The Titan on the Tracks
My summer vacation, by Dr. Temperance Brennan
Change flight plans from Darfur to North Carolina to see my brother. Check. Go swimming. Check. Spend time with my brother. Check. Chill. Check. Chill with my brother. Check. Talk about whether or not my brother and I should keep looking for our father after he left a cryptic message on my answering machine. Check. Discuss whether or not my partner is trustworthy or will “back-burner” the search for our father. Check. Make up for 15 years of lost time with my brother…my brother…
Wait, hold on…is it OK to go over on two wheels like that? Hey, what’s with the siren? Why are you driving like a maniac?
Introducing, Dr. Camille Saroyan
I’ll say it right off the bat: Cam drives me crazy with her arrogant, competitive, entitled nature in her first few episodes. However, they establish her character very quickly, and as she settles into her job with the team, she will eventually become likable. But what a way to introduce a new character—by having her waltz into the scene with someone’s severed arm!
This brings up the case for this episode. A car was parked on railroad tracks causing the train to derail killing several people, including one senator.
Brennan: That makes a difference?
Booth: Facts of life, Bones.
One thing that always surprises me with this episode is how much information is dispensed so quickly. Within the first ten minutes, we are told about Brennan’s vacation, introduced to a new character, given a depth of back story with that character, begin to build tension between characters, introduced to the case, identify the victim, and rule out the first impression of suicide. (This is something that I love about Bones. The writers don’t doubt our intelligence to be able to follow along with a quickly changing storyline and character development. Too much of the entertainment these days assumes viewers are couch potatoes with no original thought beyond TV schedules. I appreciate the fact that Bones doesn’t dumb it down for us.) Roll opening credits (that are finally coordinated with faces and names!).
The case is an intricate one. Admittedly, it is not my favorite, especially the fuzzy “flashbacks” we see at the transitional scenes; however, there is so much character development that takes place in this episode that there is a lot to like. We see some confusion and miscommunication among the team members due to the uncertainty of their responsibilities and duties under the new boss. But as always, it is done with heavy doses of humor!
Booth: ‘Casu Consulto.’ What does that mean?
Brennan: Accidentally on purpose.
Booth: Why do you know things like this?
Hey, Booth—why do you ask her questions like that when you know you’ll freak out if she knows the answer?
Booth: What’s that?
Hodgins: It’s a common domestic container.
Booth: Oh! Like a jar! Why can’t we just say ‘a jar,’ huh?
Angela: I think it’s because you are very task-oriented.
Brennan: ‘Task-oriented’ is a euphemism for lacking over-all perspective.
Angela: Oh, no. No! …Yeah, yeah, a little.
Meet Rick Turco
He just looks weasely. It’s no wonder Booth doesn’t seem to hold him in high regard. Turco is an all-around Mr. Fix-It for the rich and privileged, and those are things that Booth does not respect. But can I just say how hilarious it is to me that Brennan steals fries from Booth while they are technically getting information from a potential suspect? I’m sure it wouldn’t officially be called an interrogation since the setting of the diner gives it a more relaxed feel. But even after their time apart during her vacation, they are so comfortable around each other that she quickly steals fries, he smacks her hand away, and they continue their questions with Mr. Turco without missing a beat.
Turco: So what does all this mean?
Booth: Sum it up for the man, Bones.
Brennan: Warren Lynch suffered declining bone mass due to long-term abuse of his hypothalamic pituitary gonadal access.
Yes, thank you, Brennan. That was a beautiful way of summing it up for us!
Back to the case at hand, we learn that Lynch was being blackmailed. Blah, blah, case stuff, who cares? Let’s get back to character development.
Brennan wants to test Cam to see if she really meets up to her qualifications, and Zack gives her away. Cam goes along momentarily.
Zack: This reminds me of when you interviewed me to be your grad student. She knows what fentanyl is.
Cam: It’s a narcotic which boosts the effects of the heroin. According to metro cops, 14 addicts OD’d this week off this one shipment.
Brennan: Have you told Booth?
Cam: I’ll leave that to you.
