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Episode Review. Season 5x12 - Stakeout

Spoilers behind cut.



Visually I found this episode rather difficult to watch as so much of it was in dark rooms.

A so-so episode, IMO. Again a fairly obvious bad guy (I knew it had to be either Chow or Captain Pullman or both). Okay humour, some nice interaction, various shipiness for various pairings, a fairly run of the mill case, not overly exciting or gripping. And of course the big secret.

The episode opens immediately with the stakeout. McGee and DiNozzo are talking to one another, with McGee in the street and DiNozzo in the room they're using for their stakeout. McGee wants to step in to stop what he thinks is a drug deal going down, but DiNozzo won't let him as he'll blow NCIS's cover. Whilst they are arguing about this, a hooker tries to pick up McGee - as she only hears his side of the conversation, including McGee saying "bite me." She informs him that will cost extra (cute). We see her on and off throughout the episode.

In the room the one of the monitors is on the blink so DiNozzo does a Gibbs and smacks it. When McGee gets back they continue to bicker; McGee has brought the wrong type of eggs. DiNozzo doesn't like sunny side up as they remind him of eyes, he wants scrambled. So very predictably (after all it's one of the oldest gags in the book) McGee picks up the bag and shakes it - thus giving DiNozzo scrambled eggs. They then face one another, fists up. I'm sure Di/Mc fen can take a lot from this scene.

The next scene is Ziva and Gibbs on stakeout (waves to curly_the_sue, I thought of you immediately when I saw this scene, as of course Gibbs will have been the one to team people up). Ziva is bored and she's pondering whether hookers get bored of their work as it's the same stuff over and over again. She hates stakeouts.

Meanwhile Gibbs is trying to call Abby, but she is intent on building a tower with specimen jars. Gibbs finally gets her attention and she knocks the tower over. Abby says she missed Gibbs and it's quiet at the office (she's bored too), and she doesn't have anything information for Gibbs. The partial fingerprint they pulled from locker 23 (which we assume is the locker the team are watching) has thrown up thousands of possibly suspects in the DC area alone. During the scene Ziva sees two men come into the building and is trying to will them to go to locker 23, Gibbs tells her to watch them and then goes out of the room.

Ziva rings DiNozzo and he says he's an hour away at which point she gets peeved and tells him "Your goose is fried." Of course at that moment DiNozzo appears, correcting her with 'cooked', and they talk about the hooker too. Ziva refers to her clients as 'Jacks' and when DiNozzo correct her to 'John', she asks DiNozzo if he knows him. It's kind of cute still the way Ziva gets these things wrong, but OTOH, she's now been in America for over two years, I find myself wondering if she would make quite so many slip ups? Of course, she could be doing it deliberately to wind DiNozzo up - at least some of the time. We then see DiNozzo's face and he appears to have a black eye.

Gibbs then reappears saying, "If you care, DiNozzo, no one came to the storage locker." He's pissed, I think he's bored too - but we soon learn it's a little more than just being bored. He seems highly amused, but manages to hide it with only a small smile, by DiNozzo's black eye. And he asks where McGee is. DiNozzo tells him they've finally found something to agree on: they'll commute separately. And then he tries to persuade Gibbs to change the teams around - he shuts up as soon as he gets the 'Gibbs glare'.

McGee does arrive, but he has no news yet as to from where the email tipping them off about the radar came Gibbs is not a happy camper. Gibbs and Ziva leave and DiNozzo says, "Alone at last." He then realises he has a black eye, tries to blame McGee for it only to learn it was Ziva. It isn't a black eye as such, it's something Ziva put on the binoculars. Ah, the children have been having a fun time. Once more they are watching a man (who turns out to be Scott Rowe) in this really expensive car interact with someone they assume to be a drug dealer and again an exchange seems to be taking place. McGee is more interested than DiNozzo, and wants to stop it.

Outside we see Gibbs (who appears to be limping) and Ziva. At that moment the drug's dealer runs up yelling for Gibbs to call 911 as there's been a murder. Ziva and Gibbs go in the direction the man is pointing. Ziva is jogging gently, Gibbs little more than a walk - in fact I'm sure he's limping as neither of them are moving as quickly as they normally would. So I suspect MH damaged his ankle doing something and CdP is moving slowly too to allow for this. At the scene where the man, who we soon learn is Scott Rowe, is lying in a pool of blood, only Ziva crouches down by the body, Gibbs merely bends over with his hands on his knees. Very un-Gibbs.

