Before we get into last night’s episode — part homage to the must-see 2007 documentary The King of Kong, part ad for James Cameron’s Avatar — we need to discuss the promo for next week’s holiday episode in which Brennan strips Booth down to his boxers after bits of a blown-up bomb-wielding, bank-robbing Santa Claus land on his suit and make it evidence. “Clothing as evidence” was one of the ideas I pitched in my August 2009 open letter to showrunners of procedurals starring actors we’d like to see shirtless. I would never presume that Hart Hanson reads anything I write, so please, someone tell him thank you for the early Christmas present.
Now back to “The Gamer in the Grease.” Competitive gamers and sci-fi movie fanatics are two communities worthy of exploration on Bones, but combining them in one episode didn’t do either one justice. If you’re going to pimp a 20th Century Fox movie on Fox — which was only bearable in this case because recurring Bones guest star Joel David Moore (intern Colin Fisher) actually has a role in Avatar, so you can pretend it’s just an inside joke — go all the way and make the hour revolve around the murder of someone camping out in line to see it. At least that way, you could explore the culture of fanaticism as Booth and Brennan questioned the crowd, as opposed to just having a hot tattooed girl hit on Sweets (then Fisher) so Hodgins could ultimately deliver the message that it’s not the quantity of sexual partners you have that matters, but the quantity of sex you have with a quality partner. FYI: Just because Sweets’ girlfriend, Daisy, is a little grating doesn’t mean that I won’t mind that Sweets, who was feeling jealous of Fisher for having bed nearly 100 women, let a chippy sit on his lap and kiss him inside a pitched tent. I was disappointed in Lance… until we were reminded that he is a total sex machine with Daisy. I’m easy like that.
As for the actual case, it involved the murder of a man who’d allegedly played a perfect game of Punky Pong, replacing the longtime champion as the top-scorer. I appreciated that the dueling gamers were named Steve Rifton and Billy Gabel — the real-life Donkey Kong rivals are Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell — but they didn’t spend enough time on those characters to make that story line anywhere as gripping as the documentary, which is a shame. The Bones twist was that Steve was murdered by the father of an autistic child whose perfect game he had videotaped and submitted as his own. I should have felt more than I did as the father tearfully explained that Punky Pong was the only thing that brought joy to his son’s face. But really, it was just a lead-in to Booth delivering one of those poignant lines that David Boreanaz somehow stops us from rolling our eyes at: “Someone breaks your kid’s heart, your own heart rises up. Gets fierce. It’s just a natural response.” Brennan pointed out that the autistic child wouldn’t have cared or had a broken heart. “So the dad loved him twice as much,” Booth said. I think that line served two purposes: (1) It got Brennan, who Booth knew would have a problem with his reasoning, to verbally acknowledge that while she doesn’t understand Booth’s “number system,” she can see that it works. That’s the key to their relationship. (2) It explains why Booth loves Brennan twice as much. In some ways, she’s just as incapable of feeling emotions as that boy.
What did you think of the episode? Would it have been better broken in two? Are you hoping that the random reveal of Hodgins’ “Angie Forever” arm tattoo — thank you also for having TJ Thyne strip down to a wifebeater for that physically demanding pipe experiment — means we might soon be returning to their love story? And lastly, was anyone else thinking that she and Booth’s first fight would be over whether or not synchronized swimming is a sport?
Read more: 15 exclusive on-set photos — snapped by the cast!
Photo credit: Greg Gayne/Fox