Solving a murder is a fine way to put things in perspective: Having a bad day? This guy’s dead. At its best, it’s a job that inspires empathy and clarifies priorities. At its worst, it’s a ready-made excuse to avoid dealing with your problems. “We have a murder to solve” is a great way to shut down a conversation, and everyone on Bones knows it—a little too well.
Cam is usually the first person to pull everyone away from the drama and back to the murder at hand, but today, she’s the one who can’t focus on the case. Arastoo’s brother Hamid has terminal cancer, and if Arastoo—who fled Iran at 18 and became an American citizen—returns home to care for him, he could be arrested. Cam thinks that the risk is too great. Arastoo is willing to chance it in order to be there to hold his brother’s hand. Neither one can agree on whose problem this is; while Cam wants equal say in the decision, Arastoo sees it as his choice alone.
This isn’t the first time Cam and Arastoo have questioned where they stand with each other, but their expectations have flipped: Now she’s the one ready to talk about marriage. It makes sense. Cam likes control, and as much as getting married would threaten that control, she’d rather share decisions with Arastoo than with an entire regime. And as much as Arastoo has been a romantic in the past, he’s also driven by a sense of honor, so his duty to his family trumps his personal happiness. But is Cam his family now too? We have a murder to solve.
Connor Freeman, who spent five years in jail for attempted murder, is found dead at a mine; he accidentally set off the explosives in the mine while attempting to escape a captor who tied him up, tortured him, and tried to cut off his prison tattoo.. Brennan suspects a member of a rival prison gang out for revenge, but Booth resents the implication that all inmates are senselessly violent. Remember when Booth was in prison for three months? He’s been on the inside now. It changes a person.
I’m not going to minimize Booth’s experience in jail, which left him beaten and suffering obvious PTSD. But this is a weird conversation to have in the context of an hourlong procedural at any time, much less in America’s current climate, because Booth’s trauma was mostly brought on by the fact that prisoners ganged up on him for being an officer of the law. Sympathy for law enforcement isn’t high on the list of Causes to Believe In right now. It’s a good thing that Booth himself is so quick to defend violent prisoners as victims of a system.
Ever the optimist, Booth wants to believe that Connor turned his life around after he was released. Brennan knows that statistics aren’t on her husband’s side here, but she doesn’t want Booth to think that she’s looking down on anyone. “I’m not judging them,” she says. “I don’t do that, Booth. I just look for evidence.” She doesn’t do that, and before Booth went to jail, his whole argument about the prison system probably would have gone to her. Instead, we’re left with Booth’s general frustration with Brennan, who isn’t really judging, but who is still using stats to justify cynicism, which isn’t great either. But we have a murder to solve.
Connor worked at a bakery staffed exclusively by former inmates. (“We’re all ex-cons. And we got fresh cherry pie today.”) Owner Roger Flender is committed to helping the men get back on their feet, but he has so much faith in their character that he refuses to suspect any of them. Flender directs Booth and Brennan to a man named Pemberton, whose sister was shot in the convenience store robbery that sent Connor to jail in the first place. Pemberton admits to following Connor on the day that he died, but he must not have been a very good stalker, because Connor had some secrets of his own.
NEXT: Not all bakers