As I mentioned in my teaser article 9 Reasons Bones Fans Will Go Psycho for 'The Monster in the Closet'
, this is by far the best of the first three episodes of the second half of Bones'
11th season. The creepy sets, the eerie and suspenseful soundtrack, and the jittery cinematography combine to provide a nail-biting intrigue of epic proportions. Speaking of brilliant, the best scene of all is of Special Agent Seeley Booth back in the lab putting his gut instincts and his common sense together to untangle the killer's intentions for his victims. (*Shiver*)
Mixed in with the fear factor are the kooky brilliance of Sara Rue as
Karen Delfs, the continued masterful delivery of T. J. Thyne as self
pitying wallower Jack "Ass Hat" Hodgins, and the self-flagellating
neurosis of a guilt-ridden Brennan (Deschanel). And what brings them all
together? Why, a serial killer who could give the Gormogon, Charles Lee
'Chucky' Ray, Jason Vorhees, and Freddy Krueger a run for their money,
of course. And did I mention the titillating visual and sound affects?
Pretty stinking awesome, folks.
Monster in the Closet or Overactive Childhood Imagination?
Our foray into the mind of madness presented in "The Monster in the Closet" begins with a domestic scene at The Mighty Hut 2.0 where an already been bathed, cuddled, read to and tucked-in Christine Booth is frightened by an imagined monster in her bedroom closet. Fear of things that go bump in the night is usually a clever manipulation by a bedtime boomerang child staving off nighttime loneliness, but the unbridled imagination of youth has a way of transforming shadows into clowns with rapier sharp teeth or ravenous brain-eating boogeymen.
The entertainment industry preys on our latent nighttime neurosis with their pseudo realistic horror-suspense movies. Just ask little Carol Anne from Poltergeist or Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street. My greatest prayer as we embark on the trail of season 11's final serial killer is that this brief bedtime scene isn't foreshadowing an episode where Christine falls victim to her parents' target. What a joy-kill that would be. (#Understatement)
Booth and Brennan pacify Christine by taking her into bed with them. (Where's Hank in all of this, by the way? I digress.)
Ms. Leatherface is on the Slab in the Lab
On the platform with the remains at the Jeffersonian a paraplegic Hodgins continues to be a complete ass to all, especially to Angela, eliciting reprimands from both Brennan and Cam.
(What I want to know is, where's Booth while all of this is going on? If Booth saw what Jack was doing and how he was behaving, he may give Jack one pass considering what he's dealing with, but then he wouldn't be able to resist taking him aside and handing him his ass on a platter. You can imagine the "We all have crosses to bear, but be a man about it, for God's sake and quit pissing all over the people who love you!" Or, more straight to the point, "Talk to my wife like that again and I'll break your damn arms.")
Where were we? Oh yes, on the platform. There is nothing un-creepy about this set of remains. Her leather face is frozen in an open-mouthed yawl. Her intact body appears to be fine except for the bashed-in cranium -- which ends up having happened long after she died. Desiccated skin pools around her ankles like a pair of saggy panty hose.
Cam figures out that the skin had been removed from the body, relieved of all its fat, then treated (leatherized?) and returned to the skeleton which had been re-articulated with wire so all 206 pieces hung together as they did when she was alive. Psycho-weird. But it gets worse. Postmortem wear on the joints tells Brennan that the reassembled body was manipulated frequently. In other words, this mega creep played with the corpse for at least six months before bashing the head in and leaving her in a family park to be quickly found. But there's more.
Found along with the body were some pretty weird effects. The victim is all "dolled up" (remember that descriptor for later) in dated clothing. Her vintage belongings include an old be-speckled clutch, a clattery plastic mixed tape labeled "Home," a tiny dog-eared bible with verses underlined in red, and, worse of all, an old tube of lipstick in a horrendous shade of orange, and -- wait for it -- postmortem skin cells stuck in it. Blech.
The victim, Alison Monroe, was a vibrant, happy woman who worked difficult social work cases evaluating couples' suitability as parents or foster parents. She may have pissed off parents by taking their kids away, or angered potential foster parents by denying them approval to take foster children into their homes.
Booth Becomes the Psychologist, Then Calls in the Big Guns
When Booth hears the news about the state of the remains, he surmises that the killer was grooming the dead woman, but for what? No signs of sexual manipulation. Did he dance with her? He listens to the recording of the folk song "Buffalo Gals" on the mixed tape. The song choice could be an obscure reference to Buffalo Bill, the Silence of the Lambs serial killer who lived with his dead victims in one form or another. Booth also reviews the highlighted biblical passages which focus on punishment for the wicked. Interesting and telling at the same time.
FBI profiler, Karen Delfs (Sara Rue), says Alison was a surrogate mother for the guilt-wracked killer who used her imagined boundaries to curb his murderous tendencies until, finally, his psychosis overwhelms him and he "kills her again ... hence the postmortem blunt force trauma to the cranium. (Yick. That's just sick and wrong.)
Arastoo Makes a Crucial Connection to a John Doe in Limbo
Arastoo recognizes the bone markings on Alison Monroe's remains. He'd seen them before on a John Doe who came to the Jeffersonian after Brennan and Booth left their jobs to ride off into the sunset at the end of season ten. Both sets of remains have holes drilled into the bones and chips in their front teeth from being repeatedly spoon fed by the killer. Every test used to determine the identity of the first skeleton had already been conducted by Arastoo to no avail. Faced with the failure of the team to identify the John Doe, Brennan feels helplessly responsible for Alison's death. The two victims connected by the similarity of their wounds, yet nothing else, ratchet this case up to the level of serial homicide.
