This episode of “Bones” felt very much like an episode that might have come out of the earlier seasons, marked less by the emotional dramas between characters and more by the quirky personalities of each member of the Jeffersonian team. Although the episode became one giant plug for Fox’s other property, James Cameron’s pending sci-fi flick “Avatar,” it still had some moments and scenes well worth watching, if only for the adorably geeky interactions between the male squints.
We begin with a highly disgusting body being found in a vat of grease outside of a restaurant, and Booth and Bones arrive on the scene in the midst of a spirited debate about what constitutes a sport. Brennan quickly points out that the body is still fleshy, and I too was wondering why Booth called her to the scene — it’s never made clear why, but almost as soon as she’s about to leave, she is given a reason to stay. To my horror (but not to my surprise), as a team of investigators attempt to remove the corpse from the vat, the skin begins to literally slide off of the bones. It falls in hefty, gooey chunks until actual organs make their own exits. Too much? Yeah, well it was even less pleasant to watch.
In the lab we have a thoroughly enjoyable spectacle of Hodgins, Sweets, and intern Fisher — Joel Moore, who is actually in “Avatar” — having nerdy-boy-freakouts over tickets for the movie. I was mildly annoyed that the episode was essentially one big advertisement, but the fanboy air that the trio gave off made up for it. They try to juggle their respective duties while trading off shifts waiting in line for seats.
One part of this episode I really didn’t enjoy was the fact that the writers seemed to choose to represent female “geeks” or “nerds” with a sexually aggressive and pushy tattooed woman. Women with tattoos already get a bad rap, and she seemed completely extraneous. I mean, I know Daisy can be annoying, but seriously? This character was shallow, unrealistic, and just generally irritating. And I was quite disappointed in Sweets; for someone who prides himself on understanding people and reacting rationally, he was acting very out of character. Ultimately, the girl moves on to Fisher, and the whole encounter seems like bad stereotyping and an excuse to have a girl flash the men of the show.
I really enjoyed the larger amount of Hodgins in this episode; he is one of the most consistent, hilarious members of the cast and sadly has been hiding in the background this season. His quick, “Oh, and, King of the Lab!” made me grin, as it was something we haven’t heard in a while since the loss of our dear Zack. One scene that I truly loved was when Hodgins was working in a sleeveless shirt (which the lady viewers enjoyed, I am sure) and Angela walks in, noticing the tattoo of her on his arm, lovingly provided by her Texan, ZZ Top father. This small detail provided continuity from the previous seasons and gave us a brief glimpse of the as-of-yet unresolved Angela/Hodgins dynamic.
Booth and Brennan delve into the world of old school gaming and find that the murdered man was a mailman/professional gamer who had achieved the only perfect score in an arcade game called Punky Pong. They look into a complaint launched against him by the father of an autistic child.
Before we go any further, let me just say that autism is always a tricky subject to deal with, and I’m not sure I’m satisfied with how the Bones writers utilized it here. We find out that the father murdered the victim because he had stolen the video of his son’s winning game and used it to gain his fame. In his interrogation-confession, he explains the boy’s life as a sort of tragedy caused by his disability, delivering an autism-is-like-a-death-sentence monologue. Dougie doesn’t speak and his only happiness comes from playing an arcade game, as though without it his life is meaningless. This almost patronizing attitude toward mental disability disappointed me greatly, and the closest the episode came to addressing the value of different ways of thinking was Brennan commenting to Booth that though he thinks differently than her, she understand why it’s valuable.
Regardless, they solve the case and it concludes with the arcade machine being returned to Dougie, who smiles faintly and launches back into playing the game without a word. Booth and Brennan return to the lab and Booth delivers his typical heartwarming grizzly-bear-father explanation of why he understands the crime. Brennan smiles and seems to understand him, and challenges him to a game on the arcade machine they still have in the lab, ending on the note of competition that the episode began with.