'Bones' recap: Cheater, cheater, 'Avatar'

Before we get into last night’s episode — part homage to the must-see 2007 documentary The King of Kong, part ad for James Cameron’s Avatar — we need to discuss the promo for next week’s holiday episode in which Brennan strips Booth down to his boxers after bits of a blown-up bomb-wielding, bank-robbing Santa Claus land on his suit and make it evidence. “Clothing as evidence” was one of the ideas I pitched in my August 2009 open letter to showrunners of procedurals starring actors we’d like to see shirtless. I would never presume that Hart Hanson reads anything I write, so please, someone tell him thank you for the early Christmas present.

Now back to “The Gamer in the Grease.” Competitive gamers and sci-fi movie fanatics are two communities worthy of exploration on Bones, but combining them in one episode didn’t do either one justice. If you’re going to pimp a 20th Century Fox movie on Fox — which was only bearable in this case because recurring Bones guest star Joel David Moore (intern Colin Fisher) actually has a role in Avatar, so you can pretend it’s just an inside joke — go all the way and make the hour revolve around the murder of someone camping out in line to see it. At least that way, you could explore the culture of fanaticism as Booth and Brennan questioned the crowd, as opposed to just having a hot tattooed girl hit on Sweets (then Fisher) so Hodgins could ultimately deliver the message that it’s not the quantity of sexual partners you have that matters, but the quantity of sex you have with a quality partner. FYI: Just because Sweets’ girlfriend, Daisy, is a little grating doesn’t mean that I won’t mind that Sweets, who was feeling jealous of Fisher for having bed nearly 100 women, let a chippy sit on his lap and kiss him inside a pitched tent. I was disappointed in Lance… until we were reminded that he is a total sex machine with Daisy. I’m easy like that.

As for the actual case, it involved the murder of a man who’d allegedly played a perfect game of Punky Pong, replacing the longtime champion as the top-scorer. I appreciated that the dueling gamers were named Steve Rifton and Billy Gabel — the real-life Donkey Kong rivals are Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell — but they didn’t spend enough time on those characters to make that story line anywhere as gripping as the documentary, which is a shame. The Bones twist was that Steve was murdered by the father of an autistic child whose perfect game he had videotaped and submitted as his own. I should have felt more than I did as the father tearfully explained that Punky Pong was the only thing that brought joy to his son’s face. But really, it was just a lead-in to Booth delivering one of those poignant lines that David Boreanaz somehow stops us from rolling our eyes at: “Someone breaks your kid’s heart, your own heart rises up. Gets fierce. It’s just a natural response.” Brennan pointed out that the autistic child wouldn’t have cared or had a broken heart. “So the dad loved him twice as much,” Booth said. I think that line served two purposes: (1) It got Brennan, who Booth knew would have a problem with his reasoning, to verbally acknowledge that while she doesn’t understand Booth’s “number system,” she can see that it works. That’s the key to their relationship. (2) It explains why Booth loves Brennan twice as much. In some ways, she’s just as incapable of feeling emotions as that boy.

What did you think of the episode? Would it have been better broken in two? Are you hoping that the random reveal of Hodgins’ “Angie Forever” arm tattoo — thank you also for having TJ Thyne strip down to a wifebeater for that physically demanding pipe experiment — means we might soon be returning to their love story? And lastly, was anyone else thinking that she and Booth’s first fight would be over whether or not synchronized swimming is a sport?

Read more: 15 exclusive on-set photos — snapped by the cast!

Photo credit: Greg Gayne/Fox

Comments (87 total) Add your comment
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  • Sarah T.

    Last night’s ep wasn’t one of my favorites but I did like Booth’s explanation at the end of why the Dad was so protective of his autistic son. I liked how Brennan acknowledged that she could see how his number system might work. I hadn’t thought until you pointed out Mandi that is why Booth loves Brennan twice as much. Because she doesn’t process emotions like others would and he’s protective of that. Bonus on Hodgins wifebeater scene. Is it wrong that I think Sweets is cute too? Can’t wait for next week’s Christmas ep! Bones always does those well and it will be interesting to see if anything different happens between Booth and Brennan this year. :-)

    • Coll

      Oh my goodness, I honestly got light headed looking at Hodgins in the wife beater. May I have some more please?

      • Liz

        All the guys on Bones are cute, but wow, Hodgins! Show the muscles!

      • bunnygirl

        MORE HODGINS. Those arms! Yikes! I agree with the review though. More and more the cases just seem like an excuse to get Booth and Brennan together. And really, did we need that disgusting image of the skin and organs falling off of the corpse? Really????

      • maddy

        Hodges was the ONLY thing good about this episdoe.

        LOL….It was just one big commercial for “avatar” wasn’t it? (which, by amazing coincidence, is from FOX). Yes, many shows have product placement, but they’re usually not this ham-fisted and shoved in your face.

        Angela continues to annoy. Instead of saying, “Gee Hodges, I’m sorry my psycho father stalked you, drugged you, assaulted you, and left you in the middle of nowhere with no water and no transportation with the world’s most badly executed creppy tattoo embedded in your skin”, like a normal person, she becomes unhinged and gets unfairly and unreasonably pissy AT HIM, like any of this was his fault, then starts barking idiotic orders like some shrew. I guess this makes sense to her because its ALL about Angela and what Angela wants. (note to writers: This is not UST, this is mental derangement)

        Oh, and now she can add Computer Game expert to her ever-increasing list of oh-so-convenient expertises because there is nothing that Super!Angela can’t do when the plot calls for it! LOL… I love the booth/brennan interaction so much that I’m willing to put up with small doses of Angela, but I swear, it’s like the writers just keeping finding new ways of making her even more irritating week after week.

        I guess I can just keep hoping that she ends up as Bone’s next case to solve.

  • Max

    No one is going to camp out to see that piece of crap Avatar

    • paula

      Good point LOL

      • Sonia

        JudyNo. You choose your wproshoks at the time no pre-registration required. You will be asked to register for your OSLO (off site learning opportunity) at registration on May 31st when you arrive. An email will be going out soon to that effect so that you can make your choice.

      • Jemes

        I plan on using glass more and buying in bulk more for less pacgaking waste. I send my daughters lunch in glass containers now instead of plastic or throwaways. She also has a cloth napkin and a reusable water bottle. It’s fun finding ways to help the earth!!!!

    • Kevin

      Oh yes they will. And it might not be a piece of crap. Cameron may have remembered who he is as a director after that whole Titanic fiasco.

      • Tee

        Uh no, people are not going to be camping that movie. People don’t exactly camp a lot of movies these days, and that movie hardly qualifies to be some sort of special exception. The nerds seem to be far too divided on it.

  • Mells

    I have to comment on the awesome grossness of the flesh falling off the gamer’s body as it was pulled from the grease. That was so horrible it was fantastic. I was actually nauseous after that one but still enjoyed it!!

    • Mandi Bierly


      • Kristoffer

        I was eating dinner while watching the show… first time I have had to stop watching until I was finished eating!

      • jess

        another reminder to not eat dinner during the opening scene.
        (which, of course, I forgot… and nearly gagged)

    • Melinda65

      It’s amazing what I can watch on Bones that would have me puking on my shoes in real life.

    • Andrea

      And when the eyeball popped out when it we emerged in the beer!

    • LAL

      I hate the juicy ones!

    • Sara

      So glad I was watching this at work and changed tabs.

    • Kourogi

      You don’t want to see an engineer give a demo. -) But siseourly, I’ve been playing around with video clips and should have some more YouTube clips in the next few weeks.

  • Mari

    Thanks for the recap Mandi! I too thought the episode as while didn’t entirely gel, but there were some great moments. I especially appreciated the whole argument about what constitutes a sport- as a competitive swimmer I used to argue about this with one of my guy friends who insisted that a sport must have a team and a ball. I liked Bones’ anthropological definition better!

    • Mari

      Whoops- I meant “The episode as a whole didn’t gel,” don’t know why I made that mistake!

  • Bubbatwo420

    Actually a bunch of my friends and I will be camping out just like this for almost 6 hours to see the midnight IMAX 3D on Dec. 17th of AVATAR. Glad I won’t have to talk to negative nancies like you in line!

    • Mo

      On the one hand, they could put the lamest “show” on QVC in IMAX3D and it would look great. Also, it’s James Cameron! On the other hand, the animation I have seen on the previews looks awfully like a video game. I always find that lame. I’ll have to wait and see…

    • Kevin

      You know, they will be showing Avatar for like, several weeks. You could go then.

      • JenR

        People who camp out do it for the experience of camping out as much as they do to see the movie first. They enjoy it.

  • Curt

    Good episode with a couple of really *great* moments. The best moment being when Angela finally got to see Hodgins’ tattoo of her thanks to that li’l ol’ band from Texas. The other great moments were as Hodgins and Fisher were playing three card monte between the lab and the theatre line while trying to keep Cam in the dark.

    Bones and Booth were completely incidental to the episode much like House and his team were on this week’s “Wilson” episode. I did, however, enjoy the back and forth about what constitutes a sport and what constitutes a game. I’ve had that discussion/argument many times at work when someone claims that golf is a sport (It’s a game, okay!) or uses that old saw “It’s just a game!” when referring to football (Football is a sport, okay!).

    • Jill

      I’m starting to feel like Booth and Brennan are becoming incidental in the series. It used to be mainly about them with a little Angela and Hodgins and Zach thrown in for good measure. Now I feel like an episode will go by, and they’re barely in a scene together. For a show that claims to know that their bread and butter is the chemistry of their main characters, they don’t seem to be taking advantage of that anymore.

      • Matt R. Horne

        It’s funny, because I’ve been thinking the exact opposite. I’ve felt that they’ve been spending too much time with Booth and Brennan and not enough with the squints in the lab. And thus, one of the reasons I really enjoyed this episode was that it gave the secondary characters a chance to shine. Especially T.J. Thyne, who I think is underrated and underused.

