A high-powered divorce lawyer turns up dead, with a long list of enemies to check through. Meanwhile, Booth and Brennan have trouble adjusting to life back together.
As a couple of homeless guys discuss the risk of buying real estate in this economy and a longing to return to Keynesian policies, one smells something cooking. Unfortunately, it’s not chicken. It’s a person in a burning barrel. As a portion of the skull explodes, spraying brain all over, one of the homeless men remarks ruefully, “I thought we were gonna eat.” I just don’t have words to editorialize on this cold open, so… moving on.
Squintern of the week Finn Abernathy is apparently more a bones person than a blood and guts guy. And he really doesn’t like the burned ones. Cam takes it easy on him and puts him on X-ray duty until the skull is cleaned off. There are plenty of fractures around the skull (not all from the brain-splosion), numerous fractures all over his body like he’d been beaten and some kind of metal adhered to a vertebrae, which turns out to be a fountain pen nib. Cam sees sutures on his chest and pulls his heart out to find stints, which have serial numbers that provide an ID: Richard Bartlett, high-priced divorce lawyer. They bring his wife in and she guesses that she has a pretty good motive, being left pretty comfy in his will, but advises them that Richard was ruthless and would do anything to win his cases, so there were a lot of losers left in his wake that would hate him. She points them to Richard’s assistant, Margo Sandoval.
Margo’s in the process of shredding documents (something Richard instructed her to do if anything happened to him) and says that they need a warrant, but Brennan finding blood at the scene (and a missing pen) makes it a crime scene, so no warrant needed. After Booth and Sweets look through Barlett’s records, they find a couple of promising suspects. Gavin and Melanie Carmichael had a meeting with Bartlett the night he was murdered. She was particularly volatile during the divorce, leaving threatening messages for Bartlett (who was Gavin’s attorney). Booth and Brennan go to question them and find that they requested the meeting to undo their divorce. They’re going to have a baby, and Gavin, an architect, is going to design them a new place. They wanted to show Bartlett their new life.
Back in the lab, the team finds that the fractures around the head weren’t all from the brain-splosion; some were from a violent fall. Hodgins finds something interesting in the man’s last meal, too: a delicious gourmet burger… made with rat meat. Sweets questions the chef (his other ingredients were easily identifiable), who admits to hating Bartlett (who left him with a worse divorce bill than if he’d just given his ex-wife half). He’d served Bartlett that rat burger every Tuesday for two years, and would serve it for another three (the length of his marriage). Sweets thinks that Bartlett figured it out and threatened to sue, but chef said he loved that burger… raved about it. He’s just sad he doesn’t get the satisfaction of telling Bartlett he was eating rat. Ew.
Another lab discovery leads to their next suspect. Angela put together some of the shredded documents and found Bartlett’s personal pre-nup, with the infidelity section highlighted. Attached to it: a picture of Bartlett’s wife with Margo. Margo swears that Pamela was going to tell Bartlett… they don’t care about the money, they’re in love. But when Richard died, she shredded it so that Pamela wouldn’t lose everything. Pamela can’t stand up for her lover because she’s skipped town.
No clear suspect and Angela’s recreation of how the fractures occured looks like the death of Wile E Coyote (a reference Brennan comes up with – be proud of her!), but Brennan remembers something from Bartlett’s office (which was a construction zone) and she and Booth go to check out the cement chute. Which has blood all over it. After finding Melanie’s DNA in the fountain pen nib and a sealant often used by architects in Bartlett’s wounds, they pull the Carmichaels back in for questioning. Booth reveals the DNA find and that they discovered that Gavin’s bill was two months late. Bartlett used minor typos in their divorce papers to nullify it since he hadn’t been paid. Gavin wants to make a deal. He says Melanie killed Bartlett, he just helped get rid of the body. Brennan points out that Bartlett was alive when he was thrown down the chute. Now Melanie’s making the deal: “All I did was stab him with a pen; you killed the bastard.” Clearly, these two were not going to live happily ever after.
B-Plot: Booth and Brennan
As Brennan settles back into life not on the run, she shows off her pancake making skills to Booth by making breakfast. Booth clearly doesn’t like this infringement upon his territory. When they’re at the body discovery site, Brennan steps on his toes again by hypothesizing that the victim isn’t a random homeless person, but that this was a body dump… isolated, unreliable witnesses. Booth responds by expertly telling the techs how to clean up the scene to take the evidence back to the Jeffersonian and huffing off.
Booth takes to the shooting range with Sweets, emptying an entire magazine into a target. Sweets heard about the tension at the crime scene and asks how things are going. Booth just wants to get things back to normal. He suggests taking Christine to a carnival that weekend, but Brennan nixes that; they went to one in North Carolina and she hated it. Angela checks in with Brennan after the scene tension, too, and Brennan hides behind anthro-speak, but Angela, awesome friend as always, calls her on it. Brennan claims she’s the same person she always was, but Angela points out that she was on the run and a single mom for three months, and didn’t know if she’d ever see Booth again… that kind of thing changes a person. “Now that I’m home, I’ve changed back,” Brennan replies. She’s definitely reverted to old-school Bones.
As they head to check out the cement chute, Booth and Brennan get into an all-out fight. Booth thinks Christine will like the carousel since he’ll be there. Brennan thinks he’s doubting her abilities to care for their daughter. Booth shouts that it’s like she wishes she were still out there and asks her to see things from his point of view. Brennan disengages because he’s being irrational, but Booth keeps going and eventually Brennan shouts at him, “Don’t tell me how to live! We are not married, we’re both free agents and I’ve done fine on my own!” Ouch.
Booth goes to see Brennan later and smiles fondly as he sees her investigating her bones. They apologize to each other for the fight and for causing the other pain. They said goodbye politely and Finn points out that when his mom and step-dad (you know, the one he was suspected of murdering) used to get polite like that, “all hell was gonna break loose.”
After the case is wrapped up, Booth sits at home, drinking, as Brennan comes in late. She saw Sweets because she feels that something is wrong with her. She thought they were fine after the apologies, but Booth knew they weren’t… why didn’t she? Sweets thinks that she’s rebelling because her happiness is not contingent on Booth and Christine’s. Booth agrees that Sweets is good at psychology, “but we’re more than psychology. We’re gonna be okay.” Um… yeah, Booth… you both could still use some therapy. Seriously. Booth consents that he was mad at losing her and Christine for three months… time he won’t get back. Brennan says that she’ll try to fix it a little: they’re take Christine to the carousel, even though she knows the outcome. “I love you, so I’m willing to do irrational things to prove it.” Aww, Brennan, that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said.
The episode ends with an onscreen memorium to Finder co-star (and Bones guest star) Michael Clarke Duncan.