As anyone with even a passing interest in Bones news knew already, we're starting this week's episode in the American Heritage Museum, featuring a giant and imposing statue of good ol' Honest Abe. There, a rather irate woman is teaching tour guides how to ply their tour-guide craft... but there's a bit of a distraction at Lincoln's feet. That's right: it's a surgically severed skull and spine, complete with "WHERE'S THE REST OF ME?" scrawled in blood across Abe's torso.
Cut to Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) speeding through the busy streets of D.C. The suspense is high, the mystery is throbbing — oh, did you think we were talking about the murder? Why, no! Booth and Brennan are still going on about finding a house. And they're certainly having a tough time of it. After all, Booth needs his man-cave, and Brennan needs her anthropologist-cave. Where the heck do these two expect to find an abode that accommodating in our nation's capital? Even Baby Bones seems exasperated, if the kicking is any indicator.
At the crime scene, Hodgins (TJ Thyne) can't help waxing conspiracy-theorist crazy over the admittedly cryptic human remains. And things become only more encouraging when Brennan discovers a curiosity: the vertebrae of the spine have been removed and reattached in the wrong order. There's got to be some kind of message here.
One thing we've got to say for this killer: like the American Indians, he doesn't let anything go to waste. As it turns out, the string he used to sew the bones back together is made of human gut. (Nice!) Various forms of forensic wizardry label the victim a female Caucasian in her early twenties. That's all well and good, but then things get weird: according to Wendell (Michael Grant Terry), the blood used to spell the killer's ominous question came not from the victim... but from five other people. Oh, snap.
In the lab, Booth and Sweets (John Francis Daley) aren't getting any help from the Heritage Museum's security feed; it appears that the killer managed to disable it with a laser pointer. So it's time for some good old intuition: who knows how the security camera works better than Sam Sachs (Bambadjan Bamba), the museum's exterminator? And the guy's got a hefty criminal record, to boot. Time to bring him in.
Now, the first thing to note about Sam Sachs is that he'd like a smoke. And we mean that he would really, really like a smoke. As Booth and Sweets find out, dealing with roach crap all day long is likely to stress a man out, and said stressed man really, really, really... well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, our FBI heroes decide that, rap sheet notwithstanding, this suspect is by no means smart enough to dissect a spine and rearrange the vertebrae. But Booth thinks he can still get some use out of the guy — a rabid smoker like Sachs has to know where the blind spots are in the Heritage Museum's surveillance system. Jackpot!
At the Jeffersonian, Angela (Michaela Conlin)'s not having much luck with the facial reconstruction. As a consolation prize, though, the DNA results for the message-blood have just come in. But it's not exactly good news: turns out that the blood came from five separate FBI agents. Not unreasonably, Cam (Tamara Taylor)'s pretty freaked out.
Cut to the FBI headquarters, where Caroline (Patricia Belcher) is having it out with a weasel-faced reporter. Weasel-Face wants some info about the murder at the Heritage Museum... but we're not sure why, because he seems to have every little detail of what happened there down pat already. Where's this guy getting his information?
Well, that's what Booth wants to know, but weaselly Ezra Krane (Robert Cicchini) is not about to divulge the name of his precious source. Booth, in no mood for games, gives Krane two options: give up the name, or get the hell out. Krane chooses the latter option, with Booth all but following him out to head to his brunch date.
(By the way, Ezra Krane from the Washington Standard? Is this for real? We're thinking maybe the WaPo got on Hart Hanson's bad side...)
At the Bones cast's favorite deli, Sweets is doing his darnedest to convince Brennan that it might not be the best idea for a hugely pregnant woman to be running around in the field with a murderer on the loose. Brennan seems to only half-hear him, though, so immersed is she in the real estate section of the paper. And Sweets can totally understand Brennan's pain— after all, he's got to get Daisy (Carla Gallo, not pictured) a birthday present, and ah, the stress! The agony!
...Oh, wait. Buying your goofy girlfriend a present is nothing like house-hunting while pregnant. Kudos to Sweets for recognizing that, albeit belatedly.
Booth zips into the deli with good news: the five FBI agents in question are fine. Their plasma was frisked from a blood drive that took place a few weeks ago. Brennan compensates Booth with some good news of her own: on account of "the demands of a growing fetus," she's going to follow Sweets's advice and confine herself to the lab. No more tornado-chasing, then, we take it?
