Episode Four. This was an hour for which I had been waiting since the moment it was teased at SDCC last July. And it unsurprisingly greatly surpassed my expectations, as Bones consistently tends to do. Throughout the entirety of the episode, I was growing exceedingly more concerned that my heart was about to burst through my chest- even though I am well aware that this would be physically and physiologically impossible. This episode was exciting, intense, fast-paced, and terrifying. It tears me up inside to think about the way in which such a beloved character lost his life. Aldo was truly cherished by all who possess a love for Booth and Brennan. And he certainly did not deserve the final hand he was dealt. But what an insane catapult into this particular arc.
The episode begins with a mother and son walking briskly through a park to set up the child’s birthday party. The mother’s hands are full, but the son refuses to help her carry the supplies. Chivalry is truly dead. He comes upon a picnic table with balloons, and assumes that another party has claimed his desired location. His mom is not worried, as she has already reserved this spot. But upon moving closer to the table, she is immediately startled. She drops the party supplies to the ground, and screams. And after the roughly 237 body finds we have witnessed during the course of this show, it’s easy to assume we are about to see a corpse. And this one is rather disturbing. The balloons are actually affixed to the body, which is quite a chilling message after having seen this episode in its entirety. And there are rats feasting hungrily on the the remains. I’m thinking they may want to postpone their party.
At Booth and Brennan’s house, the couple is preparing for a day at the water park. Booth told Christine that they would be checking out the new library. Brennan is slightly concerned that their daughter may be disappointed with the actual plan. But Booth believes that would be impossible. This particular water park has nearly 100 slides and four waterfalls. “And the biggest dunkinator in the state.” He puts on his goggles and emulates being dunked. Brennan truly married an adorable man-child. Brennan laughs, and tells her husband that she is very much looking forward to their day. Booth is a little surprised at her admission. Brennan doesn’t necessarily seem the type who would be excited by a day at the water park. “So what, we’ll hit up Go-Kart World next?” “No, go-kart tracks are not known for their high concentration of fecal matter.” This baffles me at first. Not the bit about fecal matter. That is precisely why I avoid such places. But why would this be a selling point to Brennan, when just a few years earlier she didn’t want to go to the waterfall pools on her honeymoon because of fecal matter from wild boar? I feel as though this is also the most I’ve used the term “fecal matter” in my life. But Brennan notes that “early exposure to e Coli bacteria is beneficial to the development of children’s immune systems.” Now it all makes sense. Booth is horrified. “Fecal matter…like, you know…poop?” The longer they stay at the park, the more there will be. I love that this is a selling point for Brennan. All in the name of Christine’s future health! Booth changes his mind and wants to take the kids to the library instead. At that point, both of their phones ring. They pick up each other’s device and then switch. I love these little touches. Those moments that perhaps mean nothing to most people, but mean the world to some. It’s not a necessity for the story. It’s just them.
The text messages inform the duo that a body was found in Rock Creek Park. Booth appears to take this as a sign (or a “godsend,” if you will). He says that they should get to the scene ASAP. Brennan is certain that Aubrey would cover for him. It’s interesting to note that Brennan is willing to give up a day of work in order to spend time with her family at the water park. There was once a time when nothing came before work. Brennan’s job is more than just a job. As it is with all these characters. But I think after everything that has happened over the years, they have all also realized that there needs to be some sort of a balance. That said, she also doesn’t fight NOT to go to the scene. Booth claims that his message said it was “very important” that he shows up. Brennan is perplexed, as she got no such indication from her own message. They will get Max to watch the kids (this was a dagger I wasn’t expecting), and take them to the library. “Books are good for the soul.” Brennan’s face is priceless here. Also, friendly reminder that Booth and Brennan are married with kids. Because honestly, that just never gets old.
At the scene, Cam is able to determine that the victim has been dead approximately 10-12 hours. Aubrey is curious about the balloons. That was an interesting touch. But Booth posits that the balloons were placed there so that the body was found sooner versus later. Not quite. But we don’t know that yet. The victim was killed elsewhere and dumped in the park. And unfortunately, the drag marks lead to the only lot in the park not equipped with cameras. Either the killer was lucky or he planned ahead. Cam’s guess is the the latter. Brennan can easily say that the victim is male. But the age is a bit more complicated. The state of the victim’s gums point to the man being elderly. But the wear on his teeth indicate that he was only in his 40′s. “It looks like he has very poor dental care.” There are holes in the bottom of his shoes, and the team wonders why any killer would want to draw attention to someone who was so down on his luck. Brennan isn’t concerned with the “why.” She wants to get the remains back to the lab.
