Oh, what a difference a week makes! In contrast to the capslocky rage induced by the glaring sexism of last week’s clumsy attempt at humor, this warm and lovely episode of Bones reminded me why, like Jack Twist, I just can’t quit this show.
This week’s remains are delivered to the Jeffersonian encased in a block of dirt and rock. When the team (hello to my favorite intern, Mr. Fisher!) attempts to excavate the bones they discover a layer of lye breaking down bone and flesh. Hodgins comes to the rescue with a handy tank of vinegar and with enough tissue remaining for DNA, the victim is named as Lauren Frank, the 26-year-old daughter of a local software CEO. Her pinkie toe was torn off, a few teeth were smashed and her skull shows damage.
Booth and Sweets bring in father Steven and stepmom Katherine and discover that they believe Lauren to be kidnapped. They received messages warning them against going to the police and, to reinforce the threat, Lauren’s severed pinkie toe. Sadly, Sweets has to inform them that the girl is dead. While still meeting with Booth and Sweets, the parents receive yet another text message from the kidnappers.
Booth and Brennan visit the Frank’s home, where Lauren was still living. They meet Chuck, the Frank’s household manager, and have a look at Lauren’s room. There’s no blood or any sign of a struggle but she had turned off the alarm sensors in her room to sleep with the door open so Booth surmises she was kidnapped in her sleep, aided by helpful fire-escape ladders available from every second floor bedroom.
Brennan takes Lauren’s laptop back to the lab. It’s encrypted, but the software came from Steven Frank’s own company, so Angela is able to hack into the information on it and finds out Lauren’s last appointment was a “Spanish review.” Sweets interviews Mauricio, the Spanish teacher, and he reveals that he and Lauren were romantically involved and were, in fact, planning on leaving within a matter of days for a hiking trip to South America. Since Mauricio is the only one with plane tickets, he’s bumped to the top of the suspect list.
Booth returns to the Frank home to meet with Chuck, who shows him the footage from the security cameras around the house. They don’t show anything from the night Lauren disappeared, but they do show something happening right at that moment: a young man climbing over a wall into the Frank’s backyard. Booth gives chase and we meet Buddy, an employee of a local vet who comes over to walk the Frank’s dog who, it turns out, only climbed the wall because he didn’t have the new security code to the gate.
Buddy also knows Lauren, and tells Booth that, in private conversations on her deck, Lauren revealed that she hated living at home. Then, because he seems unable to say the word SEX, he mimics and mimes a silly bit of sump’n-sump’n until Booth gets the point that Lauren had caught her stepmother Katherine having sex with her personal trainer.
That revelation pushes Katherine up the list, especially when Booth finds out that she recently took out a kidnapping insurance policy on Lauren and that her prenup with Steven means if Katherine is caught screwing around, she’s out on the street with nothing. Katherine swears that even though she and Lauren weren’t BFFs, she didn’t kill her, and explains the insurance policy as being purchased by Steven, using her name for tax purposes.
Meanwhile, more texts with photos and audio attached continue to arrive from the kidnappers. Angela does her usual bit of hocus pocus and discovers the texts are coming from Lauren’s own phone, pre-programmed to send at various intervals. The phone is found in a closet containing Katherine’s work-out equipment and she lawyers up.
More details are gleaned from the body, including saw marks that show the killer tried to dismember Lauren’s body but couldn’t go through with it. Hodgins also discovers rust in the wound from her severed pinkie toe and then dog feces from the bit of toe itself (eww). When he grinds up the flesh-eating beetles that cleaned her bones, he finds them full of penicillin. Lauren had developed a severe strain of tetanus after having her toe removed and someone had tried to medicate her with a particularly potent dose of penicillin. Unfortunately, Lauren was allergic to the antibiotic and went into seizures and died.
Examining the files on Lauren’s phone, Angela discovers evidence that Lauren had faked her own kidnapping. Finding the dog feces leads Booth right back to dog walker Buddy and sure enough, he confesses to helping Lauren set everything up. They were in love, he said, and planned on taking the ransom money and running away. When she got sick from using his doggie clippers to cut off her own toe (again, ewww), he stole penicillin from the veterinary office where he worked, not knowing about her allergy. Unfortunately for Buddy, Lauren’s real plan involved setting him up to take the fall for her kidnapping while she ran away to South America with Mauricio.
Woven through all of this is Hodgins’ discovery that he isn’t an only child after all. I’m not a fan of the soap opera-esque trick of long-running shows pulling heretofore secret siblings (and dead mothers, but that’s another story) out of their asses but I have to say, this was deftly handled and a great deal of the credit goes to actor TJ Thyne, who can sell damn near anything.
He and Angela are surprised by a visit from Dr. Rozran, who works at Sandalwood, an inpatient mental health facility and who’s there to discuss Hodgins’ older brother, Jeffrey. Both Hodgins and Angela inform Dr. Rozran that Hodgins is an only child but when Hodgins visits Sandalwood later, he’s confronted with proof that his parents had institutionalized Jeffrey when his mother was pregnant again (with Hodgins). Jeffrey has a schizophrenic disorder (I didn’t catch the exact description and I don’t want to get it wrong) that is usually controlled by medication but when he’s ill, he’s very difficult to handle. Hodgins meets Jeffrey for the first time without revealing their relationship. The conversation at first goes well, revealing a shared love of Jules Verne, before it goes horribly, horribly wrong. Hodgins’ conspiracy nut quirkiness is exaggerated ten-fold in Jeffrey and it’s acutely clear that he definitely needs the round-the-clock care of a facility like Sandalwood.
Unfortunately, Hodgins can no longer afford to pay the fees charged by Sandalwood (I’ll spare you my rant about the Pelant-bankrupts-Hodgins storyline). He’s feeling guilty — about being the healthy child, about not having known Jeffrey, about having to move his brother out of what has become his home — it’s all there and again, TJ Thyne was absolutely spot-on, heartbreakingly perfect with Hodgins’ reactions here. IMO, memories of his relationship with Zack Addy also played a part, especially when Hodgins discussed his reluctance to grind up the flesh-eating beetles. Or that’s just me but that’s immediately where my mind went during that scene.
Booth and Brennan offer to help Angela and Hodgins financially by giving them the money Brennan just received as an advance on paperback sales of her latest book. Hodgins appreciates, but rejects the offer and says he’s going to instead get a bank loan. When Sandalwood calls later that evening with the news that Jeffrey had run away after being told he’s going to have to move to a different facility, Hodgins goes in search of his brother. Jeffrey blames Hodgins for having to transfer, but Hodgins reassures Jeffrey that he will be able to stay, and then reveals that the two of them are brothers. He’s brought a picture with him for proof and shows it to Jeffrey, who recognizes his parents and we learn that their father read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to both of his sons.
With their offer of financial assistance rebuffed, Booth decides to get over his “Brennan makes more money than me” attitude (but not until after a bit of boom chicka wow wow bragging to Sweets about their sex life), and he and Brennan decide the time has come to co-mingle their funds and open a joint checking account. Booth’s first decision is to donate the advance royalty funds to The Wounded Warrior Project.