The Jeffersonian team helps Booth (David Boreanaz) and the FBI investigate the murder of a an immigrant from Sierra Leone whose remains were found in a barrel of hazardous waste. Looking for answers about the young man’s life, Booth has lunch with a friend from the State Department (Danny Woodburn) who informs Booth and Bones (Emily Deschanel) at the age of 14 their victim escaped his home country and was granted asylum in the United States. The team discovers the victim had several part-time jobs including working for the same immigration lawyer (Adam Kulbersh) who helped him become a U.S. citizen by helping new refugees make a fresh start in America.
The leading suspect is an old friend (Kareem J. Grimes) of the victim who was deported two years ago but reentered the country illegally and was staying with the victim during the time of the murder. However, he’s also the one who contacted the authorities to report his friend missing and neither Booth nor Sweets (John Francis Daley) are convinced that he is their killer. Meanwhile, ongoing stories include Cam (Tamara Taylor) attempting to keep her romantic relationship with Arastoo a secret, with mixed success, and Booth attempting to convince Bones to take time off for a fun (and certainly not educational) family vacation.
While examining the remains, Bones and Arastoo (Pej Vahdat) discover their victim was likely a child soldier before fleeing his country for sanctuary abroad, which stirs up personal feelings for Arastoo from his own troubled past growing up in Iran during the country’s war with Iraq. Looking into another one of the man’s part-time jobs leads Booth and Bones to talk with a photojournalist (Annie Fitzgerald) who had hired the victim as a chef for the opening of an exhibit. On the day he disappeared their victim was moved to tears by the woman’s photographs showcasing child soldier forced to kill, including one child Bones believes is their victim.
No longer a suspect, Booth and Bones take the victim’s friend to the gallery hoping to discover what the man saw that moved him so profoundly the day he was kiled. Booth gets his answer which leads him the the janitor (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) in the man’s building, captured years before in one of the photojournalist’s pictures as a RUF general responsible for the recruiting of thousands of child soldiers.
With no physical evidence to tie the man to his old life Booth has Angela (Michaela Conlin) use her magic to compare the interrogation to a recording of one of the general’s old speeches and deport him back to his home country where he is charged with 17 counts of war crimes. However, it’s Bones who finally figures out the unusual murder weapon that nabs the killer.
“The Survivor in the Soap” proves to be a pretty good mystery with some late twists and an unusual method of killing that leaves Bones, Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) and the rest of the group at a loss to explain the events of the murder. Cam and Arastoo make a undeniably cute couple, although he’s outburst at Hodgins (which is later explained by the intern sharing more of his past with his boss and girlfriend) could have been a little more subtle.