Bones - Season 9, Episode 3 (Review)
El Carnicero en el Coche
Two tow truck drivers argue over who gets to tow a burned-out car. One cedes the job to the other, however, when the first one notices a dead body in the car. The Jeffersonian team is called to the scene. Based on the supraorbital ridge, Brennan thinks the person was male, and the prominent malar and intermediate nasal spine suggest Hispanic. They find a meat cleaver on the floor and ask to bring the whole car to the Jeffersonian, as the seat and metal have fused around the bones.
At the Jeffersonian, Wendell is helping with the case. He notices an open fracture to the right parietal just above the squamosal suture indicative of sharp trauma. However, there's no evidence that the cleaver was used on the victim. He then revises his estimation to be projectile trauma; the heat of the fire enlarged what was a small bullet hole. Hodgins, in deconstructing the car, finds a bullet jammed in the roof support. He also finds the VIN of the car, which belonged to a Mr. Middlebury, whose only alibi is that he was trying to buy cocaine for a lady friend and who is never mentioned again. Further examination of the skeleton reveals fracturing to one of the patellae perimortem; Wendell suggests it may have been from a crowbar or club. Meanwhile, Angela uses the skull and factors in heat and length of time the car burned to come up with a positive ID: Jamie del Campo, a member of the Estrellas Locas gang. del Campo is known as "el Carnicero" -- the Butcher -- because of his propensity for cutting off his victims' head, hands, and feet and scattering them around town. They also find a pair of diamond earrings and a curious indentation on the anterior surface of C1.
Booth enlists the help of Sweets to go talk to del Campo's girlfriend, Maria Alvarado. Maria denies having anything to do with del Campo. Sweets recognizes her son, Javier, from the community center at which he has been working, after Booth almost shoots the kid. Back at the FBI, they learn that the gun that killed del Campo was a Rossi snubnose .38. Gangs use so-called "library guns" where someone checks one out and returns it, as this muddles the chain of evidence for police and FBI. The only local gang not shot by this gun is the 520 Mafia. Booth and Sweets go talk to Curtis Martin, their leader. During their porch chat, a couple Estrellas Locas drive by shooting at them. Booth and Sweets get down, and Martin kills them with an unlicensed semiautomatic. Booth disarms and cuffs him, then brings him into the FBI. But Martin denies that the 520 Mafia had anything to do with del Campo; rather, he says that one of the Estrellas was talking to police.
Back at the Jeffersonian, Brennan and team finally figure out the cause of death. Although Wendell found what looks like a second bullet entrance wound, there was only one shot. The bullet nicked the C1 and winged sideways, exiting through the parietal and making it look like an entry wound. The shooter was in front of and below del Campo. The Jeffersonian then gets the head of a seventh victim killed with the same gun: Adrianna Garcia. A bullet entered her parietal and killed her. Kerf marks on her decapitated head suggest a heavy blade. Miss Julian suggests that Garcia was sleeping with del Campo, but del Campo and the other Estrellas found out that Garcia was talking to police. The fracturing to Garcia's right zygomatic matches the fracturing on del Campo's patella, meaning he kneed her in the face hard enough to break his kneecap and her cheekbone.
Booth thinks he has put two and two together, assuming that Maria killed del Campo when she found out he was sleeping with Adrianna Garcia. She denies this, and Sweets decides to talk to Maria and her son, Javier, together. He gets a quick confession out of the kid: Javier was terrified that del Campo would kill him and/or his mother. So he followed him to where del Campo was going to burn the car and said he was there to collect the library gun. del Campo handed it over, and Javier shot him. Then apparently got him into the car and set it on fire, then did something with the gun, I guess, since Javier claims not to know where the gun is. He leads the FBI to someone named Anna, the gun librarian, through a cell phone call. Booth shows up and catches Anna and some other Estrellas trying to get rid of the evidence. Everyone wants Sweets back thanks to this case, but he wants to stay at the community center a bit longer, to help kids like Javier.
- Supraorbital ridge is fine for a rough assessment of sex. I still think attempting to work out Hispanic ancestry from the skeleton is poor forensic anthropology. (And why do they use the lesser-known term "malar" when discussing the ancestry, but "zygomatic" when talking about the fracture? Strange.)
- So del Campo's patella looks like it was smashed by a crowbar or club. Turns out, it was smashed by someone else's face. I'm not buying that there is a similar amount of force at work in those two scenarios... Nor that the Jeffersonian team could "match" fracture patterns from his patella to Garcia's cheek.
- The ID was made using facial recognition software? On a thoroughly burned skull? Not, say, dental records? Angela is truly a miracle worker, as always.
- I suppose the two entry wounds thing could have been caused by a ricocheting bullet, as Brennan suggests. Bone warping from the fire could certainly have caused changes to the skull that preclude easy identification of things like cause of death.
- Oh man, peeling Adrianna Garcia's face off was super gross (and something the Bones prop people love doing from time to time), but it left me yelling at the TV, "Why are you not wearing masks, people?!?!"
- If Middlebury's car was only in the area for a short period of time (enough for him to get money out of an ATM), how did del Campo plan to steal it? Or did he just plan to steal a car in the general area? I'm wondering how Javier knew where to find del Campo if the heist of Middlebury's car was a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. Also, why was he going to burn the car? Did he cart Garcia's dead body around in it?
- Speaking of the car... how did Javier get del Campo's body inside the car? The trajectory of the bullet suggests Javier shot up at del Campo, so they were probably both standing. If del Campo had been sitting in the car already, Javier would be able to shoot him point-blank. This means that Javier had to move del Campo's body into the car and then set it on fire. Sure thing.
- And speaking of the gun... what did Javier do with it?
- Maria has Anna's cell phone on speed dial. Because of course you have your gun runner's number on speed dial under her real name.
- “Anthropologically, neighborhood gangs are just another warrior culture; when threatened, they respond the way any nation-state would. Even their graffiti is similar to what one would find in an early Etruscan settlement.” -- Brennan. (So, while there is some evidence of Etruscan graffiti, it would make way more sense to refer to Roman graffiti, along the lines of what we see at Pompeii. I guess Etruscan sounded cooler to the writers?)
- "That’s like thinking a young Spartan male could refuse to join the army.” – Brennan
- “Anthropologically, he’s been conditioned to hold the gang even above his own family” - Brennan. “With all due respect to anthropology…” – Sweets
- “Toasts originally evolved because of fear of poisoning; the clinking causes the liquid to spill into the other person’s…” – Brennan
- Bones Style Watch!
- Nothing much this week other than Sweets' sweet jean jacket! Wow, is there any way to make John Francis Daley look like an adult?
Forensic Mystery - B+. Pretty interesting this week, as burned bones make for difficulties for the Jeffersonian team.
Forensic Solution - C+. The ID was made on a burned skull using facial recognition software. Lame.
Drama - B. Fairly solid episode, actually, with enough action that I mostly forgot about all the inane plot holes.
Next Week: Pelant is back! And it seems to be some sort of Phantom of the Opera plot ripoff. Might be interesting, though. (And I hope to get this posted at a reasonable time, but I'll have a 6-day-old, so we'll see...)