First up in tonight's double dose of Bones is "The Diamond in the Rough," the story of an up-and-coming young dancer who is tragically killed. Like most Bones episodes this one has a memorable body - in this case a skeleton completely encrusted with gems - and is far more interested with the characters solving the crime than the crime itself. In point of fact they gloss right over the case details, even bypassing the usual red herring interview to bring you more of what's going on inside the Jeffersonian.
First and formost it needs to be noted that Booth (David Boreanaz) finally sheds a little more light on his mother; though it wasn't much and the show quickly moves on to other topics. For those who've been paying any attention this year, it's obvious that Angela (Michaela Conlin) has been less than satisfied when it comes to her job at the lab. Going as far back as season 1, Angela has questioned her place in the Squint Squad. Back then she saw herself as little more than someone who fashions masks for the dead and as a free-spirit who had somehow been tied down. That restlessness is still there and is magnified by the fact that everyone around her is doing what they love to do for a living. Angela is a lover of beauty and the art of the human body and seeing the worst of humanity is wearing down her spirit.
This is where having a solid ensemble is key. Conlin and her on-screen husband TJ Thyne have matured well in their roles over the years, taking what could have become a worn-out, regurgitated story-line and instead presenting a resolution that is more true to life. Thyne perfectly portrays a husband who wants to encourage his wife in her own pursuits while also preserving the unity of the team that has been through so much in the past eight years. Tamara Taylor, who rarely gets to flex her acting muscles beyond, "I'll tell Booth," plays a good mediator and the end scene between she and Conlin is humorous but heartfelt. Maybe Angela's reduced hours at the lab will mean more of these meatier scenes for Cam.
Above all of these, however, it is the interplay between Conlin and Emily Deschanel that shines brighter than their jewel-encrusted victim. Since the show's inception, the two have meshed well together; one playing the intuitive bohemian and the other, a rational scientist, but their friendship is believable because of the care and concern they have for one another. Brennan tries, in her scientific way, to help Angela find her value in what she does at the lab and Angela is touched by her friend's willingness to try and comfort her. In the same way, Angela doesn't witness the clumsy, halting waltz between Booth and Brennan at the end in the same way everyone does. Rather, she recognizes the love and passion her friend experiences in Booth's arms and through Angela's eyes the audience witnesses a flawless dance between lovers that continues ever on.
The second episode, "The Archeologist in the Cocoon," while an equally good ensemble piece, takes things a step further by showcasing that the Bones writers are still highly capable of blending case and character elements when they so desire. Where "Diamond" glosses over case elements, "Cocoon" takes the time to introduce us to the victim and his extended family and even provides a believable red herring suspect to boot. "Cocoon" also contains a secondary case surrounding ancient remains that the victim discovered shortly before his death.
The only thing that creates a giddy school-girl reaction in Brennan more than going on an undercover operation is the discovery of ancient remains. This is the first time, however, that she's had to share these finds with another scientist. Brennan's competitive drive is a key topic in this episode, exploring everything from the way she approaches parenthood to her need to assert her brilliance every five minutes at the lab. Sweets (John Francis Daley), now firmly an established inhabitant of the Booth-Brennan household, tries to offer some help and receives Booth's death glare for his trouble. It is Cam, however, who convinces her that the victim's widow and unborn child deserve her undivided attention on the present-day murder case.
It's the widow, or rather her story, that adds a layer of depth to "Cocoon" that "Diamond" lacks. Not only is she very pregnant with a son who will never meet his father, but her family is a piece of work too. The couple met in her native Chechnya while James, her husband, was on an archaeological dig, and her very traditional father did not approve of her marrying a foreigner or her pregnancy. Her father even had James whipped and ex-communicated her from the family before she left. All of this is heart-crushing and it makes her bother, who lives in the U.S., a key suspect until a last minute clue points to James' publisher.
James and his widow's story become even more endearing when Angela, Clark, and Hodgins discover that though the vast majority of James' career's work was a farce, his final find was one of real value. One which would have established him as a true archaeologist. The remains he discovered were from an ancient, blended family; Neandertal and Homosapien. Watching the squints act out the murder of the ancient family is touching, but not nearly as touching as Brennan yielding her credit on the scientific paper so that James' unborn son can one day be proud of his father's work. Her confession to Booth at the end about not wanting to pass along her faults to their daughter is touching and her final comment is a perfect example of how well the show blends humor and drama. All in all, these were two hours well-spent with the Bones family.
Bones airs Monday nights at 8/7c on Fox.