Back at the Jeffersonian, Brennan reaches a startling conclusion. Evidence suggests that the victim had been in combat, but that he also had all the markers of a priest. This is apparently a rare combination. And while I suppose it still could have been a number of different people, Brennan anticipates the worst. She asks Angela to fill in the unfinished reconstruction based on, well, evidence plus her gut. I know she so desperately wanted to be wrong here. But her fears are confirmed. And it looks like the victim is none other than Aldo Clemens. Jessica was not around at the time when he was a presence in the team’s lives. So she asks who this man is. Angela informs her that “he married Booth and Brennan.” Cam adds that he was the chaplain of Booth’s army unit. Insert expletives here. “Booth said that when he was in trouble, Aldo saved him. He owed Aldo his life” Brennan is shaken. Primarily because she knows what this news will do to her husband. Another loved one lost.
Caroline finds Booth in his office, deep in thought. He is clutching a photo of himself and Aldo, presumably while they were serving overseas. “Aldo was a good man, Seeley. You have my sympathies” She then acknowledges that sympathy sucks, and wants to know what they have gathered relative to the case thus far. So far, they don’t have much. Caroline heard that Aldo was in “rough shape” when he was found. She wonders if Booth knows what was going on with him. But Booth doesn’t know. The two had not spoken in over a year. Caroline knows Booth well enough to know that he tried to reach out to the former priest. This is puzzling to me. How could it have been that long? When last we saw Aldo (not counting the AU Aldo from 10×10), it was at B&B’s wedding. He officiated. Everyone was happy. He was pleased that his friend was finally able to marry the love of his life after overcoming far too many obstacles. “If anyone here has any reasons why these two shouldn’t be married, keep it to yourself or get out because this is going to happen.” What happened to this man during this time? Booth notes that Aldo was there for him any time he needed him. “I’m sure that goes for the other men in your unit, too.” Caroline wonders if Aldo was trying to protect Booth from getting pulled into everyone else’s problems. It’s too late. Booth is not going to stop until he finds out what happened and who is responsible.
Hodgins finds a silverfish on the body, and he can be reasonably certain that Aldo was not killed in the park. He’s going to go “have a little chat” with the insect, and I love him all the more. Jessica found injuries on the bones, which suggest Aldo had been getting into fights as of late. Jessica is a bit confused by the fact that this man was a priest but also that he had been engaging in fights. Cam explains that he left the priesthood after he came back from combat. According to Booth, Aldo never stopped believing in God. But after what he had seen, his belief no longer provided him with any sort of comfort. He couldn’t very well make it his life’s work any longer. Jessica adds that Aubrey is worried about what Aldo’s death is going to do to Booth. Aubrey’s genuine concern for Booth and his family just warms my heart. “Yeah, the past is a rabbit hole.” Cam, of course, is also incredibly worried about her friend.
In the car, Brennan explains that Aldo’s downward spiral is not abnormal. “Studies show that erratic, self-destructive behavior is a common post-concussive syndrome that can manifest years after the initial trauma.” But Booth was also concussed in the same explosion as Aldo. Brennan is well-aware of that fact because of his brain tumor. And she has seen MRIs of his cerebellum as well. She knows every bit of Booth. And I do not mean that in an inappropriate way. “I’m not concerned for your mental health.” Booth is still wrestling with everything. He could have helped Aldo if he had just let him in. And if Booth had only known how bad it had gotten for his friend, perhaps he could have done more. But Brennan reminds her husband that it’s in the past now. There is only one thing he can do to help Aldo moving forward.
Look, if you’re gonna tell me to forgive myself, please don’t.
Forgiveness would be ineffective.
Okay then, what? I mean, what works?
That’s not me. I mean, there are rules.
You will follow those rules. The act of bringing a murderer to justice is, anthropologically speaking, a form of revenge. You have suffered a loss. Making the killer suffer for that loss will help.
Yeah, well, I hope so, Bones. Because right now I couldn’t feel much worse.
There was once a time when Booth wanted to seek out revenge so badly, he didn’t care whether or not the other party was definitively guilty. This was the wrong kind of revenge. Justice played no part in his decision. It would have only been a murder in cold blood. And after all was said and done, that is not something Booth could have lived with. He’s only ever taken another life in the line of duty. Or to protect his own family. But this situation is different. Brennan knows precisely how the death of Aldo will affect Booth. And she also knows how to help him.
