I do have to proclaim to all here and now that this episode contains one of my all-time favourite Booth lines: "Jesus is not a zombie!!" (although "While you're a murder suspect behave more like a normal woman and less like Lily Munster" comes a close second. I'd have gone for Morticia Addams for preference though - Lily is but a pale copy!). And it is also a watershed in that it introduces the absolutely wonderful Caroline Julian, on great form from the very start, with her shrewd summary of Brennan's chances in court and her knowledge of the past history ("stop me if I say something wrong").
Apart from being convincingly topical - Bones does this kind of thing very well, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was still a major theme all over the world - the episode centres on belief. Self belief. Belief in your friends. Belief in power beyond mortal ken and life beyond death. And although Brennan says "Things are just things. they don't have magical meanings or powers", she clearly feels the significance of her mother's earring, which Booth returns to her at the very end (incidentally, what happened to these episode dénouements when they were all sitting round together discussing the case and having a friendly chat? When did it become all about a BB 'moment' at the end of each ep?). Finally, it is Brennan's and Booth's belief in humanity that wins through.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. So Brennan is in New Orleans and helping with the Katrina clear up and all looks pretty normal. Audaciously, the clues are laid before us in the first few lines; Mike Doyle, who works in the morgue, has acquired himself a girlfriend who is turned on by death and likes to have sex in among the coffins. He has just confided the information when we realise that Zack, on video connection, is listening to this somewhat inappropriate snippet and congratulates him blandly on his coffin sex! Nice one Zack. And nice one Brennan, when, a few minutes later, while Zack is bewailing the fact that he cannot be with her, she jokes to him "sex on a coffin is not guaranteed!" I don't know why, but somehow Brennan always seemed more relaxed and happy working with Zack than with any of the interns who followed. They just had a particular chemistry, an excellent rapport.
The viewer then shares the shock and horror as Brennan awakens, covered in blood, injured and with no recall of how it happened. A lot of the best episodes have camerawork that make us feel as if we are in the relevant character's mind, and throw us into the middle of a mysterious situation which requires flashback explanation. Here, fragments of memory doh-si-doh randomly in front of us and we feel Brennan's trauma.
As we begin to piece events together more horror and enigma emerge. The John Doe whose X-rays Brennan sent to the lab for closer perusal disappears - and then turns up sharing a box with poor Mike Doyle. By now he has been identified as a 'good' voodoo priest, further complicating the affair. Graham Léger is found flayed and crucified in his own living room. Someone is attempting to frame Brennan for murder. By now some of the motivation for all this was beginning to escape me - you know how easily I become confused - but events and their analysis were still following a logical path, so I was still very much engaged.
The voodoo element now begins to dominate. Cue various discussions about religion, superstition and belief, which are quite interesting, especially Brennan's comparison of voodoo and Christianity (this is another manifestation of the religious discussion which is a regular feature of BB interaction), and Sam Potter's remark, "You don't have to believe in the spirits, Dr Brennan. They believe in you." Voodoo has a poor reputation, but here we see an exploration of its true core; a need for balance of the forces in the world. The Secte Rouge, a cult within voodoo, is the 'dark side' of the religion, desiring power through magic and thus an imbalance of these forces. That sounds a bit too Star Wars, but you know what I mean.
Meantime the team back at the lab is watching and waiting anxiously. Angela is at first cock-a-hoop that Booth is with Brennan - she's desperate to pair them off - but becomes very upset at Brennan's casual mention of bail, a murder charge and healing wounds. It is indeed a glorious moment when Hodgins knows exactly what to say to make her feel better - the eyes do meet in a second of recognition and promise. He tells her that Brennan has become a rookie adventurer because she has seen something of Angela's full, wonderful, richly varied life and wants to duplicate this in her own experiences. Angela isn't totally reassured, but she is warmly flattered and begins to feel that things will be ok. One up to the blue eyes. You can always tell that she's feeling good, even excited, after a conversation with Jack, because she gives that little, secret half-smile.
The amount of blood in this episode could be quite upsetting; Léger's fate was horrific and the violent death of Eva Benoit on a spike was awful to contemplate (though the jaw-dropping horror at finding out her father had done this was somewhat alleviated by the bathos of him screaming curses at Brennan until she poked him in the eye). Was all the blood on Brennan hers? Had she been to Graham's or not? To me, that wasn't clear. In fact I wasn't 100% clear why Graham was targeted. I'll have to watch again.
So how have we moved on by the end of this episode? Well, we have dipped into Booth's religious beliefs once more, such an important part of his character; we have seen Jack and Angela's mutual attraction in a much stronger form than has been intimated up until now; we have met Caroline; we have once again seen clues about Brennan's attachment to her mother; we've learned, in the brilliant Hodgins/Zack conversation quoted above this post, just how passionate Jack is about his subject (although - STILL not enough TJ). I personally found out enough about voodoo to make me want to learn more, and Brennan learned a degree of tolerance and that she has to rely on other people - not just herself - from time to time. I think it was very important that she was for a while without that swift, agile, analytical brain and dependable memory. Booth was a very firm support and they even had a short, slightly flirty conversation in which they expressed admiration for one another. Lots of development there.
Things I disliked? Apart from lack of Hodgins? Two words: Rose Harding. What a nasty, closed-minded detective she turned out to be.
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"We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love." - Angela Montenegro