Behind the cut as there are spoilers.
From a purely case related point of view, I feel that this is one of the best, in fact probably the best plot line so far this season; it's also an un-resolved one, so as with Ari and the 'meat puzzle' we are going to have an on-going situation, which is good.
Interesting that, in light of the fact that thus far this season he has thrown most pairings at us, DPB now goes out of his way to give us a Gibbs/OFC and a DiNozzo/OFC. I was aware that they were bringing in another potential love interest for Gibbs, and I'm sorry to say that in some ways it appears they are giving us the same kind of relationship as he has with Jenny, i.e. an antagonistic one, yet there are also some differences. Also interesting that she isn't a redhead.
Now I know that a lot of people seem to think that I hate DiNozzo, for the record I don't hate him, he irritates me most of the time, but I don't actually really care one way or another about him. However, I was really impressed with him in this episode, especially in the way he dealt with the dead Marine's son. He was mature, understanding, sympathetic and considerate, he went out of his way to try to make a connection with the boy and to help him. Apart from how he was with McGee in Probie, how he stood by him, believed in his innocence and tried to help him, I haven't been so impressed with him as I was in this episode. So credit where credit's due, DiNozzo was superb.
Staying with DiNozzo, it was an interesting scene with the college-girl; he did seem genuinely interested in her, and from his comment to her, about the chances of him finding the right girl are getting more possible each day, it seems as though he might be hooked. He isn't spending all his time looking at other women, even Ziva had noticed, and I thought she seemed a little jealous to be honest, and also as though she missed his constant trying to get off with her. Of course it is possible that the new girl-friend is tied in with the undercover case in which he and Jenny are involved, and she is part of his 'mission' and his secret. However, even if she is, he still could be genuinely interested in her.
Poor McGee; he and poison ivy are certainly not designed to go anywhere near one another. Nice scene with him and Abby in her lab and sweet of her to finally help him out and give him the 'cure'. I liked his comment whereby he agreed that Gibbs wouldn't be happy with her findings, but at that moment he didn't care.
We have another hint of the on-going secret that Jenny is keeping from Gibbs when again she was in MTAC watching something and she made sure that it wasn't visible when she let Gibbs in. One vague possibility came to my mind, it's another one of those I don't really believe it, but I'll share it anyway. Maybe, just maybe, Gibbs didn't kill Shannon and Kelly's murderer, and Jenny has discovered he is still alive and she is running her own case (after all we know it's meant to be cold), because she knows what Gibbs will do if he finds out the man isn't dead.
I know I keep on saying it, but I keep hoping that by doing so my vibes will reach DPB :-) but . . . Please resolve Gibbs and Ducky; it really is getting boring and stretching credibility too far. So we know that Mrs. Mallard is still alive (one of the reasons for Ducky being so pissed off with Gibbs that I saw raised was that Mrs. Mallard had died and Gibbs hadn't gone to the funeral). So finally Ducky actually does call Gibbs 'Gibbs' to his face, rather than have these totally anonymous exchanges; but it was clear that it was only because he decided that he had to do so in front of the Army CID woman.
Once again, during the first Autopsy scene, Gibbs couldn't keep his eyes off of Ducky, and yet the antagonism is still of the cut-with-a-knife kind; even our Army CID lady picked up on that, when Gibbs very curtly told Ducky to get the evidence up to Abby. The look she gave both of them was rather telling; she seems to have picked up on something, whereby the kids don't (or if they have, they aren't saying anything).
Typical Gibbs reaction to Ziva taking matters into her own hands and defusing the first bomb without consulting him; praises her and then threatens her - except we know that Gibbs doesn't make threats he's not prepared to carry out. Her reaction was typical Ziva, brave but foolish. I did enjoy her and DiNozzo's exchange during the climb and the defusion.
As always, with the exception of Kate, Abby does not like another woman coming in and interacting/interfering with 'her' men. I do so love Abby in her more-than-a-little-jealous mode. The whole ASL conversation between Abby and Gibbs and Abby over the phone was great fun. She does regard Gibbs, Ducky, McGee, DiNozzo and Jimmy as 'her' men.
Talking of jealous, clearly the kids didn't like how involved our Army CID lady was, and how she and Gibbs kept going off together; they are a team, they don't need outside interference.
On the team work side, again McGee covering for DiNozzo was good. The team are really now very tight and they do work well together and seem to believe in the 'all for one' motto, as was shown at the end when after Gibbs had told DiNozzo and McGee (and Army CID lady) to get out whilst Ziva defused the bomb, they simply all stayed put.
I did like the short exchange she and Gibbs had when, after her first visit to Autopsy she's caught Ducky talking to the body, she and Gibbs go to Abby's lab to hear her talking aloud.
"Do all your people talk to themselves?"
Lovely. A very Gibbs reply.
Some good humour throughout. DPB is excellent as giving us humour even in the most angsty episodes. The whole sand trap/bunker exchange firstly between Gibbs and DiNozzo, and then Gibbs and Army CID lady was good.
Her reaction to them hacking into Homeland Security was also amusing, as was Gibbs's simply response of 'don't tell 'em' when she complained that her people wouldn't like it, if they knew that's what NCIS was doing.
I also liked the 'few puppies short of a pet shop' comment.
And Ziva's 'Gibbs has just found his fourth ex-wife'.
The review that had been written on Gibbs (by Jenny, do we assume?) was pretty much spot on. He does have problems with trusting women, well who wouldn't after three ex-wives and whatever Jenny did to him in Paris.
The exchanges between Gibbs and Army lady were interesting. I found myself getting mixed signals, which I guess is what DPB had in mind :-) One minute it was totally 'oh, look we have another so-called love interest with zero chemistry' and the next, you could see that there was interest between them. Although their exchanges were very antagonistic, there was so zing too. 'Smart and devious'.
I thought in the first Autopsy scene that Ducky sensed something, and he seemed troubled by it. In fact in the second scene he seemed to be going out of his way to flirt with her, in way that was very overt and forced and blatant. However, at any level (even putting aside my personal preferences), Ducky is going to be concerned to see Gibbs interested in another woman. They might, for whatever reason, still be at odds with one another, but Ducky still cares deeply about, loves (fraternal as well as romantic) Gibbs very much, and as a close friend, he most certainly is going to worry about him. Hence it could be one reason for his flirting with her. Or this flirting is being done to try to goad Gibbs into some kind of reaction; it's yet another psychological 'tool' Ducky is using to get something out of Gibbs. Like his even-longer-than-usual explanations, which Gibbs still isn't interrupting.
Great scene when they are tracking Abraham when Gibbs dumps his NCIS jacket, grabs a civvy one, pinches a hat and proceeds to talk to Abraham; so very Gibbs. (I'm not sure that some of the Gibbs/DiNozzo folk will like the reference to Tony being his son).
So very good case-related plot.
Interesting non-case related sub-plots with the various 'relationships'.
Too little Ducky :-(
No Jimmy :-(
Too little Abby :-(
But these too little/nos aside, the interaction, etc. was good.
I'm finding this one more difficult than the other episodes to 'grade', because while I thoroughly enjoyed the case side of it, and thought that was a very strong storyline, the non-case sub-plot didn't appeal quite as much.