I don’t think we just went back in time to 2006, but I can’t be sure. (As Michael Scott would say, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.”) This week’s Bones is told through the lens of fictional documentary series America in Profile, which just happens to be covering the FBI’s partnership with the Jeffersonian. The Office-style setup leads to some of the best jokes and most heartbreaking callbacks of the past few seasons, but the episode reads like it was pitched a decade ago, and not just because the mockumentary format is old news. Its take on our characters is a bit outdated, too. But maybe that’s intentional; over the course of the hour, we get to watch Booth and Brennan stop being polite with the cameras and start getting real. At the end of the day — are you getting this, cameras? — I smiled my way through this one. And isn’t that the point?
Here’s what “The Movie in the Making” gets absolutely right: It nails the way our team relates to the camera crew. Booth and Brennan are friendly but guarded. Arastoo wants to tell the perfect story. Cam wants to hide. Angela is comfortable. Hodgins is ready to throw the whole crew a barbecue and invite everyone to live with him, cameras rolling, for the rest of his life, especially when there’s evidence to share. But this case matters more to Hodgins than it does to anyone behind the camera — hilariously, America in Profile sets out to document a professional partnership between two government organizations and winds up more interested in the team’s relationship drama. Film crews: They’re just like us.
The case of the week, if anyone outside the FBI and the Jeffersonian cares, revolves around Brandon Bloom, who disappeared in 2006 (of course) at the age of 25. His body turns up at the dump, and signs on the bones point to abuse, meaning Booth has to notify Brandon’s father even as he’s treating the man like a suspect. Roy and his son had a strained relationship after Brandon dropped out of college, but he insists that Brandon’s childhood injuries were all caused by skateboarding. But Angela catches Roy in a different lie: Despite his claim that he hasn’t talked to his son since his birthday, they talked on the phone for seven minutes on the night of Brandon’s death.
That same night, Roy checked into the hospital with a broken eye socket. He tells Booth that the punch was courtesy of a bookie who wanted his money. In need of a ride home from the hospital, Roy called his son, but Brandon didn’t want anything to do with him — which explains why Roy didn’t assume the worst when his son dropped out of his life. Booth’s gut says that Roy didn’t do it, but Brennan worries that her husband’s sympathy for a fellow gambling addict is coloring his judgment. It’s not. When will everyone learn to trust the gut?
And Brandon had some financial troubles of his own: He owed $3,000 to his old friend Carl Collins. The guys went into the T-shirt business together, because nothing says overnight success like a neon green T-shirt with two pigs “porking” on the back. They didn’t sell a single shirt. Carl tries the old “Bloom was my boy” alibi, suggesting that the FBI look at Brandon’s ex-girlfriend, but it’s a diversion — Hodgins finds a neon green fiber on the bones. When Brandon asked his friend to give him his money back so he could go back to school, Carl hit him with a tennis racket. Brandon fell into a band saw and severed an artery.
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Now back to the camera crew’s favorite thing: drama. Cam and Arastoo are back together, and it doesn’t take long for the cameras to pick up on their chemistry — mainly because they’re terrible at hiding it. “There’s nothing special about my relationship with Dr. Vaziri,” Cam offers, making it weird. “It’s no different than my relationship with any of the other interns.” Someone put her out of her misery.
The crew spends the rest of the doc prying into everyone’s business. We get the usual stories, like Hodgins’ paralysis and the teasing Brennan dealt with as a child, but we also get new footage of the Hodgins-Montenegro clan at home and new childhood pictures of Booth and Brennan (and David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel). There’s a great running bit about how often Hodgins calls himself the king of the lab. “He also calls himself the king of the break room,” Arastoo says. “King of the parking lot. Oh, and once, after making an anonymous donation, he was the king of modesty.” Cut to Brennan: “I once heard Dr. Hodgins refer to himself as the king of Egypt.”
NEXT: Career Day
If Hodgins is the only one calling himself the king of the lab, that’s because Zack isn’t around to compete with him. In the process of pushing our team to open up, the crew does the impossible: They find a way to get Hodgins to talk about Zack Addy. It’s too bad that our first non-flashback Zack mention in nine seasons (!) has to be a sad one — I’d rather remember the good times — but it’s been NINE SEASONS, so clearly Hodgins doesn’t talk about Zack unless he’s backed into a corner. “He was a sweet kid and a really dear friend,” Hodgins says. “I think just working here, around all the death and murder, it was a little too much.” He says “was,” but I’ll still believe that he pays Zack regular visits until I’m told otherwise.
Arastoo handles the Vincent memorial, telling the cameras that Brennan took his death hard because, whether she’ll admit it or not, she sees her interns as her children. As for Booth and Brennan, they eulogize Sweets. “I would argue that he’s probably the reason why we’re together,” Booth says. “Together,” as usual, involves plenty of bickering. I don’t always buy it; even with cameras in the room, I’m not sure I see why Brennan would pretend not to like her nickname. She hasn’t complained about being called “Bones” since season 1. But Booth isn’t buying her protests, either.
The big debate of the hour revolves around Christine: It’s Career Day at school, and Booth and Brennan can’t decide what they want her to be when she grows up. (Plot twist: It’s not their call.) Brennan votes forensic anthropologist, while Booth is pulling for pro hockey player. Didn’t they already work this out on a smaller scale a few weeks ago? Brennan wanted Parker’s summer plans to be his choice, and Booth said that he’d be proud if his son turns out like her. They should probably listen to themselves.
In any case, Christine has other plans: She wants to be a car salesman. Is it likely that she’ll still want to be a car salesman in five years? Not very. But Brennan knew what she wanted to be at that age, so she panics — at least until she helps their daughter set up a toy car dealership in their living room. Maybe Christine won’t be a forensic anthropologist, but someone else in her class seems interested when Brennan stops by to share what she does for a living. Christine’s straight-talking classmates are the real comedic heroes of this hour. “I want to be the mayor of Mars,” one declares. A less decisive classmate grips his glasses and stares into the abyss of adulthood: “I have to think about it.”
In the most charming choice of the hour, the documentary wraps up by asking everyone on our team what they want to be when they “grow up.” Brennan wants to be a mom to the world’s best car salesperson. Booth, still trying to even out his cosmic balance sheet, wants to be someone who’s given more than he’s taken. Aubrey wants to be a kid. Angela wants to “be somebody who sees beauty in the world and is able to share it with those around her,” while Hodgins wants to never stop looking. And Arastoo wants to be a husband and a father — an answer Cam catches from the doorway. Arastoo asks the crew to stop filming, but Cam knows they’re past that. They’re so far past it that she proposes — and Arastoo accepts.
“What do I want to be when I grow up?” Cam repeats to the camera. “Ooh, that’s a personal question. I don’t really feel comfortable answering it.”
Bits and pieces: