Bones - Season 9, Episode 16 (Review)

The Source in the Sludge

Episode Summary
Two guys out to salt a lake with bass fish the night before a tournament find a body bag with a skeleton in it.  The Jeffersonian team responds to the scene.  Based on the waterlogged corpse, Saroyan puts time of death at 4 days prior. The sharp supraorbital margins and lack of a prominent glabella suggest to Brennan that the victim was female. As they're hauling the body bag out, it springs a leak and a lamprey comes out.  Booth wrangles it.

Hi! I'm a fakey fake skull. I look nothing like
a female or someone of Middle Eastern ancestry.
Back at the Jeffersonian, Brennan and Daisy examine the body, which is still partially fleshed.  Based on the almost complete ossification of the cranial sutures, Brennan thinks the victim was in her late 20s. Daisy immediately concludes she was Caucasian because of the sharp nasal sill and angle of the anterior nasal spine, but Brennan points out the more Asian-like features of projecting zygomatics and wide intraorbital spacing. They reach the conclusion that the victim was from a 'stan country, where people would show a mixture of Caucasian and Asian traits.  Daisy notes remodelling of a fracture in the left humerus, and upon xray, Brennan finds a pin. Using the serial number, Angela tracks it to a shipment of medical devices to Afghanistan several years prior. The victim is identified as Sari Nazim, a 28-year-old Afghani woman who immigrated with her brother a year prior.

Sari was helping American forces on the ground in Afghanistan locate terrorist targets.  When Booth and Brennan get to Sari's house, they find her brother Aziz but also Danny Beck, the CIA agent we met in episode 1 (and played by Freddie Prinze, Jr.). He explains that Sari had identified a particular terrorist named Ibrahim; she led the CIA to his house, and the drone-bombed it.  She was injured in the blast. Danny assumes that Ibrahim is dead, but putting the lampreys in the body bag fits with his M.O. Booth tracks down Derek Johannessen, a military guard who was on duty when Ibrahim's house was bombed.  He said in his statement that Ibrahim was likely still alive and would be out to seek revenge on people like Sari who helped rat him out.

Back at the Jeffersonian, Daisy and Brennan find recent bruising on the ribs, zygomatics, maxilla, and mandible. Sari was violently dragged, as the medial collateral ligament was ruptured and the femur was dislocated from the tibia. Brennan also finds two sets of striations on the left 5th metatarsal styloid process, talus, and medial malleolus of the tibia that suggest Sari was bound and tried to escape.  Hodgins finds some fiber in the excrement of the lampreys, and this jute twine still has blood and tissue in the weave, and they are a match for Sari. Pollen from morning glories points to Sari's brother Aziz, who is a landscaper.

Booth, Danny, and Brennan head over to question Aziz after they find out from Angela that he bought a disposable cell phone and was calling a number in Helsinki that Danny suspects routed to Afghanistan.  Aziz admits that he was calling Ibrahim's number two guy, Jamal Ahmad, because he wants to return home and bring his sister with him.  The only way he could do that would be to get the permission of Ibrahim's network. He denies killing his sister, though, and points to the fact that Sari was disappearing at night and not coming home until morning.  This leads Booth to question Danny, since he seemed unperturbed that his informant had suddenly changed her behavior.

"I failed my comps because I clearly do not
understand standard anatomical position..."
Daisy and Brennan then find a contusion on the anterior third sternal rib with a V-shaped nick in it. Hodgins finds particulates of a carbon used only for high-end tactical knives, and Angela matches it to a Higginson knife made for the Special Forces.  Booth confronts Danny, who admits he was sleeping with Sari and gave her his knife for protection. He didn't want news of their affair to get out because he would lose his job at the CIA.  Meanwhile, Saroyan dissects Sari's eye to examine the vitreous humour and discovers that she died of dehydration. Sweets and Booth conclude that this is the work of Ibrahim, getting retribution for the deaths of his family, who were buried in the collapse of the house.  But Brennan and Daisy notice an avulsion fracture on the mandibular condyle, suggesting Sari bit her attacker hard.  Saroyan doesn't find any skin in Sari's teeth but does find it in her bronchi. Tests on that tissue reveal they are looking for a man with Nordic ancestry (presumably from the haplogroup); running the info through the military database gets a hit: Derek Johannessen.

