Day 144: TBT / Countdown to Christmas – BONES: “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” (2005)

This is the fourth and final “Countdown to Christmas” TBT posts I’ll be making this month, and this week I’m going to feature an episode of Bones, which I realize may be the most unlikely source (at least among the three series I included in these posts) of a great Christmas episode, but this one still gets me every time I see it.

As with both episodes of M*A*S*H I discussed earlier this month, I couldn’t find the episode online, but I did find a short fan montage of some of the most memorable moments. To provide some context (and fill in some missing information), I’m also sharing (yet another) synopsis, this one taken from Wikipedia (with a few minor edits). Once again, I’ve bolded the paragraphs summarizing my favorite scenes in the episode.

And, once again, if you can catch a rerun of this episode on TV – or find it on DVD – in the next couple of days, it’s (also) definitely worth your time.

On December 23, Booth brings in the skeletal remains of a man found dead in a bomb shelter discovered recently. Everyone is in Christmas-Eve mode, with a company party going on upstairs. Bones and the rest of the team start investigating the dead man’s story when Zack triggers the bio-hazard alarm while cutting through the skeleton.

The lab is shut down for containment, and everyone is under quarantine based on the discovery of a fungus causing Valley fever. The prospect of spending the two mandatory quarantine days away from friends and family makes everyone morose. Booth develops a side-effect of euphoria due to drugs given to immunize them from the disease.

The case, meanwhile, progresses into the discovery of a love affair between the dead man, Lionel Little, who worked as a lease inspector for a company called Silver Cloud Petroleum and had a coin collection, and his black cleaning lady in the late 1950s. Due to the oppressive racial climate in the US, they planned to emigrate to France. Lionel tried to sell his valuable coin collection to a shifty con artist who murdered Lionel to procure the collection.

Everyone gets to see their family and friends (even though they still are separated from them by a glass barrier because of the quarantine) with Christmas carols crooning in the background.  (A short snippet of this scene occurs at the 2:00 mark in the montage.)

We find out that Booth has a four-year-old son named Parker (because his mother didn’t marry him, his parental rights are vague), and that Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top is Angela’s father.

With everyone else in the lab celebrating Christmas with “Secret Santa” gifts, Bones decides to track down Ivy and reveal the lethal mystery behind Lionel’s disappearance to her. Angela says that Bones has to find Ivy so Ivy can have the closure that Temperance herself never had. (Her parents disappeared when she was fifteen, and no information ever has been uncovered regarding their whereabouts.) Bones, listening to her friend, goes to her office and starts making phone calls trying to locate Ivy Gillespie. Finally, on Christmas morning, she finds Ivy’s granddaughter, who provides the information to contact her.

Bones asks Booth to look at the penny they found in Lionel’s pocket. She scanned it to find out that it was actually a copper penny minted in 1943, unlike almost all pennies from that time that were made of zinc clad steel to conserve copper for World War II. Today, there are just 12 of them, and it is worth over $100,000 dollars. Dr. Goodman enters telling them that it is time for the results.

They are all together waiting for the results as the head of the Jeffersonian and other guys in biohazard suits are running them in a computer and a green light turns on. They remove their helmets and one of them tells “Merry Christmas”. They all start walking out the Jeffersonian but Temperance stays behind. When Booth realizes it he stops and turns to her, she just says, “Go, go have Christmas. Wish your boy a Merry Christmas from me,” to which he says, “I’m at Wong Foo’s if you decide you want company. Merry Christmas, Bones,” and he leaves.

A young and an elderly woman came in the lab. They are Lisa Pearce (granddaughter) and Ivy Gillespie. Bones takes them to her office and she starts explaining all that happened. Ivy starts crying when she realizes that she wasn’t abandoned by Lionel; that he was actually trying to keep his promise to go to Paris. But that is not all the happiness that Temperance gave them. Lisa wants to be a doctor but can’t afford it, but Brennan gives her and her grandmother Lionel’s 1943 bronze penny, worth over $100,000.

After visiting Booth at Wong Foo’s, Bones returns to the lab alone and retrieves several wrapped gifts and cards from an old suitcase; it was previously explained that when her parents went missing around Christmas, Brennan had refused to open their presents to her until they returned – which they never did. Sitting alone on the couch with Angela’s holographic Christmas tree and leftover decorations still up, Temperance finally opens her parents’ gifts to her and smiles through her tears. (A short snippet of this scene begins at 3:11 in the montage.)


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