BONES 11×08 Debriefing: “A Bad Day for the NSA”

BONES: Cast L-R: John Boyd, TJ Thyne, Tamara Taylor, Michaela Conlin, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. The 11th season of BONES premieres Thursday, Oct. 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

For the first time ever, the show is celebrating Thanksgiving, the underrated holiday that is often overlooked because it’s in the middle of two bigger ones.

So what better case to celebrate that than a conspiracy-fueled episode that debates freedom and security?  Thursday’s case was pretty interesting, as the team ran into some opposition that resulted in extra-carefulness on their part. As for the festive part of the celebrations, it was as lighthearted and fun as you’d expect it to be: after all, this team is like a dysfunctional family, minus the awkwardness between barely-seen family members. (Speaking of which: this marks Parker’s and Michael Vincent’s returns to our TVs!)

Read on for more on “High Treason in the Holiday Season” (best title ever)…

A Bad Day for the NSA

The victim’s body is found in a swamp in a golf course, after having been there for over two weeks underwater. A female in her fifties, whoever killed her was smart and trained enough to carve the victim open to avoid the body rising to the surface. The Angelatron’s reconstruction (with the added plastic surgery) reveals the victim is Vivian Prince, the finest political reporter in the country, who had recently published a story uncovering many of the NSA’s secrets.

BONES:  TJ Thyne in the "High Treason in the Holiday Season" episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

BONES: TJ Thyne in the “High Treason in the Holiday Season” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Among the initial suspects: Prince’s ex-husband, and whoever sent her threats because of the article. Thus, Booth and Aubrey pay a visit to her place of work, The DC Sentinel, considering Prince’s recent actions. Vivian’s boss, David Pyne, does not know who the American (Vivian’s source) is; he also assigns the younger, perkier news reporter to cover the murder of one of the big names. Younger, prettier Kate Kolfax is getting the left column on the front page (Prince’s space) to do so… at least for that day. The future’s up for grabs. Meanwhile, Ryan Gill, a NSA agent, drops by the Jeffersonian to inform Cam he is to supervise the case’s progress. Cam stands her ground without batting an eye and declares she needs a court order from him to share her information, and asks him to leave.

Booth and Brennan talk to Cooper Blackthorn, one of the NSA guys. He says he did not kill her — because if the NSA had killed her, they would have never found her. There is an added twist to the all-familiar words suspects utter: “they” are listening in on the team’s progress, and can evaluate their evidence thus far (“amateurish”). He has the upper hand on this case, as they don’t have enough to keep him talking.

Back in the bone room, Fuentes has a shape for the murder weapon made of sterling silver, based on the injuries in the orbital socket and frontal lobe. He’s also found perimortem blows to the skull might have been an struggle, but they are six months old. Moreover, Cam tells both Fuentes and Hodgins about the unexpected visitor. Both men are a united front on this: the NSA probably bugged the room in  the hopes their findings lead the agency to the American, so that they can kill the leak.  Meanwhile, Booth and Brennan visit the victim’s apartment and find evidence someone’s been there recently: blinds are closed (succulents need light, but hers is still alive), and the laptop is not there. They also uncover paperwork revealing she is cutting off her ex-husband’s alimony, along with a glucometer, despite her not being diabetic.

BONES:  Emily Deschanel in the "High Treason in the Holiday Season" episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

BONES: Emily Deschanel in the “High Treason in the Holiday Season” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Following this, Aubrey brings the ex in for questioning and he reveals cutting the alimony off was all his idea: he loved her and wanted to be friends again, but he also wanted to make it on his own. He did not gain anything from her death, but Kate Kolfax did. Right after he walks out of the room, Aubrey bumps into Gill who easily suggests he ask Kolfax about the encryption key — she has been trying to decode the emails between Vivian and the American. During his interview with Kolfax, much to her chagrin, Aubrey is not willing to share details on the case but he does suggest they help each other out and inquires about her relationship with Vivian. Off the record, she admits to admiring her at first, hoping she could learn from her; yet, she is bitter as she ultimately found there was no working with Vivian. Then, Kolfax realizes that the whole interview was a pretext to ask her about her breaking into Vivian’s  — she wasn’t able to get anything on the American for her story, though, so she returns everything (laptop, encryption key, and a “George Orwell” note included) to Aubrey.

