The Next in the Last
A body is found in a park, flayed with the middle excised, and placed on an obelisk. The Jeffersonian team and Booth head to the scene. There is extreme predation by vultures. Based on the height of the nasal bridge, Brennan suggests the victim was male. Depth of the sternal rib endings suggests he was in his 20s. Saroyan finds a Chiranthodendrum flower in his throat, which Hodgins says means "beware." They think they're looking at a Pelant copy-cat, since all of this fits with his m.o.
epiphysis on the iliac crest suggests the victim had osteomalacia, possibly from staying indoors too much. Hodgins finds traces of pizza, and Angela gets a facial ID: Franklin Holt, an independent computer consultant who worked from home.
Booth and Aubrey head to Holt's inexplicably ginormous house. There they find Leelah Strawn, who claims to be Holt's girlfriend. She says she saw the blood and was calling 911. They met through playing Call of Duty. The Jeffersonian team shows up to the crime scene. Blood and tissue is everywhere, and there are no computers or hard drives to be found. Leelah says that Holt got someone at Dunlop Investments fired, so Aubrey questions Owen Elixson. Elixson seems to be somewhat obsessed with Pelant, but claims it's because of his hacking genius. Holt broke into Dunlop's sooper secret server, which even Elixson didn't have access to, and that got Elixson fired.
Back at the Jeffersonian, Wendell and Edison find kerf marks on both scapulae and on the inferior margin of the manubrium. A similar bone saw to the one Pelant used was also used in this case. The striae show hesitation marks, which Brennan thinks means the killer was questioning these actions. Daisy shows up and finds a random VHS tape procured from Holt's house. Angela realizes that's where Holt's backup is, and runs off to read it.
Booth and Aubrey call in Kevin Dunlop for questioning. He is evasive about the 4.6 billion dollars, but Aubrey goes all daddy-issues on him, revealing that he helped bring down his fradulent-investment-banking father. Dunlop admits that the money was there until the day Holt died, when it vanished. Then the writers get hella confused about how encryption and decryption work, as Angela is able to decrypt some of the VHS tape -- enough to search for random strings! - but thinks it'll take "months" to decrypt the rest. Anyway, suspension of disbelief and all, so Angela gets hits on the two prime suspects, Elixson and Dunlop. Elixson admits he was giving Holt passwords (presumably while he still worked there, since they'd change those passwords after he was fired) in exchange for money.
In order to figure out cause of death, the forensic team finds evidence of a bullet wound on the radiating fractures on the left scapula. The hydrostatic shock from the bullet cracked the bone. The midsection was removed, to fit the body over the obelisk, but in the crudest way possible. Hodgins finds that the pizza from Holt's house was covered in Cladosporium. Based on its hyphae, he thinks it was delivered the night Holt was killed, between 8-10pm. The hesitation marks that the forensic team saw on the bones, they realize, were actually the result of an injury to the killer: radioulnar synostosis, preventing the killer from rotating the wrists. Hodgins for some reason commandeers an ancient mass spec called a Calutron and finds that the pizza box has gunshot residue on it. The pizza delivery person was likely the killer.
They get surveillance tapes from the pizza place and notice someone picking up the pizza funny as the person does not have full wrist range-of-motion. Brennan notices the valgus angulation of the knees and realizes the killer was a woman. They suspect it's Leelah, especially when Angela says she never found evidence of her being Holt's girlfriend on the mysteriously-half-unencrypted-VHS-tape. Leelah was also a hacker, known in some circle or other as Mainframe.
Apparently, also on the magic VHS tape was info about how Holt was tracking Leelah. He put a digital trap on... something of hers?... which Angela uses to find out that Leelah used one of her anonymous IP addresses to rent a car (because, sure?). Her debit card was used outside of Hagerstown, so Booth and Aubrey head there to find her. Somehow they find her exact whereabouts, as she's heading towards a train station. She tazes a dude and jumps onto a train. Booth and Aubrey find her, she throws some barrels or stuff in their way, gets away, then goes into a chicken-coop-car, disarms Aubrey, locks Booth out, and repeatedly tazes Aubrey. Anyway, Booth pries open the door, Aubrey doesn't seem particularly fazed (heh), Booth sharp-shoots the tazer out of her hand, and they cuff Leelah.
