The Mystery in the Meat
A teenage bully takes a kid's beef stew lunch and starts eating it in front of him when he realizes he just bit into a human tooth. Other kids in the cafeteria find recognizable bits of human as well -- an eyeball, an ear. Booth, Brennan, and some of the Jeffersonian team arrive at the school to check it out. Saroyan picks through the stew to find bits of human meat, and Brennan assesses based on the gonial angle of the mandible and wear on the right central incisors that the victim was a 40-something male. The victim's flesh shows signs of marinating, and the bones suggest he was cut and crushed--processed like meat.
Booth and Brennan go to check out Tryon Foods, the company that supplied the canned stew to the school. The head of research and development, Susan Lauderbach, shows them around and confirms that the 6cm pieces of the victim suggest he went through their meat processor. Since there were no pieces of clothing found and since there is no bruising along the incision line, Brennan thinks he was fed into the meat processor after he was killed.
At the Jeffersonian, Daisy and Wells are getting on each other's nerves. They are finding fragments of bone in every can of stew Tryon sent them. Brennan exhorts them to work faster, as Angela needs a complete skull for a facial reconstruction. Daisy finds an area of remodelling on the anterior aspect of the frontal bone, and Wells notes that the incision is consistent with a frontal craniotomy. Off-screen, they find out that the victim was Howard Compton, a 41-year-old food scientist who had surgery to correct his anosmia, who was reported missing by his business partner, Agatha Bloom.
Booth and Brennan pay a visit to Bloom, a bromatologist with acute hyperosmia. She thinks Compton was working on something worth a lot of money, but she has little information beyond that and denies killing Compton. Booth then questions Sam Gifford, the CEO of Tryon Foods. He reports that he wanted to hire Compton full-time, which would mean passing over Lauderbach for the job. They then interview Lauderbach, who denies killing Compton, even though she didn't particularly like him. She did test the stew and sent it out, although since it failed some quality tests, it went to their second-tier market, which includes schools, prisons, and retirement homes. Her alibi is solid -- she was out of town researching the use of bugs as alternate forms of protein.
The Jeffersonian staff are still working on isolating cause of death. Wells finds partially remodelled comminuted fractures to the right anterior carpals and metacarpals. Daisy runs a histological analysis and finds out the fractures were just two weeks old. Compton did see a doctor for this, although he claimed he'd fallen. Wells doesn't believe this, though, as they would expect to see a Colles' fracture rather than these comminuted ones. These suggest blunt force trauma instead of an accident. Compton had been in touch with police because he thought he was being followed. Although he had the make, model, and plate number of the car that was following him, the DMV records turned up nothing.
Working on the assumption that Compton was creating something super secret when he died, Hodgins and Wells test a bunch of foods from his laboratory. Their favorite is Hot Bacon, which they discover is a personal lubricant. A search of Compton's email shows threats from Raymond McCants, a sex toy distributor, who was upset because of Compton's delays in getting him the bacon lube. Booth questions McCants, but he didn't do it.
Daisy and Wells finally figure out cause of death, based on a puncture wound on the clavicle suggesting perimortem sharp force trauma. The attack came at a downward angle, severing the subclavian artery. Wells checks the slashed tire from Compton's car against the injury to his body. The tire was slashed by a Japanese garden knife. Angela traces two deposits from Compton to Evelyn Cheevers, an environmentalist who admits to having slashed his tires but denies having killed him. They were on the same side, she argues, and Compton was going to quit his job as soon as he exposed someone on the inside. The puncture wound, Daisy and Wells find, had a hole along the side, much like the needles that anesthesiologists use. Brennan, however, reasons that it was an injector used to marinate meat. The marinade injector was designed by Bloom and Compton. In Angela's re-creation of Compton's death, the subclavian artery would have spurted blood all over the killer. Meanwhile, Brennan realizes that one bone on the table is not Compton's -- it is a horse bone. She reasons that if Compton knew the company was using horse meat, it might be a PR disaster. This leads Booth and Brennan to question Gifford, Tryon's CEO, again. He denies killing Compton, but Brennan has a warrant to search his hair and, when she shines a black light on it, she sees blood fluoresce.
- As usual, Brennan's visual assessment of age and sex of the victim is based on real forensics, but the features she chooses -- gonial angle and tooth wear -- are not on their own sufficient to figure out demographics.
- Oh jeez, their ID was apparently based on a facial reconstruction, even though the body had gone through a food processor. Didn't Brennan say just last episode that a body was too smashed up for facial reconstruction?
- Actually, it wasn't entirely clear if the ID was from the facial reconstruction or the surgery. Apparently surgery style can be traced to particular doctors?
- Most forensic anthropologists are not also experts in animal bony anatomy. I mean, enough to recognize if a bone is animal or human, sure. But I doubt that Wells could ID a navicular of a horse that readily. (Also, I can't find any good pictures online, but it doesn't look anything like a human navicular to me...)
- I actually tried to do research on the blood-in-the-CEO's-hair plot point and failed to find any information to confirm (or deny) whether this is plausible. Anyone out there know anything about how long blood will stay on hair and fluoresce under a black light?
- Props to the prop people, though, for actually using a premolar when the teenage bully bit into the stew and the bullied kid asked if he'd broken a bicuspid.
- Wait, so Compton was killed in the processing room and spurted blood everywhere, but no one thought to check the scene for blood? I guess you could argue that since it's a rendering area, there would be lots of blood anyway, but Dexter always seemed to find clues in blood spatter.
- And Gifford knew that having horse meat in the stew would be bad PR, but he figured having a human body in the stew wouldn't be a problem?
- Why didn't anyone at the FBI check out Gifford's alibi?
- Why was the FBI even involved? They've stopped noting in the episodes why these are federal cases, so I don't always believe it's anything other than plot convenience.
- Horse meat is not a big deal. I guess it is when it isn't being inspected. But jeez, Italian babies eat it. I mean, Lauderbach is supposedly researching eating bugs. Americans would sooner eat horses than bugs, IMHO.
- The whole "Brennan doesn't feel different after getting married and therefore needs a bachelorette party" subplot was lame. I am a little surprised she is choosing to wear a wedding ring, though, given the fact she has her hands inside dead people all day.
- Hodgins mentions that Daisy is "one of us." What does that mean? Why isn't Wells? Daisy doesn't have her PhD yet, does she?
- "I'm invoking Gödel’s closed timelike curve in a Lorentzian manifold.” – Brennan's justification for flirting while married requires three wikipedia pages to explain it, and even then it makes no real sense.
- “I told her that you’re the best person ever, even though that can’t be confirmed empirically, but I don’t give a crap…” – Drunk Brennan
Forensic Mystery - C. The mystery was a wee bit overwrought. Too many suspects, too many teenagers recreating Soylent Green.
Forensic Solution - C-. Buncha stuff off with this week's episode. I mean, facial reconstruction from itty bitty pieces?
Drama - C-. Eh, the mystery was just ok. Points off for the silly Brennan-in-a-bar plot line, which really was not that interesting or funny.
Well, this review is super late. The new Friday date makes it difficult for me to review the show, since weekends are utter chaos at my house. No new episode next week, due to Thanksgiving.