Another, IMO, very middle of the round episode, with yet another very tenuous link to the Navy. Apart from the fact that the case arose during a visit to NCIS, hence I guess it makes sense they'd follow it through, the only other teeny link to the navy wasn't vital to the case. The person could have been anyone - the fact that she was a Naval Lieutenant was irrelevant, other than to give another link for NCIS to be involved.
I'm never a huge fan of episodes where a child is the main non-recurring character, but I have to confess that as with the other two kids that have guest stared in previous NCIS episodes, I actually liked Carson (not as much as the other two, but I mostly liked him) and his role worked well.
The outcome of the case was pretty much always assured from the beginning, i.e. there would be a happy ending for Carson and his father. And once again the baddie whilst not being as obvious as some did make my 'spider sense' do more than tingle upon appearance.
A scene in the episode does seem to have confirmed the rumour re: Mann; it definitely seems that she has vanished from Gibbs's life.
The episode begins with Abby in lecture mode talking about her mass spectrometer to a group of Youth Rangers. It was very typical Abby and her enthusiasm for her 'toys' was very clear. Then she did the dangerous thing of letting the kids ask questions; they did: about her tats - or one kid in particular, Carson Taylor, is asking her questions about her tats. He points out, when she says she has lots, that he can only see five, she says she has a lot hidden (of course he wants to see them).
McGee, also in Youth Rangers uniform (I am assuming that this means that McGee must be involved with the Youth Rangers), turns up just as Abby is trying to distract Carson by talking about her other lovely machine: AFIS. She explains what it does and then gets Carson to put his finger on the pad and he does. (Of course we know that whilst she's waffling about how unless he's a hardened criminal there won't be a match, that there is going to be a match). Seconds later up flashes a match: Carson Matthews who was abducted in 1998.
Abby and McGee are outside the room where they've put Carson, waiting for Gibbs to arrive. Abby is really in hyper mode and is worrying; she is asking where Gibbs is and saying that she called him 20 minutes ago. McGee points out it was actually only about a minute ago; Abby's response is that to a kid a minute is twenty minutes. She says the kids looks scared, McGee says he looks fine. McGee is correct; at this point Carson is perfectly fine, swinging around in the chair and looking quite relaxed. In fact he only starts to get worried that he might be in trouble because of the way Abby is acting. She seems to realise this, plus she doesn't want to answer questions, thus she goes back to work leaving McGee to wait for Gibbs. McGee goes to talk to Carson who thinks that they must have messed up when his finger print brought up the whole abducted thing.
At that point Gibbs arrives and he has a can of soda for Carson. Carson tells him that he's not allowed soda after 3:00 p.m., Gibbs is about to take it back, but Carson decides that his mom will understand just this once. Gibbs agrees. One thing is sure: Carson is a very bright kid. Carson has a wonderful explanation as to why the fingerprint result must be wrong: he's from Franklin and nothing cool ever happens in Franklin. (I loved the logic). We learn that he lives near the woods as that is where his dad teaches: survival courses, etc. Carson has eighteen badges, the second most in his troop. Gibbs says that his dad must be proud of him and Carson agrees, adding that so is his mom. And then he changes from the self-assured nine year old, to the little kid nine-year old and asks very simply: "When can I go home?" It's very well done, and very believable. The two sides of him, how we see him assured and then vulnerable.
In the squad room DiNozzo is using yet another film reference when he's talking to Ziva. Gibbs and McGee then arrive and DiNozzo makes fun of McGee's uniform, but it was more in the teasing DiNozzo style, not the nasty DiNozzo style. The comment, however, earns him a very sharp "Knock it off, DiNozzo," from Gibbs (protective Gibbs). Immediately DiNozzo turns to telling Gibbs about Brian Taylor who was in fact Brian Matthews, a native of DC, married Lisa his High School sweetheart straight after school, she gave birth to Carson two months later. A few months after that she drowned, and Carson's grandmother filed for, and got custody of, Carson. It appears as if Matthews then grabbed the kid, fled, changed their name to Taylor and started a new life. He has re-married - Elaine Taylor, a Lieutenant in Naval Procurement. (The other very tenuous link to the navy, but really not vital, she could have been from any career). The team leave to go and visit Mrs. Taylor and Gibbs tells McGee to lose the uniform. (It's okay for Gibbs to say this, he's the boss).
