Bones recap: 'The Tutor in the Tussle'
Don't let your privileged babies grow up to be murderers
Listen up, squints. Fisher is back. The gloomiest intern of them all stirs up scandal in the office when he insults Brennan’s books to her coworker-family. He’s “more into the nihilists’ work. Nietzsche. Kierkegaard. Garfield.” (“Like the cartoon cat?” “Mmm.”) But Fisher, to spoil this episode’s most satisfying twist, is full of it. He loves Brennan’s books. Bones has never been entirely comfortable with Fisher’s pessimism because Bones is, at its core, a hopeful show, so this last season gives him closure not by telling him he’s wrong, but by revealing that he never really believed he was right.
Take Fisher’s response to this week’s body. When Angela worries that she’s going to have a hard time identifying the victim, Fisher tries the old “Can any of us really identify each other?” argument: “Kierkegaard would say that the very idea of individual identity was long ago subsumed by the specter of the public.” I really am going to miss his drama. But the idea that we’re just faces in a crowd — that we’re defined by other people — is one this show has always fought against. The Jeffersonian team is working to give this victim a name as we speak.
That name is Austin Wilson. (He wore contacts, and the team pulled a fingerprint, which is so cool I have a hard time believing it took 12 seasons to try it.) Austin, age 24, was a foster kid, a Princeton graduate, and a med school hopeful. His roommate, Benny, gets defensive when Booth acts surprised about his background, but Brennan assures him that they don’t look down on foster kids; she was one. And look where she is. Like Austin — and everyone on this show — Brennan pushed back against the system and defined herself.
And if we learned anything from Brennan’s surprise party, it’s that she is now so comfortable with who she is that she doesn’t need outside validation. Sure, she might call out Amy Bryan, who runs the tutoring company where Austin worked, for not listing Brennan’s alma mater in the country’s top schools. But when Booth and Brennan pay a visit to a high-strung mom, Sue Casey, who won’t let her son Jacob settle for anything less than Harvard, Brennan is the first one to tell her to chill. Jacob’s SAT scores are already well above average.
Brennan has never settled for being just “well above average” in her life, but she’s also not one to buy into college rankings as a marker of potential. Austin talked Jacob into applying early at UVA, which Sue didn’t take very well. Brennan is incredulous: “You slapped Austin because he talked your son into applying for a different well-regarded university?” Just like that, I know Booth and Brennan’s kids are going to be just fine.
The lab compares the Casey family shotgun to the wounds in Austin’s body, but as it turns out, the gun that shot Austin was sawed off — and Benny just happens to own a sawed-off shotgun. Benny claims that he didn’t even have the gun at the time of Austin’s death; Austin took it to encourage him to get his life on track. If Austin had the gun on him, anyone could have used it. Benny seems genuinely remorseful, and he says that Austin really cared for the kids he tutored; Benny used to call them nothing but a paycheck, but Austin made them feel like more.
Going back to the drawing board, the squints figure out that Austin’s tutoring gig was a glorified form of cheating: He took online courses for his students. They question Amy Bryan, who must have known, but she isn’t talking. Anyway, she didn’t do it. Cornelia Mills, the mother of one of Austin’s students, volunteers to act as Amy’s lawyer, producing photographic evidence that Amy was at a restaurant 30 miles away at the time of the murder.
NEXT: Aubrey’s not hungry
But Cornelia Mills is a part of this, too; her husband Gavin caught her with her hands down Austin’s pants. Cornelia tells Booth that it was all an act of foreplay meant for her husband: “There is nothing like that feeling of being caught in the act.” Cut to her husband: “It’s a horrible feeling.” Cornelia proceeds to harass Booth twice, rubbing his shoulders to make Gavin jealous, and I’m not comfortable with the way her encroachment is played for laughs — especially given Booth’s history with his abusive father, which comes up in this hour. But I do love Brennan’s reaction when she catches Cornelia in the act: She just shrugs. “Weird.”
Austin didn’t have Brennan’s patience. After enduring Cornelia’s unwanted assaults too many times, he headbutted Gavin and quit. He was tired of people who assume they can do whatever they want just because they’re rich. Austin went straight to the tutoring company to resign, but before he could even get through the door, he ran into Jacob. Jacob asked if the two could still hang out, and Austin said no. He called him a paycheck. The system broke Austin in the end. Jacob fought him, and Austin fell down a flight of stairs, which is actually how he died. To cover it up, Jacob drove his tutor’s body to a bad part of town and shot him up with the sawed-off shotgun in Austin’s car.
I don’t have a lot of sympathy for this kid; he doesn’t even seem remorseful. And even if Jacob had a rough home life, so did most of the people on this team, and they don’t go around killing everyone who won’t hang out with them. Aubrey’s family life takes center stage this week, as his estranged dad (played by John Boyd’s father, Guy Boyd) shows up in D.C. to ask for a favor. He has a new son and a new wife, and he wants Aubrey to help support them. Given that he didn’t support Aubrey’s family, oh, at all (and actually made their lives a lot more difficult), that is low.
Aubrey doesn’t know if he can even trust what his father is telling him, but he wants to. And he doesn’t want to sentence another kid, much less his half-brother, to a childhood like his. Brennan’s story has to be giving him hope; she reconciled with the father who abandoned her, and just last week, she told Jessica that there’s always a chance the same could happen for Aubrey. But not every bad father can be Max. A lot more of them are Booth’s dad.
Booth opens up to Aubrey about his “piece of work” father: “He drank, and he beat the crap out of me and my brother. Until Pops took us in.” (We miss ya, Pops.) Because he never got to confront his dad and tell him how he really felt, “man to man,” Booth’s definition of closure is a little different than Brennan’s. Brennan got to make a new family with her dad, but maybe Aubrey just needs to talk to his — and maybe taking him into custody is the best way to do that.
Aubrey waits at the diner for his father, but it’s a setup: Booth and a group of other agents stroll in to make the arrest. And Booth’s instincts were good; Philip Aubrey is the worst. Not only was he lying about his new “son,” but he also tries to spin abandonment as the best thing he could have done for James. Aubrey gets the last word. “Don’t ever take credit for how I turned out, okay?” he warns his handcuffed dad. “Any good in me was despite having you as a father.” Booth treats him to a burger and shake, because they’re both on this Island of Misfit Toys together.
NEXT: Brennan’s No. 1 fan
As for Brennan, she’s busy auditioning to narrate her own audiobooks. To be fair, the guy narrating her books right now is really bad, but Brennan is worse. Her gravelly “Agent Andy” voice is hilarious, which brings us to an important update: She brought Agent Andy back from the brink of death. That’s exactly the kind of pulpy twist that Fisher probably holds against her. When Angela tells Brennan that Fisher doesn’t like her books, Brennan confronts him; he says they lack perspicacity.
But Fisher’s word choice gives him away. Brennan’s publisher once sent her a collection of fan fiction, which is quite possibly illegal (couldn’t the writers sue her if she accidentally used any of their ideas?) but still cute. One story — “The Perspicacity in the Bones” (“memorably bad title”) — at least got the science right. Fisher wrote fan fiction about Brennan’s books! And his story was about a “tortured intern” who had an affair with his boss! I have so many questions. Did Fisher write fan fiction about his actual boss once he worked for her, or did he write fan fiction about a scientist he admired and then happen to wind up working for her? One is creepy; one is just adorably tragic. Because Fisher is usually the latter, I’m going with that.
Brennan, to her credit, thinks this is great. She’s not going to tell on him. “I think it’s enough for us to know,” she tells Fisher, “that despite your apathetic affectations, there are things in this world that bring you joy.” It’s sweet how happy she is to know that her cynical intern isn’t a lost cause. Of course, this only makes Fisher more miserable. (“I am in a hell of my own making.”) The experience convinces Brennan not to narrate her own books; they make people happy no matter how they sound, and anyway, she could tell by Aubrey’s reaction to her audition that voice acting isn’t the career for her. Aubrey really needs to work on his poker face.
In this week’s C-story, or maybe D-story, Hodgins spots a bunch of spiders in the Casey family gun, and when a few escape from his petri dish, he doesn’t tell Cam. There’s really no reason for him to stay silent, but we’ve got a Cam revenge plot to set up, so I’ll allow it. The spiders wind up in Cam’s hair; she somehow doesn’t notice until they’re practically in her eyeball. She goes home to shower for eight or nine hours, burn the clothes she’s wearing, and sleep until late spring.
Cam comes back ready to make Hodgins suffer. (His wife is on board.) She dangles the prospect of forgiveness in front of his nose like a carrot, then changes her tune: “Well, either that or I wait until you’re lulled into a sense of security, maybe days, maybe months, and then when you least expect it, exact my revenge.” Okay, Sue Sylvester. This is going to be good.
Bits and pieces:
- I was worried when the first five minutes of this episode were just boner jokes and gross-out humor. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, thanks to strong character work, it did dig itself out of that hole, but it didn’t quite live up to my final-season expectations, either. Hopefully we’re just saving the best for later.
- Booth arrests all of his coworkers’ fathers. It’s like an initiation.
- Shout out to the tears in John Boyd’s eyes when Aubrey ran into his dad.
- “Maybe that’s enough speaking frankly for you today.”
- “I ran a computer analysis.” “No you didn’t.”
- Of course Fisher watched Twilight Zone reruns as a kid.
- “Has Hodgins been acting different around you lately?” “Um, this morning he tried to get me to taste a mold culture, so, no.”
- “And denial is just a member of One Direction.”