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Mayhem on a Cross is the twenty-first episode of the fourth season of Bones.


When a skeleton is found being used as a stage prop for a black metal band in Norway, authorities call the FBI upon discovering that the man, a bassist with the stage name Mayhem, is a US citizen. The investigation into underground extreme metal bands brings to light the teams' own surprising musical preferences and a revelation about Sweets' past. Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon Wyatt is back, helping Sweets write his book on Booth and Brennan by giving him a perspective on their relationship.


We open in Norway, where a black metal concert is going down inside a warehouse. Above the stage hangs a skeleton on a cross. Cops enter. "Definitely human," a Norwegian officer says. They shut down the concert and send the body to the Jeffersonian Institute.

"The Norwegians say the victim died here," Camille explains. Turns out the Norwegian black metal band stole the skeleton from a U.S. death metal band. Brennan, after examining the skeleton, thinks the body has been the recipient of an "ancient torture in which the victim was held face down while his back was sliced open; his ribs were then broken at the spine and then spread to look like an eagle."

Booth, in the meantime, is shaking hands with Dr. Gordon Wyatt, who explains the many sub-genres of heavy metal. Wyatt is in town to be interviewed by Sweets, apparently writing a book about Booth and Bones. The news makes Booth's eyebrows arch. Sweets wastes little time in picking Wyatt's brain. "This is probably the best work I have ever read on the dynamics of opposite personality types working towards a common cause," Wyatt says. But there's a rather enormous caveat: "Brennan and Booth are in no way opposites." Sweets then asks whether Wyatt agrees they have sublimated their attraction to each other so as not to endanger their working relationship. Wyatt disagrees again, saying, "One of them is acutely aware of that attraction, struggles with it daily as a matter of fact." Sweets, in shock after spending months writing, asks questions which one knows. Wyatt is evasive.

Back at the lab, Angela's facial reconstruction program has placed the victim as Mayhem, former bassist and vocalist of a black metal band called Spew. The only problem: the band apparently has never played at a bar, club or arena. "Concerts are set up at secret locations and only insiders are invited," Hodgins explains. But Hodgins says the victim's boots have traces of "bovine fragments with infectious prion proteins" - a mad-cow infected, condemned slaughter house.

Brennan, Booth, and Wyatt head to said slaughterhouse and find Spew with a new bassist practicing. The lead guitarist, Pinworm, spits on Booth's badge, so Booth empties his gun into the amplifier. Cut to the members of Spew in the interrogation room. Pinworm claims that Mayhem quit the band about a year ago. Sweets then notices that the new bassist, Grinder, lowers his eyes. "The one called Grinder is different from the others," Sweets later tells Booth. "His body language reveals an emotional connection to the victim."

Elsewhere, Camille and Clark are taking another look at the bones. They theorize the victim was "shot in the ass" months before he was killed in a yet-to-be-determined manner. After the murder, someone (probably the killer) tried to dig the bullet out. Sweets and Wyatt, meanwhile, interview Grinder, whose birth name is the decidedly less intimidating Darryl Moss. Turns out Darryl and the victim were childhood friends. Darryl quickly informs the pair a band called Zorch might be behind the killings. Sweets, who claims to have been into the hardcore music scene as a youth, recognizes the band as a death-core outfit. "They consider themselves death core," Darryl/Grinder says. "I consider them crap core."

Cut to another black metal show. This time, Brennan and Sweets are in the audience. Sweets, though, is dressed up like one of the death-obsessed partygoers. The lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Zorch, called Murderbreath holds a knife to his throat while the crowd chants. "Don't worry," Sweets says. "It's fake." The singer then slits his own throat -- and falls to the floor. Looks real to us. So much so Brennan calls for help. While Brennan and Sweets are helping Murderbreath, she notices old scars on Sweets' back.

Cut to the interrogation room where the rasping lead singer sits with a bandage around his neck. Booth is remanded to desk duty until the paperwork goes through after discharging his weapon into the amplifier, but he is watching on his laptop and talking to Brennan through an earwig. "Do you have any idea who switched your prop knife?" Brennan asks. "How about Spew?" The two bands, it seems, are sworn enemies. The singer is mum -- at which point Booth urges Brennan through her ear piece to get angry. And she does! "I will perjure myself if I have to because you ... make ... me ... sick!" Brennan yells. "Punk!" This swaggering Brennan has the intended effect. The singer explains he heard rumors of a body buried nearby, dug it up, and used it for a prop -- until it was stolen by the Norwegians. Either way, Murderbreath didn't kill Mayhem.

