Aca-believe this: Bones has never, in its nearly 11 complete seasons, tackled the world of a cappella. Competitive miniature golf: done. Civil war reenactments: been there. Small-business disputes between organic applesauce manufacturers: obviously. But glee clubs have waited patiently in the wings until now, impossible as that seems. This show lives for the exact sort of hyper-passionate subculture where people could conceivably kill each other over something called “nationals.”
Making the over-the-top hour even sweeter is the reveal that Aubrey sang a cappella in college. He tries not to let on, but he’s about as chill about this as I am when people talk about my favorite shows. Why even bother keeping quiet? Aubrey expects Booth to razz him mercilessly for his life choices, but he should know by now that no group is more accepting of your secrets than this one. Are you the sole heir to a multi-billion-dollar corporation? Cool. Did you film a B-list vampire movie for the money? Even better. Hodgins spends much of this hour bonding with a rat, so trust that this is a safe space for weird interests.
Scott Hill, director of prestigious Lynwood University’s equally prestigious a cappella group, the Whippersnaps, is found dead. Given the group’s competitive zeal, Scott’s fellow Whippersnaps are the obvious suspects — which is great because they’re every Glee caricature turned up to 11, and I never want to leave them. “What is it with you, Julian?” snaps new director, Jake. “You are pitchy, and your snapping looks like weird chicken claws.” Julian is not threatened: “At least I can keep my diva hand under control.” I’ve really been enjoying this season’s conscious effort to de-emphasize the quirk in favor of grounded character moments, but every now and then, there’s nothing like watching Bones go full-on ridiculous.
Asked for motive, Jake points to ex-Whippersnap Ian Johnson. Scott kicked Ian of the group a month ago, and Ian was so upset that he left Lynwood entirely. His voice was definitely not to blame; it’s like butter. Ian says that Scott was acting weird and keeping secrets before his death, so Aubrey turns to Scott’s music to uncover the truth: Scott was planning to bring a woman into the Whippersnaps. He’d been collaborating with Liz, a member of their all-female rival group, the Gingersnaps. That high G doesn’t lie.
Another Gingersnap, Esther, lands at the center of the investigation thanks to her work at Lynwood’s biomedical research lab. Scott and five other Whippersnaps tested positive for a strep-like infection last month, and Lynwood’s lab created the strain. Esther admits to putting a sample of the disease in her lip gloss and making out with some Whippersnaps — she wanted her group to get some good gigs for once — but she had no idea that Liz was planning to defect. It wouldn’t have worked anyway. The Whippersnaps’ bylaws prohibit women, and only Ian’s father, William, the head of their alumni foundation, can amend them. William isn’t signing. Esther should know; she’s tried.
The finger-pointing continues. William directs the FBI to Whippersnaps Julian and Ted, who were up for the role of director until Scott found out that they were buying term papers and blackmailed them. Julian and Ted have no alibi but each other — and, in Julian’s case, the inability to make it through Legally Blonde 2 without crying — but the ladder at Whipperspace (THAT’S ITS REAL NAME) doesn’t match the wood that caused Scott’s injuries. They’re off the hook.
In this noisy case, the killer is the quietest one: Scott’s roommate, McKay. Scott stole McKay’s anxiety medication and gave it to Julian to calm his nerves, which caused McKay to have a panic attack in the middle of a presentation for an astronomy fellowship. He lost the fellowship. Upset, McKay threw a piece of meteorite at Scott’s head. Scott lost his balance and grabbed a bookshelf, which toppled over and killed him. It was all an accident, aside from the whole “feeding him to the rats” thing.
NEXT: Ratted out[pagebreak]
But why would McKay keep the meteorite? Early in the investigation, Booth reminds Aubrey that no matter how smart a college kid may be, a few mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes are all over this case — on the scientists’ side, too. New squintern Sammy Mills is already close to the Jeffersonian team, thanks to the years she’s spent doing dirty work around the lab on a work-study program, but she doesn’t take the same initiative on the forensic platform. Sammy repeats everything Brennan says back to her without making her own observations, and when she catalogs Scott’s injuries, she misses key evidence. This isn’t friendship anthropology. Brennan has to let her go.
Hodgins and Angela protest, but Cam is with Brennan: “Wanting things to work and actually making things work are two very different things.” Who wants to guess that her advice applies to more than just Sammy? Hodgins is mostly back to his old, cheerful self — he’s got rats to rehabilitate; what could be better? — but he’s been looking into an experimental surgery to restore nerve endings. Angela does not approve. Two years ago, someone died on this doctor’s operating table. Hodgins needs to value himself at least as much as he values Copernicus the rat. He accepts his wife’s argument and agrees not to do the surgery — but he’s keeping the rats.
Case closed, Booth calls the team to the house for a surprise: He’s found a video of Aubrey at the 2001 National College A Cappella Championship. The video, featuring Aubrey in a bow tie, is pretty great. The reminder to Aubrey that he’s “one of us” now is even better. But the real gift of the hour is the answer to one of the most pressing questions of the last few seasons of Bones: How old is Aubrey? He’s a “child of the ‘90s.” He can’t afford good wine. No one has ever been so millennial. But (cue up that “Angela is using a computer” music here) if the NCAC takes place in the spring, Aubrey couldn’t have entered college any later than the fall of 2000. That puts him somewhere between 34 and 37 years old. Aubrey might not even be a Millennial. I’m going to need a dozen doughnuts to work through this one.
Booth can treat — he’ll need them, too, after losing out on the chance to hike the Appalachian Trail with his eldest son. When Parker gets accepted into a summer creative writing program at Oxford, he wants to go, but he doesn’t want to disappoint his dad. He asks Brennan to talk to Booth on his behalf. (I love that Parker is the only other person out there who’s allowed to call Brennan “Bones.”) Brennan reminds Booth that it’s really Parker’s choice, and Booth gives in. (“Life needs to be enjoyed.”) Just wait until Parker tops Brennan on the bestseller list.
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Bits and pieces:
- I’m convinced that Booth would kind of hate camping on the Appalachian Trail.
- The other two members of Pentatonix really missed out.
- Brennan’s awkward attempt to comfort Sammy is cute (she taps her shoulder with an open palm, just like Zack taught her), but I think she’s progressed past such stilted empathy by now.
- “If he ends up turning out like you, I will be the proudest dad ever.”
- “The sound of a bell can make a lab rat do pretty much anything.”
- “Then what were two college kids doing in the closet at midnight?” “Singing.”
- “Oh, there’s Whipperspace.” (I rewound this three times.)
- “Convenient? We just lost a tenor right before nationals.”
- Julian, with a curtsy: “Here working, your honor.”
- “He said if I didn’t let a woman in, he’d just change the name to Whippersnappers.”