The Serial Victimology Gnaws at Brennan's Remorseful Brain
For the rest of the episode, Brennan is tormented by guilt. She feels a personal responsibility to protect people. That's what makes her the best in her field. She takes every case very seriously, viewing each set of remains as a person with a real life and a right to live longer than their untimely death allowed. She looks to the bones to tell her the story of that person's life and put an end to the abhorrent behavior of the murderer so that no others are subject to the same untimely end. She has to do her job well or people die, that's how she sees it.
The whole team is like this (that's why they are the best) but none are as committed (read: obsessed) about uncovering the life story and stopping the killer as Brennan is. Booth is committed as well, but even he knows when to take a break and step back.
The Suspects Prove Disappointing Until ...
The possible suspects are rounded up. Alison's unflappable husband, Jim Monroe, and her disgustingly and inappropriately attentive boss, are a bust. Then we learn about George Gibbons, an obsessed and prolific applicant Alison rejected as a potential foster parent.
Brennan and Booth go to Gibbons' nasty and secluded cat-infested house in the country and find one of Alison's necklaces in the detritus. Booth searches the house for the recently released felon. The suspenseful soundtrack and jumpy cinematography added to this scene had me gnawing on my knuckles and had my daughter screaming and ducking under the couch cushions. (Way to freak us all out, Bones Fairies!)
Gibbons appears out of nowhere and grabs Booth from behind, putting a knife to his neck. Brennan materializes to cock a gun (which is really just an app that makes gun-cocking noises) behind Gibbons' back, making him release Booth. Off to the interrogation room we go. Gibbons is a whack job imbecile who willingly confesses to the murder, but Delfs proves he's afraid of blood even though he fantasizes about it all the time. There is no way that he is was the killer, says Delfs, which she proves by slicing her own palm open and watching the suspect pass out. Later, Gibbons hangs himself in his jail cell rather than give up the name of his partner in crime.
Evidence and Team Brilliance Combine to Identify the John Doe
When Angela and Cam search the house, they find millions of cats (or 13, I lost count), an uber creepy diary of the Ted Kaczynski variety, a high end male wristwatch, and active surveillance cameras all over the place which capture the team's visit that afternoon. Someone was watching from somewhere else and now might even know who they are.
The wristwatch found at Gibbons' house leads the team to the identity of the first victim as Douglass Burkhart, a retired principle whom the killer must have looked up to as a father figure. Burkhard had gone missing a year previously (his remains found but not identified six months later) belying a pattern of kidnapping, torturing, killing, gutting, and then reassembling the corpse. After six months of dead captivity, the remains are released back into the world for discovery. (Good God, Bones, will you stop at nothing when it comes to the atrocities you present?)
Booth Figures Out the Horrific Purpose for the Drill Holes
In a spooky scene augmented by dreamy music, a stumped and hopeless Brennan stays late at the Jeffersonian to dress Alison's remains in an attempt to gain insight into the killer's mind. She's wracked with guilt over not having caught this killer before he got to Alice Monroe. Booth comes to the Jeffersonian to find Brennan and reluctantly agrees to reexamine the remains with her. He figures out that the drill holes were for eyelet screws used to suspend and animate the rearticulated, taxidermied, and clothed skeleton like a marionette. Booth gathers a bag of eyelet screws and some rope so the two can suspend Alice's dressed remains in the air. AGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Cam and Arastoo Together Again and Christine Scares Her Parents
Cam is freaked out by the gruesomeness of the killer's M.O. and the fact that he was "watching them" as they searched his house. She asks Arastoo for a ride home and confesses that she has broken it off with the hot traveling photojournalist. (Can you spell "Makeup nookie?") This reunion happens pretty quickly, but somehow it doesn't feel a single bit forced. It feels right.
Elsewhere at The Mighty Hut 2.0 Brennan and Booth listen to the uber creepy "Buffalo Gals" mixed tape when they are startled by the sound of glass breaking. They run to Christine's room thinking she's been abducted. Instead, and much to their relief, they find her under a pile of stuffed toys a la so many spine-tingling nightmare movies. Both parents are relieved, but Booth's relieved reaction is so genuine that you just know he's been through a similar scenario in the actor's real life. Or maybe that's just great acting.
Little Man, Really Big Dick
Throughout the episode, Hodgins is a total dick to Angela. What else is there to say about it? His biting sarcasm is uncomfortable to watch and his resentment and self-pity are stomach-churningly unattractive. He has become the anti-Jack Hodgins. No appreciation, no love, no wonder, no exuberance over his work. He's become one big dick. Angela comments that, "The victim disappeared a week before her tenth anniversary." As that revelation hangs in the air, so does Angela's unspoken thoughts ... "Just like you disappeared X months before ours." Ouch.
(How is this going to resolve? If you ask me, Hodgins is going to have a major breakdown. Maybe even a suicide attempt. The team will not stand for him treating Angela this way, so it has got to end. I, for one, can't wait to see what Bones has in store for us because this is what those magic makers excel at -- writing and portraying authentic humanity.)
Marionette, No, You're Not Finished Yet
The final scene: an ominous Gepetto's basement workshop tinted with morbidity. Childhood playthings once again becoming the objects of horror under the manipulation of a sadistic puppet master. Queue the soundtrack from The Birds as wooden body forms appear on dusty shelves and a black hooded artist-slash-serial killer sits before a laptop, his ghoulish claws tapping at the keyboard as an image of Brennan searching through Gibbons' house grows larger and larger. (Man, oh man, it gives me chills.)
I can't wait to see the next installment of this storyline, but according to the show schedule, we may have to wait another month for the next installment. (Dang it all, Bones.)
Bones airs Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.
(Images Courtesy of FOX)