Aubrey heads to the diner to meet with Caroline. He initially believes that she wants to speak to him about the case. But this is not about the case. It’s not about Aldo at all. It’s about Aubrey’s father. I don’t really approach this show with any sort of wish list. I trust those involved to tell the best possible story with the time and resources they have. But in the back of my mind, I did hope that this story would see some development and reconciliation. Like many characters in this show, Aubrey has a painful past. For the most part, you wouldn’t even begin to guess that this man has lived anything other than a healthy happy life. Just watch him eat a hot pizza. You would think he won the lottery. But as with all of these characters, the past leaves marks. And remnants of his past came back during season 10 when we first learned about his childhood. His father was a white collar criminal who fled the country, abandoning his wife and son in the process. Aubrey actually helped build the case against his father. To him, that was the end of the story. He’s moved on with his life. And while he is still angry and upset, he did his best not to let it affect him on a daily basis. But towards the end of last season, he found out that his father was back in the country. Not only that, he was also keeping tabs on his son through the use of a private investigator. Aubrey doesn’t know what his father could possibly want. But for now, he doesn’t seem too interested in any sort of a reunion.
Caroline hands Aubrey a photo. His dad had been spotted at Miami International Airport. He has been using the name of a deceased person, so the photo was actually taken two weeks prior. It took that long to detect the error. Aubrey notes that his father has made some changes to his face. But that the photo is definitely him. Caroline explains that the treasury has been closing all of his accounts. And she adds that the man may be back to quickly obtain any remaining assets he has left. “He’s running a hell of a risk.” “Well, if it’s about money, he’ll risk it.” When Caroline tells Aubrey that his father may reach out to him for help, Aubrey responds “That would be a mistake.” He already turned him in once. “So it’ll be even easier the second time.”
On the platform, Jessica is cleaning the bones while Cam is examining the liver. Jessica begins talking about all she is able to glean from the bones relative to Aldo’s life. He was in fights, he had many a drunken fall, and he had extremely poor nutrition. From the liver, Cam is able to discern that Aldo had also become a heavy drug user. Likely heroin, though they cannot be sure until they locate his dealer. This is all so unbelievable to me. In such a short time, this man spiraled out of control. Jessica suddenly has an idea. She had found scratches on the proximal phalanges, which she initially thought were due to rat predation. Now she believes they are needle marks. And the hope is that they can find traces of heroin on the bone. Hodgins will swab for particulates.
Booth and Brennan arrive at the bar where Aldo used to work. They speak to his boss, who doesn’t seem to be too torn up about Aldo’s murder. As it turns out, he recently fired Aldo for stealing from the tip jar. Brennan notes that the two men must have physically fought based on injuries found on the body. I’m trying to be very careful not to use the word “victim” here, only because we know WHO the victim is. And it seems too clinical for me. Brennan also notices the hand injury his boss seemed to have sustained. “You hit him so hard your hand was broken.” He asked Brennan who told her about that. But this is Temperance Brennan. She can clearly see that his hand was poorly set. She also checked his hospital records “because I do thorough research.” “She’s good.” The boss claims self-defense. Booth questions his whereabouts the day before. He was at the bar until 5 a.m., which can be confirmed by his regulars. Brennan asks if he can think of anyone who would want to hurt Aldo. “He was spinning out of control. He would have done anything for his next fix.” He doesn’t know who his dealer was. But he did hear Aldo call the dealer, “begging him, promising him anything.” Aldo had no money. And his boss adds that if Aldo tried anything with him, the dealer may not have gone quite as easy on him.
In the bone room, Brennan and Jessica are examining Aldo’s fractures more closely. They note the fractures sustained from the fight with his boss, but there are also more recent fractures to the ribs. The fractures could not have been sustained more than two weeks prior. The directionality of the wounds indicates a left-handed assailant. Aldo’s boss is right-handed. Someone else had to have caused the injuries. Hodgins enters, and he appears more jovial than usual. “If you’re noticing a zip in my roll, it’s because I am officially extremely excited.” He swabbed the needle marks on the proximal phalanges and was able to detect heroin particulates. I’m not hip to all the drug lingo in the following scene (and there is a lot of it), but they are looking at the makeup of the drug found in the bones. Brennan clears it up for me by saying that Aldo’s drugs likely came from a high-end dealer. Angela can then look through the DEA database of known and suspected drug dealers in the area. They narrow the search based on the proportions provided by Hodgins. Brennan adds that they can narrow it even further if they can filter out anyone who is not left-handed. This is not something the DEA tracks, but Brennan can reasonably pick out a “leftie” from a group of photos based on the clavicle height. The suspected dealer, Jake Tompkins, also has a slightly more developed left deltoid, and he parts his hair on the left side. I suppose that’s as good as they are going to get at this point.
