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The Woman in Limbo is the twenty-second episode and season finale of the first season of Bones.


Brennan receives some bones that she must identify, but is stunned when she finds that the remains are those of her mother. Brennan is hit hard by this discovery, and understandably so, since she never knew what happened to her parents after they disappeared 15 years ago. An investigation is opened by Booth into the case, for the first time ever. Brennan is shocked with evidence that her parents might not be the people she thought they were, and she must come to grips with these new details from her parents' past as well as her own.


Brennan is due in court when, whilst looking at various cases on the way out of the Jeffersonian, she sees an image of her mother displayed by Angela, which was recreated from a skull being examined by Zack. Booth then opens this as a Federal investigation and seeks out Brennan's brother Russ. Russ then describes a man to Angela who his father once told him to, if he saw again, "grab [his] sister and run." It is also in this episode that we learn that Temperance Brennan's real name is Joy Keenan, Russ' is Kyle, Christine's is Ruth, and Matt's is Max.

Vince McVicar, who is in witness protection, is identified by the drawing made by Angela through Russ' description, and Brennan and Booth go to his pig farm. Brennan finds three guns on McVicar, and they are soon allowed to examine his many potential weapons back at the Jeffersonian. After not finding anything that matched the mark on Brennan's mother's skull, Brennan realises that the most likely weapon for McVicar to use would be a bolt stunner (a device commonly used to kill pigs). This device caused blood to leak into the victim's brain, eventually causing her mother's subdural hematoma a year later.

Throughout the episode, it is revealed that Temperance used to greatly admire Russ as a child; since she wasn't "cool" like him, she considered being his sister cool enough, and he would frequently check up on her by calling, "Marco" through the windows during school, to which she would respond with, "Polo." However, after her parents disappeared, she claims Russ abandoned her too. However, Russ states that she blamed him for it, hated his guts, and everyone else said that she would be better off in foster care. These events led Russ to leave. Later, Brennan goes to see him and apologizes for not understanding how hard it was for him, asking him to come stay with her at her apartment. He responds with, "Marco" as a sign of forgiveness, and she answers, "Polo".

The episode contains a subplot involving the manuscript of Brennan's newest book. Booth is shown to become troubled and a bit jealous when he finds that Brennan allowed her boyfriend David (whom she started dating in Two Bodies in the Lab) to read the manuscript but not Booth. Booth is slightly encouraged, though, when, after he asks if he's in it, though Brennan immediately answers, "No," David follows up with, "Oh, yeah." Booth even goes so far as to ask Angela for advice on why Brennan won't let him read the manuscript when she allowed David to do so, although he instantly starts coming up with ideas himself and doesn't get, or seem to expect, an answer. He hypothesizes that Bones might be "embarrassed" to let him read it because "there's too much of [him] in it". He asks Brennan later if he can read it, but she refuses to let him, telling him to wait until the book is published. However, Booth's "embarrassed" theory is ultimately implied to be correct; in the end scene in Brennan's apartment, he sees the manuscript, reaches over, and opens to the first page while her back is turned, to see the words, "This book is dedicated to my partner and friend, Special Agent Seeley Booth," bringing a smile to his face.

The episode ends with Bones checking her answering machine with Russ and Booth in her apartment, and receiving a message from her father to stop looking for him.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Featured Music[]

  • "New Girl Now" - Honeymoon Suite
  • "Wake Up" - Arcade Fire
  • "As the Stars Fall Away" - Peter Himmelman
  • "Lazy Bones" - Harry Connick Jr.


  • Brennan's brother, Russ, is shown for the first time.
  • This episode also marks the first appearance of Max Keenan during Brennan's flashbacks, although played by the uncredited actor James Groh instead of Ryan O'Neill.
  • It is revealed in this episode that the birth names of Temperance and Russ are Joy and Kyle Keenan.
  • This marks the final appearance of Daniel Goodman. Although credited for 6 episodes of season 2, he does not appear physically.
  • In this episode, Zach states that Brennan joined the Jeffersonian in 1998, putting her there approximately 8 years.
  • Brennan's apartment was seen three times during the season one: in Pilot, Two Bodies in the Lab, and this episode. However, every time, her apartment looks distinctly different. But since this episode her apartment stays same until she and Booth moving in together into their own house.
  • In Brennan's apartment, Booth discovers her manuscript and sees that the title "Bone Free," which he didn't like, has been crossed off and has new title "Cross Bones" (that is also the title of Kathy Reichs' eighth book). He opens to the dedication which reads: "This book is dedicated to my partner and friend, Special Agent Seeley Booth."
  • In the flashbacks Brennan has of the night her parents disappeared, her parents are shown leaning out of the car waving goodbye. Yet in other episodes, past and future, whenever Brennan talks about the night her parents left, she says they left in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and that her and Russ woke up to find them gone. So clearly, their parents didn't wave goodbye to them as shown in the flashbacks.


Voice on Answering Machine: Temperance, you have to stop looking, y-you have to stop looking for me right now. This is bigger and worse than you know. Please, stop now.
Booth: Who's that?
Brennan: That was my father.

Booth: I need the room, guys.
Zack: The whole lab? For what?!
Hodgins: It's a cop way of saying, "Get lost!"

Booth: It's a reward.
Brennan: For what?

Brennan: After it's come out.
Booth: Not before?
Brennan: No.
Booth: But, what? I let you drive.

Booth: Hoah, my dad, he drove Thuds and Phantoms in Vietnam. Those are fighter jets. After that he was a barber in Philadelphia. My mom, she wrote jingles, for a local advertising agency.
Brennan: So they didn't go out at night, after you were asleep and robbed banks. (they look at each other for a while)
Booth: Listen, Bones. You know, parents, they have secret lives. If they didn't they wouldn't be parents.

Russ': Does Tempy really hate me that much?
Angela: Russ, she loves you. It'd be easier if she hated you. Hate is a lot easier to deal with than love, especially disappointed love.

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