I found the humor in this episode so delightful that I was keen to identify the writer, Lyla Oliver, and see which other scripts she'd been responsible for (think this is the first on Bones), but then I realized it doesn't matter. No matter how good the shows are, most of them don't stand out. They just blend into one another, like largely identical hedges in a labyrinth.
Some things stand out, like Brennan and Hodgins being buried alive in that car, or two of the gormogon shows (including Zack's exposure), or Brennan's father killing that priest, but if I've seen over 60 shows so far, less than 55 of them were memorable, which is not to say they weren't enjoyable at the time. They're simply fungible. When one thing is too much like another, neither is special. I would think the problem is that Bones is a procedural. There's a crime, an investigation and a resolution. Does that format automatically give series a mechanical air? No. Cagney and Lacey has been off the air for 25 years and I still remember many of the plot points. Same with NYPD Blue. I remember Sylvia's death, Andy Jr.'s and how it made Andy, Sr. turn back to drink, Bobby Simone's death, Danny's death . . . ok there were a lot of deaths on NYPD Blue, but that's not why I remember their emotional impact. Booth recently "died" on Bones and it was annoying, rather than moving. I had no real sense of the characters' connection to each other, so their loss didn't translate into my caring, beyond the length of the episode.
They try to resonate with Brennan's orphan background, but that subplot is stupid to me and when she cries over her disappearing parents, I simply can't buy it. I also hate her brother, as I do Booth's son. So, their family moments don't appeal to me. Bottom line is this show is all gloss and no penetration. I fell in love with Buffy, which led me to Angel, which has led me to Bones. When I got here, I loved that the ride was often amusing, but I thought it would be meaningful as well. It's not. And that's ok. It's just an adjustment.
The show starts off with Booth playing in the park with his son. He's trying to teach the kid football. Isn't the football hold beautiful? Well, Parker has been told that a sunset and the Mona Lisa is beautiful, so he doesn't know about football . . . Booth gets a little impatient when he constantly hears "Mom said..." They see a bird's nest and Parker's first instinct is to throw the ball at it, but Booth tells him there's a living creature inside and he shouldn't hurt it. For all my complaints about them TELLING us stuff in the last episode, I like this one because we are left to infer so much, about Booth's parenting style (although Bones does tell us he's a good dad) and his hopes. Later on, when Sweets tells him how Parker brags about him, Booth beams. It's just David mugging a bit, but it's also touching, because Bones is touch. Booth got tired of hearing what "Mom said," but when he's not there Parker boasts a lot about what Dad says too and it's a nice way of conveying what father means to son, without giving us mushy scenes.
Booth lifts Parker up to see into the nest. There's a finger inside. The bird flew it there from some unknown murder scene. They start an investigation and Booth is afraid that Parker may be scarred for life by the digit discovery. He takes him to Sweets for a diagnosis, but Sweets resists, saying he's not some radio psychologist who dispenses advice for a dime. I don't know why he has this reaction, since he's always giving out unsolicited therapy. Why so shy now?
Bones says she found her neighbor dead when she was 5 and it didn't scar her for life did it? Well, she makes a living digging up dead people, so Booth things it might have impacted her. She says after she found the body, she played dead for weeks after that, pretending to hang herself, etc. And she really thinks she was unfazed, Booth wants to know??
The gang eventually finds the rest of the corpse, realizing that a bird would only bring things to its nest, based on a certain radius. There's an opossum by the gravesite and I realize that that's the thing I saw crossing a busy intersection (Michelson) a few weeks ago. I'm not that good on identifying critters, so I'm glad this show did it for me. When the opossum appears to die, Booth says that the corpse must have been poisoned and it died after nibbling on the body. Bones calmly points out that it is merely "playing opossum" and is alive and well. She corrects Booth's pronunciation. It's O-possum, not possum. They learn that the victim was mauled to death by a dog. They go looking for the canine, who has distinctive, filed teeth as an identifier. When they get to the dog owner's place, there's an unchained pit bull in the yard and Booth says that they'll sit in the car and wait for the owner to come out. Bones notes that he's afraid. He denies it and says that that's just common courtesy in the country. You wait in the car. Well, he was scared then, but later when he goes to arrest the owner, he has no problem getting out of the car, without a thought and I liked that. It was a nice way of showing that when there's danger in the air, he's fearless, but he was cognizant of a threat when things were normal and quiet.
