A national scandal lands on Booth and Brennan's Thanksgiving table.

By Kelly Connolly
November 20, 2015 at 05:07 AM EST
Credit: Patrick McElhenney/Fox
S11 E8
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One of these is a first for Bones: A dead reporter who knew too much, powerful men in suits trying to regulate the Jeffersonian’s investigation, arguments about national security, Thanksgiving.

If you guessed Thanksgiving, congratulations! Political intrigue is par for the (very elite) course in Booth and Brennan’s life, but having a community of family and friends to welcome to their table? That’s new — which is why I almost wish that this week’s case could have done us the courtesy of not being quite so important and maybe wrapping up a little bit faster…or maybe not happening at all. I’d watch these people have dinner together for an hour any time.

But it wouldn’t be a Bones holiday without a dead body, and we’ve got a significant one tonight. Vivian Prince, the foremost political reporter in the country, is found dead at a golf club not long after breaking a Snowden-like story about invasive NSA surveillance tactics. Booth finds her actions unacceptable — the story outed countless operatives and made them targets — but Hodgins and Brennan think it’s possible that, in the long term, history will be on Vivian’s side. It’s been a long time since a case stirred up serious political tension within the team, and to be honest, I’ve kind of missed the heavy-handedness.

Subtlety is not in the cards for anyone today. Booth and Brennan question the head of Greystream Solutions, the organization that Vivian exposed as an NSA hit squad, and — throwing in the occasional “if” to keep it all hypothetical — he admits not only to running a hit squad, but also to listening in on the entire investigation. Hodgins, whose paranoia is finally justified (Justifiably Paranoid Hodgins is my favorite Hodgins), suspects that Ryan Gill, the NSA agent who stopped by the Jeffersonian earlier, never actually expected Cam to allow him access to the case. He was just there to plant bugs.

Gill shows up again at the Bureau, where he tells Aubrey that he wants justice as much as anyone. Aubrey doesn’t trust the pretty-sounding words, but he does accept Gill’s tip: Kate Kolfax, the up-and-coming reporter who was so eager to cover Vivian’s death, has an encryption key that she’s trying to use to decode emails between Vivian and her source, who was known only as The American. Aubrey agrees to do an interview with Kate, then flips the script on her and gets her to admit that she broke in to Vivian’s apartment. Kate took Vivian’s laptop to learn more about The American, but she couldn’t crack the code. She swears that’s all there is to it.

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Kate had no idea how hardcore Vivian’s security protocol really was: It wouldn’t decrypt without a drop of Vivian’s blood. Intern-of-the-week Rodolfo manages to extract some from the marrow, and they’re in business. Vivian was supposed to meet The American at an inn that caters to the Washington elite. Everyone pays cash, there are no phones or WiFi, and all signals are jammed. I’m a little bit concerned that an inn has better signal jammers than the Jeffersonian Institute, but it definitely doesn’t have a better cleaning crew; Brennan finds blood spatter on the curtains. A staffer also remembers seeing Vivian at the hotel about six months ago. Her husband caught her in an affair, and he seemed ready to kill her.

Nothing we know about Vivian’s interactions with her ex-husband, Sal, makes it seem like they had a good relationship. For one, there’s the divorce. There’s also the fact that he shoved her into a table. Vivian was amending her alimony to cut off Sal entirely, but he insists that he’d asked her to do it and continues to claim that they were in a good place when she died. Sal suggests that they look at the man she was cheating with, but he never saw the guy’s face; all he knows is that the guy had really nice shoes.

That guy was Ryan Gill. Hodgins figures it out when they comb the room at the inn for fingerprints and other DNA; Gill’s are the only prints they find. He was in the room when Booth and Brennan got there, and although he claimed to be carrying out his own investigation, he was actually covering his tracks. But here’s the twist: Gill wasn’t sleeping with Vivian. Gill was The American. When Vivian’s ex-husband caught them together, she destroyed her own marriage in order to protect her informant.

NEXT: Faux-furkey for one

Booth wants to bring in Gill for questioning, even though exposing him as The American means putting his life at risk, but Hodgins argues that there must be a way to talk to Gill in private. When Parker shows up at the diner — an unexpected Thanksgiving treat courtesy of Brennan — Booth accepts that some secrets are kept for a reason. (Again, there’s no subtlety tonight, and I love it.) He meets Gill at the inn, where Gill says that Vivian was just getting started; she had another whole thumb drive of information to share. But he also reveals that 10 minutes ago, the Jeffersonian found evidence that Greystream head Blackthorn tortured Vivian. If Blackthorn is the killer, then Gill’s life is no longer in danger. Booth takes him into custody as Joan Callamezzo’s Gotcha Dancers flood the room.

But the Gotcha Dancers are nothing if not misinformed, and everyone may have jumped the gun on this one — although, to be fair, it’s logical to assume that a person’s torturer is also her killer. It just doesn’t happen to be true this time. Vivian refused to give in to Blackthorn’s tactics; she knew that her death would expose Greystream, so Blackthorn walked away. Back at the drawing board, Brennan figures out that one of the murder weapons was a metal detector, and Gill just happens to carry one on him at all times. He thought that Vivian would be more discreet with the information she chose to share, but Vivian was fighting to stay relevant in an industry that was ready to push her out for someone younger and prettier. Gill killed her for putting innocent people at risk. It’s too bad he’s the killer; he probably could have brokered a nice, lasting peace between Booth and Hodgins.

Then again, they’re more than capable of doing that on their own. Hodgins snoops around Vivian’s office until he finds the missing thumb drive, then hands it over to Booth; he trusts his friend to do the right thing with the information. Booth says that he’s going to destroy it, which seems…excessive? There must be some actionable information on there. What about his whole “go after the people in charge” argument? Booth doesn’t expose innocent people for nothing, but he’s also the last person who’d ever want to just sit back and accept corruption in the government.

Maybe Brennan will help him find a compromise; she’s done it before. There’s both turkey and faux-furkey on that table for a reason — it’s a metaphor for their lives. Now sit down, and enjoy the feast.

Bits and pieces:

  • The more Hodgins-and-Booth time we get, the better.
  • Same goes for Booth-in-a-flannel-shirt time.
  • I like that all it takes is one look at Booth, and Gill trusts him not to have any recording devices.
  • Mark my words: Ryan Gill was described on the casting call as a “Joel McHale type.”
  • “We know who you are.” Ryan Gill: the Harriet Jones of this Bones episode.
  • Emily Deschanel really should get to do more comedy. “Ha! Body.”
  • “No, kids act like kids.”
  • “FBI! Uh, partner of the FBI.”
  • “What Booth means is that if I can beat him, it’s not a sport.”
  • “And as you’re a writer, I made the mistake of thinking that you actually knew what the hell you were saying.”
  • “You do know that we’re married, right?”

Episode Recaps


Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz play a will-they-won’t-they crime-solving duo.
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