Bones - Season 8, Episode 22 (Review)

The Party in the Pants
Episode Summary
A newbie attempting to work a backhoe at a building demolition site scoops up a decomposing human corpse and accidentally drops it on the forewoman.  She gets it off, but somewhere off-camera, the remaining load falls on the corpse, crushing the skull.  Brennan thinks that the individual was male, based on the crushed skull I guess, and Caucasian based on the parabolic dental arcade.  A uniform that the victim was wearing makes him appear to be a firefighter, but it is quickly revealed that the pants are tear-away and he was wearing a thong -- so he was more likely a stripper.  Flesh tone and ambient temperature put time-of-death at about four days prior.

Back at the Jeffersonian, Wendell notes that based on the epiphyseal union of the sternoclavicle, the victim was in his mid 20s.  This makes sense, Brennan avers, as those are the prime years for a man to strip.  Saroyan concludes, based on the lack of plaster and dust in the posterior pharynx, that the victim was dead before he was put in the building.  Wendell finds a calf implant, which carries a serial number and ID's him as Jack Spindler, an investment broker at Duncorp Investments.  Jack's boss, Seth Erikson, reported him missing, as Jack was one of their biggest earners, bringing in over $5 million in client investments as a rookie.  

Angela gets to work attempting to find where Jack worked as a stripper, hoping to find some colleagues or a place he could have been killed.  Wendell finds another clue in the bones: the left proximal tibia was cut and realigned, indicative of a tibial osteotomy, but it is an old, well-healed injury.  Brennan suggests that Jack had Blount's disease, common in severely overweight children.  Saroyan starts working on the vaginal fluid found in Jack's underwear, and Angela notices some of the cash Jack was carrying had been rolled up, leading Saroyan to think they might get nasal epithelial cells if it had been used to snort cocaine.

Sweets and Booth head to Jack's apartment, where they find evidence that he had been an overweight kid and also a voice message from his girlfriend, Kristi.  Booth questions Kristi at the FBI, but she insists that they always fought.  She does mention that her father invested over $1 million in Jack's company, and we later find out that she lost over $200,000 of that.  She fingers Jack's friend Storm, as Jack kept stealing Storm's stripping clients, about which they got into a fight at the gym.  Booth tracks down Storm at a bachelorette party and brings him back to the FBI for questioning.  Jack's right distal fourth metacarpal is fractured at the neck, suggesting he landed a punch shortly before his death.

Meanwhile, at the Jeffersonian, Wendell finds a v-shaped cut at a near 90-degree angle to the posterior aspect of the third cervical vertebra, which would have caused a severe contusion to the spinal cord.  Trace evidence wedged in the wound includes synthetic fiber and bedbugs.  Epithelial cells are found on the rolled up cash, and they match Cynthia White, a bachelorette who had Jack strip at her party.  The partial DNA evidence from the vaginal fluid matches her as well.  Her fiance, Jason, found out about the affair, but only post-hoc.  He pushed Cynthia, but he never saw Jack.  Angela traces records and emails on Jack's computer and notices he was engaging in a felony: buying up stock cheap, artificially inflating its price, and then selling it to clients before it crashed.  Seth Erikson is looking more guilty, but he has an alibi in Vegas for the night of Jack's death.

Additional fractures that Wendell notes to the cranium and ossicles finally give the team cause of death.  Displaced fractures to the incus and stapes suggest Jack was pistol-whipped with the butt of a gun.  Hodgins also finds evidence (oxidized malachite) in the wound that the victim may have been killed at the seedy Kingford Hotel.  Brennan thinks that Jack was beaten with a fake gun, the kind a stripper such as Storm would carry.  Storm had invested $5,000, all his savings, in Jack's fake stock and was devastated when he lost it all.  While in his hotel room, Storm got angry at Jack.  Meaning to give him a good beating, Storm pistol-whipped him, but Jack fell, knocking his neck on the edge of the bed.  Storm didn't want Jack dead, but he isn't sad that he is.

Oh, also, Booth's long-lost mother comes back, to tell him she's getting remarried to a long-term partner.  Booth is happy to see her at first, then pissed that she started a life without him (and his brother... what's his name? Jared? Isn't he in jail or something?), then forgives her and wishes her well by giving her away at her wedding.  Brennan, predictably, catches the bouquet.

