I was hoping that the episode before they go on enforced hiatus would be a good one, and this one certainly was.
They actually remembered the they are Navy Cops, and the 'case' was primarily a Marine one, rather than, as with recent eps the Naval/Marine link being secondary and just thrown in.
It had an excellent mix of emotion, some nice touches of humour, pathos, good team interaction, and a really moving ending.
The red herrings were spot on - for the first time in I can't remember how long I actually didn't know who the 'baddie' was.
From a ship point of view, I was very happy as we not only had more Ducky in this week's episode, but we also had some wonderful Gibbs/Ducky moments. Plus, we also had a lovely Abby/McGee scene (I was doubly happy as these are my other ship). There were also (I do try to keep an eye out for ships other than my own) teeny moments of: Gibbs/McGee; Gibbs/DiNozzo; Gibbs/Ziva; DiNozzo/McGee; DiNozzo/Abby; DiNozzo/Ziva; Abby/Ziva; Ducky/Abby; Ducky/Ziva.
We start with a shot of Bethesda Hospital (which immediately made me believe/hope that we were going to get a naval case as Bethesda is the naval hospital for that area). It's dark, and someone is getting into their car; the next second (as expected) the person in the car is attacked - the window is smashed and we see/hear the car racing off at top speed. Flash inside to the Secure Wing which is also in chaos, with broken things all over the floor; we focus on an orderly who has been beaten and is on the floor slumped against the wall.
Immediately after the credits we open with McGee in the squad room reading a Marvel Comic - Iron Fist (the first Iron Fist, apparently). DiNozzo is teasing him, and keeps flicking the comic, which irritates McGee. He is trying to persuade McGee to hit him, because he explains he's been working out and developing his abs. McGee refuses but says that Ziva, who has just arrived, might oblige. Ziva seems confused by DiNozzo's talk of 'abs' and thinks he's talking about Abby and himself doing something together; he duly explains to her, and she says she will hit him. McGee tells her to use full force, and then he and DiNozzo remember how Houdini died - from a punch. DiNozzo asks Ziva if she killed Houdini.
Ziva: "It is possible. I do not remember all of their names." (A very nice touch of humour).
As DiNozzo is 'preparing' himself to be hit, Gibbs arrives.
Gibbs: "Escaped mental patient."
McGee (glancing at DiNozzo): "Just what I was thinking, boss." (Another nice touch of humour).
McGee immediately follows Gibbs, but DiNozzo lags behind and persuades Ziva to hit him. She does. And she's fairly impressed and tells him that he's not bad; but that he's not as good as Gibbs. (I know just who will be squeeing at this point *waves to curly_the_sue*
At Bethesda Gibbs and his field team are told by the beaten orderly, that the escaped man, Damon Werth a Marine Corporal, has been there for about two weeks, he was shipped home from Iraq and is believed to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He's being treated with drugs and also by a psychiatrist. Werth is strong; he even managed to tear his straight jacket up with his bare hands (which impresses Ziva). The orderly tells them that Werth escaped in a car, but whose car, is unknown - this (understandably) makes Gibbs angry. McGee suggests that he could view the CCTV footage and see if he can trace the car that way. Then following a look from Gibbs, he hurries on to say that he could be doing it, not talking about doing it (he's learning well is Tim).
Outside DiNozzo launches into his Tommy Lee Jones role (again, he's done it in at least one other episode) in The Fugitive. Ziva, who clearly doesn't know what DiNozzo is doing, keeps interrupting him and correcting what he's saying, as he's in film mode, not in actual happening mode, thus what he is saying doesn't tie in correctly with what has actually happened.. McGee comments that every time there's a fugitive, DiNozzo goes into Tommy Lee Jones mode.
We learn the car belonged to Dr. Adrian De La Casa, one of the attending psychiatrists, and his case reports on Werth show how disturbed and violent he is. At that moment a man turns up and starts to tell Gibbs how to do his job (very dangerous), and he knows who Gibbs is (at least by name), oddly enough, rather than be angry with the man, Gibbs seems more bemused. The man is the aide of a senator who is meant to be giving Werth the Silver Star in three days time - ooops. The man is a hero; a hero on the run; a violent hero on the run.
