Bones recap: 'The Steel in the Wheels'
I didn’t expect to say this about an undercover demolition derby episode, but this is what I wanted from this whole season of Bones. Not the wigs (BURN THEM) — the continuity. The team may be solving a standalone case this week, but they’re also giving up their spare time to prove Zack’s innocence, and that gives this hour a deeper calling most mullets just don’t share. Also, Gordon Gordon is back.
Gordon Gordon “my first and middle names are the same” Wyatt — once an FBI shrink, now a Michelin-starred chef, and always, always Stephen Fry — stops by his old stomping ground at Booth’s request because the team has hit a dead end with Zack’s case. Booth wants “double G” to read over the transcripts of Sweets’ sessions with Zack in the hopes he’ll find something the rest of them missed. After all, he is the only one Sweets ever trusted with his files. In the words of Gordon Gordon, “Poor Sweets.” (Not his most eloquent tribute.)
The good doctor cozies up under a blanket with the files, tea and biscuits, a Union Jack pillow, and a fake portable fireplace because he’s obviously stopped pretending that he wants to assimilate into this country and also because he lives his life right. Meanwhile, the rest of the team dives into this week’s murder. The body of 22-year-old Dustin Doyle was found in some hay bales — lots of hay bales — along with a ski mask and a gun. Dustin’s mother thinks he was an upstanding manager at the local Waffle Shack, but he lost that job six months ago and never told her. He’s been stealing, robbing banks, and generally making good use of that ski mask to pay for her Parkinson’s meds, which, Brennan notes, can cost as much as $10,000 a month. Listen, this is why people break bad.
After one recent bank robbery, Dustin avoided arrest by running a stop sign just as his accomplice came through the intersection and swiped the police car. The accomplice was driving one very customized ride — a Frankenstein’s car, basically — which makes sense when Aubrey figures out that most of Dustin’s robberies matched up to the local demolition derby circuit. You already know where this is heading. If a body winds up in a bunch of hay bales and Booth and Brennan don’t go undercover at a demolition derby, does the hay even itch?
Brennan fights the idea, and she usually loves undercover work, so that should tell you how upset she still is about her dad’s death. She’s been snapping at everyone lately. (I’m still not sure I understand why Max had to die, but it’s good to see he hasn’t been forgotten.) Noticing her mood, Gordon Gordon upgrades his polite British suggestion to a polite British demand: She’s going undercover, please and thank you. She’s going to take out her aggression on a bunch of cars, and she’s going to like it. Brennan sighs and dusts off her curly wig: Buck and Wanda Moosejaw, Booth and Brennan’s go-to undercover aliases, ride again.
As soon as they get to the derby, Brennan takes one look at Booth’s fake mullet and regrets everything — which is bad for her but great for me because I love Sarcastic Brennan. When her husband tells her that the cars, and the names on those cars, could be a clue, Brennan snaps, “I’ll keep an eye out for a car named Killer Bank Robber Accomplice.” Then they talk to a woman named Dawn (Jaime Bergman) whose car matches some of the parts of the accomplice’s car, and it doesn’t wind up being especially germane to the case but here we are in Bones’ final four episodes and here’s David Boreanaz’s wife in a gold spandex onesie because why on earth not.
Dawn does offer one piece of useful info: Dustin always teamed up with a guy named Ray Kimball. Aubrey, who has a terrible fear of missing out when Booth and Brennan go undercover without him, follows them to the derby to scout for Ray (and eat a corn dog). Ray’s giant face bruise gives him away, so Aubrey (with the help of the corn dog) provokes him into an attack and brings him into custody. But Ray seems genuinely shocked to learn that Dustin is dead, and the evidence suggests there was a third accomplice; someone held Dustin’s arms back while Ray hit his face with a wrench. At Gordon Gordon’s suggestion, Aubrey “lets the idiot go” and waits for Ray to lead them right to accomplice No. 3.
