New Show Recap: Bones, Episode 8.09 “The Ghost in the Machine”

Bones tries something new for its 150th episode and, well, it doesn’t quite work, in my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

Instead of the usual body discovery scene, we’re treated to a different perspective: we see everything through the eyes of the victim. Wasps crawl over his face, and Hodgins dusts some dirt off, announcing that he’s found the skull. Brennan appears in view, but she’s hesitant to make a gender estimate in front of Hodgins (what? when has she ever been afraid of being wrong before?). He goes away and she gives her estimate to Booth: male, prepubescent, 13 or 14. Booth and Hodgins are both gutted, thinking of their sons. Brennan feels a strong desire to hold Christine and tells Booth to call Parker. Brennan puts the skull in a box and Booth assures him that they’ll find out what happened to him.

Why this conceit of alternate perspective? Cyndi Lauper as psychic Avalon returns to let us know that she still feels this boy’s presence in the world; he has some unfinished business. So Angela decides that they all need to act like the boy, who has been identified as a boy named Colin, is watching. And apparently, this means that everyone needs to talk to the skull. Hodgins tells him that his life was just about to get interesting after discovering that the wasps that were found around his body indicate that it was moved from its original location after almost a year.

Colin’s parents have asked to see his bones (which is convenient, and Booth and Brennan assure them that their son’s injuries would have killed him instantly. Colin’s parents say he was a great kid: good at sports, mostly solo stuff. Everyone liked him. And then they leave super abruptly. His wounds are matched to a 1987 Chevy, which Booth gets a warrant for, and brings into the lab. Seriously? I’m sorry, this is kind of where I lost it with the contrived elements of this episode. And it only goes down from here. The car is registered to Colin’s dad. He’s questioned off screen, where Booth describes him falling apart emotionally. They’d been working on the car as a project; he hadn’t taken the cover off since Colin went missing.

Thanks to some discolored patches on the skull, Brennan realizes that the skull was originally in a place where it was exposed to light. Using that, and the wasp information, they find a small pumphouse and find the missing hood ornament from Colin’s dad’s car. Angela does a recreation of the accident and can’t find an explanation for the injuries until Brennan suggests placing Colin standing on the car. Hitting a bump and knocking him off matches perfectly. Brennan looks at the skull and tell him that adolescents suffer diminished judgment: “You made a foolish decision, I just wish it hadn’t killed you.”

They bring Colin’s friends in for questioning and eventually, they admit to what happened. A girl that Colin had liked and made a mix tape for, Miranda, knew nothing about it, though. One of the boys was having nightmares about Colin and decided to move the body so he was found, so his parents could have closure.

Colin’s presence is still there, though, until Angela finds a file at the end of Colin’s mixtape. It’s a video, a love song he wrote for Miranda. They bring the girl in and play it for her. She’s touched. We stop seeing from his perspective and Avalon sees him outside the room. Miranda wishes that she could tell Colin she got his message. Avalon assures her he knows.

We close at Casa de B&B as always. Brennan is showing Christine her dancing phalanges (YAY! I always loved the dancing phalanges!) and wonders if it’s too early to teach her the periodic table. Booth presents Brennan with an old school romantic mix tape, starting with their song, “Hot Blooded.” The family dances together.

Other than the end scene of the B&B family, I just couldn’t get beyond how contrived this episode was. The car in the lab, Brennan bringing the skull home, bringing the skull to the crime scene and so conveniently putting it in front of a mirror. I get what they were going for, it just didn’t work for me. What do you think? Do you completely disagree?

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Crystal Coleman

Florida girl living on the west coast. During the day, I consult in social media and community management. I have a really cute puppy (Elphaba) and a British husband (I keep him for his accent) as well as an unhealthy relationship with parentheses. http://thatgirlcrystal.com

3 thoughts on “New Show Recap: Bones, Episode 8.09 “The Ghost in the Machine””

  1. I am neither upset nor impressed with the episode. It was ok for me. It was a little strange that everyone talked to the skull, though. Was there no squintern this week? I don’t remember one.

    To speak to your question about Brennan making conjecture about the bones in the first few minutes, I don’t think her reticence was about being wrong. As such a precise scientist, without having enough information to make a real comment, it would be inappropriate for her to speculate. She has made numerous statements to thar effect in the past; it is a common theme across multiple shows which employ the doctor.scientist with procedural/arty friend trope. Booth was trying to get a quick snapshot of the victim prior to sufficient analysis. Brennan seemed to acquiesce because a. Booth said he wouldn’t write anything down, and b. she wouldn’t make such a misstep in front of her scientific colleague, Hodgins.

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