Bones’ case about “The Puzzler in the Pit” delivered a poignant commentary on the mourning process in the wake of tragic loss, and the wondrous healing possibilities available with the advent of new life.

With numerous flossy threads circling around each other like the curls on a toddler’s innocent crown, this episode once again has me thinking about how life brings with it all the components necessary for those of us left behind to continue living despite the void left by those we treasure, but have lost.

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Bones‘ Episodic Menageries

I’ve written many times about the types of episodes Bones gravitates toward — the comedic, the dramatic, the social-societal educational — but this is one of my favorite formats. As is not an uncommon occurrence with any number of Bones episodes, this one should be viewed in its entirety to be fully appreciated. Without a doubt, this episode is different from the previous circular tales in that it was thoroughly enjoyable throughout, but the end made it retroactively even more precious.

Remember “The Partners in the Divorce?” Brennan and Booth’s bickering all through the episode had me cringing and biting my knuckles throughout. The feeling was one of dread. They were floundering to pull their life back together after her three month absence with Christine. In retrospect I realize my discomfort was by design, making the tenderness of the final reconciliation more exquisite and reparative for me as the viewer.

With “The Puzzler in the Pit,” there is no cringing in the least unless it pertains to the syrupy-disgusting admonitions of Valentia (Mindy Cohn, The Facts of Life), Daisy’s new-age doula. Gag me with a spoon, but I loved this over-the-top farcical representation of this admirable profession. Now, no need to go beating up the Bones Fairies for dissing on doulas, people. Doulas are the complete sh*t and thank God for them. They are angels without needles and we all know they aren’t as goofy as poor Valentia was. I do love that Angela was used to put voice to the fact that all births can be beautiful and children be normal and healthy no matter the nature of their introduction to the world. Thank you, Angela. XOXO. And who wouldn’t enjoy the final scene where the entire troupe kicks Valentia out on her ear? #Awesome.

My point is that there was a still river running under this episode with a message about the importance of family — a Bones staple — and the astoundingly resilient nature of humanity. After all these people have been through, especially Daisy and Booth, in the end there comes a new life which will live as a celebration of the life they all lost and in that celebration, a living memory and healing will take place. But, we have a case to solve, so let’s get to it. 

Daisy is All Zenned Up For Murder

The episode opens with Cam saying outloud what we all were thinking: “Who are you and what have you done with Daily Wick?” Is this really a Bones episode or do I have the wrong channel onWho’s that calm pregnant lady at the lab? Holy cats, is that Daisy (Carla Gallo)? Yes, it is, and and she’s gone all Zen. And this definitely is Bones because Booth is doing a crossword puzzle and Brennan is trying to recycle all of Christine’s baby toys (which look barely used because they aren’t even faded) by giving them to the expectant mother carrying Sweets’ unborn progeny. On top of that, there’s a really stinky set of bones being wheeled onto the platform at the Medico Legal lab. 

The Spouse Who Needs a Personality Transplant

The victim turns out to be Lawrence Brooks, a 40ish puzzle master whose remains were found in a fracking pit disintegrated to almost nothing by the hydrochloric acid that was in the pit with him. Turns out he was wearing a cast that had a bunch of puzzle notes on it. Even more interesting is the guy’s prosthetic skull. I didn’t know you could even do that. I wonder if it’s possible to get a prosthetic personality, because Brooks’ wife could use one. When Booth and Aubrey talk to her, she’s a mess of fakeness but that’s not a crime and she doesn’t seem to killer-y enough to be the do-er of this murder.

Brooks’ wife Emilia, (Debbon Ayer) points an accusatory finger in the direction of Brooks’ snippish and ambitious assistant, Alexis Sherman (Alison Haislip) who had designs on Brooks’ job. Brooks, it turns out, was not just any puzzler, but one of the absolute best. He was renowned for his puzzles and worth well over $1 million. And get this, Cam has a signed copy of one of his books. Anyway, Sherman looks about 20% guilty because she’s obviously bright and has a lot to gain from Brooks’ demise, but we don’t have enough info on her yet.