Booth, Brennan, and Wyatt eat lunch at the diner. Wyatt explains he is leaving psychiatry to become a chef. He also explains reading Sweets' book revealed an unhealthy focus on the childhoods of Booth and Brennan. That prompts Brennan to tell of the scars she noticed on Sweet's back -- probably the product of whipping. "That explains his near obsession with your childhood trauma," Wyatt says. Turns out Sweets had a rough go of it as a youngster too. He's trying to relate -- to find a place -- by connecting with Booth and Brennan's painful pasts.

Back at the lab, Camille, Hodgins, and Angela look at footage obtained from cell-phone cameras at various Spew shows. A recurring set piece was that one woman in the crowd would "shoot" Mayhem in the neck with a prop gun, but on one occasion, Mayhem is actually being shot in the ass. "Not so tough when the blood is real, are you metal boy?" Camille quips. A few keystrokes later, Angela has a reasonably clear photo of a woman in the crowd, who could be the shooter. That woman, Lexie, is soon in the interrogation room. She admits to shooting Mayhem in the buttocks at his request. "He was always trying to prove to the other guys that he was more hardcore than them," she says. Booth then tells Lexie, now a mainstream musician, Mayhem/Justin is dead. She breaks down, confessing to Booth that Justin asked to join her band -- and a fanatic might have killed him for it.

Sweets supports the theory, saying: "Following her into the mainstream would be seen as the ultimate betrayal." He also believes -- and Wyatt agrees -- the killer would keep a totem from the kill to prove his value to the hardcore community. Booth suggests the bullet dug out of Mayhem could be seen as such a totem. And wouldn't you know it? The lead guitarist of Spew, Pinworm, wears a smashed bullet around his neck. Brennan, meanwhile, explains the cause of death was probably choking by barbed wire.

Booth and Brennan head into the interrogation room to question Pinworm, while Sweets and Wyatt stay behind the one-way glass. Wyatt takes the opportunity to reveal what he knows about Sweet's tortured childhood. Turns out he was adopted at a very young age after being abused. "Special needs ... a damaged child," Wyatt says. Sweets admits as much, saying his adoptive parents saved him. Wyatt explains this is the very reason Sweets believes he can help others.

The interrogation, meanwhile, isn't going so swimmingly. Pinworm is smug, so Sweets points out all the kid wants is an audience. Wyatt tells Booth through an earwig to use Pinworm's pride and arrogance against him. Taking their suggestion, Booth says the lead singer of Zorch just confessed to killing Mayhem. Pinworm is immediately hostile, explaining it takes a real man to choke someone with barbed wire. Of course, neither Booth nor Brennan ever mentioned the victim was killed in such a manner. "I believe the correct term is 'gotcha,'" Wyatt says. He and Sweets give each other a very non-hardcore high five. Case closed.

But not the episode. Wyatt explains to Booth and Brennan that Sweets is desperately looking for a "family," and he needs to bond with the usually dismissive pair. So Brennan and Booth head to the office to invite Sweets to dinner. They find him working late. Brennan admits her foster parents locked her in the trunk of a car for two days when she broke a dish while washing it. Booth hands her a handkerchief. Brennan looks at Booth, telling him it's his turn. She says, "Scars on the back was a metaphor. Isn't that why we're here, to metaphorically compare scars?" Booth, slightly teary after Bones' confession, reveals, "If it wasn't for my grandfather, I probably would've killed myself as a kid. That's all I'm going to say on the subject matter." Sweets smiles as Bones folds the borrowed handkerchief and places it in Booth's coat pocket. Sweets finally sees what Wyatt saw. Booth abruptly ends Sweets' musing by saying, "Are you coming?" As they leave his office, the camera pans over to Sweets' re-titled manuscript, with the handwritten phrase "Bones -- The Heart of the Matter" above the old title. Fade to ending credits.


Main Cast[]

Intern of the Week[]

Recurring Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Featured Music[]

  • "Get to the Choppah" - Jameson
  • "Turn to Dust" - Fourpointsix
  • "God of Anger" - Droid
  • "Better" - Blue Shoes
  • "The Resurrection" - Droid


  • Sweets is discovered to have had a troubled childhood in this episode.
  • In Season 8, Episode 5, The Method in the Madness when Sweets goes to stay with Bones and Booth, there are no visible scars on Sweets back

I don't know what that means[]

  • Dr Gordon Gordon Wyatt : "As a matter of fact, I was the founding member of a proto-glam rock outfit"
  • Booth makes reference to his dad failing to understand "Black Flag" and "the Dead Kennedy's." Bones doesn't understand this, but both bands are hardcore punk bands from the late 70s Booth probably enjoyed in his youth.


  • Gordon Wyatt (after Booth shoots Spew's speaker because Pinworm spat on his badge): Now, if you recall was shooting inanimate objects that had you brought to me for therapy in the first place.
  r the cymbals.)

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