Meanwhile Carson has been left with Abby who is letting him watch her shoot into her testing area! I'm not quite sure that's what Gibbs would have had in mind, when he left Carson with her, as a suitable way to 'entertain' Carson. But this is Abby.
Gibbs, McGee, DiNozzo and Ziva (one might say a slight overkill) go to see Mrs. Taylor. We learn that Brian Taylor is away teaching a survival course in Black Ridge Woods (in Virginia) and won't be back until Tuesday (it's currently Friday). Thus, if they want to speak to him before Tuesday, they'll have to go to the woods.
DiNozzo and Ziva are taking photographs in Carson's bedroom. The room has a lot of film posters on the walls, and the bed is in fact Magum's car (Magnum is DiNozzo's idol as we know from other episodes); in fact he wonders if they make it in a King size (ah, ever the child DiNozzo). Under the covers, DiNozzo finds three copies of GSM magazine (at age nine? Okay, the kid is bright, but . . .). Ziva keeps asking DiNozzo who the room reminds him of, but he doesn't get it/see it. (We have a mini-DiNozzo).
Meanwhile Gibbs and McGee are talking to Elaine Taylor about her husband. She tells them how she met him, when she signed up for one of his courses, but the course didn't go well; she ended up getting covered with poison ivy (a nice little look of empathy from McGee when she says that). She says she knows very little about Brian's past, but that she trusts him. And then we learn that she has never legally adopted Carson and as such Gibbs cannot release Carson to her (wow! that surprised me, I must say).
She, naturally, is very upset by this; she wants to see him, but no she can't even do that. She asks Gibbs is he has kids; McGee looks concerned and on edge; Gibbs says no and Elaine throws at him that she isn't surprised. (Ouch, poor Gibbs; but then I really don't blame Elaine at all for her reaction. In all ways but two [biological and the adoption bit] she is Carson's mom, she raised him. I must admit to being surprised by Gibbs somewhat; we know that he is not above bending or even breaking rules, especially when a kid is concerned, so his standing firm here, even though some of her answers were maybe less than helpful, did surprise me, it seemed somewhat OOC for him. Of course the kid couldn't go home, as it would have ruined the plot, but even so, going by past episodes/behaviour, it did strike me as odd).
Ziva clearly doesn't agree with it either, and makes no bones about letting Gibbs know how she feels (Ziva's character really has changed from how she was in S3, she has certainly become more mellow and in tune with feelings, dare one say her 'feminine side?) because after he tells them that the house will be kept under surveillance and the phone calls monitored she gets angry with him. He says his hands are tied ,and she tells him to untie them (nice little phrase) and points out that Elaine is his mother; she raised him (and yes, I agree she is). But no, Gibbs is still unmoving. Instead he tells Ziva if she wants a family reunion to prove that Elaine Taylor was not/is not involved.
Back in Abby's lab, Abby and Carson are playing 'Box Office Trivia', drinking Caf-Pows (that looks suspiciously like the real Caf-Pow, not the caffeine-free ones Abby was drinking last week - yay, Abby back on real Caf-Pow) and eating popcorn. Carson is a whiz at the quiz and knows all the answers. He says that when his dad's away (and he's away a lot), he and his mom stay up late, watch movies, and eat popcorn (his mom must have a land assignment). Thus we have another bit of evidence that Carson is a 'mini-DiNozzo'.
McGee then turns up with a box labelled 'evidence' that includes Brian Taylor's computer; that sobers Carson a bit. McGee says that whilst Abby looks at the evidence he and Carson will 'hang', eat pizza and watch films, etc. He gives Carson a bag his mom packed for him, and in it is a personal DVD player. It upsets Carson somewhat and he tells Abby and McGee that he and his mom argued before he left on the field trip to NCIS, about whether he could take it or not and he left without kissing her goodbye and he's upset. (It's another example of the little boy, again it works well). Abby, however, tells him that moms always forgive, no matter what their kids do or say; McGee agrees and takes Carson away with him.
