BONES Episode 150 Recap: ‘The Ghost in the Machine’
December 3, 2012 by Sarah Curtis
Hello, BONES fans! First of all, congratulations to the show for reaching 150 episodes! I’m glad this episode, “The Ghost in the Machine,” aired to celebrate the milestone. I really loved this episode and appreciated that it wasn’t an intense “reset” or “game changer” like so many season finales or the 100th episode. This is the first episode ever where I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen or make myself hit pause to jot down thoughts. I just watched it, completely mesmerized by almost every moment.
The show took a creative risk by setting the camera POV up as the soul of this episode’s victim, and I thought the risk really paid off, particularly because it allowed the actors a chance to deliver monologues of sorts. And that writing style, combined with the intimate camera work and actors’ fantastic delivery, created some of the most “in character” work of the series. I know I complain a lot when it seems like the show doesn’t respect its victims like it used to, so I have to say this episode’s tone toward the victim was so well done. It’s a combination of the unique POV allowing the characters to be themselves by showing empathy, fury, sadness and happiness, etc. their own ways. In many ways, this ep featured the characters I fell in love with 149 episodes ago. It felt like season 2 respect for the victim combined with season 8 happy B&B, and I have to think that series creator Hart Hanson’s writing on this episode had a lot to do with it. Let’s discuss!
The Scene of the Crime: The episode begins with the team already on the job in a greenhouse as Hodgins shoos away some wasps to wipe dirt from a covered skeleton. We see this all from the point of view of the skeleton, and once his body (separate from the skull) is taken to the lab, Avalon Harmonia (played by Cyndi Lauper) shows up and insists that the victim’s soul still remains, needing some completion before it can fully pass on from earth.
The Victim: While at the crime scene, Brennan is hesitant to determine the victim’s age and gender, especially from a skull only. But Booth gently talks her into it in a very fun scene that’s quickly sobering when she tells him it’s likely a young man. The team identifies him later as 14-year-old Colin.
Potential Suspects and Motives: Unsurprisingly, this episode was less of a “killer chase” and more of a “what really happened here?” search. Colin’s parents were questioned, but also allowed to be shown their son’s remains out of respect (a very moving scene). They shared that Colin was a good kid and somewhat adventurous.
The Case Progression: Some of Colin’s school friends show up to the lab as well, including a girl, Miranda, but Cam does not let them see the remains. As each team member works to solve the case, they “consult” with Colin’s skull, speaking to him, giving him advice, asking him questions and praying for his soul.
Hodgins finds a scrap of blue car paint with Colin’s remains, and Booth is able to trace it to a car owned by Colin’s father. No one wants to accuse him, and Booth tells Brennan later that when he questioned him, he completely fell apart — convincing Booth he wasn’t part of Colin’s death.
Figuring Colin was struck by the car, Brennan and Angela work together to catalogue how Colin’s injuries were suffered. They test out several scenarios and finally conclude he was standing on the hood of the car before falling off and being hit. Brennan and Booth also listen to a music mix Colin made for Miranda, trying to determine what type of kid Colin was.
Booth, Brennan and Sweets talk to Colin’s friends at the FBI building. Miranda is horrified to learn that the guys were involved, and they quickly confess that it was all an accident and they buried Colin’s body to try to absolve their guilt.
The Verdict: With the case solved, it seems all should be well, but Avalon lets the team know that the cause of his death was not what was keeping Colin’s spirit on Earth. Brennan realizes it might be tied to the music mix, and when Angela pulls the last file from it, they find a video of Colin performing a love song for Miranda. She watches it in the lab, with the team. Avalon is able to see Colin’s spirit as he sees his dream come true.
In terms of how Angela invited Avalon to the lab, it’s a little fishy, but not the worst plot point in the world, I guess. It made sense that Hodgins and Cam were less accommodating toward her being there at first. But I also liked how after Avalon made her psychic diagnosis, each team member opened up to the idea and began considering Colin’s soul as part of the investigation.
I really loved Hodgins talking to Colin about life and sex. I liked Avalon explaining how his accident was a tragedy. I loved Angela talking to Colin as well and how she worked to uncover the mixed tape. I laughed when Cam mentioned her mother to Colin and said that if he sees her on the other side, to assure her that she’s 87% happy.
Of all of the squints, Sweets had the least personal interaction with Colin. His questions were more clinical. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t the same as the others. I liked Sweets work in the interrogation room with Miranda and the boys.
BOOTH & BRENNAN:
I really liked how B&B worked this case, especially their scenes together in the lab, the SUV and at the crime scene. And my favorite interactions with Colin were from Booth and Brennan. I loved, loved, loved the little sideways glances they were constantly giving Colin’s skull. It’s probably something that they do in many episodes, but because of the camera work here, we saw each one perfectly. I loved how, with no words, it was clear what each one was thinking: Brennan was saddened, determined and always curious to find out what happened, and Booth was a little less comfortable, a little less patient, but just as troubled and determined. Right? I just felt each of their true natures so acutely in this episode.
Even if that was all they did, I would have loved it. That we received scenes in their home from the viewpoint of Colin’s skull was even more perfect. Loved Brennan getting up in the middle of the night when she had questions, loved Booth being slightly grossed out by it, but also hanging out with Brennan (and Christine) while she examined the skull — it was a very intimate scene of their home life, and it was terrific. Loved the night-to-day transition scene and sporty Booth talking to Colin while giving him the soldier’s prayer before going for a run. It was so perfectly Booth, and that it was capped with him covering up the skull and still being slightly grossed out was great.
Also loved the end scene, when Booth gave Brennan the music mix she wanted as a romantic gesture, putting “their song” first. Loved that they danced around as a family — very fun, and very perfect. That “Hot Blooded” is their song makes the most sense but also made me feel very sentimental. The first time B&B rocked out to it is so different to their life now, and I just really appreciated that piece of history still being woven into their life together!
It was established early in the series that Brennan is not heartless, and unfortunately, sometimes the show still goes overboard to prove it, i.e. every time she does show emotion or tears, it’s a huge moment. This episode straddled that line a bit, and maybe didn’t need to, as Brennan shedding a tear is not monumental.
The only other thing that was slightly weird was the foggy fade in/out of every scene. It wasn’t the worst, and I’m not really sure how else they could have done it, but it was a little awkward at moments. Other than that, I am ready to declare this episode as one of my all-time favorites. There have certainly been other series episodes (and some this season) that have been emotionally special, but this one feels the most real to the characters. And it also dealt respectfully with each character’s opinion on the afterlife without getting preachy or rude toward any single one.
But enough from me — what do you think? Did you like the unique POV? Did you enjoy having Avalon Harmonia back for another turn? What did you like and what didn’t you care for? The comments are open — make your opinions known!
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