I have mixed feelings about this episode, which began with the cast. Good because Jimmy was in it. Bad because Lt. Col. Hollis Mann was also in it. I thought the episode started really well, although also more than a little disgusting and gross with the explosion of the body parts *shudder*, and promised a great deal with Abby being un-Abby, and some great Autopsy scenes and tension building up and then . . . Col. Mann appears. At first that went well too with the two layer conversations, but quickly the episode disintegrated, as it always does when she appears into 'the Gibbs and Mann show' rather than the NCIS show.
A slightly different review from recently, as really the case was secondary to the whole Gibbs and Mann show and the Abby side line.
At the funeral for a 22 year old Marine, the family vault is being opened in order to inter his body. The men opening it, struggle to get the screws out and then when they do - wham, the whole front it blow off and 'stuff' flies and drips out. I have to say the opening scenes when the two men opened the family vault was just about one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. Be warned, DO NOT be eating when you start to watch this episode. Mind you, it certainly good your attention.
The body part count reveals, at first glance, two bodies; then a third right hand is discovered, and by the time Ducky and Jimmy are part of the way through reassembling the bodies, it appears that there are parts of at least five bodies (but only two heads). Further investigation reveals that two other vaults have been 'tampered' with, the evidence comes from the screw heads that show signs of scratches.
The bodies have nothing in common, not in the way they were killed or the sex or the age or the race or anything. The only common link they share is how they were dismembered.
A young man, Len Grady, the grandson of the first victim, is found to have links with several of the other bodies, so he's arrested and questioned. Whilst, on the face of it, it seems clear that he is guilty of killing his grandmother (who was suffering from dementia), he does appear, by his reaction, to be innocent of the mutilation, at least, of the other bodies.
Evidence from his house reveals, that whilst he's a slob and has a lot of knives and other cutting equipment, none of them match the dissecting cuts on the bodies; nor is there human blood on any of his cutting equipment. However, the pork chop he has in his fridge does show to have been cut with the same knife as the bodies. They trace the butchers shop and we discover that the woman, Miss Dalton, who owns and runs it is the granddaughter of the one of the men whose vaults had potentially been disturbed. And she admits to being the girlfriend of Grady.
They take her to HQ and Gibbs's questions her. She claims that whilst she taught Grady how to cut meat correctly, she had no idea of what he was doing, and is disgusted by it. But goes on to say that she should know.
Grady then confesses to all the murders, and claims that his girlfriend is innocent. The way he breaks down and his insistence that she knew nothing does set the spider sense twitching, a tad overdone, one thinks. However, Gibbs lets her go. And in the final scene when he and Col. Mann track the van, where they believe they'll find other dead bodies, down, it is her in the back dissecting the bodies.
I really couldn't read Gibbs clearly; had he guessed/suspected it was her? Did he deliberately let her go? Or is his gut, his spider sense, actually letting him down?
The whole Abby scene with her demanding a dollar and basically flipping over not being able to get the candy bar she wanted and getting worked up because she didn't like nougat was a good start, and set the scene for future Abby scenes and left us wondering what was going on.
And there was no music in her lab. McGee was worried, but she wouldn't talk to McGee. She snapped at DiNozzo and accused him and the team of gossiping about her, which she didn't like. And the shoe scene with Ziva. It all added up to something pretty wrong with Abby.
Of course, partly due to prior information, once when, later on, Abby stared to obsess about her height (we know she's 5'10" before she adds her three inch stack heels), it was pretty obvious what was upsetting her - Marty. So she really did care for him, but he ended the relationship with her because he felt she was too tall for him and that it would never work out, despite her doing everything she could to convince him that that wasn't the case.
The scene between her and Gibbs when he said absolutely nothing at all, but just was there, being Gibbs was a lovely one. The look on her face when he first turned up was one of happiness and relief, as was her tone, and then that changed when she said "And Lt. Col. Mann." One thing that they are really consistent at in this programme is Abby's dislike of any woman coming in and 'interfering' with 'her' men, and she really seems to have taken a particular dislike to Lt. Mann.
Lovely how during the scene with her and Gibbs, he said absolutely nothing, once he'd made it clear that he wasn't going anywhere and that he had time to talk to her, whilst she poured out her story, very much in Abby style, almost arguing/discussing with herself (echoes of the scene in 'Bête Noire', where we see her arguing with herself over whether she needs therapy to get over her suddenly Autopsy phobia). And her comment about having to accept that it was over and let it go, fitted in with the whole double overtones of Gibbs and Col. Mann. There some nice lines in this scene too.
Abby: "Look it's not something that you can fix in the classic Gibbs hit-and-run style, okay?"
Abby (hugging Gibbs after she'd talked it all out with herself): "Thanks, Gibbs, you always know what to say." (Which was really great, as Gibbs hasn't said a word).
