TV REVIEW: Bones “The Source in the Sludge”
Bones returns from a winter hiatus to deliver ‘The Source in the Sludge,” a poignant narrative on the inviolability of the human spirit when committed to curiosity, compassion, and equality in the battle against ignorance and subjugation.
Though the predominant storyline provides the most visible message, the secondary and tertiary subplots echo the same as we see Brennan and Booth struggle with perceived inequality between them, and then Hodgins and Angela ponder their own resilience despite considerable odds. Throughout, however, this episode highlights the considerable skill of David Boreanaz as he confronts a colleague, supports his partner and spouse, and doggedly tows the hard line of justice at all costs.
“The Source in the Sludge” portrays the tragic case of the abbreviated life of Sari Naziri, an Afghani CIA Asset, and her brother Aziz, who have sought political asylum in DC under the watchful eye of CIA Operative Danny Beck (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), Booth’s Special Forces cohort, who has assured the siblings a good life in America.
Years earlier in Afghanistan, Sari Nazeri (Nazneen Contractor) had identified Ibrahim Sajadi, a ruthless engineer in Ghazni who designed bombs for Al-Queda forces and was therefore a high value CIA target. Sari provided CIA handler Beck with Ibrahim’s location and then planted the transponder that resulted in an American drone strike which purportedly obliterated Ibrahim’s encampment. Sari herself was injured in the explosion, fracturing her humerus. It was the serial number of an American made pin used to set Sari’s bone that lead Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Squint Daisy (Carla Gallo) to identify the beautiful and courageous Sari Nazeri as their victim.
Not to be missed is the tension between colleagues CIA Operative Danny Beck and FBI Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz). These two square off numerous times throughout the episode and almost come to blows as the depth of Danny’s involvement is slowly revealed. Finally, Booth has no choice but to suspect Danny of murdering his own asset. Though not a complete jerk, Danny’s secrecy and his sometimes not so subtle dissention of Brennan (Emily Deschanel) almost end his relationship with Booth. In the end, Beck respects Booth’s partnership, and the two men together deliver the coup de gras, which we will get to in a moment.
Two issues become paramount in regard to Sari’s remains as the case progresses. First, the illusive mode of execution, and then the pageantry involved in the remains’ disposal. Care and consideration were paramount for the delivery of the specific message this particularly nefarious killer wanted to send. And it was personal. Very personal.
Before her death Sari had been brutally dragged across the ground until her joints came apart. She’d been bound and tethered, then managed to free herself. Bound and tethered once again, she had ferociously fought her captor, received cuts in her mouth and capturing his DNA in her throat. Finally, Cam identified the cause of death as dehydration and starvation. This is key going forward.
Now for the pageantry. Once dead, Sari’s remains were secured inside a brightly colored duffel bag containing two lamprey eels meant as a message of revulsion and degradation to the victim’s dignity. She was then dumped into shallow water where she was certain to be found. Surprise, surprise … this is exactly how Ibrahim Sajadi killed and exposed of his victims. The startling possibility emerges that Ibrahim ‘The Chameleon’ Sajadi might have actually escaped the drone attack in Afghan and come to America to kill Sari and many others.
In the end we learn that Sari’s disenfranchised brother Aziz (Homie Doroodian) had made contact with Ibrahim’s successor in Ghazni, Jamaal Ahmad. Aziz wanted to return to Afghanistan. Now aware of Sari’s location, Ahmad bribes Ibrahim’s old guard, retired Corporal Derek Johannessen (Chris Browning) to make the US think there was to be another attack on US soil and to use Ibrahim’s modus operandi to assassinate Sari, sending the message that Ibrahim was still alive.
The DNA from Sari’s throat identifies Johannessen as the killer. Johannessen is captured and interrogated, but then released and awarded $10 million in exchange for information about Ibrahim and Ahmad’s network. Beside himself with disgust, Booth finds a loophole in the military justice system, which provides Johannessen’s rehab and turns him over to the military for trial as a traitor and a murderer. And, voilà, justice is served once more.
In juxtaposition to the evening’s focal tragedy is Dr. Brennan’s quibble with the perceived inequity of her insurance premiums in comparison to her husband’s. It appears that Brennan’s upset is centered on an unfair assessment of her considerable skills in the field. However, Booth is trained Special Forces. Brennan, tactically, cannot compete with that. So, what is this really about? One might wonder if it’s the unspoken fear that she, by her own negligence, could one day be harmed and incapacitated while out fighting the bad guys with her partner. What if she had to give up that which she so very much enjoys … fighting evil, side by side, with the man she calls partner, lover, friend, and husband. This would be heart-crushing for them both.
In the final scene we see that this is indeed the crux of the matter. Brennan accepts the insurance company’s assessment of her tactical field skills and acknowledges that she’s willing to pay extra if it means she can continue doing what she loves with the man she loves. For his part, Booth gifts his partner, whom he occassionally kisses, he says, with an expensive thirty year old bottle of single malt whiskey, agreeing that he feels the same about her. In a adorable moment, the two sit companionably on the couch and Booth asks his wife to regale him with a story worthy of the Scotch.
On a tertiary level and adding levity to the proceedings is Angela’s (Michaela Conlin) blatant appreciation for her husband whose odd enthusiasms include a fascination and respect for the lamprey eel whose species’ morphology has remained nearly unchanged for more than 350 million years despite everything evolution has thrown at it. Hodgins (T. J. Thyne), Angela moons, has weathered the loss of his fortune and the discovery of an unknown brother and remains unshaken, unchanged.
With an understated style that exudes class and social responsibility, Bones continues a silky stride which seems freakishly incapable of delivering a mediocre product. I say ‘silky’ rather than ‘swaggery’ because swagger connotes a healthy dose of overt self-congratulatory pride. On the contrary, despite the time changes and the occasional dearth of promotional Whoop-di-doo, the Bones crew has managed to graciously keep their noses to the grindstone and crank out episode after episode of extraordinary entertainment.