Translation: I’ll humor you for a bit, but I’m still the boss. Cam’s face says, “Decide quickly, because, like it or not, I’m here for the duration.” Jumping ahead in the seasons, she becomes a likeable character, but it wasn’t love at first sight for me.
Continuing with the case, we find out via a classic Zack and Hodgins experiment (read: fake bones and Spam) that the fire was accelerated by extra fuel. Those boys LOVE being boys! They love their jobs, too. At least they did love what they were doing until cranky-faced Cam comes in asking why the lab smells like a luau. They answer in passing as though this sort of thing happens every day (oh wait…it does!). I always love the nuances of non-verbal communication in this show, almost as much as the witty banter and bickering. There is a classic example of that in the moment that Cam has to put her foot down on the antics of Hodgepodge and Zackaroni. When Cam tells them to turn off the fuel to the fire, Hodgins looks to Dr. Brennan for confirmation before following Cam’s orders. The rest of the team seemed to have accepted her presence before Brennan was back, but now that there is tension, they default to taking direction from Brennan. Cue another opportunity for Cam to put her foot down.
Cam: If it happens again, I will take action. And I’m from New York, which means that I will take New York action. Am I clear?
Brennan: Not at all.
Zack: I’m from Michigan.
Hodgins: Dr. Saroyan means she’ll make us watch musical theater.
And even after all of that, when Cam walks away, Hodgins lights it right back up again without a second thought.
Brennan is obviously still bothered by the tension because she brings it up with Booth on their way to the diner. Booth is good at attempting to help her understand the bigger picture instead of just results. He conveys to Brennan the importance of getting the successful prosecution IN ADDITION TO finding the truth. Has anyone else noticed how much sugar Booth pours into his coffee during this discussion? Yikes!
I appreciate the way this episode incorporates the previous episode/Season One finale so well. At this point in the diner, Booth gets a call that Vince McVicar, the man charged with murdering Brennan’s mother, was killed in prison. What a heart-wrenching scene as Brennan feels so helpless now in her search for clues.
Bring on the Angelator!
Well, it’s not Warren Lynch’s remains that are being examined (it’s not the machine that’s accurate, it’s Angela). The records were expertly faked to purposely get a false ID. This is also our first glimpse of Cam vs. Miss Supac. We’re starting to see some of her loyalty to the team because she knows that they each have their own expertise. She tells Angela that if she had made a mistake, she would have thrown her to the wolves; yet, Cam knows she won’t have to do that because of the quality of work and integrity among the Jeffersonian team members.
Let’s go on a stake-out, shall we? What should we talk about?
Hmmm, how about legalizing drugs—you know, if drugs were legalized, we wouldn’t have to be sitting here on the stake-out in the first place. It would be safer…
Never mind, let’s not talk.
Booth: Been out to your mother’s grave?
Brennan: Not since the funeral.
Brennan: Why would I?
Booth: Well, to connect.
Brennan: She’s dead.
Booth: Fine. You know what? Forget it.
Brennan: Dead. As in gone from this world. ….Excuse me (insert poking and tapping on the shoulder that everyone loves). I’m curious. Um, do you talk to the headstone? I mean, what do you—What do you say?
Booth: It looks like I’m talking to the headstone. But what I’m really saying is that—Forget about where the words are aimed. What I say is that… I remember them. (Here’s the proud smile for teaching the genius something)
Brennan: They can’t hear you…because they’re dead.
Booth: My mouth moves, words come out, but none seem to get across the drawbridge to the princess I know who awaits within. (Is that not the story of his life and of their partnership?) We’re on!
Brennan: (While running, she never loses focus on the conversation) What princess?
Where’d you find her? Museum.
So they’ve gotten confirmation from Drug-Dealer-Eddie that he had a customer that was 6’7”. Shortly after, the real Warren Lynch has been located. He seems a little worse for the wear: thrown from a speeding car, already unconscious, badly beaten, internal bleeding, broken ribs, broken legs, spinal damage, broken pelvis, severe brain damage, and not likely to wake up. Brennan speaks up (seems slightly out of character to me) to say that he is one of the richest people in the country and could hold information about why a Senator died. Brennan understands the medical information. In fact, she would usually be the one saying what the doctor told her: Most of the time, riches and power and fame might mean something to some people, but we are all fallible.
