One of the best things about "Bones" is the way it balances comedy and drama, and Monday, Sept. 23's episode, 902, "The Cheat in the Retreat," was the perfect example of that.
Let's face it. The tension between Booth and Brennan was so thick you'd need a butcher knife to cut through it in the "Bones" season 9 premiere, and they needed a break after that—and a few laughs. Fortunately, this episode managed to give them just that, as well as the chance to begin to work through some of their problems even while Booth still couldn't tell Brennan why he turned down her proposal. And they didn't just forget about that secret either; Angela made sure he and Brennan still knew she was angry—and he didn’t bother hiding how he felt about her either. It could be said that this may not have been the best time to leave their real personas behind and going undercover, but it was actually exactly what they needed—and Tony and Roxie were exactly who they needed to be. Yes, Buck and Wanda are always entertaining, but these personas we haven't seen since season 2 are just something else—and something we'd like to see again, especially after this episode. By the end of the episode, they still hadn't addressed the problems still between them, with Booth still lying, for a good reason, but they were in a much better place than they were at the end of the premiere.
We weren't thrilled by the case in the premiere—not because we didn't think it was a good case but because the focus was on everything else—but that wasn't true of this episode. Everything felt more intertwined, even though the murder of the management consultant and Cam's identity problems had nothing to do with one another, because of that balance between comedy and drama we mentioned earlier, and at the heart of this episode was love—Booth and Brennan, Cam and Arastoo, even the murderers and Booth and Sweets and Sweets and his career as the psychologist struggled. So overall, the episode was exactly what it needed to be. Now let's get into what happened:
The perils of the job Animal control was called in to get a bobcat, with the female worker having a bit of fun with her male partner as they approached it. However, once she secured the bobcat, he showed her the arm he found. "Now you're going to learn about paperwork," she told him. An arm also meant calling in the professionals, in this case Booth, Brennan, and Hodgins (with Cam busy dealing with her legal problems), and with the skull in a tree and the bobcat having marked its territory, it was Hodgins who paid the price. "Awesome," he declared as bobcat feces fell on his face. Awesome? More like gross.
"How you doin'?" Fortunately, their victim had a rare diagnosis that meant he was registered, so it didn't take them log to identity Adam Pak or to figure out where he had been. He had told his wife, Emma, he was on a business trip in Thailand, but he was really at a marriage retreat—with another woman, Kelly! Ouch. The retreat was on tribal land, and since it would take the FBI too long to get permission, it was time for Booth and Brennan to go undercover again—as Tony and Roxie—as a couple ready to confront their problems. "I think we fit pretty good in all the right places," he argued as they interrogated Shaman Little River while walking around the retreat. They joined a group session, where Brennan was still very much Brennan even as Roxie. ("His behavior has nothing to do with the rotation of the Earth, doll.")
While Booth had been trying to steer the conversation toward Adam and Kelly and failed, Kelly showed up herself and was pretty easy to manipulate. After a group meld, the men and women split up for steam sessions, during which Brennan explained away her knowledge with "magazine reading." But no one was going to question what she knew for too long once she began calling upon Kelly's ancestors to get her to talk. "Oh, not my mother. Please not my mother," the naïve mistress begged before spilling all about how Adam refused to leave his wife. It was easier to get her to talk than it was for those animal control workers to get that bobcat. Poor Kelly apparently didn't have the best of luck with men; her last boyfriend had also died. But he died in a car accident, so it really was just bad luck with men not a black widow situation. She may have been better off attending therapy sessions alone, not marriage retreats with her married boyfriend.
Arastoo and Cam had figured out that their victim had been hit from both sides, and Brennan thought they may have found the murder weapon in swinging poles on a fat suit-wearing obstacle course, one FBI agent/Army Ranger Booth was able to do quite well as everyone else had issues (one woman even kicked her spouse). However, they couldn't generate enough speed to do the damage done to Adam. It was around the same time they identified themselves to eliminate Shaman Little River, aka Jeremy Brewster, who had priors including for assault and money fraud. That could've been his motive—Adam finding out he was a fraud—but he instead revealed he knew Adam was married and Kelly came on to him. He pointed them in Emma's direction, and after the Jeffersonian team was able to pinpoint exactly where Adam was killed, Booth and Brennan found driveway gravel that matched the Paks'.
Emma had claimed she had heard someone breaking in the night of her husband's murder—which led to her calling the security company multiple times—but they suggested that was just for an alibi. It turned out it wasn't, and she had heard someone—the killers, The Schumachers. The couple, married for 38 years, and with a seemingly perfect marriage—they didn't even like to be away from each other for the length of a sweat session—went from retreat to retreat stealing. Adam caught Evelyn returning the keys, and they both attacked him for hitting the other, Evelyn using her "equalizer," an eight ball. They showed absolutely no remorse—he brought his mistress to a marriage retreat, after all—and all they really cared about was bunking together in prison.
A real off day This was not Sweets' case. If he thought something was true, it wasn't. In fact, if he suggested something, their best bet was to assume the opposite was true. From the victim's job and marriage status to everything his wife said, Sweets was batting zero. "I'm a wild, free spirit artist type with wanderlust and you're a tight-ass geek boy who doesn't really fit in anywhere but here," Angela argued when he admitted he thought about leaving. But he wanted to get back to being a psychologist, and that meant helping people and not "delegating" like he had with the girl who was raped last season. What Pelant did was just the motivation he needed to take the leave.
Camille Saroyan, you are under arrest Wait, what? Cam and Arastoo's morning began great—especially if you ask him, because he was happy to be riding into work with her—but once the police got involved and Cam argued it was about how Arastoo looked not how he was driving, things took a bad turn. She thought the letters from the collection agency were bad; the officer arrested her for check and credit card fraud and grant theft. Booth was able to get her bail hearing moved up—it helps to know an FBI agent and to be someone they can't just write out of an episode's investigation easily—but he couldn't make her problems just disappear. Hodgins offered her advice—and a card for his lawyer.
However, for a while, Cam was playing the "if I don't look, it's not true" game, but her bank manager couldn't help and she hadn't called the lawyer. She was too independent, too worried about being seen as weak by asking for help, but that didn't stop the others from helping her. It was going to take time, but she'd be okay—and if anyone knew that, it was Hodgins after what Pelant did to him last year. Arastoo was the comforting boyfriend, offering shoulder massages and reassuring words (and completely winning us over), while Angela was able to use her skills to save Cam from having to pay a forensic accountant.
Feel the love While Angela was still angry with Booth for ending the engagement (perhaps she needed to go have a talk with Aldo), Brennan was defending him. "He has his reasons," she told her best friend, who later claimed, "you learned nothing," when Brennan said that they had a very good relationship after their time at the retreat. But the criminals of the episode were able to offer some pretty good insights into their relationship. "Perhaps you use your head too much and your heart not enough," Shaman Fraud suggested to Brennan, later telling them that petty issues like disagreements about his beer hat and her African fertility statue masked larger secrets. Then in interrogation, the Schumachers told Booth he should marry Brennan. As the episode ended, the couple was doing one of the retreat exercises, just touching palms and letting their minds drift—well, for a few moments at least. After a brief conversation—and yes, they'd both react like the elderly couple if the other was attacked—Booth's mind drifted to kissing her.
"Bones" season 9 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox. What did you think of episode 2, "The Cheat in the Retreat"?