The Repo Man in the Septic Tank
While Booth and Brennan argue about whether Christine should be allowed to go to church, they get a call about a body found in a septic tank. Brennan asks for it to be shipped to the Jeffersonian, and it's there to greet them when they show up to work. Also there is a new intern, Dr. Rodolfo Fuentes, who ostensibly needs additional training to bring the skills he developed in Cuba up to par with American forensic standards. Fuentes immediately discerns from the rounded supraorbital margin and the partial closure of the sphenofrontal suture that the victim was an adult male. Brennan sends him down into the tank to fish out the remaining missing bones: the right fifth distal phalanx, the left medial and intermediate cuneiforms, and the right patella. Fuentes finds cause of death: a fingernail stuck in the top of the tank suggests the victim was alive and tried to claw his way out. Saroyan finds aspirated fluid in his lungs, confirming this.
|"Wait, this isn't Benihana..."|
Brennan and Fuentes look over the bones and find numerous perimortem fractures and a newly remodeled sharp trauma to the medial aspect of the 7th rib from about 6 months ago. There is a shard of plexiglass in it, meaning it could have been a prison injury, from a shiv. Saroyan excises a tattoo from the remaining flesh and cross-references it with the records that the prison keeps. They identify the victim as Benny Jergeson, 24, who recently served out a two-year sentence for grand theft auto. Benny had recently been working repo. His boss, Georgia Grace, liked him. She doesn't know where the recorder is, though, that her repo guys took on every job. She suggests that a food truck vendor named Graham was upset with Benny after he repo'ed the food truck; Graham, however, has an alibi, as he was in Mexico getting more drugs.
The fractures and fracture patterning are still confusing Brennan and Fuentes. They find compound fractures to left ribs 6-8, the sternum, and the left frontal, plus a comminuted fracture of the left clavicle. Fuentes suggests that Benny was beaten by a right-handed assailant. But Brennan notices multiple Monteggia fractures on the left ulna and radius, and she suggests that the victim might have sustained the injuries when his body collided with his outstretched arm, as in a car accident. Hodgins finds evidence on Benny's clothes of various local plants, suggesting he ran through the woods. Fuentes insists he was being chased, since he sees evidence in the skeleton of a compound fracture to the right fibula with shearing to the tibia from rubbing against it. Benny ran on it for nearly one-quarter mile. From the green paint flakes on Benny's shirt, the shard of dual-paned glass, and curved fragment of a steering wheel, the Jeffersonian team reasons they are looking for an early '90s Korean-made car. It turns out to be Benny's car, but it was reduced to scrap metal in the time between when he died and when he was found. From the photos the towing company took, Angela can see that there were two passengers in the car, and they both hit their heads on the windshield. The abrasions to the ribs and sternum were likely caused by the steering wheel, and the victim and murderer were facing one another, not wearing seatbelts.
Booth and Brennan track down Horatio Mencini, who was like a brother to Benny. They were both in prison at the same time for car theft, but Benny ratted out Horatio in exchange for a shorter sentence. Horatio and Booth have a knife-and-frying-pan fight in the kitchen of the restaurant where Horatio was a valet. Horatio didn't kill Benny, but he did run because he was still stealing cars. He admitted that he was helping Benny steal the occasional car too.
Angela and Fuentes work on the piece of the silicon chip embedded in the right fifth rib. The chip is from a recorder. Angela manages to reconstruct the chip -- that has been soaking in liquid poop for who knows how long -- and get an 11-second audio clip off of it. Benny is telling someone that he doesn't want to steal cars anymore. Brennan and Angela then look at the injuries that the second passenger in the car must have sustained, including fractures to the right frontal, ribs, and radius. Booth and Sweets ask Georgia Grace and Horatio Mencini to undergo xray to rule them out as suspects in Benny's death. But Booth really suspects Fowler, Benny's parole officer, after Sweets discovers that the three missing cars that fit Benny's m.o. were all stolen on days when Benny met with Fowler. Booth tricks Fowler into coming down to the FBI, then lets Brennan, armed with a backscatter xray machine and Angela's mystery software, to scan Fowler multiple times until she sees evidence of recently remodelled injuries to Fowler's frontal bone. Booth arrests him.
- Did Brennan call it the intermedial cuneiform rather than the intermediate?
- Other than that, the ID of the victim was too generic to complain about: partially closed suture = adult. Round supraorbital margin = male. No age-at-death. Positive ID from prison-catalogued tattoo just after the opening credits.
- At one point, Angela talks about the "silicone chip" she found rather than "silicon."
- The subplot about religion is back. Whee. I continue to wonder why Brennan named her kid after someone she insists is a myth comparable to Superman.
- OK, so I don't know that much about credentialling of forensic anthropologists in other countries, but if Fuentes has a PhD and was running his own lab in Cuba, there's virtually no way he would have to re-take classes and an internship in the U.S. He might need to study up for the forensic boards, but so do American forensic anthropologists with PhDs.
- Did I miss the estimated time of death? They got cause of death and identification handily. There were oblique references to time since death but no definitive date, right? It was odd that they kept talking about people's alibis when they had never established time since death.
- Why exactly did Brennan put up with Fuentes' insistence they were going to sleep together? Shut that harassment down, Brennan.
- Brennan can hack into a backscatter xray machine to turn it into a real xray machine? And is it even legal to trick Fowler into incriminating himself?
- Angela throws around terms like CMOS and JTAG as if they're magical technology.
- "It's so wasteful, unnecessary, and expensive. It's so American." - Fuentes
- "This looks a lot like the prison my uncle was sent to for selling Die Hard videos." - Fuentes
- "I imagine all my male interns want to have sex with me." - Brennan
Forensic Mystery - C. The real mystery in this episode was why no one figured out how long the victim had been dead.
Forensic Solution - C-. The fracture patterning made enough sense. But there was virtually no forensic work involved in ID.
Drama - C-. Eh. The case-of-the-week was boring. The new intern was smarmy. When are we going to get the Ghost Face Killah?