  • Forensic
    • Apparently now Brennan can just look at a crushed skull and tell it's male without reference to any bony landmarks.  Handy!  Caucasian based on dental arcade alone is sketchy (as all humans have a parabolic arcade in comparison to, say, australopithecines).  I do buy the age-at-death, though, which was a nice vague range ("mid-20s") and also appropriately estimated based on epiphyseal closure of the medial clavicle.
    • Kind of pointless to throw in the stuff about the tibial osteotomy and childhood obesity.  Not really relevant to anything in the plot.
    • Saroyan sure can work magic with epithelial cells.  And Hodgins has that magic machine that identifies all sorts of bizarre particulates.
    • Is it just me, or was the neck injury never fully explained?  I assumed in the summary that Jack fell while he was being beaten by Storm and hit his head and neck on the bed.
    • I still find it annoying that every single fracture in the prop bones looks the same -- all jagged and strangely discolored -- even on the teeny tiny incus and stapes.
  • Plot
    • Inconsistency: In the first scene, the body is whole when it drops on the forewoman.  And then after the intro music, suddenly the head has been crushed.
    • Booth's mother has a longstanding injury to her left greater trochanter and femoral head, caused by being pushed down a flight of stairs by Booth's father.
    • Why does the 20-something victim have a land line?  Seriously, who under the age of 30 has one of those anymore?  (How I Met Your Mother hilariously mocked this TV plot contrivance in a recent episode...)
    • Most boring Bones-themed drinking game ever: Take a drink every time the show mentions Parker, Jared, or Russ.
  • Dialogue
    • "Based on your robust frame, muscular build, and symmetrical features, you could make a good income as an exotic dancer." -- Brennan to Wendell (actually, isn't Wendell a bit too old?)
    • "You have an alluring personality and a wonderful physique." -- Brennan to Booth
    • "I did [strip]. For my paper. I wouldn't be much of a scientist if I didn't." -- Brennan, getting really into anthropological participant-observation. 
    • "The Jesus myth is all about forgiveness, isn't it? ...  Water to wine, raising the dead, walking on water... these defy the basic laws of physics. But forgiveness... that's its value. That's why the myth has endured." -- Brennan going all anthropological on religion.  (Still galls me, though, that she named her daughter after Jesus, yet this hypocrisy never comes up...)

Forensic Mystery - C.  Eh.  Calf implant ID'ed the victim quickly. Not a lot of mystery, except perhaps in cause-of-death, and that was annoying because the team should thoroughly document all injuries at once, not look for them as a plot device at the end.

Forensic Solution - B.  The way they ID'ed him, though, was entirely reasonable, if boring.

Drama - D+.  If there had been some lead-up to the return of Booth's mother, I might have been interested in it.  There was a bunch of drama surrounding the reveal of Max as Brennan's father a few seasons ago.  But I honestly don't remember the story of Booth's mom abandoning him and his brother, so I wasn't invested in this storyline that took up a good chunk of the show tonight.


Anonymous said…
I'm only 24, and I have a landline...
Anonymous said…
There's no chance you would remember the story of Booth's mother abandoning him - it was never, ever mentioned it before. The only thing we know is that his grandfather kicked his father out (Mom obivously wasn't around any more at the time) when Booth was "a little boy" - which means it must have happened *way* earlier than 24 years ago unless they expect us to believe that Boreanaz is still in his early thirties...
Anonymous said…
I don't think it's that uncommon to have a landline, at least where I'm from.

Also I don't understand why Christine's name bothers you so much... She named it after her mom, the fact that it's linked to Jesus is probably just a bonus for Booth.
Brennan is pretty anti-religion, or at least looks at it as an amusing just-so story. The meaning of her daughter's name, Little Christ, didn't escape her. She fought the idea of a baptism, she fights with Booth about the religious nature of marriage. So it seems incongruous with the character.