Hodgins, meanwhile, is all but tearing his hair out over this vertebrae-code situation. Maybe it's referring to a book? Could the letters mean something? But it has to be simple, or else the killer could never expect them to get it. And on and on...
Booth goes to examine the Heritage Museum's blind spot (courtesy, you'll recall, of Sam Sachs). As Caroline discovers, though, all he's got to show for it is a tin of mints. But this is no ordinary tin — inside is a complicated network of wires and other junk which, when combined, makes a perfectly functional laser pointer. Caroline's prognosis: we've got a "tech-savvy guy who hates the FBI." Off she goes to pull up a list of all the "geeks" the bureau has put away over the last five years.
List now in hand, Booth moves on to pore over the details with Sweets. The most prominent lead? A computer hacker named Christopher Pellant (pronounced pe-LAHNT, played by Andrew Leeds). This guy's no n00b, either: he's taken down both the U.S. Senate and Department of Defense websites. The latter landed him with multiple charges of wire and computer fraud. (Oh, and by the way, weasel-faced Krane covered Pellant's trial.) Sounds like a prime suspect, but as Sweets says, there's one little problem...
...And when the two agents get to Pellant's place, that problem becomes all too clear: looks like our boy is under house arrest, complete with an ankle monitor that logs his whereabouts every half-hour or so.
Pellant considers himself a "hacktivist," proclaiming that he compromised the United States' security in order to expose some corruption related to government contracts. Yep... ankle monitor or not, this guy is smarmy, and Booth is not a fan. After taking note of the burned-out computer in the corner (a reminder of better days, Pellant explains, as he has no television or internet), Booth and Sweets skedaddle. Ain't nothin' left to do here.
It's a different story for Hodgins, though, who's finally cracked the spine-code (with invaluable help from wifey, of course). Turns out it's the address of the Justice Department's Archive Building, complete with room number. Let's get Booth and Sweets on over there! (They're doing a lot of running around this episode, aren't they?)
Now, maybe we're being unreasonable here, but isn't it a bad idea to just walk right into a mysterious room you know about only because a soulless killer told you where it is? Yet that's exactly what our Starsky and Hutch do. Fortunately, no harm befalls them, but they do find a couple of moldering arms in one of the expansive room's many storage lockers. Pretty good time to cut to commercial, no?
After the break, we get some insight as to why this particular locker is so important: it contains the files of several FBI informants who wormed their way out of some pretty serious charges in exchange for their cooperation. We're talking drug-trafficking, extortion, fraud... the works. As Sweets notes, every one of these people's now-penniless victims has motive for murder.
Of course, Bones wouldn't be Bones without Hodgins and Wendell coming up with some goofy experiment to do. This time, they need to figure out how the victim exploded from the inside. Could it have been a firecracker shoved down her throat? Let's stuff a dummy with Roman candles and find out!
The bad news: the experiment is a failure. The hilarious news: Wendell and Hodgins nearly kill themselves (and Cam!) in the process.
At the FBI headquarters, Caroline's rage against Ezra Krane is mounting; somehow he already knows about the find in the archives building. This might make for a serious moment, except then Sweets comes in sporting a ridiculous pastel-colored Vespa helmet. (See, he got Daisy a Vespa from the police auction for her birthday. Isn't that adorable?) Fortunately, Krane is gone by this point, so Caroline can take a moment to ask why Sweets is wearing an Easter egg on his head.
Mercifully helmetless now, Sweets tells Caroline and Booth that a man named Casuto is the worst of the FBI informants. Casuto's real estate scam was so heinous that one of the victims committed suicide, with his daughter watching. Pretty harsh stuff — and it's not unthinkable that said daughter could be harboring some red-tinged revenge fantasies.
Not surprisingly, daughter Sophia Berman (Alla Koro) is none too fond of an FBI that refused to prosecute the guy whose scam caused her father to kill himself. Furthermore, she's disturbingly well-versed in Casuto's informant status. Turns out that a certain Ezra Krane told her the whole story — Krane wanted to cover Berman père's suicide, but the FBI wasn’t talking, so his editor didn't see any point.
Before Booth and Sweets can get into the finer points of FBI ethics with Berman, though, Booth's phone rings. Angela's IDed the victim and located her address, so it's time for our dynamic duo to go check the scene. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for them to fall upon some nastiness — in this case, a jacuzzi infused with floating intestines, complete with "THIS WON'T STOP" in blood on the nearby fence. Delightful!
