Very few things in life are stronger or more extraordinary than the bond a parent feels for their child. For better or worse, that bond is powerful and inescapable; it is self-sacrificing and fraught with complicated emotions. Leave it to the Bones fairies to so eloquently remind us of this while making our skin crawl, our stomach ache with laughter and our eyes fill with tears. Damn you, Bones fairies … and by damn you, I mean, God bless you.
Bones’ April 14th episode, “The Cold in the Case,” presented three significant events in the lives of four very different parents. Two subplots sandwiched between scenes of case details provided several stand-out performances, a resolute display of Bones-y support, and a brief yet intimate glimpse into Booth’s apprehensive heart, his convicted soul. The crowning glory, however, was vignetted in the stirring scenes between Arastoo and his parents.
The Parent Trap
While the instances of parental strife in “The Cold in the Case” ranged from the absurd and disquieting to the precious and affirming, each parent’s behavior reflected the commingled love and fear that pervade the experience of birthing, nurturing, and fiercely loving another human being from conception to death.
A Love That Transcends Death
Our first parent under inspection is Madaline ‘Popsicle Turned Swamp Thing’ Papadelis who sought to assuage her unbearable grief by cryopreserving her deceased daughter’s remains. They say that to be a parent is to forever have your heart walk around outside your body. Conversely, to lose a child is to have your heart disintegrate before your eyes and then be carried away on a chilling breeze buoyed by your dry silent scream of numbing hysteria. Such was the pain of Madaline Papadelis.
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As unconventional as it may have been, cryopreserving her daughter’s remains was Madaline’s way of holding onto her daughter. Though it may seem rather extreme, morbid, or misdirected, Madaline’s behavior testified to the depth of sorrow ravaging her heart. Few life experiences are more sobering than grieving a loved one. Few things bring us to our knees more devastatingly than caring for a loved one through a prolonged fatal illness as they waste away, and this is what Madaline had to endure. This takes a visceral toll on a person, a toll which can manifest itself in unique and surprising and ways. #NeverJudge
Frozen Hearts Break Like Glass
“The Cold in the Case” opens with the defrosting remains of a woman who was chloroformed, sedated and vivisected while still alive. Bravo, Bones fairies for coming up with a new level of freakish abomination. Madaline ‘It’s Getting Cold In Here’ Papadelis’ had been given a chemical cocktail transfusion to keep her oxygenated and prevent her from moving until she was frozen. Fun fact: These chemicals are used to vitrify bodily fluids, or ‘convert them into glass.’ What? Oh, hell no. Can it get much creepier? Of course, this is Bones after all …
A crackphone (That’s a real thing, btw, *Shudder*) was inserted into a hole in her cranium to detect and record brain acoustics … not brain activity, because at this point the woman was dead, dead, dead. The crackphone looks for signs of the brain ‘cracking’ as it’s frozen. Once frozen, Madaline ‘I’m Just Not That Into You’ Papadelis’ cadaver was placed in a huge stainless steal cryogenic storage tank called a dewar where she remained for quite some time. Again, creepy to the max!
The Lady Thrown Out with the Bathwater
Four months later her frozen cadaver was removed from the dewar, tossed into a sleeping bag and left in the swamp of a high-end housing development to be gnawed on by larvae at enough differing stages of development to keep Bug Boy gleefully entertained for a while.
Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Arastoo (Pej Vahdat) discuss the discovery of a cranial crackphone perforation.
With Arastoo on deck, The Avengers identify the bizarre constellation of facts that fascinatingly unraveled the case creepy bit by creepy bit. The stuttered decomposition and the presence of tiny amputated tongues and snouts of woodland creatures alerts them that she was frozen. Why the animal parts? Because the unfortunate creatures’ little tongues and lips got frozen against the icy meaty parts of Mrs. Popsicle as they attempted to eat her. Youch!
The lack of micro-structural changes caused by liquid expansion—cells burst when frozen—the sedation, the lack of physical trauma, the expertly drilled cranial crackphone perforation, and the presence of specific chemicals (anti-freeze & anti-dance elixirs for humans), indicated this was not your run of the mill ritualistic killing or a mob hit. This was an expertly executed $200,000 procedure done with a great deal of care, most likely by someone who loved her. But why? And why was she removed from the dewar and discarded? This is where things start to get hella creepy.
