Nikki (nakeisha) wrote in ncis_gibbsducky,
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Episode Review. Season 5x13 - Dog Tags

Spoilers behind cut.



A fun episode, quite light-hearted really; a sign that 'all hell is to break loose' between now and of the season, methinks.

For once the star of the show was not two-legged; although somewhat amusingly it was called 'Jethro' :-)

I really, really, really wish they'd work harder on their baddies, i.e. not making it so obvious who it is from the moment they appear, and not then compounding that obviousness every time you see them. But never mind, once again knowing who it was didn't spoil the episode. The other two 'J' were both in the episode - Jimmy and Jenny.

Quite an 'explosive' (not literally, I hasten to add) beginning. Straight in, mid-scene so to speak, it worked really well, I felt. The Field Team arrive at a house; Gibbs, Ziva and DiNozzo go in from the front, McGee is sent around the back, (why, I did wonder - apart from a plot device - did Gibbs take two of the field team with him and only have one person alone, around the back? Surely two twos is better??). And McGee is attacked by a dog, a German Shepard and he struggles with it. Inside Gibbs, DiNozzo and Ziva find a body, a fairly bloody, badly mutilated body and then there's a gun shot. They run outside to find the dog on the ground whimpering, McGee shot it - he had to, the dog was attacking him - but he didn't kill it; it's a through and through wound.

Ducky and Jimmy arrive and Ducky is tending to McGee's wounds and is asking him when he last had a tetanus shot - he's been quite badly bitten, whilst Jimmy is looking at the dog. Gibbs says the dog is being taken back to NCIS. Ducky is about to give the dog an injection to help with the pain and keep it calm when Jimmy tells him it will be better to inject in the back of the neck and also tells him to raise the scruff. We learn that Jimmy was a vet's assistant during college. It's a lovely moment and also show how Jimmy has come on - I'm sure at one point he wouldn't have dared to say that, not just say it, but say something that's almost correcting Ducky, in Gibbs's presence. We know that never goes down well - so well done Jimmy.

The dead man (Hanson) was part of a dog handling enforcement unit, a unit that is under surveillance as someone has been smuggling drugs. Inside the house there's a nice bit of byplay between Gibbs and Ducky when Ducky (for once) makes a 'snap' judgement on the fact that Hanson was torn and mauled to death; Gibbs acts 'surprised' by Ducky being willing to be so certain at that point. It's a fun moment between the old friends.

However, when DiNozzo tries to get in on the act, he gets a double glare (will he never learn?) as well as snapped at by Ziva, who asks if he got out of the wrong bed. DiNozzo suggests she means 'wrong side of the bed', but it's left up in the air. DiNozzo continues to mess around and finally gets told, by Gibbs, to "play dead." Seconds later, when they go into Hanson's bedroom, following Ziva, DiNozzo also gets a head smack for taking a picture of Ziva who is crawling on the floor with her butt in the air. Gibbs is not pleased with DiNozzo.

They find a package, a large package, of drugs and a quick test shows it's cocaine; there is also some evidence that maybe the dog bit the package. If it did, it could explain why he turned on his handler. And a lot of money is also found; it all points to Hanson being the one who is involved - but that would be far, far, far too simple.

Gibbs sends McGee back to HQ with the dog. When he turns up Abby at first is really concerned about his injuries, he has bites to his arm and neck, until she knows the dog that did it is in the car. At that point her sympathies turn to the dog whom she unmuzzles and unties, all the time saying what a good dog it is and how harmless it is. And once she learns that it was McGee who shot him - she is not happy, at all. She takes McGee's very expensive jacket and wraps it around the dog, pointing out that she'll easily be able to identify the fibres from the jacket and if McGee thinks she can't, he doesn't know her - adding she doesn't want to know him at that moment.

"Good dog." Pauses and glares at McGee. "Bad McGee."

We then have the first of a couple of Gibbs-Jenny run in scenes. She has been contacted by the base commander at Pax River who believes the whole drug thing is now sewn up; Gibbs thinks not. In the end he gets his way; throughout it all he keeps looking at her in an odd way and she is aware of it.

Naturally DiNozzo manages to link the whole situation to a film and starts to tease poor McGee about rabies, also about any contagious diseases Hanson may have had, as McGee ended up with blood on him. As he so often does, McGee does react to this and you can see he's actually worried - for a highly intelligent young man, a young man who by now knows DiNozzo and his wind ups he does tend to fall for these things so often.

Gibbs sends DiNozzo and Ziva back to Pax River to talk to the other dog handlers. And as he passes McGee's desk, he asks him if he's okay - and it's his genuine tone.

Back down in Abby's lab she's taking swabs from the dog and talking to him and generally playing with him. Gibbs walks in on the scene and is bemused by it. Abby tells him she's called the dog 'Jethro' (because his real name 'Butch' didn't suit him). She explains why she called him Jethro because he's so strong, handsome and quiet - cute, Abby. Gibbs tells her the dog should be in his cage, but she doesn't want to; she's cuddling him and petting him. Gibbs starts to say something but Abby interrupts, as she knows he's going to tell her not to become too attached, etc. etc. But she insists the dog is innocent. She does, under protest, put him in his cage. But once Gibbs has left she starts to let him out, only to be stopped by Gibbs's voice telling her not to. Ah, he knows them all so well.

At Pax River neither Ziva nor DiNozzo are having much luck with the people to whom they are talking; they clearly resent NCIS being there, 'cops policing cops'. Ziva finally gets the man whom she is trying to rile to admit that Hanson was a 'show boat'; he liked to flash his money around - which was meant to be another hint that Hanson was the guilty party, or at least involved. DiNozzo talks to Petty Officer Erica Perelli and again doesn't get anywhere with her - either investigation-wise or personally (he's flirting with her in true-DiNozzo style); he tries all kinds of dog cracks, but she doesn't even smile. She twitched my antenna, not too much at this point, but it twitched.

Back in Autopsy Ducky and Jimmy are looking at Hanson's body; there are tear wounds and superficial bite wounds and Ducky points out some really sharp wounds (at that point I guessed that there was more to Hanson's death than met the eye). Jimmy does quickly talk about how sharp canine teeth are, thus pulling us away from Ducky's words, but the seeds have been sown.

McGee arrives and says he's had all his shots and feels like a dart board. Ducky thinks he's there for results, but McGee asks for the symptoms of rabies. Ducky leaves him in Jimmy's capable hands to explain why he does not have rabies and he goes to his desk.

And then Gibbs comes in (cue squee moment for Gibbs/Ducky fen). "Have you go it?"

Ducky (holding out clipboard to Gibbs): "Well, I have enough."

Gibbs (putting his hand on Ducky's shoulder and then sliding it around his shoulders leads him off): "Oh, no, we can do this one together." He guides a slightly puzzled Ducky into the lift.

We move to Abby's lab where she is playing doggy music and dancing with 'Jethro'. Gibbs and Ducky enter.

Abby (to Ducky): "Did you meet Jethro?"

Ducky (with a slightly puzzled look at Gibbs): "Quite a number of years ago." He sounds puzzled too - I don't blame him.

Abby: "Not Gibbs." She introduces 'Jethro' to Ducky.

Gibbs asks Ducky to tell Abby what he's found. Hanson had a dreadful neck wound a severed carotid artery and torn skin and dog saliva over him. Abby is still convinced 'Jethro' is innocent, she says he could have been trying to drag his master to safety. At that second the DNA results flash up showing that 'Butch' AKA 'Jethro' is the match.

Back in the squad room the kids are watching the surveillance video and think they see a somewhat hinky transaction, but it's just some food being passed over, probably to someone who shouldn't have been eating at that moment. Gibbs comes in and tells DiNozzo and Ziva they're going back to Pax River with him; his phone rings and it's Abby asking him to go to her lab.