Then we move to Jenny's office; she is reading Stars And Stripes. In particular she is reading an article about Hollis Mann who is retiring after 20 years. As Jenny reads, her smile gets broader and broader and we see why: Mann has said that when she retires she is relocating to the Hawaiian Island of (somewhere beginning with L) and she is eager to spend more time doing the things she loves - bicycling is the only one we see. Jenny is clearly very, very, very happy about that, and as I said above, it does seem to tie up the article/rumour we heard about a couple of weeks ago that she will no longer be appearing in the series. And rather nicely it does, to my mind, tie up the loose end, rather than there simply not being any mention of her again. (I just hope that we aren't now going to revert to the 'old Jenny' with her all over Gibbs and trying to get him back into her bed. Given a later scene, I don't think we will, but even so . . . She does clearly still have feelings for him, well she herself said he's a hard man to get over - that man must be a good lover *g*).
As Jenny is reading, Gibbs turns up (naturally) and Jenny hastily puts the newspaper down, she doesn't want him to catch her reading it and looking so pleased. He wants her to sign the papers that will turn Carson over to Social Services; she doesn't seem particularly happy to do it and also she is very surprised (ditto) that he hasn't tried to persuade her to allow Carson to stay with one of the team. He makes a comment that they aren't babysitters (may I mention Zach?). In the end Jenny says that she'll take him home with her. And as they are about to leave her office so that he can introducer her to Carson, she looks at the papers; they are not the said forms, they are a case report. Gibbs 'claims' he must have grabbed the wrong papers (sneaky Gibbs, sneaky). Odd though really that he didn't take Carson home with him as he did with Zach in 'Honor Code' and Zach was three years younger than Carson).
On their way down to the squad room, Gibbs and Jenny stop and stand and watch Carson playing computer games, watched over by Ziva.
Jenny: "Looks like we missed the party."
Gibbs: "At his age the party never ends."
Jenny: "It could be a long night."
At that point Abby turns up; she is not looking happy at all. The fingerprints on Brian Taylor's computer have thrown up another hit on AFIS. They were all over a Beretta that was used in an unsolved shooting in May 1998 - just around the time Brian and Carson disappeared. He is wanted for murder.
The next scene has Ziva telling DiNozzo that Metro PD has offered to hand deliver the files on the cold case - whoops; DiNozzo knows that trick, they are only doing it so they can stay involved. And they turn up, two of them: Detective Marshall Collins and Detective Danielle Hamilton. DiNozzo and Collins have a history together, going back to when DiNozzo worked for Baltimore PD, and they clearly do not like one another. At this point my spider sense began to tingle; I wasn't sure what was going to go down, but I knew that somehow the involvement was going to end in tears - and not for DiNozzo.
Down in the garage Carson is pushing Abby's patience to the limits as he is now playing with the siren on the NCIS truck and once she does persuade him to turn it off he wants to know where they're going next: he's been everywhere. Abby seems exhausted by him, he is a very hyper child, I bet he takes a lot of entertaining. But then Gibbs turns up and we have a nice second or two of interaction, and once again Carson lets his guard down and he's close to tears. He wants his mom. Gibbs lets him call her using Gibbs's mobile phone and he goes a little way away, does so and tells her he misses her and loves her. The looks on Gibbs and Abby's faces as they watch him are really touching.
Meanwhile back in the squad room, DiNozzo, Ziva and the Metro cops are looking at a video of the store robbery that ended with the clerk being shot - for no apparent reason. DiNozzo and Collins start to argue (oh, yes, there is no love lost between them) and McGee meanwhile has found a log of all of Taylor's survival training locations - including base camp. Gibbs sends DiNozzo and Ziva off to the woods. However, he stops the Metro cops from accompanying them, as they can tell him about the case. (Nice one, Gibbs). And he gets a call from Carson who says he's remembered some things about his dad; Gibbs says he'll go and see him.
DiNozzo and Ziva are in the lift.
Ziva: "I'm driving."