As the cars — Booth and Brennan’s included — line up to start the derby, Aubrey calls Booth and tells him to keep an eye out; Ray is leaving the Bureau and making a call right now. Just as the driver next to Brennan answers his phone, the derby starts, cars slamming into each other in a muddy pit, and I realize I don’t actually know what a demolition derby is. It probably doesn’t involve escaping the pit. Ned Dixon, otherwise known as the third accomplice, tries to get out of there, but Brennan is hot on his tail (“Stop hitting me! I have important work!”). Booth jumps his car over another car to get to her, and they corner Ned together as Brennan cheers. Gordon Gordon was right; she needed this. They take Ned into interrogation, and Brennan takes off her wig but leaves the rest of her undercover outfit just as it is because she likes to look like an edgy ‘90s mall kid while she catches killers.
But Ned insists he didn’t kill Dustin, either — he and Ray only roughed him up because Dustin brought them $40,000 from the robbery, and the bank manager said on TV that $60,000 was stolen. They assumed he was holding out on them. He wasn’t. The teller, Charlene, saw Dustin casing the bank and knew a robbery was coming, so she seized the opportunity and pocketed $20,000 for herself. The bank is insured, and if the manager hadn’t broken protocol by declaring exactly how much money was taken, no one would have known. It was a “victimless crime,” Charlene cries. That would be a more compelling argument if she hadn’t grabbed Dustin’s gun, shot him, and stuffed him in the trunk of her car. And I want to know what’s going to happen to Dustin’s mom. If anyone finds her buying an RV and setting out for the desert, please stop her.
Now let’s get back to Zack. Gordon Gordon doesn’t get anywhere with Sweets’ files, but he does get an idea from the whole accomplice thing: Gormogon, the cannibalistic serial killer who recruited Zack, always had an apprentice. Zack’s story is that the previous apprentice is actually the one who killed the lobbyist Zack confessed to killing; that same night, Gormogon killed that apprentice so Zack could take his place. If they can find the body of that apprentice, they might be able to prove Zack didn’t kill the lobbyist.
Gordon Gordon takes this idea straight to Hodgins, the most desperate of them all. Cam even threw away his latest findings because they seemed so convenient that she thought he might just be making them up, which would be insulting if not for the fact that you know every single person on this team would love to do the same. Brennan tells Hodgins that she thinks he’d falsify evidence for a friend like she’s paying him a compliment. She’s pored over the rest of the evidence but can’t find anything new, and even Hodgins doesn’t think they’ve got a chance of finding the apprentice’s body after almost 10 years. But Gordon Gordon encourages him to try. For all his psychological insights, the greatest gift Dr. Wyatt gives this investigation is a shot of fresh hope.
So Gordon Gordon digs into a giant bucket of fried chicken while contemplating cannibalism (he’s pulling a Scully!), and he and Hodgins narrow things down a bit: Gormogon wouldn’t have eaten his apprentice because he thought the apprentice failed him; he was basically poison. Since the Masons saw the poisonous acacia tree as a symbol of immortality, Hodgins tracks down all the acacias in the D.C. area. He starts with the ones in the west, since the west symbolized death, and, after a few misses, comes up with a hit: an inverted Masonic coffin. The apprentice’s sleeve even has a bit of please-be-the-lobbyist’s blood on it. Here’s hoping.
Back at Booth and Brennan’s house, Gordon Gordon cooks dinner while the couple celebrate that Zack might be coming home. “Zack could be back!” Booth cheers. He’s literally wearing a T-shirt with a car on it that says, “We’re back.” Did he just make it??
Bits and pieces:
- Booth’s back is acting up, and I’m not talking about his shirt. Is this setting up for something?
- Rodolfo got his doctorate, making him the first forensic anthropologist ever to be certified in both the U.S. and Cuba — a distinction made a little sadder by the fact that he knows there probably won’t be a job for him in D.C.
- “Buck? Honey? This was a MISTAKE.”
- There is absolutely no reason for Booth to kick Gordon Gordon out of his office at any time, ever.
- Did Gordon Gordon really make a “don’t get up” joke to Hodgins?
- I feel like Aubrey would know what petit fours are called.
- “I haven’t had this much excitement since my last Baked Alaska fiasco.”