'Bones' recap: 'The Putter in the Rough'
A competitive mini golfer is found murdered; no actual tiki gods are harmed.
Bones must have the largest collection of emotionally significant rings on television. From her mother’s old family ring to the dolphin that sent her into an existential tailspin, Temperance Brennan doesn’t put a ring on her finger unless it Means Something. (And now she’s married, so the tradition continues.) Maybe this is all her way of compensating for a ring she lost when she was little—which, like everything in her childhood, turns out to be the start of a much deeper and creepier story. Nothing is easy when your dad is a criminal in hiding.
Having a daughter has brought Brennan closer to her father; she needs the child care, she wants Christine to have a bigger family than the one she grew up with, and Max did help her evade the FBI’s arrest one time. But there’s still a part of her that always expects him to run away, so when Max announces that he has to go out of town—and he can’t tell her why—Brennan jumps to the worst-case scenario. Booth jokingly offers to track Max’s movements, which Brennan takes him up on—so he actually does it, because that’s how these two work. And then they distract themselves by solving a murder.
The body of a man named Troy Carter is found on a bridge; Troy worked in landscaping, but his passion was mini golf, and no one on this show has ever taken passion lightly. Hodgins is passionate about his toys. Brennan is passionate about being angry at Max. The guy who found the body was passionate about being the least important man in the world. Competitive miniature golf is an entire subculture that no one knew about—least of all Aubrey, who repeats everything Troy’s brother says with escalating shock. “Mini golf has a Masters?” It does. It’s called the Mini Masters, and this year, it’s being held on Troy’s home turf: Sammy’s Tropical Tiki.
Owner Sammy Tucker and his hand-model wife Lori are the only people at the course to express any sadness for Troy’s passing; everyone else would just like Booth and Brennan to get out of the way so they can get back to lint-rolling their argyle sweater vests and diagramming the physics of putt putt. “This whole game’s about physics, sweetheart!” says golfer Winston Suggs. Brennan doesn’t punch him for it, but she does shoot him a warning glance, mom-style, and then request that an entire tiki hut be moved to the lab for examination.
Troy was emailing—and sleeping with—an 18-year-old contestant named Darla Simms, who says that a man once burst in on them together and dragged Troy out of their hotel room. It was dark, and she didn’t get a clear look at him, but she’s able to give the sketch artist a perfect description anyway. The man who grabbed Troy was his brother Jake, who claims that he just wanted to stop him from getting inappropriate with a girl half his age. Jake isn’t without motive, though; their landscaping business has been in a financial freefall ever since Troy got serious about mini golf.
The tiki hut has equidistant holes in the wall that appear to be made by bullet fragments. When Hodgins and intern-of-the-week Wendell clean Troy’s bones, they find bullet wounds in three points of his chest, but all from different angles. If someone tied Troy to a spinning windmill before shooting him, that would really be the mini golf murder I never knew I needed, but it’s nothing so colorful. Troy was actually shot by a new style of bullet called a multiple-impact round, which splits into three projectiles connected by kevlar strands. The initial wounds weren’t enough to kill him, so Troy hid in the hut, where he was murdered with a shot to the head.
NEXT: A hand model, mama. A finger jockey.
Only one suspect in this case owns a multiple-impact weapon: Sammy Tucker. Troy was planning a trip to South Africa for a mini golf world championship, so Booth assumes that Sammy felt betrayed, but Sammy insists that he was actually paying for the trip and tagging along. The killer is his wife, Lori, who was jealous of how much time her husband spent with Troy. (“I was just a couple of beautiful hands that could pay the bills.”) Their joy ride to Johannesburg was the last straw. Lori shot Troy to protect her marriage—which, for those playing along at home, is not self-defense.
Max, meanwhile, is picked up in Ohio for grave-robbing. He’s caught exhuming a man named Marvin Barlow, one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted; the FBI didn’t even know he was dead until Max dug up his body, which is how Booth convinces them to drop all charges. Booth knows that even when Max operates on a slightly different morality system, he has his family’s best interests in mind. Since Brennan is less willing to forgive, Booth invites Max over to let him explain: Barlow is the man who found Brennan’s parents once they’d gone into hiding, forcing them to go on the run and leave their kids behind. He’s also the man who once stole Brennan’s ring from her room while she was sleeping, using it as proof that he could kill her whenever he wanted. Brennan’s life is dark. But now she has Booth and a daughter who can wear the ring that Max took back from the evidence locker at the morgue, and who could ask for anything more than that?
Bits and pieces:
- I assumed, as Booth did, that Vince McVicar was the man who drove Brennan’s parents away, but it’s not a stretch to think that Barlow could have been with him—or that one man found them and the other wasn’t far behind. In any case, it’s been too long since Bones delved into Brennan’s childhood. This was a welcome return.
- “I wish it still fit; I loved this ring” sounds even more innocent when delivered by someone with a cold.
- Wendell is still in good health (hooray!) and still dating Andie the nurse, who seems to have traded her sweet but intense personality for an entirely generic one. I’m not sure that we know Andie well enough to invest in this relationship, but she and Wendell do have a symbolic clock now, which is always a good start.
- Wendell should have known that the clock was already broken. Didn’t he watch ‘80s sitcoms?
- “Ohhh, so she can see how wonderful you are. That’s sweet.”
- Hodgins is the Craigslist whisperer.
- “Sammy said Troy was gonna be the Jack Nicholson of mini golf!”