As the episode opens, Angela is talking to Brennan about a guy that she’s seeing who’s singing to her and it’s annoying but he’s got this friend and she wants to set the friend up with Brennan. True to form, Brennan is more interested in Zach’s news that one of their papers has been accepted for publication.
Even more interesting to her? A package that Hodgins has brought in from a mystery visitor. After opening, she takes it and heads out of the lab as the crew follows her. It’s a very attractive man, who says that Brennan left that at his three years ago… he’s just returning it. Brennan asks what he’s doing in town and he says that he’s interviewing at George Washington University . Angela, observing this, thinks this must be Brennan’s ex-lover Michael Stiers, who was also her professor at Northwestern. Ooh, scandal! Booth interrupts their moment by bringing in a fridge. Turns out there’s a body in it and since Booth was told off for contaminating evidence once, he thought he’d just bring the whole thing in. They open it up and Brennan and Michael tag team the estimate as a girl, teens to early 20s, dead about a year. Angela had a sketch ready, but Brennan doesn’t need it as dental records ID the victim as Maggie Schilling, who was kidnapped about a year ago. The kidnappers were asking for a ransom, but suddenly stopped communicating. Angela comments that Michael’s hotter than Brennan said and Brennan claims that they’re completely platonic now. In the next scene, Brennan and Michael have missed their dinner reservation due to naked sexy fun times. They start talking case stuff (cause that’s sexy), and Michael drops a Chekhov’s Hint that they do better together when they’re not competing. Brennan opens up to him that she found stress fractures on Maggie’s wrist, showing her that she fought… despite being in pain, she fought against her captors. It’s really nice to see Brennan opening up to someone who truly understands what she sees in the bones on the table and you can tell it’s nice for Brennan to have someone to open up to.
At the lab the next day, Brennan arrives (uncharacteristically late) with Michael in tow. The guys of the lab grill him as Brennan asks for his input on the body. Michael says that the marks on the wrists could just be from a medical condition that Zach discovered she had, which made her bones brittle. The girl has had fatal levels of hydromorphone in her system. Booth heads to talk to Maggie’s parents. At first, they’d hoped that Maggie had just run away from home… she’d been having drug problems, had been to rehab to no avail. They don’t recall her using hydromorphone, though, and say her endocrinologist would know more about what she was taking. At the doctor’s office, he explains that her condition didn’t cause her pain, so he didn’t prescribe that, but Maggie was always trying to get him to give her samples of pain pills. She’d even harass the office manager for them, and he suspected that she was giving them to the girl. Incidentally, that office manager was fired shortly before Maggie went missing. When Booth and Brennan visit the fired office manager, Mary Costello, they find that she and her husband Scott did take Maggie in. Maggie was neglected by her parents and they offered a “safe” place for her. Booth checks out the kitchen and finds a pretty new refrigerator with old rusty marks underneath that might match the one they found Maggie in. One house search later, they find a pleasure dungeon in the basement… Maggie was more than a friend, she was their sex partner.
In interrogation, Booth thinks that the Costellos kidnapped their friend Maggie thinking they could make a quick buck off her parents. They kept her on pain pills to keep her quiet and accidentally gave her too many. Their lawyer states that they maintain that they had a completely consensual relationship with Maggie and had nothing to do with her death. In the lab, Brennan is really excited to show Michael all her evidence, but he’s got a meeting to get to. They make a dinner wager and Michael gives Brennan ten minutes. He’s not convinced at the first glance of the evidence he saw before and says it can all be chalked up to the medical condition. Time to pull out the big guns, so they turn on Angela’s magic machine, showing that how Maggie was bound would have caused excess pain and infection. This impresses Michael so much that he asks to see the findings. He looks at them and he thinks that the case is indisputable and yields. After Michael leaves, Angela approaches Brennan, worried about whether Michael can handle Brennan’s level of professional success. Angela saw hurt in him when he was proven wrong by Brennan’s findings. Brennan still claims they’re not involved. As Brennan gets back to work, Booth comes in to let her know that her initial findings have the Costellos being held in jail without bail. However, there’s some bad news: the meeting that Michael was going to? It was with the Costello’s lawyer. He’s going to be their expert witness.
At dinner, Brennan lets Michael know that she is upset about earlier and feels like he was spying on her. He reminds her that all the evidence would be entered anyway and she says that her methods for arriving at her conclusions wouldn’t. The university wanted him to take this one since it’ll be part of his job there. The next day, Michael is at the lab, examining the evidence himself, carefully watched by everyone. Oh, and he has some “opposing opinions” or corrections, as Brennan interprets. Booth arranges a meeting with the DA and Joy Deavers, a jury consultant, for Brennan and Deavers states it blatantly “Juries don’t like you.” She’s concerned that the jury will love Michael Stiers and think Brennan is condescending. Brennan doesn’t like being told this, but Booth reminds her that it’s all about the case, it’s not personal.
