Bones - Season 10, Episode 5 (Review)

The Corpse at the Convention
Episode Summary
Brennan is the keynote speaker at the fictional National Forensic Sciences Convention and plans to tell the Schroedinger's cat joke.  At the convention, Hodgins has a run-in with an old nemesis, Leona Saunders, and the rest of the team geek out over new forensic tools. Brennan runs into author Tess Brown, and the latter appears to have a strained relationship with Edward Harkness, the chairman of the convention. Just as Brennan starts to talk, a fire alarm goes off.  Tess Brown points out a body in the stairwell doused in gasoline.  Brennan tries to put it out with a fire extinguisher, but that makes it worse.

"Wendell, should you even be here? Oh, whatever, we don't
want to get all that goo on our fancy clothes. Carry on."
After the fire department puts out the flaming body, the team gets to work, with help from the forensic tool purveyors angling to get their product into the hands of the Jeffersonian team. Booth and Aubrey show up, as does Wendell, who is in remission. He notes that the small brow ridges and sharp upper margin of the eye orbit suggest the victim was female, and her pubic symphysis puts her in her early 40s. Her burned lanyard is given to Angela to try to get information from. Hodgins takes an impression of a shoe print that was burned into the concrete floor. Stab wounds are apparent on the ribs and soft tissue of the torso, and Saroyan thinks that the victim died an hour or so before the fire was set. Angela finds four female registrants unaccounted for, and using her facial recognition software, she finds a match in Leona Saunders.

Hodgins admits that he and Leona fought.  She stole his idea for an odor recognition device and ended up making millions on it. But he didn't kill her.  He finds on the footprint some olive and canola oil, and the design of the shoe also indicates possibly a kitchen worker at the convention center left it.  The shoe is a match for a kitchen worker who clocked out early.  Booth and Aubrey question him at the FBI, but he denies killing Leona.  He did stumble on the dead body before it went up in flames, and he did take money out of her wallet, but he left before the fire.

Once the body is transported to the Jeffersonian, Wendell notices striations on the ribs and sternum.  Saroyan finds the contents of her stomach. He also finds a piece of a bandaid, and gives it to Saroyan to run DNA on.  Even though it's been through a fire, the DNA comes back as a perfect match for Hodgins. He admits to having thrown a bandaid in the trash that morning at the convention center. Brennan doesn't see any obvious defensive injuries.  She notices a spiderweb fracture to the sternum, suggesting someone hit her hard to knock the wind out of her, before stabbing her. Indentations on the right ribs are deeper than on the left, but Brennan thinks that it was from someone pretending to be a right-handed assailant. Leona's stomach contents included strawberries, chocolate, and expensive wine, and Hodgins finds that the wine had been delivered to Harkness's room the night before the murder.  He admits to his affair with Leona, but he had previously been seeing Tess Brown. She is questioned by the FBI but lawyers up. 

Particulates in the stab wound are from obsidian, Hodgins finds, so he thinks that it may have been burned up in a magnesium fire. Brennan notices a slight discoloration on the ilium that may have been a third accelerant. Hodgins finds out that it was sulfuric acid and potassium chlorate. Together they are volatile, but if they are separated they are fine. He reasons that the aluminum foil he found on Leona was keeping the two chemicals apart; when the acid ate through the foil, the reaction happened and created the spark that kicked off the gasoline fire. This means that no one has an alibi any longer. But the puncture wound to the left 5th rib near its vertebral end may have been what killed Leona. Hodgins finds that the shape of the wound is very specific: the rod of Aldous Carter's thermocouple.  Although it records data each time it's used, there is only one data point on it, from when Saroyan used it.  Carter had wiped it. But Hodgins finds traces of the nano composites from Carter's gloves on the body, and after they bring him in to the FBI to question him, Brennan mentions that they have DNA evidence tying Carter to the murder: he cut himself with the magnesium strips he was using to set the fire, and there is DNA in his patented gloves. Carter admits to killing Leona because he found out she was sleeping with him just to steal his idea. He set up the murder as a way to sell his products.

  • Forensic
    • Most things seemed to be in order.  Sex and age estimation were fine. Most of the injuries seemed reasonable.  
    • The radius and ulna were kind of ridiculously laid out on the lab table; both radii were medial and flipped anterior-to-posterior.
    • How did they positively ID Leona?  I guess Angela did facial reconstruction/match (which isn't a positive ID)?
    • The convention was taking place in the late morning, I gather, but Leona's stomach still had evidence of wine, strawberries, and chocolate from the early morning?  Seems like that wouldn't last that long.
    • Oh, I love it when DNA tests on tiny bits of burned stuff come back with a perfect match for someone, and within the span of like 15 minutes.  Totally realistic.
  • Plot
    • I guess there could be forensic conventions with a keynote speaker.  It would be more appropriate to send them to a conference, though, which is not the same thing.
    • Did I understand Hodgins right?  Did he say he'd found 600 g of obsidian when swabbing the ribs for particulates?  That's... a lot of obsidian.
    • You know, if one of the Jeffersonian staff is accused of murder, they really should not be working on the case because, uh, the law 'n' stuff.
  • Dialogue
    • "A great, a good, and a right mind is a kind of divinity lodged in flesh." -- Seneca
    • "Conventions usually devolve into carnivals of indiscretion." -- Convention director dude
Forensic Mystery - B-. This could have been much better if they'd cut down on the number of things the killer used to try to throw the Jeffersonian off his trail. Fewer details can lead to stronger storytelling.

Forensic Solution - B-. The whole fancy-gloves-cut-magnesium thing at the end seemed pulled out of a hat.  "Oh yeah, we have your DNA.  Boo-yah!"

Drama - C. Eh.  In some scenes, everyone was all "*gasp* Hodgins might have done it!" and in some scenes, everyone was all "Nah, let's not even question him and let him keep working on the case." It was uneven, is what I'm saying.


Anonymous said…
I loved how they estimated age without actually looking at the pubic symphysis. Makes me feel like I'm way overthinking it!
Unknown said…
It always kills me how nobody wears splash-protecting goggles when doing their experiments. Come on!!

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