At the Royal Diner, BRENNAN reviews her pool of interns. While she tries to determine which candidate to hire, BOOTH receives a call from KEN NAKAMURA. Ken, a friend and detective with the Tokyo police, is worried about his sister, Sachi. She hasn't returned Ken's calls in five days. As Sachi is living in DC, Ken asks Booth to locate her.
Booth puts in a call to DETECTIVE RICK FRAME. While he waits for news about 21 year-old Sachi, he tells Brennan that Ken raised Sachi after their parents died. Detective Frame conveys unsettling news: local police found Sachi's car near Tillbrook Salt Marsh. The salt marsh is a popular place to dispose of bodies.
At Tillbrook Salt Marsh, Booth and Brennan meet with OFFICER LISA KOPEK. According to Officer Kopek, Sachi was here on a work visa from Japan. Her apartment is empty and there is no sign of her roommate, Nozomi Sato. Nozomi is also from Japan though her student visa has expired. Brennan notices blood in the car. She wades into the marsh, searching with her flashlight. A Japanese style anime mask peeks out of the water. Brennan pulls up the mask to reveal a decomposed human head!
At the lab, Brennan determines that the head is female. CAM believes it was in the water for at least four days. HODGINS will analyze particulates that may have transferred to the head when it was decapitated. Brennan moves off to meet Booth and his guests.
In Brennan's Office, Booth introduces Brennan to Ken Nakamura. With Ken is DR. HARU TANAKA, an androgynous 25 year-old forensic anthropologist. Brennan has heard of Tanaka's work. She is honored to have Tanaka assist on the case.
On the Forensic Platform, Booth and Ken observe as Tanaka assists Brennan. Tanaka discovers evidence of a gunshot wound. Booth asks Brennan to hurry and make an ID. Tanaka believes that the upper jaw and cheekbone are consistent with Sachi's photograph. Looking at the palate, Brennan confirms that the victim was a native Japanese speaker. When Ken details an injury to Sachi's jaw, Brennan locates the fracture and remodeling on the skull. She affirms that the skull belongs to SACHI NAKAMURA. Ken is devastated. He excuses himself.
Booth finds Ken mourning in a corridor. Booth tries to reassure his friend. They will attempt to find Sachi's roommate to see if she saw anything. Ken vows he will not rest until he gets justice for his sister. He gives Booth a Model Composite Card. Sachi wanted to become a model and a man at Strutt Photography told her he'd make her dream come true.
In Angela's Office, Tanaka, Hodgins, SWEETS and ANGELA study the anime mask Sachi was wearing in the salt marsh. It has a pair of huge blue eyes and a wig of dark brown hair. Sweets theorizes that the mask was used to dehumanize the victim, making it easier to decapitate her. Tanaka, like Brennan, doesn't put stock in psychology and exits. After the doctor leaves, Angela asks the group an important question: is Dr. Tanaka a man or a woman?
At Strutt Photography, Booth and Ken meet with MICAH STRUTT. Strutt remembers Sachi and Nozomi. He last saw them a couple months ago during a photo shoot. They convinced their boss to do some advertising for his store, Pappa Puffs. Ken sees the poster hanging on the wall. The girls are dressed seductively, licking cream from a pastry. Ken does not approve. Micah says that Sachi and Nozomi's boss didn't approve either. He fired the girls.
At Pappa Puffs, Booth and Ken are confronted with Japanese youth dressed in makeup and colorful clothing. There is a table filled with amaloli girls or "Sweet Lolitas." Booth notices a girl wearing a mask similar to the one found on Sachi. Booth badges the owner, BRUCE TAKEDO. Bruce is upset to hear that Sachi is dead. Booth shows him a photograph of the mask. Bruce states that it belongs to Nozomi, not Sachi. He fired the girls because they began working for an escort service. Ken is outraged to hear this. Bruce insists it's true. The service is called Elegant Escorts. Ken lunges at Bruce in a fit of rage. Bruce grabs a menkiri knife to defend himself but Booth diffuses the situation.