DiNozzo: "I'm dead." Ziva laughs.
A nice flash of humour.
Gibbs turns up at Jenny's house; Carson is listening to to jazz, his favourite music (which, as both Gibbs and Jenny seem to know is also DiNozzo's, yet another mini-DiNozzo hint). It fact it is actually said. Carson asks Gibbs if he gets angry and admits, as I think Gibbs knew, that he was lying. He didn't have anything to tell Gibbs, he just wanted to see him and talk to him. He has certainly latched onto Gibbs as a father figure and/or the one person who is really going to be able to sort things out. Gibbs doesn't seem at all surprised by the fact, and he certainly isn't angry. Again Carson asks when he can go home, and he's clearly worried about his dad, which Gibbs can see. Carson also thinks that it's his fault his dad is in trouble, because if he hadn't gone on the trip to NCIS, then his finger print wouldn't have been taken and as such it wouldn't have brought the record up. Poor Carson. (And the logic of a boy of his age). He also says that his dad's first rule is to tell the truth. Gibbs tries to reassure him and tells him that it isn't his fault.
Jenny watches the scene, with a look of fondness and maybe a hint of regret even? on her face. She says she'd forgotten how good Gibbs was with kids, and when they turn back to Carson, who had declared he wasn't tired, he's fallen asleep.
We then see them both walking down the stairs, clearly they both put Carson to bed. Jenny starts to flirt with Gibbs, quite mildly really, not in her overt way of Season Three, but more, to my mind, in a 'I know this isn't going to lead to anything, I'm still going to try it', kind of way. She says it's been a long time since they'd been together outside of the office.
Gibbs: "Paris. If you don't count hospitals and car chases."
Jenny: "I don't." She then says: "Once upon a time I'd have asked you to stay and I wouldn't have taken no for an answer."
Gibbs (firmly but gently): "No."
Jenny: "What happened, Jethro?"
Gibbs: "You made a choice."
Jenny: "I had to do what was best for me. I still do."
He just looks at her and leaves. She gazes after him. (Oh, yes, Jenny is still attracted to him, maybe even a little bit in love with him, but I think she really does know it'll never happen again).
It was quite a poignant scene. To my mind, in many ways we seem to have dealt with both Mann and Jenny in this one episode (at least I hope so, it may just be wishful thinking, re: Jenny, but her tone/voice/body language did seem to say that although Mann has gone, she knows she won't get Gibbs back. And one wonders if really, given what she said about 'doing what is best for her', she does want him; or whether it's more the idea of having him back? She isn't a woman who likes to lose).
At Black Ridge Woods DiNozzo and Ziva are bickering in true DiNozzo/Ziva style. He's complaining that he couldn't sleep, even though she drove because of all the car horns being blared and also the fact that she was driving at 90MPH+ along dirt tracks. (I'm with DiNozzo on this one). They then bicker over the map, with both of them claiming superior map reading skills; and they end up doing 'paper, scissors' which DiNozzo wins. Then (rather amusingly, but obviously) he goes off the wrong way.
Back in Abby's lab, McGee asks Abby if she'd share her personal computer with anyone. Abby is horrified at the question and says that it'd be worse than sharing a toothbrush with someone. McGee's reason for asking is that he's found an account for Elaine Taylor on Brian's computer. Abby is rather irritable because of the state of the cold case evidence, the lack of organisation, etc. McGee points out that she always is that way over a cold case. She tells McGee that he too always has little quirks at such times and says he has a particular look, that he has at that moment. He has and it's because: Elaine Taylor lied.
In the interrogation room Gibbs and McGee get Elaine to admit that she ran background checks on Brian before she married him, she employed a private detective, etc. She claims it was to try to protect Brian, that she knew he'd changed his name as she saw a High School photograph with Brian Matthews. She said nothing to him, because she was afraid of losing him. They tell her he's wanted for killing a store clerk, and she won't believe it. And she lets slip that he always calls Carson to say goodnight, no matter where he is.
