The Nail in the Coffin is the twenty-second episode of the ninth season of Bones.


The Jeffersonian team investigates the death of Stephanie McNamara, the daughter of a wealthy family whose remains were found in a national park. When the team digs deeper into the circumstances surrounding her death, clues from the case lead them to believe she may be the Ghost Killer's latest victim, with a surprising connection to a previous victim. Meanwhile, the FBI Deputy Director takes a special interest in the team's high-profile case and Booth's career may be in for some changes.

Synopsis Edit

The episode begins with a camping family coming into contact with a skeleton. This one fell from a tree, and it doesn’t take long for Cam and Clark to see a resemblance between these remains and those included in the Ghost Killer case. Cam doesn’t want Brennan at the crime scene, because she doesn’t want her to jump to conclusions. Brennan is less than pleased with this development, and Booth takes her side.

It turns out Brennan, Clark and Cam are correct — this body is connected to the Ghost Killer’s trail of bodies and includes the token missing fingernail. But this victim had fingertip damage to all fingers and evidence of adhering fingernails from other people onto her hands.

At the lab, Brennan recognizes hereditary markers on the victim’s mandible as similar to those of Trent McNamara, a previous victim of the Ghost Killer. She identifies the victim as Stephanie McNamara, Trent’s sister. FBI Director Stark tells Booth that he wants this case solved; the McNamara family is a powerful one in the DC area, and it has to go well.

Hodgins has found all fingernails from the crime scene. He also has found some sort of homemade substance possibly used as an anesthetic to drug and kill Stephanie.  Booth and Brennan visit the McNamara mansion and discuss whether or not the gardener could be the killer. They also talk about the evaluation Brennan was asked to complete on Booth’s work performance. She gives him high marks, but tells him she’s still convinced his “gut instinct” is really highly developed observational skills.

At the McNamara home, the gardener tells B&B that she didn’t keep up with Stephanie’s schedule. B&B find traces of severe fingernail scratching and blood inside a tack room in a stable. They also find a piece of another fingernail. The gardener continues to claim she knows nothing about it.

At the lab, Clark has determined that Stephanie’s original fingernails were ripped off over 15 years ago, and the ones she’d applied to her fingers were added on her own — it is possible she was the one trapped in the stable. He also tells Brennan that he is going to do his best to help her prove Pelant wrong; they will solve this case without Pelant’s help.

Booth grows edgy, wanting to know who could benefit from Stephanie’s death. Sweets suggests that if a serial killer is involved, the “benefit” might not be a logical one. It could only be a motive of power or revenge. Booth and Caroline meet with the SEC, who have years of records of financial cover-ups on behalf of the McNamara family. Meanwhile, when Hodgins finds evidence of the chemicals inside Stephanie’s stab wounds, he figures they were on the murder weapon.

Booth and Brennan question the family gardener, who insists she is innocent. Brennan realizes she shares the same mandible shape as Trent and Stephanie, making her the only legitimate heir to the McNamara fortune, and Booth then realizes she has about a billion dollar motive to kill Stephanie. The gardener still insists she is innocent. When Cam finds out all of the fingernails can be traced to other ghost killer victims and all of those deaths coincide with Stephanie’s locations, they realize Stephanie herself was the Ghost Killer.

Director Stark is less than pleased with this development, including the revelation that Stephanie was abused by her father, Giles McNamara.  The Jeffersonian team identify the stable fingernail as belonging to Maya Zinkow, a girl killed several years ago. Her death was pinned on a local teacher named Kessler. He was found guilty of raping and murdering Maya, and Brennan insists the body be exhumed, especially when they find out the teacher was recently released from prison.

Maya’s body reveals identical stab wound damage to that on Stephanie’s body, and the team finds that the medical examiner’s original autopsy was fraudulent, just like that of another ghost killer victim, Lana Brewster. Cam finds evidence on Maya’s body that suggests she was raped by Giles McNamara.

Booth and Sweets visit Kessler’s apartment and find several file boxes with info on the McNamara family. They also find a set a blueprints of the McNamara estate and another set of an unknown home. Kessler got all of the information while in prison. He allegedly was planning an appeal, thus had access to all of the files. But since he never filed an appeal, it seems likely he was really planning revenge.  And when previously buried files from Maya’s crime scene surface, Booth realizes someone in the FBI was likely helping Kessler.

Angela finds the home from to the second set of blueprints. It belongs to a local congressman who received financial help from the McNamara family and who once presided over a case that benefited them. The evidence begins to come together. If Giles raped Maya, it could have pushed Stephanie into a killing rage of a mental state, even at her young age. She couldn’t deal with the attention Giles was paying to anyone else, and so she killed Maya. Giles took it upon himself to cover up his tracks, and Kessler was framed.

Booth and Brennan visit the congressman’s house with full authority from the FBI and discover the congressman, who has been hanged from the ceiling. Examination of his body reveals the same killing pattern used on Maya and Stephanie. With both of them dead, all signs point to Kessler. The FBI is even more riled up by this development, but Booth is more concerned about who could be the next victim. Hodgins discovers more tobacco in the congressman’s wound, and since he wasn’t a smoker, it is likely from the murder weapon. Angela, Clark, Brennan and Cam posit various weapon scenarios, finally landing on a tobacco scythe. It also matches up with the old pesticides found as well as outdated kerf marks on all of the victims.

Booth and Brennan visit a local dilapidated tobacco factory. There are lights inside and they arrive just in time to see a man standing on a ledge with a rope around his neck. It’s Kessler and he admits he had to set the record straight. He doesn’t want any additional justice; he just wants to end it. Booth and Brennan try to talk him out of it, but he doesn’t want to hear it. When he jumps, Booth shoots through the rope and Kessler falls to the building floor. Kessler is visibly upset, but Booth promises him he’ll be allowed to live.

The episode ends as Booth tells Brennan that Stark and Caroline are working to get a deal done for Kessler in exchange for him helping them identify the FBI agent involved in the coverip. Brennan is less than convinced it is the right thing to do — after all, Kessler did kill Stephanie and the congressman. But Booth tells her they should celebrate the fact they caught the ghost killer.  They toast one another with some Missouri beer, and he tells her that he is officially up for the promotion with the FBI.

They discuss what that would mean, and he assures her that he insisted they would stay a team. But that’s before she told him that she was required to include details on their personal life in her evaluation. Of course, where he previously wanted her to submit the info to the FBI, he’s now thinking that maybe they don’t need to know every detail.


Main Cast:Edit

Intern of the WeekEdit

Guest CastEdit

Featured MusicEdit




Video GalleryEdit

Promo for "The Nail In The Coffin" BONES FOX BROADCASTING

Promo for "The Nail In The Coffin" BONES FOX BROADCASTING

No Bones About It from "The Nail In The Coffin" BONES FOX BROADCASTING

No Bones About It from "The Nail In The Coffin" BONES FOX BROADCASTING

Gut Instinct from "The Nail In The Coffin" BONES FOX BROADCASTING

Gut Instinct from "The Nail In The Coffin" BONES FOX BROADCASTING


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.