"The Archaeologist in the Cocoon" is episode eleven of season eight of Bones, the forensic drama television series loosely based on the novels and life of anthropologist Kathy Reichs. In this episode, the cocoon-wrapped corpse of a dubious archaeologist is found in a tree.
The Jumper in the Tree
A man is hanging in a tree by a parachute on his mobile. He is telling his wife that he has phoned her after the jump, as he promised, and that everything is fine. Which is manipulating the definition of fine a bit. And that he isn't sure when he'll be home. At which point the parachute cables loosen slightly dropping him down the tree a bit. The man is still insisting he is fine - but he hasn't seen that he is now level with what looks like a corpse in a cocoon created by a really, really big spider. Certainly one that you wouldn't want to be sharing a tree with. When the man sees it he is no longer fine - and then falls out of the tree.
Brennan is a Competitive Mother
Brennan is concerned that Christine isn't grasping peek-a-boo, and she expects her daughter to be in advance. It sounds like it's a bit of a competition to be better than the other children at day care - there's one younger than Christine who loves peek-a-boo. Sweets, who is still living with them, and plays peek-a-boo with Christine as well. He also gets delegated to take Christine to day care whilst the Brennan and Booth head to the crime scene.
An Explanation Please - With No Giant Spiders or Mothmen
At the scene, Hodgins thinks that the body is a mothman. Booth is less convinced (as is Brennan). Getting to the body requires a cherry picker and below it is an abandoned jeep that appears to have gone off the road. Hodgins is disappointed that the body looks human and Brennan wants a scientific explanation for the cocoon. Probably not one that involves a giant spider.
It's Murder, Not an Accident
The jeep has been pushed off the side of the road and there is a lot of blood that has soaked into the seat padding, even though the seat cover has been wiped clean. Not an accidental death, even though someone has tried to make it look like one. The cocoon might have suggested that, but that could have happened after the body was dumped.
Maggots to the Face
Brennan wants to cut open the cocoon to see if there is any sign of cause of death on the body. Hodgins doesn't want her to do that because he doesn't know what made the cocoon. She does it anyway and gets a face full of maggots. The only thing that concerns Brennan about that is that it makes it difficult to see, and she asks Hodgins to remove them.
Not a Reputable Archaeologist
The vehicle is identified as belonging to a James Sutton, someone Hodgins had heard of, describing him as a 'Temple of Doom' guy. Hodgins read Sutton's book on the Mayan Calendar and the end of the world - apparently Sutton misspelled both 'Mayan' and 'Calendar.' So, already looking like not the most reputable archaeologist - more like a pseudo-archaeologist. Sutton would apparently write books on dubious subjects, such as dinosaur eggs, then try to sell associated items. Such as dinosaur eggs. The body is that of Sutton and the cocoon is from webworms, which spin cocoons around foliage. Not mothmen or giant spiders. A boringly rational scientific explanation.
Many Really Old Bones
Sutton's rather pregnant wife is a woman that he met in Chechnya. The wife does not speak a lot of English; her brother has lived in the U.S. for five years and translates. Sutton apparently brought some things back from the Chechen Republic that had him very excited, things that are stored in top of the range, and expensive, self-storage. The storage room looks more like a lab, one full of bones, bones that apparently date back thousands of years according to Brennan.
A Genuine Discovery?
It seems that Sutton knew exactly what he had found, even though he was otherwise a hack. The hack might finally have stumbled across a genuine discovery. Clark is also very excited about the remains, and takes them away. Brennan is very disappointed as a result, even though the agreement was that Brennan work on modern crime and Clark on ancient history. Brennan thinks that Clark will make a fool of himself without her help. Clark keeps getting the others to help with him. Friction ensures as Brennan and Clark get competitive until Cam has to get them to cooperate.
Money from a Creationist
Sutton made most of his money not from the books but from artefacts featured in them. Most of which were sold to a rich Texan. A Creationist. One who kept buying artefacts that were older than how old he believed the world to be. It seems more likely that he was paying to take artefacts that contradicted his beliefs out of circulation. The man may be a fanatic and have a grudge against Sutton, but he seems an unlikely murderer.
What Was the Motive for Murder?
So, was Sutton killed because of what he found - which was definitely a valuable discovery and genuine, one that gets Clark and Brennan excited - or for some other reason?