At the lab, Tanaka finds Cam in the Autopsy Room. Before the bones are cleaned, Cam tests for gunshot residue using filter paper and ferrozine. There is no reaction. Maybe it wasn't a bullet that went through her head. Tanaka asks to look at the exit wound, but Cam explains she still needs to examine the wound track. As a compromise, Cam uses a surgical saw to separate the skullcap from the head. She hands it to Tanaka. Now Tanaka can view the exit wound and Cam also gets what she wants.
Meanwhile, Brennan allows Ken to use her office since Booth will no longer allow him in the field. Ken describes how his friendship with Booth developed. Booth was involved in an exchange program with the Tokyo police and he was the most respectful man on the program. Booth did not tell the Tokyo police what to do. He asked for their opinions and advice. Ken also admits the two men bonded thanks to a few crazy nights where more than a little sake was consumed. Ken believes Brennan is lucky to have Booth as a partner. She agrees.
At the Royal Diner, Hodgins and Sweets have lunch. Sweets revises his hypothesis upon hearing the anime mask belonged to Nozomi. Sweets now believes the killer was transferring Nozomi's identity to Sachi. Angela joins the pair. She's been doing her own research. An Internet search of Tanaka turned up no clue as to his or her gender. Sweets explains that Tanaka identifies with a Japanese subset known as kei. Kei glorifies androgyny because gender is unimportant. Still, everyone is curious. Hodgins says Tanaka's a woman. Angela says no way.
Booth and Brennan meet JAMES SOK as he finishes a jog in the park. James is the owner of Elegant Escorts. To Booth, he is a pimp. James admits that Nozomi was one of his escorts but claims he never met Sachi. Booth is resentful of James' houseboat on the marina, wads of cash and lack of morals. He threatens him with jail so James gives him a name: Paul Vogler. Vogler booked Nozomi the night Sachi went missing.
At the lab, Tanaka shows Cam the findings from the skullcap. There is a scratch near the exit would. Whatever penetrated the skull appears to have splintered inside. Thus, a gun did not kill the victim. Bullets fragment. They do not splinter. Hodgins arrives. He knows where to find the body. There was bird vomit on the victim's head, which was discovered in the low marsh. The bird vomit comes from a bird found only in the high marsh. The police are searching for the body in the wrong part of the marsh. Why would the killer decapitate Sachi in one place and then drive her head miles away for disposal?
At Tillbrook Salt March, cadaver dogs search for the body in the high marsh. Booth and Brennan approach one of the dogs and its handler. Brennan sees a decomposing corpse nearby. The head is missing. She takes a quick look and nods to Booth. This is Sachi Nakamura.
At the lab, Brennan prepares to examine the body. Meanwhile, Cam and Tanaka ready to liquefy the brain to find whatever splintered inside. As the brain drips through a sieve, Cam surreptitiously stares at Tanaka. Tanaka notices and Cam covers, pretending to like Tanaka's shirt. Cam is saved when they see a splinter. Tanaka picks it out with tweezers. It appears to be wood. Cam instructs that it be delivered to Hodgins.
At a massage parlor, Booth and Brennan find PAUL VOGLER. Brennan is frustrated by the masseuse's poor technique. Booth explains that Vogler wants more than just a massage: happy ending, maybe? Vogler reluctantly admits to Booth and Brennan he met with Nozomi a few times. Micah Strutt gave him an advertisement for Elegant Escorts. He doesn't recognize Sachi though. Booth asks about a Nihonto sword he owns. It would make beheading someone easy. Vogler claims he sold the sword to supplement his income. He lost a fortune in the market.
In Angela's Office, Cam confesses that she almost asked Tanaka if he/she was a man/woman. Angela pulls up the Strutt Photography website. She hacked into a password-protected section of the site and found photographs of Sachi. They are all taken with a long lens. It appears that Micah Strutt was stalking her.
At the lab, Brennan and Tanaka examine the skull. Brennan notices something about the temporal bone and Tanaka concurs. There is swelling in the air space. The victim drowned. Cam enters to share her findings. According to the water in the victim's lungs, she drowned.
