Friday, July 17, 2009

Guest Episode Review - #106 "The Man in the Wall"

Time for the next Bones Season 1 Episode review: The Man in the Wall! If you want to start at the beginning here are my Season 1 Bones Reviews from last summer:

# 079 - "Pilot" - My Review
# 101 - "A Boy in the Tree" - My Review
# 102 - "The Man in the SUV" - My Review
# 103 - 'The Man on Death Row" My Review
Guest Reviews so far:
# 103 - 'The Man on Death Row" - Meryl
# 104 - "The Man in the Bear" - ForensicMama
# 105 - "A Boy in a Bush" - Bekka
This review was written by Jeni.

If you have committed to a review, please check the list and, if your time is coming up soon, please email me your review or an eta on when you might have it, thanks!

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The Man in the Wall

Book tours, student help, Inbox, TV Show research, skull cataloging—Doctor Brennan is ready with a string of excuses when Angela Montenegro marches into her office proclaiming TGIF. The pair are going out to a club and Brennan feebly attempts to renege on their plans with a seemingly endless ‘to do list’ which includes cataloging a skull in the Museums French Revolution Exhibit. To this, Angela brilliantly quips: “yeah, Pepe le Pew is more important that booze and boys.

Cut to Bren and Ange “being with people who are alive,”—alive and well at a hip-hop club. In this scene we’re first introduced DJ Rulz—he’s performing at the club (interesting note: DJ Rulz is rapping about a chemical rush, a subtle nod to Dr.B’s character by the writers, maybe?). Brennan remarks that she’s enjoying the tribal nature of the music, and Angela warns her not to say tribal, to which Brennan replies ‘Why? Because of all the black people?’ CLASSIC. A couple of women take offense to what the good Doctor is saying an in all her efforts to explain her way out of the argument, Brennan ultimately makes it worse (note: no one at a club on a Friday night wants to talk about the Cartesian split of Mind and Body). Angela tries to defuse the situation, as does another club goer who interjects with “No, fool, she’s using Descartes philosophy to say she’s down with the Music.” Despite everyone’s efforts a fight does break out and ultimately leads to Brennan roundhouse kicking a guy into the wall, which collapses revealing a mummy and showering the crowd (Ange and Bren included) with methamphetamine. This scene does a lot to cement in the viewer’s head who Doctor Temperance Brennan is. If you watch no other episode of Bones, you’d take away from this scene that she’s an open person who appreciates other cultures but expresses herself in an intellectual and clinical way that can, to an untrained (or in this case tipsy) ear, seem rude, detached or impersonal.

Uh-oh indeed. Cut to Booth and Tessa, who were out on a date, arriving at the crime scene. Doctor both Brennan and Angela have clearly “inhaled” and are wired and slightly out of character: when Booth kisses Tessa and promises to meet her for Ice-Cream later both girls shout “awwwe.” In this scene we meet Randal Hall, owner of the Basement nightclub and his body-guard Ronald Oaks (the delicious Morris Chestnut). Booth is attempting to get information out of Hall, Brennan is echoing his statements—it’s hilarious. After some discussion of Egyptian mummification rituals (cedar oil enema, anyone?) Zack arrives and Bones jumps all over him like a puppy whose been left alone all day.
Booth: How long before you can ID him?
Bones: Well I’m not at all tired so I’m sure I can stay up all night and work.

Our first post post-vic visit to the lab finds Hodgins recommending Chamomile tea to Doctor Brennan who has clearly worked through the night. Angela, who looks exhausted, asks if her presence is really needed to which Doctor Brennan replies “pay back, for showing me the good life.” Ouch. (Interesting note: Doctor Brennan asks Hodgins to keep his remarks clinical. In the previous scene, Booth asked Brennan to stick to business.) The set up in this episode is pretty simple: there’s a mummified man in the wall of a club who’s covered in methamphetamine. The particulars (and particulates) of the case become more complex as the episode goes on, but the relative straight forwardness of the case allows for a more nuanced presentation of the casts central characters. For example, in the lab scene we watch Booth become seriously creeped out as Brennan skins a hand and puts it on like a glove to obtain finger prints. Booth deflects from the situations awkwardness by making a joke (“guess you won’t be needing mittens for Christmas,”) while Brennan deflects text-book style, mentioning the Aztec ritual of wearing opponents skins as a suite. In this exchange we get the essence of how Booth and Brennan are both alike and so very different: both are bothered by the violence of their work but both cope in different ways: Booth imports his deflections (mentioning Brennan's Christmas gifts, connecting the uncomfortable situation with something personal) while Doctor Brennan exports (sitting a historical fact with no personal connection).

