Wow. In answer to the headline’s nasty question: Yes, Booth and Brennan still love each other just as much as they always have and that is why the events of “Murder in the Middle East” are so devastating. From start to finish, Bones‘ 19th episode was cinematographically wonderfully done. The episode’s script, written by Co-executive Producer Michael Peterson, is concise, weaving together two splendidly crafted storylines. 

While we have known that the gambling arc is a long-running one, this episode was a particularly thorny proposition which has been handled incredibly well by Peterson, Boreanaz, Deschanel, Taylor, and guest star Pej Vahdat. Peterson’s success with “Murder in the Middle East” bodes well for the future of the Bones franchise as Peterson has recently been crowned co-showrunner with fellow Executive Producer Jonathan Collier. 

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Arastoo Is Abducted and Booth Implicates Brennan 

“Murder in the Middle east” opens with a rich panoramic view of a beautiful home in Tehran where a man is thrown down a winding staircase. Lying in a pool of his own blood and obviously dead, is a man, who at first, looks like Arastoo. That was a major shock. Then cut to Booth making deals with his bookie who tells him he’s already $15,000 in the hole. Booth hides it all from Brennan, but then compromises the sanctity of their marriage horrifically by roping her into giving him post-surgical recovery rates that will help Booth place a large bet on a baseball game. Brennan, however, is unaware of the purpose of Booth’s curiosity. By the way, this makes Booth’s crime a hundred times worse.

Thankfully, Arastoo was not the dead person in the opening scene. He calls Cam and excitedly tells her about what’s going on in Tehran including the wonderful news of Hamid’s full remission — which is a little too idealistic for the kind of cancer Hamid had and how quickly the innovative treatment worked. (It’s my only complaint about this episode but we’ll leave that alone as it is not germane to the case other than providing the venue and to get Booth out of town so Brennan can be terrorized by the bookie.)

While still on the phone with Cam, Arastoo is abducted and taken to an abandoned hospital where Majid Namazi (Houshang Touzie), a highly influential member of parliament, forces Aratoo to prove his expertise by reading his son, Darious’, remains and identifying how he died.

(It took me a while to put my finger on who Houshang Touzie reminds me of. It’s “The Most Interesting Man In The World” featured in the Dos Equis commercials! Go look one up, you’ll see what I mean.)

Awesome Dramatic Intensity Throughout 

Both of these scenes were intense, but in different ways. The interesting thing is that though “Murder in the Middle East” opens with the anonymous death, the first scene involving the Booth and Brennan makes me wonder if this is the primary theme of the episode. From a plot standpoint, the Tehran contingency experiences several bouts of intense physical and verbal antagonism making this storyline almost equal to Brennan’s emotional and psychological turmoil at home. This episode is a perfect blend of a complicated case, the agonizing pressure to get it solved, and the personal strife for the characters. Kudos to the entire Bones crew for pulling off what is now one of my top three season 10 episodes, bar none.

One other thing, this episode had the tone of an old fashioned spy or thief movie. Especially the first scene leading up to the murder. (I’m thinking the Pierce Brosnan version of The Thomas Crown Affair.) In short, the entire texture of the show was velvety and richly toned, if that makes any sense. 

Booth Negotiates with Terrorists

Booth cashes in a lifetime of favors from CIA pal, Danny, so Cam and Booth can get paperwork to fly out to Tehran lickety-split. There, Hooshmand, Danny’s buddy, greets them and introduces them to Majid Namazi who waits in a nearby car. Namazi demands that Cam and Booth leave the country or else. Booth, brilliant and sniper-calm as he is, figures out why Namazi needs Arastoo and negotiates to let them stay to help with the case, putting the entire force of the Jeffersonian at his feet. 

Some People Don’t Honor Their Promises

Cam and the Avengers identify the cause of death as a broken neck, which happened prior to the corpse being thrown down the steps, making the death a murder. Case closed, right? Wrong. Now Namazi wants the murder solved. How did this happen and who was the sick duck who perpetrated it? Namazi says no one leaves until this task is complete. Namazi also continually holds Arastoo’s freedom over the groups’ head. Bastard. 

Darius Was Faking His Adherence to Iranian Law

Booth creates a murder wall and grills Darius’ cousin, Officer Sanjar Zamani, about Darius’ character. Zamani insists that Darius was a real catch for any Iranian virgin. He refuses to believe that Darius drank alcohol or was sexually involved with a woman, despite evidence to the contrary.

Darius’ home shows no signs of forced entry, but the clean doorknob to Darius’ office is suspicious. Darius worked at Eram Bank with the president, Omid Turan. Papa Namazi introduces Booth to Turan after hours. Turan says Darius was an explemplary employee with a fantastic work ethic who was worried about being hurt by a contractor whose loan Darius has rejected.

