Dear George,

I just read your article regarding the Bones episode which covered the
Kennedy assassination
. I am surprised that you have written the episode is
badly written and biased towards the Warren Commission, especially
your comment, “Who the bones belong to is never explained nor why this
exercise is done is never made fully clear.”

The main characters state that there is currently a congressional
commission considering a request to dig up the bones of Kennedy to do
further testing about the assassination. The implication of a number
of federal agents turning up, locking down the facility and claiming
they are from a federal agency that normally handles stationary
supplies is that there is a secret government operation trying to work
out whether the request should be approved or not. They exhume the
bones themselves, and pull in forensic experts to determine whether
the official government statement of events about how Kennedy died is
true or not. They forbid them from leaving any marks or doing any
invasive testing so that they can put the bones back without anyone
knowing that they have been tampered with.

The point of the melons is to establish whether the same gunman could
have shot Governor Connally and JFK within 1.7 seconds using the rifle
that Lee Harvey Oswald used. The anthropologists doubt it was possible
but Booth insists that it is and proceeds to demonstrate (prior to his
service in the FBI he was a trained sniper in the Army). However,
further investigations of the skull fragments suggest that Kennedy’s
head wound came from the inside out – implying that someone else shot
him in addition to Oswald. (I have no idea whether that is the actual
case with JFK’s real skull, but that’s what they put in the episode.)

The reason that the identity of the skeleton is left obscure is
because Dr. Brennan doesn’t want to shatter Booth’s belief system.
Booth has killed over 50 people for the American government, and
relies on his belief that all those people were killed for the good of
America to not go crazy – if it could be proven that the government
lied about the Kennedy assassination, it casts doubt on his entire
career and his self-identity as someone who protects people rather
than acts as a murderer. You say you’ve never seen another episode of
Bones, so allow me to spoil you by pointing out that the fact that
Booth and Brennan are in love and go to ridiculous lengths to protect
each other is a major theme throughout the series – they’ve
subsequently gotten together and are now having a child.

Bones doesn’t want Booth to get upset about his government lying to
him, so she tells him that because of her experiment with the femurs
in the pudding, the person with the skeleton had some kind of
condition I can’t spell and that this condition wasn’t one JFK was
known to have. She therefore says that she can’t conclusively identify
the skeleton as JFK’s, and it is unlikely that it is him. Booth is
obviously relieved. HOWEVER, Cam comes up to her as the end of the
episode and says that JFK did have scarlet fever as a child, an
illness which can cause the condition that Bones found. Bones points
out that this likelihood is less than 1%. Cam thanks her for
protecting Booth. The final scene is of a news report that the
committee has turned down the request to exhume JFK.

The clear implication of this episode is that the bones were JFK, that
he was shot by more than one person, and that Bones has used her
reputation for rigorous statistical analysis to assure Booth that his
belief in the United States government is justified, even though it
isn’t, as the committee turns down the request to exhume the skeleton
because they’ve been informed by the results of this experiment that
the real truth is likely to come out and embarrass the government.
It’s actually a brilliantly constructed episode.

Having never looked into the JFK conspiracy theories, I was incredibly
surprised that Fox, of all channels, had allowed an American
television series to heavily imply that the government is covering up
the story of what really happened – it was while I was trying to work
out whether this conspiracy actually had some truth to it that I found
your blog.

I am a massive Bones fan and I thought that your commentary really
missed the point of the conclusion of the episode, which is not about
JFK or the Warren Commission but about the crisis in Booth’s identity
and Bones’ development of empathy and a willingness to bend the truth
to people she loves for their own good (Bones is often referred to in
interviews with the writers as being quite Aspergic in nature). But
it’s not something you would pick up if you’ve only ever watched one
episode, so I thought I would write to let you know, as you have
comments switched off.

I think, if anything, you should be pleased that Bones covered the
Kennedy assassination in the way that it did, because of all the
long-term Bones fans who now know that there is substantial support
for a second gun-man!


Sarah McCulloch

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