The Cheat in the Retreat
|King of the Poo|
A couple of animal control officers capture a bobcat eating human remains out of a dumpster. Judging by the debris collected by the bobcat to cover his find, Hodgins estimates the body has been there for at least 6 hours. Brennan notes that the state of decomposition means the person was dead for 6 to 12 hours before the bobcat found the remains. Puncture marks on the head of the humerus suggest the bobcat severed the arms. Hodgins finds the skull in a tree, put there by a bobcat, along with some poop that falls on his face.
At the Jeffersonian, the team -- although mostly Vaziri this week -- notes the extensive fracturing to the bones suggestive of blunt trauma. Incomplete ossification of the (medial) clavicle puts age in the early 30s. Vaziri starts calling the person "he" although no forensic analysis is done to figure this out. This individual has areas of dense bone around the pelvis and spine, as well as calcification of the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (of the knees). Brennan diagnoses this as skeletal fluorosis, which is rare in North America. She suggests that cases of it would be reported to the Department of Public Health.
Meanwhile, Booth magically gets an ID from some unknown source: Adam Pak, a management consultant of Korean ancestry. His wife Emma didn't report him missing, since she thought he was on a business trip to Thailand. Hodgins finds traces of agricultural lime on Adam's clothing, and Chironomidae from the Nematocera fly family coupled with highly acidic soil magically point him to Native American tribal land in Virginia. It turns out this area is being used as the New Dawn couples' retreat, so Booth and Brennan decide to go undercover in case the killer is still at the retreat.
Back at the Jeffersonian, Vaziri attempts to figure out how Adam was killed. He finds hemorrhagic staining on the inside of the frontal bone and well as perimortem fractures to the skull, ribs, pelvis, and proximal ends of the femora. Brittle bones from fluorosis would account for the severity of the fractures, but it also means it's difficult to tell what hit him and with what force. Based on the angles of the fractures in the left femur, Vaziri thinks that Adam was hit from two directions at once, perhaps by two assailants. Most of the damage is confined to his upper femora and his pelvis, though. There is some additional fracturing around the alveolar bone of Adam's upper two front teeth, suggesting they were pulled or yanked out. The teeth also had some oak bark lodged in them.
Booth and Brennan visit the retreat as Tony and Roxy, where they meet up with Cliff from Cheers, who is obviously the killer because, hello, guest star! But they sift through a lot of red herrings first: Kelly, Adam's mistress, got a huge payout from a dead boyfriend. Emma, Adam's wife, is anxiety-ridden, but she has a good alibi for the night of the murder. Shaman Little River has a string of priors under the name Jeremy Brewster, but he's just a fraud, not a killer. Initially, Brennan thinks that part of the obstacle course killed Adam, but the fracture patterns don't match up. Hodgins then magically traces the living oak to the southeast corner of the reservation, where there is also agricultural lime. Booth and Brennan, who mysteriously haven't been kicked off the property even though they have no jurisdiction, find the tree with Adam's teeth still stuck in it and see tire tracks up to the tree and red gravel from the Paks' house.
Brennan goes back to the lab and rechecks the skeleton. Apparently Vaziri missed a piece of metal embedded in the back of one of the bones. The particulate, according to Hodgins, is a chrome alloy, but a specific kind that hasn't been used in car manufacturing since 1970. Brennan realizes that a vintage car struck Adam, and she remembers that the Schumachers (Cliff from Cheers and his wife) drive a 1969 van. In an extensive Dirty Dancing reference (which I thoroughly appreciate, I have to say), Brennan and Booth figure out what happened. The Schumachers frequent these couples' retreats, even though they don't need relationship help, in order to steal house keys from other participants and rob them while they're at the retreat. The Schumachers went to Adam's house but realized he had a wife (who heard them skulking around and called the security company). When they got back to the retreat and tried to return the key, Adam caught them. They conked him over the head and thought he was dead, but then he woke up and tried to run. So the Schumachers ran over him with their car. They are unapologetic.
Also, Saroyan's identity has been stolen. This is obviously Pelant's doing, but curiously no one mentions it as a possibility, even though Hodgins refers to his money having been stolen by Pelant. Sweets is unhappy in his job, as he feels he's not using his skills appropriately.
- So the age-at-death estimate was fine. But there was no forensic attempt to figure out sex or ancestry. Booth just confirms Adam was a man with Korean ancestry.
- The diagnosis of skeletal fluorosis seems reasonable, but I never did figure out why it's in the plot. Just to complicate the assessment of cause of death? We don't find out why Adam had the condition. Also Brennan suggests that cases would be reported to a public health department, but I've never heard that to be true since it's not like it's a communicable disease -- anyone else out there know one way or another? I can only guess that Adam's fluorosis somehow related to his job and travel, but... yeah, I got nothing.
- The Jeffersonian team sure took their time arriving at a conclusion of death by car, considering the fracture patterns were more or less confined to the pelvis and hips.
- Oh, and the body layout in the Jeffersonian, as usual, has the ulna lateral to the radius rather than vice-versa. But it feels cheap to point this out, since they literally never lay out the body in proper anatomical position.
- Again with the fluorosis. Did I just completely miss the point of this diagnosis, which was repeated over and over again, other than the more-severe-than-normal fracturing?
- I liked the Dirty Dancing reference and didn't immediately see it coming. Cute.
- Saroyan's identity theft troubles will resurface and be pinned on Pelant. Not sure why Pelant is bothering with this, though, rather than following through on the threat he made to Booth.
- Oh, and Angela can now add "forensic accountant" to her ginormous list of jobs she can do because she is the world's bestest hax0r.
- Brennan, echoing my thoughts: "You can't sweat out toxins. Sweat lodges can cause kidneys to retain water, preventing your body from eliminating toxins."
- And Brennan lapses into Latin again. I got most of it, as her pronunciation was much better than last time, but it doesn't seem to be wholly grammatical: "O manes maiorem, Kelliae, os rogo ut ad nos veniatus os apperite ex cor..." Which I take to mean something like, "O, ancestors of Kelly, I ask that you open your mouth and tell us..." Anyone want to improve on my Latin transcription here?
- Angela to Sweets: "You're a tight-ass geek boy."
- Brennan, on Sweets: "I thought he was a psychologist because he had substandard math skills." Poor Sweets got dumped on this episode.
- Bones Style Watch!
- That blue-white-black dress Saroyan was wearing when arrested/returning to the lab is to die for.
Forensic Mystery - C+. I'm only giving it the plus because the fluorosis is still a mystery to me. Otherwise, the plot was telegraphed pretty far in advance.
Forensic Solution - B-. Nothing majorly wrong this episode, but there was a distinct lack of forensic anthropology going on, particularly in identifying the victim.
Drama - C. Sucks for Saroyan that her identity was stolen. But meh for drama. Sucks for Sweets that he doesn't feel fulfilled in his job. But meh for drama.