A murder/kidnapping brings up discussions of babies as Brennan and Booth find themselves in the middle of a witness protection case.
The body of the week is a woman found in a burning car. Also in the car are a child size backpack and a seatbelt that’s been cut away, leading to thoughts of a kidnapping. When Brennan confirms that the woman gave birth 5-8 years ago, Booth pressures her for a guess at any hint to the woman’s identify so that they can try to find the child. Brennan says she was most likely an eastern European who immigrated about 10 years ago and Angela does a facial reconstruction. They run the reconstruction against similar photos and they spot a match: Paulina Decker, recently separated from Carl Decker, one child: Donovan Dimitri Decker. Booth and Brennan head to his house, but from the look of dust on everything, he’s been gone a while. Booth spots some surveillance and discovers that they’re U.S. Marshals. Decker is a witness in a federal case against his former employer, an armor company. He’s in a safe house and the feds don’t wants him to know about his wife and son, fearing that he’ll back out on his testimony.
Since they can’t talk with Carl, Booth and Brennan pay a visit to Paulina’s sister, who Paulina and Donovan were staying with. Sister says that Carl was cold and angry and that Paulina thought he was having an affair. When they visit Carl’s bosses at KBC, the company says that Carl was paranoid and alienated everyone he worked with so they had him investigated. Carl was alleging that the company knew that armor it sent to U.S. troops was faulty, but the big boss says he would never risk the lives of soldiers”¦ he was a ranger himself.
Brennan’s team discovered that Paulina was already dead when she was burned, but was electrocuted and tortured before she was killed, possibly to the point of seizures. When Decker can’t talk to his son (a condition of his testimony), Decker runs from the witness protection handlers. The Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Weeks thinks that KBC put a hit on him and his family. Knowing, via father’s instinct, that Decker will be heading to KBC to take them out first, Booth heads there and finds Decker holding the CEO at gunpoint, demanding the man make the call to release his son. Brennan, via genius to genius communication, tries to talk to Decker rationally. He puts down his gun, but says that they took away his son’s best chance.
Back in an interrogation room, Decker reveals that he feels like he’s responsible for the soldiers dying. He knows, analytically, that the soldiers’ lives are worth more than his son’s, but he can’t let his son die”¦ he’ll shut up to save him. The only way he’ll testify is if he sees Booth recover his son. He gives Booth their code word: Paladin. A piece of mail arrives for Booth: a note saying “Back off” and a child-sized finger in a box. Brennan confirms that it belongs to an 8-year-old boy and Booth pressures her to work her magic and figure out where he is, if he’s still alive. Brennan responds to his desperation by saying that he was still alive when the finger was cut off. It was cut with a hatchet on a wooden surface and chemicals lead her to think it was a mechanic’s bench. She tells him to look for abandoned gas stations that are off the grid.
Booth pinpoints a rural station fitting that description and calls in SWAT backup. Booth lays out the plan: he’s going in first, straight for the kid. Brennan wants to help (seriously, Brennan, I love you, but HOW?) but Booth tells her to hang back. They head in and we see Booth the marksman in action and he is good. He spots the crying child and tells him not to look at the (now dead) men anymore. Donovan freaks out, but Booth says “paladin” and Donovan calms down and lets Booth carry him out. Outside, the EMTs check him out and bandage his hand as his father arrives and breaks down crying.
In the B-story, a woman from the CIA is performing a security review of the Jeffersonian employees. We find out that Angela has a husband she married on some island and didn’t think was a legal ceremony (I love how that comes back later in the series). Hodgins is offended that the CIA deems him to be harmless and doesn’t need to review him right then. Zack is adamant that he couldn’t be bribed or threatened to reveal confidential info, but with a reasoned argument and after he checked with Angela and Brennan and Booth and maybe Hodgins”¦ the woman stops listening. Dr. Adams is grilled about an environmentalist that it’s implied he has an illicit sexual relationship with. He assures the investigator that he’s faithful and that he and Lily Marsden just enjoy arguing.
Brennan’s review is an exercise in awesomeness. The interviewer asks why she was in Cuba and Brennan responds by asking her security clearance. Interviewer asks if she met with Juan Guzman. Rather than answer her question, Brennan calls someone and hands the phone to the woman. We hear the woman say “Yes, sir”¦ yes”¦ I’ll wait here.” Brennan asks if there are any more questions and the woman reveals that the entire review has been disbanded. She’s to wait there until someone comes to destroy her notes. Brennan is a bad ass.
In the C-plot, the child-centric case reveals that Brennan is against the concept of having children. She especially doesn’t understand how Booth, of all people, knowing what happens in this world, could bring children into it. She touches a sore spot when she suggests that it was an accident. Booth tells her that she’ll change her mind someday.