The Murder in the Middle East
While Booth is on the phone placing a bet with a bookie on a baseball game, Vaziri is abducted in Iran while on the phone with Saroyan. The phone connection remains open long enough for Angela and Hodgins to help figure out where he is: in a defunct center for plastic surgery.
Vaziri quickly meets his captor: a member of the Iranian parliament named Magid Namazi. Vaziri is asked to identify as much as possible from the decomposing body lying on the table in front of him, and he says that the victim is male, 25-30 based on cranial suture closure, with slightly worn dentition indicative of being raised in an urban environment. The body was scavenged by mid-size carnivores, but he sees evidence of macrognathia, a genetic condition that Namazi also exhibits. Vaziri reasons that the victim is Namazi's son. Darius Namazi was 25 years old, and his official cause of death, his father notes, was a broken neck from a fall down the stairs. He doesn't believe this, though, and has kidnapped Vaziri to help him work outside the law to find out what really happened.
Booth calls in a favor with a friend at the CIA and gets expedited visas for himself and Saroyan to head to Iran to help Vaziri. They apparently go through some sort of time portal, because they arrive just as Vaziri is starting an autopsy. What Vaziri's been doing for the last, what?, 48 hours at least is anyone's guess. Booth and Saroyan offer to help solve the murder if they can get a satellite feed to the Jeffersonian, and Namazi agrees, reluctantly at first.
Based on lividity, Saroyan thinks that the body was in the house four or five days before being discovered. There are gnaw marks from rats and a second carnivore. Through the video feed, Brennan sees multiple impact wounds bilaterally to the radii and ulnae, as well as subperiosteal bone bruising consistent with a fall down the stairs. Saroyan's test of Darius' throat tissue confirms the government's report that he had been drinking alcohol, which is forbidden. Fracturing to the left temporal bone reveals blunt force trauma, but incisive edges along the fracture lines mean Darius may have been hit in the head before tumbling down the stairs.
Darius' cousin and Namazi's nephew, Officer Sanjar Zamani, helps out with the investigation. He provides Booth with photos of the scene, including a doorknob that led into Darius' home office. It was curiously wiped clean, leading Booth to suspect the killer wanted something in the office. Booth and Namazi visit Darius' boss, Omid Turan, the head of a major bank, who says Darius was worried about a contractor whose loan he denied. Booth and Zamani question the contractor, who says he heard Darius arguing and saw a woman with blonde hair leave in a rage. Traces of vaginal fluid on Darius' underwear and traces of blonde hair on his clothing lead Booth to believe the woman was Darius' girlfriend. Hodgins identifies the second set of gnaw marks as those of a weiner dog. Because dogs are considered unclean in Iran, they would have needed a passport if they came in with the foreign woman. This information lets Booth easily track her down: Oksana Kozlov, a Russian national and oil company executive who was in fact sleeping with Darius. She admits to fighting with Darius, but says she left him only to return on Monday and find him dead, with her dogs eating his remains. Namazi wants the investigation shut down because he's learned his son was drinking and was engaging in premarital sex, both of which bring shame to the family. But Booth and the Jeffersonian team convince him to let them continue.
Someone manages to quickly 3D scan Darius' bones and send them to Angela, who has a magical printer that can spit out an entire, full-size human skeleton in an hour. Brennan notices that the blunt force trauma to Darius' skeleton includes half a dozen strikes over his whole body and looks like it was made by a V-shaped instrument, perhaps a metal 2x4 or some other uncommonly shaped item. Brennan then notices a key difference in the trauma: the fracture to the left proximal tibia was the result of a pulled ligament, not like the other mediolateral fractures caused by the stairs. She thinks the body was moved and that Darius' house was not the scene of the murder. The fractures may have been caused by falling against stairs with squared-off edges in a curved trajectory, which doesn't match with Darius' stairs. Rather, he fell on a grand staircase made out of marble or another material harder than wood.
Booth and Angela meanwhile find out that Zamani was the one who took Darius' laptop. He claims that he did not kill his cousin. Rather, when he found out Darius was dead, he took the laptop so that Namazi did not find out that Darius was advocating for women's rights and democracy, both of which could get him locked up or killed. Angela searches through the laptop's uploaded contents and realizes that Darius had hard evidence that his boss was embezzling from the bank. Booth reasons that that is what Darius was afraid of, and he remembers the grand staircase at the bank. Off-screen, I guess Turan the bank head is arrested for Darius' murder, even though there's only circumstantial evidence tying him to it. Meh, must move on to attempt to convince Namazi his religion is wrong and to show Vaziri's brother recovering and asking when he and Saroyan will get married.
Oh, right, and Brennan finds out about Booth's gambling because his bookie comes to the house. When he gets back from Iran, she is passive aggressive and then catches him in a lie when she finally asks him directly. She kicks him out when it's clear he was unapologetically lying about falling off the wagon and returning to gambling.
- Demographics: Vaziri doesn't say how he determines the victim was male, but I'm guessing it was based on, ahem, the flesh. He uses cranial suture closure to estimate age-at-death, which is unfortunate because it's a rather poor method and can't give as precise an estimate as he gets. Also, Vaziri says he's using endocranial suture closure, which is silly since he can't see the inside of the skull. He means ectocranial suture closure. I dunno how slightly worn dentition means living in an urban environment... I also don't see macrognathia in Namazi, but hey, it's just a TV show.
- What was Vaziri doing while Saroyan and Booth headed to Iran? Twiddling his thumbs? Sleeping? Eating the ice cream he bought?
- How did Namazi get his son's body back from whoever did the initial investigation? And why wasn't an autopsy already done? (Or was it, and that's how Vaziri saw the endocranial sutures?) Seriously, you can just steal a decomposing body in Iran if you want to?
- You cannot 3D print an entire skeleton in an hour, jeez. Also, who 3D scanned the skeleton? That would have taken a ridiculous amount of time as well, since I didn't see any equipment that could do a fancy CT scan in that abandoned surgery ward.
- I'm confused about the dogs. Were they staying with Darius, and fed on him for a few days until his body was found... by Oksana? Or did they only feed on him when Oksana brought them to look for Darius? If they were her dogs, why were they staying with Darius after their fight?
- Did they ever get a confession or any solid forensic evidence that showed Turan killed Darius? Evidence of embezzling and a fall down the bank's staircase are pretty circumstantial.
- Why didn't Brennan just pay the bookie? She has tons of money. She could have paid him off and then sent Aubrey after him.
- Brennan uses the Latin plural "radii" but the English plural "ulnas" in the same sentence, which is odd. She also says "radius bones" later in the episode, which seems redundant.
- Who here knows Farsi? Because I would swear that at least one of those actors does not and memorized his dialogue phonetically. But I have no knowledge of the language, I was just noticing differences in pronunciation and affect. Most of them do seem to be Iranian or Iranian-American actors, though.
- Namazi and Zamani are anagrams. No idea if this was on purpose; just found it interesting.
Forensic Mystery - B+. A pretty solid mystery, but there was a lot of detail left out or glossed over that could have made it more compelling.
Forensic Solution - B. Most methods used were fine, if a little imprecise. It's a cool idea to have someone 3D scan an entire skeleton and print it elsewhere, and this is starting to be used in forensics. But in the end not too realistic.
Drama - A-. I didn't think they'd do anything bad to Vaziri, but considering the untimely ends of Nigel-Murray and Sweets, you never know...