Science was never my favorite subject in school, but Bones makes me feel differently. It’s not because of Hodgins’ experiments, although his love of trial and error is as much the heart of this show as anything. It’s because of the way Brennan uses science to make sense of the world. Science, to Brennan, isn’t a set of answers so much as it is the context for those answers—a pattern that accepts the inevitability of change but leaves room for second chances. It’s safe to assume that one of those second chances will bring Booth and Brennan back to the team, but for now, they’re moving into the unknown.
After everything she and Booth have been through, it’s understandable that Brennan would want a fresh start. Booth takes a little more convincing: He loves the FBI, and what they’re doing is important. But, as Brennan points out, “There are other important things we could do that won’t get us killed.” Before they can make any decisions, the body of Franklin Holt, an independent computer consultant, is found flayed and impaled on an obelisk with a flower in his mouth. All signs point to Christopher Pelant, the hacker who once ruined Brennan’s marriage proposal for literally no good reason, but Pelant is dead. Is this the work of a copycat, or did he have an apprentice? If we find a silver skeleton in anyone’s basement, I’m out of here.
At least the murder’s Pelant undertones have the happy side effect of bringing together the entire team. Hodgins and Angela take a break from packing for Paris to lend a hand, not that Hodgins needs much of an excuse to do lab work, and Wendell and Daisy volunteer their time, too. It’s as good an excuse as any to give everyone a part to play in what might have been the series finale. Brennan could never even consider leaving if she didn’t believe that her interns were up to the task. Which they are—they learned from the best. She’s grilling them a little harder this time, because she cares.
Booth does the same with Aubrey, stepping back to watch him prove himself. Caroline can tell that something’s up, so Booth admits that this is going to be his last case. What are he and Brennan going to do next? He’s got an NSA job offer in Kansas, and she’s got an offer to take over at a nearby university, but they’re both also tempted by the idea of just having their baby and living their lives. In any case, Booth tells Caroline that he’s still got a few bones that haven’t been broken yet. He’d like to keep it that way. “There’s a lot of good agents here,” Booth says. “A lot better than me.” Caroline, speaking for us all, tells him to shut up: “There is no one better than you. But I’ll act like there is if you want me to.” Welcome to my first cry of the hour.
It’s hard to even focus on the case with all of this change in the air, so let’s not waste time: Holt consulted for a firm, Kevin Dunlop Investments, that handled money for dictators, drug lords, and other seedy characters—including Pelant. Using his experience with his father’s Wall Street schemes, Aubrey talks Dunlop into admitting that he had the $4.6 billion account that Pelant stole from Hodgins, but it disappeared when Holt’s body turned up. All of Holt’s hard drives are missing, and the only clue Angela has is a VHS tape of the 1983 movie Strange Brew. (Bones! Only you.) Holt encrypted his files on there, but decrypting them will take time that no one has.
Instead, the team focuses on a pizza. Holt had a pizza delivered on the night of his murder, so Hodgins uses an old school machine to test it for particulates. He has better equipment at his disposal; he’s just always wanted to use this one, and this is his last chance. Hodgins looks at isotopes falling on a graph like he’s staring into the sun. The machine does its job—I’m so glad it doesn’t break—and reveals gunshot residue. (“That’s why he didn’t eat the pizza: because he was DEAD.”) Is the pizza delivery man the killer?
NEXT: Chickens on a train[pagebreak]
The night of Holt’s murder, someone called to switch his order from delivery to pickup. From the security footage, Brennan can tell that the person who picked up the pizza is a woman, but she does as teachers do and lets her proteges figure it out on their own. The woman, Leelah Strawn, claimed to be Holt’s girlfriend, but she’s actually a hacker. She must have killed Holt for the information on his computer.
Angela tracks Leelah to a rail yard, where Booth and Aubrey chase her to a train—which is, of course, full of chickens, because nothing adds to the drama like a chorus of clucks. Leelah locks Booth out of the train car and tazes Aubrey, who takes it like a pro and makes the arrest anyway. He has to make Booth proud. Booth is, of course, proud, because he cares about this kid in spite of himself. Booth hates being a mentor—anyone who admires him is someone he’s capable of disappointing—but somehow that only makes him a better mentor. He’s just doing his thing, and with the exception of that gambling relapse, it’s worth emulating.
Now that Angela has the hard drives that Leelah stole, she can decrypt more of the information on the VHS, leading her right to Hodgins’ $4.6 billion. She tells her husband that she found his money—all of it. He kisses her, calls her brilliant, and tells her to get rid of it forever. The money is dirty now, it will never be safe, and they don’t need it anyway. Hodgins can trade the money he always resented for money he earned with his own ingenuity, and he can use the old money to help his friends. He asks Angela to give it to hundreds of charities. “Let them find a cure for the cancer that Wendell has,” he says. T.J. Thyne’s face is so bright here that I’m crying again.
Angela agrees, but on one condition: They stay at the Jeffersonian. “I saw you with that crazy machine,” she says, “and your life is here for now, and I’m okay with it. As long as I’m with you.” Hodgins and Angela’s relationship is always going to be about balancing sacrifices, because their interests are so fundamentally different, but this is a functional compromise. They still have a house in Paris, and it’s not like they have to struggle to afford flights. They can take as many vacations as they want.
They just might have to spend a few of them going wherever Booth and Brennan go. Where will that be? Will they go to Kansas? That would be anticlimactic. Brennan is a traveler, and Booth told her right after they met that when he goes on vacation, he thinks about never coming back. I’d like to see them on an adventure. But what matters now is that for the first time, she and Booth are really ready to see more of the world than its dead bodies. They deserve it. I’ve always appreciated their commitment to this job—catching bad guys is a part of their value system—but I’m interested to see what it does to them to get away for a while. I’m glad we’ll get the chance to.
Bits and pieces:
- “You were going to leave the FBI last year and move to Europe. You remember how great you felt about that?” No? He never felt great about that promotion, even before it turned out to be part of an FBI conspiracy that sent him to jail for three months.
- “No one’s getting killed.” “That’s what you always say before the shooting starts.”
- “Now you should know that I actually helped bring down my own father, Mr. Dunlop, so bringing you down will be a piece of cake. And as my friends here can attest, I love cake.” This is either the best or the worst line to ever come out of Aubrey’s obsession with food. I’m just not sure which.
- Give it up for Cam, whose patience goes uncelebrated every day. She loves these people, even when they tell her nothing.
- Booth left his bobblehead bobby on the desk just so he could dramatically turn back for it before he left, didn’t he?
- Pelant left a message on one of the tapes about how death can’t stop him or some other serial killer nonsense, and Brennan shuts it off, because nobody runs Brennan’s life but Brennan.
- The sight of Booth in Brennan’s doorway in a leather jacket, T-shirt, and jeans was vintage early-season Bones.
- “In our culture we all search for closure, but closure is an illusion. Science shows us that the universe is constantly in flux. It’s what allows our friendships and our love to constantly surprise us.”
- Of all the hugs, Brennan’s hug with Hodgins got me most.