"Bones" season 8 continued Monday, Sept. 30, with episode 3, "El Carnicero en el Coche," in which Sweets helped investigate the murder of a gang member despite being on leave.
What "Bones" is doing right is addressing the aftermath of the damage Pelant has done to this team. He bankrupted Hodgins. He could have destroyed Booth and Brennan's relationship. He used Sweets' work as he took more lives. And instead of everyone just moving on with their lives, we're seeing what that has done to them. For Hodgins, he knew exactly what Cam was going to have to deal with after her identity was stolen. For Booth and Brennan, they have to work on fixing the tension that was present in their relationship for months after he had to say no to her proposal even as he continues to be unable to tell her the why of the matter. For Sweets, it has allowed him to take a look at his life and consider what else he can do, how else he can help people instead of referring them to others like he did with the girl last season.
Putting aside the fact that the case just happened to be one where Sweets' expertise was vital, it was a strong case (though we could have done without what may be the grossest moment on "Bones" to date as Cam peeled back one of the hitman's victim's faces). A prolific hitman, who went by "The Butcher," for the local gang in the neighborhood of the community center where Sweets was working was murdered, and that brought him back into the fold. While it did seem as though the likely murderer was his girlfriend, jealous he was sleeping with someone else, after they determined that a rival gang was not responsible, they were in for a shock when the truth came out as Sweets tried to convince the girlfriend's son to help his mother. It turned out Maria hadn't killed Delcampo; her son, Javier, had because he saw what he was doing to his mother. "I did it to protect you," he told his mother, explaining that when he went to collect the gun after Delcampo's latest hit, the hitman threatened his life. If only his mother felt the same way he did about their family… Maria hit him, and as they held her back, she yelled that she could have another kid but the gang was her family. Talk about terrible parenting! It was self-defense, and before they set him up with a nice foster family, Javier helped them find the library gun of the gang and make a couple of arrests in the process.
There were a few light-hearted moments—one of the guys who showed up to tow the car in the beginning was all too willing to hand it over to the other once he saw the remains inside, there was Jack "Peter Pan" Hodgins extracting evidence from the fragile car, and Maria could outlast Booth in interrogation ("I got my shows recording, I ain't missing nothing being here")—but overall, it was an episode that ended up being more drama than comedy, which worked after the much more relaxed "The Cheat in the Retreat" last week.
What "Bones" did right in this episode was the end. Sweets had taken his leave to focus on helping individuals, and while he was able to do that while working on this case, it would have been a disservice for him to just come back to work. "You're one of the Avengers, man," Hodgins told him. "We need you." And so Booth made a toast: "Here's to Sweets, my little brother who I never wanted but I'm glad that I have. Welcome home." However, Sweets revealed he wasn't coming back, at least not yet. He was going to finish out his leave, and the others accepted it. "No matter what happens, you're still one of us," Angela said, leading in to the new toast: "To us." Now what we're interested in seeing is how Sweets will be different when he does return from his leave because this experience has to change him. We already saw some of that in this episode and how he acted, but working as a consultant on a case, like he was in this episode, and returning full-time to his job are two very different things. We have a feeling "Bones" is going to be able to handle it in the right way going off of what we've seen in these first three episodes from Sweets.
"Bones" season 8 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox. What did you think of episode 3, "El Carnicero en el Coche"?