Loving Means Never Having to Say ‘I Won’t Kill You’
The evidence leads the team to CryoNova and Dr. and Mrs. I. B. Frankenstein, er, I mean cryonicists Noah ‘Brain Freeze’ Summers (Christopher Matthew McGarry) and his wife, Michelle ‘We’re Happily Married-NOT’ Summers (Kare Orsini). CryoNova is a facility which cryopreserves bodies in the hope of reanimating them in the future, if and when, the world is disease-free and scientists have invented a way to reanimate popsicle people without degradation of their physical and mental personhood. That’s a huge if, but who’s judging? #Whatever
Both Noah ‘She Was Alive When I Killed Her’ Summers and Michelle ‘I Talk To Dead People’ Summers had ample means and opportunity, but what on earth could be their motive?
Noah Dissects Popsicle-y Smurf and Michelle Talks to Dead People
Noah is caught on surveillance tape slicing a blue cadaver in half with a circular saw. Apparently he was late paying his bills which made him fair game for having his organs poached and sold. #Harsh
Listening to the recording extracted from Madaline’s crackphone, the team finds Michelle’s menacing voice telling frozen Madaline, “I knew what was going on with you, bitch,” and “Noah is mine not yours and it’s time we finally end this.” When questioned she says she was talking to a fellow employee, but it’s abundantly clear she was talking to dead Madaline.
Move Over, Mary Shelley, You’ve Got Competition
Brennan and Booth interrogate killer Noah ‘I Can Make You Love Me Summers (Christopher Matthew McGarry)
In the end we learned that Noah harbored an obsessive yet unrequited love for Madaline. When Noah began sending Madaline suggestive emails, she vehemently resisted. So, logically, he decided to put her in a little frozen time-out until she changed her mind. He told Booth and Brennan that he wasn’t guilty of murder because he didn’t kill her. Hmm. Interesting. Yes, he said he’d simply slowed her down a bit. Uh, like completely? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, people? If that does make you break out in a cold sweat, I just don’t know what will. #Twisted
It turns out that Michelle saw her husband’s amorous emails to Madaline and was suddenly in the mood to Spring (Winter) clean the dewars. She was the one who dumped Madaline’s body in the swanky swamp. According to Noah, that made Michelle the real killer, not him. Sick, sick, sick. Case closed … on to the juicier stuff.
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Once a Parent, Always a Parent
Parents Azita (Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog) and Armin Vaziri (Braeden Marcott) came to D.C. to have dinner with Arastoo, requesting that Cam join them. Apprehensive, Arastoo assumed they would judge his unconventional life with disdain. His career choice and his non-Iranian non Muslim black girlfriend would be a disappointment, he feared, just as his impetuous childhood mistakes had been. Now, why would an adult child do that? Because that is the nature of family dynamics for most people.
Awash in the throws of the universal Child Versus Parent fight for freedom, Arastoo’s narrow assumptions precluded him from appreciating his parents’ guileless invitation. He viewed them through the defensive eyes of a child rather than with the heart of the experienced and poetic man-scientist he has become. His parents’ response, in the end, was to bestow upon Arastoo the kind of grace and love that comes from the unparalleled perspective of the life-ling observers that are his parents. It seems that they were much more prepared to let go of Arastoo’s childhood than Arastoo was. And they knew just how to hold on to this new and very fine man that is their progeny.
Armin and Azita visit Cam and Arastoo to extend an olive branch.
Exquisitely portrayed by guest stars Shohreh Aghdashloo and Pej Vahdat, two scenes of “The Cold in the Case” stand above all others (except for the final scene between Brennan and Booth, but we’ll get to that in a moment). First, the restaurant scene where Azita and Armin awkwardly attempt to get to know Cam. This scene ended in a Farsi shouting match where Arastoo accused his parents of ruining his brother’s life and Azita chastised Arastoo for his impudence and for making such a scene in public.