Cue up the Angelator again!
Angela and Zack team up to fill Booth in on more information. Whoever planted the man in Warren Lynch’s car on the tracks didn’t act alone. The dislocation of the shoulder and elbow show that he was most likely forced into a jacket postmortem by two people. They also show him the computer images indicating that Turco was probably the last person to see Warren Lynch before he fell off the radar. Of course, all of this information to help Booth is of great concern to Angela and Zack. If their methods count as experiments, Cam could fire them. Leave it to Angela to throw in a quick jab by adding, “your old sweetheart.” Does Booth spend any time thanking them for the information or allaying their concerns about getting fired? Oh, no. He jumps right to, “You know, you just quit telling Bones who you think I’ve slept with.” Hmmm. I think it’s time for a chat with that old flame so some things are straightened out.
Downdraft ventilation, rotting corpse smell, leaky corpse, no drain
Booth is tired of dancing around the issue. A direct approach is always best. Booth confronts Cam about her transfer to the Jeffersonian. She plays around with it a little bit until he asks her straight out, “Or did you come because of me?” She laughs at him, she tries to turn the tables, but when it comes right down to it, she seems to have a little bit of trouble saying, “It had nothing to do with you.” (Do I hear a “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”?) Yep, I sense a bit of a jealous tone when she pipes in with, “Plus, she dedicated her book to you, so…” That’s obviously been on her mind for a while.
So Booth throws her off her game a little. I like it. What an array of facial expressions during his little monologue:
Booth: Bones doesn’t intimidate. …You’ve seen the way she stares at human remains before she makes a decision. You’re human remains, and she hasn’t made a decision yet.
Cam concedes, and asks how she can help Dr. Brennan to make the right decision about her. That’s right, go to the source of wisdom on all things Dr. Brennan. I love his advice to her, “Go for the truth and take care of her people.” I have to say, after watching that display of Protective Booth, it’s a wonder that she ever pursued their relationship again. He is always very clear where his loyalties lie.
Alexandria Federal Prison
Brennan is ready to face the man that took away what she sees as her only chance to find out the truth about her father. How quickly we are filled in on Mr. Downs’ back story, as well. This is a man that killed his whole family, so we’re sure to have a wonderful time with him. What’s that? McVicar cut in front of Downs in the cafeteria line? McVicar snagged the last orange juice? Well then, I completely understand! I would never think that Downs has anger issues. The sharpened toothbrush…wow. So when Downs says to take it as a second message from Max, I believe him. If this is the kind of guy that is doing favors for Max, I definitely want to stay on Max’s good side.
I love this next discussion between Brennan and Booth. It is a classic conversation between the strictly rational brain person and the there-are-sometimes-gray-areas heart person. She has to come to grips with the fact that her father ordered the death of another human being. On top of that, she feels responsible to break that news to her brother.
Brennan: Good people don’t have other people murdered. Good people don’t even know how.
Booth quickly tries to turn her focus away from the negative and the things she doesn’t know in her I-need-proof kind of way, and he helps her to see the positive things about Max that make him the father she once knew. She tries to resist it by saying that those few things do not make him a GOOD man.
Booth: People can be more than one thing.
This is the epitome of Booth’s hope. Every day he has to come to grips with the fact that he has a past as a sniper, but he also has a present and a future where he can be the loving father that he wants to be for Parker. Booth is starting to see some similarities between Max and himself, and I think that he feels like if he can convince Brennan to look past the bad to see the good in her father, then maybe there is hope for him to be deemed a GOOD person as well. He has so much guilt for his past, he’s feeling a little sympathy (or at least giving the benefit of the doubt) toward Max. Booth still sees hope in the situation and the silver lining that they have a few more answers in her quest.
Warren Lynch was in on it
Even in this episode that is so loaded with information and character development, there is a beautiful balance with the pensive reminiscing in Dr. Brennan’s office. She’s figured it out and takes off to Booth’s office to fill him in. On a side note, what is Booth doing at his desk when she bursts in? Is he stacking dominoes? It looks like it, but she knocks it over so quickly that it’s hard to tell. Bring in Mr. Weasel…I mean Mr. Turco. I actually like the way this case closes up here. It’s always awkward to come up with the right way of filling in all the holes in the case. Mr. Turco plants on the arrogant smile and tells the story through questions.