Back at HQ, DiNozzo is still in film mode giving one of his 'talks', and Ziva asks him if any of his ideas come from reality; DiNozzo says they do, but not from Ziva's reality. McGee (to my surprise) gets in on the whole film/TV act and makes a reference to the A Team, which DiNozzo (in true DiNozzo style) dismisses.
We learn that Werth was, until last night, the poster boy for the Corps; he's top in everything, and he even went to England to attend a training course with the SAS - which he aced. We learn that whilst in Iraq, he was abducted and tortured, however, not only did he manage to escape, but he also got three members of his team to safety - his nickname is Corporal Punishment. He has no siblings, his father was in the SAS and his mother a therapist. The man really is, as McGee said, a poster boy for the Corps (but is he too perfect? Too good? Something doesn't ring true, no one is that good, that perfect).
McGee draws Gibbs's attention to the fact that Dr. De La Casa's smart tag has been used (Gibbs/McGee moment, as once again Gibbs has his arm around the back of McGee's chair). His cell phone is also turned on, in fact Gibbs has a short conversation with Werth, that Werth ends abruptly. McGee manages to track the call to a board area; and he'll be able to, assuming the phone is left on, narrow it down in the car.
Clearly he does, as they arrive at some kind of warehouse, garage? When they arrive the car is there, but no one is around and there is an array of powerful lights. Noises are coming from the boot of the car - inside, tied up but unharmed, is Dr. De La Casa. Werth tied him up and left him in the boot and also did something with De La Casa's laptop - we learn exactly what; he set it up so that he could see what Gibbs and his team looked like.
Back at HQ, Gibbs and Ducky are talking to De La Casa. De La Casa says he hasn't been able to get through to Werth, which Ducky says is not unusual. De La Casa seems quite surprised when Ducky knows so much about PTSD, after all, Ducky is the ME; Ducky says he is, but also that he's done extensive studies of psychological profiling. We learn that during the drive Werth didn't talk much to De La Casa, but he seemed surprised by his surroundings, he was expecting to see sand, and he accused De La Casa of manipulating them. De La Casa admits he didn't try to resist when Werth tied him up, as he feared for his life. (During the scene we get some little looks between Ducky and Gibbs when Ducky, although talking to De La Casa, turns and addresses his comments to Gibbs). The one thing Werth did want to know, was where the other men from his unit, the ones he rescued were being kept. When Gibbs asks the same question, De La Casa says that he hasn't got them.
DiNozzo is hovering outside the room when Gibbs goes out and he starts to explain that McGee did something, but in typical DiNozzo style he has no idea what exactly McGee did do (he's not the only one). So he just starts to tell Gibbs what McGee has found, but in true Gibbs style, everything DiNozzo tries to tell him, e.g the names of the other men, etc. Gibbs knows - a very nice little moment and a reminder of Gibbs's omniscience. (Poor DiNozzo, he does look rather flummoxed during this 'conversation').
Then Ducky comes out of the room and (please excuse me but I'm now having a fannish squee here) and Gibbs's attention turns immediately to him. There are lots of looks between them, even though DiNozzo is still talking to Gibbs. Stone, one of men in Werth's unit, is in another hospital and Gibbs says that's where Werth is heading. DiNozzo (silly boy) starts to say that there's no way he'd escape from one hospital just to go to another. But then, realising his 'mistake', he immediately says he'll go and get the car ready.
And then we have another lovely G/D moment when Ducky grabs Gibbs's lapel as well as calling his name, to stop him from leaving straight away (G/D squee moment). As they do pretty much all the time they are right in one another's personal space (the corridor isn't that narrow, gentlemen *g*) with lots of lovely eye contact and non-verbal conversation. Ducky seems perturbed by Werth and his behaviour, and is saying that whilst it does tie in with PTSD, he must also, somewhere in his mind, be thinking clearly, because he didn't hurt De La Casa any more than he had to do. Gibbs, however, tries to dismiss that as it just being Werth's Marine training (you don't think that's going to stop Ducky, do you, Gibbs? *g*).