Most impressive, however, was their final shared scene in which Azita and Armin come to make peace. Aghdashloo’s masterful delivery of the ‘Let Us Be Proud of You’ speech brought the house down. Pass the kleenex please! In that moment, Arastoo grew into a man. In a word, it was beautiful …
A Parent’s Love Versus a Patriot’s Responsibility
Booth was confronted with the possibility of a promotion (possibly) to an American counterterrorism outpost in Germany or elsewhere which could significantly impact his relationship with Christine and Parker, even leave them fatherless. Having been fatherless himself, even though he had Pops, Booth is fervently against doing that to his own children despite his lack of face time with Parker.
Booth’s current responsibilities are triple what they were in the past when he risked his life in the service of his country. The weight of his domestic responsibilities, a weight that nonetheless gives him wings to soar, is further complicated by his altruistic nature. It’s clear he questions his own right to be happy and safe in his family’s bosom while others suffer torture and death at the hands of warring factions.
Booth (David Boreanaz) contemplates the impact a promotion would have on his life if it involves using his skills as a Ranger and Sniper.
Altruism’s Bill Has a Nonrefundable Tax
Aside from the potential physical and familial sacrifices, Booth’s disquiet is most likely magnified by the emotional and spiritual toll being a sniper will take on him. He’s already said that he dies a little bit with each kill. It’s safe to assume that his deeds in the field have resulted in cold sweat, night terrors and the kind of pain veterans don’t talk about. Green lighted from above through a chain of command, killing is killing. As a christian, Booth knows the commandments. Thou Shall Not Kill. Hopefully Brennan, Aldo and the Holy Spirit will be able to convince Booth that it is not ignoble to fight for one’s self … and that maybe this time the life he gets to save is his own by finally saying no to the military.
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Despite all of that, Booth’s intensely service-oriented psyche is fully capable of choosing once again to pay a personal price for the safety of defenseless war victims. If it weren’t, this choice would be simple.
The jury is still out as to Booth’s response, but you know that if Seeley ‘I Have a New Life’ Booth’s patriotism and his commitment to his family are at cross purposes it will gnaw at him from now until the finale on May 19th and possibly beyond.
Now, in the next episode, “The Nail in the Coffin,” Booth’s apprehension will appear to have been replaced with excitement, but take note that there is no mention of what his promotion will entail. The team is hot on the trail of the Ghost Killer and potential conspiracies within the FBI. There’s an unfortunate possibility that the promotion—as well deserved and overdue as it may be—is merely a diversionary tactic to take Booth’s focus away from the corruption going on inside the FBI. Only the cast and crew of Bones know the truth, and they aren’t telling, bless their little pea-pickin’ hearts.
Stand By Your Man
Delightful and refreshing as all get-out was seeing a lighter side of Cam this episode. Have we ever seen the hard-nosed, self-possessed head of the Jeffersonian’s Forensic Division in such a demure and subordinate role?
For her part, Temperance ‘I’d Follow You Anywhere’ Brennan was fantastically supportive of Booth’s impending professional advancement throughout, going so far as to think about working abroad and the benefits of cultural exposure for Christine.
This final scene with Brennan and Booth was exquisitely executed by Boreanaz and Deschanel. Booth’s pain was palpable as he thought about the potential choice before him. Boreanaz is the master of wordlessly delivering complex emotion in a simple look or gesture. That is Boreanaz’s super power. And every time, he takes us with him (super power number two) and we feel it as he does.
Brennan’s response was fantastic and her delivery was spot on: You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. She’s grown to trust his gut almost as much as he does. Regardless, she trusts him implicitly. She will follow him anywhere, as he would her. That’s the kind of blind faith a partnership … and a marriage … are made of. With or without the piece of paper, Brennan and Booth have always had it.
This final scene was quintessentially Bones and the reason we all come back time after time.
Brennan gets Booth. She recognizes when his gut is in competition with what he thinks is right and gives him permission to go with his gut. She assures him she wouldn’t hesitate to uproot her life for him.
(Images courtesy of FOX)