Or maybe I'm just reacting to it because I don't like my name. I mean, really, little Christ? My mom could have done better.
Anonymous said…
I've thought about it for nearly 2 days now and may ban my son from watching it. I never really watch it but it was on my tv and I heard her say, "the myth of Christ". As a believer in Christ I find this attack blatantly disrespectful. It's aired for millions to hear/see. My son was in the room and looked at me as if he needed answers. It may not be what one believes in but that freedom of speech just allowed me to exercise my freedom of choice. My family will not be watching that show again.
Anonymous -- Let's see if I have this right. You don't want to have a conversation with your son about the diversity of opinion that exists in our large, free, multicultural society. You want to shelter your son from alternative ideas so that he doesn't ask questions or, heaven forfend, realize that there are alternate belief systems in this world and possibly choose for himself one that you don't believe in.

Keeping kids ignorant about religion, evolution, culture, race, etc., is not a solution to the vast social problems in this country. Talking to them is. I have taught anthropology in the South for over a decade. I have seen dozens of college students come in, completely ignorant about the world around them because of very sheltered upbringing, and have done my best to show them that a difference of opinion is something to talk about and celebrate, not something to ignore and cower from. Many of my students leave my classes having changed their mind about evolution, religion, culture, politics, or race relations. Some don't. But I've at least done my best to educate them about the reality of the world and have given them the tools to think and decide for themselves.

If more parents talked to their kids from a young age rather than censoring them, my job as an anthropology professor would be a whole lot easier and, dare I say, this country might be a little bit more tolerant.

If I can explain to my daughter the preponderance of Christian imagery and discussion on television, and get her to understand and respect the different beliefs that others have, then surely you can explain the same to your son about an atheist main character in one TV show.

(Finally, even though I critique the forensic science in Bones and complain about Brennan's characterization at times, she remains the only intelligent, strong, female atheist on television. Heck, she might be the only atheist main character on TV. That takes some guts on behalf of the writers, to write her like a real anthropologist, and I applaud that.)
Anonymous said…
Blounts disease indicates that he was obese?

Kristina, I think the show's main problem with Bones being an atheist is that she picks on Christianity much more than other religions. She always has to prove that she's right and Booth's beliefs are wrong, which isn't what an anthropologist should do. She often mentions rituals and beliefs in other (exotic) cultures and religions to back up her points, but seems to deny that Christianity has any bearing on the lives of the people closest to her. (And not all anthropologists are atheists!)
The causes of Blount's disease are unknown, but doctors think it's due to excessive weight being placed on the growth plates of the long bones of the leg. So obesity isn't a huge stretch. Still, weird it was mentioned just once...

And yeah, you're right about Brennan's approach to religion. She is overly critical of Christianity in a way she's not about other religions. I actually thought this episode was a good demonstration of how anthropologists often talk about religion -- she called the story of Jesus a myth (many myths are, after all, based in part on facts), but isolated the relevant part of the story to comfort Booth, showing that even though she doesn't believe in the characters in the myth, she still believes in the message. That's what many anthropologists try to convey -- religion is a cultural universal, and many of the tenets of religion (e.g., do not harm others) are also cross-cultural, suggesting a human need and capacity to empathize and explain the world.

I think that Christianity is just low-hanging fruit for the Bones writers. It pervades our culture, and setting Brennan up as directly opposed to Christianity helps them get their point across better that there are alternative ways of thinking. But I'll agree that it's often heavy-handed, which is problematic.

Certainly not all anthropologists are atheists. I don't even know of a survey of anthropologists' religious beliefs, but I'd suspect that we mostly fall on the range from atheism to some sort of syncretism (picking and choosing from the variety of things we've learned from other cultures). It's highly unlikely that any anthropologists are fundamentalists, though, since that's primarily the denial of culture change.

I think the next time I teach forensic anthropology, I'm going to make the class write a screenplay for the show. And then act it out. That would be awesome.
Rae said…
i agree with you on the mother drama. there was never a story about where booths mother was, and when they mentioned her in the dancer murder episode, i wondered what the story was behind the mother. i thought her story made no sense. what kind of a mother leaves her kids to continue getting abused? she couldve left with her children. and when she found out they were with the grandfatehr, she couldve at least checked up on them. she didnt have to come face to face with them.

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