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Monday, November 19, 2012

Bones frees "The Patriot in Purgatory"

This week's installment of FOX's Bones is one of the best stand-alone episodes the series has ever made. I do not say this lightly, as despite it's procedural format, I highly enjoy the show most weeks. It may be the only procedural I hold in such esteem. The credit goes to a truly fantastic ensemble cast, and the quirkiness of the various characters. In "The Patriot in Purgatory," these people are taken to new levels of emotion.

The hour begins with Dr. Brennan (Emily Deschanel) bringing together her five best interns so that she can try out some coaching skills she learned from reading Phil Jackson's book. Yes, Brennan is finally into some small aspects of pop culture, most likely thanks to her ever-deepening relationship with Booth (David Boreanaz). She assigns these five to examine old bones with new technology in the hopes of identifying many remains that have never been named.

At first, the squad humorously argues and gets competitive, each trying to outdo the other ones. This is to be expected, as Brennan has, until now, created a fiercely competitive environment. Each jockeys for Brennan's favor, and tries to prove they are better than the others. Had this been the way the rest of the episode played out, it still would have been good, because seeing these personalities clash is entertaining.

Yet, "The Patriot in Purgatory" soon deepens when Vaziri (Pej Vahdat) becomes obsessed with a homeless man. Taking the ignored case to heart, as the police clearly didn't do a thorough investigation the first time around, Vaziri becomes obsessed with figuring out who this man is, even if he neglects the other bodies in the process.

It isn't long before his fellow interns are also drawn in by the mystery. Wendell (Michael Grant Terry), Clark (Eugene Byrd), Finn (Luke Kleintank), and even, eventually, Fisher (Joel David Moore) each lend their strengths, which differ from person to person, to the case. Only together, can they solve the puzzle. This is not only a display of what a great team the Jeffersonian has, and more proof that Brennan picks the right interns, but also an inspiring tale about a quest for justice.



Before long, the guys decide that their bones belong to a man who died shortly after 9/11 due to injuries suffered on that fateful day. Not only that, he is a soldier. This quickly draws Booth into the mix, becoming just as determined to solve the case as the squinterns, and everyone else helps, too. Thankfully, this time murder isn't involved, but there is a huge disservice being done to a guy who should be a national hero, and Booth will not rest until the truth comes out, and the body is honorably buried.

"The Patriot in Purgatory" is a holiday episode. Not many shows tackle a Veteran's Day theme, but Bones shows that an inspiring tale can be told at this time of year. It took such a series, with a character like Booth, who is devoted to the military, to do it right. While not based on anyone that actually lived, at least, not that I know of, it is a spotlight on the sad tragedy of what happens to many soldiers who return from war, and the neglected heroes living among us.

This also provides an opportunity for each of the squinterns to share their 9/11 story. Wendell's, in particular is sad, but Vaziri also gets to give voice to many an American Muslim who suffered on that day because of the actions of extremists. He reminds us that we should not hate the religion, which isn't really to blame, but the people who take it and twist it into something ugly. Christian history has plenty of similar examples. Let's not forget that.

In the end, tears flow, and viewers are left feeling deeply moved. There is some serious drama and character development here, all perfectly executed. This is why "The Patriot in Purgatory" deserves to be watched and remembered. And maybe, like the best of Christmas-themed specials, dusted off every few years to be rewatched and enjoyed again on the holiday it celebrates.

Bones airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Check out my website, JeromeWetzel.com! First posted on TheTVKing

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