Brennan's finger print yields the Vic’s identity: DJ Mount, Roy Taylor. Cut to Brennan listening to hip-hop in her office. In another classic Brennan moment, she informs Booth that rap artists sometimes kill each other over music, then spouts off a list of famous deceased Rappers. The way she articulates, though, would be tantamount to Booth reading off a list of bones, she has no emotional connection to the legends she mentions and shows no understanding of the (pop) cultural-depths upon which she’s touching, mentioning “Biggie,” almost as an afterthought, which makes Booth chuckle and ask “do you even know who you’re talking about?” To which she replies “I’ve done my Googling.” Again we’re presented with the concept demonstrated in the initial club scene: Brennan has an appreciation, albeit on an intellectual/clinical level, of the sub-cultural group, but this appreciation doesn’t shine through in her articulation. The partners split up: Booth heads back to his office to interview Hall while the Doc heads off to the club to collect more facts. In Booths office we get more crime-procedural stuff: Hall says Mount was into drugs, names DJ Rulz as Mounts prime rival and Halls body guard gives Booth a funny look.

Booth and Zack use a remote view camera to take a look into the wall space where the body was found. Zack muses on the primitive nature of club-going: “a crowd of strangers gyrating to music,” elaborating that when he dances he looks like a marionette in a windstorm. Brennan's reply? “You would have fit right in last night.” Zack's reaction to Brennan's comment, a half-hopeful, half-eager “really???” is in line with his eagerness to please Dr. Brennan and gain her regard. Brennan completely misses this interpersonal marker: she never takes her eyes off the camera monitor and rather than reassuring Zack, she comments on the foot prints they’ve discovered in the wall space. Zack doesn’t miss a beat either, jumping right back into case mode, evaluating where the passage behind the wall leads.

Enter Roy Taylor's father (a guest star appearance by Robert Gosset of The Closer), who struggles through tears to help Agent Booth understand who Roy Taylor was, beyond the DJ Mount persona. “Roy never drank and he NEVER did drugs, do you understand me, sir?” What's touching about Mr. Taylor's visit is that he isn’t trying to convince Booth of what his son did or didn’t do; instead he ventured to personalize his son, giving Agent Booth a glimpse into Roy Taylor’s life. The mementos he presents, track and field honors, a baseball trophy, even his sons graduating rank (third in his class) are all just slightly above average. Roy wasn’t a genius, or a great athlete—he was just a regular good kid, and that kind of pathos is exactly the story that appeals most to Agent Booth (especially with his personal bias against over achievers and people he perceives to be ‘entitled’). The icing on this ‘personalization’ cake is when Mr. Taylor goes old school and discusses inequities with Booth, a reference to a lamentation recorded in Psalms.

Zack and Brennan remain at the club and investigate the crawl space behind the walls. The FBI forensic agent who accompanies them attempts to gross Brennan and Zack out by pointing out the rats to which Zack deadpans with “You’re trying to scare us with rats? We’ve been in places where the rats eat the laces right out of our boots.” Nice. The team discovers more evidence behind the wall: a bloody trail along the sheet rock, a piece of Jewelry with skin attached to it.

Back at the lab, Booth catches Brennan up on the interview, Brennan analyzes the jewelry under a macro-cam, and Angela makes Booth uncomfortable about Tessa. By this scene it’s evident that Angela isn’t buying into the concept of Booth and Tessa as a couple. She asks if he buys her jewelry and he circumnavigates the question. Angela persists, bringing up Booths vacation plans with Tessa, and he mirrors Brennan’s behavior in the previous scene with Zack: he ignores Angela's personal comment and reverts back to business. The difference between Booth and Brennan being that Booth is aware of what he’s doing while Brennan was oblivious. Doctor Brennan surmises from the desiccation of the flesh attached to the jewelry that the wearer was in the wall during the same time as the victim. Angela informs the pair that the jewelry is in fact a bellybutton ring (cringe at the thought of THAT being pulled out) similar to one she used to have “before they became totally Miami divorcé.” So true, Angela, so true.

And if yanked belly button rings weren’t enough to turn your stomach: Hodgins joins the scene with reconstituted eyeballs floating in a glass jar. Yum. The team surmises based on physical evidence that the Vic didn’t overdose but was actually smothered by a bag of methamphetamine.

Almost as ‘whacked’ as Booth trying to do hip-hop slang. In this scene we learn more about the dynamic between Rulz and Mount. This scene is telling. Like the club scene, Brennan continues to show interest in the hip-hop sub-cultural group, at least on an intellectual level, while Booth—who has a pop-cultural frame of reference for this situation—shows obvious disdain for the culture. The partners discover the owner of the belly-button ring was Eve Warren, Rulz ex-girlfriend who left him for Mount. We also learn that Rulz has sustained nerve damage to his writs from a gunshot wound. As their leaving Booth has to practically drag Bones out—she really likes the music.

