I swear to you this won't be the length of my previous S2 review!
This is the desperately sad and sickening story of the girl who, seriously afflicted with post-partum depression, shook her crying baby to death and then killed her erstwhile friend and Lamaze classmate, Carlie Richardson, in order to steal the latter's viable foetus and swap it with her own dead child, leaving Callie's weak and unfaithful spouse to take the blame. Still showing distinct signs of mental imbalance when 'her' child is removed, she justifies herself: "She didn't want him, she said she wished she'd never gotten pregnant! It was wrong for her to have him!"
It's another one that moves me to tears, both when they take the little boy away from her and when they return him to the father who didn't even know he was alive. Partly for the child, separated from someone with whom he has formed a genuine bond and handed over to a coward who - rightly, Brennan thinks - describes himself as a "pathetic bastard" - and tells Booth, "I'm no father" (Booth replies, “You don't get to decide that. You have a son. Step up. Take him." Which is a glorious reflection of Booth's integrity and world view). The tiny skeleton stirs emotions, too. “It was male.” “’He’ not ‘it’, Bones.”
The episode revolves, predictably and totally, around parental attitudes and relationships. This might be regarded as a bit twee and clichéd, but it belongs to a period of Bones I value, during which the sub-plots have some kind of link with the main case. This doesn't always happen these days - at their worst, more recent eps sacrifice the entire case, the victim and the team ambiance to the Booth/Brennan relationship.
The gradual move towards the truth during the 45 minutes is great. In spite of Cam's keenness to get a neat, straightforward conviction of the husband, the evidence builds up inexorably against her assumption, and she has to give up trying to fit the findings to the suspect rather than the other way round. The first doubt is Carlie's locket with 'Kenny' engraved in it. Even though the picture is too degraded to give any information (Cam: "Can any of your cyborgs do anything with the photo paper?"!!) this turns out to be her dog - a red herring, but one which points up the fact that things may not fit into Cam's tidy pigeon-hole. The initial interview with Carlie's female semi-familial group doesn't help much, given that one of them is the perp (question: how have they tracked them all down to one single playground?).Then Hodgins finds freshwater evidence to indicate that the murder may have taken place somewhere very distant from where Kyle Richardson was at the time (I like the fact that they go to a closer source of freshwater first and prove that it is not the murder scene before moving on). It is confirmed that this was indeed the case, and that thunderstorms washed the body down into the river mouth and, finally, the bay. Further, experimental stabbing of a manufactured 'body' pretty much proves that a woman committed the crime. Checking out DNA reveals that this is not Kyle's new girlfriend, as they had suspected from a photo Carlie's parents had shown them. Then we find that the 'foetus' shows traces of a drug used to combat depression and this leads to the unpleasant realisation that it's someone else's child and one that has lived for about two weeks. Angela's gift to the baby of a face and her aging matrix is near-conclusive proof of whose the baby is. And traces of surgical antiseptic and scalpel cuts confirm that it is someone who knows about anatomy and surgery, albeit from veterinary training. It's all very logical and doesn't depend on some last-minute deus ex machina. Kudos to the writing team for teasing it all out in a credible manner.
Booth’s family relationships are central to the B plot. Rebecca having acquired a new squeeze, she is depriving Booth of time to see Parker in order to further her four-year-old’s contacts with Drew. Later, when Parker excitedly rings his dad about his recent zoo visit, there’s yet another interruption from Brennan – this time she is stressing the genetic differences between chimps and human beings (an obscure further reference to families)!
Significantly, Rebecca storms into the FBI offices to demand that Booth’s people stop investigating Drew; apparently Booth’s lack of trust has led to several of her boyfriends running scared. Although this high-octane argument does end with Rebecca’s threat that if he doesn’t back off, she won’t let him see Parker again (he has no definite rights here; one of the ‘advantages’ of being unmarried), there is one very funny moment when Booth points out that Drew has been carrying explosives and Rebecca explodes with frustration: “He works in demolition!!”
Of course, closure comes to the Booth situation – at least for the time being – in the scene after it has come to Kyle Richardson. Parker wants Drew and Booth to be friends, so Rebecca has brought Drew along to the diner to meet him. Initially spiky, Booth concurs and sits down with his family to see Parker’s zoo diorama. Things are not quite right yet, but at least when both parents are considering solely the welfare of the child, there is a possibility of compromise.
