Sunday, November 8, 2009

Guest Episode Review - #204 "The Blonde in the Game"

Thank you Cheryl for reviewing Bones Season 2, Episode 4 - The Blonde in the Game.


Season 1 Reviews - All Done!!
Season 2 Reviews - still plenty that have not been reviewed

~*~ ~*~ ~*~
The Blonde in the Game

I discovered BONES because a friend thought I’d like it. Turns out she had no idea how right she was. After watching the season 5 premiere, I decided to go all the way back to the Pilot & not stop til I’d seen them all. Season one was enough to get me hooked. But season 2? Season 2’s stories left me feeling like the writers had a brand new edge...so many eps were pure adrenaline rushes & brilliantly written that I had to stop & take several deep breaths & remind myself that yes, I was still in my house & yes it was just TV. But what brilliant TV!

The villain in this ep is Howard Epps. Of course we hate him. We should. He specialises in blonde teen girls, whom he hits with tyre irons, binds their hands & feet & buries face down. We also hate him because of the mind games he plays which in The Man in the Cell he uses to get his execution stayed, pissing everybody off & infuriating Brennan enough that she breaks his wrist when he tries to touch her. (Hats off to Heath Freeman for doing such a great job bringing Epps to life & Noah Hawley for writing the script).

B&B get called in when a decomposed body is found in a national park. A dog found it first, is hanging on to the arm, growling over the body & refusing to move, even though his owner is trying to call him off & apologising profusely for his dog’s behaviour. Bren reveals she always wanted a pig & asks Booth to shoot the canine because he’s compromising the evidence. (Gotta love her single-mided focus. Of _course_ only the evidence matters. How dare the dog not get that?) Booth refuses & attempts to charm the dog away from the body since dogs “love him”. Right. When that fails Bren throws a pine cone that said dog chases & allows her access to the body.

Back at the lab they realise that this is Epps’ MO and Booth pays him a visit. In this scene, and in subsequent visits, Epps drops conversational clues that the team unravels to solve the case. Epps apparently is bored & is therefore now playing a game with B&B centring around his victim. A hilarious bit of dialogue ensues on the forensic platform.

Zack: Classic Game Theory. Throwing down of the gauntlet.
Booth: What?
Zack: A conflict of interest arises followed by a series of moves from which divergent strategies can be discerned.
Booth: What did he say?
Bones: Epps is playing us.
Booth: Yes, that’s exactly what I said.
Zack: Zero sum obviously. After a few moves we’ll know Epps’ order of preference.
Booth: What did he say?
Bones: We’ll find out what Epps wants.
Booth: Look I already know what he wants. I told you: he wants Bones sitting across the table from him.
Bones: Three rational players: me Booth & Epps. What about the non-deliberative agent?
Booth: What did she say?
Zack: In a game there tends to be one non-rational player & a non-conscious non-deliberative agent.

Clear as mud Zack, thanks.

Turns out Epps _really_ needing his wrist is more about the victim from the park than his need to masturbate to pass the time. They find an extra wrist bone which means there are two dead girls, not just the one they found in the park. B&B visit Epps to get the next clue which leads them to an abandoned mine where they find the owner of the extra wrist bone. This girl had been killed while Epps was in prison so Booth suspects that Epps has an accomplice. They also find evidence that Sara (victim #2) had been hung upside down & tortured before being killed, something Epps had never done. After examining her at the lab, they find a gold chain with a St. Agnes pendant & markings from St. Agnes High School...except the victim went to public school. New number of blondes in Epps’ game: 3. Booth finds out from a nun (possibly the principal of St Agnes High) that Helen Majors was the owner of the St Agnes medal they had found & that she had disappeared 3 days ago. They suspect she’s still alive & visit Epps to try & figure out where she may be. He’s uncooperative, which upsets B&B enough that they yank the chains binding Epps, slamming his face into the table.

There is a girl out there, hanging upside down with *duct tape* over her *mouth*...

Zack helps the team figure out that Epps is using the postal service to contact his accomplice and Hodgins confirms that postal workers use polygenic gloves which he found particulate evidence for on Sara’s body. Turns out, Epps’ accomplice is a mail carrier on a route that includes the address of the vacant lot that he’s sent 6 letters to. This gives him access to these “dead letters”. The mail carrier on this route is the owner of the dog they saw in the opening scene. As the pressure mounts, B&B call Hodgins to see if any particulate evidence found on Sara could lead them to Helen’s present location. B&B find Helen in an abandoned sorting office, as Hodgins had said. Booth hands Bones one of his guns without her needing to ask but with instructions:

Be careful alright? Don’t shoot me, don’t shoot Helen Majors but otherwise...