Aubrey and Booth pull up to Jake Tompkins’ home. It’s located in a very picturesque suburban neighborhood, and Aubrey wonders whether or not they are in the right place. But this is an efficient high-end dealer. They are in exactly the right place. Jake had been charged, but was never convicted. And that is how he ended up in the database. He answers the door and Booth shows him a photo of Aldo. Jake claims he does not know him. Aubrey tells Jake that Aldo was found dead, and they know he was his dealer. Jake tells the agents that they are done with this conversation. And he adds that he doesn’t know anything about drugs. He’s going to go call his lawyer. Booth threatens to follow Jake’s every move until he inevitably catches him engaging in illicit behavior. Aubrey tells Jake that they only want to find Aldo’s killer, and he assumes that killing “isn’t exactly your thing.” Jake begins speaking in hypotheticals. He tells Booth and Aubrey that “if” he knew Aldo, he would have dropped him as a client months ago. He explains that Aldo had become too big a risk. There was a man following him, so Jake cut him off. All he can say about the mysterious man was that he drove a “crappy” car, but never got out. Booth rips out Jake’s video doorbell. This of course angers him, as they are very expensive. But Booth explains that it’s actually a good thing. Because then they will be able to confirm Jake’s story.
Angela finds Hodgins hard at work in the Ookey Room. She tells him it’s late, and that they should go home. He claims he is almost finished with what he is doing. But Angela knows better. “Do not tell me that you are operating on a silverfish.” “Well, it’s more like a scenic journey through his digestive tract.” I wasn’t sure I could love that man more. But I do. He shows Angela what he’s found inside the silverfish. It was a type of professional grade acoustic foam. Because the bug “hitched a ride” on Aldo, they can attempt to determine where Aldo was before being brought to the park. Hodgins proceeds to call Booth, but Angela stops him. Brennan told her that Booth was busy. “What, too busy to hear about this?” “Trust me, it’s important.” And it is.
Booth is meeting with the remaining men from his unit. Most are welcoming, as it apparently had been awhile since Booth had seen any of them. Booth asks if the men heard from Aldo before he went missing. They had not. “Well if you hear anything, let me know. It’s my job to take care of things, okay?” A man named Ted speaks up from the other side of the room. “Sure, Booth. We’ll sit and wait for that to happen.” He’s upset that it took one of them dying for Booth to come back into their lives. Another man comes to Booth’s defense. But Ted wants to know what Booth did to help Aldo stay alive. “Not enough.” The other men are grateful to Booth. They cite them as the reason for them getting through combat alive. But Ted is upset that Booth moved on and started a family. “It wasn’t that easy for the rest of us.” He can’t make up for his absence in the past. But Booth is there now. “It’s too late for that. I’m done with you, like you were done with all of us.” And you can see those words are like daggers to Booth. He is so good. He does his best to help everyone in his life. But he’s not perfect. And he’s also not superhuman. He will surely feel guilty for not being there for his men. Especially Aldo, who somehow slipped through the cracks. Maybe he couldn’t have done anything for Aldo. But it will take a lot for him to forgive himself for not trying harder to reach him. Aldo saved him. Why could he not save Aldo?
The next scene was really one of the most stunning Booth and Brennan scenes to me. Well, there is a near-infinite amount of those. But it was just so raw and beautiful, and I still cannot watch it without bursting into tears. At their home, Brennan finds Booth staring out the living room window in the middle of the night. She watches him for just a moment before alerting him to her presence. It’s debatable whether he knew she was there already or not. He is, after all, a sniper. I want to include the entire scene’s dialog here. There wasn’t a lot. And it was a very short scene. But it was incredibly brilliant.
It’s very late. I didn’t hear you come in.
Well, I wanted to let you sleep.
It didn’t go well with the men?
These guys saw hell. You know, most of them are still paying the price.
You feel the effects of war, too, Booth.
Yeah. Yeah, but I got lucky. I got a great family and great life. Got all this.
You’re an addict, just like Aldo.
Unlike him, you got help.
Yeah. But you’re in my corner. That’s the difference. Aldo had no one.
