A really enjoyable episode; far, far better than the previous few weeks. It was a McGee-centric episode, with a good, plot-line, some excellent team moments, a wonderful scene for DiNozzo/McGee fans, Ducky actually getting to use his degree, no Lt. Colonel Mann, and worked really well. Okay, it was another one of those episodes where the killer was wearing a sign saying 'I'm the killer' from the second we saw him, but, that rarely (for me) takes anything away from the episode, even though this particular one was sign-posted even more than usual.
In many ways it was a very simple plot-line, and certainly not a new one. It quickly becomes clear that everything is connected to McGee's new book; the characters, the drinks, the murders. It's a book that, as yet, has no ending (McGee has 'writer's block - DiNozzo's term, not McGee's); a book that apparently only McGee's publisher has seen. The team are fighting against time to get through McGee's book and figure out just who the killer is and why. Even the fact that the killer turns out to be killing to protect McGee (or rather his character in the book) isn't a new one. But as we've always said, there is nothing new in fiction or in TV or film.
And it does, somewhat cleverly show, that there are people who indeed cannot tell fact from fiction and do believe that characters in books/TV/films are very real. However, to the level where they simply cannot separate fact from fiction. We as fans talk about the characters as they are real, but there is a line between our 'obsession/devotion' and the kind of person the killer was. A sobering thought in a way.
In the first scene, after the credits, we see McGee in his favourite coffee shop being recognised by one of the employees as 'Tom', and in that second we know that said coffee shop employee - Landon - is going to be the baddie. And that's when we learn that McGee is struggling to finish his book, and is stuck on Chapter 7; quite a nice touch when Landon says that at least it's not Chapter 6.
At Petty Officer Darren Cove's home, the place to which the Fire Department had attended because of a billowing smoke, and finding blood there NCIS got called in, we learn about a drinking game called Beer Pong, which DiNozzo knows all about but, rather out of character (as McGee says, but maybe it's all part of DiNozzo growing up and changing, as has been apparent during this season) refuses to give McGee a demonstration of it.
We still get DiNozzo and Ziva bitching about McGee's first book, it really has got old, and again it's another example of DPB over-playing something. It's not something he does that often (thankfully), but when he does, boy does he over-play it. But it was really the only niggle (apart from too little Ducky, no real G/D interaction and no Jimmy) that I had for this episode.
A nice little scene with DiNozzo, McGee and Gibbs where the younger agents are giving lots of popular culture references and Gibbs is completely confused (hey, so was I *g*). Poor McGee, he got the Gibbs glare when he said that Petty Officer Cove "Works to live and lives to party', even when he pointed out that it was Cove's CO who had said it.
A wonderful bit when Ziva asks what purpose fluffy, oversized dice hanging in cars, serves. And we also had another one of her 'getting it slightly wrong' with her, "McGee, you look like you've seen a goat." It's at that point, when McGee is staring into the car and talking about having deja vu, that I had the first inkling that it was going to somehow be tied into his book.
This was confirmed in the next scene in Abby's lab, where she is showing off her cocktail mixing skills, and she certainly handled the bottles and cocktail shaker extremely well, until Gibbs stopped her 'game'. She had made over a hundred cocktails before finding the mix, a 'Hairy Hangover', only to discover that McGee tells her what's in it before she can, as he invented it and that's when we learn that it is all tied in with the book
He explains how he creates his characters, by basing them on real people (again nothing new, most writers do it to some extent or other), and that he saw Cove each morning at his coffee shop, although he only ever saw him in the drive-through. The fact that McGee's coffee shop has such a thing seems to impress DiNozzo.
What he is then less impressed with is firstly discovering that McGee has received 'tonnes' of letters in respect of his book and later when he sees McGee's photograph on his Publisher's wall. We learn that recently the letters have been bordering on the obsessive, and Gibbs and DiNozzo go off to see said publisher - the only person who has, apparently, seen the book, leaving McGee and Ziva to begin going through McGee's new book, Rock Hollow in an attempt to find clues. We meet Ms. Crawshaw and her assistant, who is rather good at predicting what she'll ask for, before she actually asks, which is a clue and tiny hint in itself.
We have a lovely scene then with Ducky and Gibbs in Autopsy going through the three letters that Ms. Crawshaw thinks are of particular interest, using his new degree (something that lonelywalker were only talking about recently, how ever since the 'you didn't come to my graduation' and the one case that allowed Ducky to get 'one over on Gibbs', it hadn't been mentioned again).
We learn there are three stages people go through when they become a predator and it takes several weeks, it doesn't happen over night. The stages are:
1. Attraction stage
2. Obsession stage
3. Destruction stage.
And the three letters fall into these stages (how nice and convenient). And Ducky tells Gibbs that despite the apparent difference in writing, indeed one was the 'classic' cutting letters out, they were all written by the same person.
DiNozzo and Ziva are confused by McGee's book, Ziva less so (or at least is what she says), and DiNozzo tries to tell McGee how he should write; i.e. he should know where the story is going before he begins, especially as far as the murder is concerned. McGee doesn't agree, it isn't his style of writing.
Gibbs takes his field team on a 'trip' around all the places mentioned in McGee's book, as it's clear that the person behind all the blood at Cove's home and the drink, thinks the book is real. It's on this trip that the bodies of Cove and another person are found.
