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'Bones' recap: Skinny cat, skinny cat, what are they feeding you?

Season 10 | Episode 9 | “The Mutilation of the Master Manipulator” | Aired Dec 4, 2014

I get nervous when Bones doesn’t open with a body find. There’s something comforting about the familiar structure of this show. We meet new characters; we learn everything about their lives in three sentences; it’s clear that they’re not planning on finding a body today; they find a body anyway. We have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what’s about to happen before they do, and if we can predict the story, we must have some control over it.

That all goes out the window when we open after the body has been found. The bones are already in the lab tonight, and it’s disorienting. Worse, it means the case will wrap up a few minutes early, leaving extra time for something big to happen. Could Wendell’s cancer come back? Spoiler alert: Not today. He’s fine. Everyone’s fine. Was this a trick? Have we all just been experimented on? Are we the test subjects in a study about what happens to people who watch 199 episodes of a will-they-won’t-they procedural?

Tonight’s victim would find that appropriate. Before his body parts turned up in trash cans and dumpsters around the city, Professor Randall Fairbanks conducted psychological experiments. In one of those experiments, to study blind obedience, he told each subject to ask a series of questions to a test taker in the next room. If the test taker gave the wrong answer, the subject pressed a button that delivered a shock. In reality, there was no shock. The test taker was Fairbanks’ grad student, Tabitha, and her screams—like her answers—were pre-recorded. But 66% of subjects kept pressing the button until they reached a voltage that would have killed her.

Out of nothing more than a desire to obey, these people inflicted deadly amounts of pain. When they learned the truth about what they’d done, some of them came unhinged. A young student named Alex Heck dropped out, spent time in a mental hospital, and was caught breaking and entering at Fairbanks’ place; he blames the professor for showing him his inner monster. Alex might as well have killed an innocent person, and he doesn’t know how to live with that. Aubrey can lock him up for all he cares. It’s all the same.

Brennan and Aubrey meet with Booth

And yes, it’s Aubrey’s time to shine tonight, because David Boreanaz is directing next week’s episode Booth is stuck in online traffic school. Apparently, he got one too many traffic tickets, so the FBI has chained him to his desk until he can prove that he knows the rules of the road. Life with the computer-generated Officer Stop ‘N Go is its own kind of prison. He’s very demanding for a cartoon. Because we have those extra minutes coming to us at the end of the episode, I worry that Booth will legitimately fail this test. I, too, am in Officer Stop ‘N Go’s emotional prison.

On the bright side, this is a great opportunity for Brennan to test Aubrey’s abilities. They visit Fairbanks’ home, where some of the hydrangeas in the backyard are pink instead of blue; Aubrey impresses Brennan when he points out that the color change could be due to the pH content in blood. Hodgins finds more blood in the garage. He also finds a cat named Skinner; the Hodgins household is allergic, but I’m really hoping someone adopts him, because a cat named after an X-Files character can only enhance this show. Fairbanks’ neighbor takes a break from bird watching to lend them the camera on her birdhouse. (Her friend: “That’s a lot more interesting than mall walking!”)

Hodgins examines evidence with Wendell and Aubrey

Hodgins brings the flowers—and Skinner—back to the lab, where he pinpoints time of death by figuring out how long it took the blood to change their color. If only all experiments involved spinning flowers and none of them involved shocking hypothetical people to death. Angela uses time of death to narrow down the footage from the birdhouse camera, which shows Fairbanks’ grad assistant and current girlfriend, Tabitha, sneaking into the house two hours before he died. She says that she was conducting her own experiment, spraying her perfume in his room to see if it would make him more attentive. Tabitha felt ignored because Fairbanks wouldn’t give her credit on the study, even though he frequently credited his old grad student, Victoria.

Victoria left town after getting expelled for trashing Fairbanks’ lab, but she’s back now to sell her sculptures, one of which is the perfect match for the metals found in the professor’s wounds. She has every tool that she would need to kill him, but the bite marks on his hand don’t match. There’s a cut on Fairbanks’ finger; when Hodgins analyzes the particulates, he finds cat food, but he also finds anti-freeze. Someone was trying to kill Skinner. X-rays reveal that Skinner has the bones of an endangered bird in his stomach.

Brennan and Aubrey figure it out at the same time as Booth looks on in confusion. (“What’s a skinny cat have to do with anything?”) Fairbanks’ neighbor tried to poison Skinner to protect the birds, but Fairbanks caught her. In the struggle, he cut his hand on the cat food tin, his neighbor bit him, and he fell back onto Victoria’s sculpture. The neighbor dismembered him with the same saw she used to build her birdhouse. Picket fences really do hide all kinds of scandal.

Brennan and Aubrey meet the professor

Meanwhile, Wendell has just finished the last round of his clinical trial. After flirting with his nurse, Andie, who shares his love of science and ’80s music, they grab a picnic lunch and sleep together. Andie is already all in for this relationship. We still have those extra minutes. I’m worried for her. The more she talks about their future, the more Wendell pulls back. She comes to the lab to confront him about it—not because she feels she’s owed anything more, but because she knows that he’s scared. Wendell doesn’t want Andie to watch him die, which she thinks is a bad excuse. Everyone dies. If it isn’t cancer, it’s a freak biking accident, so why let anything hold him back? Andie has the exact same morbid optimism as everyone in this lab. Let’s keep her. She and Wendell kiss.

We use the rest of our minutes to watch Booth, who passed his exam and is free from the tyranny of Officer Stop ‘N Go, talk about handcuffs with Brennan. Maybe this show should skip the body finds more often.

Were you worried for Wendell? How did you like Andie? And who should keep Skinner the cat?

Bones airs Thursdays at 8/7C on Fox.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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