In court, the prosecution and defense make their cases. Booth takes the stand and explains to the jury that they had hydromorphone and speaks about the marks on the floor from the old fridge. He gives too much opinion and gets an objection levied on him, but the damage is done. Hodgins explains the bug stuff and Angela explains how she made a sketch. They are both charismatic. Brennan takes the stand and loses the jury with numbers, despite her cheerful blue shirt. She would totally lose me, too, jury lady. When the DA rephrases in lay terms Brennan just replies “I just said that.” Deavers knows that they’re going to lose because Brennan “can’t connect.” Brennan asks Booth if he agrees and he admits to partly agreeing, claiming she was hard to follow. He tells her to perform more, let the jury see how the case gets to her. As she storms back into the courtroom, she runs into Michael and vents to him about how the jury consultant just doesn’t get scientists. He reminds her that they can’t talk about the case and heads to the stand himself. He claims that the drug levels are more indicative of recreational use. He feigns not being used to used to being on the stand and even goes on to condemn his “former student” for having faulty conclusions to further her own opinion. The DA objects to all the personal stuff, but again, the damage is done. Brennan is pissed off about that.
Deavers rails on Brennan again for not understanding that perception is everything in a courtroom. Brennan wants another chance on the stand and goes back to her office to review everything again. Jeffersonian Boss Dr. Goodman (who’s been MIA for like two episodes) gives her a pep talk, confirming that she’s smart; he even hired her over Michael Stiers two years ago. Because she is more rational, empirical and because she cares.
At the court the next day, Michael defends himself saying he was just listening to his reasonable doubt. Brennan’s not accepting it. In the courtroom, Booth has asked the DA to ask Brennan a specific question, but the DA balks. Booth says to do it. Brennan is back on the stand and not doing well again. The DA interrupts to ask her why she became a forensic anthropologist. The prosecutor objects, but the DA defends that Dr. Stiers wondered the same when he was on the stand. Overruled. Ha! The DA Brings up Brennan’s missing parents. She doesn’t answer at first, but confirms that is why she looks for answers. It gets her riled up. “Are you as cold and unfeeling as you seem?” the DA asks. After a pause, Brennan goes into one of the first times we get one of her heartfelt speeches:
I see a face on every skull. I can look at bones and tell you how they walked. Maggie Schilling is real to me. The pain she suffered is real. Her hip was being eaten away by infection from lying on her side. Sure, like Dr. Stiers said, the disease could contribute to that if you take it out of context. But you can’t break Maggie Schilling down into little pieces. She was a whole person who fought to free herself. Her wrists were broken from struggling against the handcuffs. The bones in her ankle were ground together because they were tied. And her side her hip and her shoulder were being eaten by infection. And the more she struggled, the more pain she was in so they gave her those drugs to keep her quiet. They gave her so much it killed her. These facts can’t be ignored or dismissed because you think I’m boring or obnoxious because I don’t matter. What I feel doesn’t matter. Only she matters. Only Maggie.
Even Michael looks contrite after that and outside, begs to know what he can do. Booth lets Brennan know that the Costellos want a plea. Brennan said he had no right, but Booth reminds him that was his case, too.
In the lab, Angela is glad that they were found guilty on all counts. Brennan says she won’t be seeing Michael anymore. Angela offers to take her out, but she wants to work. Booth comes in and Brennan doesn’t feel forgiving, but he has a case for her. At the scene, Booth apologizes for revealing her past and Brennan admits that she probably would have done the same thing. The camera pulls back and in one of the most ludicrous things ever, the body they found is on the side of the Washington Monument. And we’ll never even get to see that investigation. Poo!
This was another one of the early episodes that had a big impact for me and it has me wishing we saw more of the trial process occasionally. It’s one of those things that I think when watching shows like CSI: don’t they ever get really open and shut cases? Well, yeah, sometimes they do, but it’s still not easy. I like the acknowledgement that part of Brennan’s job would be to be an expert witness and that her lack of social skills might make that difficult. Another thought that I always have is Why aren’t these ever just accidents? and Bones is really great at throwing one of those in every so often, too, but that’s another week.
What I can’t decide whether I like or not is that while Brennan and Michael’s earlier relationship was discussed, other than Zach trying to wrap his head about whether he and Brennan would have a relationship like that, the fact that Brennan and Michael had a relationship while she was his student isn’t really addressed. He defends it briefly to Booth, stating that “Tempe” was a 23-year-old consenting adult. But… she was still his student. It’s still against pretty much every university code. I just… I don’t know that I can be okay with that. Maybe that just makes her smack down of him in the courtroom that much sweeter. I don’t know.