Zack's newest temporary replacement is Brennan's oldest grad student, Scott Starret. He's held every job known to man and is versed on every subject. Hodgins finds that it's the same man who sold him a bum car when he was a kid and he lashes out at Scott every chance he gets. I'm surprised that no one tells him not to keep letting a 15 year old car transaction interfere with their current case, but they just ignore his fuming. When Hodgins finds a pivotal clue he says that he would call "King of the Lab" but that would just bring back painful memories. Scott looks quizzical. Finally, after Hodgins and Angela rejoice over a break through, both compliment each other and then feel very awkward and withdraw, Hodgins admits to Scott (then Sweets) that he hates everyone, because his best friend got himself into trouble (well, Zack did a lot more than that) and then Hodgins lost Angela and feels that it was his fault. I can predict that Angela and Hodgins reunite, but if it's because he apologizes to her, I won't be happy. It wasn't his fault. Her behavior with her ex was wrong and if it pinpointed any problem in their relationship, that problem wasn't Hodgins' lack of trust. My opinion is that Angela is not such a prize. Sweets actually thinks that Hodgins' feelings of "hate" are a good thing. He's independently wealthy and he's still coming to work isn't he. So, his anger is not crippling him. He's working through it. Now that they've talked, does this mean that Hodgins is Sweets' patient, Hodgins wonders self-consciously? Nope. They're just co-workers. Hodgins is relieved. I wish Sweets would just be co-workers with Bones and Booth too.
Cam still has to remind someone she's the boss every single episode. Why IS this? Last week it was Daisy. This week, when Scott's presence is bugging Hodgins, he calls Cam over. She sends Scott away. Hodgins then reveals he has nothing to tell him, he just wanted her to get rid of Scott. Well, that's not a wise way to use your boss, she cautions. But it worked, he answers.
As they move closer to the killer, Bones and Booth uncover a dog-fighting ring. Bones can hardly bare to look at the remains of the dogs who died. This is just maddening, since she has no qualms about dead people. I think that those who torture animals are more mentally depraved than other criminals, but it's because it's not even really a power trip with them. It's not about dominating. It's just the pure joy of inflicting pain. That's frightening, but I'm not one who is more moved by the suffering of animals than I am the suffering of human beings. Bones' tears over the dogs are designed to show her tender heart underneath the analytical exterior, but the vulnerability now only makes me resent her clinical detachment at other times.
Cesar Millan, the real life Dog Whisperer, comes and helps them tame the canines used in dog fights, so they can find the one who was used to attack and kill the victim. It's somewhat humorous when Bones recognizes him, he says thank you and she retorts that just because she knows him from television doesn't mean she was giving him a compliment. Television exposure itself is no sign of achievement. But then he is able to quiet the dogs, when she can't, even when she tries to mimic exactly what he did, so that must have been humbling for her. She must have realized that he wasn't just famous for being famous, at that point.
Booth leaves an unwilling Sweets alone with Parker long enough to discover that the kid has been exhibiting symptoms of trauma because he's being bullied by a large girl, not because of the finger. He thought finding the finger was cool and wishes Booth had let him keep it. The girl is another story. Booth told him never to hit girls (Booth says he told him not to hit anyone, with some qualifications) and he doesn't run away from her because his father never ran away from anything. Booth is happy to hear, from Sweets, what Parker actually thinks of him. But clarifies that unlike his son, he was never carried around by a girl. Boreanaz's comical facial expressions never fail to steal a scene. In the end, he tells Parker that it's ok to walk away, when it's for himself, but when it's for anyone else, then that's when he should stand his ground.
Booth and Bones find the dog that killed the man, Ripley. Ripley's trainer sicced the dog on a vet who was about to expose the dog fighting ring and made the canine a killer. Cesar is full of compassion, telling the dog, Ripley, "I'm sorry buddy. I'm so sorry." The dead man wasn't the killer's only victim. Brennan goes out and buys the dog a collar and a "Ripley Brennan" tag, planning to adopt him. Booth stops her, saying that the dog had to be put down, since he attacked a human. "You killed him?" Brennan asks? Booth nods. Is he the one who gave the order? I guess. I doubt it would come directly from him, but the fact that it did -- or Brennan takes it that way -- and she doesn't blame him personally for it, knowing that he was only doing his job, reminds me of how he had to turn her father in. Trust in the implicit fairness of his character, even when it hurts her personally, is the best thing I can say about their relationship so far, in that it's a fundamental relationship building block and a more complicated bond to express for the writers than their so-called sexual tension is. So, I respect it more.
Booth takes her to dig a grave for Ripley. He makes the whole and she wants to close it up. An equal division of chores. He tells her to say a few words for Ripley. She speaks to him and he says it's not his fault. She says, but he's the only one there. He tells her to speak to God or to Ripley. Well, she's not spiritual and she says there's not much she can say to Ripley since he was a DOG and there was a limit to what he could understand -- but she says he had to suffer for the wrongfulness of others and that it's not right. Did she say enough? He said her words were a fitting tribute for anyone, Ripley too. They hug.