BONES Recap: 'The Survivor in the Soap' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

BONES Recap: ‘The Survivor in the Soap’

March 5, 2013 by  

Hello BONES fans!  How did you like this episode, “The Survivor in the Soap”? I enjoyed it. The case was sad and moving, and it was nice to see Booth and Brennan react to the historical war within the contexts of their own pasts.  There’s more to discuss, so let’s get to it.


The Scene of the Crime: Cam and Arastoo are talking at the lab, getting ready for a night out, when they are approached by an FBI tech with a body in a barrel. The body is encased in congealed soap, and only the hand is outside of the soap.

Hodgins is able to push the soap and remains out of the barrel for further investigation. Brennan and Arastoo determine that the victim was from Africa.

The Victim: The victim is Symchay Contay, a Sierra Leonean who immigrated to the US when he was a teenager and had become a US citizen. His disappearance was reported by an “Alvin James,” which seems to be an alias for someone else.

The Case Progression: Booth and Sweets investigate Symchay’s apartment for clues. They are let in by an apartment landlord or janitor who tells them that Symchay had friends. Booth and Sweets find an unmade bed and a made couch, suggesting that someone else is living there. They spot a box of cab receipts.

As Arastoo runs the remains and congealed soap through a dishwasher, effectively cleaning the bones, Booth and Brennan speak with Alex Radziwell from the State Department (and also from Season 2’s “The Girl in Room 2103”). They travel to a local immigration lawyer’s office and meet up with Wilford Hamilton, a man who helped Symchay and who had hired him in return to assist other refugees with getting set up with jobs and housing, etc.  Wilford says Symchay was a great kid and gives Booth and Brennan a file about Burima, one of Symchay’s friends. B&B have a new suspect.

Angela is able to match Burima’s voice (under a cabbie named Anthony Johnson) with the voice used to notify the policy about Symchay’s death. Arastoo and Brennan find bone damage on Symchay’s body to suggest he was a child soldier. And after finding out that Symchay had been hired as a chef for an art exhibit, Booth and Brennan question the photographer, Kimberly, about her work documenting the Sierra Leonean Civil War. She tells them that Symchay was visibly upset by some of the photographs, but that she never wanted to hurt him, physically or emotionally.

Booth calls a cab and gets into the backseat, quickly identifying Burima and himself as an FBI agent. He brings him in for questioning, and Burima insists that he’s innocent. Sweets, Alex and Booth all want to believe him, and later, after Booth and Brennan discuss their experiences in war privately, they take Burima with them to the exhibit.

He quickly identifies a picture with Symchay as a child, holding a gun. He also grows distressed when he sees a picture of Joseph Mbarga, a war criminal. Booth recognizes the man in the photo as the same one who showed them into Symchay’s apartment.

Booth questions Mbarga in the interrogation room, while Alex thinks it’s a waste of time. Sweets insists that Booth always has a reason for what he does, and the reason is revealed when Angela is able to match the Mbarga’s voice from the interrogation to previous war video footage of him from Sierra Leon. I’m not sure if that is legal for the FBI to provide, but I’m willing to go with it. The voices are a match, but Brennan isn’t comfortable pinning Symchay’s murder on Mbarga.

The Verdict: Brennan realizes Symchay was stabbed in two locations, with a double pronged weapon. Booth suggests that an Ak47 was turned into a plowshare, metaphorically, and Brennan realizes Symchay was stabbed with an African mask–one she remembers from Wilford Hamilton’s office.

Because he was working with Mbarga, Booth arrests Hamilton for murder, and he and Brennan leave Alex there to assist the rest of the immigrants who need assistance.


The episode began with Cam and Arastoo’s relationship, and that thread continued throughout the episode. I’m not a fan of their relationship, but I’m glad that it’s out in the open and that they were able to work through the whole process of how they’ll act in the lab and out of it.

What were your thoughts on Arastoo’s argument with Hodgins? I thought it was interesting and pretty realistic. I also liked the way Hodgins and Angela worked this case and the way they supported Cam and Arastoo at the end of the episode.

As for Sweets, I thought he did well on the case. I still don’t approve of him living with Booth and Brennan for “hilarious plot points” or whatever the writers want to wring out of that storyline, but at least he was wearing clothes when he decided to join Booth and Brennan in the living room in the middle of the night!


Like I said at the beginning, I like how the case of this episode brought out discussions of war between Booth and Brennan — without getting too personal. In other words, their personal experiences didn’t overshadow the plot. It was a great balance.

I also liked their discussion of vacation plans and the way it turned out with them agreeing on a location in the Gulf of Thailand. It was a nice choice where neither one had to compromise too much. Very nice.

Okay, enough from me. Weigh in on the episode in the comments! Did you like the case? What do you think about Cam and Arastoo? And do you think we’ll actually get to see Booth on a beach?

Filed under Bones


8 Responses to “BONES Recap: ‘The Survivor in the Soap’”

  1. TVang on March 5th, 2013 9:21 am

    The main storyline in “The Survivor in the Soap” was one of the most compelling of any Bones case I can remember this season. The subplot between Cam and Arastoo was interesting, but I don’t think their romance will last much past this season. I’m just catching up with the last few episodes of Bones after some late Monday shifts at DISH. Since I haven’t been home to watch the show, I’ve been catching up during my commute in to work every day on my iPad. I’ve got the new DISH Anywhere app so I can stream my DVR’s content, or live TV, anywhere I go with access to the internet.

