Despite the dearth of heart-crushing dilemmas, high-speed chases, and everlasting evil, Bones managed to slip in some subtle commentary on cooperation and competition, using a smattering of humor and sweetness throughout. Also on display, though not in abundance, was the unmistakeable delight Brennan and Booth find in each other as seen in their exchanged glances, their smiles, and the affectionate though candid words they exchange. These are what made the episode quintessentially Bones-y.
Though “The Master in the Slop” was a decent episode, it presented several inconsistencies that deserve mention. An odd comment, gesture, or behavior that seems out of character, causing the regular Bones viewer to wonder: What was that all about? I thought we were past this? The quality of acting on Bones is indisputable, but the character development backslides in comparison to where it has been heading this season. We will touch on these after running through the murder facts.
Remains are found chopped up and half eaten by pigs, having been deposited in a vat of slop. Jarrick Henry (Dayo Okeniyi), a dude with dreds and a history of slop body-dumping is dismissed as motiveless, but leads the team to the victim’s identity as genius chess player Albert Magnusson, a member of Mayfair Chess Club where he was universally despised.
Arriving on the Jeffersonian platform having recently earned his PhD in forensic anthropology is Canadian forensic podiatrist Dr. Douglas Filmore (Scott Lowell, The Feet on the Beach, The Suit on the Set). Filmore delightedly announces his status as Brennan’s peer as Cam alerts Bren of Filmore’s in-progress report on cooperation between the US and Canada; a report sponsored by the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Brennan is visibly perturbed, but begrudgingly accepts Filmore’s assistance. Here commences a running gag with Filmore clicking a ball point pen and jotting notes in a small notebook.
Throughout are several instances where Brennan and Filmore jockey for superiority while collaborating on the case. Thoroughly wonderful to watch is Filmore’s pleasant demeanor and unwillingness to be cowed by Brennan as he comments un-abrasively on her behavior. You can’t help but like Colorado-born Scott Lowell’s portrayal of giddy Dr. Filmore, even if he does emphasize the canadian drawl when pronouncing: play-zhure, a-gayne, and Mani-toh-bah. It’s surprising there wasn’t considerably more Canadianization since Dave Thomas (SCTV), creator of The Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew, wrote this episode.
Together Brennan and Filmore discover that the victim was electrocuted with water, rock salt, and a live current in a parking garage. While Brennan and Filmore examine an inconsistency in time of death, ex-chess geek Lance Sweets infiltrates the Mayfair Chess Club, befriending Tim Levitt (Joseph Fuhr), Magnusson’s protege. Interrogated and dismissed for various reasons are Tim’s mother, Suzanne Levitt (Michelle Clunie); his previous chess mentor, and Magnusson’s ex-wife, Ingrid Magnusson (Marina Benedict), despite the fact that Ingrid called Magnusson an unholy apostate and a phallicist before burning down his apartment to purify it.
While playing chess against Tim, Sweets becomes wise to Tim’s creepy Oedipal psychosis (Mommy issues). Pegging Tim as the killer, Sweets cuffs him then prods him psychologically, having only partial success. Booth, Brennan, and Sweets pow-wow, deciding to use a chess move on Tim who they realize had been playing them from the beginning. Working together as a platoon, they elicit a gut-wrenchingly tearful confession. You can’t help but hurt for the boy as he curls into himself, gushing about wanting to protect his mother from Magnusson the Monster. Case closed.
The commentary on competition was introduced in the opening scene in regard to baby Christine’s award for losing a preschool egg race. (Where is baby Christine, btw? It’s time to take her and Michael Vincent out of the file cabinet at the lab!) Brennan asserts that kids need to experience losing so as to have a realistic view of the world. Hrm. One wonders how Christine is going to get a realistic view of the world when both of her parents are top in their fields of expertise.
Where is the lesson about getting a realistic view of the world? Is the message that competition is bad? But, competition is the mother of innovation. Brennan is all for competition. So, maybe the message is that competition has its place? That isn’t clear.
Cooperation arrives in the form of the Brennan-Filmore success, Booth’s platoon approach to gaining a confession, and Cam’s insistence that Bren and Angela join her as ‘Outstanding Women of Science.’ Cam said it best when she declared we are nothing without each other. This message is clear. Thank you, Dr. Saroyan, this is why you got the job as Queen of the Lab over Brennan.
Now for the inconsistencies. Brennan’s gracelessness over Cam’s award was inconsistent with Brennan’s past behavior when she has acknowledged Cam as an outstanding scientist. Why would she blatantly refute Cam’s distinction as outstanding when talking about it with Filmore? Still, kudos to Booth for calling Brennan on her petty behavior this episode … and for doing it so charmingly as to garner himself an adoring if subtle smile from his wife.
Another inconsistency: Brennan and Dr. Filmore collaborated very well in their last episode together … why is Brennan so reluctant now? Granted, Brennan likes to be the Queen Bee, but her occasional condescending smirks in this episode were disconcertingly incongruent with her character development and the amiability of their relationship left off. What are you thoughts about that, viewers?
Also, as lovely as Cam’s insistence that all three women receive the acknowledgement as outstanding women of science, how plausible is it that Brennan, Cam, and Angela, a) would agree to be objectified after earning status in fields dominated by men, and b) that they’d do it so scantily clad?!
Perhaps Brennan would have said, We have a duty to show the scientific community that the Jeffersonian is an institution where pulchritude (beauty) is as abundant as brilliance, but objectification is, well, I’m just not buying it, people.
Lastly, there was something off in the final scene when Booth halfheartedly insisted on attending the photo shoot. He’s a married man unlikely to ogle a bunch of women, and if he wants to see Brennan in an itsy bits teeny weenie, he need but ask. So what was the deal with that? If he’d been more teasingly flirtatious, maybe this would have worked, but it was off somehow. And, was it strange for such a conservative and private man not to object when his wife considers posing nearly naked for the world to see? The Booth we know and love is more likely to consider a nearly naked Brennan as his privilege alone to see and enjoy.
Overall, a decent, lighthearted episode with a couple of hiccoughs, but a necessary break after two heavy episodes. As always, “The Master in the Slop” was quality entertainment as we’ve grown to expect from Bones week after week despite the character inconsistencies.