And clearly he does, because by the end, when Ziva goes back down, the music is back on and Abby is feeling better about it all, and talks to Ziva about how a man can get you all knotted up inside and how much better she feels after having talked to Gibbs. And adds that if Ziva ever wants to talk about Lt. Sanders then Abby'll listen. We then learn/have it confirmed, that Lt. Sanders from last week's episode did indeed die, and Ziva is upset about it, but not un-Ziva enough to talk about it, she admits she liked him, he died, there's nothing else to say. Abby hugs her, which as always has Ziva quite stiff and unsure of the hug; but you get the impression, this time, that she wanted to return the hug, but actually didn't really know how to.
I thought it was a sensitive way to deal with the whole Marty issue, very tastefully and gently handled.
Very Duckyish in this episode, and I'm pleased to say that he looked fully fit again. He knows exactly what the mess is that has exploded from the vault. Effluvium resulting from the decomposition of organs and tissues, and following a little exchange between him and Ziva when she warns him to be careful as they don't know what caused the explosion and calls him 'Doctor' and he in turn calls her 'Officer David', he says that he knows exactly what caused the explosion, it's all around them. It's informally called 'exploding casket syndrome'. Dear Ducky looks and sounds quite buoyant and excited when he's talking.
Gibbs (looking on with his 'indulgent' look, the one he reserves solely for Ducky): "The floor's all yours, Duck."
Ducky (chuckling gently and smiling at Gibbs): "Thank you, Jethro."
And he begins the first of his lectures, explaining about how bodies decompose and how the enzymes and bacteria build up in them and how once dead these start to break down tissue and a body can liquefy within a week especially if it isn't embalmed.
Good scene with him and Jimmy in Autopsy when they talk about this not being their first meat puzzle (references back to the Season Two episode 'The Meat Puzzle'). And all the time Jimmy is starting to sort out the body parts, a man and a woman, Ducky is telling his stories. We learn that he once assisted with an archaeological dig in Africa; we learn about the Zulu's way of dealing with the dead, how they burn all the belongings of the dead, and also how they fire arrows into the air to try to scare off the evil spirits. And as Ducky explains it's the forerunner of the volleys the Military fire today over the coffins of their dead, and he demonstrates this using one of the bones. All the time he's talking Jimmy is listening and passing the odd comment, but he's also calmly getting on with his work.
There's a fun little exchange when Ducky talks about 'the humerus' and Jimmy thinks he's saying 'humorous'. And then they realise that they have a third right hand.
Jimmy: "Just like last time."
Ducky & Jimmy together: "We're going to need another table."
We have a second Autopsy team when Ducky calls McGee to tell him that he "needs Jethro down here." We have virtually the entire team present (Gibbs, Ducky, Jimmy, DiNozzo, McGee and Ziva), and Ducky isn't so excited now, instead he's showing touches of anger and being upset when he points out that he and Jimmy can't assemble the bodies, because they haven't got all the parts. It looks as though they have a mass murderer on their hands, and we have a very nice Gibbs and Ducky look at one another.
The third Autopsy scene involves Ducky, Gibbs and Col. Mann. It starts in the lift with Ducky between the two of them, and the tension that is emanating seems to actually be a three way thing. Ducky seems a little off with Gibbs, as the tone of their exchange reveals. Ducky is obviously bothered by the case and the missing parts, etc. but it seems a little more than that too.
Ducky: "One might expect a certain modicum of consistency in the manner of death."
Gibbs: "One might."
Ducky: "Yes, well one would be wrong."
The looks they exchange here aren't as fond as earlier in the episode.
Col. Mann interrupts Ducky at one point when he's talking about paradoxical behaviour, and earlier had interrupted Jimmy. Clearly she hasn't got the time for Gibbs's team as he has.
Gibbs and Col. Mann
Virtually every conversation and exchange these two had, was a double one, that involved the case and their 'relationship' (or lack of it). She still seems interested in him, the vibes he gave off was that he wasn't that interested in her any longer; he'd had what we wanted - not exactly honourable, but . . . He wasn't happy to see her, he wasn't comfortable around her, as his body language made perfectly clear.
We learn that after Gibbs bedded her four weeks ago, he hasn't called her.
Gibbs (talking about the call that brought her to the cemetry): "That call was premature."
Mann (talking about something else entirely): "Really? And here I thought it was four weeks overdue."
Once inside the crypt, Ziva, DiNozzo and McGee having been left outside, the double edge conversation continues, and Gibbs is not happy or comfortable.
Mann: ". . . Leaving something undone."
Gibbs: "Best to not have expectations."
Mann: "Staves off disappointment."
Mann: "What are we hoping for?"
Gibbs: "You throw that 'we' word around pretty casually."
And so it goes on as they discover the the first vault is empty of extra body parts, and they move on to the second one. And then we learn that he 'slunk' (her words, he denied it) out of her place, saying he'd call (he didn't stay the night? he bedded her and left, or so it appears). However, she hasn't called him either. He pushes her as to whether she wants to find extra body parts of not, because if they do, then she'll be sticking around, if not, then she'll go. They do find them, and he asks if that's what she wanted. There's no reply.
