strategies. The first is the pursuit of a non-engaged serial killer, the anti-Pelant, if you will. The second is a commitment to adding dimension to the tertiary level characters (the squints) while gathering them deeper into the Bones family fold. We’ll delve into these strategies after reviewing the case of Lana Brewster.
A cardboard box containing desiccated female remains appears on the doorstep of The Mighty Hut along with the morning paper. Included with the carefully wrapped skeleton, a note: Find out what really happened to me.
Booth, Brennan and the Jeffersonian team quickly identify the exhumed remains as those of Lana Brewster, a teenage sailing champion who drowned in 1995. Before long, the original autopsy report is deemed a felonious farce, most interestingly omitting that Brewster’s hands had been bound by leather, among other things. The case is declared a homicide.
Suspects Brewster’s brother Dan (Chad Donella) and her stiffest sailing competitor, Erika Stamp (Heather Mc Comb), are questioned and dismissed for forgettable reasons.
Angela’s technical wizardry produces background about Leslie Dallinger, a temp backlog medical examiner who received $1.9 million to falsify the autopsy report, quashing evidence of foul play, and then promptly emigrated to Costa Rica until her death by aneurism ten years later. Hmm … wonder if that autopsy report was falsified. Enquiring minds should want to know.
Dallinger’s benefactor? A holding company hidden behind a wall of smoke and mirrors and owned by the family of one of Hodgins’ cohorts from his privileged youth, Trent ‘I’m A Dick’ McNamara (Mitchell Fink). Hodgins remembers Trent as a nasty piece of work who went through girls like they were toys. Whooo, what a catch, this Trent!
When Hodgins and Sweets visit Trent (who looks like hell, btw) and his sister, Stephanie ‘I’m Rich And You’re Not’ McNamara (Kelly Rutherford), Trent admits to secretly diddling, er, dating Brewster during the period preceding her demise. Coincidentally, Trent’s father spirited his delinquent boytoy progeny out of the country within days of the victim’s death. Very interesting, no? Trent’s looking pretty guilty at this point.
Wait … it gets better. Further substantiating the probability of foul play in the Brewster case is the revelation that the outboard motor and the getaway dinghy were missing from the boat she was captaining when she drowned, the killer most likely having used both to make his/her way back to land after killing the girl.
Hodgins, unconvinced Trent ‘Nobody’s Ever Really Loved Me’ McNamara would actually kill anyone, pays him a visit and kindly tells him he believes in his innocence. Besides, there was no evidence on the remains, the container they were delivered in, or at the McNamara estate to specifically implicate Trent as either the killer or the exhumer of the bones. In addition, Jack later admits to Angela that Trent’s recently deceased father was more likely to be a killer than Trent himself was. Wonder who signed-off on Daddy Warbuck’s autopsy? I smell a fish, people.
Meanwhile, Dr. Clark ‘Homeless yet Handsome in Nothing But a Towel’ Edison (Eugene Byrd) and Brennan discover that Ms. Brewster died from an unfortunate nail-like stake punched through her sternum, possibly from the business end of a fencing blade, which is apparently called a foil. Did I mention that Trent was into fencing in his salad days? Yep. Trent’s sweating bullets at this point.
Wait, can you fence on a sailboat? Hrm.
Brennan’s Spidey senses tingle. The sternal puncture wound is similar to one Brennan saw on one of the Ghost Killer victims, she proposes, and surmises the cases may be related. Everyone else, however, is skeptical, including Clark.
Throughout the episode Booth is agitated and worried sick over his wife’s obsession with a killer she has yet to find a shred of evidence even exists. He gently suggests she move on, but she persists, raising the concerns of her colleagues, Sweets and Cam. Cam judiciously transfers responsibility for the Ghost Killer ‘case’ to Clark because Brennan has lost her objectivity.
A word about Boreanaz’s Booth in this episode. The man is agitated. He’s in pain. He’s in pain because Brennan’s in pain. The love of his life, the center of his universe, is miserable! She’s plagued by nightmares, obsessed over what appears to be a manipulative tease, and in danger of truly losing her objectivity. And it’s killing him. He grouses to Sweets about Pelant, but it’s not about Pelant at all, is it? He asks Cam to find some money to fund resources to prove there really is no Ghost Killer. You know she’ll admit it if she’s wrong, he says. He’s got a point.
Booth is further frustrated because he’s just not sure there isn’t a Ghost Killer. I want to believe her, he says. Unfortunately, he knows Brennan is very rarely wrong. By the closing scene, he voices his faith in Bren and is rewarded with an admission from his wife: You know me better than I know myself, Booth. And a command, Kiss me! His response, I got your back. Which he always has and always will. Classic Booth.
Just when things are looking mightily incriminating for Trent, he’s found dead with a gun in his hand. Surprisingly, Cam dismisses the death as an open-shut case of suicide despite Brennan’s insistence that Trent’s dominant hand was too injured to have pulled the trigger and that Brewster and Trent shared the same injury on one of their left fingers. Hodgins, as well, is disturbed by the lack of a note of confession. So, what the hell, Cam?
Next, Hodgins finds particulates on dead Trent’s shirt that match the particulates on Brewster’s remains and the box they came in. So … those remains must have been at the McNamara estate at one time.
This is as far as The Avengers get during “The Ghost in the Killer” episode, however it appears some progress may have been made and Brennan has relaxed a little. If the serial Ghost Killer is, in fact, female, we may have gotten our first glimpse of her. She could be Donna, the McNamara’s gardener; Erika Stamp, the sailing competitor; or Stephanie McNamara, Trent’s sister, though none have them been interrogated as of yet.
The best scene of the episode is between Clark and Brennan when she confronts him about budgeting his time so the Ghost Killer gets ample attention. Clark’s heartbroken, yet professional confession about the end of his longterm romance is exquisitely portrayed by Byrd. Equally fantastic is Brennan’s response where she empathizes, extends an olive branch by giving him permission to call her by her first name (this is a first!) and admits that sometimes she goes a little crazy herself, and watch out, she says in an uncharacteristic moment of self-deprecation. Impressive.
Though Brennan says her experience of life is no different now that she’s married—the sun isn’t hotter, air isn’t fresher, food doesn’t taste better—her character is clearly going through a metamorphosis. The interaction with Clark is one illustration. Another is her final chat with Cam where she defers to Cam, agreeing to do things Cam’s way and even going so far as to call The Jeffersonian Cam’s lab. Get back! Did she just say that? Her tone and demeanor make her statements believable, and part of her willingness to loosen her stranglehold on her work is that she trusts Cam’s assessment that Clark is in awe of her and will do his absolute best not to disappoint her.
Are we seeing a shift in priorities for the world’s most renowned anthropologist? Maybe having that home, that baby, and that yummy husband waiting for her at home are much more alluring to her now. Is Dr. Temperance Brennan working toward a balance we’ve never seen in the past? It will be interesting to watch this unfold going forward.
So, what’s this hooey about these two subtle strategies for tightening the focus on the entire team?
First, by introducing an anonymous, enigmatic adversary whose goal isn’t recognition and supremacy, challenge and inclusion—a killer without face or name or agenda—the focus rests on the brilliance of the team rather than the heinousness of the killer. It’s the Jeffersonian versus a great big puzzle with 1442 pieces. Cool, guys. And brilliant. There is no urgency to the matter and seemingly no manipulation of the players, at least not yet. This is someone who is sick, not attention seeking.
Secondly, those tertiary characters are being fleshed out in a way they haven’t been in the past. Without introducing extra on-screen characters from the squints’ lives, their stories are expeditiously revealed through intimate and well-executed scenes imbued compelling dialog and emotive non-verbal communication.
Adding to the coolness of this character development of the individual squints is the opportunity for discussion and observation between Brennan and Booth, further exploring and deepening their relationship while keeping them the true center of the show.
In “The Ghost in the Killer,” Eugene Byrd made us actually fall in love with Clark for the first time, and Emily Deschanel deepened our affection for Brennan.
Next in line for some individual attention is Squintern Wendell Bray (Michael Grant Terry) who suffers from a suspicious sports injury before joining the Jeffersonian’s case of the murdered country singer-song writer, portrayed by Country music guest star Charlie Worsham.
Catch Bones “Big in the Philippines” on Friday, January 17th at 8:00-9:00 pm ET/PT on FOX.