Angela takes a crack at decrypting the contents, and realizes they need blood to do so (thanks to Cam bringing the modified glucometer to her attention). The bad news is that the body has been in the water three weeks, so they have no viable blood. However, Fuentes is ultimately able to get a sample from the medula, and Angela is able to get in: apparently, Vivian and the American met for the last time the same night her body was dumped.

Booth and Brennan head there and are met with a hotel manager who has no records — that’s why the Riverbanks Inn exists. The manager does mention their associate – Gill – has already been around for the same reason. The NSA agent admits to just wanting to help them, while Brennan is looking for evidence. Though the sheets have remnants of sexual activity, the curtains do have blood. Moreover, as soon as Brennan sees room service, she realizes the sterling silver lid with the pointy end is likely the murder weapon. The housekeeper does recognize her from six months prior, when her husband caught her with someone else, and looked ready to kill her.

BONES:  L-R:  Tamara Taylor and Emily Deschanel in the "High Treason in the Holiday Season" episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

BONES: L-R: Tamara Taylor and Emily Deschanel in the “High Treason in the Holiday Season” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Therefore, Aubrey brings Sal in once again. The ex-husband still promises he is innocent, even if they fought hard when she admitted to the affair. He suggests that the killer might have been the guy she was sleeping with — he only knows he had Ferragamo shoes. He also claims he was in Tallahassee the night of the murder, and attributes the lack of a credible alibi to the fact he was being interviewed for a new job for another paper: in order to make it on his own, he could not stay in DC.

Room 43 at Riverbanks Inn is now being thoroughly investigated but there is one problem: Ryan Gill has been sloppy and his set of prints keep coming up, unless he did it on purpose  — to cover up he had been there before; this also matches the fact the blood on the room has been cleaned by high-end products. He’s the American, and that’s possibly the reason why Vivian admitted to the affair.

In a discussion about secrets and security regarding the American, Booth brings up Brennan’s secret-keeping for the past week. She reiterates that some secrets are actually good, like her surprise (who just walked through the diner’s door): Parker has flown in for Thanksgiving, and they have great seats for the Flyers-Predator game on Friday. (That’s what she was arranging on the phone in the teaser.)

BONES:  L-R:  TJ Thyne, John Boyd and David Boreanaz in the "High Treason in the Holiday Season" episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

BONES: L-R: TJ Thyne, John Boyd and David Boreanaz in the “High Treason in the Holiday Season” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

At the lab, Fuentes finds indications she was tied down and tortured on her shins. Even though Cam hasn’t heard of it, Fuentes does know about it, and can trace it back to Blackthorn, who was stationed in West Africa for five years. At the same time, Booth meets with Ryan at the Inn, so they can keep their meeting off the grid. Ryan admits to also wanting to find the killer and that he knows the cost of what he did, but that doesn’t mean he should be executed for it. He met with Vivian that night to decide on what to do next: Vivian was working through the documents he gave her, they were figuring out their subsequent move.  He speculates the NSA tracked her down there after he left — the evidence against Blackthorn seems to keep piling up. Yet, the young NSA agent doesn’t walk unscathed from this discussion: Booth arrests him for treason.

It’s been a bad day for the NSA, all things considered: one of their own was arrested for treason and the other one, for murder. (Notably, Gill’s arrest is on the front page of the Sentinel.) Blackthorn does admit to the torture to recover the stolen NSA documents. However, Vivian refused to give the jump drive.  Undeterred, though, he plays with the added advantage of knowing where they are with the investigation and the lack of murder evidence they have on him. So, he attests he left her alive.

At the lab, the lid proves to be a perfect match for the socket wound, but not the other one: that was caused by a long, rectangular weapon that knocked her face into the lid . Fuentes has taken another look at the skull after his mentor’s findings, and has uncovered some abrasions that match the metal bronze of a motherboard—a metal detector, like the one Booth got from Gill.

BONES:  L-R:  Emily Deschanel and Tamara Taylor in the "High Treason in the Holiday Season" episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

BONES: L-R: Emily Deschanel and Tamara Taylor in the “High Treason in the Holiday Season” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Gill was not only the Vivian’s source, but also her murderer. He thought he could trust her to know where the line was between public knowledge and what would endanger lives, but she wanted a bigger story. He wanted the drive back, but Vivian was under a lot of pressure at the paper (mostly related to Kolfax vying for her job). He was using the wand to try to find the drive, but he hit her when she tried to grab it from him She fell into the service cart, dying — all for naught, as he did not find the jump drive. Killing her might have been an accident, but the dumping was anything but.

Finally, we find Hodgins at Vivian Prince’s office, trying to recover the drive. His search seems to be unfruitful until he stumbles upon a George Orwell quote in a pen holder — remembering the note they found with her belongings (which they originally thought would be the password). He removes the sticker on the back to find the elusive drive underneath. Later that night, Hodgins hands the drive to Booth, as he trust the agent’s judgement better. Surprisingly enough, Booth requests he destroy it so no one else gets hurt.


Freedom vs Security

The victim’s actions divide the team, as they all have different perspectives on whether she was a traitor or not.

While Aubrey muses that freedom of expression shouldn’t get you killed, Booth is pretty critical of her methods: she reprinted secret documents and endangered many operatives by outing the NSA’s secrets. If she wanted to critique the NSA’s methods, she should have gone after the people in charge.  Cam does agree the American is a traitor, as he put people serving the country in danger.

Brennan takes a more historical view— George Washington was also considered a traitor in his time (as British man who lead an army against his own country), which is not the case now. Years from now, Vivian Prince might be considered a patriot advocating for change, or a traitor. This view clashes with Booth, who aggressively thinks his stance (she was a traitor who was in the wrong) is right.

When it becomes obvious the American is Gill, Booth is reticent to meet with him because of what he has done, even if he likely was the last person to see the victim alive. Hodgins thinks he was trying to do the right thing, but Booth vehemently disagrees once again.

BONES:  L-R:  David Boreanaz and TJ Thyne in the "High Treason in the Holiday Season" episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

BONES: L-R: David Boreanaz and TJ Thyne in the “High Treason in the Holiday Season” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

In the end, it is revealed the American did not want all that got out to be published. Hodgins finds the drive in Vivian’s office and returns it to Booth, as their argument possibly showed him a new perspective. Booth ultimately tells him to destroy it so no one else has that information.


Thanksgiving at Chez Booth

We open on Brennan secretly talking on the phone with someone, only to change her demeanor once Booth enters the room — so we know that it has to do with him. Based on body language, it seems innocent. However, she picks a fight with him over cooking turkey: she’s planning on making FauxTurkey, since Booth would be the only one to have turkey considering Max is going down to visit Russ. It is then Booth has a brilliant idea: he’s going to invite Aubrey, and everyone who wants to come, to celebrate Thanksgiving with them, and he’ll stuff and roast the turkey. Problem solved!

The marrieds bicker a bunch during the episode. For one, and surprising no one, Brennan’s best selling novelist status has gotten them into the Washington Hills golf club and, apparently, Brennan has beaten Booth at it. (Because of math.) However, Brennan theorizes that is Booth does not consider it a sport if he can’t top her… even if he’s claiming it’s because it lacks defense. Aubrey, acting at the caddy in the cart, is just listening on. (Big laughs at the  meat subtitute comment.)

Brennan takes advantage of the fact human and turkey tissue are similar to invite everyone to their Thanksgiving celebration. (Nice segue!)

Later in the episode, they also share a car scene in which their delicious banter is front and center, as the case cannot be discussed lest they get listened on. In the first one, Booth brings up her call that morning — he thinks she’s started Christmas shopping early and he’s getting that Jet-Ski he really wants. (Something tells us he is not.) Booth being a kid on Christmas feels totally right.

BONES:  Emily Deschanel in the "High Treason in the Holiday Season" episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

BONES: Emily Deschanel in the “High Treason in the Holiday Season” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

As for the celebration, it was as familiar and lovely as you could expect. We see Cam, Aubrey and Fuentes bond (a combo we don’t often see!) — poor Aubrey had no idea those chicken squares were not made of chicken at all — Parker and Booth play video games, Brennan making funnies (about her husband’s maturity level, once again), and Angela thinking about babies.

