Where better to stage a murder and solve an impossible Bones crime than at a National Forensics Sciences Convention filled with hundreds of forensic anthropologists, right? Well, it would be if the majority of the attendees hadn’t reduced themselves to fangirling over each and every member of the Jeffersonian team including Angela (You go, girl!). It sure makes for some great humor, and we can expect that Bones is going to deliver oodles of belly laughs for us this week in “The Corpse at the Convention.”
Not even five minutes in and already we’ve established that a) Brennan is nervous about her keynote speech, b) Some diminutive crazed redhead is attempting to stick to Hodgins like fly paper, much to his disgruntled disgust, and c) Brennan’s obnoxious and pretentious rival, literary hack Tess Brown, is also there under the guise of researching for her next book. Oh, and Tess announces she intends to become friends with Brennan. Brennan, of course, will have nothing to do with the pretender and tells her that flat out with some mighty impressive verbal spears.
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Brennan’s Joke Gets On Like a House on Fire
Before Brennan can even tell her joke about Schrodinger’s cat (which is actually quite clever) a corpse is ablaze in the plumbing and electric room of the convention hall. In runs a delirious Tess Brown who we last saw in season 9 when she appeared in “The Dude in the Dam.” Back then Tess and Brennan sparred during a joint interview on a talk show and throughout the episode until they finally met at the diner where Brown got caught on video disparaging all her readers.
So the crime scene is cleared of all but the evidence. The gaping crowd outside the plumbing and electrical room uses this murder as an opportunity to boast about their forensic contraptions. Fortunately for them, Brennan, Hodgins and Cam, now that they have a job to do, are quite interested in these devices. “Let’s get it all back to the lab,” cries Brennan. “We have everything we need right here,” respond the team. So, here we are, and here we shall remain. Before long they do make it back to the lab, though, because there’s even cooler equipment there and a whole episode at a convention hall would get old.
One of the novel inventions that had been thrust upon Cam and Brennan was a new kind of non-stick forensic gloves. I’m thinking these might come into play later, like, maybe in the capturing and misuse of fingerprints? But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Booth and Aubrey arrive and attempt to control the crowd. Aubrey says the magnitude of the mob reminds him of being at a Beyonce concert. Well, that’s what Comic-Con is like, my friend, and this is certainly the Comic-Con for forensic geeks!
Fanaticism Brings Out Opportunism In All Of Us
Sometimes I think Bones pokes fun at us fans. It’s done in good humor, and it’s all good because we have this mutual admiration thing going on. The thing is, we all have things we’re fanatically passionate about; things we fantasize about doing or having or experiencing. Maybe it’s vegan food, or hockey, or writing the Greatest American Novel. It’s what gets us up in the morning and accompanies us as we lie down at night.
No other animal on the planet obsesses about things like we humans do, but none of them live with as much joy and conviction as we do either. But do we really act like those crazy people depicted in “The Corpse at the Convention’s” National Forensics Sciences Convention? You bet we do. The things is, when the object of our exuberant affection comes within arms’ reach we can lose control of our impulses. We might make grandiose gestures of admiration. We might blurt things we would never say if we’d taken a millisecond to sensor ourselves. Maybe it’s just me, but I just know that if I ever made it to Comic-con I’d grab my favorite celebrity and pour my heart out on the spot like the biggest fool who ever lived. In a moment of extreme excitement we all are susceptible to being plagued by a lack of impulse control.
Honestly, we can’t blame those crazy people at the convention any more than we could blame ourselves for falling in love with the objects of our own affection. So, laugh it up and enjoy the fact that we have the capacity to enjoy with wild abandon. And if you see me at a convention slobbering over someone, please look the other way. I will do the same for you. #PinkieSwear.
Murder She Wrote
So, the team figures out that the female victim had been dead before her corpse was set on fire. Whew, I’ve heard the Jean d’Arc treatment is the worst, so thank God for that. The fire was so hot her body fused to the concrete and the metal railings. Ouch. Hodgins uses a super cool polymer gadget borrowed from one of the vendors at the convention to make a cast of the clearest shoe print in forensic history as the team continues to investigate.
Booth sees Tess Brown in the ballroom hamming it up in front of a news camera, so he runs over to give her a piece of his mind. He can tell she’s going to use this experience to boost her popularity, because that’s the kind of hot mess this Tess Brown chick is. Beat it, Baby!
But first … Booth hauls Tess into his own little Boothy corner to interrogate her. We don’t get to see it at this point, but maybe we will later. She is being portrayed by Nora Dunn of Saturday Night Live fame, so surely she’ll get more screen time later.
What? Wendell is on the scene and he’s got a full head of hair — how the hell did that happen? How much time has passed since we last saw him bald and barfing over his chemotherapy? He’s been off the medicinal Mary Jane for a good two months and he’s actually in remission, someone says. Apparently, he’s been participating in a clinical trial Brennan recommended him for. Wait, this recovery is way too easy.
You can’t just wave a magic wand and make cancer disappear. What’s going on here? It’s kind of an affront to those of us who have been through it. As much as I love Wendell (He is my personal favorite Squint, second only to Vincent Nigel-Murray), I’d like to see him and the team continue to deal with the challenge brought on by such a tragic diagnosis.
One thing I love about Bones is how it takes real life issues by the horns and deals with them authentically. I’m hoping for a more meaty portrayal of reality from the Wendell-cancer storyline going forward. To be fair, the Big C does have its ups and downs, so I’ll give you a bye this time, Bones fairies. Wendell is doing well now, but he may not always be.
Hodgins’ Ginger Implicates Him in Her Murder
Angela takes the victim’s mangled ID badge from the victim and accesses the Angelator to bring together all the data retrieved from smart glasses, surveillance footage and cell phone pictures. As Aubrey stands by agape at her beauty, Angela identifies the victim as Hodgins’ nemesis, the red-headded Leona Saunders. It turns out that in college Hodgins had designed an odor recognition system for locating buried human remains using twenty different chemicals that decaying bodies emit. The redhead, Dr. Leona Saunders (Amy Davidson), had stolen Hodgins’ plans for the device and made $4 million dollars by claiming it was her own. At the convention, Hodgins and she were arguing in public right before she did. So, guess who’s a suspect? Our favorite entomologist. Gah!
Aubrey says they have to treat Hodgins like any other suspect and he is not wrong. This is the third time Hodgins has been accused of killing someone, Hodgins ruminates. Do you remember when the other two times were? One was when they thought he might be the Gormogon. The other time escapes my memory right now. Was it when Trent McNamara was found dead and Hodgins didn’t tell anyone he knew the guy at first? Mention it down below if you think of it, please. Wait, why is Hodgins being allowed to continue working on the case if he’s a suspect? Maybe it’s because this is a comedic episode?
Cinderella Gets Caught Exiting the Ballroom
Hodgins’ shoe print implicates a guy who works in the kitchen. Booth and Aubrey corner the guy and match his shoe to the print and drag him into the FBI to grill him. However, this proves a bust.
Hodgins’ DNA is found on a bandaid at the crime scene, so Aubrey and Booth have to interrogate him … again. You have to admit, Hodgins has some decent motives. But still, he’s set free pretty quickly.
Conventions Are Carnivals of Hedonistic Pleasure
Next on the docket of suspects is Dr. Edward Harkness, (John Billingsley, Star Trek: Enterprise). He was having an affair with Leona, whom he claimed was the love of his life. Seems this guy was a serial philanderer and Leona was not his first marital indiscretion. Dr. Harkness explains how “these conventions become carnivals filled with indiscretion and hedonistic pleasures, which I succumbed to.” Man, you’re not kidding. read on.
Harkness admits to also having screwed a writer who’d hired him as a consultant for one of her books. That lover was none other than … Oh, crap on a cracker! … it was Tess Brown. Of course it was. Yech. And we all sigh heavily because Tess’ ugliness goes deeper than her disdain for her readers — Tess was blindingly jealous of successor Leona. And Harkness, what a tool!