It turns out Johannessen was pretending that Ibrahim was still alive and was funneling money from Ibrahim's terror network through foreign bank accounts. In order to pretend that Ibrahim was still alive, he killed Sari.  The Department of Justice convinces Johannessen to give up Ibrahim's entire network for amnesty and $10 million, but Booth and Danny find out that the military was still paying for Johannessen's physical rehab.  This makes him subject to a court-martial. He is charged with treason and murder.


  • Forensic
    • Is it just me, or are the fake skeletons getting even more ridiculously fake?  I mean, this is a decently rated show.  I'm guessing it makes a bunch of money.  Good fake skulls are, like, a few hundred dollars.  Full skeletons are maybe $2,000. Just buy a dozen, for Pete's sake. These prop skulls are horrible.  I screencapped it this week to demonstrate.
    • Cranial sutures can tell you age-at-death, but only after they're fused because the technique is based on obliteration of the suture lines as you get older.  So cranial suture obliteration would not tell you someone was in her late 20s.  However, Brennan could have meant that the sphenooccipital synchondrosis (aka the basilar suture) was not closed or had just recently closed, which would put someone's age-at-death in the mid to late 20s.
    • Estimation of ancestry was dumb.  If I found someone with both Caucasian and Asian features in metro D.C., I'd think: 1) I guess this person could be of mixed ancestry, like a huge number of Americans; and then 2) well, this ancestry stuff is bullshit.
    • If the medial collateral ligament was violently ripped, causing damage to the bone, that would be an avulsion fracture (like on the mandible).  But Brennan insisted there were no fractures to the skeleton.
    • Brennan comments that she found striations from ligatures on the left styloid, but doesn't say of what (she meant, I assume, the 5th metatarsal, since she was talking about the ankle).
    • I also screencapped the main scene where the skeleton was laid out at the Jeffersonian.  Not bad, but they never put the radius and ulna in the right place.  Maybe if I complain for enough seasons, they'll fix it?  Eventually?
  • Plot
    • Daisy failed her oral exams.  Bwahahahaha. Daisy is the worst.  But wait, why isn't Brennan on Daisy's committee? Also, Brennan's other interns are supposed to be, like, the most brilliant people in the world.  Why does she put up with Daisy?
    • New Feature! I'm calling it: "Bones Writers Can't Check a Map." Angela's screen showed that the Nazims were living in Greene, Virginia, with a fake zip code.  Greene is a county (the county north of where I grew up) but not a city.  (It is, incidentally, the seat of Stanardsville.  Which does not have an extra D. Oh, Virginia city names.)
  • Dialogue
    • "Orals are an antiquated, useless tradition meant to make professors feel superior." - Brennan.

Forensic Mystery - C. This was resolved within a few minutes.  Not terribly exciting a mystery.

Forensic Solution - D. I know the writers string out the discoveries, but this week was pretty absurd. Brennan and Daisy find no fractures.  Then a few striations.  Then two different avulsion fractures.  And sharp trauma.  Also, the ancestry estimation was ridiculous. As was the age-at-death from the cranial sutures. And the sex from the terrible fake skull features. Yeah, this episode just irritated me.

Drama - C-. Did we think that Freddie Prinze really did it?  No.  But I may be biased about the amount of drama in this show since I've been binge-watching Scandal while getting the baby to sleep.


Rachel Perash said…
I didn't watch the episode but if Brennan was talking about the ankle wouldn't the "styloid" be more indicative of the lateral or medial malleoli since those are commonly referred to as the ankle bones?
I'm fairly certain she meant the styloid of the 5th metatarsal, since that's often fractured or injured as a result of ankle sprains. The styloid is an insertion point for the peroneus brevis, which runs from the lateral malleolus of the fibula/ankle to the 5th MT.

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