The first thing that struck me is that this is another confirmation that these two have trouble sleeping when one of them is not there. Brennan woke up to a half empty bed, and couldn’t bring herself to return to sleep without locating her husband. When she finally tells him that it’s late, he lets her know he wanted to let her sleep. Because the truth of the matter is, he would be laying there tossing and turning, and wide awake. And he knows her. And he knows that as soon as she sensed something was troubling him, she would insist upon waking up and talking to him. But the end result here is the same. She assumes that because she found him very deep in thought, it was obviously not an overly pleasant or fruitful visit with his former unit. What is really bothering him here is that so many of his men are still suffering. Aldo was suffering immensely, and he paid the ultimate price. They still have no idea why. Meanwhile, Booth looks at his own life and feels as though he may not deserve it. He has Brennan, his children, his friends, and a job which fulfills him every day. Why did he not suffer that same fate? In his mind, he is no more special than they are. Brennan reminds Booth that he does feel the effects of war, just like all of them do. He is lucky, yes, but it’s not as though he came out of it all completely unscathed. Booth has that “great family” and “great life” after years of suffering. Like Aldo, Booth is an addict. It’s under control now, but he will always be an addict. When he experienced a relapse a few years ago, he eventually sought out help. But it was far from easy. It took a wake up call. He realized what all was at stake if he continued down this path. Imagine if he didn’t have that family. Imagine if he didn’t have Brennan. What would have happened? How bad would it have gotten? She’s in his corner. Always. After Booth finally admitted his relapse was more than just a mistake, Brennan was there to fight with him. “No Booth, WE still have a long way to go.” She is his biggest cheerleader. She is his biggest advocate. She will fight for him and with him until the end. I don’t mean that to sound morbid. I love this line here so much. “But you’re in my corner.” Even before they got together. She was in his corner. “I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t do to help him.” Aldo didn’t have a Brennan. He had no one. And Booth will blame himself for not making more of an effort to help his friend. To help save the man who saved him. Though, I do take some comfort in the fact that Booth is not trying to keep it all in. He’s confiding in Brennan. I would be worried if he told her he was fine. This scene was beautiful. And a bit heart wrenching. And once again, David and Emily have reduced me to tears with their unparalleled skills and poignant portrayal of these characters. I could feel the love they have for each other in this moment. I do not see how you could not.
Aubrey just happens to be in the lab after dropping off Jessica. Angela presumes that he is there to check on her progress of the doorbell video. The issue with the recording is that there is too small a hard drive on the device. So once it’s full, it begins recording over itself. But Angela, of course, has figured out a way around that technicality. Long story short, she was able to use facial recognition software to isolate all the times Aldo came to Jake’s house. Aubrey cannot make out Aldo’s face in the video. But that’s because Angela is actually isolating the car behind Aldo. She wants to get a clear photo of the car that had been following him. She does, and now they just need to get an ID on who was driving the vehicle.
Jessica sends for Brennan, as she found injuries suggesting that the vertebrae had been severely displaced. Aldo’s neck had been snapped. “Cause of death wasn’t exsanguination, it was this fracture.” Before she can leave, Jessica calls Brennan’s name. She asks about Max coming back into her life after spending so many years on the run. Brennan immediately figures out that Jessica is concerned about what Aubrey will do if he finally sees his father again. “How can he live with himself if he turns in his own father?” Jessica knows Brennan experienced a similar situation. Though, Max had a reason for abandoning his children. But at the time, Brennan did not know his reason. Jessica sees this as a comparable scenario. So who better to give advice on the subject?
My father had abandoned me and my brother, he was a fugitive from justice. I… I certainly never anticipated that we would manage to have a positive relationship.
How did you make that happen?
By opening myself to the fact that… his actions, while partially his fault, were necessitated by events. He’s a much better man than the one I had built him up to be.
So there’s a chance that could happen for Aubrey?
Statistically, there’s always a chance, Ms. Warren.
Two thoughts here: First, there was indeed a time when Brennan would not have opened up about her personal life to an intern. So it’s lovely to see these moments now. Second, it’s hard to say whether Aubrey’s father will have a valid excuse for his actions. Perhaps he is ashamed by his choices so long ago, and wants to make amends. But maybe there is no happy ending here. Maybe the happy ending is just that Aubrey can finally tell his father how he feels and turn him in once more. Or maybe he doesn’t turn him in and just asks him to leave for good. I honestly do not know how it will all play out. I only know that we will bear witness to a meeting sooner rather than later. But as Brennan says, statistically, there’s always a chance for a positive outcome. It’s lovely to see Jessica’s genuine concern for her now-boyfriend. And the moment shared between Brennan was nice, but also a bit devastating as well. Knowing what we know now about Max. But that’s a story for another week.