We then meet the Metro PD; a detective named Andrea Sparr is in charge of the case, after all the murder is, at that point, just a murder, they think drugs related, and not-NCIS related. Gibbs says he'll arrange for video footage to be sent to her and then DiNozzo turns up and starts to flirt with Sparr, in true DiNozzo fashion - but she isn't having any of it, and does not seem interested. Finally, DiNozzo gives in, but his parting shot is to ask her when a drug dealer used a piece of lead pipe to bash someone to death.

Back at HQ we have a little Ducky and Abby scene. Abby is in Autopsy with Ducky and she is sitting on one of the swivel stools swivelling round and round and round (it was making me giddy watching her). Her reasoning being she was trying to find a new equilibrium. When Ducky, who takes her arms as she stands up and staggers slightly (cue Ducky/Abby fen), asks her has she, she replies she thinks she's going to be sick - she wasn't, I pleased to say.

He wants her to do some blood tests on a John Doe. he wants a CBC with platelets, a complete chem screen and CK. However, as she's about to go, when Abby points out there's no case number on the samples, Ducky prevaricates and says he'll give it to her later, as it's yet to be decided. We don't need a 'Gibbs's Gut' to know something is amiss and we are meant to think that it's Ducky's own blood.

Meanwhile Gibbs is talking to Jonathan Chow and Navy Captain Dean Pullman. We learn that it's radar equipment that has been stolen and that Jonathan Chow owns/is MD of the company who made the radar. Chow is angry because it's taking so long and bit by bit we learn that the radar was stolen two weeks ago, but then following a tip off was found four days ago, but Gibbs persuaded him to let the Navy and NCIS have the radar as bait to try to flush the thieves out. Chow is quite angry because the ship the radar is meant to be for is due to sail very soon. However, Gibbs wins the day and they, for now, don't have to give the radar back.

In Autopsy again Ducky is studying medical books and suddenly DiNozzo turns up, making Ducky jump. Ducky points out that DiNozzo's shift ended a while ago, so the only reason he'd have returned to Autopsy was that he wanted something - clever Ducky. DiNozzo confesses there is, and asks Ducky about the city's ME. Ducky tells him that he knows the man, Tom Hubbard, very well, in fact they place bridge together every Tuesday (I knew Ducky was a bridge player). He's an excellent ME, but a dreadful bridge player. DiNozzo wants Ducky to get the Autopsy report on Scott Rowe, when Ducky asks why, DiNozzo confesses that he got into a bit of an argument with the detective in charge of the case and once he says 'she', Ducky has a knowing smile. Ducky also asks if Gibbs knows what DiNozzo is up to - which of course he doesn't. A very nice scene.

Back to Gibbs and Ziva on stakeout, Gibbs seems bemused by the fact Ziva is crawling around the floor looking for something; she explains that she's trying to find whatever DiNozzo has done to pay her back. Gibbs has also called McGee in because 'low battery' if flashing from the locker where the radar is. Oh, dear . . . McGee goes off to investigate and . . . We see Gibbs and Ziva looking at the scene and still seeing the radar, but they do not see McGee, who by that time is inside locker 23; an empty locker 23. Ooops. The radar has been stolen from under their noses - someone is going to be very unhappy.

McGee, DiNozzo and Ziva are in the empty locker taking photographs, yes of an empty locker - as DiNozzo suddenly seems to realise and object to.

Ziva: "I would not want to be Gibbs right now.

DiNozzo (mocking her): "I would not want to be McGee any time." Children, children.

Ziva then talks about being a team and supporting one another and offers her hand to DiNozzo and they shake on a deal of no more practical jokes.

They are still wondering just how the radar disappears and DiNozzo mentions that he saw someone once make an elephant disappear. When McGee points out it was just an illusion and the elephant never left the building, DiNozzo's face drops a little - did he really think it was real?

Gibbs is waiting to talk to Pullman and comments that he's being punished. Finally Pullman arrives to report that the Sec Nav is not a happy bunny and is demanding to know whose bright idea it was to use expensive equipment for bait.

Gibbs: "That's be Gibbs with two 'B's."

Pullman says that actually the Sec Nav already knows that and has been trying to contact Jenny, but it appears she's out of the country - which she is. He says he's tried his best on Gibbs's behalf, but . . . It would take another nine months to reproduce the stolen radar.