With all the corpses and body parts, we're kind of shocked that Booth can spare time to think about housing, but heck, he's a multitasking kind of man. Indeed, he tells Brennan that he's found the perfect place, with the only catch being that... well, the last owner is now taking up space at Leavenworth. Sounds like Sweets’s FBI auction purchase gave Booth some ideas.
No problem, replies Brennan; as a matter of fact, some ancient society considered occupying vanquished enemies' homes a sign of tribal might. We don't know how Booth manages not to fall asleep and crash the car... but then again, he fell in love with Brennan, didn't he? He must like this stuff.
Cue another nifty function of the Angelatron: turns out that Angela can scan bones, whereupon the computer magically determines the scenario that effected the victim's injuries. (Kinda makes the firecracker experiment pointless, no? But we love when things explode, so no biggie.) But just as the computer deduces that a gunshot spread the victim's innards six ways to Sunday, everything catches fire. Yes, you read that right: everything in Angela’s office catches fire. What the heck's going on?!
Meanwhile, we're pretty shocked that it's taken Booth this long to haul Ezra Krane into the interrogation room. But Booth has finally come around, and now Krane's sweating in the hot seat. Turns out our weaselly reporter has no respectable alibi to keep him away from either the FBI blood drive or the Heritage Museum at the victim's time of death. Uh-oh.
With no bullet, there's no way a gun could have killed our victim. Thankfully, though, the squints are able to use what they got from the Angelatron (RIP, Angelatron!) to deduce that it was actually a bang stick — "a specialized firearm used underwater" — that exploded our poor Caucasian female. We've also got a postmortem on the Angelatron (say hello to Vincent Nigel-Murray for us, Angelatron!): whoever committed this murder wrote a computer virus onto the bones the squinterns scanned.
No grieving daughter could do that; heck, not even the most weasel-like reporter in the world could do it. This had to be some sort of computer genius... and the only computer genius we know about in this episode is Christopher Pellant.
(Side note: anyone who's read us even in passing for the past, like, five months will have to forgive us for this recap's pace, but come on — we do have to lay out the mystery arc for non-subscribers!)
And if we needed more proof that Ezra Krane is innocent, what could be more convincing than his mutilated corpse hanging from a flagpole? That’s right: Krane’s dead now, seemingly two minutes after he quit the interrogation room. As Cam notes, the powder burns on his neck are consistent with a bang stick. (Also, the chunks of blood and pulp and flesh are consistent with a bang stick. Also the fact that he has no face — but he does have a driver's license.) We'd advise Sam Sachs to watch his back!
So what now? The squinterns pore over Krane's body; find some awesome, crime-solving clue; and put the evil Pellant behind bars, right? Well, not exactly: turns out that some intricate paper-pushing and protocol-exploiting got Krane's corpse sent straight the crematorium post-autopsy. As Caroline says, whoever managed that administrative fiasco must have access to channels that not even the Lord could navigate without multiple forms of clearance and at least two shots of bourbon.
Well, for what it's worth, Booth's going to bring Pellant in. Unfortunately, though, "what it's worth" turns out to be "not much," as Pellant's ankle monitor gives him an ironclad alibi. (Angela knows — and heck, we sure know — that a computer genius like Pellant should have no trouble outsmarting an ankle monitor, but unfortunately, "Oh, come on!" is not admissible in court.) Booth might not get much out of this confrontation, but the audience at least gets some choice lines from Booth and Pellant both. But at the end of the day, a frustrated Booth has to let the ever-smug hacktiviste extraordinaire return to his happy house arrest.
Now, after all the blood and guts in this episode, we're happy to report that the shippers finally get a morsel: the culmination of Booth's and Brennan's house-hunt. As we might have feared from the whole "I got it from a convict through the FBI auction” angle, the place is a horrifying dump. Based on Brennan's thunderstruck facial expression, we can't help but think she agrees, and Booth immediately shifts into "crestfallen." But then — wonder of wonders! — Brennan's face lights up. She can see the house's bones, she says (and we're talking literally, because the foundation is exposed), and she knows that it'll be a perfect place for a family just starting out.
But for those of you who can't watch this episode yet, we've gotta say... jeez, is "fixer-upper" an understatement! There's no way they're gonna be able to live in this dump for at least another season! Thank goodness these two both have their own places in the interim.
...What? Were you hoping for more? Well, too bad, 'cause that's the end of the episode. And don't forget: no more Bones until at least the end of March. Enjoy The Finder!