In Hodgins' Area, Brennan and Cam have samples of water from the victim's lungs for analysis. Hodgins now knows that the splinter from the brain is arrow bamboo. The pieces are slowly coming together. Sachi's head was mounted on a bamboo spike.
Brennan finds Ken in her office, clutching a picture of his sister. Brennan describes her story to him. Her parents left and so did her brother. Ken did not walk out on Sachi. She thinks it would have been nice to have a brother like him, but she does not know if loving another person is worth it. Your happiness is dependent on them. Ken admits that his life will never be the same, but he would not change what he and Sachi shared.
Booth and Brennan drive while Hodgins and Cam give them a report. The water in the victim's lungs came from a water feature, such as a fountain or pool. Micah Strutt has a water feature in his studio. Next stop: Strutt Photography.
At Strutt Photography, Booth confronts Micah about stalking Sachi, while Brennan takes a sample from his pond. Micah defends himself: he had Sachi's consent to take those photographs. It's a style. Micah confesses to a relationship with James Sok. He slips him the names of girls willing to pose nude. Sachi wouldn't pose nude, but Nozomi did.
At the lab, Hodgins has determined that Sachi did not drown in the water at Strutt Photography. The samples don't match. Tanaka makes a microsil cast of the victim's severed C5 and C6. This will help Angela reconstruct the weapon that beheaded Sachi. When Ken and Angela are alone, Angela divulges that Sachi was not a prostitute. Nozomi was. Ken realizes that his sister's head was placed on a spike as a warning to Nozomi. Nozomi saw it and fled, disposing of the head in the salt marsh before she left.
At the FBI, Sweets prepares to question Nozomi Sato. She was apprehended trying to leave the country. In the Interrogation Room, NOZOMI SATO is silent. Sweets promises she will be safe and asks her to help find her roommate's murderer. It just isn't enough. Nozomi is too scared and traumatized to speak. Booth will have to find another way.
At the lab, Angela, Tanaka and Brennan begin the reconstruction of the weapon used to decapitate Sachi. Angela inputs all the information they have into her computer. The blade is curved. It has serrated and plain edging. There is a hook at the blade's point. When the image appears on screen, Angela and Tanaka are stumped. Brennan, on the other hand, recognizes the knife. It is a marine knife. James Sok lives on a boat.
At the FBI, Booth and Brennan have James Sok in the Interrogation Room. A field agent enters with the marine knife from his houseboat. James is adamant that he didn't kill Sachi. Brennan tests the knife for blood. It's clean. Both Booth and Brennan are shocked. James looks smug. Brennan tests the inside of the knife's case for blood and this time she finds it. James Sok isn't going down without a fight. He wants a deal. He didn't kill Sachi, but he knows who did. Booth is furious. He leaves the room.
In the Observation Room, Booth asks Ken what he wants to do. The decision is difficult but Ken decides that they should give James a deal. He wants Sachi's murderer in jail. James confesses everything. Paul Vogler killed Sachi. Sachi tried to stop him from hiring Nozomi as a prostitute. She showed up at his place, screaming. Vogler pushed her into his koi pond and held her down, accidently killing her. He paid James Sok to clean up the mess. To save his business, James sent Nozomi a warning to keep her mouth shut and get out of town.
At the lab, Ken burns incense in memory of his sister. Her casket waits in the Bone Room. Brennan and Booth arrive to say goodbye. Ken thanks both of them for all their help. He will bring Nozomi and his sister home safely.
On the Forensic Platform, Angela, Cam, Hodgins and Sweets watch Tanaka pack up. They are all wondering about Tanaka's gender. Angela can't take it anymore. She approaches Tanaka for a farewell hug. After a long moment, Angela lets go. She walks back to the Squints and makes her report. "It moved. He's a guy."
At Booth's Apartment, Booth prepares a sundae for them to share. Brennan admits that after seeing Ken's deep pain, she doesn't believe loving someone is worth it. Booth tells her that love is worth it. He has a son. He knows firsthand. Brennan takes a bite of the sundae and wishes she had beer instead. Booth recovers two beers from his fridge. The beer is worth it.