Spoilers for Bones are below.
For 11 seasons now, Bones has bludgeoned viewers with a variety of sadistic and malicious murderers, holding our eyes open with other people’s fingernails to make sure we caught every disturbing moment, and then buried us alive with the memories. But whoa boy, “The Monster in the Closet” really kicked things up a notch in the horror zone for the show’s latest (and possibly last) serial killer, who has already ascended the ranks to become the most unsettling antagonist yet. Future episodes may water down that opinion, of course, but it can’t make this episode any less creepy.
Our first instinct that this new killer was going to be a frightfest came when the first victim was introduced. (Or at least the first known victim.) Her name was Allison Monroe, and she was a social worker who was murdered six months before her beaten-after-death body was found in the park. Why’d it take that long? Because the killer was keeping her around and using her as a stand-in for a mommy, duh. The victim’s skin was apparently removed after death, dried out and treated, and then put back onto the skeleton. That came after the killer drilled holes in all of her bones and used wire to articulate them so that everything looked as if it did when she was still alive. (Well, not everything, clearly.) The wear and tear on the joints was a sign that the corpse had been moved around quite a bit after death, too.
And some of the things found with the body tell us more about the killer’s relationship with post-Allison. She was wearing some vintage clothing, as seen in the image above, complete with an old clutch that contains a cassette labeled “Home” – which makes “Buffalo Gals” more unnerving than it ever should have been – and a lipstick tube that, because there are postmortem skin cells in it, was determined to have been applied to Allison’s lips in the months after her death. Gotta keep up appearances, right? There was also the obligatory Bible with corresponding passages marked in it, giving Brennan more insight into the killer’s mindset. Methinks this guy’s mom was a religious zealot who liked porridge and public domain music.
The episode later brings in a John Doe victim who’d gone through the same six-month treatment, and the most brain-explodingly horrifying scene soon follows. Brennan feels she could have stopped the killer the first time had she not left the Jeffersonian. Then the team figures out that all the drilled holes were to allow the killer to hang up his victims like marionettes. Which is a creepy enough discovery when it’s just theorized, but Brennan obviously puts that theory to use and actually makes her own puppet o’bones, thus destroying the possibility for good dreams to ever occur again. Here's a taste.
Can we also talk about how both victims’ teeth were chipped because the killer was still feeding them repeatedly? No, we can’t? Works for me.
Of course, there were other weird things happening in the episode, thanks in large part due to George Gibbons, a red herring connected to the killer who lives in a house full of cats and godawful wallpaper. It was discovered there that the killer had cameras hooked up all over the house, so both Brennan and Booth were definitely seen by the bone-drilling nutbag, absolutely putting them in danger. I hope Brennan has some fresh non-orange lipstick.
This episode has been a strangely anticipated one for Bones fans, as it’s been touted as a homage to both the X-Files standout episode “Home” and the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho. It was definitely obvious where both of those influences entered the episode, and the effort to achieve similar levels of mental hysteria is worthy of applause. And I’m the one moving my own hands there, not you, you puppet master!
Will this creepo come after Brennan and Booth? Will he fool them long enough to make it to Season 12? Does he have any actual friends or the Internet or something? Find out when Bones airs on Fox on Thursday nights. And to see when everything else is premiering in the coming months, check out our summer TV schedule.