Holy cats, for an episode that appears on its face (and in its content) to be more than a little outlandish, “The Murder of the Meninist” turns out to be chock full of all kinds of Bones-y goodness. We have a crispy cadaver, blood and guts exploding all over a squint during an experiment, Brennan going bat-sh*t crazy on a misogynist’s jaw, mega relationship strife in the worst way possible, Fuentes calling Hodgins on the carpet for being a horse’s ass, Boothy kissy-face at The Mighty Hut 2.0, doughnuts, baffling stupidity, awesome humor and a heart-crushing message about the reality of emotional abuse cleverly hidden inside the subterfuge of a case about domestic violence against men.
As I alluded to in my teaser article, “The Murder of the Meninist” focuses boldly on the issue of domestic abuse, an injustice endured by 35% of women and 25% of men in the United States. Juxtaposed to the caricaturist portrayal of men’s rights supporters in this “Lesbanese Man-haters versus meninists” debate is the blatant disrespect Hodgins heaps upon his wife.
Once again Bones subtly, yet clearly, acknowledges the silent assassination of souls perpetrated by the victimization of spouses by the person who is supposed to love and protect them. I call these assassins “silent” not because they are mute, but because their destruction is buried deep inside of their victims, thus it does not speak for itself in the way that purple, brown and green bruises or fractured bones do. Hats of to Bones for the humanitarian chutzpah.
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The Accidental Motorist Turned Victim of Domestic Violence & Murder
Our case opens with a charred set of unidentified remains in need of a name and social security number. Of course, since this is Bones, the anonymous crispy critter is discovered having been murdered and the squints dig in even further.
The victim, Emil Bradford, divorcee and co-founder of “Men Now” is found in a crappy car having gone thorough a guardrail and then caught fire. Emil is described a wealthy royal “wang” — meaning he was a chauvinist douche bag, in non-Valley parlance — by the woman who sold him the new carburetor for his mobile heap of metal. Hodgins finds a key fob to a Lexus to support the supposition that the guy was loaded. Little Miss Allie from the auto parts store is quite a hoot during Aubrey’s interrogation of her, however.
Hodgins Looks Up to the Life He Used to Have with Biting Sarcasm
Through several brief vignettes throughout the episode, we see Hodgins facing the enormity of his new reality. He’s jostled about at the non-wheelchair friendly Royal Diner, he drowns in a sea of able bodied technicians as they walk right past and around him at the lab, he can’t reach the serial numbers on the new carburetor in the charred junker, and he’s forced to use a wheelchair lift to access the platform. When Cam comments on his use of the lift, he replies snarkily, “It was exhilarating, Cam. if I’d known I could have gotten one of those I would have crippled myself months ago.” This is just one of a barrage of pissy comments Hodgins lobs at his colleagues and his wife.
Hodgins Takes Out His Anger On Angela
While Hodgins is a pill to deal with for everyone, he’s especially demeaning and rude to Angela, to the point where everyone else is deeply concerned for her. Angela puts up with it because she takes her marriage vows seriously (through sickness and health, and all that jazz) and because she’s hoping this is just part of the grieving process. It is clear that Hodgins believes he’s justified in being crappy to everyone because he has suffered an unimaginably crappy loss. No one can blame him for his rage, and since he’s clearly not himself right now, he can be cut a large swath of slack for being a dick to his wife. But how far will he (and she) allow it to go? That’s the million dollar question as it always is between people in an abusive relationship. My heart is with Angela for what she’s going through, but I also feel for Hodgins because he’s going to want to kill himself when he realizes what he’s doing to his wife. Still, it doesn’t make it right.
Has Brennan Jinxed the Floundering Flyers?
Booth’s panties are in a twist because every single time Brennan watches a Flyers game with him, they lose. There’s a running gag throughout the episode where Booth tries to figure out how to keep Brennan from watching the game, and Brennan teases Booth over his silly superstitions. It’s precious that this woman who disdained the he-man, ball-tossing sports (or puck-dropping, as the case may be) now watches them with her husband because it’s something that makes him happy. By the end of the episode, Brennan comes up with several adorable strategies to reverse the “jinx.”
Emil was the Victim of Domestic Abuse
Remodeled fractures and his hospital record point to Emil having suffered a lot a trauma around the time of his divorce. Returning squint-du-jour, Dr. Rodolfo Fuentes (Ignacio Serricchio), balks at Camille’s suggestion that the guy might have been a pansy; at least that’s how Fuentes interprets her comment. Cam sets him straight about the reality of abused men who never say anything because of the stigma attached to being beat-up by a girl.
The Usual Suspects Line Up, Starting with Emil’s (Abusive) Wife
Aubrey and Booth visit Emil’s wife, Gail “I-Make-the-Wicked-Witch-of-the-West-Look-Like-a-Sweetheart” Bradford who has nothing good to say about her ex who paid her $10,000 monthly in alimony. Gail redirects the feebs to “Men Now,” a men’s rights activist group Emil co-founded with fellow misogynist douchebag, Paul Walters. While there are some social inequalities between men and women that disfavor men, like child custody laws that favor maternity and selective military service, Bones presents the group as epically ridiculous in their belief that feminists have hatched an evil plot to get rid of the male species.
Wow, talk about paranoid and bizarre. But wait; that’s not all. Emil, Paul, and Paul’s wife, Karen, have launched an absurd lawsuit against a doctor who performs circumcisions because “the babies were snipped without their consent. (Do people really sue for that? Yes, fellow Boneheads, as unimaginable as it sounds, people do.) Of course there are legitimate and righteous men’s rights supporters, but it’s more fun on TV to present the most outrageously ridiculous portrayal possible. Paul’s comments about women wanting to get raped, among others, has Booth heavily interested in punching the guy’s lights out.