    • Candi

      Castor oil and peanut betutr?! , or something to that effect.Reply by on August 12th, 2009 at Wednesday, August 12, 2009 @ 11:15 am@Avitable, as in why did you choose castor oil? Reply by on August 12th, 2009 at Wednesday, August 12, 2009 @ 11:37 am@Avitable, other than the obvious I was being funny, of course okay, I’ll just shut up now Reply by on August 12th, 2009 at Wednesday, August 12, 2009 @ 1:01 pm@Nenette, well, this made me laugh, if that helps.

  • Sarah

    I could have done without the skin slippage, but overall I thought it was a cute episode. I loved the tattoo reveal and the shirtless Hodgins as well. I think they should make at least one person shirtless in every episode! So psyched about next weeks episode…

    • Shetal

      The new gym is OFF THA CHAIN!! This pollen and my aleligres did not help with time on today’s WOD, but I guess it wasn’t too bad. Finished in 11:44.

  • Jen

    Is it wrong that I liked next weeks 15sec promo of a semi-naked Booth 100 times better than this entire epi? I really disliked this episode

    • Ann

      I totally agree!!! Yay for semi-naked Booth!!!

  • angel

    I can always count on Bones to leave me a bit nauseous when it comes to the varying states of the victims in their cases( I have made the mistake of myself eating on several occasions) but last night was probably the grossest one ever and I spent most of the episode trying to get over the beginning. The blatant Avatar cross promotion backfired with me. It made me even less likely to see the movie just out of spite. I am hopeful for a Angela/Hodgins reunion. Don’t get the tat removed just yet!! As for Brennan and Booth. I am torn on that front. I think it is best to leave everything unsaid and known but not known. The dancing around the whole are they aren’t they will they won’t they in their relationship is what keeps you glued the reality of it could be a totally different story. I fear for the show and the jumping of that shark. Cam’s part in the whole sports conversation was what made me smile though.

  • margem

    I vote for a shirtless Thyne in more episodes!

    • Nic.


    • Melinda65

      Uh…yeah! I commented during that scene that Hodgins was a bit more muscled than one would expect from a “lab rat,” but I wasn’t complaining.

  • jmo

    Can I just say seeing the guns on TJ Thyne was total and very pleasant surprise. It reminded me of an ep of The Simpsons when mild-mannered Ned Flanders exposed his ripped bod. Is it just me, but an “undercover” bod is far more attractive than a built guy showing it off to everyone. Hodgins isn’t a milquetoast by any means but dang, now I get why Angel had the hots for him.

    • Sarah

      In the first season’s Christmas episode you see him in just a towel – let’s just say DB isn’t the only one with a nice bod!

      • jmo

        I only started watching Bones recently, caught repeats on TNT but I missed that one. Thanks Sarah!

      • angeler

        yeah, that episode made me looove Hodgins. ;) if you haven’t seen it do it now!!

    • Sara

      Curly hair – check.
      Brilliant – check.
      Hotness – check.

    • Takayuki

      HomeBusiness Info + HoursGift CertificatesService MenuSalon PicturesMonthly CouponMeet San of SanOlviMeet Our Stylist MayaMeet Our Stylist Liz Bookmark the permalink.

  • Carrie

    This one wasn’t my favorite….Although the creator, Hart Hanson, tweeted that the Avatar storyline was what’s paying for some awesomeness down the line….so I think I can deal with it now…And I am SOOOO happy that they FINALLY acknowleged Hodgin’s Angela tattoo…..Cam needs more to do then look confused….I feel she is being seriously underused. I love the season so far and can only hope it stays awesome! Can’t wait for next week!!

  • sheri

    Ripped from a documentary, in which I saw, was a good story line, quite cornily mixed with Avatar ad placement. Sweets’ run in with the tattooed hotty made me dislike him a bit, but my hubby told me to “give him a break”, as he ultimately did the rite thing.

    I do agree the sympathy for the dad was a miss on my parent meter, but the inclusion to get Bones’ “I understand” comment was great!!

    Go TJ Thyne shirtless!!! I thought it was great to include the Angie tattoo and her reaction to finally seeing it- how many seasons back did that happen?

    Good eppy. Still just waiting on Bones and Booth to smooch for real!! :)

  • darclyte

    It was an ok episode. I figured it out pretty early on, but then Bones isn’t normally about “who done it.” They should have faded the fake “Angela” tattoo on Hodgins as it’s been quite some time since he was kidnapped by her dad. The application that they used could have just as easily been made a more “charcoal” black than that bright, vibrant black. And, in the end, Sweets was faithful. He “flirted” a bit too far, but that woman was aggressive and nutty.

  • Lexie

    I thought it was kind of creepy that the final moral on the Sweets subplot was not “You love your girlfriend, why would you cheat on her” but “you have a lot of bangin’ sex with your girlfriend, so you win.” As someone who actually likes Daisy, that made me frown. The Avatar promotion was incredibly annoying. Like someone above said, it’s made me even less likely to see the film, just out of irritation.

    • Kevin

      Well, hate to break it to you, but this is how men work.

      • a man

        Please don’t speak for all of us…

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