In the break room at the FBI, Caroline is attempting to figure out the fancier coffee machine, while Aubrey is crafting a sandwich comprised of chips and mustard. Caroline casually informs Aubrey that there has been another sighting of his father. It’s in the form of a financial record. She quickly attempts to change the subject, and asks the difference between a latte and a latte macchiato. But Aubrey wants to rewind. He doesn’t understand how a financial record counts as a “sighting.” “We’ll get to that.” Obviously Aubrey is not going to get what he wants without answering her question first. He explains the difference between the two beverages, which was actually enlightening to me. Aubrey can also taste the difference, which isn’t terribly shocking. That man knows his food and drinks. Caroline grabs the coffee pot instead. She and Booth, they like the simple things. Caroline explains that they have evidence from a wire office in Atlanta. There was $9,000 transfer from an overseas account tied to one of Aubrey’s father’s previously used aliases. His father knew exactly how much to take out, so as not to be noticed by the FDIC. “That’s definitely him.” Caroline figures now that he has cash, he may vanish again. But Aubrey knows this man’s M.O. “He’s here for a reason. He’s making his way north. He’ll surface.” Angela calls the two in the FBI conference room, and lets them know she has found the vehicle that had been following Aldo. She couldn’t get a plate number from the angle of the doorbell video, but she was able to check local traffic cams. The car belongs to Ted McKinney- the same Ted we met earlier in the episode. Angela lets Aubrey and Caroline know that Ted is former military and served in Booth’s unit. “Booth’s not gonna like this.” No, he is not.
Booth is the one in the interrogation room with Ted. Ted denies killing Aldo. Actually, he tells Booth he is “nuts” if he thinks he could have killed Aldo. Booth doesn’t know what to think. He asks Ted why he was following Aldo. “That’s my business.” But Booth informs him that because of their present location, it’s his business now. Aubrey wonders if Booth is the right person to be conducting this interrogation. “I can’t think of anyone better.” I love Caroline, and especially Caroline’s trust and faith in Booth. Booth shows Ted the pile of photos they have collected of him in his vehicle tailing Aldo. Ted finally admits that he needed Aldo. “I needed someone, and he wouldn’t even talk to me.” Booth understands. “You felt abandoned. No one was there for you. No one was there to listen. Not even Aldo” Ted felt as though he didn’t exist. Booth asks him again what happened that night. He promises to help Ted, no matter what he did. Ted didn’t kill Aldo, but claims he did something worse. Booth and I had the same question. “What’s worse than killing?” He followed Aldo into Bellevue where he had been buying his drugs. From a vantage point a few feet away, he saw a car pull up and jump Aldo. He has no idea who it was. And he also believes that he deserves whatever happens to him next. Ted froze. He didn’t help Aldo. “Aldo got taken, and I just let it happen.”
At the lab, Cam and Brennan are pouring through case files. Cam doesn’t understand how someone who served with Aldo could have just watched him get taken. Brennan doesn’t know either, but tells her that Booth believes Ted is telling the truth. Unfortunately, Ted saw nothing specific, which could prove useful. He did say that the abduction was “clean, precise, perfectly executed.” So it could feasibly be someone who has military training. Which would mean that there is a possibility another man in Booth’s unit could be responsible. Jessica interrupts the discussion with something urgent for Brennan. After reexamining the impact fractures to the ribs, she found rat bites which differed from the other rat bites to the body. Brennan notes that they appear to be both peri and post mortem. Jessica also ran a immunohistochemical test, which led her to just one conclusion. By the look on Brennan’s face, she already knows what it is. But she asks her student anyway. “That the victim was alive while the rats were eating his torso.” Brennan sadly agrees that it’s the most likely possibility. Jessica is horrified. As is Brennan. As for me, I thought that Hayes Flynn had one of the more gruesome deaths on the show. But, this one may top that one as well. Brennan notices something on the wounds to the ribs. Jessica cataloged them as defensive wounds, but Brennan also notes that they are consistent with being pressed up against the torso. And this continues to get even more horrific. It was a type of torture originating in the Middle Ages. “The cage would be filled with rats. One end of it is heated, so the animals are forced to burrow into the body of the still-living victim.” Jessica observes that there are hundreds of bites. And this indicates that Aldo was tortured for a considerable period of time. I cannot think of a worse way to die.
Back at the FBI, Booth, Aubrey, and Caroline are gathered in the conference room. They go through Ted’s story once more. And Booth is sure that Ted is telling the truth. Caroline believes that Booth’s ignoring the fact that his friend was tortured with rats. She wants to discuss it. Booth’s unsure as to what one is really supposed to say in this situation. Caroline was hoping he would have the words. “For something like this, there’s not much you really can say. We just… we move on. And we keep looking till we find this guy, and we don’t stop.” He definitely listened to Brennan’s words in the car. Keep moving forward. That’s all they really can do. “That was just right, Seeley, I knew you would have it.” Aubrey has been researching this type of torture. He found out that it still exists in parts of the Balkans and the Middle East. Booth has heard of it since his unit served in both locations. He still believes that there is no chance Ted committed this ghastly crime. Aubrey argues that Ted doesn’t have an alibi, and also that he’s impulsive and angry. “He’s too angry to have done it.” Caroline agrees. “This was controlled. It took planning. McKinney’s not capable of that.” Booth finds a set of tire tracks in one of the photos they have. They would belong to the car that took Aldo. The team still has very little evidence as to where the killer would have gone after taking Aldo. Caroline laments that they have next to nothing. But Booth isn’t as pessimistic. They already know how this person thinks. And they know that he or she would take “the road less traveled.” The trio continues looking through the evidence.