In Jenny's office Jenny and Carson are sitting on the floor about to play a game of tossing cards into the waste-paper bin. Gibbs comes in and asks for Jenny's mobile; he then gives it to McGee and tells him to track the number. Carson knows what's up and asks if that means he's going to jail.
Meanwhile in the woods DiNozzo and Ziva come across Taylor's group, they are cold, probably hungry and looking rather pathetic; Taylor, however, isn't there. It falls to DiNozzo to light a fire for them with his lighter. Gibbs calls and tells DiNozzo and Ziva to stay where they are, and they'll be joined by dogs and search groups.
Back at NCIS Gibbs and Carson are eating ice creams. Carson is puzzled by this as he thinks he should be punished. Gibbs, however, isn't angry; he siad that Carson told the truth, and he did what he did to protect his father. Carson tells Gibbs that he'd told his dad about Gibbs, what a good man he was, how he was on their side and dad said he'd like to meet Gibbs one day. Carson wants it all to be over.
Finally at some 31:03 second in we get a teeny Ducky scene. He and Jimmy are in Autopsy looking at the photographs Abby printed from Taylor's computer. Ducky asks Jimmy what the photos have in common. They are all the same: father and son.
Jimmy: "I see." Pause. "Actually, I don't think I see as clearly as you see."
Ducky explains about how patterns are important in psychological analysis, and he is very pleased with Jimmy when he picks up on it and expands a little. He says that Jimmy obviously read the material that Ducky gave him to study. Ducky explains that all of the pursuits in which Taylor is involved are those that are devoid of typical human contact and is about to expand on what that means. However, ast that point Gibbs walks in and ends Ducky's sentence for him, by declaring that they show a lack of trust. All all the evidence they have garnered points to Taylor having trust issues. He and his wife have separate bank accounts (which isn't that unusual, that alone doesn't show a lack of trust), but the photographs and Taylor's diary shows no social contacts outside of Carson. Ducky says that it all points to one particular type of person.
Ducky then talks more about the diary, showing it to Gibbs (who leans over Ducky's shoulder to look at it). The only personal contact Taylor seems to have is with his son. Ducky says that it personality can lead to anger.
Gibbs: "Or murder." He leaves.
Ducky: "And to think I never gave him study material." (Nice) It is now 32:52 seconds.
Back in the woods the search teams with dogs, DiNozzo and Ziva are still searching and DiNozzo and Ziva are still bickering and he makes a comment about being human (implying that Ziva is not) and stopping for water. Jenny, Gibbs and McGee are in MTAC and they call DiNozzo to tell him that Taylor is close. DiNozzo makes a comment about joining the party.
Gibbs: "You sound tired, DiNozzo."
DiNozzo: "I'm following Ziva. Even the dogs are tired."
Gibbs just smiles (which both G/Di and G/Z shippers could interpret as being a teeny bit for their ship - see, curly_the_sue, I found you a bit *g*).
McGee thinks he's found Taylor nearby, as he's tracked his cell phone (oh, no, Timmy, that will be far too easy) and it's coming from the nearby road. But after Ziva jumps out in front of a truck, they simply find Taylor's open mobile phone in the back of the truck.
Back at HQ, Jimmy is drawing pictures for Carson to try to guess what they are, and we have another mini-DiNozzo reference as Jimmy has drawn a school and Carson thinks it being the playboy mansion.
Outside the room Abby, who Jenny has asked to keep an eye on Carson, is watching whilst Jimmy entertains Carson; she's waiting for Gibbs and McGee. When they arrive, she makes a comment about 'being with child' before she explains that she's looking after Carson. Far more importantly, she has managed to do some hacking; she begins to explain how, to the delight of McGee until Gibbs, who doesn't need the details cuts her off. She has managed to find out the details of one call that Taylor made - to a Ronald Keenan.
Gibbs and McGee go to Kennan's house and (not surprisingly) find him dead; the receiver is still off the hook, and the 911 dispatcher still talking.
At 36.27 Ducky and Jimmy turn up for a very brief visits. Ducky confirms the death and says that Keenan didn't put up a fight; he must have known his attacker - whom we are meant to assume is Taylor. Ducky also says that it's amazing that Keenan even managed to dial 911, Jimmy comments that it's amazing what people can do when their lives are at stake. By now it's completely obvious (to me) that Taylor isn't the killer. At 36.56 Gibbs goes outside and we see no more of Ducky or Jimmy (that scene was less than a minute).
