Bones ventured into the world of competitive eating last night, while introducing us to a new squintern and a new source of friction in what's become the "new normal" relationship of Booth and Brennan.
I'll get to Bones' huge baby news in a bit, but let me begin by saying that even after six-plus seasons, the episode titles ("The Hot Dog in the Competition") and gruesome bodies never cease to amuse.
This is because they're so elaborate, both physically and in terms of storyline. Tackling something such as the "Gluttony Games" is not an easy thing for writers to do with both humor and aplomb.
Bones does it, though, and if you made it through the first appearance of the python without losing your dinner, both the sight gags and thematic parallels with the characters' lives were well done.
You wouldn't think an investigation into a dead eating champion could be so entertaining, but it absolutely was, beginning when "Jedi" sweets mistakenly believed the half-eaten victim was a prostitute.
Like the python, the woman (not a lot of us expected it to be a she) had a special talent for unhinging her jaw. Unlike the python, she used this to enter professional eating contests and win money.
In my college days, I experienced pizza eating contests for charity, and milk-chugging contests as a form of fraternity hazing. Neither ended well for the participants, but we were hardly professionals.
Leave it to Bones to find unusual arenas such as this and actually weave tight murder mysteries around them. The show may be procedural in its nature, but creativity saves it from becoming stale.
The case was solved, in no small part, with the aide of new squintern Finn.
He's an interesting one. Like a Southern-fried Doogie Howser, M.D., he completed high school and college by the time he turned 18 ... only he did so while spending three years in juvenile detention.
I liked Finn a lot. He's clearly a talented and friendly individual. What I didn't like as much was the seemingly obvious resistance he got from Hodgins, at least at the beginning, and from Caroline.
(Also, as much as I like Finn as a person and the way his troubled history was integrated into the storyline, the accent and colloquialisms were a bit overblown. He's from the south ... we get it.)
No doubt, having someone with a record on staff could impact the integrity of the lab, but he is "only" a squintern, and did this really not come up before he was hired and thrust into a big case?
Hodgins definitely has a humorous, wise-guy side, but it felt almost hostile here. There were some good lines in their early exchanges, to be sure, but it didn't feel like Hodgins to look down at him.
Once Finn was impressing Bones and the team with his skills and command of the English language (okay, maybe not the latter), would anyone care what he did? And how could Cam not know?
Fortunately, after the truth came about, Bones asked point blank whether his abusive stepfather is responsible for his interest in forensic sciences, and also if Finn was really involved in his death.
In this case, Brennan's ability to turn off the emotion and approach a complicated situation with honest bluntness was a huge asset, as he opened up to her, and closed the door on lingering doubts.
Other times, those traits of Brennan's aren't as helpful.
Booth found out that he and Temperance are having a girl at the same instant we did, which was classic Bones - she went to her ultrasound appointment alone, then didn't think to mention it.
"The baby growing inside my uterus? It has female genitalia." Hilarious as the delivery of this quote was, it's hard to believe that Brennan, despite the fact that she's Brennan, wouldn't think this through.
What made last week's Bones season premiere so good to me was that the dispute over their living arrangements let Bones be Bones within the context of her forever-changed relationship with Booth.
She's stubborn, but she's not aloof. How would she not know that Booth, like any expectant father in modern civilization, would want to be there for that or at least know about it immediately?
It felt forced, but was redeemed by David Boreanaz, who does such a terrific job with the nuances of his character. Booth treats her with patience, respect and love, even though they're so different.
His means of trying to make his point in a way she could actually understand was funny, too, asking her to put herself in his shoes. It didn't work out as planned immediately, but it was effective.
I like that he responds to these vintage Bones situations by trying to teach her, rather than just arguing at her. In the end, it won him an actual apology, and he did get a chance to see his daughter.
Thanks to the ultrasound DVD, Brennan earned a do-over and reminded us how much this thing they've got going (no matter how they arrived there) is working. If nothing else, it's got potential.
There's always going to be friction as they adjust to their lives as parents-to-be, not to mention coupledom in general, but the characters are at once true to themselves and to each other. Bravo.
Despite a couple of minor complaints, I enjoyed "The Hot Dog in the Competition" a lot, and can't wait to see B-squared's relationship continue to evolve in the coming months. How about you?
What did you think of this week's Bones? Comment and tell us below!