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Who Knew That Bookies Could Be Handsome (And Scary)?

Christine “As Adorable As Ever” Booth answers the door when Jimmy “GQ” Kosinski pays a visit to The Mighty Hut 2.0. Apparently, Brennan’s advice about the baseball pitcher’s recovery didn’t help Booth win the bet, which is now doubled to $30,000. Jimmy is lovely to look at as the comportment of a refined sailor. He makes it clear that he knows a lot about Booth’s family already and threatens nasty things if Booth doesn’t pony-up the dough. Brennan is quietly shocked, but visibly alarmed. The scary thing about GQ Jimmy is that he looks like any other clean cut kid from a respectable neighborhood. The scene is I-N-T-E-N-S-E. 

By the way, did you catch that Christine ‘Brennan-ed’ Brennan? Excellent. 

3-D Printing Taken to a Whole New Level

Brennan is terse with Hodgins when he comments on her disturbed presence. Angela notices it as well, but Brennan shrugs it off. Angela, using her unbelievable technical wizardry, prints out the whole skeleton … in 3-D! (Just a note: It would really take a whole day to print just one of those bones.)

By examining the bones, Arastoo and Brennan determine that Darius has a head injury as well as other injuries, but they were not caused from falling down the steps of the winding staircase.

The Nasty Contractor Points to the Russian Girlfriend

Officer Zamani translates for Booth as he interrogates the contractor who tried to bribe Darius to approve his loan. Zamani has his own methods, however, and doesn’t translate to the contractor exactly what Booth says. He tells the guy that Booth will slit his throat if he lies. Finally, the contractor says that he saw Darius’ blond Russian girlfriend leaving Darius’ house the night he died. 

Is Sex Worth a Hundred Lashes?

Arastoo and Cam get along pretty well while in Tehran. They get yelled at for any show of affection, but Arastoo says he’s willing to risk it. Go, Arastoo.

Brennan Confides in Aubrey

Brennan is at a standstill. She admits to Aubrey that she knows Booth is gambling because GQ Jimmy paid her a visit and was courteous enough to provide her with his business card along with the threats to their lives as well as Booth’s career. All along, Aubrey has been Brennan’s partner in supporting Booth through the gambling urges. It makes sense that she doesn’t want to tell Angela about it. She’s probably ashamed to tell her best friend. Angela has already spent a season hating Booth, this would be Jiltgate all over again. Perhaps she also wanted to preserve Booth’s dignity? because of her past discussions with Aubrey about his past, she knows the younger agent will not judge Booth, but will be there to support both of them in any way he can … as long as they keep a steady supply of doughnuts available, that is. 

As expected, Aubrey takes the information with the composure of one for whom this is not his first addiction rodeo. Aubrey takes GQ Jimmy’s card and takes off to investigate the menacingly cavalier bookie. 

Never Trust a Russian Wiener Dog

Darius’ babe is Oksana Kozlov, an executive for a Russian oil company. She owns the wiener dogs that chowed on Darius’ remains; dogs which she had already shipped back to the Americas. Explain that one, blondie. Oksana spills that Darius was not the religious law-abiding angel that everyone thought he was. She found him drunk and belligerent after work one day and they fought. He was actually a reformer in support of women’s rights, she says. 

When Oksana returned to Casa de Darius several days later to apologize after their fight she found the dogs eating him. Pardon me while I put the dog out, folks. *Gulp*

Breaking the Laws of Islam in the Name of Love

Papa Zamani doesn’t take the news of his son’s indiscretions sitting down and continues his threat of imprisoning Arastoo and possibly Cam and Booth as well. He says Darius is a disgrace, then calls Arastoo a disgrace as well because he is also a fornicating deserter. 

Cam can’t take it anymore. She defends Arastoo for his goodness and his faith, and pleas for Darius as well, a man who only did what he believed was right even though it was contrary to the law of his oppressors. Booth’s comment about only God being allowed to judge, and our job being to show compassion and mercy was interesting given his current situation. One can only hope that down the road he feels Brennan’s compassion and mercy despite what she feels she needs to do for him in administering really tough love. 

Thus ensues the public service announcement about the glory of God’s grace. I don’t mean that to come off as sarcastic as it probably sounds. The content of the discussion between Papa Zamani, Cam, Arastoo and Booth is solid, it just seemed a little, um, too … something. Almost as if they had turned toward the screen to talk to us viewers. The truth is, it’s a harsh life over there in Iran and nobody gets off easy. I find it hard to swallow that Papa Zamani would allow Cam to speak to him in that manner in front of his own people. Anyway, the team promises to solve the murder before they go. 