Angela uses Booth’s theory that whoever took Aldo based their route on avoiding any type of surveillance cameras. Because there are some roads with “equal choices” in terms of camera presence, her map starts to become far less useful. Enter Hodgins. He swabbed the rat bites on the ribs, and found traces of lead paint. The team puts the clues together. Professional-grade acoustic foam and lead paint (banned in 1978)- “We need to be looking for a sound studio built before 1978.” It would have to be northwest of Bellevue, but also near enough to the park to get the body there by morning. They narrow it down to a few square miles of land. Hodgins adds that the studio would be abandoned. And Angela finds an industrial park, which is slated for demolition. It fits.
Booth and Brennan essentially break into the abandoned studio. Booth gives her a quick look, which I recognize as is “gun goes first” look. Even though they are both holding lights. From the promo, I already knew that there was going to be a substantial explosion coming up in this scene. So my heart was beating extraordinarily fast throughout. It looks like the killer had definitely “set up shop” in this building. Brennan finds a box of files and newspaper clippings about Aldo. She then pulls out an x-ray that does not belong to Aldo. There’s a gunshot wound to the head. And Brennan can tell it’s from a high-powered rifle. “Perfectly placed. Not too many people can make that shot.” The writing at the bottom is Cyrillic. Booth says it’s Serbian. And Brennan tells him he’s correct. I didn’t necessarily question why he knew that at this moment. But now it obviously makes a bit more sense.
Booth heads towards another door within the building. They find the table where Aldo was likely tortured and killed. They also find the cage used for the torture. Brennan proceeds to take photos of the blood spatter, but Booth notices there is a bomb in the room. They sprint out of the studio, and literally fly into air as it bursts into flames. Booth is flung against his truck, and Brennan falls to the ground. They are both alive. They are both relatively okay. Booth immediately looks to his wife to make sure she is moving and conscious. And all I can really think about is his poor back. And the fact that these two have nine (or 1,000) lives. And finally, that I live for their love and concern for each other.
Cam, Angela, and Hodgins watch news coverage of the explosion at the lab. Cam had already spoken to Booth, who told her that it was an IED. But the fire was still burning. Also based on what Booth reported, Hodgins believes the device was powered by petroleum gel. “It sticks to everything and burns at over 2,000 degrees.” Meaning it will leave very little evidence behind. Brennan enters, and the team is a bit taken aback. Aside from a small visible head wound, she seems to be in pretty decent shape. The number of people on this team who have been blown up continues to grow. They should definitely not be surprised to see Brennan there. What did they actually expect? She’s fine, Booth’s fine, and her kids are fine. So she’s working. Brennan comments that the explosion was “unpleasant.” But she’s actually more upset about losing the evidence. Luckily, Angela was able to upload the photos she sent. Brennan’s theory is that Aldo died on that table. Cam is perplexed as to why this killer would torture Aldo, only to “end it with a relatively quick, humane death.” Hodgins posits that maybe they got the information they wanted. But that quite doesn’t fit with the killer’s profile. This person is cruel. He or she would not suddenly grant Aldo a humane death. Even if Aldo gave up the information for which he was being tortured. They recreate the scene by aligning the body with the blood spatter from the table, and Brennan is confused. The skull would need more range of motion for the spinal column to be cut. His skull would have had to go through the table for this to be plausible. Cam tells them that the body must be in the wrong position. Hodgins suddenly chimes in, asking if the tape was torn. “I’m sure this is important, but why?” Hodgins proceeds to inform the group that a killer would cut the tape to move the body from the table. Brennan sees that the tape was torn. This suggests that Aldo actually tried to break free.
Brennan and the team call Booth and Caroline at the FBI. Poor Booth looks like he’s in an unbearable amount of pain right now. But I’m sure he’d only say “it’s just a scratch.” Brennan informs them that there is one possible explanation as to how Aldo died. Based on the position of the body and the fractures, there is no scenario where the killer could have snapped Aldo’s neck while he was restrained. Cam chimes in and says that the most likely scenario is that Aldo killed himself. He was able to loosen his restraints just enough to allow some range of movement. And he could then generate the motion, which would ultimately snap his own neck. He severed his own spinal cord. Caroline isn’t so sure. Aldo was a priest, and suicide is a cardinal sin. But Booth finally understands what happened. “A sacrifice. It was a sacrifice.” Aldo died trying to protect someone.
