'Bones': The Gravedigger finally comes to trial
In what's become the longest-running story arc on "Bones," it's finally time for the Gravedigger to face the music. Maybe. We hope.
We begin in Brennan's nightmare, running from the Gravedigger and failing to save Hodgins, then Booth, before being captured and buried alive. I'm really glad they included the scene -- it's too easy to see Brennan as an invulnerable cyborg when it comes to situations like this. We need to see her human side from time to time (even if she won't share it with anyone but Booth, in this case).
The Trial: The Gravedigger trial is beginning, but it's off to a terrible start when Taffet, representing herself, gets all the evidence from her storage locker thrown out on the grounds that the warrant was illegal. Can I take a moment here to talk about how much I love Caroline? Because I really, really do. When the judge questions if she should even proceed, she takes a long look back at Booth, Brennan and Hodgins before announcing her intent to continue.
When Taffet taunted Brennan, wondering why she couldn't find something "so simple as the number," my first reaction was honestly fatigue at the brilliant, game-playing serial killer cliché. But hey, it's a cliché for a reason, I suppose. Adds an extra, psychological component to the whole mess, right? After a frenzied search, the gang discovers that the number Taffet dialed from jail matches GPS coordinates, where they find one of her missing victims -- a little boy.
And this leads us to what I thought was the strongest scene in the episode. Hodgins and Brennan, Caroline points out, can't act as expert witnesses when they're also victims. Fair enough. Brennan, deciding that Taffet knows they're the only ones who could get all the evidence from the boy and thus is intentionally DQing them from his case, convinces Caroline to drop her and Hodgins' case so that they can focus on prosecuting Taffet for the boy's murder. Hodgins, freaking out, accuses Brennan of forgetting what they went through, insisting Taffet be prosecuted for what she did to them. Two thumbs up to T.J. Thyne in particular for his work in this episode.
Brennan assures him she remembers, without admitting to the nightmares, but sticks to her logic. Basically, she's making the impossible decision he can't make. And Booth joins her, having his case dropped, too: "I'm not gonna let you do this alone ... we're partners, it's what we do, right?" With all their eggs in one basket, the team works around the clock to build evidence:
- The boy wasn't unconscious when he was buried -- there were signs of strangulation and defensive wounds.
- Brennan discovers that his injuries point to a murderer with Taffet's height, weight, and left-handedness.
- Angela unscrambles the recording of the ransom demand so that Taffet's voice is clearly audible.
- Hodgins finds a dust mite with a stomach full of skin cells (everyone together now: ewwwww) between the victim's teeth from when he bit Taffet, and Cam is able to extract Taffet's DNA.
Taffet does her best to poke holes in everything, and failing that, she tries to discredit the team. And seriously, what kind of a messed up trial has the lawyer for the defense (who's also the defendant) accusing the expert witnesses of being biased because they themselves were victims of a "violent criminal who has yet to be caught" and are using her as a scapegoat ... when she's the violent criminal?! It's enough to make your head spin.
Or, in Brennan's case, it's enough to elicit the best testimony she's given yet. Not only is she able to vividly describe the victim's murder -- she also fights back against Taffet's aggressive cross-examination, defending her credentials, including her unique qualification to describe what it was like for him to be buried alive.
The jury finds Taffet guilty of kidnapping and murder, and she looks seriously pissed. That's scary enough, but her smile is enough to send a chill down your spine as she tells Brennan, "This isn't over." Hmm ... another Epps, perhaps?
Booth and Brennan: Well, I could probably write this section in two words: OH NOES! But that's not a recap so much as a reaction, so I'll painfully rehash the scenes that prompted it. First of all, Booth is incredibly supportive of Brennan throughout the episode, hugging her when she tells him about her nightmares, and dropping his case because he trusts her instincts (or her logic, I suppose). I think it's easier for him to spend his time helping Brennan get through it than focusing on his memories of being trapped on that boat.
Before the closing, he and Brennan go out for a drink. She tells him she's tired -- not just of the case, but of it all: Murders, victims, sadness, and pain. When Booth protests that they catch bad people and make the world a better place, she gently points out that he does those things, but she's just caught up in it. In fact, she's perfectly okay with making the world a better place just as an anthropologist. I can't believe that's true. The Gravedigger case definitely took a lot out of her, but I think Brennan's more afraid that working so closely with another person is changing her, as this conversation from earlier suggests:
Brennan: "What if her dispassion makes [Taffet] more logical? What if that gives her an advantage over me?" Booth: "Wait a second -- now you're upset because you're not more like a psychopath?" Brennan: "I just think, maybe I've lost my advantage because of all the people I'm involved with now. All of the relationships -- they complicate logical thought." Booth: "You don't mean that."
And it becomes even more clear (to me, at least) that she's not tired of the cases so much as scared of the intimacy working on those cases together entails. After she says she feels like everything is changing, she doesn't repeat her concern about being around so much tragedy; she worries that Booth could come close to dying again, which is probably exacerbated by Taffet's parting threat. It's pretty clear she doesn't think she could handle that, and so instead of spending more time with him in order to avoid regrets, she's choosing to retreat and protect both of them from the pain she felt when her parents left her. (Stop being Sweets, Liz! Okay, sorry guys. She's just a really interesting character!)
Booth suggests that she take some time off, but Brennan's not sure that will be enough. Comparing the Gravedigger trial to a trip to the dentist (you want to avoid operating heavy machinery for a while after the procedure), Booth suggests that she wait to make any big decisions until the trial is further behind her. Despite his cajoling, Brennan refuses to rejoin the group for another drink, instead taking a cab home. She looks at him through the back window as he stares back from the sidewalk, directly mirroring their first case together, when she decided not to sleep with him and went home alone. I'm trying pretty hard not to think about the possible significance of that.
Mad Max: Oh, Max. On the one hand, it's great that he came to the trial to support Brennan. On the other hand, trying to kill his daughter's kidnapper with a sniper rifle when he fears the trial won't go their way probably isn't the best way to show his support. Though I love that Brennan admits her slight disappointment that he didn't succeed. That Booth, always arresting her family members when they're just trying to do the right thing!
I'm glad he apologized for doubting her, though. I mean, if she could get him out of jail, surely she can keep a guilty person in there, right? Have a little faith, Max! I also loved her way of thanking him for his support (both conventional and un-), characterizing it as hypothetical Sweets-speak.
Odds, Ends, and Quotes:
- Cam is really growing this season -- I thought her visit to Sweets was a nice touch.
- Loved Brennan's reaction to Angela and Hodgins' announcement: "This isn't another pregnancy scare, is it?"
- Okay, are these really the only people in the country who could've solved the boy's case? Because it's pretty crazy for victims of the same person to work that case -- legalities aside.
- I know there are a lot of disappointed folks out there who were waiting to find out the contents of Brennan's note to Booth from when she was buried (or even Hodgins' note to Angela). I was hoping they'd at least reference it...
- Brennan: "Best wishes for a successful blending of familial obligations as well as monetary and property consolidation."
- Caroline: "I'm cute; I can always find a job."
- Brennan: "I don't want you to kill people for me. Just buy me a sweater like a regular dad!"
Were you happy with how the Gravedigger case was resolved? Are you freaking out yet about Brennan's sudden desire for change? Would you like to see more of Max?