Oh, how we love the car-bickering scenes. Booth posits a scenario based on murky psychological guess work, Brennan extols the absolute value of physical conversation, and eventually the professional façade falls away and the two are discussing their personal lives.
Booth: I think I need a vacation. I think you do too.
Bones: Well, I’m not the one who’s snippy.
Booth: Snippy? What are you, like 70?
The exchange continues until Booth ends it by turning on the radio, only to find out that Brennan has changed his presets to hip-hop stations. NICE. ROLL OUT!

Back at the lab, Zack has discovered an anomaly in the skull of Roy Taylor as well s some damage to the neck. Zack and Doctor Brennan discuss vacations. Again, Zack opens up to Brennan, confessing his family thinks he’s a freak for working with human remains. Brennan asks why he goes home to see them on vacation, then, to which Zack responds “It's my family, they love me.” And again, Brennan goes right back into case-mode, instructing Zack to further examine the skull.

In the next scene, Booth and Brennan head over to a dance Crunch dance studio to meet Eve Warren’s brother, George. In this scene we see how Booth and Brennan react (together) to the human element of the case. Eve’s brother comes across as a good guy: he gives community kids a space to dance to keep them off the streets, he’s protective Eve’s daughter, Maya, and he has an admirable (if sad) faith in his sister. In conversation, Eve’s brother’s characterization of DJ Mount contradicts Randall Hall’s description of the rapper. Brennan has a visible reaction to the dilemma George is in: forced to take care of his sister’s daughter, to protect Maya from her own mother. Brennan’s grimace when George realizes his sister might be dead, that Maya may have lost her mother, speaks to a personal connection that isn’t really articulated in the episode but falls in line with plot developments later in the series. Booths reaction to the situation is much less emotional, but no less sympathetic. Eve left George some money to look after Maya while she was gone and Booth offers to buy back the cash, two dollars to one. Granted he needed the money to examine as evidence, but the generous exchange rate was certainly above and beyond his call of duty.

Cut to Booth and Hodgins motive-storming. Despite his hyperbolized disdain for the FBI Hodgins shows positive emotional response with praised by Booth. The theory is that Eve ripped mount off for his drugs and money. Booth brings this theory to Angela and Brennan, who are working a virtual reconstruction of what events lead to Mounts death. When the reconstruction gets to the part where Eves belly-button ring is pulled out both Booth and Brennan appear nauseous, and Angela remarks: “you pick dead bodies out of mass graves and yanking out a belly-button makes you sick?” Hah. The reconstruction clears Eve of killing mount but reveals that a third person was present behind the walls of the Basement nightclub.

Well, what do you know? Turns out Randall Halls body guard is actually Special Agent Delicious, err, I mean, Special Agent Ronald Oaks, under deep cover in an investigation of the links between gang activity and the urban music scene. We learn about Randal Hall AKA Terrance Baskin is making informants disappear, we learn Hall got ripped off for a bunch of drugs and money the night Mount disappeared, AND Oaks description of Mount (“he was into Jesus, not drugs”) confirms how George Warren and Mr. Taylor described the artist. That’s three character witnesses, one being a Federal Agent, who contradict Halls characterization of the victim.

Booth and Bones go back to the Basement to question Hall. He says he’s 100% clean, not involved in drugs or gangs. In this scene Hall throws Rulz under the bus, revealing that the artist had a studio built around the time both Eve and Mount disappeared. He made sure to point out there was concrete poured, insinuating that the body of Eve Warren might be found in the foundation of Rulz studio. How to find a body buried under concrete?

Enter Toody, the best cadaver dog in the world. The star of this scene is Toody’s dog handler. The dialogue is hilarious:
Handler: Toody can smell decaying blood on a tube six feet underground. I mean, so what, he drools a little? What’s up with that? You know, your eyes are kinda close together, but I don’t comment.
Booth: I apologize.
Handler (to Brennan): Is he sincere?
Brennan: Yeah.
Handler: Alright then, we accept.

Toody indicates there’s a body under the concrete and dental records confirm the Vic is Eve Warren.

Tessa brings Booth a change of clothes at the lab and of course Angela’s found her way into their conversation. Leave it to Angela, though, to not only find her way into a conversation, but to engineer it to her liking. “Jamaica?” she smiles devilishly, “you two are so ready for the pre-shaking up test vacation.” She continues, “Jamaica is like a dry run for living together only with steel drums and rum punch.” In less than 20 seconds Angela manages to completely reframe the context of Booth and Tessa’s vacation and make both parties appear really, REALLY uncomfortable. Best exchange of the scene:
Brennan: Hi, Tessa.
Tessa: Yeah, ok, bye.
HAHAH. The partners head off to the Angelator and eliminate Rulz as a suspect, and determine that Eve was killed in the same manner as Mount.