Cam and Brennan are still at daggers drawn, testing each other out warily, each resenting the other. While Seeley is on the phone to Rebecca sorting out his family business, Bones is constantly tapping on his shoulder, fussing about Cam possibly compromising ‘her’ remains if she gets to the scene first. It doesn’t go down well with Brennan that Cam instantly assumes Kyle Richardson is the killer, and Cam is equally quick to assert her authority, “I have the utmost respect for the doc; glad she works for me.” Bizarre, then, that it is on Cam that Bones decides to do her research on having a family, asking whether she wants children! Knowing what we do now about Cam, it seems odd that her reply is a flip “If it sleeps late and helps with the dishes”.
Angela and Brennan get to have a discussion over a set of bones – rare event, but Angela is making notes about the remains. They are discussing marriage, Brennan dismissing it as an antiquated ritual and reiterating how anthropologically counterintuitive it is to commit to one person for life. “You have multiple partners,” she points out to Angela, who responds, “Don’t say it like that. I date.” Incidentally, this is when Angela says my signature phrase.
Zack and Brennan clash a little over Cam’s influence. The knife apparently used here, he says ‘seems’ to be Richardson’s. Brennan cuts him down without preamble, “No conclusions without corroboration!” She does, however, treat him as an absolute equal in the on-site assessment of the remains.
Cam and Angela are also stepping carefully around each other, but Angela is more direct and ‘street’ in her retorts than Brennan. “What do you want?” snaps Cam as Angela stands by the remains waiting to see if there’s anything for her to draw. “George Clooney on a white sand beach,” Angela parries, “but I can give you faces when the skulls are reconstructed.”
Booth and Brennan again have several in-car conversations. She is still demanding to take the wheel and does a lot of back-seat driving. In the first trip they goad one another, Booth about her apparent competition with Cam, Brennan about his feelings concerning Rebecca’s new boyfriend, Drew. But the next exchange is firmly centred on parents. Brennan doesn’t understand how mothers cope. Dogs can be trained in a couple of weeks, while mothers have to give up their lives for years. “You don’t feel like you’re giving up anything”, says Booth quietly. Later, religion rears its head yet again. Brennan is quoting Biblical family relationships at Booth, and specifically Abraham’s seeming willingness to slaughter his own son. Eventually, she concedes that in this ‘myth’, the angel who stays Abraham’s hand when the test of faith is over may be an allegory for the sense of conscience. Because “even an empiricist can have a heart”. Outside the vehicle, in the first scene, Brennan disparages Booth for expecting her to know who Carlie Richardson is. “You have to get a TV, or at least thumb through a People”, Booth says. Oh, responds Brennan acidly to his suggestion that she get some outside interests, should she look for the name in the anthropological work or cookery book she is currently reading or should she perhaps peruse a study of the media’s exploitation of violent crime?
The Full Team is fantastic in the stabbing experiment. They each stab according to character. Brennan and Hodgins can’t resist a smile when Zack stabs rhythmically, slowly and completely without passion; Cam seems to be enjoying the physicality of it; Hodgins is full of boyish enthusiasm for his experiment as usual; Booth is clinical and thorough; Brennan gets involved with it as an experiment and stabs firmly but almost as though it is pure research; Angela looks away in horror at what her hand is doing!
Saving the best till last; while the Hodgins action is infrequent, it is very important. As is very often the case, his is the evidence that sets them on the right track. He has one of my all-time favourite lines when he is handed a dead fish to investigate: “Oooh – and it’s not even my birthday”! TJ does have the advantage of a voice to die for; every time he says something I can feel my ears curling up in pleasure. But this time he gets more than one opportunity to convey that childlike delight that is such a core part of Hodgins’ personality. The second time he is, magnificently, standing in the middle of a murky lake, holding up a jar of wriggly things, declaring with a chuckle: “I guess I just like gamophyta!”
And the rest of this exchange is worth quoting verbatim.
BOOTH: You know, you don’t have to act any geekier – the outfit does it for you.
HODGINS: Geek chic, dude – agent Blondie over there thinks I’m hot.
After a slightly flirty wave to said blondie agent, he too reminisces about family relations – apparently a previous girlfriend’s son hated his use of too many big words (Booth sympathises) and hit him on the head with a Tonka truck (‘real tough toys for real tough boys’ – anyone remember them?). He doesn’t think he deserved an 18-wheeler to the parietal. “I could never sleep with his mom again,” he says ruefully.
“At least the story ends well,” mutters Booth.
Love the way the case is handled, love the team stuff and the snark from various people. Love that we care about the victims and, to an extent, the perpetrator. Love the examination of families and relationships.
But I am still wanting more Hodgins!