The episode begins with Cam and Vaziri making dinner plans. They are about to leave, when a man arrives with a barrel that he found at the disposal yard. It has a dead body in it. Cam and Vaziri take a look at the remains, and it looks like no one is going to have dinner today. At home, Booth tells Brennan that they need to take a vacation. He says that they haven’t taken a break since the time Christine was born. They both get a call, and Booth leaves. The guy from the FBI, who brought the barrel to the Jeffersonian, briefs Booth about the company the barrels came from. At the lab, the team is able to examine just the arm of the victim, since the rest of the body seems to be inside some solid substance.
Hodgins thinks that the substance is soap. He believes that someone poured a mixture of potassium hydroxide into the barrel, dissolving the fat in the victim’s body. That is how soap is made. Hodgins states that the approximate TOD could be 36-40 hours. They are able to access the skull, and Vaziri states that the victim was a black male. Brennan states that the victim could be from Western Africa. The victim is around 20-30 years of age, and he had a particular kind of bone disease that is native to tropical regions. Brennan infers that the victim might have grown up in Africa.
Angie gets a hit on the victim, Symchay Conteh, age 24, and he is on the missing person’s list. Conteh was reported missing by Alvin James. Angie tells Cam that Alvin James is a fake name. She isolated the call that James made to report Conteh missing, and she points out the elevation in the pitch which suggests that the caller used a fake name. She emphasizes on the background noises, and it sound like a tire being inflated. It could be a gas station. Booth and Sweets go to the victim’s house and are let in by the maintenance man, who is also from Sierra Leone. They check the apartment and feel that Conteh was trying to run away from his old life, because there is no evidence of Conteh’s life from his native country.
They also realize that Conteh had someone living with him. They find some receipts, and think the roommate is a cab driver. Booth and Brenan talk to Alex, an immigration official, who tells them that Conteh was working multiple part time jobs to get some extra money. Alex tells them about the firm, where Conteh received a steady income. He tells them that this law firm specialized in immigration. Booth and Brennan then go to the refugee center, where they expect to meet Wilfred Hamilton from the law firm. They learned that Hamilton would be doing pro bono work at the center. Hamilton introduces himself. They tell him about Conteh’s death, and he appears shocked.
Hamilton tells them that Conteh helped the other get a job, get settled, etc. He tells them that everyone loved Conteh. He suddenly remembers something, and pulls out a file on Brima Chalobah, a friend of Conteh. Brima was deported two years ago, and now he is back illegally. He asked Conteh for help, but Conteh refused. Hamilton tells Booth that neither of them reported Brima to the cops. Alex, hands over Brima’s file to Booth, and tells him that Brima was deported for almost killing a guy in a street fight. He also tells him about an area in DC, which has a large population of immigrants, He says, if Brima is hiding there, the others wouldn’t give him up because the life in their country is worse than in prison here.
Booth thinks that Brima could be the guy who lived with Conteh. Angie tells Cam that she thinks that the caller, Avin James, is actually Brima, and he called from the taxi garage. At the lab, Vaziri examines the bones. He tells Brennan that there are a lot of fractures that Conteh endured as a child. He concludes that Conteh was a child soldier, who was taught to kill when he was just 13. Vaziri is sad. Booth and Brenan learn that Conteh was paid $1000 from an art gallery, the day before he died. They go to meet the gallery owner, who is also a photographer. She tells them that she hired Conteh to cater for an event, since Conteh was a trained chef.
Booth and Brenan look at the pictures taken. She tells them that she covered the war that took place years ago. Brenan notices that a small boy in one of the pictures is Conteh. The owner tells her that Conteh broke down into tears when he saw all the pictures. The owner was unaware that Conteh was the child in one of her pictures. They then question the owner and she tells them that she has seen enough deaths, and that she did not kill Conteh. Booth identifies that the owner is suffering from PTSD. She admits that she is, but she says that she did not kill Conteh. At the lab, Angie finds out that the caller who reported Conteh missing could be working for a cab company. His voice is a match to a cab driver, who drives the cab that is registered under the name of Anthony Johnson.
Anthony likely was protecting a friend, who is an illegal immigrant, and let him drive his cab. Booth arrests the driver, Brima. Brima lost one of his arms when he was in school. It was cut off by the rebels, when Brima refused to kill his teacher. He tells Booth and Alex that he did not kill Conteh, because Conteh was a friend. Vaziri tells Hodgins that given Brima’s height, weight, and the fact that he has only one hand, Brima couldn’t have killed Conteh. Hodgins tells Vaziri that the weapon used to kill Conteh was an AK-47. Vaziri thinks it is impossible that an AK 47 could create such a deep incision on the bone. Vaziri tells Hodgins that he made a mistake, and Hodgins doesn’t appreciate that. They end up in an argument. Cam arrives and pulls Vaziri out. Vaziri is clearly disturbed, and apologizes for his behavior. He tells Cam that it wouldn’t happen again. He gets back to work.
The next day, Booth and Brenan take Brima to the art gallery. He breaks down after seeing one picture. He recognizes the man who was responsible for recruiting thousands of child soldiers. The owner tells Booth that his name is Joseph Mbarga. Booth recognizes this guy. He is the janitor who works in Conteh’s building. Booth brings in Joseph for interrogation.
Joseph tells him that his identification was destroyed a long time ago, and that Booth cannot prove that he is the same General from the picture. He tells Booth that he is innocent, and that he has nothing more to tell him.
Booth matches Joseph’s voice with a tape, in which the General is addressing his people during the war. It is a match. So, the man in custody is Joseph Mbarga. Brennan is examining the bones, and she sees a second stab wound. She tells Booth that weapon used could be a two pronged. She suddenly realizes that the AK-47 was molded into a tribal mask that was used to stab Conteh.
She tells Booth that she has seen this mask in Hamilton’s office. Cam tells them that Hamilton was the immigration lawyer for Joseph, aka Tony. They go to the firm. The firm uses potassium hydroxide as a cleaner. Booth, Brennan, and Alex walk into Hamilton’s office. Brennan finds blood on the mask. They arrest Hamilton. Conteh realized that Joseph was working as a janitor in his building, and he went to Hamilton for help.
Hamilton feared that this would expose him, since he was shielding a war criminal, and that is why he killed Conteh. Case closed. Next, Cam tells her team that she and Vaziri are dating. At home, Brenan finally has decided a place for their vacation, the Gulf of Thailand. Booth seems to like it. The episode ends.