base is his rebirth into innocence, one side is his secret murderer persona, and the other side is his guilt(?) and his desire for someone to kill him.  With some more computer handwaving, the symbols along the edges morph into a sooper secret code, which happens to plug into some program somewhere that somehow shows that Pelant digitally altered the surveillance video outside Ethan's asylum. Brennan is no longer a suspect in Ethan's murder.

The whole gang retreats to the Booth-Brennan manor to celebrate and apologize to one another.  Special Agent Flynn excuses himself to take on domestic terrorism.  Clark gets shuffled off to an archaeological dig somewhere for some reason.  But as B&B are "making up" on a washing machine's spin cycle (yes, really), they get a call - Pelant has managed to erase his identity and is claiming to be Basam Al-Fayad, an Egyptian citizen.  As he leaves the FBI with his Egyptian consulate escort, he hands Brennan a marigold - indicative of pain and grief.  Brennan tosses it, but as the elevator doors close, Flynn stoops and picks it up.  Dun-dun-dunnnnn!

Comments
  • Forensic
    • Never good when they assess ancestry from the skeleton.  Especially from one small part of the skull.  Sure, high nasal bridge suggests European nose.  But I need more than that for a positive ID.
    • Similarly, pelvic inlet suggesting a nulliparous woman?  I've never heard this, to be honest.  I have heard that the pubic symphysis can show scarring from childbirth (with the idea being that the relaxation and subsequent reformation of the cartilage there results in minor damage to the bone), but I thought this was largely discredited... or, at best, the research is inconclusive on whether it's possible to tell parity from skeletons.
    • They did this on another episode, so I've complained about it before, but the show's pronunciation of malleolus always gets me - I've never heard anyone say it that way, even if the dictionary says it's an acceptable pronunciation.
    • Why did Brennan talk about Pelant's knees?  She was going on about how he used to be heavy, which has long-lasting effects on the skeleton, especially at the joints.  Sure, it's true, but it was kind of beside the point.
    • How was Morrissey positively ID'ed?
  • Plot
    • How did Booth find Brennan at the motel?  Or, I guess, she found him.  But still.
    • Did we ever get more information on the flower code?  Is it some well-known code?  If not, how did Pelant crack it?
    • Was there any point to the "three sides to Pelant" mumbo jumbo from Sweets?  How did Ethan know about that?  Why did Sweets just then decide to pop into the Jeffersonian to give Angela the clue that she needed?
    • Ugh, so much Angela computerish handwaving this episode.  At least it was vague, though, and not just outright ridiculous like last season's finale and "Crack in the Code".
  • Dialogue
    • "She is quite brilliant."  Nope, still not buying that your infant can talk (although it's possible).
    • "Then you have trust issues stemming from... I dunno, a bunch of psychological crap."  Self-aware Sweets is quickly becoming my favorite character.
    • "I love serious archaeological work!" I guess this is goodbye, Clark.  Have fun on your improbable Jeffersonian excavation in some obscure part of the world attempting to answer some unstated research question.

Ratings
Forensic Mystery - A.  I wasn't expecting another dead person to figure in to a season premiere that had a lot to get out of the way.  But it was worked in pretty nicely to an already busy episode.

Forensic Solution - B-.  Decent forensic work for the Morrissey case.  No explanation for how they actually confirmed the ID, though.  Bad computery mumbo jumbo work for the Pelant side of the case, though.

Drama - B+.  This episode had all the elements of a truly good Bones episode, but there was just way too much going on at once, which made the Brennan-Booth reunion stiff and awkward, and the Brennan-Angela reunion not quite as sweet as it could have been. I am excited that Pelant will figure in to later episodes, and Agent Flynn is pretty sketchy himself.  Could be a good season!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was Booth not Brennan who tossed the flower.

Rachel said...

Even though Bones got her named cleared, wouldn't she be arrested anyways for running away from an arrest warrant? And wouldn't her dad be arrested for aiding and abetting a criminal?

Anonymous said...

I really liked the season premiere of Bones this year, especially with how they resolved the issue with Pelant. I liked that he went to jail but wasn’t actually killed yet, so he can come back later in the season if they want to add some drama. I absolutely love Bones, although I haven’t got any of my coworkers to watch it yet, but I wasn’t able to watch the season premiere live. My Hopper, however, automatically recorded it with PrimeTime Anytime, so I was able to watch it last night after work. It’s nice not to have to pick Bones over any of my other shows that I want to watch this year. I’m excited to see what next week’s episode is about; it’s so nice to have Brennan and Booth back on our screens!

petoskystone said...

I just couldn't buy into the premise of Brennan running away because the Jeffersonian couldn't find a solution, given how many improbable cases they've solved over the years. So I just watched the last 10 minutes. That I enjoyed. ;)

Bridget said...

Also never heard a talus pronounced as "TAAL-us" At least where I work in ortho world, it's TAY-lus.

But I'm just happy to have an episode that was actually pretty good for a change. There was still some handwaving, but I thought the showrunners did a good job trying to write their way out of the mess that Carla Kettner created with the finale.

Anonymous said...

You are kinda negativ about this 0.o
Why dont you start being a consult of forensic stuff on a crime show, that way it'll be 'perfect' and you have nothing to complain about~

but i do agree, it was a really good episode for a change

Kristina Killgrove said...

Bridget - Must be one of the medical/osteological differences, then. We all say "tah-lus" and I've never heard "tay-lus" from an osteologist (I do it because that's how it would have been pronounced in Latin, and try as I might, I can't shake my training in classics!).

Jackie said...

I just love your reviews :)
Clearly I have no clue about anthropology and all the technical stuff so it's really interesting to read an expert's opinion on the show.
I like your rating on the plot, you always do a good job. I have to agree that Sweets had the best line in this episode, and yes, Brennan as a blonde was horrible, I would have expected a better wig/better make-up.
Concerning the Brennan-Booth reunion and the weird flower code: Angela found snowdrops near the school guidance counselor's body (aka Brennan's message) and Booth stays at the Snowdrop Motel. But that's it, how he knew he had to go there - no idea..

Maddy said...

In regards to the flower thing, from what I saw it wasn't some fancy code that would require cracking - they were just using the language of flowers which anyone with access to a computer and a search engine could discover.

Pandora said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pandora said...

Re the flowers - there isn't a 'language of flowers'. This was the title/subject of numerous books during the Victorian era, each ascribing their own meanings to various flowers and plants. It's highly improbable that someone would be able to crack the code knowing just the meanings given to just one or two flowers.

I really do like the show but this episode infuriated me. The computer code from the triangle and the nonsense about the 3 sides to Pelant leading Angela to crack the code was just ridiculous! And that's all the explanation we were given; instead of some dialogue at least trying to make sense of that huge plot hole, we get pretty music. It was nothing more than lazy writing and if it continues I'll have to stop watching the show.

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