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Episode Review. Season 5x03 - Ex-File

Spoilers behind the cut.



Okay, so what has happened to the show I used to love?

What has happened to Gibbs?

More importantly where has Leroy Jethro Gibbs gone? And who is this clone in his place? Because this man is NOT Gibbs.

And why are we treated to 'The Mann Show?' How can she walk in and take over the whole op? Yes, it was on 'her' base, but honestly, we aren't watching the show for her. And the way she treats Gibbs.

And look, more inconsistencies - oh, what a surprise! Although it does seem as if they are now being consistent with their new time line as in 'Angel Of Death'.

Diane, who going by what we were told in Season Three was ex-wife #3, is no 'officially' ex-wife #2 (the one whom Tobias married, the mother of Emily) and if we ignore the whole 'We've only known one another 10 years and yet I've known all three of your ex-wives and you were still happily married to the first one when we met fiasco', that does fit. But . . .

So now we have:

- Wife #1 (Shannon). Mother of Kelly, they were murdered in 1991. Gibbs married her in 1981 and Kelly is born in 1984. (Hiatus)
- Ex-wife #1 (nameless) But who was, according to Ducky, 'a lovely girl', and she left Gibbs. Had to have been with Gibbs in 1996 (Hiatus)
- E-wife #2 (Diane) She who emptied his bank account when she left, hit him with a 7 iron, and married Tobias.
- Jenn (Which does fit, based on the fact that the boat was called Diane and we know Diane was having an affair when Gibbs and Jenn were in Paris)
- Ex-wife #3 (Stephanie) who was six years ago (we know ex-wife #3 was from 'The Curse', so that fits) who lived with Gibbs in Moscow (again if we use JAG we know Gibbs spent time in Moscow - but wait, we're not meant to use JAG are we, because in JAG Gibbs had been in NCIS for 19 years, which then gets reduced to 15 in 'Hiatus' *bangs head on desk*). And she hit Gibbs with the baseball bat.

*Shakes head*

Okay, enough of that. On to the actual Mann Show episode.



I didn't care for it at all. There were far too many characters acting OOC; there was far too much Mann (sorry leda_speaks); once again the crime hardly seemed to matter.

The baddie was another one of the really obvious ones - not that I consider knowing who the baddie was early on a negative thing.

We don't pick up on any of the other outstanding threads; La Grenouille's body still hasn't been found; we hear nothing more about Jenny and her maybe-dead-maybe-alive father (not that I care, but I would like it resolved), and the whole polygraph thing seems to have been forgotten.

It was also another episode when the spoilers I hadn't managed to avoid were mis-leading. In those Mann says that she and Gibbs talk about living together and then in the last 30 seconds we learn something shocking that will set the tone for the entire season. Er . . . Nope.



The episode opens with two women (Jill Reynolds and Stephanie Flynn) going into Jill's, just chatting about flights and how Jill's husband, Trent, is always too busy to pick her up. They go further into the house and find Reynold sitting by the computer dead, he's been spear-gunned and it's still through him.

At the office we have Ziva exited the lift bouncing along to a song she's listening to on her IPod. Gibbs looks at her and she hurriedly takes it off. Abby then bounces in and asks if Gibbs has found his gift; she takes it out of his drawer. It turns out that she has bought everyone on 'Team Gibbs' an IPod. DiNozzo arrives, also singing, and gets treated to the same Gibbs-look. McGee is using his to listen to a 'male improvement' lecture. Gibbs goes over to him and McGee tries to say he's listening to an MIT lecture, and he too gets the Gibbs look, albeit a tad more fondly than the other two got. Meanwhile Abby is talking about how great the gifts are, how new they are, how many songs you can download to listen to. Gibbs tells her he only listens to five songs and she starts to try to 'educate him' and gives him names of bands. His phone rings and he says 'Dead Marine'; Abby momentarily thinks he's talking about a band.

It was one of the few good scenes in the whole episode - after this, apart from a couple of nice little exchanges, it went downhill fast.

We get to the dead Marine's house and Lt. Col. Hollis Mann is there; it's 'her' base, thus it's 'her' case; Gibbs will be working for her! The kids are talking about Mann 'being on top', meanwhile Gibbs and Mann are exchanging one of their looks/conversations, where there is zilch chemistry between them and he's still not being overly-friendly to her and she's still dragging up their personal relationship every second. 'Do they [the kids] know we're still seeing one another?'

Ducky appears: "Colonel. Jethro," a difference in tone when he says the two names; not much, but it's there. And he asks to whom he's reporting.

Gibbs: "Her."

Mann: "Me."

DiNozzo: "Better get used to that."

Mann overhears that, the kids don't like her and she knows it and she doesn't like them, and he does a very good DiNozzo cover-up.

Mann then asks Ducky what he has. And he's a little curt with her in his very-Ducky-way-with-women. And points out that whilst the dead do talk to him, it's not quite that quickly and he's only been there a minute. (This was the first of only two Ducky scenes).

Gibbs's phone rings; Mann instructs the team.

We then move to Jenny's office; where we have Jenn, Mann, Gibbs and two men, one being, Army Major Eric Sweigart, from Defence Intelligence. There ensues the usual kind of 'turf war', plus a bit of humour with Jenny talking about CID and NCIS working 'hand in hand', changes this to 'side by side' and again changes it, with the DIA wanting to take charge of Reynolds laptop and talking about highly classified ops, etc. Gibbs, really not getting involved as Mann, Jenn and the DIA bitch at one another says 'black ops', which earns him a sharp look from Reynolds. Jenny says that they either have to let Abby know what's going on, or send someone over to 'supervise' her work, they decide to do the opposite - oh, yes, Jenny, that will go well! Surprise, surprise Captain Reynolds apparently got along well with everyone with whom he worked (this is so often the case), but neither of the DIA men seem to really know him personally. They assume he spent all his free time with his wife as he was always rushing home to be with her. The look Mann gives Gibbs here is priceless and doesn't just speak volumes, it screams them.

In the lift, DiNozzo is talking to McGee and Ziva about 'crash and burn' and explains he's talking about Mann and Gibbs, the army and NCIS. Ziva says 'or it could last a lifetime'. DiNozzo then digs himself into a hole as he covers up what he was going to say about Ziva. She's still trying to get it out of him when they leave the lift and a young man (Fred Rinnert) is standing there and fills in the missing word: 'girl'. DiNozzo was trying to avoid calling Ziva a girl - actually that was another nice little scene.

So we meet Fred; he's the DIA expert who is going to be overseeing Abby. McGee is left to take him down and immediately, as always happens when a man comes into Abby's life in any way, shape of form, McGee displays jealousy, as is true when a girl comes into McGee's life - Abby and McGee are *so* meant for one another, come on PTB, we know they are.

In Abby's lab, Abby is *not* happy with the appearance of Fred and tells McGee to make him go away - she does her 'little girl act' so well here. McGee tells her to block Fred out and tells her to close her eyes and imagine him gone, we have a cute little scene-let with Abby doing just that - but each time she fails: Fred is still there, instead, when she opens her eyes the final time, it's McGee who has gone.

Back in the squad room we're at Gibbs's desk and he's 'fighting' with his computer, she comes over and tries to take over, they bicker and she ends up pushing him out of the way and talking about it needing a soft touch. She is making him look like a fool and a child and is treating him thus; but what is worse is that Gibbs is letting her!!! Rather nicely, even though she manages to display the fact that they have a match, she too can't get the information - hah! So she resorts to hitting the keyboard and McGee hurries over the the rescue. The finger prints are: Sweigart's.

He claims that he had to go to Reynolds house to drop off some papers and we also see him with a spear-gun - so of course we know that he didn't do it. He says that he spent the night before with Stephanie Flynn - Gibbs reacts and we quickly learn that Stephanie was an ex-wife.

Back in Jenn's office with Mann and Gibbs (the latter looking like a harangued husband/guilty school-boy/total idiot) standing in front of her desk, we have a really bitchy scene, with Jenn and Mann both being more than a bit unpleasant to and about Gibbs. Jenn asks if the 'problem' they've encountered is going to involve lawyers, Mann retorts that it already has and suggest Gibbs tells Jenn. Gibbs doesn't; Mann does. Jenn then has her bitchy scene asking which ex-wife and suggests 2, Gibbs says 3 (see above for comment on inconsistency). She then says about him living with her in Europe and says Frankfurt, he says Moscow and she makes a comment how it's difficult to live with anyone for long in Moscow. Jenny also tells Mann that she'll have to interview Stephanie and says does Gibbs mind that. When he asks if he has a choice, Jenn and Mann together say "No." I ask again, where is the Gibbs we know and love? He just stood there and put up with the nastiness, the bitchiness and was like, well . . . Not like the Gibbs we got to know in S1&2. He accepted it, we had no sarcastic comments or come-backs, that was *not* Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Mann tries to interview Stephanie and she asks for Gibbs; Mann says he's busy. Stephanie thinks Gibbs is watching and calls to him. Outside in the observation room we have DiNozzo and Ziva observing. DiNozzo wants to know who is prettier "Ex-wife #3 or future ex-wife #4." (That is at least the second time one of the kids has referred to her in those terms - ex-wife #4). Ziva says Mann is at a disadvantage because of her uniform and then rebukes DiNozzo for trying to imagine Mann out of her uniform. As Stephanie yells, "You never could talk to me," Gibbs appears behind DiNozzo who has just commented on Stephanie's feistiness. He and Ziva make a hasty retreat to check the phone records.

In Abby's lab, she is clearly stressed by the presence of Fred, who is hovering. She again tries the 'eye closing' thing and opens them to find he's also closed his eyes. When she asks why, he says he's imagining her talking to her. It breaks down a small barrier and she does begin to. At that point he spots a 'sniffer file', that is a file pretending to be a .dll but is a .exe. It's the turning point for Abby and Fred (and if you hadn't guessed before about Fred, it's starting to become a lot clearer). We learn that Captain Reynolds was a hacker.

Back in the interrogation room, we have Stephanie and Gibbs and she comes out with a highly poignant line: "It never was about me, was it?" she's talking about their marriage. Quite sad really, even if she did end up whacking him with a baseball bat. She thinks he doesn't like it because she's found someone else (Sweigart), but he says he's happy for her. Mann is hovering throughout a lot of the scene, but does leave near the very end. Then McGee comes to the rescue (again) and tells Gibbs that Abby wants them.

In the lab suddenly Abby and Fred are getting on like a house on fire, much to McGee's obvious displeasure (poor Tim, she loves you really). They talk geek and Gibbs and Mann both turn to McGee to translate, actually that is one of the 'good' scenes and it really is fun. We learn that Reynolds had uploaded a file to share and it turns out to be a song - The Element Song - which is basically a song that recites all the elements in the periodic table. Abby plays it and she, McGee and Fred are all 'bouncing alone', Gibbs and Mann aren't!

We then move to Autopsy and ensues a scene that on the one hand (if you are a Gibbs/Ducky fan) can, maybe, possibly, be taken one way, on the other is Ducky being OOC. Mann is trying to talk to Ducky about Gibbs and get information out of him. She asks Ducky what went wrong with Gibbs and Stephanie. Ducky tried to doge the question by saying that a man's heart can tell you about how he lived and died, but not about how he loved. She apologises for putting him on the spot.

Ducky then tells her that she won't "Find a better man than Jethro. He's a fiercely loyal colleague and friend, but he does come with his challenges." A nice little line for the G/D folk to take in a certain way :-)

She carries on talking and says that he's shutting her out and that she always thought it might be Stephanie.

Ducky: "They weren't married long."

Mann: "Fourteen months."

At Ducky surprised look she says she was top in the class in interrogation; he dryly says that if she ever interrogates him, he'll ensure he has a highly qualified lawyer.

Still she won't let it drop (that woman may be excellent at her job, may be a top class interrogator, but how can she be when she seems to know zilch about body language and even-less-than-subtle hints???) And says she doesn't want to be one of Jethro's mistakes, adding she knows he's been married three times.

Ducky, who we know gives just about all his emotions away with his eyes, especially where Jethro is concerned, reacts to this - and oddly enough, Mann picks up on that and pushes him. He suggests that it's time for the lawyer. But terrier that she is, she won't let go. And this is where we get a very OOC Ducky (IMO).

He not only tells her that actually whilst Jethro has three ex-wives, he's been married four times (refuting her question about whether Gibbs is currently married), but then goes on to tell her about Shannon and Kelly and how they died, and how old Kelly was when she died. At one point he does say she should ask Gibbs, but still he tells her.

Now I don't believe this; I simply don't believe that Ducky would do that. He respects Gibbs too much, he cares for him too much, if Gibbs hasn't told Mann, Ducky would know it wasn't his place to do so. Even if I put my G/D hat on and say he was doing it to try to get her to get out of Gibbs's life (after all it appears that Gibbs is incapable of telling a woman to 'get lost'), but even with that hat on, I *cannot* see Ducky doing it. I was . . . stunned is too soft a word. And even typing this, I can't believe it. Utterly and totally OOC.

Anyway, moving on, as we knew was going to happen Gibbs comes in, ignores Mann and talks to Ducky. Ducky tells him that Reynolds was crying when he died. DiNozzo and Ziva arrived, DiNozzo gets mixed up (again) with his 'boss' 'ma'am' 'Colonel' it's been an on-going 'funny' throughout, and we learn that Sweigart has been calling Jill Reynolds. (This is the last we see of Ducky in the episode).

Back in the squad room Mann, once more running things, is talking about the classic love triangle: Reynolds, Jill and Sweigart, DiNozzo adds that if you count the lover (Stephanie) then it's a square. Once again, during her 'love triangle speech', Mann looks at Gibbs in a very telling way. Stephanie was with Sweigart when Reynolds was killed; Jill was in Charlottesville, but it was technically possible (as it's 'only' 104 miles, two hour away - I love the way Americans say 'only' for that kind of distance), for her to drive back, kill hubby and still be on the plane the next day. And there was a very large life insurance.

In Abby's lab, she is wearing a very short and revealing at the top as well, dress and Fred is ogling her. She, however, is thinking about stenography; he says she's good and wants to know if she wants an assistant; Abby says she's a control freak.

We then have a Gibbs and Mann lift scene. he wants to know what is bugging her and she immediately makes it really personal about them and asks how long they've been seeing one another. At that point he pushes the button to move the lift again. She hits the stop button and asks again.

Gibbs: "Weeks."

Mann: "Months."

Gibbs: "Many weeks."

And she still doesn't get it?

She then challenges him about Shannon and Kelly; clearly he is not happy - does he know how she knows? Would he guess that Ducky told her? No, he'd think she'd found out some other way. He says he didn't mention it as he'd put it behind him.

Mann: "Have you?"

He is angry; you can see that.

Back in the squad room poor McGee is trying to find reasons to go and help Abby, but backs down under the famous Gibbs silent stare. McGee then, as Gibbs walks off, 'complains' to Mann about Fred about how he's ten a penny, etc; she says that women can see through it.

At Reynolds house DiNozzo and Ziva meet Lt. Marsden who has been there to talk about the insurance. He leaves; they find her cleaning.

Back in Abby's lab, McGee has bought Abby a Caf-Pow (sweet), but (as expected) she and Fred have one (poor Tim). McGee makes a jolly good suggestion and Fred gets an Abby hug, which gives us a little 'cowboy stand-off' scene between McGee and Fred - nice.

Then we have Stephanie and Jenny *rolls eyes* and during the conversation Stephanie gives Jenn a 'Gibbs look'; she says she learnt a lot of bad habits from Gibbs. And she asks Jenny if there was anything between her and Gibbs, that she got the impression that there was something after his second ex-wife; Jenny says it was all only strictly professional between her and Gibbs. (Oh, yeah, Jenn? We know differently, we had to live through the Paris scenes and your overt flirting when you came back).

Back downstairs we have DiNozzo and Ziva watching Gibbs with all three women. DiNozzo sums it up perfectly: 'train wreck'.

In the interrogation room Mann wants Jill to come clean about her affair with Sweigart and also about killing him for the $650,000 life insurance. Jill denies the killing and says that her husband didn't know about the affair. They tell her he did, the tears. Then Mann gets extremely angry when she challenges Jill about lying; she isn't just angry with Jill, that much is clear. She is angry with Gibbs for what she sees as him lying to her.

However, McGee proves that Jill was in Charlottesville at 8:05 she didn't kill her husband.

Mann wants Stephanie brought back in and order DiNozzo to do so. Gibbs says no. Mann yes. Gibbs no. Poor DiNozzo is somewhat stuck. Mann says that Gibbs isn't being impartial and asks what if Stephanie had found out about the affair between Sweigart and Jill. Gibbs says that Stephanie would 'have walked' in a very heartfelt tone. Which to my mind implies he knows that from experience; Stephanie found out he was having an affair and thus the baseball bat and she walked. Mann actually thinks Stephanie might be the killer and wants her brought in and that if it was anyone other than Stephanie Gibbs would be doing just that. Gibbs tells DiNozzo to call Stephanie and ask her to come in. Nice tiny red-herring when DiNozzo can't find her; and we learn she quit her job that morning - but it was clearly an obvious red-herring.

Once more in Abby's lab, Abby manages to crack the password and they discover that the song was uploaded, the sniffer created and Reynolds killed all at around the same time. They listen to the sniffer and it's the song again, but with a few pauses. Abby realises that it's a code; Fred says no; Abby ignores him and starts to tie in the elements named with their numbers on the table. And her phone rings; Fred answers it (which doesn't please Abby) and says it's her boss. Abby then starts to pack the laptop away in a sealed bag and talks about how she's Gibbs favourite so he's nice to her; Fred urges her to go though. Oh, Abby, Abby, Abby, don't leave the laptop, he's all but come out and told you he's involved. It was such an obvious decoy with the phone.

And, of course, we learn that it wasn't Gibbs who called Abby. Back down in Abby's lab the files have been wiped (could he have done it that quickly?) and not only wiped but effectively nuked. Ditto on the laptop. Abby asks if she can hit him; Gibbs says no; Fred protests his innocence, but really he knows that they know, but he also knows that they haven't, at that point, got any evidence; he's playing with them.

They all follow him to the lift; Gibbs with his subtle smile, and Abby grabs his phone, proves he called her and he's booked a flight. Again asks if she can hit him; again Gibbs says 'no'. And then we learn that the element numbers are an off-shore account in the names of Reynolds and Fred; the money was transferred in at around the time of Reynold's death and out again two hours later. Now Gibbs allows Abby to hit him; she does, a punch on the nose - nice shot Abby. McGee agrees as he says 'sweet'.

Final scene is in Gibbs's basement. He and Mann come back, she's giggling. And Stephanie is there - much to Mann's displeasure; Gibbs doesn't seem that unhappy to see her. She gives him a bag of things she found about six years ago, he thought he'd lost it, and makes a comment about him still not locking his front door. Mann at that point says she'll go, Stephanie says no, she's going; Gibbs walks her out.

Outside he asks why she quit her job and she's going back to Philly to be near her elderly parents and her sister has had another baby; she looks very wistful at that point and says she guesses she'll just be the doting aunt. And she tells him that she and Sweigart have broken up and says that she knows that when she was having a go at him, that he knew about the affair, and he could have thrown it at her. He says he wouldn't and she admits she knows; she then cries on his shoulder for a moment or two and says how it never works out for her. He tells her, "Me, us, not your fault." She says it wasn't anyone's fault and as she gets into the car says, "We'll always have Moscow." The looks he gives her are quite tender and caring.

Back in his basement, Mann, nosing around as always, finds a tape and puts it on, thinking it's music. It's a child playing a piano and then Kelly speaks to her daddy, telling him that she got second place but she'll do better, and that she misses him and loves him, and Shannon also speaks. Gibbs is sitting on the stairs. Mann is by the tape looking shocked. And the final look he gives her is not a nice one at all; his look at Stephanie was far, far nicer than the look of almost hatred he gave Mann.

OVERALL

The worst episode of the season, thus far, in fact it is one of the worst of the entire show.

Far, far, far, far, far too much Mann - it is not her show or her team.

Too much OOC behaviour - in particular Gibbs and Ducky.

Too little, by far, Ducky.

No Jimmy.

Still no resolution La Grenouille.

Far too little about the case.

Far too little team interaction.

More Abby, so that's good.

And some lovely McGee jealous scenes.

Inconsistencies - but at least they are being consistent in them.

A very poor episode indeed.

Storyline: 4.00

Enjoyment 4.00

Tags: non-fiction: episode reviews, season 05
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