They rescue Helen & Booth leaves Bren to guard her while he goes in search of the perpetrator. He catches Booth by surprise, breaks his hand & relieves him of his gun. Good thing Bones steps up to kill him. She is obviously shaken by this. It doesn’t help that when they visit Epps for the last time, he reveals that the point of playing this game with them was to get one of them to kill somebody. He is delighted that it was Bones & insinuates that she’s now just like him because she killed this man. For good measure, he throws in that someone needs to tell his mother and how is the poor dear going to cope now that her only relative is dead & she is quite alone in the world? Booth spends the final scene in the Jeffersonian lounge with her identifying with the weight of taking someone’s life & assuring her that she’s going to be fine.

There! I’ve reviewed. Things I LOVE about this episode:

The case.

The way it unfolds, slowly with unexpected twists. Reeeaally well written. Who knew this was going to be a serial killer case? Who knew the guy with the dog would turn out to be Epps’ accomplice? Who knew Epps would even get an accomplice after 7 years in jail? Who knew the body count would keep rising? Who knew that any woman would volunteer to marry him AFTER meeting him on death row where he’s staying because he’s a serial killer? Really? I mean what? Did someone tell her all other men were taken & this was her last chance to be a wife? And even if that were true, there are lots of non-inmates in prison. How come she didn’t ever get distracted by a cute/kind/ sweet/ decent single man working as a prison warden/administrator on any of her trips to visit Epps? But I digress...
Funny moments

Think Zack, Booth, Brennan & Game Theory

The fact that both times Booth ignores Bren, she’s actually right (1. she tries to get his attn in the cave to point out the stone cross under which Sara was buried but he tells her to wait because he’s telling the other agents in the cave how they plan to find the body 2. while he’s busy telling her to stay put while he goes into Reiner Haitin’s house, she’s already figured out that the street address belongs to a vacant lot)

Relationship development

I love the way that each team member is in their element & covering each other’s weaknesses. In the beginning they were pretty much just co-workers & Booth had to fight Brennan into accepting his proposal that they work together on crimes. Even after that, there was still animosity between B&B and Booth had issues with the squints, not to mention that Hodgins mistrusts the FBI. But by this ep they are friends who enjoy working together. Booth is even free to bounce theories around about each clue without getting shot down because its “unsubstantiated conjecture”. Not only that, but the squints give their input & truly help solve the case. Booth has moved from ignoring Zack as a ”male bonding ritual” because it’s “nicer than shooting him” to having Zack break down enough Game Theory to him that he’s able to use that knowledge in the second interview with Epps in prison.

Angela has so much depth & tricks too. Not only is she a forensic artist, she “is better with the living than the dead”, she is skilled in her various computer programmes, developed the Angelator and is proving her worth outside of her office more and more as she integrates with all of the team’s efforts to solve crime. Angela shines in this ep with her people skills: from dealing with Lorraine’s(the first victim) grieving father, to getting information from & helping to console Caroline Epps (Howard’s wife) to calming Hodgins down enough so he can decipher the particulate clues to getting Booth to be quiet & so stop stressing Hodgins out long enough that he could think. When Hodgins figures out where Helen could be Booth says “I knew you’d come through for me buddy. Good work.” There is obvious mutual respect & unity now. And this is why the whole team has a partnership to die for ;)

And of course I love the way that Booth pretty much always know how to reach Bones. He suggests to Hodgins that they get together & buy her a pet pig since she always wanted one but never got one. When she insists she’s fine after killing Epps’ accomplice he very skilfully directs the conversation to reveal her true feelings. He even exposes his own heart on the matter: as one who has killed many people in his careers with the army & FBI, he knows firsthand the toll of taking someone’s life & he lets her see that, which is a big deal because it’s something that haunts him & that he doesn’t talk about with anyone...he keeps his emotions concealed, this one, but opens up in hopes of helping Bones. And I love the way Booth’s understanding of who she is & how she thinks works on Brennan every time & 9.9 times out of 10 she has NO idea that he’s bringing her around to see what he already knows but what he has to allow her to find out for herself. Like how he gets her to admit that it matters that Epps’ accomplice had killed Sara & was about to kill Helen, making her killing him justified & setting her apart from Epps, who had been insinuating that her murdering his accomplice made her just like him.

Brennan: I did the right thing
Booth: I know. I was there
Brennan: I did.
Booth: It doesn’t matter
Brennan: It does. It matters.
Booth: [nods slowly]

Having had the heart to heart he tells her he has a gift for her. I love the way Booth finds out what kind of pet she wanted & what she’d call it & then gave her a toy version to cheer her up with the name she suggested. And I love the way DB’s & ED’s eyes are so expressive. They say so much non-verbally that reading quotes from BONES sometimes is a waste: you really have to see them infuse those lines with all the nuances of tone, touch, body language & those amazingly expressive eyes.