The case isn’t quite closed. But for now, they have to call it a day. Aubrey and Jessica walk down the street, hand in hand. Aubrey apologizes for not being mentally present over the past few days. He’s been distracted by the return of his father. And he admits that the situation is not as “cut and dry” as he thought it would be. He’s worried about what will happen when they finally find his dad. This is a relief to Jessica, who had been concerned about him. Aubrey also wants to make sure that Jessica knows he is not his father. He tells her that he would never leave her.
What are you saying?
I’m saying that… when I commit to something, it’s real. That I’m serious about us. Did I say the wrong thing?
No. Of course not, Aubrey. But there’s a lot going on.
I know. And when it’s all taken care of, I’m gonna feel the same way.
These two are incredibly sweet together. Once again, I never look at them as some quasi-extension of Booth and Brennan. Because again, they can very much stand on their own. There’s a definite chemistry there, and I have really enjoyed watching the two of them together. I believe Aubrey is sincere when he speaks those words to Jessica. And she believes him, for sure. But yes, there is a lot going on right now. It’s likely not the ideal time for serious relationship talks.
Back at Booth and Brennan’s, the couple is sitting in their living room once more, drinks in hand. “I know this is difficult, Booth. But you’re gonna get through it.” “Yeah, sounds like something Aldo would have said.” She tells him Aldo was right. Booth is still concerned. This situation is different. He admits his suspicions. He believes Aldo died to protect him. Brennan doesn’t quite understand how Booth could know something like that. But Booth recognized the X-ray in the studio. Brennan didn’t see a name on the film. But Booth knows that he is the one who made that shot. “That is a ridiculous assumption.” She begins to tell him that there are other snipers who could have made the shot. But again, Booth knows. “Bosnia. 1995. The general- remember I told you about him?” She remembers. But I’ll refresh your memory.
“I was sent to Kosovo. There was this Serb, General Raddick, who led a unit who would go into villages and, you know, destroy ‘em. Women, children, all– all killed because he wanted to ethnically purify his country. He’d done this twice before. I mean, we had facts, proof. 232 people just erased. I was the sniper sent in to stop him. He was set to leave in a couple hours. It was his son’s– son’s birthday. A little boy maybe about six or seven. I can still hear the music from the party, you know? That song just playing in my head. Nobody knew where the shot came from, but, you know, they knew why it came. They said I saved over a hundred people. But, you know, that little boy who didn’t know who his father was, who– who just loved him… he saw him die, fall to the ground right in front of him. That little boy all covered in his daddy’s blood was changed forever. It’s never just– It’s never just the one person who dies, Bones. Never. Never.”
And now, in 2017, we can reasonably assume that this little boy is all grown up. Brennan talked about revenge and justice in the beginning of the episode. It’s likely that this is exactly the man’s plan as well. Justice for his father. Aldo died to protect Booth’s identity. But judging by the teasers for the remainder of the season, I have to assume that it won’t take him long to single out Booth. Brennan tries to tell Booth that this is just one possibility. But Booth’s right, it’s the only thing that truly makes sense.
The writers were certainly not exaggerating about going back to the very beginning. This story first came about in episode 21. (Well really, you could argue that it was episode 1). Here we are in episode 238 bringing it back. It makes sense to have waited this long. The boy would have been a pre-teen when the show began. In so many ways, we are brought right back to that moment on the bench. Booth still wrestles with every kill, every life he has taken. That cosmic balance sheet is always lurking in the back of his mind. In 1×21, this was the first time we see Brennan comfort him in this way. “Being there for him.” Using a “simple touch” to show him she was with him. And since then (and really, even before that) she has been standing right beside him. She’s in his corner. And she will fight with him. She will help him fight to keep their family safe. And she will also fight to show her husband every day that he is a good man. I will never stop using that line. And I will never stop supporting the show’s frequent use of that line. Because he needs to hear it. And he needs to hear it from her. They will fight together to protect what they have, this life they have built together. This life that they treasure so dearly.
And whoever this is, they’re not gonna stop until…
What should we do?
Just be ready.
This family has been through the ringer. They have been to Hell and back, time and time again. Just when they find some semblance of peace, their world is turned upside once more. Not only must they fear for their safety and the safety of their children, Brennan still doesn’t know about Max. I don’t want to speculate too heavily at this point. But in the end, I know they will be fine. It’s just going to be an emotional roller coaster until then. One I’m happy to keep riding. However I also know I will be screaming and sobbing (but also smiling and laughing) the whole way through.