Lace up your skates and prepare for bruises — Bones is getting back on the ice. It’s been more than seven seasons since a case took Booth and Brennan to the ice hockey rink, with adorable results. A lot has changed over the years… Brennan knows the difference between a goal and a basket now, so Booth can count that as a victory. There’s also the small matter of the two kids they didn’t have back then. Hank and Christine are growing, and Booth and Brennan need to find a way to make room for their futures without losing track of the past — because despite all the rough days, the past is also when he took her hand on the ice and told her he wouldn’t let her fall. They can’t lose that.
Booth and Brennan are doing their best to declutter their house when a body turns up in the Anacostia River. Without a head to work with, the team is lost on an ID until Booth gets involved. You read that right: Whether he likes it or not, Booth is an honorary squint tonight. He knows a hockey injury when he hears one. The body belongs to Seth Lang, a seven-time all-star hockey player currently on the roster of a local team. (Please enjoy the nonspecific jerseys emblazoned with “SK8” and a club from a deck of cards.)
The team’s previous owner, Jerry Stober, died last year, leaving his young wife Katie to run the show. Katie, who makes a big display of how frazzled she still is a year later, directs Booth to the head coach, hockey legend Jeremy Roenick. Booth lights up: “J.R.!” He acts like he was waiting for permission to talk to Roenick, but it’s safe to say Booth was going to make that conversation happen no matter what. When Katie jokes that Booth should put on some skates and interrupt practice, Brennan sighs — and doesn’t stop sighing until another seven seasons have passed. Booth doesn’t need that kind of encouragement.
Booth would bring his skates to an interrogation, wouldn’t he? Our favorite government-employed hockey enthusiast slides up to Roenick on the ice and asks if anyone had issues with Lang. The coach offers up Drew Poppleton, an enforcer. Drew’s whole job was to guard Lang, but Lang thought he slowed them down; he wanted Drew gone. Aubrey interrogates Drew while Booth takes a shot on goal to help a player win a bet. (Booth! That’s gambling-adjacent behavior!) His priorities have always been in line. As for Drew, he’s pretty dim, but he says he wasn’t worried about losing his job. Plenty of other teams are interested.
The records at Lang’s gated neighborhood show he was visited three nights in a row by equipment manager Daryl Patterson, who happens to have history with Booth. (Booth. Knows. Everyone.) Daryl played hockey opposite Booth in high school, and Booth won the championship on a goal that some (just Daryl, really) might call controversial. This guy can’t let it go. He tries to hold his own alibi over the FBI’s head in exchange for a rematch, which is a stunning combination of illegal and clueless.
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Daryl explains he was setting up an infinity rink, sort of like an ice-skating treadmill, which sounds cooler than either ice skating or treadmills have ever sounded on their own. He leaves out the fact that he was selling Lang’s gear on eBay, but only because he didn’t steal it; Lang gave him permission. Katie slashed the budget and cut salaries, so Lang worked out a way for Daryl to make extra cash on the side. There goes Katie’s public image. She isn’t nearly as “scatterbrained” as she’d like people to believe, and she’s been tanking the team on purpose in order to move it to a bigger market, which could net her hundreds of millions of dollars.
NEXT: Game of drones
Katie isn’t the only one with secrets in this investigation. Angela finds a photo of Lang at a bar with an angry-looking woman — who’s also been spotted with a handful of Lang’s teammates. Alex Conrad seems like your typical hockey groupie, but she’s four months pregnant and refuses to tell Aubrey anything about the father. Something more is going on here. Let’s go back to that missing head. Hodgins sciences his way into a general area on the river where the head should be, then buys two drones. One is for him; the other is for intern-of-the-week Oliver, who needs to pay for trash-talking his way through a video game with Hodgins. The race to be king of the drone is on.
The guys scan the river, but it takes a butt-related insult from Oliver (the American people pay their salaries) to lead Hodgins to the right location: a bridge abutment. In what sounds like a good idea at the time (to him), Hodgins snatches the head with his drone and flies it back to the Jeffersonian. Hodgins, no. That could definitely contaminate the evidence. Also, PEOPLE COULD SEE IT. And they do. The FBI is swamped with complaints, so Booth sends Aubrey to give Hodgins and Oliver a stern warning. Aubrey pretends to comply, but he really doesn’t care. I think everyone in this office is tired and could use a vacation.
It’s a good thing the head turns out to be the key to the investigation. Lang was hit in the noggin by a hockey stick, and there’s no such thing as a generic hockey stick to a pro — or to Booth, who recognizes the wounds as a match for Drew’s stick. As it turns out, Drew is the father of Alex’s baby. Alex is a corporate drug dealer, supplying hockey players like Drew with painkillers and other illicit substances. Drew didn’t appreciate the fact that Lang planned to turn in Alex, so he hit his teammate on the head and drowned him in a cold tub. “I didn’t want my kid to grow up with a mother behind bars,” he argues. How’s a father behind bars sound?
We went the whole case without anyone suspecting Booth of murder; that’s a Bones hockey first. But Daryl does suspect Booth of profiting from a bad call. His high school “rival” is still pulling for a rematch, so Booth obliges, but this is a much bigger deal for one of them than it is for the other. Daryl brings a whole crowd of people to cheer him on; Booth just brings Brennan. Clad in his Flyer gear, Booth looks over at his wife — and intentionally misses the shot. Classic Booth. For everything that’s changed, he’s still that kind of enforcer. Booth and Brennan make a big show of cleaning out things they don’t need anymore, but the most they can manage is a few pairs of socks and three books, respectively. Letting go of pride is one thing. Letting go of the Cocky belt buckle? Never going to happen.
Bits and pieces: