LadyGhosts of TV Past

Bones Retro Recap 1.05 “A Boy in a Bush”

Booth enlists Brennan”™s help in finding what they think are the remains of a missing child and we learn so much about the team in the series’ first truly exceptional episode.

Booth enlists Brennan’s help in finding what they think are the remains of a missing child. They find a strikingly small body behind a mall, and after examining the remains, Brennan feels comfortable in identifying them as the missing child in question, Charles Gregory Sanders. The growth plates suggest he was 6-10 years old, but the statute suggests smaller. There are signs of blunt trauma to the chest, and his clothes were found away from his body in better condition, suggesting a sexual assault.

Booth informs Charles’ mother, Margaret, that they found his body. Charles’ father works overseas, and they were divorced before he was born. She’s a foster mother to a couple other boys, brothers David and Sean, who arrive with neighborhood friend Skyler, a slightly older body who always seems to have something to hide. Booth bonds with the brothers through video games, and David reveals that he went to the mall instead of staying in the park when Charlie went missing, something he previously lied about. Sean only let go of Charlie’s hand for a second, and then he was gone.

Angela uses the security camera footage to find Charlie in the mall, and Booth notices that someone was calling him over, but they can’t get a visual on who it is.

Angela and Zack are the most visibly shaken by the child’s small body. Brennan shares a moment with Zack where she tells him about being on the scene in Waco, Texas, to identify bodies there, seventeen of them children. He thinks she means he’ll get used to it, but she corrects that he won’t; it’s coded in our DNA to protect the young. What helps her, she explains, is to pull back, put her heart in a box, and focus on the details. He does so, finding a chemical smell in the child’s mouth, a potential clue. “Kids make it harder, Zack,” she adds as she leaves.

With Angela, Brennan is concerned that this case will shake her so much she’ll leave. Angela explains that she’s not like Brennan, driven for justice. She’s a good time girl, a sentiment Booth echoes later (and hints to earlier when he tells her that she looks normal, but she’s really a squint). Brennan says she knows it’s harder for Angela, who has to look at their faces, can’t distance herself from the victims. Angela just asks for some time to work on it, to get back to her artist self.

Meanwhile, Zack has noticed that the bones indicate that Charlie was disabled, something Margaret never mentioned. All signs point to a hereditary illness, meaning Margaret isn’t his biological mother. They bring her in for questioning, and she admits that she fostered him as well. His name was Nathan Downey, and his mother was arrested on drug charges. Three weeks into fostering him, the charges were dropped. She gave him back but stayed in touch. That Christmas Day, she went to visit them and found the mother dead, needle in her arm. Charlie was upstairs crying, and Margaret promised she would never leave him again. Child services never came looking for him. Brennan implies that she did the right thing by telling Margaret that he would have ended up back in the system anyway. Unfortunately, Booth has to arrest her for kidnapping, though, which infuriates Brennan, who asks Booth if he has any idea what’s going to happen to Sean and David now.

When Angela manages to make out a face from reflections in the security camera footage, she finds that Sean was the one leading Charlie out of the mall. Booth interrogates the child as Brennan watches with a juvenile prosecutor who has seen too much of kids killing other kids. Booth relates to Sean, showing him a scar from an accident playing with his brother. He asks gently if Charlie had an accident. The prosecutor is frustrated that Booth isn’t being forceful enough, and Brennan freaks out on her, telling her that foster kids are powerless; being forceful doesn’t do anything.

Booth comes to see Brennan as she is examining the remains again and lets her know that Sean and David have been put in emergency care together. She thanks him for it, but Booth begins to get frustrated and starts to lecture her about the rules. “If you want to do this”¦ I need to know that you will respect the law,” he asks. She concedes (tearfully) that if she can’t respect the law, she’ll at least respect him. As he leaves, she notices that he broke a pencil in three by leaning on it, and it’s a breakthrough in the case”¦ perhaps his fractures were from compression, not blunt force. Angela runs the scenarios through her machine and determines that they’re looking for someone at 190 pounds to cause those breaks, not a kid. Brennan asks if she can try talking to Sean and pleads to Booth that she knows what to say.

She opens by just talking to him. She tells him that they give you a garbage bag to carry your stuff, implying that your stuff is all garbage. They take you away from your brother, they bounce you place to place, and it’s never home. Sean breaks down; they liked being with Margaret, she had bunk beds for them. He knew that David was always there. Brennan asks who the man was that he took Charlie to and empathizes that the man said they’d be taken away from Margaret if he told anyone. Brennan promises that they’ll get to live with her again. She tells Sean about her friend in the FBI who will make sure that happens. Sean worries that Margaret won’t want them anymore; after all, Charlie was her real son. Brennan tells Sean that he wasn’t. The child hugs Brennan tightly and whispers in her ear.

