Sunday, June 27, 2010

Guest Episode Review: The Bodies in the Book

Today's review is "The Bodies in the Book", by Kate

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The Bodies in the Book
Review and Commentary by Kate

Teaser: Brennan and Booth investigate a series of murders that mimic the deaths in Brennan’s new book, yet have no connection. Meanwhile, Sully and Brennan’s relationship heats up before hitting a great big boulder.

Review and Commentary: Oh, it’s a Sully episode! I had forgotten. That’s nice. I kind of miss that guy. Anyway, the scene opens with Brennan and Sully enjoying a morning romp that is rudely interrupted by Brennan’s publicist, Ellen Laskow, on the phone. I would have to side with Sully and say that’s not really the time to take calls, but Brennan is a consummate multi-tasker and insists on answering. She and Ellen agree to meet at the lab to discuss the press junket for Brennan’s new book, while Brennan and Sully finish their romp.

Arriving at the lab late, Brennan rescues her publicist’s assistant, Hank, from Hodgins, only to have Ellen inform her that she doesn’t have to work in the lab anymore, what with being a best-selling author and all. Ellen is forceful while Hank meekly tries to keep up. Booth interrupts by announcing there’s a body at the marina. Ellen insinuates that Brennan’s fictional male lead is based on Booth, which they both quickly deny with Booth volunteering that Brennan has a man, though he’s “a bit short.” They bicker for a moment over Scully’s height (which is a very funny bit), before hitting the docks.

At the dock is a body all wrapped in red tape, just like in Brennan’s new book. On the way to the body, it’s revealed for the first (though certainly not the last) time in the series that Booth reads Brennan’s books. “You have time to write it, I have time to read it.” With the premise firmly established, the scene ends and opening credits roll.

Back in the lab, the team works on identifying the victim. He’s in bad shape due to crab season, but they’re able to glean some basic data including cause of death. Zach and Hodgins are eager to discuss the similarities between the fictional victims and the current victim, but Brennan dismisses that with the classic “In this lab, we are concerned with science, not fiction.” Angela whips up a face—in between flirting with Hodgins—and IDs the victim as Jim Lapata. Also, how funny is it when Booth mocks them by whispering in Angela’s ear too. I love that Bones is amused by his subtle jab at them. Booth tries to check on how Brennan’s “holding up,” with the copycat murders and all, only to be interrupted by Sully doing the same. The jockeying for Brennan’s attention between the two allows Angela to get her revenge by quipping “Testosterone spill on aisle 4.” Booth agrees to let Sully sort through the fan mail for any psychos, but Brennan is unimpressed by her eager “protectors.”

Booth interviews Lapata’s widow, who is accompanied by her brother, Greg, and who also gets interviewed by Booth. This seems a little unusual, but whatever. Turns outs he wasn’t a big fan of his brother-in-law, what with the drinking. It’s perfectly understandable, really. Booth also asks Greg if he likes mystery books, which is extra weird. Evidentially, Greg thinks so too because his sister winds up answering the question for him. He does and thus is the Prime Suspect.

A cut back to the lab gives a useless case status update, but that’s all right because it’s really there to reveal that Cam is the only one in the lab who hasn’t read Brennan’s new book. She never intends to either, preferring to unwind with “feminist trash” (which is the best name for pseudo-feminist romance novels ever) rather than some more work. Can’t say I blame her. In the bones room, Zach expresses concern that the killer will carry out all three murders in the book. Booth interrupts to dispute that and reveal a motive for Lapata’s murder: he was abusing his wife. Booth theorizes that Greg killed Lapata and used the descriptions from the book to throw off the police. Hodgins and Zach confirm the red tape is used in Greg’s work and it looks like everything is tied up with a neat bow. Except, of course, there are still thirty-three minutes left in the episode. Under interrogation, Greg denies killing Lapata and Brennan notes his uniquely fused third and fourth fingers. On a side note, why on earth would that not have been fixed by now? The guy is like forty and having ten fingers is pretty useful. Also, the makeup effect is awful, especially when freeze-framed.

