By Mandi Bierly
Updated March 13, 2009 at 10:30 PM EDT
Greg Gayne/Fox

When I first saw that this episode, directed by David Boreanaz, involved a dead car salesman…who used to work for a man named Jungle Jim…who walks around with a monkey on his back…I was nervous. (That circus episode really did a number on me.) But, if the show insists upon giving us a steady stream of goofy cases, then this is what I want to see: Foaming bones, multiple lockdowns, and everyone (even Angela, who acknowledged that she’s never asked to do anything) working.

The episode began with everyone’s favorite TV rating, TV-14-DLS — oh, you love the ‘S’, too — and one of the grossest put-your-dinner-down corpse shots we’ve seen on the show. (Protruding bones, not my thing. But apparently, Boreanaz’s. We got a lot of close-ups.) A just-married wedding couple took a bungee-plunge and came face-to-face with Alex Newcomb, a car salesman we’d find out was murdered by his sister-in-law after he caught her having sex with her husband’s boss to save his job. (This economy is tough.) Brennan’s intern for this episode was the fact-happy Mr. Nigel-Murray, who has now grown on me. Turns out he’s not arrogant, he just needs to spout something he knows so he doesn’t freak out about something he doesn’t know. Which in this episode was why the bones were dissolving and what murder weapon was used. I was a little annoyed that the team kept pushing Cam to release the remains to them before she was satisfied that they weren’t toxic — considering the woman almost died when Booth rushed her to crack open that skull in the Howard Epps case. Also perplexing (but not as potentially lethal) was Brennan having to ask Booth “What’s the sensitive way of saying ‘murdered’?” when they went to Jungle Jim’s to question Alex’s brother, Chet. It’s a funny line, yes. (As funny as Brennan pointing to Booth’s badge with a banana when he showed his ID to Mighty Mo.) But as the woman herself pointed out later in the episode, she’s been involved in 74 interrogations. That much she could’ve picked up by now.

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The best part of Brennan and Booth questioning Jungle Jim was, of course, the look on their faces when Jungle Jim explained the reason he’d fired Alex: After Jim threatened to reduce Alex’s commission if he didn’t return to his top salesman form, Alex shoved Bananas the monkey off of Jim’s shoulder — and wouldn’t apologize to Bananas. (“I think it shows a basic lack of humanity to push a monkey. No wonder somebody killed him,” he said.) While the boys, meaning Hodgins and Nigel-Murray, were busy discovering that they were losing 12 percent of the bone mass every hour, Brennan watched Booth question a man who’d bought a lemon from Alex and decided that she needs to learn how to manipulate people, too. (Brennan has been so enthusiastic in season 4.) Since Sweets worked his way through grad school teaching psychological techniques to used car salesmen (of course, he did), he’s the man to teach her. Honestly, if she’s going to be accompanying Booth in the field, she should learn that kind of stuff.

It was great to see Hodgins back to his old “King of the Lab” self. He discovered Strawberry Lust Dust on the victim’s lap, which sent Brennan and Booth on a mission to earn that ‘S.’ She accompanied him to a strip club to question “Miss Lust” because she wanted to observe his interview technique…and watch him get a $60 lap dance that she paid for. (It would’ve been so easy for them to make the Brennan character a prude at the start of the series — so grateful they went the complete opposite direction.) After determining that Miss Lust was not a suspect (“Because all I do is gyrate, and that never killed anyone”) — and the obligatory “That’s my gun” joke (naughty Booth, staying behind) — we cut over to Brennan’s first and, sadly, probably last lesson with Sweets. “Should I have become physical?” she asked, when he told her that she correctly identified his anger face but gave a poor response. The look on Emily Deschanel’s face at that moment — a combo of exasperation and disappointment — perfection. Bones isn’t used to being bad at something.

We got more lockdowns as the boys continued their quest to ID the causes of foam and death. First the corpse caught fire, then it became petrified. Meanwhile Booth tried to scare straight answers out of Buddy the car salesman by test-driving a sports car (that I can’t even be bothered to look up the name of). I guess he probably would’ve learned badass defensive driving for the job. And I get it, keep Buddy busy so he can’t think of how to swindle you. But it just seemed a little cheesy. Or maybe that was just the cut to Buddy’s “Wha’ happened” face after the ride was over.

Bones’ interrogation of Mighty Mo, one could argue, was actually a similar technique. (Or is Booth really just that much of a pushover where Brennan’s concerned now?) Bones did her usual thing — taking everything someone says literally — and jokester Mo straightened up and told Brennan how Alex had been throwing sales to Chet, who was struggling.

Hodgins confirmed that Alex had been soaked in hydrofluoric acid, and Angela — yay, Angela! — just happened to be finishing up a computer program that could regrow bones. She CGI’d Brennan an image of the body (which saved Cam from cracking the corpse’s hard candy coating — though I sorta wanted to see what that would’ve looked like). Brennan determined that the murder weapon was a pair of sheers. Tailor sheers, Angela guessed. And Booth and Brennan were off to question Chet’s wife, who admitted she killed Alex so he wouldn’t tell Chet about her one-time offer to Jungle Jim.

In the end, this episode was about Bones admitting that Booth was better at something than she was — people skills. It took one of Angela’s much-missed “Sweetie” moments to get Brennan to understand it: He’s brilliant at playing stupider than he actually is for her (because he knows she likes to be the smart one) and for suspects (if he thinks it will work in his favor). Are we supposed to think that that’s why Booth has been goofier this season? He’s doing it because he cares so much for Bones that he’s unconsciously attempting to woo her with the wacky that allows her to feel superior? Not sure.

So what did you think of the episode? Did you notice anything different with Boreanaz behind the camera? (He told me he wanted to bring movement to shots, and I think he had a couple of nice ones — their first arrival at Jungle Jim’s and when they found blood on the floor.) Would you have preferred that the episode end with the sweetness that was Booth lying to Brennan about her interrogation, and assuring her that she’s got empathy? (“You’re awkward. That’s different.” Doesn’t read sweet, but it was.) Or, do you like that we got some more double entendres after Booth abandoned Brennan in the middle of the road when her driving wasn’t as “gentle” as he liked? (“No, it’s no fun by myself. At least help me to get it into first gear.”) And finally, when they do hit the sheets, do you want it gentle or uninhibited? (Hey, I just earned an ‘S’!)