And Gibbs starts to walk off. He is duly followed by Ducky, who goes on talking (as Ducky has a habit of doing). He's done quite a study on PTSD and the symptoms and how it's a relatively new disorder, before it was simply know as shell shock. And he then goes on to talk about a land mark case, the Buffalo Creek disaster, that happened in a coal mining area where the dam burst and caused mass destruction. All the people involved had the same symptoms.
It's Gibbs himself who lists them.
Gibbs: "Nightmares, insomnia, paranoia, depression, memory loss."
Ducky: "You know the symptoms well." And his tone is one that says that he knows (first hand) that Gibbs knows them well from a personal basis, not just because Gibbs has seen his fellow Marines suffering.
Ducky also talks about triggers, and how in the above mentioned disaster the sound of a raindrop could trigger an attack in the survivors. He believes that Werth is replying a scenario that has already been played out: Werth thinks he is still at war.
Gibbs (getting his gun and coat): "You think Werth has a trigger, Ducky?"
Ducky: "I think you should take care." (And the emphasis is very much on the 'you'. He knows that Gibbs is already in some way, both personal and professional, empathising with a fellow Marine, and as such is not always likely to take the best care of himself.)
At the hospital where Stone is, Gibbs sends McGee and Ziva off to do a perimeter search and he and DiNozzo go into the room where the patients are undergoing physical therapy. We see Stone relearning how to walk (he has an artificial leg). Gibbs talks to Stone about Werth, and Stone is angry at the fact that Werth has been shipped to Bethesda, as he says he owes him his life, in fact thanks to Werth Stone might even be able to return to active duty. He also picks up on the fact that Gibbs was a Marine. Gibbs tells him that Werth thinks they are still out in Iraq. Stone says Werth would never harm him, and Gibbs agrees, but asks Werth thought Stone was in danger, would he harm someone else? Stone doesn't have an answer to that, as it's obvious: yes, Werth would.
McGee and Ziva are viewing the hospital logs and De La Casa's name flashes up: Werth is there. They call Gibbs to tell him. However, the call is unnecessary, Gibbs knows Werth is there as Werth is holding a gun on him.
Werth tells Gibbs and DiNozzo to drop their guns, which they do, and kick them away. Stone tries to talk to him, and Werth proves that he's not in the here and now, as he asks Stone where his leg is. Stone also tells him to trust Gibbs as he is one of them. Werth lowers his gun and seems to be giving in, Gibbs goes to take the gun, but at the moment one of the kids goes to snap the handcuffs on Werth and he flips. He fights with all four of them, Gibbs first, then DiNozzo and McGee, and does a hell of a job on all of them. He then turns his attention to Ziva, who is able to stands up to him the longest (her Mossad training? Just because she has less scruples than the others?) and gets several nasty smacks in the face. They finally do manage to subdue him - but it takes all of them to do so.
Back at HQ, Ziva is at her desk, she has cuts and bruises over her eye, and Abby hurries in saying, "Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God." She reaches to touch Ziva's face, but Ziva catches her hands pushes her into the chair, telling her to calm down (that's not how Abby works, Ziva). She tells her that DiNozzo has a broken nose, McGee a dislocated shoulder (ouch) but they are okay and they got the man.
That does not appease Abby and she wants to know why they have the man there, why he isn't locked up; she calls him an animal. (Abby's very much concerned for her men at the moment, someone has dared to hurt them and that is all that matters to her). Ziva insists he's not an animal, he's hurt, they owe it to him to help him; she tries to explain to Abby. However, it doesn't go down well, as Abby does not relate to that kind of explanation; she's just hung up on the fact that the man tried to kill DiNozzo and McGee - her men. Ziva adds, quite quietly (as Abby hasn't shown any interest in her or, far more oddly, Gibbs) 'and me' and again tells Abby to calm down. This time Abby asks her can't she just allow her to get it out of her system, because she isn't like Ziva the unfeeling and unemotional, perfect warrior. (Poor Ziva; yes Abby has a point, Abby's way of dealing is different from Ziva's way of dealing, and from Abby's point of view, Ziva is coming over as uncaring and the efficient warrior, but that's just Ziva's way. And it's clear that the comment hurt Ziva).
