Grab a tissue (or two, or three), settle in, and get ready to have your emotions messed with, because this is the Bones episode we've been waiting for. It starts off so nice and friendly (well, after that whole “skeleton in a tree” thing). Brennan is cooking for a party. All our faves are sitting around the table! There's Angela and Hodgins. We even spot Booth and Hannah! It's a lively get-together... and Brennan is the only non-coupled up person there. It's totally awkward and now we're cringing on our couches because who hasn't been in that sitch?
After the meal, Booth gets Bones to perform the world's creepiest party trick where she investigates the half-eaten chicken carcass before them like it's a victim. She describes the chicken's sex, approximate weight, and cause of death. Booth enjoys it, but everyone else seems repulsed by it. Collective phones ringing means a victim has been found. How do any of these people ever keep their food down?
The team investigates a rainy, muddy scene where a flowering dogwood tree managed to grow right through a skeleton (um, ew?). The victim is a Caucasian female. Brennan notices a nice set of teeth, implying that the victim had the bucks to afford expensive dental care. She describes the height and weight, all of which are similar to hers. Leave it to Booth to point out that they need to look for someone "just like you, Bones." But before you can discount these vague similarities, Bones spots the victim's dolphin-shaped ring — it's identical to hers.
While going over the body, Cam and Brennan find occupational markers on the fingers consistent with long-term use of a cutting implement, such as scissors, like a beautician or seamstress would have. But Cam aptly points out that she and Bones probably have the same marks on their bones, and Brennan tells her to add medical professional to the victim's possible list of occupations. The parallels continue!
At the diner, Booth, Brennan, and Hannah are discussing the case. With the help of Bing (hello, obvious product placement!), Hannah finds out that Dr. Lauren Eames died last November but the case went cold because no one was looking for her. Hannah oh-so-sensitively points out that the investigation stopped because the doctor was "single, no kids, and outside of people at work, there was no one to miss her.” Ouch.
Booth and Brennan talk with Dr. Adit Gadh, who was a colleague of the victim's. Dr. Gadh says the doctor was "not a woman of passion" and that her staff was underappreciated and overworked. Booth quips that it's just like Brennan and her squinterns (btws, where were they this episode?). The similarities between Brennan and the doctor are really coming out now, and Brennan is visibly moved. She wonders how the doctor’s absence could go unnoticed, and Dr. Gadh quotes a T.S. Elliot poem, saying, "I will show you fear in a handful of dust," which means that it's not death we fear, rather, the fact that no one will miss us after we go. As if this isn't enough to grab the tissues, Brennan then sees the victim's photo and instead sees herself. Not someone that looks like her, but her. Creepy! She asks Booth who the photo looks like and he says he doesn't recognize her. Okay, has Brennan finally gone off the deep end? Please don’t say we need to go through another brain tumor scare!
This is where the investigation starts to get really personal to Brennan. The anthropologist spends her evenings working in the lab and engaging in thoughtful conversations with Micah Leggat (Veronica Mars’ dad, aka guest star Enrico Colantoni), a night watchman at the Jeffersonian. She listens to a CD of the victim describing a medical case, but instead hears her own voice. More weirdness. During a cookie break with Micah, Brennan discovers that the victim was stabbed in her ribs four months before she died. She wonders how no one could have noticed, then answers herself by saying that some people are good at keeping their pain hidden. Micah gives her a meaningful look and leaves.
Booth and Brennan talk to Chris Markham, who worked with the victim. Turns out the pair had mad sexual tension and Chris constantly asked Lauren out. But the doctor was way too cautious to attempt an emotional connection with someone. Hmm... this sounds familiar.
Back in her office, Sweets (sent there by Booth, aww) appears — to which Brennan brusquely asks him why he is spying on her. Is anyone ever happy to see Sweets? Nonetheless, the psychologist offers his expert opinion and says Brennan is "over-identifying with the victim" because of the similarities.
But just because someone offers you sensible advice doesn't mean you always listen to it. Brennan starts to come undone. At the lab, Brennan is not only listening to the doctor's CDs, she is also answering them. That's right, she's talking to the dead person on the tape. Cue Micah, who appears whenever Brennan is having one of those "she's going to lose it" moments. She admits to Micah that she's been having a conversation with the victim, and Micah advises her gently not to tell anyone else that because they'll think she's crazy. Brennan asks him if he thinks she's crazy, and he diplomatically says sometimes people hear voices during times of stress. (By now, we are loving the calming presence of Micah....but we gotta wonder if this is a real guy, or something Brennan's mind made up. Come on, homegirl is starting to hear voices here!)
Hodgins finds opiates in the victim's bloodstream, and Brennan passionately argues that the doctor was not a drug user! So much for staying objective! Still, Booth and Brennan question a drug dealer — Holy Veronica Mars-a-thon! It’s Weevil! — who says the victim did try to buy from him. All this uncertainly is causing some tension between Brennan and Booth. They are arguing in his office, and Hannah is there telling them that she doesn’t like when they fight. Booth doesn't seem to believe Brennan's belief that the doctor was not on drugs, but Hannah points out that she could have been injected with heroin before she died. Brennan thanks her "for eavesdropping" and gets a little teary. Hannah looks very concerned (another reason we find it so hard to hate her).
Later on, Sweets returns to give Brennan his physiological opinion of the victim. He says that for particularly tough medical cases, she allowed herself to be logical or detached with her work. When that didn't help, she acted out just so she could feel something. Then, in a move so adorable we could just kiss him, he tells Brennan that she's not alone in the world and that it's one of many ways she is different from the doctor. Brennan goes back to Chris Markham, who confirms that the doctor would act reckless during times of deep disappointment. He muses that he could have been so good for her, and Brennan makes him feel better by telling him that the doctor deeply regretted not taking a chance with him.
Brennan goes back to the lab, to the doctor's tapes, and realizes that the doctor went to a brain-dead boy's parents to try and get them to give up his organs for another child she was treating. Bones heads there herself, alone and in the dark. The raining is pouring down, and there in the ground she spots the grate where the victim most surely fell and cracked her skull. Brennan bends down just as a car rushes at her. But Booth (Booth! from out of nowhere!) pulls her away and saves her life (again.) They determine that the doctor was probably hit by a car, and then buried by the driver. That’s right. Probably. Brennan can’t prove anything about her theory, but for once, she seems okay with that.
Booth takes Brennan home and in the car on the way back is the moment Bones fans have been waiting for. Brennan tells Booth that she doesn't want to have any regrets, and she admits that she does regret never giving him a chance. After a short moment Booth tells her "I'm with someone, Bones. And Hannah, she's not a consolation prize. I love her." Brennan cries. Booth says the last thing he wants to do is hurt her, but "those are the facts." More irony in this scene as Brennan is the one crying, and Booth is giving her the facts. But it gets even worse, because as Brennan admits that she missed her chance, Booth asks if he can call someone to be with her.
Back at the lab, Brennan meets Micah in the lab and tells him she is sad. He says that is so much better than being dead, or being dead inside. He also says he has his own sad story to tell. Seriously, is this dude for real or Brennan’s spirit animal or what?
We then see the doctor in the photo, which of course isn't Brennan at all. Okay, does anyone have a spare Kleenex we could borrow?