In Booth’s office, Brennan finally expresses concern that two more people may die if the killer really is re-enacting the book. Hank appears in the doorway to remind the viewer of his downtrodden and hen-pecked demeanor and deliver the fan mail for Sully to sort through. Booth gets a phone call and Brennan’s fear is confirmed. The second murder has been carried out. A woman has been killed and fed to rats. Booth mentions “Isn’t this how you killed the second victim in your book?” (in case the viewer suffers from short-term memory loss ala Memento)and Brennan grimly replies “Yeah.”

Back in Booth’s office, Brennan announces the ID of the second victim and Booth tries to connect a dead salesman with a young socialite. Sully pops in to say that Greg is in the clear with an ironclad alibi. The only connection remains the book. Brennan loses her cool, blowing up at the men to express her frustration at the situation in her own emotionally messed up way, that she’s really bothered by the loss of life that has been laid at her door. Booth and Sully trade looks to let each other know they understand what she can’t quite admit, though Booth can’t let the opportunity to needle Sully slide. “She wasn’t this emotional before you came into the picture.”

Meanwhile, back at the ol’ lab, Cam and Zach are poring over the second victim while Hodgins works nearby. Brennan’s book is characterized as “lots of gore with a splash of social commentary.” I wish writers in later seasons had remembered this. Before I develop into a broken record, Cam mentions x-raying rodents for bullets and Hodgins quivers with excitement.

Booth is questioning (he does that a lot this episode, doesn’t he?) the second victim’s husband. Turns out she wasn’t just a young socialite, but a young philandering socialite. Most of the questioning is done with Booth and the husband both facing the camera, which is great cinematically but probably not the most effective way to question suspects.

What follows is one of the finest scenes ever on Bones: the rat x-raying. Between Angela’s desire for rodent amnesty (“they’re material witnesses”), Hodgin’s general merriment and snappy come-back (“It’s not like they know sign language, Angela.”), and Zach’s hilariously inappropriate story about more effective killing methods (it involves warm water and “the clever use of a ball peen hammer”), there is literally nothing wrong in this scene. Did I mention Cam fed all the rats laxatives when they arrived? It kind of renders the x-raying moot, but I refuse to let that lessen my enjoyment.

Sully drops off lunch for Brennan, who returns the favor by biting right into Sully. Ouch. He’s a big boy though and calls Bones out. She’s mad at herself and feeling responsible for the crimes. Brennan retorts that the murders would have happened anyway, just following a different method. She also puts Sully down by telling him their relationship is “just a fling.” Double ouch. Sully takes the heat and reminds her that theirs isn’t a one-time thing before leaving Brennan to deal on her own. She keeps pushing, but he refuses to go. Side note: how hot is the white blouse/black tie? I’d love to see Brennan in a tie again. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Brennan is wearing strong, masculine clothing in this scene either.

Back in the bone room, Zach confirms the two victims were killed with the same gun. Booth jumps in to add that Prime Suspect 2 has an airtight alibi as well. He suggests a serial killer choosing random victims. Brennan disagrees. Although the gun and tape are the same, nothing else about the murders fits together. It’s as if they were killed by two different people. Hmm….

With Prime Suspect 2 off the table, Booth suggests everyone’s favorite stalker Oliver Laurier may have upped his act. He suggests paying a visit. I suggest bringing Oliver back in season six. At Oliver’s apartment, Booth tries to talk with Oliver, but he’s a bit, er, shy. This forces Booth to break down the door (on the count of three, technically). He’s greeted by creepy dolls bound in red tape hanging from the ceiling. The look on his face is a priceless “you have got to be kidding me! Unbelievable.” Needless to say, Oliver gets a one-way trip to the interrogation room.

Oliver claims the dolls are just role-playing. Listen up kids, I’m only going to say this once: nothing good ever comes from role-playing. So take off the anime dress and put on some nice flannel. Booth asks if “Ollie’s” games extend to real people, but Oliver just wants to see Brennan again. Booth blows it off, but Oliver reminds Booth there remains another victim. Now can he please see Bones?

No, because she’s busy getting ready for her signing and talking with Angela who dispenses the standard “enjoy the ride” relationship advice. Angela also describes her and Hodgin’s relationship running on “sex and laughter” which is not the most solid of relational foundations and perhaps why they break up for no particular reason later in the series. A little more time in the lab offers a few more hints—inconsistent methods of killing, manufactured sand particulates—before Brennan swings by the interrogation room for some 1-on-1 with Oliver.