In Jenny's office is Karen Sutherland (one of the red herrings) who is a research development engineer for Biotech; she was at the hospital when Werth attacked the team. She works with next generation prosthetics, and is involved in trying to create something positive out of the hell and ravaging; she says that broken bodies are easier to mend than broken minds. She is also very interested (almost too interested - Gibbs and Jenny certainly think so) in Werth. Her interest puts Gibbs and Jenny on edge and on alert, and on top of her being so interested, we still have the Senator and his aide who are too. (Just who is Werth?). Gibbs admits to having Werth there at NCIS, and he says that he'll go and talk to Werth, Marine to Marine.
Werth is in the interrogation room and Ziva in the viewing room. Ducky comes in and puts up his hand to touch Ziva's head, she pulls back a little. He asks her why she didn't get it treated and explains to her, very gently, that she needn't be embarrassed, that invincibility is not a human condition. Poor Ziva is troubled, she's not used to be beaten.
Ziva: "Gibbs is going to interrogate him." (And she wants to be there to observe. Why? Is it Gibbs she's interested in observing? Or Werth? Although, it could be that one of the kids should be there, and the other two seem not to be around at the moment.)
Ducky: "Yes, I'm sure that Gunnery Sergeant Gibbs has a notion of how to get through to Corporal Werth's troubled mind." Ducky has faith in Gibbs. And he knows his old friend.
And Gibbs does indeed. He goes in starts off in Special Agent Gibbs mode, when that gets him nowhere he switches to Gunnery Sergeant Gibbs and immediately Werth reacts, snapping to seated attention, calling Gibbs 'sir' and talking to him. He admits he wants to kill someone, anyone. Gibbs calls him 'son' and asks if that is right, to want to kill just anyone. Werth says no, but then he's not right; it isn't his fault. He talks about needles and pills - someone has been sticking needles in him. He asks for Gibbs's help and Gibbs promises to help.
Outside Ducky and Ziva go to talk to Gibbs (more closeness and looks between Gibbs & Ducky). Ducky says that Werth's symptoms are not exclusive to PTSD. Gibbs asks if Ducky believes Werth. Ducky has been reviewing Werth's files and some of the symptoms, irritability for one were actually present before he was captured. Could he have been in Iraq for too long? They don't think so.
Gibbs is about to go, and again Ducky catches his arm to stop him; he wants Gibbs to take advantage of the fact that Werth trusts Gibbs to persuade him to give blood and urine samples. Gibbs walks off saying that he promised to help Werth, he's going to keep that promise.
Ducky and Abby are in Abby's lab, and Abby is still anti-Werth, she doesn't want to help him. Ducky, however, persuades to do so, flatters her gently, holds her arms (Ducky/Abby moment) and explains to her how Werth is also a victim. That works and Abby is ready to go to work on helping. Ducky then reels off a list of potential masking agents that they need to look for in Werth's blood.
Back in the squad room is an injured DiNozzo with a bandage on his nose, and McGee with one arm in a sling; McGee is trying and failing to open a can of drink, so Ziva helps - she punches a hole in it. DiNozzo is behaving very strangely (even more so than usual) and really is waffling; he seems to be high - he is; he's been given pain killers. He questions if it's even really a case, after all they have Werth (it's a good job Gibbs wasn't there, Tony, I suspect you might have been head slapped or at least Gibbs glared at).
At that moment the Senator's aide and Jenny turn up: SECNAV have ordered Werth to be returned to Bethesda, so that he can be kept subdued before the medal ceremony. Gibbs is not happy and accuses the aide of only caring about selling the war.
Aide: "You don't support the war?"
Gibbs: "I care about the man fighting it." And he strides away to the lifts.
At that moment, Ducky turns up to tell Gibbs about the masking agents. Unperturbed by the fact that person he's talking to is in effect walking away from him, he follows Gibbs into the lift and tells him that the tests show that Werth has been on steroids for years. His behaviour is the result of steroid induced psychosis. The lift doors open on Werth being taken away. Gibbs and Ducky, standing so close to one another their arms are brushing, watch him go and Gibbs and Werth lock gazes.
Ducky: "Someone is using that Marine as a lab rat." (I really did think it was Karen Sutherland).