Ducky pronounces them as having been dead for less than twenty-four hours; and it turns out they were killed with a javelin (as in McGee's book) and Ducky provides a little lecture (very short for Ducky) on how indeed that was the origin of the javelin, and he praises McGee's ingenuity. Then once they've all gone says, "Oh, dear, now I'm going to have to read his new book." It's also Ducky who (rather wickedly) reveals that in the new book LJ Tibbs will have a love interest, and Gibbs gets McGee to tell him that she's an Army Lt. Colonel. He doesn't exactly look best pleased.
McGee breaks and confesses that his book characters were indeed based on his co-workers and Gibbs puts Ducky, Abby and Jimmy under twenty-four hour protection (which begs the question as to just where the protection was when Abby is nearly killed whilst at the Convent? Okay, so it's change over time, but twenty-four hours, means twenty-four hours. An inter-episode inconsistency, i.e was the fact that Gibbs had ordered the twenty-four hour protection been forgotten? Of course the protection couldn't be there because otherwise we wouldn't have the lovely ending, but . . . Okay, so it was one other tiny thing that niggled.). Gibbs is angry with McGee and tells him to write the ending of the book before the killer does.
A cute little DiNozzo and Ziva in the elevator scene as their conversation, based on things the books have show, is actually pretty accurate to how they have been during this season, but they are denying it, in the 'we can't actually admit this, but it's kind of true' denial tone.
Another cute scene with Abby trying to find out who her new love interest in the new book is, and DiNozzo and Ziva not telling her. Gibbs puts a stop to the conversation, again.
Then Abby reveals that she has found the only place there will be only one fingerprint, the fingerprint of the sender, on the back of the stamp and traces it to . . . Todd, Ms. Crawshaw's efficient assistant. And he has a criminal record. If we were really meant to think that he was guilty of murder, then, sorry, DPB, but again it was obvious he wasn't.
And when Gibbs and DiNozzo turn up to talk to him and he 'runs' (an interestingly style), with poor DiNozzo chasing him and failing to catch him, whereas Gibbs does the sensible thing and goes to Todd's car, it's clear that he's not running because of the murders. Even when he calls someone (which we know is Ms. Crawshaw) and tells them 'they know and to get out of there' and then tells Gibbs upon arrest that he'd told her it wouldn't work. We then know that he's talking about the letters, which Ms. Crawshaw wrote and Todd sent.
In interrogation she confesses this to Gibbs and explains why; a stalker will increase book sales, it's as simple as that. And Gibbs believes her and Abby confirms that she's not the murderer.
We have a nice little Ducky and McGee in Autopsy when Ducky tells McGee that he is not responsible for the deaths, that he's writing fiction. McGee used to visit Cove's parents and the other dead man is recently married.
A nice little touch when it's McGee who calls a 'camp fire' to try to work through what they know. DiNozzo, a little patronising, tells McGee that he can take the lead and they'll assist. It backfires when he makes a comment to Gibbs about how they played it well with 'good cop/bad cop' (him and Gibbs), Gibbs sends him off to 'assist' McGee.
The scene in McGee's apartment will appeal very much to the DiNozzo/McGee fans, with the leaning over to type and the whole 'cosy' feel and the free writing exercise. But it all works as it's then that McGee works out how the killer has got details of his book: from the typewriter ribbons, which unlike his pages, which he shreds, he just throws away.
And then we learn that in one ending of the book, McGee has the two now-dead characters killing off his own character, and Gibbs knows that's why the killer is killing; to protect 'McGee'. We also learn that in it McGee's character is in love with Abby's character, he gives her his heart and he rejects her, and in ASL language Amy (Abby's character) is telling her mother than McGee's character has to 'go' meaning leave the organisation for which they work. But the killer has thought it means she's going to kill him.
Abby in an old-fashioned nightdress and bed cap and Bert alone at the Convent is wonderful. The nuns, with whom she bowls, are on retreat, and Landon turns up to kill her.
But the cavalry arrives in time and Gibbs makes McGee tell the ending, which (again another predicable scene) is with McGee saying that he and 'Amy' are going to get married; that she's the only woman he loves, and he's finally worked it out and that if Landon kills her, he's killing his one love. So very poignant, because to me it's very clear that although McGee is telling it as a story about his character and Abby's character to stop Landon from killing, he is also talking about him and Abby as themselves.
Another Gibbs and Abby hug.
And then Abby tells McGee that her character and his can never marry as they are so wrong for one another. But is she also talking about her and McGee? I'm not sure. The look on Gibbs's face, however, makes me think that whether at the moment she is or not, he knows better than she does. He knows that she really does love McGee.
A very good episode, despite the predictable parts to it. It worked well, we had some good team interaction and for the first time in four weeks, the story focused on a member of the team, not about someone outside of it.
No Mann - excellent.
No Jenn - you see, an episode goes on perfectly well without her.
No Jimmy - not good. I do hope we see him again this season.
Not an over amount of Ducky, it would have been nice to have seen more of him. But really good to see him using his new degree.
No really Gibbs/Ducky interaction as such, but the scene in Autopsy with the letters was nice.
I liked this a lot, despite the predictable moments.