Booth: Got something for ya
Bren: A bottle of hard liquor?
Booth: Next best thing [removes pig from back pocket] Hmm? Meet [brings pig close to her face & leans forward] Jasper [DB does an endearing smile here, ED smiles back accepts pig]
Bren: Oh.[chuckles]
Booth: You’re gonna be ok.
Bren: Yeah?
Booth: Definitely.

Yes I have two pictures from the Jasper scene. It’s that good.

14 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Excellent review!

fluffernutter8 said...

Blond in the Game is one of my favorite episodes because it was my first. And it's awesome...how could someone not fall for this show after seeing Booth being hot and Brennan wanting to shoot the dog and Booth being scary and Zack being floppy and brilliantly incomprehensible Booth being sweet to Epps's wife and Hodgins freaking out over the life or death situation and Booth getting Bones Jasper...holy snood, I love Booth.

Eli said...

Thanks Cheryl for the review and you got extra cookies for the pictures.

And what I really missed in this episode is Angela. She was sweet and the hair, the face was beautiful. She is the reason I watched Bones, with Hodgins (at the same par) at that time.

Why they need a shrink when they can sens Angela to further the course for psychology. She already had a few fields expertise (what that all no doctorate qualification?). Yeah right they planned in advance to make her less sensible for the next coming season.

I like the case too, because the evidence related for the next body was found as a clue. What a smart murderer. The way Angela make Booth shut up so Hodgins can concentrate to think/process about the information always be the highlight of the relationship between them.

BB Shipper said...

The reviews are back baby!! I so love these, i dont care which season! Good review! Thanks for doing this and thanks for posting Wendy!

em-jay said...

Yeah! Another review! Thanks Cheryl--I love reading these.

Great review of a wonderfully intense episode. Howard Epps--gotta love/hate him. What a terrifically creepy villain. And what better way to get the whole team involved with each area of expertise, right?

Love the episode, love the review!

Anonymous said...

Excellent review of an epic episode. I miss story arcs!!!! They did the Epps one so well.

Thank you for doing this. Great job.

Historynut

Eli said...

Forgot that this is the episode that Hodgins stunned with Angela.

Hodgins : Hi Angela, you look great today.

Angela : Thanks Hodgy .... blablabla.

Brennan : Hodgy?

Both were sheepishly shy.

That script is just recall from my memory and may be differ from the actual scene.

Cheryl said...

Thx guys...I'm glad u liked it :)

@fluffernutter8
Yep, this is a reeaallly good ep. I loved Booth first but as I kept watching I love them all:)

@Eli
Ange is amazing but I love Sweets. Hey, anybody who is going to attempt to get B&B to talk & explore their feelings gets my vote. Makes for some funny dialogue. Maybe Angela has no PhD on purpose...I think they want her to be the most normal one there.

And her & Hodgins on the platform for the Hodgie exchange? Priceless!

@em-jay
I know, right? I LOVE serial killer Bones episodes."Does that make me a bad person?[pout]" (to quote Caroline).& Epps episodes built in intensity...well written & executed.

@Historynut
Yes they did:)But season 5 is young yet. Let's see if any more story arcs turn up.

Pua said...

Well done! One of my favorite eps EVER!

Cheryl said...

ty Pua :)

Anonymous said...

Love this epi too! Who doesnt love to hate Epps. He is so creepy he gives me the shivers. But I do like the reactions he gets out of Bones and Booth. I mean, the guy is, and I quote Brennan here, a monster, but he does bring B&B closer together.

Other then that, gotta love Hodangela and of course the last BB scene there. Whenever I watch this epi I go back and re-watch that last scene at least once or twice. Love the little chuckles ED gives and the almost inaudible 'aww' she makes when Booth gives her Jasper. Gotta love that man. I want him!

Cheryl said...

@Anonymous
"Gotta love that man. I want him!" Plz take a number & wait ur turn;)

Howie said...

Very good review. I like how detail the summary is and the post-analysis of the episode. I love the fact that you hit on the points of the group members bonding and solidifying and Angela's people skill, and the growing relationship between B&B and Angela and Hodgins. This episode has a good script and the actors did a great job, especially how well they portrait the emotions of their characters. In my opinion, emotions is what bring the characters to live.

Cheryl said...

Thank you :D And yes, the Bones cast is quite talented...how these kids do NOT have Emmys remains a mystery.

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