Bones - Season 9, Episode 23 (Review)
The Drama in the Queen
A candidate for mom-of-the-year tries to convince her 6-year-old to hang out in a well so they can get famous when she's rescued. The mom goes down instead and finds a skeletonized body. The well is in Ellicott City, Maryland, but there's no indication as to why the FBI needs to get involved. Still, Sweets is leading the investigation because apparently that's what he does now in addition to being a wunderkind psychological profiler.
|I could have picked a number of different pictures of|
this episode, but... hot swimmer bod. You're welcome.
Hodgins finds blowflies and flesh flies, suggesting time of death was about 5 days prior. The size of the femoral head tells Brennan the victim was male, and the lack of marked lipping on the dorsal border of the pubic symphysis leads her to estimate he was in his early 40s. The bones are encrusted with coins from having come into contact with the bottom of the limestone well.
Back at the Jeffersonian, Brennan complains that she cannot tell perimortem from postmortem injuries because of all the coins adhering to the skeleton. The new intern, Jessica Warren, notes that the greater and lesser tubercles of the humeri are enlarged, as are the heads of both femora. Irregularity in the coracoid processes of both scapulae suggest a strain in his upper arm muscles, so Warren and Brennan think he may have been a swimmer. Saroyan doesn't find any drugs on the tox screen.
Angela gets a hit off the missing persons database: Brian Thomas, 43, a swim coach at fictional Knox Community College in Maryland. His wife, Lila, reported him missing but isn't sure when she saw him last because she works nights and he spent long hours at the pool. Brian reported some of his students for hazing, so Brennan and Sweets head to the pool to question Avery Parish. Parish has asymmetrical posture from limited mobility in his glenohumeral joint, or swimmer's shoulder. His friend, Quentin Marks, has poor hearing, which Brennan thinks is from prolonged exposure to pool water. Both are getting scholarships to four-year universities because of swim team. Another female swimmer suggests that Coach Gabby Morrell may have been sleeping with Brian Thomas. She denies the affair but thought that Brian may have been having one since she smelled perfume and found a gaudy earring in his car when he drove her home.
At the lab, Warren is working on removing the coins and staining from the bones so that she and Brennan can assess the injuries. Warren uses pineapple juice, which contains bromelain, to break down the proteins and remove the flesh. After doing that, she finds a fracture to the superior aspect of the acetabulum and another to the ilium suggestive of a fall down the well. She also finds perimortem fracturing to the left humerus and to the posterior surfaces of the 9th, 10th, and 11th left ribs. Lumbar vertebrae 4 and 5 are also shattered, which would have caused paralysis. Further, the calcaneus seems to have been driven backward, causing chipping to the cuboid, suggesting a feet-first fall down the well. Bony enlargement at the end of the left 1st metatarsal shows a hallux abducto valgus deformity: a bunion. And a hairline Lisfranc fracture in the midfoot is often the result of someone stumbling over plantarflexed feet, as women can while wearing high heels. Osteophytes on the anterosuperior edges of vertebrae T1-3 show continued stress to the upper back.
Angela finds that Brian bought dinner every Friday night at the same place. No one there recognizes a picture of him, but Brennan and Booth realize what's across from the restaurant: a drag club called Madam's Apple. Brian was dressing as a drag queen every week; the osteophytes apparently resulted from the weight of his fake breasts. Brennan and Booth talk to the owner, Destiny Childs, who suggests Kimmy Moore was upset at Brian, who went by Jenny while in drag, for taking her spot. Kimmy denies it and shows that she wasn't in a fight; Brian's 3rd and 4th metacarpals show he had gotten a "fight bite" (NB: do not click that link unless you're ok with pus!) two to three weeks prior. An alloy of copper and zinc plus plastic in the wound lead the team to think Brian was hit with a pipe. Fortunately, Angela finds footage of the fight from the convenience store camera. Brian, in drag, got into a fight with plumber Joe Rizzo. Joe admits to the fight, which occurred when he accused Brian/Jenny of stealing his credit card information. Hodgins and Warren test their pipe theory with meat-and-gelatin puppets but get nowhere. Madam's Apple, Angela finds out, has free wifi, and when Sweets brings him in, the club owner Destiny Childs admits to stealing from his customers. But he had stopped several weeks ago.
Brennan and Warren continue to search for the murder weapon and cause of death. They realize that the injuries sustained were not blunt force but rather projectile trauma mimicking blunt force trauma because it occurred while Brian was in the pool. Bullets will slow and deform enough to mimic blunt force trauma at a depth of about 8 feet. He was likely shot with a hollow-point bullet from a .45. At the pool, the team finds a nick in one of the lane dividers, which accounts for the plastic in the trace swab Hodgins did. Brennan finds traces of blood in a towel hamper that was likely used to move the body. They question Gabby Morrell again; she does own a .45 and has a key to the pool but insists she only uses the gun for target practice. When Hodgins finds a bullet fragment in the drain, it all comes together for Warren. She realizes that the killer had to have been in the pool with Brian. Water transmits more pressure than air, which means Brian should have a fractured ear ossicle; they fish out the stapes, and it has a hairline fracture. But this also means that the killer would have an ear injury and concomitant hearing loss. Quentin Marks admits to the murder. His gun, a .45 he got after he was in the military, tested positive for gunshot residue and chlorine. He apparently cheated on a midterm because his grades were slipping due to the time he was spending in the pool. Brian caught him and was going to turn him in, so he killed him because he really wanted to go to a four-year college.
- This episode was, oddly enough, a decent one forensic-wise. I mean, Brennan figured out sex based solely on the femoral head and age-at-death based on only a small part of the technique of assessing the pubic symphysis. But at least it was based more in reality than the size of the C2 or other oddities they have used this season.
- What did Angela get a hit on in the missing persons database? There wasn't anything particularly identifying about the middle-aged male skeleton with developed upper arm muscles.
- Osteophytes from fake breasts worn for a few hours once a week? Nope.
- Uh, so Sweets is a psychologist. Not an FBI agent. Why exactly does he get his own murder investigation, other than plot contrivance?
- Hodgins was pouring HCl from one giant beaker to another in mid-effing-air? While not under a fume hood? And was the HCl green for some reason? Science!
- (Why is everyone wearing sweaters in this episode and the upcoming one? It's late spring in D.C.)
- Wait, what's Booth testifying about to a congressional subcommittee? I guess it'll tie into his getting shot next episode.
- Is it just me, or did the writers do weird things with the pronouns for all the drag stars?
- Can a non-traditionally-aged student be on a sports team in college? I don't think you can with high-interest sports like basketball, although I guess technically Quentin would have preserved his eligibility by being in the military. Still, I can't imagine you can be on a college sports team at any old age.
- "What does it mean 'to Brennan' someone? Is that a compliment?"
- Brennan: "You're finally using evidence to reach conclusions; I appreciate that." Sweets: "As opposed to my usual psycho-babble?" Brennan: "Exactly!"
- "Anthropologically speaking, homosexuality is not a prerequisite for cross-dressing... it's an expression of personality."
Forensic Mystery - B. It wasn't at all telegraphed who did it. But maybe that was because they basically never mentioned the killer until he was the one who did it, for a reason that was only explained at the very end.
Forensic Solution - A-. Demerits for the hand-waving about IDing the victim through missing persons.
Drama - C-. I literally did not even catch the killer's name when he was first introduced. I had to look it up at the end, and it took me several webpages to find out. Lame.