It’s been almost 10 years since Booth and Brennan stood on the platform in the lab and argued about magic, and they still haven’t stopped. Back then, magic stood in for romantic attraction. Today, it’s got more to do with deception: the practical tricks people play on each other and the reasons they play them. Booth and Brennan have gone from debating love at first sight to considering the moral implications of letting their daughter believe in the tooth fairy, and the conclusion is always the same: “A little mystery is good for the soul.”
This week’s victim would probably have agreed — until her death became one of those mysteries. Up-and-coming escape artist Klarissa Mott is found murdered in the woods, leaving clues that could point to any one of her colleagues at the Magic Palace. And they all had motive; Klarissa just nabbed the coveted Friday night main stage slot, making her the natural enemy of her fire-wielding, knife-throwing peers, one of whom recently burned her in a prank gone wrong. He insists that he did it all the time; she just missed the warning signs because she’d been distracted lately. I’m not sure “pick up on all of my hints or I’ll set you on fire” counts as a prank (but tell that to guys who believe in the Friend Zone, am I right?).
Aubrey assumes that Klarissa’s distraction had something to do with the weekly cash withdrawals she made in a sketchy part of town, which is a reasonable assumption and thus, in Bones’ murder logic, wrong. She was just going to a physical therapist who made her pay cash because he lost his license when he served time in jail, obviously. Angela has better luck: Going through Klarissa’s emails, she finds a series of anonymous accusations of trick theft. The messages all trace back to Lenny Jay, Jr., son of the man who runs the Magic Palace. Lenny, Jr. assumed that Klarissa was stealing when he caught her practicing his father’s signature escape trick, the Drunken Monkey. (A vat of Scotch is involved.) In reality, Lenny, Sr. wanted Klarissa to have the trick; he was teaching her everything.
But Junior’s stalking may have yielded another lead — he saw Klarissa kissing someone in her car one night before work. She and her roommate’s boyfriend, Victor, were having an affair. Victor and his girlfriend, Anna, run a catering business together; he got truffle oil on Klarissa’s neck when they made out, causing her to break into hives and reminding everyone who’s having an affair to clear the air about all food-related allergies. Anyone can delete a few incriminating texts; reactions to fungus are harder to plan for.
Victor claims that their relationship was casual; it was just for the sex. But he did catch Anna checking his phone, and she had been acting weird lately, so there’s a chance that she caught on to the affair. Anna did catch on, because Anna is smart — smart enough not to let her boyfriend derail her career ambitions. Jealousy didn’t get the best of her. “I invested my life in this catering business,” she says. “I’m not just going to throw it away because Vic can’t keep it in his pants.” I’m glad to know that the universe of Bones is still populated by women like her.
It hasn’t been long since Cam picked her career over Arastoo. She’s okay with the choices she’s made, but she hasn’t resigned herself to a life alone just yet — but she’s also not sure that she’s ready to get back out there. What if she never finds another relationship like that? Angela, with a touch of Brennan-y bluntness, admits that she might not, but she definitely won’t if she doesn’t at least try — and there’s a hot, well-traveled photojournalist waiting for her call. Sebastian Kohl is back. He’s been mentoring Angela on her photography and spending a lot of time around the lab. Cam thinks that Kohl is trying to start something with Angela, but Angela is happily devoted to her husband, thanks very much, and anyway, Kohl is actually more interested in Cam. After some thought, Cam gives him a call.
NEXT: Not tricks, Brennan. Illusions.[pagebreak]
Elsewhere in the world of career-driven women, Brennan is having a hard time believing that she actually works in a science lab. Her coworkers — which is to say: Hodgins and Clark — seem more interested in magic. Clark tells Brennan that magic got him through a tough time in middle school, and she can respect that; she knows the perils of being “too smart” at that age. But she’s just too observant to be fooled by sleight of hand. Brennan notices everything; it’s why she empathizes so easily but still has such a hard time relating to other people. She can’t enjoy a good diversion in the same way others do; she sees right through both of Clark’s tricks and even the one Hodgins is sure will fool her. But in this lab, at least, the fact that they want to trick Brennan is enough; they care to see her entertained and are willing to work a little harder to make it happen.
Clark and Hodgins borrow the Jeffersonian’s magic exhibit to “compare the artifacts to the wounds” (sure), but their desire to win Brennan over winds up being the break in the case. She spots a padlock and chain and remembers a similar one in the Magic Palace, which Angela matches to all of Klarissa’s wounds. Klarissa was taking a new job, and Lenny, Sr. couldn’t handle it. He beat her with the chain until she died, then cleaned off the blood — but she’d already swallowed the key, so he couldn’t clean inside the padlock’s latch. Brennan unlocks it and spins some scientific jibber-jabber about how she can tell from the “frequency of the luminescence” that the blood matches Klarissa’s, and Lenny confesses to everything.
That night, Booth calls out Brennan for her little deception. Even he knew the luminescence was a lie: “You tricked him. Just say it, you little devil. Say it. You tricked the magician.” Of course she did. And she knew what she was doing, which is why she’s decided to let their daughter believe in the tooth fairy. When she wants to, Brennan can trick anyone but Booth — and Booth is the only person who can trick her. He borrows a sheet of important paperwork, rips it up, and makes it disappear; she finds it folded into her shirt pocket, all in one piece. Love, on this show, is still a kind of magic. And if that magic makes deception possible — as it’s done too often lately, between Jared and the gambling — it also leaves room for the tooth fairy. Here’s hoping we stick with that kind of love for a nice, long while.
Bits and pieces:
- I don’t like it when Booth and Brennan talk about what they’d do if one of them died. Can we pretend they’re each immortal? Thanks.
- The score to this episode gave me serious Harry Potter vibes.
- “She might know something that we don’t know. Look, there was a time when everyone thought that the world was flat. It took someone like Dr. Brennan to tell them they were wrong. The world changed.” That is such a great speech. I wish it could be about something more consequential than the tooth fairy.
- “I don’t know; her front one.”
- “It’s exciting that you know your oils. Can we get back to work now?”
- “Oh look, you made Dr. B disappear.”
- “You are both grown men, and, to the best of my knowledge, scientists.”