We teased in our article 'Bones' Teasers: 9 Reasons 'The Baker in the Bits' Will Gross You Out
about the opening chase scene in tonight's episode, so you should have been prepared for the slasher-yness of it. If you were oblivious to our earlier post, then you were most likely unexpectedly and delightfully grossed out all on your own. Hopefully, you weren't eating spaghetti at the time. Bones'
13th episode follows our Jason-like chase with Booth frantically digging through the garbage to find the well-worn photo of Brennan and Christine, which got him through his miserable stint in prison. Right off the bat we know Booth is going to be reflecting on that experience, perhaps even to understand the killer-du-jour.
Next is our B plot line surrounding Arastoo and Cam. Arastoo's brother Hamid in Iran has an inoperable malignant brain stem tumor and doesn't have much time left. Arastoo, who fled Iran to avoid being imprisoned, hasn't been back since. His parents are in exile in the US, so it looks like Hamid is alone. This thrusts Cam and Arastoo into discussions about the future of their relationship. Cam, naturally, is beside herself with worry over his safety if he were to return to a politically volatile Iran. Cam demands she have input about the decision Arastoo has to make, but he sees things differently. The complications of their situation provide thoughtful interludes of purposeful drama.
Is Depravity Born of Biology or Circumstance?
One cannot overlook the tension between hopefulness and resignation so well portrayed in "The Baker in the Bits" in regard to the rehabilitation of criminals. Having first hand experience, Booth has one opinion. Brennan has a pragmatic evidence-based point of view. A third position, one that is hard to argue with, takes a stand for those who have been victims of circumstance, class, or lack of opportunity. These viewpoints beg the questions: What is the root cause of criminality? Is it nature or nurture? Is it immorality or simply rotten luck? Are those influences surmountable, and at what cost? Further, what is the obligation of the free world toward those who have willfully broken our rules?
Bones doesn't have the answers, but they do want us to be critical thinkers when it comes to issues more comfortably swept under the carpet by polite society. I love a show that inspires conversation around the Coke machine as Bones episodes regularly do.
Remains Reduced to a Blood Pancake and a Tell-Tale Tattoo
The victim's remains were blown to bits at a blasting zone where he sought refuge from his attacker. Though his face has been reduced to a bloody pancake, his prison tattoo identifies him as recently-paroled Connor Freeman, who now works at a bakery staffed with ex-cons. Correction, he worked there before he was reduced to a bloody jigsaw puzzle on the platform at the Medico legal lab.
The remains tell a gruesome tale of the victim hog-tied and sedated. Someone also attempted to carve out his tattoos with a nasty smooth edged knife. Later we learn that previous victims had also been exsanguinated and then burned. The question on the table is how did Freeman break free of his captor and make it to the blasting zone?
Eschewing Safety In Exchange for Survival Is a Necessary Evil In Prison
As alluded to above, throughout "The Baker in the Bits," Brennan and Booth disagree over the likelihood that the victim was a loser and that the killer might be an ex-con as well. Brennan, per usual, is pragmatic, referring to the recidivism rates of ex-cons. Most of them end up as lifelong criminals. Booth speaks from experience about guys he knew while in the clink who only wanted to keep their noses clean and get their families back. Just because Freeman had a prison gang tattoo doesn't mean he was a nasty degenerate in general.(Though he was a drug addict involved in a robbery of a convenience store, Booth insists.) He argues that sometimes you have to be involved with a dangerous element in order to survive in prison.
A Feisty Girlfriend Claims Freeman Was Clean, Clean, Clean
Aubrey gets access to Freeman's dumpy apartment where he finds Freeman's sopping wet, and more than a little belligerent, girlfriend. Sabrina "Slippery Cleavage" Clevenger swears on a stack of bibles that Freeman had turned his life around. Yes, she noticed he'd been missing, but she didn't report it because if his parole officer found out he'd be in deep yogurt and possibly recommitted to the home for the terminally criminal. Sabrina says Freeman was drug free and gainfully employed. She credits his employer for her boyfriend's revirgination as a righteous dude.
Brennan and Booth pay a visit to Sunrise Bakery where they come face to face with a delicious cherry pie and Booth's eyes pop out. Behind the counter is Assistant Manager, Alex Rockwell, who gives the two the company spiel. All of Sunrise's employees are tatted-up ex-cons who have turned their lives around because of their wonderful jobs. Before long, the owner, Roger "Son of an Offender" Flender, wonderfully portrayed by guest star Jason Gray-Stanford (Monk), appears and explains about his own crappy childhood as the son of an ex-con. Opening Sunrise and employing all ex-cons is his way of trying to give other families a better life than he had. All his guys are good guys, he professes. Or, dear Dr. Lecter, are they just a great source of victims for a depraved serial killer?
Brennan can't find evidence of blood on the bakery knives, thankfully. All the other guys say Freeman was good as gold. He hated his prison tat, but wouldn't cut it out of his own arm. The ex-cons point B&B toward Jason Pemberton, the brother of a woman who was shot during the botched robbery Freeman served time for. Pemberton had been stalking Freeman, waiting for him to screw up and get thrown back in jail.
It's a Fool's Errand to Attempt to Reason With the Heart
Two unreasonable hearts: Camille's and Arastoo's. Cam is terrified of losing Arastoo, Cam's fear manifests itself as brash and abrupt behavior toward her partner. Arastoo wants to calm Cam's fears, but his heart belongs to his childhood playmate and brother, Hamid, whom he cannot bear to leave to die all alone. Arastoo attempts to placate Cam with talk of how much he misses his brother and his beautiful homeland every single day. He assures her that the government never issued the edict for his arrest, so he'll probably be safe. He explains that he has to believe there is a shred of decency in the people of his country that will keep him safe. Cam rejects this all because the potential price is just too high -- and who can blame her? What if he is captured or killed and she loses him forever? Shouldn't she get a say in the decision about risking his life?
