New Show Recap: Bones 9×22, “The Nail in the Coffin”

Real life is a bitch today so this will be a short recap but as the old saying goes, size doesn’t matter. But don’t let the length fool you: this was an excellent episode. (Also that old saying? Totally a lie. Sorry, guys.)

I take a lot of flak because my recaps are, shall we say, sometimes less than besotted gushing. Yes, I hear you. Or see you, as the case may be. Why am I still watching a show that, according to some, I clearly don’t like much anymore? Why do I bother to put in the time to watch cringe- (or rage-) inducing episodes more than once in order to write a recap? The answer is simple. I love Bones even when I don’t like it very much and the bones of the show I love are still there, as evidenced by episodes like this one.

If I didn’t love Bones, I wouldn’t continue to study Seasons 1-6. I wouldn’t have suffered through the WTF awkwardness of Season 7. (Ultrasounds are just black and white movies? Brennan deliberately driving into the direct path of a tornado? Really?) If I didn’t love Bones I would have abandoned the clusterfuck that was the super evilest baddest guy ever Christopher Pelant. If I didn’t love Bones, the stupid fucking idea to introduce a living Mama Booth, a character who knowingly abandoned her two young sons to abuse by their alcoholic father while she ran away to save her own sorry ass, would have finished me. As it is, I’m still bitter (obviously). Stupid fucking idea.

I’m still watching because I adore Temperance Brennan and I’m snarky about episodes because I see her character treated with disrespect, as if she’s a robot with faulty empathy software (thanks for the phrase, S.!), by writers who should stick with sketch comedy or those who’ve obviously never bothered to actually watch the early seasons, especially S1-4, when it was pretty much perfect. I’m still watching because in Booth and Brennan, I see a love story that, IMO, ranks up there with Elizabeth and Darcy – and if you know me, you know I can offer no higher praise. I’m still watching because I live in hope of seeing more episodes like this one. Many, many, many more.

Anyway, that’s why I’m still watching Bones and why I write sometimes snarky recaps — because I can love you and still yell at you. Just ask my kids. Now on to the recap.

The Case

The Jeffersonian crew at the scene of the crime
(Photo courtesy of Fox)

A family of four is camping in the woods. Dad is being a dick about telling a ghost story, despite the obvious signs that his daughter is terrified. When he finally decides to shut up, it’s too late. A decomposing body falls right into the middle of the group, followed by what’s left of the head.

Booth gets a call about the body from Cam, who wants him to leave Brennan at home when he comes to the crime scene. Cam suspects the body might be another victim of the Ghost Killer and has assigned Intern of the Week Dr. Clark Edison to the case instead. Brennan is predictably not very happy about being left out and shows up anyway. Voices are raised and insults are exchanged and then everyone gets down to business like the professionals they are. It is discovered that the body is missing not just one fingernail, which is a Ghost Killer signature, but all of the fingernails.

Back at the lab, Brennan notices that the skull shares the same bone structure as Trent McNamara, the victim in The Ghost in the Killer, and we have an identity:  Trent’s sister Stephanie. What’s even weirder, Stephanie was wearing fake nails to cover up the loss of her own but they weren’t the acrylic kind — she was using the nails taken from each of the Ghost Killer’s victims on her own hands, including a fingernail from her brother.

Booth and Brennan pay another visit to the McNamara’s estate and talk to the gardener, who insists she’s just a gardener and didn’t report Stephanie missing because she didn’t keep up with the socialite’s schedule. The gardener tells Booth that she last saw Stephanie in the stables. Inside there, Brennan finds old claw marks on a door and in one of the scratches, part of a fingernail that is proven to be Stephanie’s. The gardener becomes a suspect in Stephanie’s death, especially after Brennan realizes the woman was also a McNamara, albeit an illegitimate one.

Dr. Clark Edison and Brennan
(Photo courtesy of Fox)

Booth believes the McNamara fortune was involved somehow in covering up the Ghost Killer crimes and is determined to find out the truth, no matter what. FBI Deputy Director Stark comes down to personally give Booth an atta boy and a go get ’em, and to dangle the impending promotion over Booth’s head again. Caroline and Booth interview a woman from the SEC who isn’t very cooperative about explaining how the McNamara businesses were able to escape prosecution for a myriad of financial crimes until Booth threatens to find her a nice jail cell, at which point she sends over several flash drives filled with thousands of pages of documents and financial records. Angela thinks someone is trying to bury the lab in paper but since it’s Angela and she and her magic computers can do anything, it isn’t long before she sifts through all that information and ties Stephanie McNamara to every victim of the Ghost Killer. Voilà, Stephanie McNamara is the Ghost Killer.

So, who killed Stephanie? The answer lies in the tenth fingernail decorating her hands, which is one more than the nine known victims of the Ghost Killer. DNA results show that one to be a young girl killed twenty years earlier, Maya Zinkow. Her body is exhumed and although a man named Herman Kessler was convicted for her murder, semen belonging to the McNamara patriarch, Giles, is found in her body.

Daddy McNamara, it turns out, was a bad, bad man with a habit of locking Stephanie in the storage room (hence her claw marks on the door). Abused as she was, Stephanie still had a pathological need for his approval and killed Maya for stealing her father’s attention (as if being raped by Giles was her choice). The same shoddy medical examiner from “The Ghost in the Killer” covered up Stephanie’s murder of Maya, planting evidence that framed Herman Kessler.

Kessler spent his twenty years in jail plotting revenge, which he got upon his release first by killing Stephanie, and then by going after the judge who sentenced him, a judge who then won a congressional seat thanks to financial backing from the McNamaras.

It’s also clear in the boxes and boxes of material Kessler collected that someone in the FBI helped the McNamaras cover-up Stephanie’s crimes. Booth and Brennan track down Kessler just before he can commit suicide. Booth hopes Caroline, et al, can cut a deal with the framed-killer-turned-real-killer so they can find out who the mole is in the FBI but Kessler believes “they” will kill him to stop that from happening. We’re closing in on the season finale so I’m guessing this FBI mole will be heard from again.

The Intern:

Dr. Clark Edison is this week’s intern. Cam puts him in a tough spot with Brennan in the beginning but Clark is, as always, the image of professionalism and soon enough cooperation and appreciation for each other’s work prevails between the two anthropologists. After Colin Fisher, Clark is my favorite intern — we need more Clark and more Fisher!

Booth and Brennan
(Photo courtesy of Fox)

Booth and Brennan:

Brennan is busy filling out a questionnaire on Booth’s qualifications for the promotion mentioned last week. Brennan being Brennan (she never got a B and she never will!), she responds to simple essay questions with pages and pages relating to his comportment, their marriage and sex life and his messy laundry habits, which should make some interesting reading for the congressional subcommittee which has to approve his appointment!

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MJ

48/DWF. "I don't entirely approve of some of the things I have done or am or have been. But I'm me. God knows, I'm me." Elizabeth Taylor

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