BONES 11×11 Debriefing: “You’re Essential to Me”

BONES: L-R: David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel and Tamara Taylor in the Spring premiere "The Death In The Defense" episode of BONES airing Thursday, April 14 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Welcome back, Bones!

It is strange that the show is returning just as May Sweeps (the traditional end to the television season) are about to start. It’s even crazier to think that the show will be running until late July, too.

It’s been a bit over four months since we last saw our favorite squints, but only eight weeks have passed in Bones time. After the shocking ending to the midseason finale, the spring premiere opens with Hodgins being discharged from the hospital. He’s jarringly happy and hopeful — basically, in perfect denial.

The episode went all in with showing us Hodgins’ current struggle, and it shone a light into his and Angela’s relationship. I especially liked the storyline was not put into the background, rather than have it be in the backburner. It is such a big event in the characters’ lives, and it would have been a disservice to just focus on some other trivial thing. This is a show that prides itself in having such great actors with developed characters, and that is definitely felt here: as the close family they are, every character has a very distinct and emotional reaction to Hodgins’ condition.

So, let’s discuss that, and other things that went down on Bones 11×11, “The Death in the Defense”…

THE CASE

This week’s murder victim is Andrea Torres, an attorney with the public defender office. Her intact confirmation necklace, found in her pocket, helps to identify her, as the inscription contains her church name. Cause of death seems to be a fatal brain hemorrhage, though she had been stabbed in the past by a mentally-ill client. The blowflies on her body suggest the body is one day “off” (as per Wendell’s estimates), which does not make sense — everything else indicates she died three days ago. Yet, as an excited Hodgins points out, he’s forgetting Tropical Storm Bertha and confusing time of death with the blowflies’ colonization time. This is not Hodgins’ only key contribution: he can help determine where some of the missing smaller bones (that TS Bertha also had a hand in displacing) might be in the river. He wants to personally go there, but is reminded it would be difficult to get the wheelchair in place. As such, he relents to helping Wendell via video.

At the Public Defender office, her colleagues only have good things to say about Drea. As a graduate from Georgetown Law, she could have worked anywhere. We also learn she lost a case she thought she’d win this past Friday. Prompted by a picture in his office, Booth asks about his relationship with Drea: they worked long hours, and this was a close-knit environment. Thus, Aubrey starts looking into the cases won and lost, and the ones that ended in plea deals. No plea deals meant higher stakes, i.e. stronger motive for murder. One of the cases on the ‘lost’ pile jumps at Caroline’s attention: Carla Ashbury’s, someone who was convicted for grand theft. In her opinion, Drea should’ve taken a plea deal. Though they speculated her husband might have blamed Drea for his wife going away, that is far from the truth: he appreciated her because she truly believed in his wife’s words (Carla’s employers assumed the person with the record had robbed them), and let her choose how she wanted to do. (Drea actually wanted to take the deal.) He also has an alibi, as one of their kids was sick on Friday night.

Back at the Jeffersonian, Brennan and Wendell now examine the complete skeleton and identify a straight fracture, probably done with a single impact from the same object. Hodgins found some particulates of steel alloy, so the weapon might have been a lengthy steel pipe. Moreover, Angela finds that Drea Torres did not use any social media sites, which is strange for a young woman of her generation. Cam suggests she looks into seeing if she logged in from another account, and ultimately finds a Facebook account, where someone recently posted asking how Drea was doing.

Aubrey meets with that person, Kelsey Whitney, who happened to be Drea’s best friend. What her post was referring to was a woman who tried to pick a fight with Drea, thinking she had made fun of her being drunk, and started shoving her. She was a fellow lawyer (a prosecutor working for Caroline), Vanessa Cadwell. Interestingly enough, she had been passed over for Drea (who had a better record) in the past, and had lost to her four times. After some poking, Cadwell admits that she hated Drea Torres but actually worked late on Friday night.

Results from toxicology determine there was cocaine in her system. Hodgins wants to swab for more particulates, in case he can trace the origin — maybe there were some particulates in her nasal cavities, too. However, he is off the case before he can do anything. Drea’s emails point towards the fact that her boss, Alex Pollack, knew she used drugs, even if he never saw her do them. It was her outlet when she lost, and he understood: some cases had truly high stakes for her defendants. He only knows her dealer was some DJ. Back at the lab, Cam examines her nasal tissue, and determines she was not a frequent drug user, but there was some non-human cells in there. Brennan has also found some microfracturing in Drea’s hands, which hint towards her attacking her attacker.

This particulate turns out to be a woma python scale, which helps them determine the identity of her mysterious DJ dealer: DJ Woma. They left together that Friday night, went back to his place and messed around — he got somewhat pushy (which she liked in the past)  and broke her necklace, and she punched him. She left, but didn’t take up his offer to call her a cab — she walked. He does have an alibi, though: after this incident, he went to a 24-hour diner down the street and spent the rest of the night there.