As divicive as this issue may be, I myself have to side with Arastoo. Her input is valuable, but when it comes to family this is a decision he has to make on his own. Where family is concerned, a person must do what they know in their soul to be right, regardless of the consequences, even though it will look foolish or unreasonable (which it is, of course) to others. To abandon a lover is one thing, but to abandon a sibling to die a nasty death all alone is a sin of an entirely different level.
The one issue I do have with Arastoo is that which Brennan forces him to face: he isn't being honest with Cam about the dangers of returning to Iran. He says he loves and desperately misses his country and his brother every single day, yet something has kept him from ever returning. It's unsaid, but clear that Arastoo's return very well could end his life or his freedom This possibility frightens Arastoo as much as it frightens Cam.However, as Booth once said to Brennan, when someone we love is hurting, our hearts well up and get fierce. Brennan tells Arastoo to be honest with Cam about this and I applaud her for her chutzpa.
Working with Brennan is Good Practice for Dealing with Hostile Supreme Leaders
Sometimes old friends are the best friends to go to in times of trouble. Cam calls upon longtime friend, Seeley Booth, who empathizes with her plight. Booth also has a heart for Arastoo's situation, reminding Cam how difficult it is to turn your back on family. Cam wants assurances of Arastoo's safety, which Booth cannot give. He does tell her that if Arastoo can work with Brennan the Iranians should be a piece of cake. He's not wrong.
Girlfriends May Cover Your Ass, But Blood Never Lies
Cam's examination of Freeman's blood reveals that he had been running so far and so fast that his muscles were about to give out from exhaustion. But, how did he run for half an hour at top speed when his captor had sedated him with enough opioids to fell a horse? Cam has an answer for that as well: his serious drug use increased his tolerance. Damn.
Aubrey gets girlfriend Sabrina back in the hot seat and wrestles a confession from her: Freeman had been taking all her money for drugs and making her crazy. He wanted her help in robbing the bank where she works, but she refused. She said Freeman had an accomplice in the pillage plan, but she didn't know who it was.
A Horrific Torture Chamber to Rival The Silence of the Lambs
Employing her customary technical wizardry, Angela is able to back track Freeman's post-torture/pre-death movements by taking into account Cam's tell-tale blood report and all of Hodgins' particulate evidence. The killer's lair is identified as Skoville Iron Works, an abandoned factory where Aubrey and Booth find some nightmarish surprises.
Let's have a moment of silence to appreciate the horror of the findings at Skoville Iron Works. The Bones Fairies deserve a standing ovation for the sheer depravity they were able to impart with all the trappings of this crime scene. Mad props.
Take a deep breath, then swallow the bile collecting in your mouth so we can move forward, Boneheads. Aubrey and Booth find tables and floors drenched in blood. Hanging from hooks are slices of human skin like hankies on a clothesline. Each dangling, bloody, scrap of epidermis holds an ex-con's tattoo. Elsewhere in the lair is a crude crematorium where the feebs find three skeletons amid the cinders.
The Dead Speak to Brennan
From the monster's lair Brennan and the Avengers piece together the rest of the picture. The three skeletons are from victims killed at different times. Each victim was sedated, stabbed in the jugular, drained of all their blood, and burned. This means these were most likely ritualistic killings. Brennan identifies the knife used to sever the jugular and carve out the tattoos as a Kukri knife from the area in Afghanistan where the Sunrise Bakery's assistant manager Alex Rockwell was stationed. He was using the knife as a Northern Indian ritualistic slaughter knife. Also, all four victims have ties to Rockwell.
Flender Lures Rockwell to Capture
Booth and Aubrey enlist Sunrise owner Flender's help to lure Rockwell from hiding. When Rockwell meets Flender in a parking garage Booth and Aubrey ambush him. Booth shoots Rockwell in the shoulder when he attempts to escape. Case closed ... or is it? There have been rumors that a serial murder case Brennan and Booth close in the second half of the season will not really be solved at all. Was Rockwell the killer, and what part, if any, might Flender have played in the ritualistic killings?
A little birdie has been hinting that guest star Jason Gray-Stanford (Flender) will be making more than this one visit to the Bones universe before the close of the season. If IMDB is to be believed, Gray-Stanford will appear in no less than three additional Bones episodes prior to the finale. Now, as a rule of thumb, one should never believe anything that doesn't come straight from the FOX's mouth, but with so much buzz over the mysterious remainder of Bones' tenth season, one cannot help but speculate. Can I get an amen on that, people?
Arastoo and Cam Say Goodbye
The final scene is the most exquisitely delivered Cam-Arastoo scene of the franchise. After the case is solved (?) we learn that Hamid's prognoses is much more dire than originally thought. Arastoo buys a plane ticket to leave within hours of telling Cam about it. In this final scene Tamara Taylor's facial expressions say so much without her giving words to what she's feeling.
In the end Cam faces and accepts the sacrifice that Arastoo -- and she -- must make and allows herself to grieve with him before he leaves. The emotion in this scene was palpable. Hopefully you had a box of tissues handy. Hats off to Cam and Arastoo for their genuine display of the raw emotion passing between two people facing the possibility of never seeing each other again.
Bones doesn't have the answers to some of the scrummy conundrums they hold up to the light for us. Nor should they. Real life doesn't have all the answers. Those are for us to ponder on out own and discuss among ourselves. These are the kind of challenges a tenured show like Bones offers its fans ... because it can.
Bones airs Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)