Back in the squad room, DiNozzo (once again behind McGee's desk) is still high and whilst they are talking about the drugs and masking, makes reference to the Tour de France and the 'short little shorts'. Ziva comments that someone is trying to create the super soldier. We learn though that Werth would have been rejected by the Marines at the age of 19, because he had a blood disorder, and yet amazingly three years later he is ripping through boot camp. It seems to be a miracle cure (except miracles don't happen). Who 'helped' him? Gibbs leaves McGee to research Karen Sutherland and the company she works for and he and DiNozzo go to 'talk' to her.
Her company is certainly involved in a wide range of things from pills to keep people awake for three days to nano technology; they use the term super solider and she refutes it. DiNozzo asks if she uses some humans for tests, in-house testing, and asks about Werth. She then tries to gain favour by likening Werth and Gibbs to one another. She has done some research and knows Gibbs has the Silver Star (that won't impress Gibbs, lady, he doesn't care about his medals). She refers to Gibbs as an ex-Marine; he says there's no such thing as an ex-Marine. She denies testing on humans saying that steroids are dangerous (okay, I admit I was well and truly fooled - I really did think that it was her, my spider sense really let me down on this one). As they leave, DiNozzo tells her that Gibbs doesn't care about the medals, adding that he keeps them in a desk drawer (hey, consistency, amazing how they can get the little things consistent, but not the big stuff).
Back in the squad room Abby is drapped over McGee, literally; she has her arms around his neck, cuddling him and is resting her had against him (lovely Abby/McGee moment). Poor McGee, however, can't work with her drapped over him like that, as he's already down to one arm; but she does not want to let go. And then DiNozzo appears and she does let go to hurry across to him (the look on McGee's face is not an overly happy one, especially for the man who'd just asked her to let go - that could be interpreted by both Abby/McGee and DiNozzo/McGee fen as being a moment for 'them').
Abby (about to throw her arms around DiNozzo): "Tony, I'm so glad -" she breaks off and takes a step back. "You smell of garbage."
Poor DiNozzo has had to dig through Karen's garbage - but it revealed nothing; it appears she's genuine (I still didn't believe it).
Abby explains that she now understands that no true warrior should be felled by invisible forces as it's not honourable. And as she leaves she goes back to Ziva and basically apologies (without saying sorry) for what she said earlier, saying she didn't mean it.
Of course DiNozzo and McGee want to know what was said earlier. Ziva admits to having experienced a feeling whilst tackling Werth, and that she was temporarily overwhelmed by him, which she says is very unlike her. They both turn it to her being interested in him, attracted to him (now I expected that from DiNozzo, but not McGee). Naturally, on cue, Gibbs appears and tells DiNozzo to go easy on the pain killers.
The Senator is stonewalling, well he doesn't want anything to come out, Werth is meant to be a clean-cut hero. McGee's research into Karen has revealed that she does really appear to be the bleeding heart she comes across as being. In fact if she has a fault it's that she cares too much. It is McGee who suggests they could exploit that weakness (nice one, Tim).
The next scene has Gibbs and McGee talking to Karen and in effect do that very thing. She denies selling secrets and says they're wasting their time trying to prove she was. Indeed she wasn't selling secrets, she gave them away for free; she treated kids who'd been victims of land mines. She does hand over some data, saying if it comes out that she gave it to them/has been doing what she has then her career is over and she says to Gibbs that he only had to have asked nicely.
Gibbs: "This is nicely." (Oh, yes, that indeed was nicely for Gibbs).
And the information on the data disc she gave them proves her company are not involved. The chemical compound in Werth's blood was completely different to the chemical compound her company produce.
So if Karen is in the clear, who has been feeding Werth steroids? De La Casa seems the most likely now.
Whoever it is, they need to protect Werth as he's the only one who knows, thus his life is in danger. They return to Bethesda and run into the aide again who (silly man) tells them they are not welcome and tries to prevent Gibbs from going any further (don't try to stop Gibbs, never a good idea). Needless to say it was a waste of time and in fact DiNozzo knocks out his ear phone and crushes it (nice one, Tony).
De La Casa admits he missed the drug abuse and puts it down to too many patients coming through (is it him, it could be, logically he's in a good position for it to be?) And tell them that they have Werth on a rapid detox and he's sedated. Ziva wants to see him, De La Casa tries to say no, but it's pointless. Gibbs and Ziva go into his room with McGee and DiNozzo watching on the tape. McGee seems surprised that DiNozzo doesn't make a funny film reference, put very poignantly and maturely DiNozzo says that it's not funny (could we be getting the DiNozzo of S4 back?)