Booth and Brennan bring Rulz in for questioning, and begin the session by telling him he didn’t kill Eve Warren. In this scene we get an anthropological dissection of how violence and urban music collide. Rulz won’t deny killing Eve Warren, despite his innocence, because and arrest and arraignment would increase his record sales. So, Booth gets creative, he offers to arrest and hold Rulz in exchange for information.

Booth: I’ll sweeten the pot. Charge you with Mounts death, too. Let you hire one of those moron lawyers and you’ll be thrown in lock up for maybe a month?
Rulz: Sweet.
Bones: Where am I? In backwards world?

Sweetened pot indeed, Rulz agrees to give the team the motive behind Mounts death:
Rulz: Mount was goin’ jump.
Bones: You mean commit suicide?
Rulz: Where did you find her?
Booth: Museum.

So, Mount was planning to leave Basement records and Randal Hall, and it turns out HALL is the one who had the new studio built for Rulz. Motive, opportunity and means.

Back at the Lab, Zack has found a dimple on Eve’s manubrium similar to the one on Mounts head—and so begins motive-storming round deux. This time Booth spins a heartbreaking tale of “a woman in love who’s just trying to escape a world that’s just crushing her.” He posits that she ripped of Hall to run off and start a new life with Mount. (Do you see the escapism theme that’s building through the episode: Eve and Mount trying to escape their lives permanently, Booth and Tessa planning a vacation…)?

Frustrated that the evidence points to Hall but does not condemn him, Booth leaves the lab vowing to “spread the pain,” and Brennan chases after him insisting she can “help spread the pain.” (LOL).

The two make their way to Halls club where they confront Hall. Hall threatens Booth and pokes him in the chest with his cane, leading to an altercation where Brennan realizes Halls cane is the crucial piece of evidence that will tie him to the murders.

Back to the lab, where Hodgins and Zack attempt to replicate the bone dimple caused by Hall’s cane. They have a funny exchange where Hodgins tells Zack his arms are “like noodles” while he is “vigorous and burly.” Meanwhile, Angela has continued to pry into Tessa and Booths vacation, and has now discovered that Tessa is backing out of the trip because something came up at work. “But I know the truth,” Angela smirks. The conversation that ensues is one of my top five favorite Bones dialogues.

Bones: What truth?
Angela: They got freaked out by state six.
Bones: What’s stage six?
Angela: One: Spend the night. Two: spend the weekend. Three: exchange keys. Four: sexy weekend getaway. Five: extended vacation, inevitably followed by six: move in together.
Bones: I’m an anthropologist. I know the stages of everything. You made those up.
Angela: I did not. They got to stage five and the balked.
Bones: Not Booth; Booth did not balk.
Angela: Sweetie, it’s always the guy.
Bones: Booth is not a balker.

Awe, how sweet. While the girls dissected the anthropological stages of dating, Zack and Hodgins confirmed that Halls cane was in fact responsible for the dimples in Eve and Mounts bones. Hall is declared the killer and the info is sent to the FBI.

Final scene, Booth is drinking what looks like a Singapore Sling at the bar and Brennan joins him. The discuss Booths upcoming vacation, and the fact he’ll be going alone. Brennan contents vacations alone can be fun and relaxing.
BOOTH: When was the last time you got away?
Bones: Got away from what?
Booth: Cause what usually happens to me, I think about not coming back.

Now, the following is just my opinion, and I should probably preface it by saying I’m a BIG TIME B&B shipper. It seems to me almost as if Booth is asking Bones to join him on this trip to Jamaica. He talks about how if he goes alone he thinks about not coming back and then lets the ramifications of that idea simmer, adding “when you’re alone, the world is full of possibilities.” Of course, Bones turns him down, with a casual “see you next week, and the episode closes.

It’s important to note the theme of escapism throughout this episode. The show examines escapism in a spectrum, from the necessary, banal escapism of a Friday night at a dance club, to the extreme fixation on escaping ones circumstances that lead to Eve Warren and Roy Taylor's deaths. In the middle of the spectrum are Booth and Tessa, who plan a simple vacation which Angela uncovers to be much more than just some time away: B&T’s vacation was a time out to figure out what came next in the relationship. What’s notable, though, is that when taken as a part in the whole of this series, the cast may seek escape from their lives through vacations, but ultimately, they always run back to each other.


Anonymous said...

Another brilliant review. My favorite observation you made is where you said Booth imports his feelings/thoughts about a case and Brennan exports. That is the heart of their personalities. He needs to feel personally about the victim where as Brennan must block her feelings to do her job. I love reading these reviews. : ) Chrys in KS

em-jay said...

I agree. That was an interesting character insight. Thanks for the review!

Denise said...

I agree with every word Ano said: another brilliant review, I love to read them. Thanks!

I also agree with your thoughts on the finally scene:

If it was only for the statement it merely could be a contemplation. But in combination whit that look - a look that can set your clothes ... err heart on fire ... it clearly was an invitation, if not a request.

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