Player Under Pressure is the eleventh episode of Season 3 of Bones.
The team works to identify the bones of a college athlete who was crushed behind gym bleachers. After the body is identified as star player RJ Manning, they discover that he was murdered. Booth and Brennan follow several leads, at one point thinking there could have been multiple killers.
Booth and Brennan investigate a scene in which someone has been crushed by the bleachers at a college basketball court. They are greeted by the chief of campus police Cutler and the student who opened the gym, Justine Berry. Booth speculates that it was possibly a homeless man until Brennan finds a necklace with a player's number, helping them identify the body as RJ Manning. Booth notices Cutler's ring and recognizes him as a former basketball player.
At the Jeffersonian, the squints are studying the remains. Zack mentions that there is powdering of the bone of the skull. This suggests multiple strikes, but Zack wants to study whether crushing the skull through the grate would cause this. Using dental records, they positively ID the body as RJ. Brennan tasks Zack with the job of classifying the skull fractures. Later, Booth and Brennan are talking to RJ's siblings along with a family friend, George Francis. They reveal that RJ had a fight with Mr. Francis.
Zack and Hodgins use a skull stuffed into a raw turkey, pushing it through the grate and splattering themselves and Cam with Hodgins' "gelatinous matrix" (ambrosia salad). Zack sees no sign of the skull powdering when pushed through the grate, leading them to discover that RJ was struck repeatedly in the skull with a weapon.
Booth and Brennan are driving. Booth tells Brennan that Francis had an ulterior motive for befriending RJ and his family - money. RJ was a potential gold mine had he gone to the NBA. They receive the news from the lab that RJ was definitely murdered and they head back to the gym. There they observe the coach giving RJ's former position on the team to Colby. They also talk to RJ's girlfriend. She explains that she had gone home on the weekend RJ was murdered. Brennan finds out from her that RJ was very sexually active.
Hodgins is using Cam's blender to puree the maggots found on RJ's body in order to find out what foreign substances he had taken. Meanwhile, at the gym, Brennan annoys Booth by telling him that sports are a juvenile pastime for emotionally stunted boys. She's confused by his angry reaction. They find Colby and his girlfriend, who takes an instant disliking to Brennan. It is revealed that Colby's girlfriend, Celeste, is Chief Cutler's daughter. They ask Colby where he was when RJ was murdered. He explains that he did not benefit from RJ's death because people would always compare the two of them and see RJ as superior. He then refuses to answer more questions until he's talked to the coach.
Cam asks Angela to give Hodgins a message. The toxicology results came back negative for alcohol and sedatives but were positive for steroids. Angela does not seem happy about having to relay this information to her boyfriend. Later, Booth is talking to the coach and tells him RJ had been taking steroids. The coach explains that he has a zero-tolerance policy towards steroids due to him developing terminal brain cancer from the drug. This means he had no motive for murdering RJ, as money and the future are basically moot points for him. He gives Booth full permission to test his players. The results reveal that RJ and another member of the team had gonorrhea, as well as the fact that one of the players substituted his urine for another player's in order to hide steroid use.
Booth is interrogating the two suspect players, Jimmy and Eddie. He finds out Eddie was the one with gonorrhea who substituted his urine, while Jimmy was using the steroids. Booth tells Jimmy that if he gives up the person who gave him the steroids, he will keep Jimmy's secret for him.
Angela later tells Cam that she has an issue with giving Hodgins a message as she is his girlfriend, not his assistant. She doesn't want to bring her personal life into work. Cam apologizes, then shows Angela a video of her and Hodgins in the storage area, acting in a very personal way at work. Angela is suitably chagrined, yet amused. Back at the gym, Booth arrests Mr. Francis for providing steroids to RJ and Jimmy. Later, Cutler seems concerned that they found Francis with Colby. Francis won't admit to "the steroid thing." Cutler tells Francis that he will be arrested for murder if he doesn't admit to giving RJ steroids. Francis confesses that he was using RJ. RJ signed Francis as his future representative, which means he would have had no motive to kill RJ since RJ was his meal ticket.
Hodgins shows Cam a cockroach found on RJ's body that had blue lipstick on it. The lipstick came from RJ's penis. In her office, Angela sneaks another peek at the security video. Cam walks in on her, and Angela expresses a degree of pride. Cam advises her to turn the volume down. Later, Cam reveals to Bones that they had found saliva and pre-seminal fluid in RJ's shorts and a loogie is his hair. Cam and Angela then explain to Zack what they found. He tells them that RJ and Eddie had the same strain of gonorrhea, suggesting that they had sex with the same girl.