Werth recognises Gibbs and Ziva and realises now that he's in hospital - he's shackled to the bed. Gibbs and Ziva ask Werth who did it to him and then he crashes. De La Casa gives Ziva a hypo of adrenalin to give to Werth while he and Gibbs hold Werth down, but (and now DiNozzo does make a film reference) rather than do so, she unshackles him.
He lashes out, knocks Gibbs to the ground (again), and turns on Ziva. He has her pushed up against the wall, but rather than attack her, just as DiNozzo and McGee run in guns drawn and Gibbs also now on his feet again has his gun drawn, he lets her go and instead collapses into her arms. De La Casa says that the machine had been set incorrectly, the sedation was killing him. They accuse De La Casa, but he didn't do it. He wrote the orders down correctly - the orderly followed the orders.
Ziva tackles the orderly and takes him down single handedly. He is wearing a very expensive watch - he has certainly been up to something.
In the interrogation room, however, he denies giving any injections to anyone. Yes, he is involved, he has been selling on drugs, but he didn't inject (Gibbs believes him).
Back at the hospital Ziva and Gibbs both dressed up (I do love Gibbs in his suit, even more than his causals, in fact a lot more, I love him dressed up ::coughs::). Gibbs is helping Werth dress, tidying his uniform and little things like that, straightening a button. He tells him that courage has nothing to do with medals. "It's simple, you run to the gun fire, not away from it." He asks Werth again who did it, was it someone in his unit (and now I was thinking Stone). But Gibbs knows the truth now, he's clearly worked it out, and he's being very gentle; he cares about this Marine.
And that's when we learn: Werth has been injecting himself. He tells Gibbs that he doesn't know what he'd have done had he not been able to be a Marine; he gave himself the stuff to become a super soldier. And Gibbs understands.
Outside needless to say the medal ceremony is over. The Senator's aide goes away (finally) saying that the Marines might give him the medal or discharge him.
The final scene is Gibbs, still in his suit (and you know what he's going to do) in the squad room. He goes to DiNozzo's desk and takes out his own medal and looks at it. He then takes it back to Bethesda, where he leaves it on the table next to Werth's bed.
Poor Werth, all he ever wanted was to be a Marine and serve his country; he hurt no one but himself. He saved lives, risked his own, has possibly (probably) destroyed his own life, career-wise, not to mention damaging his body. But he is a hero. Gibbs thinks so. He deserves the medal - even if it's a non-official one.
A very poignant and moving ending.
A top rate episode - right up there with 'Chimera'.
A great story line (Naval).
Really great red herrings. I honestly cannot remember the last time I didn't have an inkling of who was the 'baddie' (not that really you can call Werth the baddie) until it was revealed. It really made for a pleasant change.
Some lovely team interaction, nice touches of humour, lots of pathos, some interesting 'politics' and views.
Some interesting insight into aspects of Ziva and Gibbs's (his comment about the war) characters. Nice development of Ziva, especially, and also nice to see Abby and Ziva's relationship growing a little more.
Good ships, not in your face and the focus, but certainly there for those of us who have ships. For me (hey, it's my review *g*) in particular several Gibbs/Ducky moments, and the Abby/McGee scene.
Nice amount of Ducky - always good.
Ziva's love/infatuation for DiNozzo wasn't as overt as in some episodes. There is a connection there, and there were some hints of it, but it was well done.
Jenny's role, very much the director and fine.
No Jimmy - which was a shame, I always like Jimmy. But at least this week there wasn't a dead body so we didn't have to wonder how Ducky manages on his own with the physical aspects of getting the body back, etc.
Enjoyment: 9.50/9.75 (I'll decide after a second viewing)
And a few Gibbs/Ducky icons from this episode. I don't claim to be an icon maker (certainly not up to toomuchfandom's standards), but please feel free to snaggle if you so wish.
Ducky grabs Gibbs:
Ducky grabs Gibbs again:
Screen caps courtesy of: dj_capslock