We then go to the squad room and see DiNozzo being smacked around the head with a file - of course we think it's Gibbs. But it's not; it's Ducky :-) He has the autopsy report and has done so at 'great personal expense'. He had to agree to partner Hubbard at a weekend bridge tournament 'weekend from hell'. He gives DiNozzo the salient facts: Rowe was not in the best of health, he'd had a quadruple by-pass before he was 40, the cause of death was blunt force trauma. But . . . there was no sign of any drugs (not even the aspirin he should have been taking) in his body. Suddenly our 'simple drug deal gone wrong murder' is not so simple. Well it couldn't have been, could it? Otherwise NCIS couldn't have been involved.

DiNozzo: "Thanks, Ducky. I owe you one."

Ducky: "And one day, dear boy, I'll collect."

DiNozzo's eyes widen and the look on his face is one of more than slight trepidation. DiNozzo then tells Ziva and McGee to cover for him and runs off.

At the moment Gibbs comes down the stairs; Ducky sees him and hastens away saying, "It is time for me to exit stage left." Okay, Ducky's avoiding Gibbs - something he does not do (the whole early Season 4 aside), something he does not do at all. So he doesn't want to see Gibbs because he's afraid he'll give something away with Gibbs being so astute - and again we're back to the blood and something is wrong with Ducky. Of course Ducky hurrying away like that was always going to make Gibbs's gut twitch, even if he didn't act on it at the moment because of the case, it wasn't going to go unnoticed - as Ducky should have known.

Gibbs asks where DiNozzo is and Ziva tries, very badly indeed, to cover for him. This leads Gibbs to say "Never cover for me, David." However, McGee has managed to trace from where the email, giving them the tip off came. It was from a cell phone and McGee's tracking it down - Gibbs tell him to bring the person in.

Detective Sparr is talking to the hooker, asking her to call her if the drug dealer shows up. She and DiNozzo talk, she thinks DiNozzo was only trying to call her to try to date her and tells him firmly he is not her type. However, the says it was purely professional and tells her about the autopsy reports. When she asks why he's trying to help, he says because he could have stopped the murder, but thought it was just a drug deal. The drug dealer is Dennis Moran. As DiNozzo walks off, Sparr is checking out his butt, as he did to her.

In the interrogation room are a young girl and her mother. The call came from the girl's cell phone. We learn the she disobeyed her parents and went out when she should have been at home with her 17 year-old 'boyfriend'. She looked no older then 12! Mom is angry, but Gibbs gets it back to the case and we learn the girl was paid $10.00 by a man to use her cell. She agrees to try to describe the man, but when she goes up to the squad room, on her way to be taken to Abby, Scott Rowe's photo is on the screen and she says it was him. Scott Rowe was the tipster. So there is now a link and NCIS can really get involved with the murder case.

Ziva is under her desk, where McGee joins her as she's still trying to find out what DiNozzo has done - she points out that even though they shook on it, she doesn't trust DiNozzo.

McGee is working on a theory as to how the radar was sneaked out and he says he'll set up a demonstration to show Gibbs.

DiNozzo and Sparr turn up and Sparr is introduced to the world of Leroy Jethro Gibbs: what he says, goes. They'll work the murder case together, but the robbery will remain classified.

We have a little by-play with Sparr and Ziva as Ziva introduces herself and holds out her hand - I think we have jealous Ziva again. I don't think she likes the attention DiNozzo is paying Sparr. Sparr ignores her, but a few seconds later tries to find out Ziva's name and Ziva ignores her.

Walking down the stairs, wearing a surgical mask over her mouth and nose is Nikki Jardine, whom we met earlier in the season (the analyst who is afraid of germs). She's going to be working with Gibbs again! True to form, Gibbs pulls her mask off, much to her displeasure (people in her department have gone down with flu and she has a tickle in her throat). Gibbs takes her with him to talk to Chow and Captain Pullman. Chow is very angry and points out that if the radar gets into the wrong hands it could be the biggest threat to security since the cold war. However, there has been no 'chatter' about it - which is kind of odd, one feels.

Then he have one of the best scenes in the episode. McGee is setting up his demonstration and Abby turns up. She is really excited and impressed by the model he has built and they talk about how it's difficult to explain science and technical stuff to Gibbs. Abby is going on about Gibbs getting this glazed look (which he does) and suddenly she thinks Gibbs is behind her. He isn't, but . . . We know exactly what will happen, do we not? McGee then says he'll do a rehearsal and Abby wants to be Gibbs (talk about telegraphing what's going to happen - but it's fun anyway). So McGee does and Abby is very much Gibbs. It was done via a loop being set up, whoever did it would need some fairly sophisticated equipment to jam the signal, but they did. One loop was set up to show an empty corridor, and another one to show the radar in place.