Aubrey Has a Pissing Contest with GQ Jimmy

Aubrey gets Jimmy in the hot seat, but Jimmy turns the table and makes an uncomfortably logical argument for the payment of Booth’s debt. He says it all in hypotheticals, so Aubrey can’t arrest him for anything. Dammit. 

Booth Gets Radical on Cousin Zamani’s Ass

Brennan and Angela figure out that Darius’ was killed somewhere other than his own house. Angela also reports that Darius’ cousin stole Darius’ laptop. Booth storms into Cousin Zamani’s home to accuse Darius. They have an excellent brawl which Booth wins, forcing Cousin Zamani to admit his thievery. It turns out that Zamani knew everything Darius was involved in, including a movement for free speech in Iran. The cousin knew that Papa Namazi would find out about Darius’ illicit affair, (in the eyes their law), with the Russian dog lover and Darius would be disgraced in Papa Namazi’s eyes. So, even though Cousin Zamani is a cocksure barbarous fibber, I had Darius’ back the whole time. But he didn’t kill him.

Save the World in Sixty Minutes

Papa Namazi rushes in and tells Booth they have 60 minutes to solve the crime before the Iranian mounties descend to throw them all in jail. For about two seconds Angela and Hodgins suspect Papa Namazi is the killer. Then, Brennan figures out it was a different set of steps that broke Darius’ bones. Angela uncovers that Darius had been compiling proof that the bank president was embezzling. Booth recalls that there are marble stairs at the bank. The banker did it! Now let’s all go home. 

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The Team is Under Siege

Moments after solving the case, a million military men with machine guns descend upon the Iranian contingency gathered around the corpse. Someone grabs the monitor where Brennan and Angela are teleconferencing with Iran. After a harrowing sixty seconds, Danny’s man Hooshmand appears and announces that these are his men and they’ve come to protect the Americans. Gah. That was intense.

Tea Party for Four

The next day, Papa Namazi admits that he still disapproves of his son’s behavior because he wasn’t a good Muslim, however, he mourns his loss because he loves him. Namazi apologizes and thanks the team for their work.

Hamid Vaziri Promises to Attend Cam and Arastoo’s Wedding

Cam and Arastoo visit brother Hamid to say goodbye. Hamid is charming and in good health. When he mentions seeing Cam again, he says it will be at a wedding … and she doesn’t even flinch. (I predict wedding bells in S11, folks What do you think?)

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Brennan Gives Booth the Boot

The final scene, though both heart-rending and excruciating to watch for those who fiercely ship Booth and Brennan, is exquisitely delivered by Boreanaz and Deschanel. Kudos once again to writer Peterson for the minimalist and impactful script. 

Brennan has stowed Christine safely away at Max’s house by the time Booth returns from Tehran. Amazingly (almost inhumanly), Brennan has not allowed her fury over the impact Booth’s gambling is having on their marriage, their children, and his career. When he comes home, Brennan complements him on the wonderful job he did in negotiating with Namazi and catching his son’s killer. Then the poo hits the propeller.

Immediately, Booth can tell something is wrong and he gets a sick look on his face. (Addicts always fear being discovered, so they never feel innocent no matter how well life is going.) She asks him why he had asked her about the shoulder injury of a baseball player, and he feigns nonchalance. Right away, anxious dark tingles dance up my back, pool in my throat, and make my hair stand on end. 

She asks for the truth. Booth lies. Brennan tells him about GQ Jimmy. Are there words to adequately describe the gastrointestinal discomfort evidenced by the nauseous, sweaty turmoil displayed on Booth’s face? Or the disappointment and heart-crush on Brennan’s?

He pleads, but he knows she is right. He is guilty as hell. He says he loves her, (which we all know he does), however, if he would put everything at risk for the thrill of the gamble, that devalues his love in her eyes. I’m reminded of Brennan’s speech in “The Repo Man in the Septic Tank” when she emotionally professes, “You nurture me. You protect me. You are my home … I would never let anything compromise the life we share. I love you.” In “The Partners in the Divorce” she says, “I love you and I’m willing to do irrational things to prove it.”

Booth has broken a sacred bond between them, a bond that he knows is the most important thing in the world to his wife. She sees the infraction as clearly as a kerf mark on a zygomatic process, and takes courageous action. What other options does she have? 

Masterfully and exquisitely done. And now that the cards are on the table, if you’ll pardon the pun, the real work can begin. 

Bones airs Thursdays at 8pm on FOX. 

(Images courtesy of FOX)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV