A much better episode than those of the last two weeks. Far more balanced, no histrionics, some lovely team interaction, great humour, a case that whilst not being overly exciting and captivating was actually enjoyable in its simplicity, not to mention a surprise as to what the actual case was. Interestingly apart from when we were with Jenny, who was in Paris and then went onto Moscow, everything took place at NCIS HQ.
The episode begins with a taxi waiting to be cleared so that it can drop off a fare who wants to see someone at NCIS. All is cleared with the driver, but when the Marine goes around to the fare and opens the door, he is found to be dead. So now the cases come to NCIS :-)
It is Thursday and Jenny is in Paris (shopping according to Gibbs), at a conference), and Gibbs (of all people) is acting Director - which was always going to be a nightmare in the making.
Cynthia is desperately trying to get him to review a pile of case files, which have to be done by Friday (i.e. tomorrow), when Jenny is due to return. She is getting quite angry and frustrated with him and he tells he that her that had an wife like her once. He divorced her. Cynthia's reply to that is that he got in first - she's not afraid to stand up to him, at least to an extent. He starts to sign the reports, without reading them, going purely on whether he knows the agent or not. When he comes across one he doesn't know, who he calls a Hollywood Special Agent, he rejects it; again without reading it and for no reason. Poor Cynthia, her face.
Jenny's private line rings, but Gibbs stops Cynthia from answering it, doing so himself. It's Jenny. She asks him if the Agency is intact and he tells her that he's cut it up into small bitsy pieces and sold it to the three letter boys (I think that's what he said). He then goes on to tease her about various speaking engagements he's accepted on her behalf, some of which are bizarre! She insists on speaking to Cynthia and is reassured to discover that Cynthia hasn't sent out the formal letters accepting them, thus earning herself a present from Paris. When she returns to Gibbs and asks if there is anything important, he starts to talk to her about the toilet paper not fitting the dispensers, at which point she hangs up. Well, she was the one who put him in her chair, she should have known better, and poor Cynthia, with Gibbs as acting Director she most definitely earnt a very good present.
When the phone rings again seconds later, he grabs it and asks if she's called to apologise. But it's DiNozzo, who immediately starts to babble about not knowing what Gibbs has heard, but it wasn't him who started the pool. He then tells Gibbs about the dead body in the taxi.
At the crime scene we have Ducky and the field team at first. Ducky says that it isn't often they get to walk to a crime scene, assuming it is one. And as they are talking they see Gibbs in the distance. Ducky is happy because he says he's won the pool; he'd bet that Gibbs would last four days as Director before working a case and turns to go to talk to him. DiNozzo then basically infers that Ducky is only going over to talk to Gibbs so that he can win the pool of $50.00 and asks Ducky if it's really that important to him. When Ducky says yes, DiNozzo makes a comment about it being true about the Scots; which does not go down well with Ducky and he walks off stiffly.
During the scene before this exchange Jeanne rings; as DiNozzo goes to take the call, Ducky comments to McGee that it's about time DiNozzo fell in love. Jeanne has found a house for them to buy! Hang on, Jeanne, slow down, girl. From renting an apartment to buying a house, hasn't anyone taught you anything about relationships? Hmmm, maybe she's Mann's secret daughter, after all they both seem keen on pressuring and pushing their 'men'. The look on DiNozzo's face and his attitude is more than understandable, and in the background you see a nurse frowning at Jeanne, and once DiNozzo has ended the call, the nurse tells Jeanne she's taking things too quickly and makes suggestions as to how Jeanne should handle things.
DiNozzo ends the call by telling Jeanne that he has to go because his boss in on his way and he doesn't look happy, to which Jeanne replies that she thought DiNozzo was in charge, a comment that could be taken more than one way. Has DiNozzo stretched the truth to her, and led her to believe he's higher up than he is? If so, do we return to the possibility that Jeanne is a case, with whom he has genuinely fallen in love? Or was it simply a 'here and now' comment, i.e. he'd told her that Gibbs was acting Director, so he, DiNozzo, was in charge of the team for the duration?
Back at the crime scene, we learn from the taxi driver that his now dead fare kept looking over his shoulder and was out of breath when he picked him up. They find a list of names on the dead man. Cynthia calls Gibbs to tell him that Sec Nav wants to talk to him and she's told him that Gibbs is available. Gibbs snaps at her and tells her that she is not to tell anyone that he's available without asking him first. And he officially takes over the case. As he does he calls out to Ducky, who has reappeared pushing some kind of trolley.
Gibbs: "Hey, Duck, you win the pool."
Ducky: "Yes! Thank you, Jethro."
Implying that either Gibbs is once again doing his omniscient act, or Ducky told him about the pool and what his bet had been. It's a nice little touch. I've long suspected that part of Gibbs's all knowing ability is actually Ducky keeping him informed of the 'little things' that Gibbs wouldn't want to waste his time on, but nonetheless would like to know about.
And then we flip to a plane with La Grenouille, his female assistant and Kort, talking about Black Rose and other matters relating back to 'Blowback'. Kort also tells La Grenouille than Jenny is trying to find Colonel-General Dimitri Borov. La Grenouille comments about her being relentless and suggests that they help her find the man.
Back at the office we learn that our cab driver, Joe Kelly, has been driving for twenty-two years and loves his job and has met various people, including the man who does his taxes and even his wife during that time.
DiNozzo suggests to McGee that they should recount the pool as Gibbs is up in the Director's office directing and they are working the case. And . . . And Gibbs is standing behind him. There's a fun exchange when Kelly realises that he can't go. DiNozzo had told him that he could, but as DiNozzo says 'what I say doesn't count when the boss is around'. Kelly compares that to him and his wife. Gibbs demands a report and between them DiNozzo and McGee start to tell Gibbs about the dead man (Hamal Farhan) and the fact that he'd applied for a visa several times and wasn't granted it. DiNozzo makes a comment about him being there illegally, and Gibbs somewhat sarcastically, in typical Gibbs style, asks whether they should call Immigration and have him deported. DiNozzo holds his own and actually compliments Gibbs on the comment. And then it turns out that Farhan has been added to his Yemen Embassy's staff as a gardener.
Ziva escorts Kelly to a conference room and leaves him there with a guard/escort outside of the door and says she'll try to find him the sandwich of his choice. As she leaves he takes his mobile phone out and makes a call. It's very clever, actually, because you think it's going to be some kind of 'I'm in', call to an accomplish, but it's actually a call to his wife - Thelma.
We then have a nice little Gibbs and Ducky in Autopsy scene where Ducky has to admit that he as yet does not know of what Farhan died. There are no obvious signs, all his organs were in excellent condition, so much so that Ducky is sorry that they couldn't have been donated. All he can do is to await the results of Abby's tests. There are some nice fond looks and smiles during the scene together, again it's one of the few times Gibbs actually looks relaxed. They go across to the video phone to call Abby, en route Gibbs's phone rings and it's Cynthia; he just disconnects without answering it. Ducky guesses it's Cynthia, and he makes a point of calling Gibbs DirecTOR, putting a lot of emphasis on the TOR - wicked Ducky.
Gibbs: "I hate a nagging woman, Duck." And he's with Mann!!!!!!!! She does nothing but nag, when she's not whining that is.
As they try to contact Abby Gibbs hovers over Ducky, getting really close and bending right over him. Personal space? What personal space? Abby isn't there, and a moment later Ducky discovers that he'd talking to himself as Gibbs has done his usual disappearing act - poor Ducky, he looks quite disappointed, but also resigned, he knows his Gibbs so well.
Abby and McGee are in the garage with the taxi and Abby is having fond memories. At first McGee thinks she was a cab driver at one time, until Abby explains her first was in a taxi; McGee asks whether it was front or back, and it turns out to have been both, kind of. Ziva appears and picks up on the first time thing, adding that her first time was in a weapons locker.
Abby & McGee in synch: "It would be."
Gibbs then appears and overhears the whole first time thing and asks what it's about, and Abby calmly beings to talk about curling. He tells her that she should make her mass-spectrometer work faster!
It turns out that all but two people, David Brown and Robert Smith, on the list Farhan was carrying are dead, but as yet they can't find a connection. Gibbs tells Ziva and DiNozzo to start tracking down all the David Browns and Robert Smiths in the area and to try to establish a connection. We have a fun little scene when Ziva gets into a discussion about whether or not the person to whom she is talking should send flowers or a sympathy card in respect of one of the dead people; a perfect stranger! DiNozzo in turn gets rid of his people by trying to interest them in a video club of naughty films.
Cynthia appears and shouts "Director Gibbs!" she's certainly a brave woman. The Cultural Attaché from the Yemen Embassy wants to see Farhan's body. Later when he appears and identifies the body, we learn that that Farhan was only a gardener on paper, in fact he was the son of one of Yemen's Prime Minister's advisers.
DiNozzo is on the phone talking about the Simpsons; Gibbs gets very angry with him. He also gets angry with Cynthia and treats her to the Gibbs glare when she dares to remind him about the outstanding case files, in fact he moved menacingly towards her; very sensibly she backs down at that point. And to complete his anger, he also snaps at McGee and tells him to go and tell Abby that the validity of her ballistics test will be checked by an expert hired by Scolleti's Lawyers (another case on which they are working).
Abby is very upset when McGee tells her this, going on about them questioning the validity of her ballistics, and how she prides herself on her forensic work. Hmmm, Abby this is exactly what you yourself did a week or two ago when you questioned Ducky's expertise. McGee calms her down a little and we have a lovely hug between them. Abby says she loves him and then explains not love love, but love, like the way she loves a puppy. McGee isn't too pleased with the comparison, but Abby is puzzled because she says she loves puppies.
Gibbs goes to talk to Kelly, who again is on the phone to Thelma. Gibbs grabs the phone and tells her that he husband is a material witness and hangs up. He then says that he'd never married, because women stop liking him after a while as he always knows when they are lying, and he knows when men are too. And once again takes Kelly through his statement. Clearly the Gibbs gut is rumbling, but he can't tie it down or explain why yet.
DiNozzo has meanwhile finished his calls, but Ziva has some left. She tries to get him to help her, saying she'll make it worth his wow. He explains it's 'while', but she says 'wow' makes more sense. He goes off to call Jeanne and than both apologise to one another, and he agrees to look at his bungalow she's found. She tells him she loves him, he says he loves her and the look on Ziva's face is so sad; has our Mossad Officer fallen for DiNozzo herself? Or, is Jeanne a case, and DiNozzo doesn't know it? Does Ziva know, and thus the look is sad because she knows DiNozzo really had fallen in love, but knows that it will end because of who/what Jeanne is?
Still down with Abby the mass-spectrometer finally delivers the results: the man was poisoned with Saxitoxin. Abby starts to look for Gibbs as he always appears when she has a result. McGee, rather foolishly, comments that Gibbs is a bit off his game since he took over as acting Director and out of the ether Gibbs's voice appears in heard :-) Ooops, that's the second time McGee has said something like that, the first being at the beginning when he was speculating what Gibbs had done wrong in respect of the Sec Nav calling him. Gibbs orders them both 'down here'. So he's in Autopsy, all alone with Ducky :-)
Nice little Autopsy scene with Gibbs, Ducky, Abby and McGee (my four favourites in one place at the same time). Ducky explains about Saxitoxin and he and Abby agree that there was no way that the amount found in Farhan's body got there accidentally; he was murdered. Abby and Ducky hug and Gibbs gets irritated and says 'whenever you two have done'. Ducky then explains that in the 1950s, the CIA invented a suicide pill that contained the poison.
Back in Paris Kort calls Jenny to arrange to meet her to tell her where she'll find her Russian General. When they meet he gives her the address, he is in hospital dying of lung cancer and Kort has booked a ticket for her to go and see him. Meanwhile, La Grenouille, we learn is in Nice. Before he goes, Kort kisses her on the cheek.
Down in the garage at NCIS, all the people working, leave and suddenly a man appears from underneath the seat in the cab (the Trojan Horse). He manages to work his way around the security system. He gets into the evidence locker and find the evidence pertaining to Scoletti and swaps the gun with one he has bought with him. As he's doing this Abby appears to get the said gun as she wants to quadruple check the serial number. For a moment you wonder if he's going to attack her, but he doesn't; his brief seems to be literally to swap the guns. On her way out, however, she sees something hinky on the floor, and takes it with her.
We learn that Kelly didn't take the quickest, or cheapest route to NCIS, but still he seems to be a nice man, innocent, but we know he had someone in his taxi. And then 'Thelma' calls him; Thelma is the man hiding under the seat and he wants to get out of there having done the switch. With no reason, other than a niggling gut, to keep him, Gibbs lets him go.
Meanwhile he, McGee and DiNozzo are still trying to find a link between the names on the apparent hit list, but the only thing they have in common is that they appeared on the obituaries. They call up the photos and Gibbs realises that the people had been randomly selected, their names put on the paper Farhan had to make it appear that it was a hit list, when the only murder was Farhan's. Ah, the old 'where best to hide a murder' plot, albeit with a slight twist. And then Abby turns up with the foam she found on the floor of the lock up; foam that was in the taxi.
The taxi is stopped at the gate, Kelly gets out, nice little touch when he's told to:
"Put your hands on the wheel." And "Get out of the cab." And he asks which one; I've often wondered that myself when watching these things, how the orders contradict one another :-) Gibbs decides to take the short route to getting the accomplish out and shoots at the underside of the front of the cab. He appears - well wouldn't you! And we do indeed learn that Scoletti's Lawyers set the whole thing up. Kelly was going to get $10,000 just for doing the driving and his statement about not knowing that Farhan had been murdered, that they'd just told him he was a man who died, to me sounded genuine. I think he really was just after the money to take his Thelma on a rather belated honeymoon. He does, however, compare Ziva to his mother, the eyes and around the mouth, leading Ziva to ask Gibbs if she can shoot him.
And then we are in Moscow. Jenny says that she's writing her father's memories and that he and the General were old friends and adversaries. Borov's daughter takes Jenny to her father, and then when she leaves them alone, Jenny gives him a cigarette and wants him to sign a statement basically admitting that he took money knowingly from La Grenouille. He tells her that her father also did; she doesn't believe him. And says her father is dead, that he died twelve years ago. And then Borov drops the bombshell; apparently Daddy visited Borov three weeks ago.
To be continued in two weeks . . .
Is the bad thing that La Grenouille did to Jenny was to kill her father? Except, is her father not dead after all? And could it get even worse, could he be working with La Grenouille? Or, could La Grenouille even be her father? If she thinks he is dead and she hasn't seen La Grenouille, then maybe . . . That's probably taking it far too far, but . . .
A very good episode. Lots of humour, team work, good exchanges, and still the mystery concerning Jenny and La Grenouille goes on, and indeed deepens, and even Jeanne and just who she is is back up for grabs. And Gibbs as acting Director - priceless! I enjoyed this a lot.
No Mann. Not even a hint of a reference to Mann! Yes!!!
Limited Jenn, and although she was still concentrating on her nemeses she wasn't as OTT as two weeks ago.
No Jimmy, not so good.
Some nice Ducky scenes, a reasonable amount.
A couple of nice Gibbs and Ducky interactions with the way they look at one another; always so wonderful to see.