Brennan Supports Women For Change
Paul and Karen point Brennan and Booth in the direction of Lea Marino of “Women For Change” who had several kerfuffles with Emil. Brennan surprises her husband with the announcement that she has been a member of the humanist group since college. The two find Lea at a rally where a group of members are protesting the owners of a hotel who pay their female employees two-thirds of what they pay their male employees for the same job. (This is a legitimate battle, folks. In 2010 women were still being paid 81 cents on the male dollar.)
Though Lea turns out to be party to some stalking give-and-take with Emil and she admits to bashing his headlights out, she had nothing to do with the man’s murder. She directs the team to the doctor at the center of the penile decapitation lawsuit.
Brennan and Booth Banter on the Byway
During an entertaining conversation in the car, Booth calls Brennan the butterfly in chaos theory, which he says is how she’s adversely affecting the Flyers success. She sees right through his attempt to keep her from watching the next game and continuing the jinx. This discussion continues over coffee at the Royal Diner until Booth notices the last cell phone call Emil made was routed through the hotspot in Karen Walters cell phone.
Karen Conspired to Catch Emil’s Wife In the Act
It turns out that Karen and Emil weren’t having an affair, and that Karen used her security access to turn off the home security at Emil’s ex-wife’s house. Apparently, he was trying to sneak into the house to document the fact that his former ball-and-chain has a live-in lover, so he could stop paying her that monthly $10,000 alimony check.
Fuentes Puts Hodgins In His Place
Hodgins calls the victim a jackass. Fuentes agrees that the victim had it coming to him, “because a man who treats a woman like dirt is not a man at all.” Hodgins understands that Fuentes is referring to Hodgins’ unforgivable treatment of Angela and accuses him of judging a cripple. Fuentes punts it back, saying his honesty makes him a friend. Unfortunately, Hodgins never lets up, especially in regard to Angela. (T.J. Thyne plays an awesome horse’s ass, by the way.)
Brennan and Fuentes Discuss Making Love with Their Eyes While Identifying Cause of Death
The exchanges between Fuentes and Brennan are priceless. Brennan holds her own up against Fuentes’ overt testosterone-soaked opinions. Her dagger-wielding stares put him in his place when he touts of his sexual prowess.
Booth’s Gets His Wish When Brennan Punches Paul Walters’ Lights Out
Paul bursts into the interrogation room where Booth and Brennan are questioning his wife Karen. His piggy nature is further on display when he insults the poo out of Brennan and nearly gets himself shot by Booth. Brennan stops Booth from clocking Paul and coldcocks him herself. It’s a satisfying moment for those of us who love kick-ass Brennan, and even for those of us who just can’t stand to watch a prick so blatantly abuse people with hoo-has. What a piece of work!
(We haven’t seen enough of this drama, by the way. Brennan’s abuse of the ass hat rears its ugly head in an upcoming episode.)
Brennan Solves the Case and Booth Makes the Collar
Brennan and Fuentes figure out that the murder weapon was a heated iron; the kind used with an ironing board to take the wrinkles out of clothing. So, who did it? Karen’s iron is free of blood, but then Aubrey and Booth visit the ex, Gail, whose iron isn’t. When the two confront Gail about beating the poo out of her husband when she discovered him spying on her, she turns around and blames her handyman-lover-whipping boy. Wow. What a pair. Case closed.
Hodgins Spirals even Further Despite Joining a Support Group
Angela finds Hodgins’ laptop open and sees that he’s joined a support group for people with spinal cord injuries. Hodgins wheels in on her and flattens her with his anger, telling her that she better deal with him as he is or leave. Throughout the ordeal he denies that he’s treating her any differently, which is typical of emotional abusers. He continues to feel justified in treating his wife like the turd on the bottom of his shoe because of the hand that has been dealt to him.
Even though this ridiculous tale of the Meninists is a caricature of legitimate men’s rights organizations, it does shine a light on what Emil was going through in his marriage that engendered in him a fervent hate for woman. Domestic violence and emotional abuse of men is real. The same is real for women. Emotional abuse, like that which Angela is enduring looks a lot different than a smack on the cranium with a hot iron, but as is clear in “The Murder of the Meninist,” it is just as fatal to the soul of another person and a relationship. It’s also much easier to deny for both parties because being “offensive” or “disrespectful” is subjective. Ouch.
Whatever will happen to these two? I have no answers for that, but I applaud Bones for juxtaposing this absurd case’s domestic abuse with Angela’s emotional strife at the hands of her most trusted and loved partner. I pray that Hodgins gets anger management therapy before Angela is forced to choose between her own self preservation (and that of Michael Vincent) and staying with her husband.
Granted, Hodgins has some righteous anger. His situation sucks rocks in a way I could never even begin to comprehend. And, yes, loving someone means cutting them slack when they are unable to see past their unbearable pain, even if it means they occasionally take it out on those closest to them. Hodgins’ situation doesn’t make his behavior okay or acceptable, but it is understandable as part of the grieving process. Let’s just hope it is only a phase, he is able to move past it, and Angela is able to give him limits to his “abuse” of her.
Take Your Pants Off, Booth; Put Them Back On Backwards
Back at the Mighty Hut 2.0 Brennan compromises with Booth over watching the Flyers game. She prepares snacks that start with the letter “F” and wears a Flyers cap backward, encouraging him to do the same to ‘reverse the jinx. Of course, this is where we get the kiss, which our man Booth explains brings good luck! Thank you, Bones Fairies, we appreciate the luck!
I hope you are ready to get the daylights scared right out of you, because that’s what’s going to happen when we next see Brennan and Booth in “The Monster in the Closet.” Until then, keep lovin’ Bones!
Bones season 11 airs Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.
(Images Courtesy of FOX)