The Real Story Behind the Bereaved Writer 

Emory Stewart (Sean Marquette) is another suspect. Up until two years ago, he’d been a model citizen but then he turned violent and indulgent in the mood-altering substances department. Come to find out Stewart lost both of his parents two years earlier and had some major adjustment issues. Having intense adjustment issues is understandable — we all grieve in unique and unpredictable ways — but Stewart took a harmful approach and hurt other people. The DUIs and assault charges make him suspect, combined with the suspicion that he was stalking Brooks. 

At this point, I was asking myself if Stewart’s having lost his parents recently (and processed their deaths in an unhealthy manner) would be woven into the secondary storyline about Daisy and her chosen mode of coping. 

Booth and Aubrey interrogate Stewart only to learn that he idolized Brooks and was researching Brooks for a book he was writing about him. It looks like Stewart could be the doer, but I hope not. Brooks may have been a surrogate father figure for Stewart, and besides, I like to think that Stewart went through his crappy destructive mourning period and then recovered… from the behavior, that is, not the deaths. We never recover from the death of one (or two) of the  most significant people in our lives. Which again, this looks like a reflection of what Daisy is going through. 

Daisy Finds the Right Coping Mechanism

It is a delight to watch how calmly Daisy is handling the imminent birth of her baby. She’s not running around screeching or begging for a pat on the head by her idol. Ever since she and Sweets had that discussion about his reasons for living with Brennan and Booth after they broke up, I’ve had a new respect for Daisy. I’ve always enjoyed her character, especially because she was equally brilliant and squirrely.

My absolute favorite scene (well, one of them) was after Brennan attempted to let her know that she thought it was ignorant to think she could communicate telepathically with the baby. Daisy begins to leave for her appointment, then turns around and tells Brennan that she’s coping the best she can in a completely undesirable situation. This should be the most joyous event in her life, but it’s covered in the sorrow of Sweets’ passing. Do whatever you have to and don’t pay any attention to anyone else, baby. That’s what I say, and I am proud of her for both seeking to find her own peace and for standing up for herself.

Carla Gallo did an excellent job of portraying someone whose been through the ringer, and is cognizant of the challenges going forward in light of being squeezed through said ringer, and has found a way to cope without falling apart. Well done, Gallo. Hats off to you.

Being Second Place Sucks

Brooks’ old college roommate, who is also a resentful competitor of Brooks, is the next on the potential suspect docket. Donald McKeon (Sam Lloyd) now spends his life writing laughable puzzles for people to fill out while sitting on the toilet. Well, as it turns out, McKeon presents as a pretty harmless guy, and he really is pretty smart. He’d mailed Brooks one of his puzzles hoping Brooks would be willing to publish it. Turns out he never responded to the puzzle McKeon sent him, but he did publish it under his own name. McKeon had been smart when he sent Brooks his puzzle; he’d sent himself a copy of it through the US Postal Service as proof that he was the creator. Potential motive: revenge. It just doesn’t feel like McKeon would go to this extreme, though.

Pharmaceuticals Killed the Puzzler

The bones seem to be that of an 80-year-old man and that was before the fracking juice and the hydrochloride got to him. So what was that all about? His fingers show signs of having been bent back until they snapped two months earlier. What I want to know is how did he do any writing with his hands broken? 

Next Cam figures out through a bone marrow test that Brooks was being treated for Alzheimer’s with donepezil hydrochloride, which causes bone brittleness. Bazinga! So, now I’m thinking he was embarrassed because he was declining mentally and therefore he stole his college roommate’s work to save face. Then Aubrey comes up with a supposition that didn’t even occur to me. McKeon says Brooks never acknowledged that he’d gotten the puzzle from McKeon, right? Aubrey suggests that perhaps Brooks forgot where he got the puzzle from and, what’s more, forgot that it wasn’t even his own work. Wow. What a tragedy.

The Dutiful Wife Protected His Image

The wife, Emilia, is back in the hot seat. Why didn’t she mention the Alzheimer’s before? The twinsies want to know. Because he made her promise she wouldn’t tell anyone. Here’s a man who is world renowned for his brilliance, and who is now losing everything he’s ever known. Watching the decline of an Alzheimer’s victim is hard and sometimes horrible, Emilia explains. She watched him slowly die. It turns out that as her husband declined, she published some of his old unpublished puzzles for him. She found McKeon’s puzzle and published it without knowing it wasn’t his. 

