The Wife:

How excited was I when Bones revealed that the two female corpses found wrapped in a white sheet, somewhere in the panhandle, were conjoined twins? Oh, man. I think my level of excitement falls somewhere between that of a cat with a new feather toy and a child on Christmas morning. It’s that kind of excitement that you can’t adequately explain to someone. The kind that causes uncontrollable outbursts of the word “Squeeeeeeeeeee!” I love the idea of the circus and narratives about the circus. And I especially love stories about sideshows. And even more than that, I love stories about conjoined twins. (Should any of the graduate programs to which I have applied accept me, I will happily be writing about all of those things for the next several years.) As you may have gleaned from my posts about shows like Fringe and Nip/Tuck, I’m very interested in narratives of the body. Essentially, the idea of decaying bodies being the source of narratives is one of the reasons I like Bones so much. That and David Boreanaz. So to give me an episode of Bones about conjoined twins that also has Emily Deschanel in a skimpy outfit and David Boreanaz wearing a silly mustache? That’s exactly like giving a whole bunch of really awesome feather toys with bells and shiny bits to one very lucky cat.

Because the victims this week were a pair of conjoined twins, the case led straight to the circus. Booth and Bones are all set to question the traveling carnival at which the Van Owen sisters were employed, but Sweets, revealing that his birth mother was a carnie, warns them that the carnies won’t talk to them if they’re gillies, or outsiders to the circus. Circus folk protect their own, viewing those inside the circus as family, a notion which derives from the fact that many circus members ended up there by leaving family situations that were in some way unsatisfactory. To that end, Booth and Bones rent a trailer and go undercover as Buck and Wanda Moosejaw, a couple of Canadian carnies looking to get their knife-throwing act into the traveling show. The “Knives of Death” act was conceived out of Booth’s military skill, despite Brennan’s many, many mentions that, while she did some anthropological research at a circus back when she was in school, she learned to become quite proficient on the highwire. Ringmaster Andy Richter (who, for some reason, I could only imagine as the deranged little lemming he voices in Madagascar) and the show’s 24 Hour Man, Lavalle, agree to let Buck and Wanda in to the show, providing they stick with the Russian gimmick Bones insisted they use for their act. (No sane anthropologist would have agreed to a cowboy-Indian princess act, right? I mean, Russian was the only way to go here.)

I think a lot of people's strange sexual fantasies were fully realized in this episode.

I think a lot of people's strange sexual fantasies were fully realized in this episode.

While at the carnival, they try to get close to the carnies while making their cover look believable (by strategically rocking their trailer back and forth so no one comes a-knockin’). But none of the carnies are willing to hand out information about Jenny and Julie Van Owen. They all stick with the story that the girls had decided to leave and took off, citing a handwritten note they’d left behind. They all seemed to agree that the girls were looking to expand their juggling act, something they might be better able to do at another circus. Outside of their cover, the girls’ mother tells them that Julie and Jenny had been considering separation surgery (which would have been entirely possible given that they were connected at the posterior and did not share any segments of bone or any vital organs), and then they learn that the milder twin, Julie, had been dating the doctor who would have performed the surgery.

Back at the lab, Angela discovers that the handwritten note was a fake, as the handwriting with which the names were signed did not match up to the way the twins stood. They also struggle to find out exactly how the twins were killed, as both girls seem to have an identical fracture on their skulls, but no other bone damage, save for some stress fractures in their feet. Angela and Mr. Nigel-Murray (back to annoy Cam with more useless and marvelous bits of trivia) realize that the girls’ heads had to have been conked together, but with something soft that wouldn’t lead to external tissue damage or other bone damage. Something like, say, clown props. With this new information, Booth and Bones, in full Russian costume for their show that night, start rifling through clown props to find something that could have been the murder weapon. This angers the clowns, especially lead clown The Greg Wilson. One thing you don’t do at a circus is fuck with the clowns. Sometimes, they’re considered lower than the other acts and so they’ve formed their own sub-family. You do not fuck with a clown. They will fuck you up. (Incidentally, I am quite disturbed by clowns. And while my strange fascination with the circus continues to shed more light on the functions of clowns within the circus and circus narratives, I am no less freaked out by them. Perhaps it is because I now know that, in addition to being very scary things with obscured faces, they will also totally fuck me up if I cross them.)

With some intervention from the Ring Master, Buck and Wanda Moosejaw go on to perform their act that evening, watching the clowns from behind the curtain to observe how, with proper force, their props could be used to kill someone. They perform their act with no rehearsal, and a nervous Booth manages to hit every balloon without incident. Adorably, Bones, completely outside of herself at the circus, keeps egging him on, drawing out an inflatable apple for him to pierce off the top of her head and, finally, attaching a rubber nose for him to slice right off her face. He hits every mark perfectly. This scene is both a testament to these partners’ trust in each other, as well as an interesting look at their characters. It’s a rare moment when we see the ever-confident Seeley Booth hesitate, but he does here, knowing that any false move could seriously injure his partner. He barely trusts that the socially retarded scientist will be able to keep still, but in the process discovers that while she may not relate well to people directly, Brennan knows exactly how to play a crowd.

