George Mason Law School

Bones: The birds and the bees and the Amish

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October 5, 2009

10:18 AM

I expected this week’s episode of “Bones” to be replete with quirky horse-and-buggy-drawn fun; perhaps Booth and Bones would go undercover and don Amish clothing, or try to go a day without using their cell phones. I was slightly mistaken, but not entirely disappointed. I had been hoping to see the duo really delve into the conservative Amish culture, but only a fraction of the episode was actually spent on the Amish farm.

We find a teenage boy’s remains strewn across railroad tracks, apparently dragged every which way for miles. The Jeffersonian team is puzzled by the fact that though the bones are only three months old, the skeletal markers seem to say that the individual lived in the 1800’s. Though initially they suspect the victim to be an immigrant, Brennan quickly discovers the proper explanation: the body belongs to a young Amish youth on his Rumspringa.

In the lab, we’ve cycled onto another of the endlessly entertaining interns, and this time it’s the all-business, no-nonsense Clark. Angela is quite obviously still trying to maintain that rather poorly thought out vow of celibacy she made last season, as she continues to make supremely awkward passes at the highly uncomfortable Clark.

The sexual tensions that are so prevalent on the show have shifted temporarily from Booth and Brennan to the other characters. Cam finds herself in the difficult situation of trying to properly parent her adopted daughter Michelle as she ventures into the murky waters of teen sex. One of the high points of the episode for me was Brennan walking in on Cam as she anxiously reads “Talking To Your Teen About Sex” and comments nonchalantly, “Is that a cartoon rendering of a penis in your book?” concluding with, “It’s cute.” Also entertaining? Booth going all Poppa Bear on Michelle’s way-too-old-looking boyfriend. He flashes his gun and nearly crushes the guy’s shoulder, reminding him that he’s a sniper and will most likely hunt him down and kill him if he doesn’t treat Michelle with the respect that she deserves. I love it when Booth gets protective.

Anyways, back to the case. Booth and Bones locate the family of the dead Amish boy, Levi, and find a rock-filled box in his painfully sparse room. Surprisingly, Booth puts his faith in Sweets instead of criticizing his psychobabble, and our young psychological genius takes only moments to discern that the numerous white and black rocks were used as a practice piano. Another favorite moment from the episode: Hodgins spotting Sweets playing the practice keyboard and asking him what he’s doing. Sweets states matter-of-factly, “Playing the theme to ‘Titanic’.” Oh, Sweets.

Turns out Levi was something of a piano prodigy and had been taking lessons in town in secret because the Amish are forbidden to play musical instruments. He decides to use his Rumspringa to audition for a conservatory. While his roommate is found in a smoky room, bong-in-hand with a crowd of Amish-garbed teens making out behind him, Levi just wanted to study piano. That was his idea of rebellion. How adorable. They track Levi’s movements to two other students involved with the conservatory, as well as two other Amish individuals — Levi’s sweetheart, Sarah, and her overly-aggressive brother, Amos. We find out that Levi’s hand had been smashed antemortem, and the cause of death was being pushed out the window of his apartment. I’m getting confused now, because with all of five minutes left in the episode, we have about four suspects, and no foreseeable murderer.

In an ah-ha moment that I don’t quite follow initially, Booth recognizes that Levi’s money was the key to the case. Apparently, some teenage kid busted into his apartment and bungled a robbery; he fought with Levi over a fake gold medal that Karin gave him, and during the struggle Levi fell out the window and the robber took his body to the train tracks to make it look like a suicide. We don’t know anything about the murderer and we’ve never seen him before. What? I’m left scratching my head, but in a good way.

In the sage words of Brennan, “Levi was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I love this. While some of my friends felt that this ending was a bit of a red herring, I found it pleasantly realistic — oftentimes in “real life” we don’t get the neat and tidy conclusions we find on TV where we can easily bundle up all the facts and present it in a satisfactory conclusion. People are killed for no reason at all, and we may never find the person who did it. This episode reminded us of that fact while deviating from the procedural format of body-evidence-suspects-case solved.

The episode concluded on a surprisingly bittersweet, depressing note. Booth and Bones return to the Amish farm of Levi’s parents and present them with a video of their son playing the piano. The music and home video make me want to cry as the final, poignant frame is Levi smiling warmly at us, one of the few cases in “Bones” without a gratifying resolution.

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