Apparently writing challenging puzzles is a lucrative career because Brooks was worth over $1 billion. Unfortunately, he couldn’t remember what he’d one with all that money and that’s why Emilia kept publishing his puzzles — they needed the money to pay for his treatments. It turns out that Brooks’ snarky assistant, Alexis Sherman, was bankrolling her own gambling habit with funds from Brooks’ bank account. Unfortunately, she wronged a local bookie in the process and got Brooks’ fingers broken. Nice, lady. You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?

Aubrey Has Some Pretty Fantastic Man Pants

Booth is looking at the gambling site and fondling his chip as he considers how to lure the bookie to a meeting. Aubrey sees the glint in the older agent’s eyes when he sees the gambling site and calls him on it, insisting Booth doesn’t need to place any bets because he’s already done it for him. This irritates Booth and an interesting discussion ensues. It could have easily become a pissing match, and almost does, but Booth has had this thing lately where he stops and listens right before he blows up… and then he doesn’t because (you can read this all in his face) he realizes he’s listening to some good, solid advice. Usually, it’s coming from Aubrey. 

Aubrey says there’s no way in hell he’s going to let Booth endanger his sobriety for a lousy case. “Take me off the case,” he says, “but in a similar situation, I will do the same thing all over again.” Then he gets the comprehensive stare from SJB. And it hits Booth: Aubrey has his back, and in ways completely unexpected. I feel an “I LOVE YOU, MAN” coming on, but this is Booth (“What are we, girls?”) so that’s not gonna happen. This is such am important development in the Booth-Aubrey relationship. No one really looks out for Booth this way. No one but Brennan, that is. And here this skinny little Cosmo Kramer guy is doing it. #StinkinAwesome.

Daisy in Full Bloom

Daisy goes into labor and the whole entourage goes with her to the hospital. Eventually Daisy gets sick of the doula and kicks her out. Fortunately, Gallo did not over-play the crazy birthing mother. She so could have over done the expulsion of the crystal lady, but she didn’t. #WellDone.

Brennan ends up being the best birthing coach by having Daisy focus on the case and, eventually, solve it. Between contractions Daisy figures out that Brooks’ wounds from the murder were offensive rather than defensive, which means he was hurting someone else rather than someone hurting him. So, if he wasn’t attacked, maybe it was self-defense rather than a murder? “Someone pushed him and he fell,” she suggests.

It turns out it was the writer, Stewart, who killed Brooks. Brooks was his birth father. Stewart told Brooks he was his son and agreed to meet with him, but Brooks never showed. When Stewart confronted him, Brooks freaked out and attacked him. Stewart didn’t know about the Alzheimer’s and assumed Brooks was rejecting him as his own son. He pushed Brooks, whose brittle bones gave way and he fell, breaking his neck. Case closed.

Seeley Lance Wick-Sweets Is Born

At the hospital Daisy finally gives birth. Everyone’s in the birthing room — which I find kind of odd — but that’s just me. I’m sort of private when it comes to people staring at my Vajayjay, especially when humans are crawling out of it (I have twins, so, yes, I do mean ‘humans’ as in plural hominids), but Daisy is a scientist and she’s alone in the world — so we’ll let her slide on this one. 

Booth and Hodgins look on in awe as daisy lays there with the baby and proclaims his name. Booth is the first to hold baby Seeley, and what does he say to his Godson? “I knew your father.” This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

The birth is also the beginning, or a furthering, of the healing process following the loss of Sweets. Booth hesitates for a swift moment when he sees the baby, his expression speaking volumes. This is one of those moments that will always be remembered as something momentous that happened but which Sweets was not able to be physically present for. There will be hundreds of these such moments. Seeley’s first steps, his first words, his first kiss, his first hockey stick. Sweets will, however, always be there both in spirit and in the heart and in stories from godfather to godson. With each experience, Booth will continue to heal, as will the rest of the crew.

Be prepared for a lighter (?) episode next week since we know the entire crew and the Bones fairies themselves have put so much energy into the 200th that this next episode, two weeks from now, has got to be a light one (Booth-lite, at least, since he’s directing). See y’all then!

Bones aires Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.

(Images courtesy of FOX)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV