Season 9 | Episode 24 | “The Recluse in the Recliner” | Aired May 19, 2014
Bones might be the only show that intensifies by spending less time on dead bodies. There’s no skeleton in a well this week; there’s just a bloodied Booth slamming through a hospital door on a gurney. Brennan isn’t far behind. She pushes past anyone who tries to stand in her way and insists that, as a doctor, she should be allowed in the operating room. It’s a nice callback to the last time Booth found himself in a hospital bed and had to beg her to join him in the OR. He doesn’t care that she’s not a medical doctor. She’s a genius, and that’s good enough for him. It isn’t good enough for the hospital, though. They didn’t even let Brennan ride with Booth in the ambulance, so something shadowy is going on here.
Flashing back 48 hours, a phone call interrupts Booth’s morning coffee and saves him from Brennan’s German lessons. An anonymous source has information about the McNamaras, the wealthy, corrupt family that was one-half Ghost Killer and one-half killed by the Ghost Killer. They trace the call, but it’s too late: All that’s left at the scene is a charred trailer with a burned body inside. The fire department thinks it’s an accident, but the trailer’s circuit breaker is melted in the off position. Chances are good that this guy wasn’t just sitting in the dark waiting to explode.
The team identifies the victim as Wesley Foster, the trailer’s owner, whose career in journalism fell apart five years ago. All he has to his name is a conspiracy blog. Sweets thinks Foster was unstable, but something got him blown up, so Booth makes Sweets and Caroline (Patricia Belcher) promise to keep the investigation private until they know more. As far as the Deputy Director is concerned, Foster was a harmless crank. Booth does what he can to sell the lie, but his charming smile seems a little strained.
It’s not that he’s worried about proving himself on his last case. Booth just can’t stand to let anyone get away with murder, and he’s got the whole Jeffersonian team behind him. Hodgins is in full-blown conspiracy mode, which is always adorable, and Fisher (Joel David Moore) is just annoyed that anyone would be capable of this. He’s been doing a lot of therapy lately. (“Fisher is just starting to realize that murderers are bad.”) They find a memory chip embedded in Foster’s nipple ring, which contains information he stole from one of the McNamaras’ companies. Everything on the chip is blackmail — even McNamara was under someone’s thumb — but what rattles Booth the most is a surveillance photo that he took. What he thought was a routine stakeout actually took down a senator. Booth trusts the FBI, and he’s been lied to.
Three federal judges have denied Caroline’s request for a warrant, and it’s starting to feel like everyone is in someone’s pocket. But Booth still has to go to his lunch with Congressman Hadley and pretend that everything is under control. The congressman is impressed by Booth’s field experience. When Booth explains that the military taught him to make decisions by getting close to a situation, he’s not just talking about his FBI leadership tactics. This is how he’s approached the entire case. He’s buried his suspicions about the promotion and proceeded as usual, to see what reveals itself.
That’s exactly what he asks Brennan to do with Foster. If Foster was killed by Delta Force operatives, as the evidence suggests, they can’t have any eyes on this investigation. Declaring the death accidental will buy the Jeffersonian time to continue its investigation in secret. Brennan is all about breaking rules to get to the truth, so she lies to the Deputy Director with a charming smile that’s much more convincing than Booth’s.
Brennan is so fierce about defending Booth in this episode. She’s right behind him when his Congressional hearing goes south, as Hadley turns on Booth with the revelation that he assassinated an American citizen in Pakistan. Booth can’t talk about it. Government directives prohibit him from ever having this discussion, and the files are classified, but knowing Booth, he’s already carrying enough guilt for the entire Congressional committee. Journalists swarm him as he grabs Brennan’s hand and runs. I love all of their hand-holding with everything I am, second only to the way Brennan yells Booth’s exceptional record at the reporters. This whole promotion is starting to look like a setup. The team looked too closely at McNamara, and now Booth is being made into a warning. The Deputy Director withdraws his nomination and puts Booth on administrative leave.
Hadley’s pressure point turns out to be a photo of him kissing another man, so Booth slips into his car and coolly notes that while he doesn’t care about the picture, Hadley obviously does. He’s got all of the information, and he’s going public. This isn’t true, but Hadley takes the bait, which means Booth has just offered himself as a sitting duck to three Delta Force operatives. They’re on their way, and he needs Brennan to take Christine and go so he can get to work incorporating bombs into the home décor. Brennan gets fierce again and tells Booth that she hates him for telling her to walk away, and he’s not allowed to die. They still have to fight about the fact that he kept C-4 in their garage. (“It’s stable until you detonate it.”)
The best of Bones’ intense episodes are the ones that violate the idea of home. This finale makes that literal. The stairway explodes, tables are smashed and walls are littered with bullet holes as Booth fights back against Foster’s killers. In a smart bit of direction by David Boreanaz, Booth’s wedding ring is all over this sequence. Just as Booth is shot in the chest, Brennan rushes around the corner and shoots the operative in the head, then drags Booth across the floor, grabs a gun, whips around and shoots another guy. I will fight anyone who doesn’t love her. Booth snaps the last operative’s neck (which is terrifying) and collapses, because apparently his vest wasn’t bulletproof. Are shoddy vests also part of the conspiracy?
Brennan and the team wait at the hospital until word comes that Booth is alive and out of danger, but the trouble isn’t over. The doctor wants her to wait for someone to explain, but Brennan is already down the hall and around the corner. FBI agents block her from Booth’s bedside, where he’s handcuffed to the rail, accused of killing three agents who were trying to serve a warrant on him. It looks like the Deputy Director is in the blackmailer’s pocket now — either that or he’s clueless. When Brennan protests, the agents grab her for questioning and drag her kicking and screaming from the room.
How great was Emily Deschanel in that scene? I was worried for a minute that Booth’s life would be left in the balance all summer, which would be a waste of a cliffhanger. FBI custody is much more effective, because there’s no one way out of this. The only sure thing is that it’s going to take the whole team to solve. Hodgins in particular is going to have to wear his conspiracy hat. How do you think they’ll expose this much corruption? Will the inevitable FBI reconstruction mean a new job for Booth? What are we going to do with ourselves until then? Thanks for joining me these past few months, and thanks to the cast and crew for all of my new trust issues.
Bones, rated TV-14, airs at 8/7 C on Fox.