Back in the neighborhood, Booth and Brennan arrive with backup. They approach Skyler’s father, Edward Nelson, outside his Pest Control truck. Skyler comforts his mom, not looking entirely surprised, as his father is arrested for Charlie’s murder. At the lab, Angela looks at her drawing of Charlie as Zack returns the jaw bone to a casket holding the rest of the bones, his hand shaking as he does so. Margaret is released, and the boys reunite with her. Brennan watches and smiles as Booth informs her that they have a solid case on Nelson. The insecticide he used matches the chemicals that were in Charlie’s mouth. Booth assures her that Sean wasn’t abused, but Nelson’s son probably was and mentions that someone will get him help. Booth apologizes for thinking she couldn’t talk to Sean and says that he realized when she was talking to him, that she had personal experience with the system. She promises to tell him all about it someday.

As the Jeffersonian crew prepare for being paraded around at a banquet for donors, Dr. Goodman advises them to talk about their work. Angela breaks it down and states that Hodgins works with bugs, Zack looks at bones all day, and she draws death masks. Not cocktail talk. Goodman is taken aback and tells her, “You are the best of us, Miss Montenegro. You discern humanity in the wreck of a ruined human body. You give victims back their faces, their identities. You remind us all of why we’re here in the first place – because we treasure human life.” Angela hugs him tightly, and Brennan asks what happened as she enters. Zack replies, “Apparently all Angela needed was to hear her job description in a deep African-American tone,” which is one of the best-delivered lines in the history of the show. Don’t we all just need that sometimes? Later, Booth asks Brennan how she knew he’d keep her promise. She admits that she was lying a little, “but the end justifies the means, right?” She knew he wouldn’t make her a liar, though, because he wants to go to heaven. “You don’t believe in heaven,” Booth challenges. “But you do,” she replies with a smile.

While Brennan’s secondary career as an author is mentioned in the pilot, much emphasis is put on it in this episode. During a speech at American University, all the students (and Booth) want to ask about is her book – how much money she’s made, when she got her agent, who the sexy FBI agent is based on (Oh, Booth!). Brennan’s publishers gave her a fancy new car, leading to her feeling pressured to write another book (and on company time!). This enviable life of Brennan’s is juxtaposed with what we learn about her past. She mentions her brother for the first time and explains that they were in the foster system until her grandfather took them out of it. Booth, too, mentions a brother, Jared, and hints at their antagonistic relationship. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for both of these characters, though, and watching it now, I’m thrilled to discover it all again. The only thing I wish is that there’d been some mention of Parker. Booth is shown momentarily shaken when he sees the child’s bones all laid out, but we’re never given a reason why. I guess they had to leave something for the future.

Brennan isn’t the only one we discover a secret about, though. When Dr. Goodman insists that the squints attend a banquet for big donors, none are enthused, but Hodgins is the standout, refusing to take part. The idea actually makes him angry, and Angela tries to get to the bottom of it by talking to Zack, who she understands is his roommate. But he only lives above the garage, he reveals; he’s never even seen the main house, as there’s a pond and tennis courts in the way. Booth’s arrived on the conversation and laughs that Hodgins must be “one of those Hodgins,” the ones that own the Cantalever group, the ones that are the single biggest donors to the Jeffersonian. Booth laughs as he realizes “Hodgins is your boss!” Once Hodgins finds out that Angela and Booth know who he actually is, he pleads with them not to share it with Brennan. He doesn’t want to be anybody’s boss and never did. He just wants to be “Jack Hodgins, who works in a lab.” If he goes to the banquet, the donors will all know him, and he won’t have his little comfort zone anymore. Booth respects his wishes by commandeering him for a special FBI reason right before the banquet, something Goodman can’t argue with.

The focus on Angela is especially touching in this viewing. I coincidentally caught some of the season two episode “The Man in the Cell,” in which part of the plot is based around Angela being called “the heart” of the team in a newspaper article. And she really is. Goodman’s “job description” is such a perfect complement to her. When Booth tells her that she really is a squint, she gets defensive. Truly, Angela straddles both worlds, and necessarily so. The rest of the team has to stay distanced, strong, cold to get the case solved. Through Angela and her work comes the emotional resolution of the team, and she’s brilliant at it.

I think, looking back on this episode now, this is probably the first Bones episode that made me cry. You learn so much about the characters, every single one of them – what makes them tick, why they’re there. Combine that with a heartbreaking case, and it’s a brilliant hour of television.

By 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.

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