Collins has found Taylor's car and there is blood on it, again we're meant to think that Taylor got Kennan's blood on him and transferred it to his car. We also learn that Kennan and Taylor are High School friends. Then Collins says that Kennan matches the description of the other assailant in the shooting (it's all becoming a little to co-incidental, and we know what Gibbs feels about co-incidences).
Back at the office Taylor calls and asks for Gibbs. McGee starts a trace. Taylor asks after Carson, says he wants his life back, he denies murdering anyone, and says that Carson said that Gibbs was a good man and on their side. Gibbs says that Carson is a smart kid.
They go to where McGee has traced the call and split up: Gibbs and McGee go in one direction; DiNozzo and Ziva in another, and the Metro cops in another.
Abby calls Gibbs to tell him that the fingerprints on the phone weren't Kennan's they were Taylor's; he was the one who had called 911. She also says that not only has there has been sloppy police work, but there is also proof that the evidence has been tampered. A substance found at the crime scene in 1998, was not actually produced until a couple of years after the shooting - ooops. And now we know for certain what's happened: Taylor has been framed; (by Collins).
Gibbs and McGee are in a clearing, where Taylor has 'led' them. Taylor calls Gibbs again, and Gibbs says he knows he's been framed. He wants Taylor to come in. Taylor, however, says he'll only come to Gibbs. We then see Gibbs unzipping his jacket.
McGee: "What're doing, boss?"
Gibbs: "My job."
We then move to Collins coming across Taylor. Collins has a gun and Taylor has a knife, that he's about to put down. Collins then basically tells Taylor what he did: yes, he did frame Taylor. Gibbs and the others turn up and Collins tries to say that he was only defending himself because Taylor has a knife. However, what he doesn't know is that not only have Gibbs and the kids closed in on them, but that Gibbs has already met with Taylor, given him his bullet proof vest and wired him: Collins's 'confession' is on tape. DiNozzo gets to take his old adversary away - that makes him happy.
The final scene is again in the office with DiNozzo determined to beat Carson's film knowledge score and take back his record. McGee and Ziva are teasing him about being so desperate to beat a kid. The final question comes up and it's an easy one; DiNozzo types in the answer and gleefully expects it to be correct. However, it comes up as the wrong answer; he mis-spelt the answer, thus Carson is the champion. DiNozzo accepts it in good grace and says he bows to the champion; Carson said shaking hands will be good enough. They do indeed shake on it and go into some complicated routine that both seem to know perfectly, watched by Ziva and McGee. For the first time in an episode with a kid, DiNozzo and the kid get along, and DiNozzo doesn't talk down to the kid. Oh, yes, a real mini-DiNozzo.
And then mom and dad turn up and we do get the happy family reunion duly watched by Ziva, McGee, DiNozzo, Abby, Jenny and Gibbs.
An okay episode. Some nice humour, fun banter and moments. A few, but not as many as in previous episodes fleeting ship interactions, but you really did have to look for them this week and none were blatant at all. With my trying-to-see-various-ships-even-if-I-pe
Far, far, far too little Ducky for my liking, in fact less than three minutes screen time in total.
Nice to see Jimmy, but again more of him would have been better.
Really nice to get the Mann thing tied up. I'm glad that they did tie it up and not just leave it all unsaid.
No real Navy case. I really do miss the navy/marine cases.
I felt the mini-DiNozzo whilst fun, was a tad overplayed and forced, but it stopped just short of irritating me.
It was nice that DiNozzo wasn't nasty in this episode; hopefully the healing over Jeanne will continue.
I do hope the Jenny flirting with Gibbs again bit was a one-off.
Pretty obvious that Taylor wasn't the bad guy and thus we'd get a happy ending.
Pretty much on par with last week's episode. Actually, rethinking about it, probably (for me) slightly less due to Ducky's appearances being 'blink and you'll miss them'.