In the wrap-up, Angela finds all of Hodgins' money. He asks her to secretly funnel it to charities because of course that's a thing you can do without any sort of paper trail. Vaziri shows up to comfort Saroyan. Pelant sends a beyond-the-grave video message to Brennan about how he'll never die, and she literally just shuts the computer on him, which was honestly kinda funny. B & B walk out of the Jeffersonian into the sunset with all the staff looking on and nodding sadpreciatingly.
- Demographics: Height of the nasal bridge for sex? Ugh. Sternal rib ends are ok, except that depth is only one of the three characteristics that is used in that method. Also, Brennan could not see them from where she was.
- Goddamnit, the switched radius and ulna are going to give me an ulcer. The radii in this episode were even upside down (anterior-to-posterior). Standard. Anatomical. Position. Know it, love it. It's a 206-piece puzzle that goes together the same way every damn time. (Phew! I will be SO happy if they fix that next season. SO HAPPY.)
- Valgus knees = knock-knees. I wasn't aware that women's knees were... closer together than men's knees?
- Oh noez, we're back to Hodgins' 4.6 billion. Remember when we learned that someone that stinking rich had all of his money in one place? Because that's totally a thing that rich people do rather than hiring investment managers?
- Holt sure has a giant house for someone who lives alone.
- Why is Edison using clay to do a facial reconstruction when there are ginormous computers that can digitally scan and algorithmically reconstruct faces? Does literally no one else know how to work Angela's computer? No cases will ever be solved if she leaves, since ID always seems to hinge on a facial reconstruction.
- Brennan wants to take a presumably faculty job. In Kansas. Where they will give her "unlimited funds." Hahahahahaha. It's always funny when the writers attempt anything related to academia. I mean, seriously, isn't the country-wide defunding and dismantling of higher ed even a blip on people's radar? Welcome to state-funded public schools in random states, Brennan. Hope you like teaching a 3/3 and spending inordinate amounts of time on "assessment"!
- Man, the VHS tape thing. So, they can store more than I thought. They're ancient, but they're still magnetic tape. My resident computer nerd (read: my brilliant software engineer husband, who would like the Bones writers to know that he is available for all their consultation needs) said a VHS tape could store gigs' worth of data. A far cry from today's terabyte drives, but still a significant amount. The biggest problem is the idea of decryption. It's an all-or-nothing thing. Decryption means that the encryption key is breakable quickly or breakable never. Even if each email on the VHS tape was encrypted separately (or if they were encrypted in groups based on, say, sender), it's still all or nothing. Either it's broken quickly or it's, and I quote, "a life of the goddamn universe scenario." Which means Angela's excuse for not going to Paris, namely that it'll take months to decrypt the data fully, is total crap. Especially after she got Holt's hard drives and encryption keys. Dur. And then Angela gets an anonymous IP and finds some sort of position for Leelah? I don't even know. [Here are his thoughts on the Pelant-bone-computer-virus madness from S07 if you want more proof the computer stuff is seriously wonky.]
- Brennan would almost certainly have an employment contract with the Jeffersonian. Maybe she could give two weeks' notice (yeah, sure), but she can't just arbitrarily quit one day.
- Hodgins takes an old mass spec that will almost surely destroy the best evidence they have for who the killer is as it spits out its information. Sure, compromising the case is definitely worth playing with ancient equipment. Also, the Calutron was specifically used for uranium, which I don't think is in gunshot residue.
Forensic Mystery - B-. I still sort of like the Pelant arc, even if it means horrible, laughable computer forensics.
Forensic Solution - B. It seemed mostly reasonable, except for the knee thing.
Drama - C. It's been clear for months that this episode had to be written as a series finale in the event the show didn't get picked up for another season. So there was a bunch of hand-wringing and tears... that end up not feeling earned since we know it'll be returning.
NB: If you haven't seen my meta-post over at Forbes on the best/worst episodes in the last five seasons, do go check it out!