“Bones” delivers what could very well be its creepiest hour yet with “The Monster in the Closet.” The Thursday, April 28 episode introduces the latest serial killer, features what may be among the most two tense minutes of the entire series and isn’t wrapped up neatly in a bow by the time the credits roll.
“Bones” has done serial killers before. It has done gross crime scenes time and time again. There have been creepy moments. But nothing quite like this, as the more they find out about this serial killer and what he does to his victims, the clearer it becomes that they need to catch him before it’s too late. But is it already too late, given that he now knows who’s investigating him and has seen their faces, thanks to his video cameras at a suspect’s house?
It all begins when a body is found in a park, and despite there being no way it could have been there long enough for the flesh to be dried out, the tissue is desiccated, but, as Cam notes, in an odd way. The victim, a social worker, has also been dressed in dated clothes and everything in her purse is vintage. It’s “officially creepy,” as Hodgins notes the mixtape labeled “HOME” (remember that “X-Files” episode?), earmarked Bible and lipstick. They find desiccated skin cells on the lipstick, meaning the killer applied it after she died. The earmarked pages in the Bible all indicate passages dealing with punishment for the wicked.
As Brennan tells Booth, the evidence is “far from normal.” The killer removed the victim’s skin, soaked it and then scraped away the fat, like in taxidermy. He also articulated the victim’s skeleton before putting the taxidermied skin back on and repositioned the body frequently in a manner of his choosing. Perhaps the only good news here is that there’s no evidence that he did anything sexual with the deceased, but based on deterioration of the tissue, he lived with the body for at least six months. The blunt force trauma to the face was done postmortem, perhaps his way of “killing” the victim again because he saw her as still alive.
Booth and Brennan are surprised when the victim’s husband doesn’t exhibit the normal emotions one does when learning a loved one has been murdered, but as he explains it, he knew Alison wasn’t coming back after a few hours because she wasn’t the type to go missing. He confirms that the mixtape and the Bible couldn’t have been hers and directs them to talk to her supervisor about threats she received at work.
When Arastoo finds out where the killer bore holes into the bones, he realizes that there are similarities to a case they caught when Booth and Brennan had quit. There’s another victim, an unidentified male who has the same holes in his bones and, like Alison, chipped teeth indicating the killer spoon-fed the corpses. While Brennan tells Arastoo he shouldn’t feel any guilt that the killer has taken another life, he doesn’t. But it’s clear that she does when she says she’s glad he’s not burdened by such feelings.
Booth and Aubrey bring in Karen to consult. The killer is extremely intelligent, possibly schizophrenic and, in her expert opinion, “totally cray-cray.” Since there was nothing sexual done to Alison, that implies the killer chose her as a surrogate mother. He wants to be disciplined, hence the earmarked Bible pages, but then the temptation to kill again grew too strong and he had to “kill” her again so he’d be free to kill again. They can use that information to try to ID the other victim. They’re looking for a strong male role model, a pillar of his community.
As for the killer, they need to look into anyone who threatened her or paid her too much attention. Aubrey talks to her boss, who her coworkers said loved Alison, and he admits that they’ll find emails he shouldn’t have sent to her on his computer but he never would have hurt her. They do have a lead in George Gibbons, who just so happens to own the kind of cat whose hair was found on her body. Alison rejected him as a foster parent due to his criminal record – he kidnapped a boy, but he was unharmed – and since he knew he’d be rejected each time, he had to keep trying because he was obsessed with Alison. And hey, his house just happens to be creepy and isolated enough to scream “serial killer!” Once inside, Booth and Brennan find many cats, Alison’s necklace, a notebook with crazy writing in it and George, upstairs, holding a knife to Booth’s throat until Brennan tricks him using the sound of a gun on her phone.
But that’s not all. Once they check out the house as a potential crime scene (seriously, the entire place is creepy), they find a cat is missing, Cam finds a high-end watch that could belong to their unidentified victim and Angela finds a camera hidden in the kitchen. Is George videotaping his kills or is there someone watching him? Since Karen realizes that he may fantasize about blood but there’s no way George is the killer since he faints at the sight of it (he suffers from vasovagal syncope), it’s the latter. He’s just someone the killer manipulated because he’s the perfect accomplice. He’d rather confess than cross him. And as for the missing cat, the killer has him to punish him for messing up and taking someone who led back to him. But he won’t tell them who the killer is because “he’s smart. He’s smarter than anybody. If I talk, he’ll know,” George insists.
That watch found in George’s house helps them identify the other victim: Douglas Burkhart, a recently retired principal who went missing over a year ago. His body was found in November, which is consistent with the MO that the killer lies with a victim for six months, kills and then disposes of the corpse. That’s the longest he can suppress his desire to kill.
It’s Booth who realizes why the killer drilled holes into the victims’ bones when he finds Brennan redressing Alison’s skeleton and trying to get into the killer’s mind. Don’t do that, he advises her, but she can’t help it. In a way, they’re very similar because, like the killer, she sees a living person. And she can’t help but feel like if they hadn’t quit their jobs, Alison could still be alive. While Booth disagrees, he can’t convince her of that and so instead, he offers to help in whatever way he can. In this case, it’s figuring out that the killer used fish-eye screws and turned his victim into marionettes. And that – Alison’s skeleton dressed and hanging like a marionette – is going to go down as one of the most disturbing images of the series.
But for the time being, they hit a dead end with the case when George is found dead in his cell; he hanged himself. The killer is still out there, and, thanks to his video camera, the team knows that he likely saw Booth, Brennan, Cam, Angela and Aubrey at George’s house. That means there’s a very strong possibility he knows who they are. And so who can fault Cam in being scared to go home to an empty house? Fortunately, Arastoo is there to agree to give her a ride home and stay with her – and, as she confirms after all but doing so in an earlier conversation with Angela, now that he’s back, Sebastian’s not going to be in the picture much longer.
While Cam and Arastoo may be getting back on track, however, things are just getting worse for Angela and Hodgins. When he’s disrespectful to their victim, Brennan calls him on it, but as Angela comments, “These days, he’s not respectful to the living, so not sure why the dead would be different.” He follows that with “she doesn’t talk back,” and at that point, Cam has to intervene and tell him it’s enough. That doesn’t stop Hodgins from continuing to treat Angela like this, even as she manages to finish the facial reconstruction for the case despite the trauma done to half of it. And to think this is “Hodgins at his happiest,” as Angela admits to Cam and Brennan. Home is worse.
Meanwhile, Christine has been having nightmares about the monster in her closet, and Brennan being Brennan tells her that monsters aren’t real. Booth, on the other hand, assures her that he’s scared it away and, off Aubrey’s advice, tells her to tell it to leave her alone or it’ll deal with him. But when Christine goes to do just that near the end of the episode, what ensues are those aforementioned tense minutes, as Booth and Brennan hear a crash and find her room empty. And with the worry that the killer saw them at George’s house, it’s a “hold your breath and hope the worst hasn’t happened” few moments until they find her in the closet, under her stuffed animals. The crash was her snow globe breaking.
There are no monsters, Christine tells them, agreeing with her mother. Well, at least not in her closet. There’s a very real one out there, in his lair, watching the camera feed from George’s house and zooming in on Brennan.
“Bones” season 11 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on FOX. What did you think of episode 13, “The Monster in the Closet”?