Booth and Brennan go to talk to Eddie at the boy's shower room. He makes suggestive comments to Brennan, and Booth tells her to stand out of sight. Eddie then reveals to Booth that he had unprotected sex with his poli-sci tutor, Justine Berry. He tells Booth there's no way RJ had sex with her because she's "not hot." They go to talk to Justine. She tells them she gave gonorrhea to Eddie, but RJ had given it to her first. She's upset that RJ used her and didn't talk to her afterwards. They take a sample of her DNA to see if she was the one giving RJ oral sex before he was murdered.
After analyzing her DNA, Cam says she was not the one giving RJ oral sex. Angela tracks down a tube of the blue lipstick and tells Cam that it is marketed to cheerleaders in their school colors, meaning RJ was with a cheerleader before being murdered. Booth and Brennan head back to the gym again to get DNA samples from the entire squad. They talk to RJ's girlfriend again and find out that she knew about RJ's numerous conquests. She tells them she didn't care because she was RJ's permanent girl, the one he would always come home to, from his "crappy student apartment to the giant mansion" he would have gotten. In other words, she didn't care who he had sex with as long as he provided for her financially.
Back at the lab, Zack has put together RJ's crushed skull. He and Brennan find an imprint of the number 25 in the bone. She thinks it's from free weights. They go to the gym again and find blood spatter on one of the weights - they've found the murder weapon. Later, Cam tells them that the person who spat on RJ was not the person servicing him. She's also found out that Colby's girlfriend and Cutler's daughter Celeste was the one with him under the bleachers. They then get the DNA result from the spit. It was Cutler.
Booth and Brennan find Cutler in the gym. He was upset when he found Celeste and RJ, but Celeste ran as soon as she heard him come into the gym, never seeing him. Cutler says RJ knew he had the clap when he took Celeste under the bleachers. He puts his gun to his head, and Brennan runs off at Booth's urging. Booth talks him into putting the gun down twice. The third time he puts the gun to his head, he squeezes the trigger, but Brennan sneaks up behind him and puts her hand under the hammer just in time to keep the gun from firing, pinching her skin. She takes the gun from Cutler and he breaks down in tears.
Later, Booth and Brennan are at the diner. Brennan tells Booth that she never thought he was an emotionally stunted boy playing at being a warrior because he is a warrior. She also tells him she never believed he was like RJ with girls, because he remembers his first girl's name.
- Temperance Brennan - Emily Deschanel
- Seeley Booth - David Boreanaz
- Jack Hodgins - T.J Thyne
- Angela Montenegro - Michaela Conlin
- Zack Addy - Eric Millegan
- Camille Saroyan - Tamara Taylor
- Chief Jack Cutler - James Black
- Colby Page - Jamil Walker Smith
- George Francis - Daniel Roebuck
- Coach Morse - Michael McGrady
- Eddie Dekker - Erik von Detten
- Dallas Verona - Whitney Anderson
- Celeste Cutler - Mekia Cox
- Justine Berry - Michelle Page
- Jimmy Fields - Taylor Kinney
- Kamaria Manning - Stephanie Charles
- "Uprising Down Under" - Sam Roberts
- "I Know It's You" - The Crystal Method
- This episode has 2 different versions included in the season 3 DVD:
- The Aired Version, which includes an storyline that fits the timeline for season 3, in which Cam finds a security tape of Hodgins and Angela having sex in the storage area, after which she confronts Angela about bringing personal relationships to work.
- The Original Version, which includes a storyline that fits the timeline for season 2, in which Hodgins asks Cam how to propose to Angela, and later tries to propose, failing.
- The original version of this episode was supposed to be aired almost a full year before it did (because of the Virginia Tech shooting). Because of this there are a lot of continuity problems:
- Hodgins talks to Cam about asking Angela to marry him (and later on in the episode he does try to ask her) even though they already almost had the wedding and have been looking for her husband.
- Booth tells Bones about his past of being a jock but she already knew this from a previous episodes.
- Hodgins' hair is much longer than it is in the rest of the season (like it was in season 2).
- RJ Manning is described by Chief Cutler as "Magic Boy". RJ was the name of the sports star who attracted women magically in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Him, s7e6).
- Bones does not know what a number one draft pick is.
The Man in the Mud
The Baby in the Bough
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