We gave it a B-
Bones’ third-to-last episode ever opens with a bad decision: a guy driving to New York to tell the girl he briefly dated, who left him over four years ago, that he wants to get back together. That should go well. And I can’t shake the feeling that Bones’ third-to-last episode ever ended with a bad decision, too.
But we’ll get to that. First, here’s a good decision: bringing back Betty White. At the diner, Booth and Brennan run into none other than Dr. Mayer, all decked out in a Jeffersonian lanyard. Brennan assumes the good doctor is here to help with the team’s latest case — a body fell from an overpass and landed right in our lovesick pal’s windshield, because the universe wants him to turn around — but it turns out Dr. Mayer has hung up her lab coat. “I never thought of you as one to retire,” Brennan says, speaking directly to Betty White on behalf of the world.
Brennan’s instincts are right. Dr. Mayer hasn’t retired; she just woke up one day and realized that her passion for forensic anthropology was gone. She’s studying prairie dogs now! May we all be even half this cool. Brennan is happy for Dr. Mayer, but all this talk of losing passion for the work obviously sticks with her, and it’s clear right away that someone is going to be on a new path before the hour is up. Call it Chekhov’s Career Disillusionment. As if this brand-new fear in my gut weren’t enough, Booth and Brennan don’t even take Dr. Mayer up on her invite to join her for lunch. I know they like their jobs, but when Betty White, who is eating alone, tells you to eat with her, YOU SIT DOWN AND YOU EAT WITH BETTY WHITE AND YOU LISTEN TO HER. YOU LISTEN TO BETTY.
At the lab, where Brennan should not be but is, Wendell is struggling to come up with a dissertation topic and ohhhhhh no, it’s going to be Wendell, isn’t it? He’s going to be the one whose heart just isn’t in this work. It’s already so obvious. Wendell can’t believe Brennan wrote five dissertations because she was curious about so many topics that she couldn’t pick one. Brennan can’t believe Wendell isn’t curious about at least five dissertation topics right now. I really feel like there’s a middle ground between loving your work as much as Brennan does and quitting it entirely — as Angela later points out, “most people don’t love their jobs.” Angela isn’t even wildly passionate about this job, and she’s stuck it out (sometimes at Brennan’s request!) for over 12 years now. But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
This week’s windshield-crashing dead body is one Ronald Bergman, otherwise known as the Mattress King of Southeast Baltimore. Booth hands the file over to Aubrey and tells him to take the lead. “So does this mean that I’m, like, your boss now?” Aubrey asks. It does not. It means that Booth wants to get back to the elaborate game of putt-putt he’s set up in his office. “If you have to ask if you’re my boss,” he sighs, mid putt, “you’re not my boss.”
Like everyone this week, Ronnie recently attempted a career change. He made a series of painfully earnest commercials for Snoozeland, his mattress emporium, and enjoyed the process so much that he decided to make movies. To quote Snoozeland manager Linda, Ronnie “said he was gonna be the next Gordon Welles.” Linda obviously doesn’t care about the classics.
Ronnie did, but the movie he wrote — a sweet story about a sick boy with an active imagination — isn’t the movie Booth and Aubrey find in production. Radioactive Party Panthers from Fort Lauderdale is your typical horror B-movie, complete with co-eds in bikinis and a lot of guys in bad neon panther suits. It looks like this change in direction is all thanks to lead actor David Faustino (did you ever think “David Faustino as David Faustino” would be a part of your Bones experience?), who wanted to be an action star and used his relative clout to make it happen.
Faustino as Faustino is a treat. When Aubrey calls him “Mr. Faustino,” the former Bud Bundy grumbles, “What am I, your grandpa? Call me Tino.” He likes to stare at his reflection when no one else is around and marvel, “Man, I still got it.” In footage from the masterpiece that is this movie, he drives a jet ski off a roof. Faustino’s character, to Hodgins’ delight, is called Pamanther: half man, half panther. (“Why? Because sometimes the only way to stop a panther is to become a panther.”) Since Pamanther’s orange claw slashed Ron’s neck, it looks like Faustino might be the killer, but if he were guilty, he wouldn’t be nearly this excited about being interrogated. He says he and Ron got into a scuffle after Faustino asked for a writing credit on the movie, but they worked it out.