Now, that is something to talk about for a second. The show hasn’t hidden the baby craze coming from Angela, but this might have been the first time she’s outright admitted she is thinking about children. Their sexcapades are not a secret either, but their recent one (in which she lost an earring) kind of ended up solving the case. With all the talk about how big their upcoming storyline is, it seems clear that it has to do with everything they have been setting up with the babies. (Recall that Michael Vincent, who also appears in this episode sitting by Christine at the kid table, had a one in a four chance of being born blind, so don’t rule that out yet.)

The episode ends with the turkey being ready. Did Brennan hear Aubrey was threatening to leave if she served Faux-turkey, so she fooled him into believing  that’s what the main course was? (I wish we could have seen his reaction to this.) Booth quickly tells them all it’s the real deal, though.


A curious choice of a case for the Thanksgiving episode —it had a touchy subject matter in this day and age, but the Thanksgiving plot line provided some needed balance. The case itself was interesting: I had a suspicion that Gill would be pretty instrumental in the case because of his constant involvement. However, his motives were surprising to me and reinforced the conflict that arose between the characters regarding freedom and security.

Speaking of which, I found Booth’s stance to be pretty harsh and close-minded, even if I understand where he was coming from. The episode did a good job of showing the different perspectives the characters adopted, and the contrast it ultimately had with the reality of what happened. Much like any other moral issues, there is not a simple ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer… and the characters are not black or white, either: they have morals they abide by but they can learn from and adapt to a situation.

BONES:  L-R:  Tamar Taylor, guest star Ignacio Serricchio and John Boyd in the "High Treason in the Holiday Season" episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

BONES: L-R: Tamar Taylor, guest star Ignacio Serricchio and John Boyd in the “High Treason in the Holiday Season” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

There was also an undercurrent of secrets, starting with Brennan’s secretive call. I never thought it would be anything bad (à la Booth in the last third of season ten), if only because of how funny her expressions were. It was ultimately a really sweet and fitting surprise — I might not be Parker’s biggest fan, but I loved seeing father and son reunited. It’s hard to believe that preschooler we met back in season one is now fifteen! (Also, for those who are wondering that aren’t fans of hockey/haven’t checked: there is indeed a Predators at Flyers game next Friday.)

There were so many good character interactions in this episode: I really liked the Booth-Hodgins conflict, I  loved the banter between Booth and Brennan (especially any well-intentioned jokes regarding his maturity level when it came to Christmas, or being reunited with his son). I also simultaneously liked and dreaded the baby mention by Angela — liked because it has been a long time coming, dreaded because anything the writers mention about future episodes scares me.

I am bracing myself for some drama but until then, I am really enjoying this run of mostly serious (and very interesting!) cases with some fun interpersonal relationships in them.


Odds and Ends

  • Fuentes’ perspective on golf: not a big fan. Castro took over all the courses and turned them into public housing and military schools. “Any time you take a thing of beauty and make it utilitarian, something is lost.”
  • He did not get a specific storyline in this episode, but I continue to enjoy his presence and the perspective he brings to the table. Particularly, he was the perfect fit for an episode with a case featuring government-related involvement into daily life; he was also really useful in solving the case.
  • Really liked to see Booth and Hodgins interact. That is always a very interesting pairing.
  • Brennan’s face when she was trying to lie in the first scene made my night.
  • See you in three weeks, when FOX airs two hours in the fall finale night. (The promo after the episode only showed snippets of the first hour.) As soon as there are stills for both, I’ll add a link to them right here.
  • Sorry for the extreme delay with this recap.

 

… is a young graduate student that has been way too passionate about television ever since she was little. While she insists she doesn’t have a specific type of show, they all usually have strong but flawed lady characters, some derivation of the stubborn friends-in-love/friends-to-lovers trope, and they all make her yell at her tv a lot. She just wishes she had more hours in the day so she could actually write about this.
You can usually find her on Twitter, Tumblr, and at cassidy at thankyoulizlemon.com

One Response to BONES 11×08 Debriefing: “A Bad Day for the NSA”

  1. […] at an Old West-style shooting competition (as you might have seen in the promo that aired after 11×08) to solve a murder. Elsewhere, Angela and Hodgins discuss the future of their family, and Cam gets […]

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