“Aliens in a Spaceship,” the Bones episode that first introduced us to the Grave Digger, is one of the series best. Was last night’s resolution to the storyline as satisfying? Not quite. But it was better than another trip to the Big Top.
The show opened with Brennan, Hodgins, and true crime author Thomas Vega (now played by Marco Sanchez), being accused of stealing Grave Digger evidence from the FBI. The former US Attorney working the case had been killed a month prior, and the new one, Heather Taffet (guest star Deirdre Lovejoy) was immediately annoying/prickly. Cut to Booth, wearing his “Cocky” belt buckle even with a rented tux. He’s running late to an event where Brennan will, in his words, be crowned superscientist. (I loved that she insisted he, and only he, show up in time to see her tribute video.) There’s a knock on Booth’s door, and, we’re to assume, the Grave Digger gave Booth a jolt, drugged him, and dragged him out a window. (If there ever was a time to surprise someone at his or her car, which had been the GD’s MO, a 190-pound FBI agent would’ve been it, no? Kinda weird.) Brennan got the call saying she had 21 hours to exchange Booth for the evidence. After we got the site gag of Sweets entering Booth’s apartment first, raising one of Angela’s stilettos as a weapon, Brennan was off to visit Hodgins — who she knew would have the evidence because he’s an anti-establishment conspiracy theorist who’s also apparently the only scientist in Washington who could process the piece of bumper that had been stuck in his leg.
Now, I don’t want to be nitpicky, but on a crime show (even one as character-driven as Bonesis), I think you’re allowed to be. Booth worked his way out of the toyyellow submarine he was buried alive in by using his keychain tounscrew some bolts. I’m pretty sure the Grave Digger would havesearched Booth’s pockets for a cellphone, so why would she let him keephis keychain? After the hockey hallucination we were treated to twoweeks ago, I immediately tensed when Booth began speaking to a soldierwho’d served under him when he was an Army sniper. As the soldierhelped Booth work his way out of what we’d learn was a Navy ship wiredby the government to be sunk, I was all kinds of annoyed. I’m used tothis show answering questions, not making me ask them. Why can TeddyParker (Noel Fisher) touch things? Why can Booth touch him? Why wouldBooth say Teddy might “take it the wrong way” that he named his son,Parker, after him? What would that wrong way be? And do they really letkids decorate sunken ships so the fish will have entertainment?
Teddy, it turns out, was a solid ghost, sent there not just to help free Booth from his watery grave, but also from the guilt he felt over the 20 year old’s death. Booth had taken Teddy on one last mission and didn’t think he told him to duck. I’d think that when you’re in any kind of covert combat situation, “duck” is implied. Still, Teddy told Booth he had told him. Twice. Now Teddy had one last mission for Booth: Tell the young woman who still visits his grave every year on the anniversary of his death — which just happens to be tomorrow! — that he loved her. Why hadn’t Teddy ever told her, Booth asked? “You’ve never loved somebody and didn’t say it to ’em?” Teddy answered. Ghosts are so insightful.
Clearly, this episode was designed to dig into Booth’s backstory. Hence Bones having to turn to his brother (Brendan Fehr) — still drinking — to steal Vega’s dead body from the FBI so that she and the others could examine it. But just like the first Grave Digger episode, it gauges Brennan’s evolution. Does she return the evidence right away, or, does she listen to Hodgins and the voice inside her that cares more about “the truth” than anything, and try to uncover the Grave Digger’s identity before the deadline. Hodgins wanted 10 hours; Brennan gave him eight. After Vega’s murder, Brennan decided it was time to make the deal. When Hodgins tried to talk her out of it again, Angela stepped in and flat-out told Brennan no. When you love someone — like we all love Seeley (I guess Angela didn’t want to blow Bones’ mind) — you choose to save them. Angela got to do some actual work this week and tapped into the camera the Grave Digger had set up at the exchange point. With the help of Sweets, now suddenly allowed to play again even though he’s FBI, she was able to figure out that the Grave Digger had wired the drop-off to explode and Brennan and Hodgins ran for their lives. Agent Perotta (Marisa Coughlan) had been tailing them, and naturally pulled up seconds after the explosion. (I thought we might get a meaningful exchange between her and Brennan about Booth, but we didn’t.)
Finally, we get to the identification of the Grave Digger, which it took a teensy bit of science to figure out. Bones had determined that Vega struck a defensive blow to the ribs of the killer, and when Attorney Taffet had trouble holding out her arm to hand over the warrant for the return of Vega’s body, Bones put it together. I would call the showrunners out for once again failing to realize what an interesting killer they had on their hands and throwing away the opportunity for her to explain herself — but I guess that silence made some sense this time. The Grave Digger never communicated more than once with someone, and doing so after caught would’ve meant she had no control. Booth’s brother did some “spring cleaning” on Taffet and discovered that in 1998, she married a man for one month (then had it annulled) just so she could use his last name to create a new identity that rented a storage cell where she kept all of her Grave Digger supplies. Her job would’ve given her complete access to people’s financial records, apparently, which explains why she always knew the ransom the loved ones could afford. Using dirt on the shoes found in her storage, Hodgins determined where Booth was being held. And after Brennan brutally smacked Taffet with a briefcase or something (I miss violent Brennan), she headed off in a helicopter to save Seeley. He’d made his way to the deck of the ship, so the five minutes the Navy gave Brennan to rescue him was enough. The swelling of the music as Booth climbed into the ‘copter and hugged Brennan was a bit much and actually took away from the emotion of the moment for me. Or, maybe that was the low-budge explosion that occurred seconds later.
As expected, the episode ended at the cemetery. Booth told Brennan about the ghost and she ultimately seemed to accept the possibility — showing her faith in his word more than the afterlife, I believe. What do you think it meant that she (unknowingly) saw the ghost, too? He couldn’t be visible to everyone, or he could have just approached the young woman himself. It was a little cutesy, but I liked that moment. I think it comes back to Brennan’s faith in Booth. I wanted a more heartfelt discussion between Seeley and Tempe, but the writers know they have to hold them back. The Teddy sighting was a way for them to show what they couldn’t make her say.