After too many lies, too many days apart, and too many gruesome self-surgeries on bullet wounds (one is too many), Booth and Brennan are finally, really back — not only back together, but back on the job. It’s time for them to make something good out of death again. For Brennan, the transition is easy; when she makes a decision, she doesn’t look back. But Booth just lost his brother. He’d be fighting an uphill battle even if everything were normal at the Bureau, where nothing is. He can’t even have his old office.
While Aubrey kicks back in Booth’s chair, Booth balances his bobblehead bobby on the corner of his new bullpen desk — which, yes, is Aubrey’s old one. Sometimes I wonder why Booth loves the FBI so much. It doesn’t usually love him back. Then again, Booth has never expected anything good to come out of the act of love. If he were in it for the rewards, he wouldn’t have given up so much to protect Jared. Booth is still upset that he couldn’t save his brother — and to make things worse, Jared’s ashes have gone missing. That should get these first days back at work off to a nice, emotionally stable start.
At least he’s got a murder as distraction. Lloyd Nesbit, an inventor, is found dead in a fish farm. Most of his internal organs were removed for harvesting. With the help of a black market Craigslist, Angela tracks Nesbit’s organs to someone known as The Matchmaker — then, since the website is heavily encrypted, Aubrey works up a sting to lure The Matchmaker to them. My only regret is that it’s not a long-term, deep-cover operation: You never really know someone until you know how good they are at undercover work. Aubrey seems pretty good at it. He’s anxious and twitchy (probably getting into character as someone who hasn’t had three breakfasts already) as he baits The Matchmaker, Nina Slocum, into promising $50 grand in exchange for a lobe of his liver.
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Back at the lab, Brennan and Angela narrow down a list of potential suspects, and one of them stands out: Rodney Dale’s young daughter recently received Nesbit’s kidney — despite being removed from the transplant waiting list. Dale even had access to Nesbit’s medical records. But though he admits to buying the kidney online, he claims to have no idea that anyone was killed for it. He regrets that part, but not enough to give up the name of the surgeon. His daughter has Wilson’s disease, and he’s not going to tattle on anyone who might be in a position to save her life again down the line.
It’s fitting that a case about recycling dead bodies should have so many dead ends. Hodgins finds skin cells in a wound on one of the bones, and they don’t all belong to Nesbit. The skin cells come from the victim of a recent fatal drive-by shooting; the wounds were made by a mortician’s trocar button. Putting two and two together, the mortician who handled the first victim is the one who cut into Nesbit — and maybe even killed him. Which is great news, because Booth and Brennan are historically so good at playing it cool in funeral homes.
It takes Brennan fewer than 60 seconds to interrupt a funeral and rip open the deceased’s shirt. Where Uncle Billy’s abs should be, there’s only an awful, gaping hole. It’s bad. The mortician, Vargas, didn’t even try. Note to Vargas: If you’re going to steal someone’s organs, at least try to be subtle. Vargas admits to harvesting body parts but claims that Nesbit’s body was delivered to him by a trusted friend. He was told that the victim was in a car accident. Aubrey thinks that Slocum was that friend — she’s in Vargas’ phone records — but the mortician isn’t talking unless someone offers him a full pardon.
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Evidence does back up one part of Vargas’ story: It looks like the wounds on Nesbit’s body were made by a vehicle. Slocum’s car is a match, and there’s blood in the back, but — like everyone else in this very frustrating case — she denies doing the killing. And the wounds are all off: The measurements match, but not the angle or force. As it turns out, Nesbit wasn’t hit by a whole car — just a part of one. The killer struck him with a bumper guard, which Slocum doesn’t have.
Booth puts it all together, but of course he does: He’s back in his office. Aubrey can’t let his mentor languish out there with the common folk, so he relinquishes his throne — and trades up to a corner office. Why couldn’t Booth have that? Why does the FBI reject his love? Why did Nesbit do the same to his long-suffering assistant? Tim Dipley worked under Nesbit for six years, literally giving his kidney to fund the cause, and he never saw a penny of a raise. Their windfall never came. Dipley snapped. He did donate his boss’ organs to save a few lives in exchange, but the murder charge still stands.
Case one of un-retirement in the books, Booth and Brennan go home to their kids. Christine wanted to have a sleepover with her little brother, so she climbed into Hank’s crib — and she used a certain misplaced box to do it. This is the best thing Jared has ever done: give one sibling a boost to reach another. That box isn’t going anywhere. Anyway, Booth knows the real problem was never the missing ashes. It’s just the missing brother.
Years ago, Booth told Brennan that there’s more than one kind of family. Work families matter, too. Brennan echoed that idea last week when she realized that if Booth died, she’d need to lean on everyone in the office, and although it never came to that, the office still rallied this week. Cam and Arastoo are taking a break, and everyone wants to make it better. “Why is it that every happy couple I know treats me like I’m broken now that I’m not in a relationship?” Cam wonders, as women across the country yell, “I KNOW, right??” at the screen.
Cam’s No. 1 relationship has always been with herself. She tells Brennan that she’s worried about having to choose between a relationship and her job, but she’s even more worried by the fact that she might be okay with choosing work. She feels guilty. But as Brennan points out, that “doesn’t mean [she] made the wrong choice.” I think the moral of this story is that career women get things done and watch each other’s backs while career men sell their own organs for people they later murder. Thanks, Bones.
Bits and pieces: