'Bones': The (rich) kids aren't alright

Davidboreanaz_bones_s4_240 I'm starting to think several people on the Bones writing staff are arguing with their parents, spouses or significant others about why they don't want to have children. This is the second episode in a row where some punk kid did something horrific. What's next -- a toddler terrorist? An infant serial killer? A genocidal zygote?

Max K, the spoiler way!

When a couple of tree-poachers (can you poach trees?) find a charred skull dangling from a tree in a national forest -- right in the middle of the masked booby migration route! -- Booth and Brennan are on the case. A DNA hit from some bone marrow reveals the victim was Cal Warren, an ex special-forces Marine who had gone completely off the grid. He paid for everything in cash, he wasn't in any databases, and for all intents and purposes, he'd disappeared.

An RF proximity card found in Cal's apartment leads Booth to Woodbury school, the sort of k-12 private academy that costs more than most universities and promises to give the children of the exceedingly rich every advantage in life. Cal was working as a nanny for Lexie and Royce, the children of Richard and Elsbeth King. Richard is a defense contractor, and there had been kidnapping threats. Could someone who was coming after the kids taken out Cal?

The first interesting fact the team uncovers is that Cal's body was incinerated with airplane fuel. And looky here -- Dr. Ezralow, a high-powered dermatologist and mother of another Woodbury kid, flies a Cessna. She initially claimed she didn't even know Cal, but she eventually confirms that they were having an affair. But she claims she didn't do it -- and says that Cal gave her some insider information that was very damaging to Richard's company. When the team finds the site where the body was burned, it's yards from one of the King's country homes. Plus, Booth wicks a bit of fuel from Richard's fine Italian sports car, and discovers that Richard fuels his baby with aviation gas.

But the bones suggest that Richard didn't do it -- at some point, Cal was dragged by a choke chain, and the person doing the dragging was about 5'5". Elsbeth, then. She confesses -- but Sweets isn't convinced. Again, the evidence bears Sweets out -- the blast pattern indicates that an even shorter person fied the shot that killed Cal. That's right -- Lexie, the 11-year-old daughter, killed Cal when he refused to do her homework for her. He threatened to tell the school, which has a strict honor code. She would have been kicked out, and all her friends go there! Her mom saw Lexie standing over Cal with the gun, and she disposed of the body. That, my friends, is really, really bad parenting.

The lab rats
Wendell Bray, the Ryan Notwood NotZack, is back, and I think he's up there with Clark as my favorite NotZack, even if he does bring up tapeworm-infected beer. Ewwwww. Cam tries to heal Hodgins' wounded soul by getting the two lab rats to do an experiment, but Hodgins won't bite. Apparently, he only does experiments when there's an accused murderer egging him on -- he finally rediscovers the joy of the lab when Brennan's dad, Max, helps him build a wind tunnel to prove the wind speed that was needed to blast a charred skull-bit into a tree. Ah, science!

Booth and Brennan -- and Max
Speaking of Max... Cam hired him to work in the lab as a science teacher. Max is introducing young kids -- who have the run of the Jeffersonian -- to the joys of science by firing lasers through jell-o and doing the Mentos-in-Coke trick. It's very cute, but very odd -- why would he be doing science demonstrations in the forensics lab? I'm just not going to think about it, because I love Ryan O'Neal as Max.

Brennan is appalled her dad is working in the lab -- we catch criminals, and he IS one! She wants Cam to fire him. Sweets thinks Brennan is acting out on her abandonment issues, but both Max and Brennan dismiss this. When Brennan finds Max helping with the wind-speed experiment, she fires him-- his presence compromises the investigation! She, Sweet and Max talk about this, and Max says that he's going to stick with her -- he won't leave her again.

Max talks to Booth, who (after fending off questions about whether he's sleeping with Brennan, and if not, why the hell not?) agrees to talk to Brennan for him. He gets the chance when Max is demonstrating  scientific principles to Parker: Your dad is great at what he does, and look at how excited Parker is! Could you overlook the evidence-tampering thing, just for me? Brennan sees through this -- "You're trying to do a favor for me by telling me it's a favor for you" -- but she relents.

The other major Booth/Brennan interaction revolves around Booth being paranoid that he's not giving Parker the best in life by not sending him to a school like Woodbury. Brennan doesn't help -- basically, she spends much of the time saying yeah, rich kids have it better, and you're not doing right by Parker, but you probably won't absolutely ruin him or anything...l probably. It's frustrating. In the end, Brennan starts to come around to the fact that good parenting trumps the advantages that big bucks can bring. It's just maddening that it takes a murderous 11-year-old to make them both figure that out.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • Yay, Gina Torres! Now if only they'd given her something to do...
  • I looked up the masked booby migration routes. (Yes, I'm a geek.) According to Audubon, they don't tend to get that far north. Dear writers: it wasn't as funny as you thought. I did, however, like the humorless Masked Booby Defender -- "The Department of Fish and Wildlife does not kid, Agent Booth." You can keep her.
  • Max spots Sweets coming into the diner: "There's the doc that told the jury that I was a sociopath!" he says. "Likeable sociopath," Sweets corrects. That makes all the difference!
  • Angela shows off her mad deductive skills. "For an artist, you make a pretty good detective," Cam says. "I think you just insulted me," Angela replies. Um, yeah, she did.
  • I get why Brennan would stress the benefits of education and minimize the role of the parent -- she was abandoned by her folks and then basically raised by wolves. That's why she would spout things like "Assuming quality education and adequate supervision, parents are actually rather irrelevant beyond a certain age." Still, every time she dissed Booth's role as a parent, I bridled. Booth is a great dad, and she knows it!
  • I loved Hodgins enthusing about the experiment Max helped put together. "Your old man, he reminded me of why I got into science!" he crows to Brennan. "To catch murderers?" she asks. "No -- to figure things out in amusing ways." Heck yeah-- science education would be a lot more popular if kids were allowed to test various ways things could explode.