  2. Kim on March 5th, 2013 11:46 am

    Subplots NOT involving Booth & Brennan are the only things that keep Bones remotely interesting these days. I thought Cam, Arastoo & Hodgins were awesome. B & B’s personal stuff is not interesting to me anymore. Such a shame.

  3. MoxieGirl44 on March 5th, 2013 12:11 pm

    This Bones episode was gripping from start to finish in many ways. But, perhaps not in the ways you’d expect. First off … the title. How could the victim ever be a survivor? Well … He *IS* when he escaped the atrocities of a childhood in Sierra Leone.

    Next up– Brennan’s comments to Arastoo about no one having it easy in war time. Powerful and understated, empathetic, sincere. Wow.

    Then we have Booth recognizing the signs of PTSD in the photographer. That threw me – and in the good way where you’re struck dumb because you’re amazed at the insight a fellow sufferer can see that you couldn’t. An aghast ‘yowsa’ for that. Quick on its heels comes Booth’s revelation to the photographer that he couldn’t say he hadn’t killed anyone – and saying it empathetically without making it about himself.
    Then we have Arastoo sharing with Cam about his cousin followed by an unconventional ‘coming out’ to the team.

    Booth, Brennan and Sweets talking in the middle of the night about the case that stole everyone’s sleep and peace of mind.

    Next – Brennan disturbed that it hadn’t occurred to her to protect and fight for the child soldiers she encountered while identifying bodies around the world.

    The kicker—a startling revelation that it wasn’t the victim’s own photo that stunned and destroyed him, but the image of Satan incarnate in the person of the man he now recognized as his landlord.

    Then, that the murderer was actually the lawyer volunteering to help refugees. Also of note was the appearance of the lawyer who worked this case with Booth. All around a superb episode. My hat is off to the cast and crew, the writers and producers. Bravo!

  4. andrea on March 5th, 2013 2:25 pm

    Moxiegirl44-You nailed it with your summary of why this was a great episode. I’ve read some reviews which thoughr the ep was “heavy handed” amd “preachy”-and while it did underline the issue of child soldiers throughout wartorn countries; I think it did a good job of presenting the subject matter in a sensitive yet dramatic way. We know about but don’t think about the horrible atrocities so many children in countries at war suffer. While I agree that Bones season 8 is not as original and fresh as season 1-3, I think there’s still many stories to tell and so much more character development to witness.

  5. MoxieGirl44 on March 5th, 2013 11:13 pm

    Thanks Andrea! I, too, saw some reviews that called this episode ‘heavy-handed’. One that actually chided the show for what the writer interpreted as making a big deal over death which, ‘come on, they see in their jobs every day’ – their words, not mine. Wow – really?

    This episode wasn’t just about death … it was about children being enslaved and made to kill other children lest they be maimed or killed themselves. This brings to my mind the trafficking of young girls and boys for the sex trade as well. We don’t see any of these atrocities in our nice cozy homes with our HD TVs and our microwave pop corn, but it is very real … and very easy to put out of our minds. We rarely even see these things on tv or elsewhere in American media because of their abject heinousness.

    IMHO, it takes guts to shine a light in the darkest places and risk scrutiny from the masses. That is what Bones has done – put themselves out there. They understand that to whom much is given, much is expected – and they are using their light to do what few others can … for which I applaud them.

  6. andrea on March 6th, 2013 9:36 am

    MoxieGirl44-Yes! Bones has always taken risks airing episodes on issues we’ve either never heard of or don’t want to think about. This is one of the reasons why this show has survived for so long-it takes chances-when telling stories and sometimes fans applaud them and sometimes not. But there’s always some discussion going on following an episode-after eight years that’s pretty amazing.I definitely like it when the show “hits” us with stories that make us think; all things considered, most Americans have it “pretty good” compared to many in other countries!. We need to be constantly grateful! I’m looking forward to the rest of what season 8 has in store as well as season 9-more strong drama coupled with humor-the way Bones does so well!

  7. MoxieGirl44 on March 6th, 2013 10:16 am

    Very good point about there still being lively discussion after each episode even in their 8th year, Andrea! All publicity is good, right?

    I think Bones will be studied in years to come for the risks they took – in story arc as well as in choice of topics – and the ground they broke for the future of serial television. Have a great day!

  8. Firefly on March 6th, 2013 10:30 am

    It can be difficult presenting sensitive material in an episode whose overall goal is to bring awareness to a situation. There’s a fine line between letting the subject material naturally bring a situation to light for the audience versus creating unnatural scenes and heavy-handed dialogue to force it upon the audience. I thought Nkechi Okoro pulled this off much smoother than Michael Peterson did with his neurofibromatosis episode. The scene with Brennan at home looking at her own photographs from Central America and her conversation with Booth was beautifully done both from a writing as well as acting perspective. It gave us insight to both Booth & Brennan in a way that was natural and subtle. I kind of hated that Sweets walked in and disrupted a great moment between Booth and Brennan.

    I would guess that other reviewers may have thought the graphic pictures in the gallery were what was heavy handed about the episode, which would be ridiculous because they were the key to the entire plot. They were the reason why the photographer had PTSD. They were the reason why Symchay was upset. They had the upsetting effect on Brima, which then led Booth to identify Mbarga in the pictures. So there would be no episode without those pictures. And seeing evidence of children used in war has a much greater effect than just hearing about it. It certainly made me think about why this goes on and why can’t we do something about it.

    As for the killer – I’m pleasantly surprised that I didn’t see that one coming. It was a good twist.