Further implicating Tess is what Hodgins finds in the wound: melted obsidian particulates (I’m looking right at you, Bones junkie, Alex) Wouldn’t you know it? Tess Brown used an obsidian knife as the murder weapon in one of her novels. Gotcha. Bazinga. You are so screwed, Miss Brown. Or …
King of the Lab to the Rescue
Hodgins figures something out because, well, because he’s a stinkin’ genius, that’s why. The gist of it is that the fire that fused the victim’s body to the concrete and the metal railing was caused by a delayed reaction between sulfuric acid and potassium chloride which react violently when mixed together. However, when separated by layers of tin foil, they wouldn’t ignite until the acid ate through the tinfoil and mixed with the potassium chloride. The visual was cool as Hodgins and Cam watched the innocent-looking experiment burst into flames.Good thing my kids didn’t watch this episode with me, they go wild over a tube of Mentoes being dropped into a two liter bottle of Diet Coke. I can only imagine the begging and bribing that would go on in our house if they wanted approval to replicate this experiment.
The implication for the case is that it dinks with the timeline of the murder and renders all alibis null and void. The killer didn’t have to be present when the body was set aflame, in other words. So, everyone’s a suspect.
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The Deranged Inventor of the Thermocouple
Turns out, there was another puncture in the wound. It was made, Brennan figures out, by one of the devices showcased at the convention. It was the digital wireless thermocouple with downloadable memory invented by Aldus Carter (Gabriel Tigerman) and lent to cam to use on the corpse to determine time of death. This inventor was the same guy who invented the non-stick gloves I mentioned before. What possible motive could this guy have for killing Leona? Well, a murder at the convention created an excellent opportunity for Carter to demonstrate his invention. That’s good motive, right?
But why Leona? Why not some other convention attendee? I’ll tell you why. Leona was double-dipping. That’s right. She was sexing up Carter to get access to one of his other inventions which she planned to steal and make another couple of millions. Wow. That’s one cold woman. When Carter figured this out he killed her. Albiet, in a very clever manner, but murder is murder, people.
What finally solidifies the case is that Carter used magnesium strips which cut through the glove and left Carter’s DNA on the victim.
Bones: More Layers Than Baklava
Bones is at its best when the cause of death or evidence of the murder weapon is obfuscated by layers of clever diversionary strategies. Like with baklava or spanakopita, both delicious, culinary masterpieces consisting of layers upon layers of phylo dough between which nestles savory delights. Yeah, that’s kinda how Bones is. Lots of layers, and lots of savory delights.
In “The Corpse at the Convention,” the obsidian covered up evidence of the real murder weapon: the thermocouple. The sulfuric acid and potassium chloride separated by tin foil covered up the timeline. And the non-stick gloves attempted to cover up, or eliminate, any possibility of fingerprints or biologicals being left behind by the killer.
Booth Doles Out Some Controversial Tough Love
Throughout the second half of the episode Wendell has gone missing after a short visit to undergo some chemotherapy. Eventually he and Booth have a heart to heart discussion where it’s revealed that while Wendell is doing well with his treatments, one of his friends undergoing the same treatment died the previous week. Wendell says the guy had been looking and feeling good the previous month: the same as Wendell is now. Booth gives Wendell a rather stern takling-to and tells him to go out and live. I’m still not sure how I feel about Booth’s “pep talk,” if you can call it that. What did you think about it? It certainly wasn’t what I expected, but the message is clear: You are alive today. Don’t waste your time feeling sorry for yourself. Get out there and live.
I expected Booth to acknowledged Wendell’s fear with greater compassionately. However, Booth has recently been gunned down in his own home. He’s spent three moths in prison with people who tried to kill him. Booth is relieved to be alive and back at home with his wife and daughter. Because of this, it makes sense to me that Booth would have this “Pull yourself together and fight for your life” perspective and share it with Wendell. On top of what Booth’s been through, Wendell’s disclosure about his friend probably scares the hell out of Booth. Booth’s already a mixture of fragility and strength as a result of all he’s been through. If he demonstrates a bit of edge, a bit of anger, in the face of Wendell’s attitude, I get that. A person can only take so much loss before they break. Both men are close to that point … and I’m not sure Wendell is the one closer to it.
A final note: It is good to hear Booth sharing more of his experiences in Afghanistan on screen. We don’t get to see that much, but it seems to always be there below the surface and never far from his mind. You can see it in the pained expression he gets whenever anything is hurting him. Well done, good and faithful servant.
What was your impression of that exchange between Booth and Wendell?
So, once the case is closed and Wendell is found, Brennan finally gets to tell her joke at the convention and it brings the house down. Boom.
Nest week, The Jeffersonian crew deal with a case about human trafficking. See you then!
Bones aires Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)