Back at the office, we have another Gibbs, Jenn, Mann scene, with all of them saying more than one thing in the words they say, and yet more overt displays of jealousy from both Mann and Jenn (Gibbs must be some lover). The women are really bitchy to one another, and Gibbs isn't exactly the gentleman, he stirs it up again and makes it crystal clear to Jenny, when she asks if anything has changed between them that might interfere with them working together, that he'd slept with Col. Mann (nasty, Gibbs, very nasty).
And then Gibbs goes and we have a Jenn and Mann scene, in which again you could cut the atmosphere with a knife, and another double-way conversation. Jenny praises Mann at one point and says about her and Gibbs making a good team; she offers her a drink, asking if she drank bourbon. Mann says not often, and Jenny points out that if you spend much time with Gibbs you have to learn to like bourbon, it's an acquired taste (like Gibbs).
She then makes it totally clear that she and Gibbs were an item and that she is still interested in him, pointing out that She also makes it clear that she knows that Gibbs and Mann have slept together and that she doesn't like it. But oddly enough she also talks about what Mann will do when her commission is up on six months, almost hinting that maybe she'd like to come and work for NCIS (meep), or that was how I read it; how she must think about how to serve her future, opportunity for advancement-wise.
Later we see her leaning over the bannister watching the team, or in particular watching Col. Mann and Gibbs. The Colonel looks up at her, oh, if looks could kill, we'd have both Jenn and Mann out of the way, and Gibbs too acknowledges both women's glares.
When Gibbs and Col. Mann next see one another, he picks up a scent on her, talks about her perfume, which she points out she doesn't wear, so he adds it must be something else then. His look is knowing, as is his smile, he knows pretty much what went on in Jenn's office (he really is a bastard at times. Have you got the 2x4 handy, Fiona?)
Gibbs makes one comment when talking to Miss Dalton, "Love makes you blind." Well, we know that from his three failed marriages, and Jenn, but given all the other double-way conversations, does he mean Mann as well? And if so, how about lust rather than love, Gibbs?
Even the final conversation between Gibbs and Col. Mann in his car was saying more than just about the case.
Mann: "With the right partner you can make the perfect monster."
Gibbs: "Oh, yeah, a little old time romance."
Mann: "Someone's got hidden skeletons of his own."
She then says about if she was in a dire situation with the proverbial body she needed to get rid off she'd tell Gibbs.
Gibbs: "What makes you think I wouldn't turn you in?"
Mann: "If there's one thing you're good at, Jethro, it's keeping your mouth shut."
Mann: "It seems you always make the right call when it involves a case."
So it pretty much left their relationship up in the air. Vibes said it was over, that it never really began, that it was a one-night stand, purely sex based, but then as more than a little oddly there haven't been any sexual chemistry and vibes between these two in the three episodes they've appeared in, they could be mis-leading. But I think that she's accepted that she had what he could give and that was it. It was just a one-night deal.
DiNozzo doesn't flirt with Miss Dalton, doesn't even make any of his usual style comebacks, when she makes what could be construed as suggestive remarks - and both McGee and Ziva pick up on the lack of flirting.
DiNozzo doesn't believe their is or way anything between Gibbs and Col. Mann, because she isn't a redhead. We get the only reference, in passing, to him and Jeanne still being together when Ziva makes a comment about him having one serious relationship and now thinking he knows all about them.
DiNozzo, however, tries less than subtly to find out about Gibbs and Col. Mann when he and Gibbs are in the car watching Grady's house. He gets silenced by Gibbs, very effective.
DiNozzo was quite put out by Abby taking a dollar from him and not giving him one, and hung on to the fact for quite a while.
DiNozzo thinks that McGee has upset Abby.
Another little passing reference to McGee and royalty cheques and bitchiness over him writing a book about the personal lives of people he knew.
Ziva shows sympathy to the family of one of the dead women, saying that she knows what it's like to lose someone about whom you care.
McGee is clearly really concerned over Abby's behaviour and worried about her; he does still care a great deal about her. And he, also less than subtly, tells Gibbs that all isn't well and hints that Gibbs should talk to her.
McGee picks up on Ziva's behaviour in the interview with one of the victim's family, and says that she should pace herself as there were at least five more to do, and adds that she had been a little emotional in front of them. And he's right, she had been.
Very mixed really, some excellent scenes and exchanges, an okay case, good team by-play, and some superb double layer conversations. But far, far, too much Mann; she is not NCIS and when she appears the rest of the team might not as well be around.
What about DiNozzo and Jeanne? Again other than the lack of flirting, we get nothing for the second week running, not even a phone call, or a reference
Jimmy was on form and a tad more confident than he often is.
A nice amount of Ducky at the beginning and then it petered out.
Once again I didn't hate Jenn, in fact I felt sorry for her.
Mann just is so wrong for the show and for NCIS and for Gibbs *g*. I really do hope that my sinking feeling that she is going to become a regular next season is just that a sinking feeling, but . . .