I wasn't particularly looking forward to this episode, as I knew from the summary of it it was going to involve flashbacks to Kelly and Shannon and Gibbs's link with the past.
These episodes never really work for me, and I'm not just talking as a Gibbs/Ducky shipper here, I don't tend to like them in any show, from example in Stargate SG1 and others, this kind of episode tends not, and never really has, work for me. So I was rather ambivalent going into it. I admit to being pleasantly surprised, it wasn't as hooked on the past as I expected it to be and was actually incredibly poignant.
Even so, it isn't a favourite episode of mine and we've gone back to 'oh, let's just throw in a Marine death because we are, after all, NCIS. But then again the case was negligible and much more secondary to the plot than the whole Gibbs thing. There was several ship scenes for several ships in this episode.
The opening sequence was the one that has been much talked about: Gibbs and a female trapped in a car underwater. DiNozzo runs through a warehouse shooting and dives into the water. He gets to the car, the girl is already unconscious, Gibbs isn't, and he helps DiNozzo get the girl out. Once DiNozzo has her out and has done a bit of CPR on her, he dives back in and gets Gibbs out. By this time Gibbs is unconscious. DiNozzo then starts to work on Gibbs, whilst talking to him:
DiNozzo: "Don't do this to me boss. Don't make me kiss you." (I am sure there was endless squeeing from Gibbs/DiNozzo fen, when DiNozzo does, in fact, put his mouth over Gibbs's).
Nothing seems to happen, so after a second or two, he turns his attention back to the girl and starts to work on her some more. She seems to be alive; at that point Gibbs looks dead.
[Okay, we interrupt this review for me to rant. Whoever directed that scene (looks up Director's name) needs shooting. I've seen some appalling CPR scenes in my time, but this one takes the biscuit for appallingness. So we know that in shows/films it is impossible for the person doing CPR to press down hard enough on the other person's chest, as you have to press hard enough to break ribs, so that's just about okay. But really, the mouth-to-mouth was dreadful; their heads weren't tipped back far enough, he didn't check the airways, and DiNozzo certainly didn't cover either person's mouth properly. Add to that the fact that when he dived back into the water to get Gibbs he left the girl on her back, and after working on Gibbs he left him on his back. It was an utter farce and it was such a shame because that scene was meant to be heavy with tension and edge-of-the-seat is he dead/alive and have such power; it failed to an extent. You can't blame MH, MW or the girl, you can only blame the director - shame on you for ruining such a powerful scene, Mr. Wharmby.]
Back to episode review.
After the opening scene we go back in time twenty four hours. Gibbs and Abby are in the lift and Abby is asking him for something, what we don't know. She's begging him, in her Abbyish way, and promises that if he agrees she'll never ask for anything else again.
Abby (considering): "Well, maybe not never, but at least a week."
As he always does where Abby is concerned, Gibbs smiles and agrees (a nice Gibbs/Abby moment for the G/A fen). And what she wants is a picture of him, she clicks her cell phone, but at that moment he moves because McGee is talking to him. McGee tells him that a Maddie Tyler has arrived to see him and McGee's put her in the lounge; she has said that it's personal.
Gibbs goes off and we learn that Abby wants the photograph for her phone, so that when Gibbs calls her his photo will appear and she'll know it's him (how sweet).
Gibbs goes to see Maddie and at first he doesn't recognise her. We then learn she was Kelly's best friend and used to go over to Gibbs's house a lot. She's (in her words) a 'Marine brat', her father, who is now dead, was an officer and they used to live on base. From what we see later, we can only assume that Gibbs did not live on base. She's come to Gibbs because she has guy problems; crazy guy problems. About eighteen months ago she dated a guy a couple of times, he's a Marine, he's been in Iraq and on his return he turns up at her house wanting to 'start up again' and move in with her. When she said no, he got unpleasant; since then he's been hanging around outside her house and pestering her - he's stalking her. The cops can't do anything as it's only been a week (great cops!), and when Gibbs asks if he's hurt her, she shows him some bruises, but she does add that she doesn't believe he meant to hurt her. His name is Rudi Haas.
Meanwhile back in the squad room Abby is taking picture of the others and passing comments.
- McGee she deems 'cute' (teeny Abby/McGee moment)
- Ziva she deems 'pretty' (and her voice should make Abby/Ziva fen squee a little)
- DiNozzo, pulls a face and roars.
She's about to make him pose again, as Gibbs appears. Again, she snaps him (because the second picture she took of him had her finger over the lens) and also gets Maddie (she hadn't seen her). She duly apologises.
Gibbs and Maddie head for the lift and Jenny appears and wants to talk to Gibbs about the an update on the East African threat assessment. Gibbs ignores her and just goes into the lift with Maddie. Jenny is left staring after them and the look on her face is the 'old Jenny', she is still jealous of him with another woman (Gibbs/Jenny fen get a moment too).
Meanwhile the kids discuss who the girl is. Ziva suggests 'new girlfriend' (does this mean, she says with fingers, toes, legs and arms crossed, that we have got rid of Mann??? Okay, so Gibbs is hardly likely to talk to the kids about whom he is dating, but . . . no one corrects her, or anything, so I'm going to cling to a teeny hope that LCHM is no more). *NB I made this comment before I came across this (more spoilers if you click).
Abby says that Maddie is too young, DiNozzo adds that she's not a red-head (neither is Mann, which makes Mann even more of a weird choice).
Ziva then suggests niece. (Now we know that Gibbs is an only child because he tells us thus in 'The Bone Yard', and that is something I would have thought that DiNozzo, at least would know, but again no one points out that Gibbs is an only child).
Then DiNozzo says: "McGeek, McGoogle her' (nice moment). But McGee goes one better: he goes to MySpace, and there they discover a picture of Kelly, noted as her best friend, and finally they tie in who Maddie is and what her connection with Gibbs is.
At Maddie's house, Haas comes out and starts to talk to Maddie as if she is his girl-friend. Gibbs goes into father/ex-Marine mode and grabs Haas very tightly and in his silky, low, almost seductive/flirtatious, ultra-deadly tone, the one that if you hear you should run very quickly, very far away, he threatens Haas. Shiver moment when Gibbs uses that voice; very much so. Haas does go (so would any even half sensible person).
Inside Maddie's place it is a mess; Gibbs is sitting at the table with a mug of coffee and for once even he's beaten! She offers him some more, he swallows hard and says no. She turns up a photograph album and there is a picture of her and Kelly together. We get a flashback to the giggling girls and Gibbs tells her that he took the photo, but never found out about what they were giggling. Maddie tells him that they'd put together a time capsule of their, mostly Kelly's, prized possessions and buried it in Gibbs's garden, in the place they were sitting when Gibbs took the photo.
She says she still thinks about Kelly and still cries over her and wonders what she'd have been like. Gibbs tells her she'd have been like her. She insists on him taking the photograph. He leaves telling her to call him if Haas turns up again and to keep her door locked. It is then we discover that our coffee-swigging Gibbs, has taken no more than one sip of the coffee. Someone has finally given him black coffee that even he won't drink!
Back at the office, McGee is looking Haas up; his record is clean. Jenny appears and wants to know what is going on, why they are running checks on Sergeant Haas. Gibbs stonewalls, but it's clear she doesn't believe him. He finally admits to knowing Maddie, but says his involvement is not personal (which at the level that Jenny probably, leading up to that, thinks, it isn't personal, but oh, Gibbs, it is very much personal, we can all see that). Gibbs then goes.
The kids then talk about books and reading, as they note that Jenny read Gibbs clearly and they banter back and forth in their old way which worked well with teasing and light 'bitching' but not at an unpleasant level going on. DiNozzo reveals that he has been a subscriber to the National Geographic since 1981! They are still talking about Gibbs and Jenny.
Ziva: "She is worried about him."
McGee: "Question is, should we be?" And he seems genuinely concerned at that point (teeny Gibbs/McGee moment, maybe).
We then go to Gibbs in his back garden and lo and behold he is digging beneath some bushes and he finds the 'time capsule' (a box) that the girls buried and he takes it inside, to his basement. So that seems to show us that the house in which Gibbs now lives is in fact the house in which he lived with Shannon and Kelly (and yet we know that he lost a house to one of his ex-wives, plus the location shots of his house in previous flashbacks don't really match this one. Oh, well . . . ) We have more flashbacks of Shannon and Kelly with singing 'Mocking Bird' song and also Kelly crying and begging him not to go. (That is significant for later in the episode).
The Maddie calls him and tells him Haas is back.
Gibbs goes to her place, it has been trashed and he hears her crying out, looks out of the window just in time to see a man bundling her into Haas's car. He races down, gun drawn, but it races away and of course he can't shoot, he might hit Maddie.
Back at HQ, a BOLO has been put out on Haas's car and Gibbs is told that Abby has a picture of Maddie, that she took when Maddie appeared with Gibbs. Gibbs is pushing the kids and being demanding in the way he only ever gets when it is personal, and Jenny (of course) appears. She plays 'devil's advocate' and makes Gibbs admit that he is only assuming it was Haas who kidnapped Maddie, because it was his car.
We learn that Haas decided not to re-enlist in the Marines and that he's a logistics expert, basically everything that was shipped out of Iraq went through him. His phone records reveal lots of calls to Maddie, but also two received calls, one when he got back to the US, the only just before the kidnapping from the same number. A security company called BSS. The CEO of BSS is a Retired Army Major - Max Bourdais. It looks as if BSS had been head-hunting Haas.
The next scene show Bourdais, Gibbs and Jenny. Bourdais admits to approaching Haas with a job offer at $1,000 a day!!! (Wow!!), but Haas turned him down. When Gibbs wants to know why Haas is worth so much, after all he's only a paper pusher, we learn that there wasn't anything that Haas couldn't manage to get in and out of Iraq; Bourdais says he is well wroth the money. But Haas turned him down! Bourdais also denies ever having met Haas (but he's clearly not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth). Gibbs is angry, but ultimately they have to let Bourdais go. J
Jenny then pushes Gibbs about Maddie and finally gets him to admit that she's a friend, a family friend, from 15 years ago (strictly speaking, going by Hiatus, it's 16 years, but I guess 15 is near enough, people do round up/down to nice round numbers).
Once Gibbs leaves the office Abby appears, she's sent a picture of Maddie to the relevant place, after cutting Gibbs off, and then she gives Gibbs a copy of the photo of Maddie and himself.
McGee has tracked some of Haas's other calls; three of them came from the same location, using the same tower, within a four block radius. DiNozzo has also managed to find out information, before he joined the Marines, Haas worked as a night-watchman for a clothing factory, that was in the area.
Gibbs, DiNozzo, McGee and Ziva are all at the warehouse, but no one in there (country and western music is playing in the background). Ziva can hear something and shushes the rest of them: she can hear flies. The lift comes down, the doors open and inside nailed to the ground in crucifixion style is a body. It's Haas.
Then Ducky arrives. "Not quite a stairway to heaven. Perhaps an elevator to a less compelling place."
When he sees Haas he starts to talk about crucifixion and how people always associate its history with the Romans but that, in fact, it was used long before that by the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Persians and then the Japanese. As he talks he moves much closer to Gibbs and looks up at him, with the first of many concerned looks. There are some excellent Gibbs/Ducky moments throughout the whole of this scene; much is said between them with looks as well as words.
Gibbs: "Hey, Duck. Haven't got a lot of time on this one."
Ducky: "Yes, I understand, Jethro."
He looks at the body and then goes on to talk more about how a lot of people would associate that kind of death with the macabre, demonic and ritual killings. However, it is not so in this case. He shows them bruises on Haas's arms, bruises that pre-date the other wounds.
Ducky: "Someone gripped him vice like and squeezed."
Gibbs: "Er, yeah, that'd have been me, Duck."
Ducky looks up at him. McGee also looks at his boss, the astonishment clear on his face and then decides to go away and help DiNozzo and Ziva, leaving Gibbs and Ducky alone with the body (I said there were several nice G/D moments).
Ducky tells Gibbs that whoever murdered Haas, nailed him to the floor to prevent him from struggling whilst they tortured him. He then gives Gibbs the bad news: Haas has been dead for at least 12 hours; it was not him who abducted Maddie.
The next scene shows DiNozzo, Ziva, Gibbs and McGee searching Haas's car. During the search McGee turns up a GPS locator, a real time one that had been wired to the radio. It appears that the stalker (Haas) had also been stalked.
We then go back to Autopsy (where we have several more intense Gibbs/Ducky moments, lots more conversations with eyes).
Ducky (as Gibbs comes in): "You're always welcome down here, Jethro (squee, we know, we know - sorry) but I've barely started."
Gibbs: "I'll take whatever you've got."
Ducky has very little, as he said. Haas wasn't strangled or bludgeoned, etc. But he could have been smothered maybe with a pillow. Ducky then turns his attention away from Haas and tries to talk to Gibbs, pointing out that Maddie was abducted over six hours ago.
Gibbs: "Your point?"
Ducky: "If I have to explain it . . . Well, maybe you are too close." No one but Ducky could get away with this and not feel Gibbs's wrath; apart from Ducky only Jenny or Fornell would even dare to say it.
Gibbs ignores Ducky and turns away. "What else?"
Ducky sighs and then returns to talking about Haas's murder. Gibbs leans nice and close to Ducky during this bit.
And it appears that actually Haas died of anaphylactic shock. His air passages are completely blocked up and we learn that Haas was allergic to sea food, so very allergic that he only had to come into contact with it, he didn't even have to eat it. Gibbs doesn't leave. We have more wonderful Gibbs/Ducky moments.
Ducky (looking up at Gibbs and speaking in his 'personal Jethro tone): "Jethro, just who are you trying to save?"
Gibbs (looking at Ducky): "I look at her and see Kelly, Duck. How it should have been."
Ducky: "Jethro, be careful. Don't let your . . . Some things just can't be undone."
Gibbs: "I wasn't there, Duck. I am now."
I think that says it all. With those few words it tells us so much. So very much. Not just about now, but about how guilty Gibbs has been feeling all these years.
They just look at one another in intense silence, saying so much with their eyes, and continue to do so even though the door to Autopsy swish opens.
Abby bounces in and starts talking. She says she doesn't want to see Gibbs as she hasn't got anything and prattles on for a bit.
Gibbs and Ducky are still just looking at one another in silence.
Finally they do turn their attention to Abby. She continues to prattle on about saving Maddie and finally she grabs and hugs Gibbs (another nice Gibbs/Abby moment). When then have a nice amusing moment as she tells them to get out of *her* lab, so that she can get on with her work; as she prattles on Gibbs and Ducky just look at her. Finally she stops and realises that she isn't in her lab. She says sorry and hurries off.
Ducky moves nearer to Gibbs and just looks up at him, clearly he wants to say more but knows there is no point. Gibbs returns the look but also says nothing.
Once more in the squad room we discover that BSS own the GPS found in Haas's car.
Bourdais is in the interrogation room with DiNozzo and Ziva observing. Gibbs and Jenny come in and start to talk to him about the GPS. Bourdais says he wants to make a phone call - to the Pentagon.
In Jenny's office we have Gibbs, Jenny and Bourdais, and a woman from SIGA. The whole thing seems to be tied in with missing funds, funds that were going to Iraq for the rebuilding of Iraq. Eight million dollars seems to have gone missing; Bourdais says that two of his men - Coyle and Judd were suspected, but there was no evidence at all.
They, however, approached Haas to smuggle the money out; the picture of Danny Coyle shows the man Gibbs saw abducting Maddie. SIGA were tracking Coyle and Judd, but they lost them. They also saw the abduction, but didn't intervene; clearly to them recovering the money is far more important than recovering Maddie. Gibbs gets very angry (in true Gibbs style), Jenny keeps trying to calm him down (she doesn't actually try very hard to be honest) and finally he walks out. At that point she shows what a good director she has become and turns on Bourdais and the woman from SIGA herself.
Down in the squad room Gibbs is at his desk. He tells DiNozzo if Abby finds anything to handle it; DiNozzo says he'll call Gibbs straight away.
Gibbs: "Is that what I said, DiNozzo?" (No, DiNozzo, it wasn't).
DiNozzo: "I'll handle it.
Gibbs gets his Sig and starts to leave. It's clear (to me) that although he's taken his Sig, he's left his NCIS ID behind.
Jenny then appears and tells Gibbs that Coyle and Judd are likely to be in the old dock area; he tells her to tell DiNozzo and does leave.
Jenny calls DiNozzo 'Tony'; the tone of his voice when he addresses her clearly says that he has not forgotten what she put him through. He's icy with her, very icy.
Jenny: "Any idea where he's gone."
Jenny: "Hazard a guess."
DiNozzo (his tone sarcastic): "Well he took his badge and gun, maybe he's going to shoot someone." (Oh, no, DiNozzo, he did *not* take his badge).
McGee meanwhile goes to Gibbs's desk (it seems his 'gut' has told him something): "Oh, boy." He holds up Gibbs's ID.
Meanwhile Gibbs has called Coyle or Judd and told them if they want their money to call him back.
In the squad room again, DiNozzo is (rather oddly to my mind) in juvenile mode again and referring to 'Ground control to Major Tom'. (I really do like that song). He wants to know that McGee is doing just staring at the plasma, which he says McGee has been staring at for an hour - it was five minutes. Ziva gets involved asking DiNozzo if he's worried about Gibbs; he avoids using the word 'worried' and implies/says he's only mildly concerned.
This is refuted seconds later when he says: "Okay, Tim (note he calls McGee 'Tim') you win. What do we see?" And we then get a DiNozzo/McGee moment (apart from the 'Tim') when DiNozzo puts and leaves his hand on McGee's shoulder whilst they look at the screen. And references to icebergs are made.
The kids discuss Maddie and her involvement; she doesn't fit. Coyle and Judd clearly think she has the money or knows where it is. Jenny arrives and as they talk they realise that it wasn't necessarily the fact that he wanted to move in with her because of her, but because she had a house; she had a street address. He wasn't stalking her, he was checking the mail. And Gibbs has, of course, figured this out; but he hasn't told the team (very Gibbs). Both Jenny and DiNozzo have tried calling Gibbs, with no luck.
In Maddie's apartment Gibbs is sitting on Maddie's bed looking at the photo of her and Kelly, again we get the flashback that ends with her crying and begging 'daddy, don't go, please, don't go.' The mail man then turns up with a registered letter for Haas; he demands ID from Gibbs; Gibbs show him his gun and the mail man decides that's enough of an ID. He gives Gibbs the letter and leaves.
We then see McGee and Ziva in the car and they approach the mail man.
We learn that Haas shipped the money out of Iraq as part of the personal effects of a dead Marine, and Gibbs has learnt this.
In Abby's lab she is telling Jenny about the Black Fin Tuna and that it gives off a lot of guck. This guck was all over the nails that were hammered through Haas's hands and feet - it was this that killed him. There are very few places in DC where Black Fin Tuna can be found: one is a market, they dismiss that, another the old docks. Jenny sends DiNozzo off, telling him she'll send McGee and Ziva along. Abby turns to her for some words of comfort about Gibbs, but Jenny has none; she simply tells Abby she's done a good job.
Gibbs collects the 'personal effects' and Coyle and Judd call him. He arrives at the docks and they are there with Maddie. They ask if he's her father. They frisk him and find nothing. No Sig, no back-up gun (wow, Gibbs). He gives them one bag and says the other is in the boot of his car, and he'll give them the keys to it in exchange for Maddie. They don't seem very keen on that. But he tosses the keys to them and a struggle (Gibbs against them both) ensues.
He and Maddie run, he tells her to get into the car, she does. He backs out of the warehouse at top speed and . . . He reverses straight off the pier into the water - deliberately, it appears.
We then get the opening sequence again, well part of it. Then we get another scene, Gibbs is clearly close to death and Shannon and Kelly appear; this time Kelly is smiling and saying 'Goodbye Daddy. It's okay I love you."
My take is that, based on the other flashbacks of her crying and begging him not to go, this is very significant insofar as he is maybe finally letting go of Kelly. He has made is peace and accepted her death. That he is letting her say goodbye to him. That he can now remember her smiling and happy and not crying and begging him to go. And that he chooses to live rather than die.
Back on the pier we switch to how the opening scene ended: Maddie reaches for Gibbs's hand.
Maddie and he look at one another. DiNozzo is on his knees between them.
The final, final scene is once again in Gibbs's basement. He has the box and he has the two photographs of Kelly and Maddie and him and Maddie and he places them, with only Kelly showing as a little girl, then him and Maddie, next to one another on his work bench, picks up the box, which he doesn't open, and leaves. (Odd how perfect the photos are, given that he had them in his jacket pocket when he went into the water!).
A poignant and moving episode; more so than I thought it would be. There were some lovely moments and interaction in it, showing several ships or friendship, whichever way you want to read them, and how close the NCIS family are.
We pretty much have to ignore the lack of case in favour of Gibbs dealing with his past.
And it does seem as if he has finally laid his ghosts to rest; he has said goodbye to Kelly. I am left with the 'why did he deliberately back off the pier?' Was he going so fast he couldn't turn or stop? Unlikely, we know what a good driver he is. What is part of his plan and he thought he'd be able to get Maddie out? Or, I hate to say it, did he have suicide on his mind? I can't really believe that, as he took Maddie with him. So I am left with assuming that it was a ploy, but it went wrong because he got trapped under the steering wheel and if it hadn't been for DiNozzo . . .
I just wish the director hadn't messed up the opening scene so badly.
Some wonderful Gibbs/Ducky scenes (Beams happily)
And for non-Gibbs/Ducky shippers some other ship moments (they really do seem to be pushing DiNozzo/McGee).
No Jimmy *sigh*
Not as much Abby as I would like.
No Mann *happy*
Jenny good as Director - but doesn't she look ill? She looks really gaunt. Is this meant to foreshadow something? Is she ill? About to have a break-down or is it all to do with the daddy thing that hasn't been resolved?
This really is, for me, very difficult to 'grade'. So I'll give it a tentative one, which might well change on re-watch.