Abby: "McGee, this is so great. Even Gibbs could understand it."

Gibbs (from just inside the lift): "Oh, he does." So we knew Gibbs was going to do that, but as I said, it was a lovely scene. Gibbs adds that they aren't off the hook until the radar has been found. The looks on Abby and McGee's faces, like two naughty children caught by Daddy. A nice scene for Abby/McGee fen, as well as just a fun scene.

Back in Autopsy the 'suspense' continues. Ducky is looking at MRIs or CAT scans of a brain, and Jimmy comes in. At once Ducky takes them down and hastily puts them into a folder, saying he's surprised to see Jimmy. Jimmy had returned for his cell phone, and of course he asks Ducky what he's looking at. Again Ducky prevaricates (lies) and tells Jimmy it's just an old case and something he'd thought of. Jimmy offers to return the file to the archives, but Ducky says no, he'll deal with it. Jimmy's surprise intensifies as he sees Ducky lock the file away in his desk drawer.

At his desk Gibbs is playing with the toy McGee has built showing the person who stole the radar. Nikki is reporting to him that there is still nothing about the radar, it's not for sale and they are starting to wonder if a competitor of the company who made it stole it. Gibbs gets a call and dashes off. Nikki looks after Gibbs and then goes to Ziva and tells her she saw DiNozzo putting something under Ziva's car. Ziva races off, and McGee asks Nikki if it's true, but no, it's just something DiNozzo has told her to say.

Gibbs goes to Abby and we learn that the partial finger print from locker 23 came from Rowe.

Meanwhile the hooker calls Sparr to tell her the Dennis is in the hotel. They all go off and DiNozzo offers McGee as a 'reward' - the hooker seems quite pleased and remembers McGee. Dennis comes out and takes off, duly chased by them all. He's frightened, probably high, and is determined he won't go back to jail. He starts to raise his gun and (once more it was obvious it was going to happen because present with Dennis were: McGee, DiNozzo, Ziva and Sparr) Gibbs grabs him from behind through the railings.

In the interrogation room Gibbs is very gentle with Dennis, it's clear he believes Dennis didn't kill Rowe; outside Sparr is surprised. But that's why Gibbs is so darn good; he always knows which line to take, whether to be tough or gentle with the people he's interrogating. Dennis admits that Rowe paid him to let him know when the Feds turned up to take the radar away and when he didn't call, because he'd seen nothing, Rowe was angry, they went into the alley and another man came and bashed Rowe with the pipe. Sparr wants to take Dennis away, Gibbs won't let her.

Up in the squad room Ziva's paranoia is still going on (by now, in fact before now) I was bored with it. Again, a 'theme' that was over-played. This time she refuses to eat a burger that DiNozzo picked up for her. Nikki won't eat one because she doesn't eat food prepared by other people.

Nikki: "Would Tony rally do something to the food?"

Gibbs (coming in): "Oh, yeah."

McGee has learnt that Rowe sold off his shares in Chow's company, IOT (I think that was it), and sold short. A case of insider information? At that point Captain Pullman turns up. So I was still, at this point, thinking that both Pullman and Chow were involved.

Back down in Autopsy we have a nice little scene with Ducky and Jimmy with a conversation that we were meant to think was about something really nasty and body related, but was actually only about requisition forms.

Jimmy: "Are you ready, Dr. Mallard?"

Ducky: "Just about. We've put this bloody (so British) business off long enough."

Jimmy: "They don't prepare you for this at Medical School."

And then Ducky picks up a form and comments on how many pairs of latex gloves they got through. So very nice. And then Abby comes in with the results on the blood and all fun goes. The white blood cell count is normal, but there are very high levels of an enzyme Creatine Kinase (thank you, adriannacoylho for the name. Clearly it's something really bad though, as Ducky is shaken and takes the results says they'll leave it for the day and hurries off to get his hat and coat and leave. Jimmy and Abby stand and watch him go - both very surprised. Abby wants to know what's going on, Jimmy doesn't know. He then tells her there are no John Does. So again we are meant to assume the tests are Ducky's.