Oliver asks a lot of questions but provides valuable clues. See, he’s a Brennanite, a devotee of Brennan. He hangs out in chat rooms with other mystery lovers including fellow Brennanites (and Patersonians and Graftonatas). I imagine there was a lot of giggling in the writer’s room coming up with the names. Oliver tries to touch Brennan and things go downhill until Brennan breaks his nose. All the blood causes Oliver to faint. Oh, and get ruled out as a suspect as it’s difficult to be a murderer and pass out at the sight of blood. Although, I did know a med student who vomited when others vomited and went woozy at the sight of blood too and he made it though med school, so who knows? Brennan decides to proceed with her book signing, which Sully thinks is foolhardy. The two start to fight and Booth tries to excuse himself on the grounds that clearly more is involved, but Bones refuses to let him off the hook. Booth winds up taking Brennan to the signing as a compromise.

At the signing, Hank is anxiously waiting and shaking, but not from anxiety. He’s diabetic and Ellen has been running him ragged. Brennan stuffs a candy bar into the poor boy, who tells them Ellen is uncharacteristically late. Booth and Brennan park by the back door, where Booth pulls his gun on an overzealous fan. When Brennan questions if it’s necessary, Booth asks if she’s going to start into him like she did with Sully. Before they can really get into it, Brennan notices (CGI) fire ants and the two of them have just found the third victim, Ellen. Guess the signing’s off.

The fine boys at the FBI manage to find a link between the second and third victims on Ellen’s BlackBerry. Except didn’t Hank say he always had Ellen’s phone? Hmm…. Questioning Hank reveals Ellen was a lesbian, which eliminates Sully’s idea of an affair between her and the second victim’s husband. Going back over the case in the lab, Brennan becomes convinced that there are three separate killers. Booth meanwhile remembers the bit about Hank and the BlackBerry and the pieces start falling into place. Sand from Ashton Keller’s golfing, Hank’s insulin, bruises that match Greg’s syndactyly. The Brennanite chat room wraps it all up and boom! Case(s) solved with a nice musical montage to boot.

In Brennan’s office, there’s a bit of an awkward threesome between Brennan, Booth, and Sully. Booth linger a bit, but realizes he’s not wanted and excuses himself, with a flash of sadness on his face at the realization. Brennan apologizes and she and Sully make up. Through the window, Booth looks back at them, then turns around and slowly walks away.

Overall, this is a very well-written episode of Bones, a lot less formulaic and obvious in its plot development than the episodes often are. The reason I think this one tends not to rate highly is that the twist—three murderers each covering for another—wasn’t very original. It’s pretty much ripped off from Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. Even if you only saw the similar Law and Order episode back around 2000, this was old hat. (Although the murderers got off in that case.) Still it’s a good episode and worth re-watching.


annie said...

Great review, Kate. I agree that is was a well done case - I am not a fan of Sully's - too much of a B&B shipper - so the scene I remember most is Booth seeing them kiss at the end and looking sad! Which of course makes me sad.

Stephanie said...

Nice review! Does this one really not rate very highly among fans? This is one of my very favorite episodes of the entire series! Probably my favorite of Season 2. Maybe it's because I'm a writer so I find the concept fascinating (and maybe because I haven't seen either of the older works you mentioned in the end), but this one.

Susan said...

I agree with Stephanie, this is one of my very favorite episodes of the entire series! I loved Sully- how he has fun with Brennan, really tries to understand her and fight for her. Also, I love going back and watching episodes where Brennan isn't completely clueless about interacting with people (unlike the end of season 5), just a little awkward but still caring.

Vorpaks said...

Very nice review!!

I love the part where Booth breaks into Oliver's apartment -- you described it perfectly. :D

One of my favorite relationship moments is when Booth tells Sully not to let BRennan bully him into giving up (I can't remember the exact wording).

It was such a classic Booth move, to be looking out for her -- protecting her from herself -- even when it goes completely against what he personally wants. And it made the end scene, with him walking slowly away, even more poignant.

I don't know if Sully would have let himself get pushed away without Booth's encouragement -- but it certainly didn't hurt.

Meg said...

Thank you for the wonderful review! I agree, Booth walking away at the end was heart crushing...

Anonymous said...

great review!! i'll definitely be rewatching based on this! when are we going to start season 3? cant we be working on them while the rest finish season 2? season 3 is the best in my opinion

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