It’s been a while since Bones delved into a good old-fashioned creepy case, and tonight’s episode made up for lost time with a story that harkens back to its earliest days. If you’d have told me I’d be sitting here this week actually on the edge of my seat until the end credits rolled, I’d tell you you’re cray-cray, but apparently the joke’s on me, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Let’s get right into the case: admittedly, I’m one of those fans who doesn’t typically remember the murder of the week (sorry, writers), as I’m much more interested in the character development that results from it. However, the disturbing overtones here really stayed with me, and impress me the more I reflect upon it.
Borrowing from the classic X-Files episode ‘Home’, ‘Monster’ skillfully juxtaposes the the horror with the banal, much like its predecessor. The former’s claim to fame was a horrific murder of a small-town sheriff to the soundtrack of Johnny Mathis’ ‘Wonderful, Wonderful’ and here, at the very end, we see our newest, faceless murderer (or is he?) plotting against Booth and Brennan as ‘Buffalo Gals’ plays ominously over a scene of them unwinding at home and dealing with the most innocuous of parenting woes, Christine’s nightmares.
What was so great about the homage aspect of the episode, and the creep factor in general, is that while it deliberately referred to the infamous X-Files episode, from the derelict house where the suspect lived, to the musical cues, to the metaphorical monster hiding under the bed, it stood alone on its own too, making the case all its own. I wouldn’t peg Bones to come up with a Norman Bates-esque serial killer, rattling our protagonists who have seen just about everything in the last decade, but it absolutely worked, and reminded me of seasons past, particularly the Gormogon arc in season 3. (Watching Booth put together the “marionette” out of the human remains was particularly grisly — yet awesome.) In some ways, I think it’s already allowed the actors to flex some muscles we haven’t seen in some time, and I’m grateful for it.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the more intriguing aspects to me was how the case affected Brennan and Booth. We don’t often get to see the FBI agent so pensive about his work, and it was great seeing David Boreanaz play Booth trying to get into this guy’s head — even though he later tells Brennan to avoid doing that very thing. Similarly, I loved the old-school Brennan-studying-the-bones musical montage, depicting her falling down the rabbit hole even deeper with this case.
The seeds were planted when we saw her projecting her own feelings of guilt onto Arastoo (who knows enough by now to just shrug them off since she’s clearly dealing with something internal), but her mini-breakdown when Booth finally found her by herself in the lab poring over the remains cemented that this is the real crux of the issue. It’s not the gruesomeness of the crime, or the puzzling nature of the clues, but the fact that she feels like it’s her fault because it happened when she and Booth were on sabbatical, as though they could have stopped it in time.
This gets right down to their core — logically, we all know that none of these crimes are their fault, and that they deserved to take time off to enjoy their young family after their burnout last year, but they take this work home with them every single day, whether they like it or not. Their compassion is what makes them such a formidable team, but that empathy means they feel every one of these horrors. It’s why Brennan couldn’t stop examining the files once they finally got home, or why she overreacted in the split second she thought Christine may have gone missing when they couldn’t find her in her bedroom. The monsters in their world don’t just live under the bed or in the closet, they’re in every passing car or grocery store or schoolyard, too.
Even though I rationally knew that the writers wouldn’t dare harm Christine, I felt uneasy in the moments before they found her in the closet, and I give major accolades to the director for fully embracing the suspenseful atmosphere — and for punctuating the typical happy family reunion with the reveal of the real monster, our purported serial killer, hiding in his own closet. While I’m a little leery of the plot twist if only for its uncanny similarity to the Pelant story, I’m curious enough at the moment to overlook that retread, since it seems like the real threat here isn’t necessarily from the acts itself, but the psychological toll the work takes on the team, and that should be interesting to watch.
Elsewhere in the lab, Hodgins continues to be a jerk, but unlike the previous episode, no one is taking it anymore. I confess that my own feelings are conflicted: I sympathize with his struggle, but at the same time, he’s being so horrendously awful to everyone around him, namely his wife, that I cheered when people started calling him out. It looks like Brennan’s words last week stuck with Angela, and I like that our scientist won’t tolerate any disrespect to her peers or her work in her lab.
I feel as though they may be taking Hodgins’ attitude a smidgen over the top, but at the same time, who am I to judge how someone would react to such trauma? I can see a real schism forming between him and Angela, and with the mention of Sebastian, my spidey senses are tingling. Since Booth and Brennan are solid, and apparently Cam and Arastoo are on the road to reconciliation, that leaves Hodgins and Angela to be tested in choppy waters for at least a little while.
In short, this may have been my favorite episode of the last few seasons. How did you like ‘Monster’? Do you have serial-killer fatigue, or are you here for the wild ride?