Meanwhile, Angela has gone through a forensic copy of Drea’s hard drive. She suspects there was some form of spyware software on her computer, since she never accessed her social media accounts from that device. They can trace it back to whoever was controlling her: Tim, the intern back at the office, who was also the IT specialist. He is brought in, and admits to doing this, not because he was in love with her, but to protect her. He would not divulge much more.

Wendell also finds a fracture in the zygomatic bone, with the primary fractures being at a right angle — possibly relating to the fractures in the radii and ulnae, especially if her arms were raised at the time of impact. Moreover, Angela discovers that boss Alex’s home is walking distance from DJ Woma’s place. Moreover, his building has a rectangular steel alloy dumpster right below his balcony. The dumpster simulation demonstrates that that impact is likely how she got those bone fractures, as it is a perfect match.

Alex is brought in, but he has answers for all of Booth’s questions (not all of them convincing). He was definitely the last person to see her alive, and his intern stated he was the one who told him to implement spyware software in her computer. Yet, all the evidence they have is circumstantial, not enough for them to check his apartment: they need some hard evidence Drea was at his apartment that night. Upon closer reexamination, Brennan and Wendell find an irregularity in the skull’s left eye socket caused by something sharp that must have happened perimortem per the hemorrhagic staining. They just need to put it through the mass spectrometer and hope the results help them with the warrant.

Plot twist: Wendell has secretly been consulting with Hodgins in order to both interpret the mass spectrometer results (chemicals found in grapes!), and to identify the python scales (since no one at the lab was of help).

Booth and Brennan now have a search warrant to check the boss’ apartment out. The cut they found in Drea’s forehead with trace amounts of different grapes — a specific blend found in a wine that Pollack happened to buy the previous Friday. Also suspicious: the railing on the balcony is freshly painted. In order to check whether that is where Drea ultimately died, Brennan needs to pry the nails out and check for blood… and indeed, the second one does.

Alex loved Drea, and had finally gathered the courage up to tell her. She was surprised and angry, feeling like he had betrayed her trust. He was also mad: she hooked up with drug dealers, but she said she’d never want Pollack. Thus, he struck her with his wine glass. Everything was happening too fast: he wanted to her to stay so he could apologize, but while she was fighting to get away, they struggled, and she went over the railing.


Stage of Grief of the Week: Denial

Everyone’s world turned upside down following Hodgins’ new condition. Part of the team feels guilty, while others are just sad. As a very tight-knit group, it is difficult to see someone bounded to a wheelchair for life. Eight weeks after the fall finale’s big bombshell, Hodgins is out of the rehab hospital, but his lumbar nerves are still being monitored. He is not yet out of the woods, but he’s feeling hopeful: he’s pretty sure he’s felt some tingling in his feet. He is also told to take it easy and not work but, this is Hodgins. We all know that is not going to keep him away from the lab.

He has also become the lab’s main topic of conversation, and source of concern.

We get a good peek into Booth and Brennan’s stances early on: as a man of faith, Booth is mostly hopeful Hodgins will walk once again — he thinks that the emotional recovery is often harder, so hope is key to get through that. Brennan, our woman of science, has sought reassurance in the facts but found little comfort. Meanwhile, Aubrey also expresses his guilt, admitting he cannot stop thinking about Hodgins in that wheelchair. As Caroline reminds him, he’s the reason why Hodgins will see Michael Vincent grow up with his own eyes, so he should stop feeling bad.

Wendell, our squintern of the week, knows a thing or two about surviving against all odds. Brennan argues for Cam’s position (Hodgins staying in the lab may be detrimental to his recovery), but Wendell thinks that staying at home might be even worse for him, as he might reflect on everything he can’t do. He calls back to his cancer diagnosis, and how Booth ultimately urged him to not give up (even if he wanted to). His recovery was unlikely, but he is now in remission. This scene is particularly affecting to me: while the doctor recommended Hodgins recuperate at home, nothing is really going to keep him from doing what he wants. So why try to stop him, if it is helping him? (At least, mentally.)

However, the most interesting reaction from this episode comes from Cam. Her and Hodgins’ relationship has always been intriguing, but is truly brought to a new level here. Cam and Brennan have similar views on Hodgins’ situation, but Cam’s comes from a place of deep regret: she still feels guilt because she did not send him home after he was initially injured and in pain, right after the explosion. As Hodgins’ boss and friend, she would not be able to forgive herself if something happened to him, no matter how useful he proves himself to be. She is harsh, but she is just worried about him and trying to look out for him. In the end, she does invite him back, after she admits her decisions were slightly selfish — she was just thinking about herself, but not considering how he might feel.

Another person between a rock and a hard place? Angela, who might not have physical scars, but it is clear she’s deeply worried about her husband. In many ways, her part of the story nicely complements Cam’s. Hodgins mentions (at least) twice how much his job means to him — he tells Cam his work at the lab is who he is, while he also implies to Angela his job makes him the man she loves (i.e. it fulfills him). But Angela also voices what is truly heartbreaking about this situation: right before this happened, they were making plans for the future; plans they have now put on hold. Who knows what might happen in the future? She also has to struggle with her husband’s wishes vs. what would ultimately be best for him. It’s a tricky situation, but in the end, she chooses to let him do what he loves since he cannot be stopped anyways. The scene were Hodgins asks Angela to list all the things she loves about him, after which he tells her his work brings that out in him, is undoubtedly one of the sweetest in this episode. If anything, this storyline will serve as a reminder of how strong a pair these two are.

However, there might be some cracks in that strong foundation. At the very end of the episode, Hodgins gets the worst news possible: that tingling sensation? Likely some phantom sensation. In fact, his nerves are atrophied and likely not growing back. Instead of sharing the news with his wife, he decides to hide it from her. This episode highlighted much of Hodgins’ denial, but this will likely catapult him into emotional outbursts and anger — reverting to his old, pre-Angela self. What stuck with me was Angela’s face (the last shot of the episode): did she pick up on Hodgins’ subtle sadness when he said ‘great’ as he left? It is such an ambiguous expression, and I am so curious to know. My guess is that she might not have, which is a shame: this is a matter of how you react to news, but Angela would have not been anything less than supportive of him.

This storyline has plenty of emotional ramifications that will certainly get into some juicy emotional content for the characters. Angela and Hodgins haven’t faced much adversity since Michael Vincent’s possible blindness, but this is just as life-changing and permanent. How is life affected once you lose all feeling in your legs? Part of me dreads this storyline because it is so deeply sad: this is not something where you lose mobility, limiting you greatly, but it also has different physical and mental ramifications that I hope the show subtly touches on. It is clear the writers do not intend to have Hodgins walking anytime soon (unlike some other shows where characters have suffered similar conditions), but I just hope they go beyond using this as a situation to temporarily test the characters emotionally, and instead pay respect to the gravity of the situation — considering how committed TJ Thyne is to this, they’re off to a good start.


Solid start to the second half of the season. I might be in the minority, but I felt like the episode needed to focus on Hodgins’ return to the lab, and everyone’s reaction to it. I would have felt cheated if it had focused on anyone else. The case was interesting, though I wish it had gotten more into the public defender aspect of it — the stuff with the Ashburys was interesting, especially since one of them is now in jail because they had a record (disregarding their present behavior). I particularly like it when the team has to scramble to find that last missing link that allows them to tie up the case. The personal stories continued what was clear in the midseason finale: these people are a tightknit group who are worried about the others’ well-being. Everyone has a different approach to how to deal with all of this, but it makes sense for them: Brennan has always sought comfort in the facts, Booth has always used his faith to find hope and optimism in dark situations, Cam would likely feel deep guilt and use a cold hard approach to protect those she loves, etc. Hodgins is so perfectly in denial about his whole situation, that that final scene in the episode is a blow to both him and the audience: things are not going as well as he/we thought, and there is a tough road ahead.

Odds and Ends

  • Christine’s drawing was ridiculously cute, and I hope we really see it in Booth’s office in the next few episodes. (I always loved it when my parents hung my drawings somewhere in their offices!)
  • Also ridiculously adorable: Brennan hoping Christine grows up to have faith like her dad. The science might make her sad, but she has come a long way. That whole scene was a nice touch.
  • I truly feel bad for Hodgins. As much as this is preferable over death, it turns his whole world upside down. I respect his poor decisions, because I would not know how to react to such devastating news. (This music video made me particularly sad.) TJ Thyne is owning his scenes.
  • As I said above, I particularly loved the Cam-Hodgins scenes, mostly because it was not a pairing I’d have expected from this storyline. Seeing Cam struggle with her friend/personal feelings vs. what a boss should do is always interesting, but it was particularly affecting in this case.
  • On a completely different note, I was digging Wendell’s scruff. I also love how Wendell related his cancer journey to Hodgins’ current situation — it is probably the most apt comparison so far.
  • Next week: promo, stills. Something tells me that sucker punch in the promo is going to be relevant soon.
  • Author’s note: I’ll try my best to have every recap posted before a new episode airs. It is an incredibly busy time of the semester for me with project deadlines, finals, and graduation (as well as the usual moving out and travel). It should be at its worst both 11×12 and 11×14, but no promises.
… 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

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