When we left our friends at the Jeffersonian, they were splitting up the team for a year. In this season’s opener, though, they got back together after only seven months. Why? It has to do with a case, of course …
Mystery of the Week: Caroline Julian convinces the team to come back early because Cam’s job is at risk (more on that later), supposedly because of her refusal to identify a body as missing two-year-old Logan Bartlett. Three months ago, Logan was taken from his mother’s house in the middle of the night; now, the press is convinced that a young child’s body found by the Potomac and wrapped in a blanket is Logan, but Cam can’t confirm or deny it. As soon as she gets the squints on the case, though, they find several reasons why it can’t be Logan: the victim was over three years old, Asian, and probably an immigrant, as he showed signs of malnutrition. And he died before Logan Bartlett disappeared. His body was wrapped up, which Sweets says suggests either a careful burial or the shame of a sex crime. The fabric found with the body leads Booth and Brennan to a North Korean family, and they find that they death was a sad accident: The child choked on a wooden screw, and the mother tried to save him but couldn’t. Because she was afraid of the authorities in a strange new country, she buried her son as best she could rather than reporting the death.
Booth, perhaps feeling guilty about leaving Parker behind when he went to Afghanistan, wants to solve Logan Bartlett’s disappearance even though this isn’t really the team’s sort of crime, since there are no remains. (The exchange of the episode: Booth: “Why do we only solve crimes when we have a dead body?” Cam: “Seriously? Because I’m a pathologist and she’s a forensic anthropologist?”) Logan’s father Trevor accuses his ex-wife Carrie of drinking and claims that he was with family in Delaware at the time of Logan’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Carrie insists she’s been sober for a while, but is also sure that Trevor would never hurt Logan. In a private interview later, Trevor insists that something bad was bound to happen when custody was given to an alcoholic mother. Sweets tells Booth that Trevor is telling the truth, but Trevor never actually says he doesn’t know where his son is – just that he didn’t hurt him. When Booth finds out that Trevor bought a new car right after Logan disappeared, he concludes that Trevor wasn’t a worried father after all – and soon finds him with his son at a park in Delaware. Brennan reunites the boy with his happy mother while Booth takes down Trevor, and the two exchange a Significant Look that clearly shows how happy they both are to be together again.
The reason why the District was looking for a reason to fire Cam is because she has spent Booth and Brennan’s absence speaking out about brain damage in veterans. This suggests an underlying anxiety about Booth’s return to military service – especially given his recent brain tumor. She has been frustrated by the subpar quality of her substitute team, and bluntly tells the returning group that “In fact, nobody is any of you.” Cam gets a little teary when she thanks the group for coming back to help her, but privately admits to Brennan that she’s angry with her for letting the team fall apart in the first place.
Brennan, it turns out, had a less than spectacular time at her dig, spending more time fighting off snakes and bad guys than actually making interesting scientific discoveries. One of her most revealing lines of the episode came right at the beginning: “I find it interesting that I’m only afraid of snakes when Booth is around to be jumped upon.” Even though Brennan’s still in denial about her feelings toward Booth, all it takes for Caroline to convince her to return to D.C. is an assurance that the rest of the team can’t solve the case without her because she, Brennan, is the smartest. Of course.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, a ridiculously heavy-handed guilt trip smacks Booth over the head in the person of the mother of a kidnapped boy, who tells him that “this would not have happened if his father was here, where he’s supposed to be, instead of off fighting someone else’s war.” Just then, Caroline calls him and manages to refer to him as both a white knight and Sir Galahad in one sentence, thus guaranteeing that he will rush back to D.C. to save Cam. When Parker asks whether his dad killed anyone in Afghanistan, Booth refuses to answer, but promises that he’ll never go away again. He wants to get the team back together but, tellingly, assumes that Brennan does not.
It hasn’t exactly been a year since they last saw each other, but Booth and Brennan meet up at the reflecting pool as soon as they get back to D.C. anyway. They exchange a big hug and are clearly both thrilled to see each other, giving fans everywhere some hope, at least for a minute or two. After Booth downplays the danger he faced, Brennan is honest about her experiences: “You beat up armed guerillas?” “I had to. You weren’t there to save me.” The touching moment ends, though, when Brennan asks Booth if he met anyone while he was away and he tells her about his new girlfriend Hannah. He calls the relationship “serious as a heart attack,” which is certainly serious but not exactly, you know, pleasant, and generally sounds like he’s trying to convince himself about the whole thing. (Or I want him to be trying to convince himself. Whichever.) Brennan pretends not to mind, but clearly does. Nevertheless, by the end of the episode, Brennan is happy to be working with Booth again and decides to stay. For his part, Booth provides a peek into his mindset when he tells Sweets to move on from Daisy: “Give yourself a chance to be happy.”
But on the Daisy and Sweets front, it seems that Daisy has grown bored of the jungle and wants Sweets back. He has been spending his sabbatical playing piano in a store – sporting a hat and goatee – but one phone call from Caroline in which she tells him Booth may have PTSD brings him running back to the Jeffersonian. He tells Daisy he wants to break up, but they end up making out, setting up a nice off-and-on romantic subplot for the season.
Angela and Hodgins, our previous off-and-on romantic subplot, are now happily married and back from Paris – pregnant! Angela tells Brennan first, and Brennan even shows signs of humanity in her excitement for her friend. When Hodgins finds out, he’s ridiculously adorable about it, and they decide to stay in the States to have the baby. Hodgins is relieved by this; he says he loves Paris because Angela does, but he’s made for catching bad guys.
The Rotating Interns all scattered when the team dissolved, and the only one Brennan can get back on such short notice is Wendell, who’s working in a repair shop. He tries to tell her how her decision to leave messed up all of their lives and careers, but I’m not sure she really got it.
The reunion scenes are cute, and even though the audience knew the team would be getting back together somehow, it was a relief to see it. After Caroline manipulates everyone into coming back, each person thinks he or she is the lynchpin keeping the group together. (Caroline also refers to them as the Scooby Gang, and I really want that to be a Buffy reference.) At the end of the episode, Brennan realizes that it’s Caroline who is the lynchpin: she’s the one who got the team members to come back and fixed things so they would stay. When the team finally gets back into their lab, they discover that it’s been taken over by the natural history branch and there’s a literal mastodon in the room. Brennan: “It’s a lot to work around.” Booth: “Well, we’ve worked around bigger.” And on that somewhat glum but hopeful note, the team – and the show – are officially back.
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