Booth: Is that a confession?
It’s so beautifully wrapped up, but it’s still barely out of reach. Brennan has been watching the process and decides to throw in her two cents.
Brennan: Do that lying thing.
Booth: Could you be more specific?
Brennan: We tell him Lynch woke up and gave a statement incriminating him.
Booth: Turco knows the lying thing.
Brennan: Tell him Lynch said something only Lynch could say.
Booth: Oh, great idea, except for the “only Lynch could say” part.
Brennan: The ring?
Booth: Ah, he’ll ask for specifics of the conversations. I gotta cut him loose.
Brennan: What—He’s gonna get away with it?
Booth: Well, you know, that happens sometimes, Bones. That’s the brown little smelly part of the job.
Brennan: Shoulder and elbow. The junkie’s shoulder and elbow were dislocated when they forced him into Lynch’s jacket.
Booth: We don’t know if Lynch was there for that.
Brennan: It took two people. It was him. Come on, Booth. The part of you with the big gambling problem must love this idea. (Ouch! It’s true, but SO mean!)
Booth: Right there. Mm-hmmm. That’s the reason you didn’t get Cam’s job.
Get in there, take the risk, watch the smug look fall off Turco’s face, and charge him! Case closed! …or not. We still have to see Supac one more time. She somehow doesn’t feel like their work is solid enough for a conviction. Or as Cam so graciously points out, it’s scary, the whole world will be watching, and her job depends on a sure thing. But as far as the Jeffersonian is concerned, they have given Supac the evidence she needs.
Cam: …put my people on the stand as expert witnesses, and that’s a sure thing.
Brennan, Angela, and Hodgins: Not Zack.
Just to make sure she’s gotten her point across, she clarifies to Miss Supac that in the future, if she has issues or problems, she is to take them up with Cam in private, not in public. She is heeding Booth’s advice about taking care of Brennan’s people, and it causes Brennan to understand why Cam is the new boss. We’re on our way to being a team, and dare we hope for friendship in the future?
Just for once, Bones, do what people do.
True to form as the man who always wants to fix things, Booth takes Brennan to the cemetery. Brennan is stubborn as ever, and rather than try to explain, he just walks her through the process. She doesn’t need to know WHY people take flowers, she just needs to try it. She doesn’t need to expect audible answers, she needs to talk and ask questions. Brennan jumps right in. She wants to know if her dad was a good man or a bad man. She wonders if he’s always been protecting himself or if he’s trying to protect his kids. She has a lot of questions, but she doesn’t seem to get any answers. Ever the scientist looking for immediate results, she wants to offer a “See? I told you!” to Booth. To rub it in a bit more, she clarifies the conundrum: she gets answers from her beloved lab, and he reads people. No one finds answers in a slab of stone. Ah, but he does. He sees who Brennan is by way of what she’s done for her mother. And behold, a bit more evidence in the form of a tiny dolphin. What does that mean?
Brennan: My father was here.
Booth: Because he loves your mother and grieves her loss, and he came here to talk to her. (as he pulls the tiny dolphin out of her evidence pouch)
Brennan: You’re tainting evidence.
Booth: It’s not that kind of evidence, Bones. It’s evidence of something else, something that can’t be tainted.
Brennan: It’s beautiful.
Booth: (looks at Brennan) Yeah.
Aww! And everyone’s little romantic hearts go pitter pat then melt into a pile of goo. Sigh.
Other loved quotes:
Brennan: I have people skills.
Hodgins: As long as paranoia’s on the schedule somewhere.
Cam: …tighter than a nun’s knees…
Cam: I am a diuretic seagull (wow, so visual)
Zack: You shouldn’t call me Zackaroni.
Brennan: Yeah. I knew that the moment I said it.
Booth: You’re all about finding the truth.
Brennan: Okay, your words say good, but your tone says bad.
Brennan: I feel I should alert you. There’s an additive in this heroin that causes overdoses.
Brennan: We should warn the addicts.
Booth: Yeah. Like they do on a pack of cigarettes.