The next morning DiNozzo and Sparr turn up, they'd picked up Rowe's broker at 6:15 a.m. whilst out jogging (Ziva does not look happy with that piece of information - the time, she obviously thinks they spent the night together) who said Rowe was about to file for bankruptcy and they believe the broker. McGee, meanwhile, has done his wizardry with the computer and has turned up evidence that Rowe and Chow were in the same place at the same time five weeks ago - the plot, as they say, thickens. And it now definitely points clearly and crystally to it being Chow - who had denied knowing Rowe. And as he's done so much in this season, Gibbs goes to McGee and puts his arm around the back of McGee's chair and McGee also gets a pat on the back. (Happy times for Gibbs/McGee fen).

We then move to a bar where Dennis has called Chow. He tells him he knows about the arrangement between Chow and Rowe, gets Chow to confess to killing Rowe (Dennis also says he remembers him) who asks for $50,000, to which Chow agrees. And as he's leaving . . . up stand Gibbs et al. Chow is caught. Sparr takes him away and Gibbs tells Dennis he did great; I'm sure Dennis won't be going back to prison for breaking his parole.

In MTAC we learn the simple reason behind the whole charade: the radar didn't work. McGee starts to explain it in full detail and is stopped by the Gibbs glare.

Back in the squad room, Ziva goes to sit down and her chair gives way and she lands on the floor. Now to my mind that is a really stupid trick to have had DiNozzo play, one that a show like NCIS should not have used. It's not only a really childish prank, it's a highly dangerous one. People have been known to end up with severe spinal damage from having a chair pulled out from under them. I had to shake my head that such a stupid thing would be used. It wasn't in the least bit amusing. Okay, so Ziva was right to have continued to worry what DiNozzo would have done, but this was such a silly 'prank' to use.

And we then come to the final scene, back down in Autopsy. Ducky and Jimmy are about to start one and the doors open and in comes Gibbs. Ducky doesn't look at Gibbs, just walks past him talking about the dead Marine whilst Gibbs watches him.

Gibbs: "Hey, Palmer, Abby's looking for you."

Jimmy: "I just left her." Gibbs just looks at Jimmy and Ducky is doing so too and Jimmy gets it. "I will go see her again." He goes.

Gibbs moves intimidatingly near to Ducky, as near as they usually are, but he is more menacing than usual. Ducky asks if something is wrong.

Gibbs: "I thought we didn't keep secrets from each other." (Oh, boy, soooo slashy *g*). ::Coughs::

Ducky moves away and talks about the blood tests. He says he not surprised Abby went to Gibbs as she goes to him about everything. Gibbs says it's because Abby cares and is worried - he says it's Ducky's blood.

Ducky says it wasn't his blood, he wasn't self-diagnosing, and adds he's in excellent health for a man of his age. And had Abby not been so emotionally involved she'd have realised it wasn't his blood type.

Once again Gibbs moves near to him and asks who it was.

Long looks are exchanged, but then Ducky again turns and walks away saying Gibbs is putting him in a difficult position.

Still closing the gap, Gibbs pushes, saying he can't think of anyone Ducky would stick his neck out for like that except . . . The Director.

He asks if it's Jenny and they just stand and look at one another. It clearly is Jenny. So that explains an awful lot, both in the past with her obsession and behaviour, and I did say more than once that I thought she looked ill, and in what is to come. I think we have the answer to yesterday's 'spoiler'. Although, OTOH, this could be lulling us into false security.

Sigh of relief that is isn't Ducky. Although I actually never for a moment believed it was Ducky's blood/brain MRIs/cAT scans. If he really did suspect anything was wrong with him, he would not use the resources of NCIS to find out. Even if he didn't want to go to his own doctor, for whatever reason, he has enough contacts. He would have known only too well that Abby or Jimmy or Gibbs himself (or all three) would have noticed something hinky and thus Gibbs would ask him.

Is he doing the tests with or without Jenn's say so? I assume with, or how else would he have the blood/MRIs/CAT scans? But again he'd have known that he would be found out by using NCIS resources.



OVERALL

A real middle-of-the-road episode.

Not a terribly interesting case.

Some nice humour and scenes, with the Abby/McGee 'rehearsal' one being the best.

Some fun interaction between the characters.

A joke that went on far too long and ended really foolishly.

Some ship moments (Gibbs/Ducky; Gibbs/McGee; Gibbs/Ziva; Abby/McGee; DiNozzo/McGee; Ducky/Abby; Ducky/DiNozzo).

Jimmy - always lovely.

No Jenny (I never miss her).

Would have liked more Ducky, Abby and of course Gibbs/Ducky scenes - but the final one was very intense.

Storyline: 6.75

Enjoyment: 7.25

As always these 'grades' might change after my second watch.

Tags: non-fiction: episode reviews, season 05
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