I don’t know if this is something she’s picked up in her studies of anthropology, or just during her time studying the circus, but Bones is a natural showman. She works the crowd with grace and confidence, prancing around in her sexy outfit. As Sweets explains, by its very nature, a knife act has a kind of psychosexual component to it, where the knife is . . . well . . you get the idea. It’s this aspect of the knife act that Brennan plays up the most. She titillates the audience with her body, and teases them, and Booth, with each smaller and smaller object that she begs her partner to slice off of her. The danger, of course, is that he will get too close and end up penetrating her. But the act, while seemingly about penetration, isn’t really about it at all. It’s about the tease of it. This act is a perfect metaphor for Booth and Bones’ relationship. I don’t care if they ever will become partners in another sense. It’s all a knife act. I’m in it for the tease.

I say it again. This woman is hot. Why won't you look at her????

I say it again. This woman is hot. Why won't you look at her????

After their act, the Moosejaws realize that the only person who could swing a clown prop with enough force to kill someone is the show’s strong man, Magnum. They try to question him after the show, but end up getting trapped in a net. Eventually, they come clean to the other carnies, who turn away from them the minute their FBI badges are drawn, reminded Booth and Bones that they’re nothing more than gillies and that they’ll never, ever be accepted there. “You’re not one of us,” Lavalle says as he turns away. That phrase really resonated with me, as the idea of being “one” of the collective circus “us” is very important to the idea of a circus family. In Tod Browning’s Freaks, all of the freaks exclaim this as they sit around their newly freakish chicken-girl creation. This phrase is notably reiterated in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers when Theo and Isa skip through the Lourve with their new American friend, happily chanting “We accept him! One of us! We accept him! One of us!” as this very scene from Freaks is inserted. In a place comprised entirely of people who don’t belong, who have been, as a collective, othered, it’s very important to be accepted into that community. I could go on about facets of the circus that are not accepted as “one of us,” but that would just be a rehash of a paper of mine on the sideshow as community in Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man and The X-Files episode “Humbug.” All you gillies really need to know is that there’s an important and interesting structure for what is and isn’t accepted in the circus community. Outsiders are a definite no-go.

Knowing that their undercover stint is over, Bones isn’t yet ready to leave the circus. She begs Booth to let her try the highwire, at which she was quite proficient once. As she does, the bones in her feet start to hurt and she loses her balance halfway out and falls to the net below. In doing so, she realizes exactly how the twins died. No one killed them; they simply fell off the highwire while trying to improve their act. A set of juggling conjoined twins is cool, but they would be the only conjoined twins in the country who had a highwire act, something they knew would make them a big ticket draw. Unfortunately, as they fell to the net, they hit their skulls together hard enough to cause bleeding in the brain, rendering them brain dead and, shortly thereafter, fully dead.

As the agents are about to leave, Magnum approaches them to tell them that he didn’t kill the girls, but that he did help dispose of the bodies. Everyone at the circus loved them, he explained. And at the circus, you protect your own. In homage to their brief membership at the circus, Bones and Booth tell Magnum that they will get him a good lawyer and that he must be sure to explain that he hid the bodies in the desert and wrapped them in a white sheet as a sign of respect to the girls.

I loved this episode, and I really hope to be able to write about it again soon! (Dear grad schools: Please accept me! One of you! Please accept me! One of you!) This was a wonderful episode to bring us back from the break, and a wonderful reminder of why we love Booth and Bones so much – especially seeing them so far out of their element, in the topsy-turvy world of the Big Top.

The Husband:

As we are now only seeing returning interns trying out the Jeffersonian for the second time (with a big gaping hole where Michael Badalucco should be), I find it somewhat unnecessary to continue rating them, as I have already done so in the first place, and despite a few initial changes in ratings, I rarely have anything new to say about them. I dig Badalucco, I love Joel David Moore, and Michael Terry – especially now that we now of his awesome hockey prowess – seems to perhaps be the frontrunner for regular appearance status.

(It does not bode well that, for about a day, my wife and I could not agree upon whether or not Vincent Nigel-Murray [Ryan Cartwright] even appeared in the U.K.-set season premiere. He, in fact, did not, but he is British, so I can understand the confusion.)

As for this episode, it was very gleeful and fun, even if that did limit much of the drama and science we’ve come to expect from Bones. Both episodes last Thursday, actually, were both very low on really damn good police work and heavier on the let’s-have-Boreanaz-and-Deschanel-just-dick-around goofiness. Which is fine. I just want some giant Gormagon-type mystery soon, and very much desire more of Squintrifficness.

And I miss Zack. Is he done yet feeling responsible for helping the Gormagon? He didn’t actually kill anybody, remember? Get that fool back. Maybe see if he can do his job handcuffed to a railing. That’d be sweet. Not to be confused with John Francis Daley. That’s be Sweets.

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