She's found something: a flea. 'Jethro' has no fleas for signs of them; but Gibbs isn't convinced - and who can blame him? Hanson has been mauled by a dog, there is no question about that - it's just that Abby's convinced it's not 'Jethro'. Gibbs tells her she'd just making it harder on herself.

On his way to the car Gibbs sees Ducky talking to Jenny and giving her some paperwork. Jenny sees him and takes Ducky away with her.

And then Erica Perelli turns up to take 'Jethro' away to be put down. She and McGee bond and start to flirt with McGee insisting he likes dogs and will be getting one soon, etc. (and that in itself was enough evidence that she was the baddie), and we get onto 'Timothy' and 'Erica'. McGee takes her down to Abby's lab and lo and behold (as expected) Abby and 'Jethro' have gone.

At Pax River we see Gibbs, DiNozzo and Ziva interrogating each member of the group one at a time - one on one, and they switch around. They point out whoever is guilty is facing a life sentence but for a one time deal if someone who's involved talks they'll be able to do some kind of deal. No one says anything, no one knows anything - but they wouldn't; the guilty person is with McGee (well one of the guilty people) the other keeps his cool.

We then see Abby in her car a red car! (Odd that because in 'Hiatus' Abby tells the nurse in the hospital where Gibbs is that 'her hearse had broken down'. The little car she has (that looks a bit like Ducky's Morgan - well it did to me, but then I can't tell one car from another really) is not a hearse. She tells the base guard she's looking for fleas and flashes her ID; he seems somewhat perplexed (understandably so), but an NCIS ID in an NCIS ID; he lets her in. She and 'Jethro' get out of the dinky car and Jethro runs off. Abby chases after him calling 'Jethro'. And dog runs to a piece of ground and starts to dig - and he turns up bones.

We move on to Ducky carefully brushing the bones on the ground and Jimmy standing over him also brushing some bones, but as he does the dirt falls on Ducky.

Ducky: "Careful, Mr. Palmer, I'm trying to take bones out of the ground, not put mine in."

Ducky then says 'Jethro' and the dog barks; in an amusing little exchange Ducky addresses the dog and tells him he wasn't talking to him, and that he might like to cover his eyes. The bones are not human; they are canine - Abby puts her hands over 'Jethro's' eyes.

Back at HQ, DiNozzo and Ziva are indulging in a spot of bickering which stops as Gibbs appears. They have found that Lt. Commander Warfield has a cousin who has a record for drugs - and the cousin has vanished. But Ziva has more information, much to DiNozzo's annoyance. Nice touch when Gibbs orders them to 'fetch'.

And then Erica turns up again, completely ignoring DiNozzo who speaks to her and instead saying calling hello to 'Timothy'. He again takes her down to Abby, saying how sorry he is she had to come back. She says she doesn't mind and she doesn't want to have the dog put down, but rules are rules. However, Abby has locked herself and 'Jethro' in part of her lab and will not open the door. 'Jethro' starts to growl then and that was the final bit of proof to me that it was Erica who had killed Hanson. We were meant to think 'Jethro' was growling at McGee, but he wasn't. McGee tells Abby to open up.

Abby: "I can't hear you, McGee."

McGee: "If you can't hear me, why did you answer me?"

Abby frowns and then turns her music up even louder.

In the interrogation room Ziva is interviewing Warfield (watched by Gibbs and DiNozzo). He says he's not guilty and isn't even close to his cousin. He says he was in hospital in Panama when one of the so-called drug smuggling flights came in. Ziva then turns up information that shows he was actually out of the hospital for three afternoons. She finally gets him to confess that he was seeing a woman, a translator, who was a single mom, with a sick son. Warfield had lied, saying he had respiratory troubles to get medicine, which he gave to the boy. It was clear he was telling the truth and Ziva said so to Gibbs, who agrees.

Then we have another Gibbs-Jenny scene in the lift. She stops it and demands to know why he's been looking at her oddly all week. He asks about her health and she assures him she is fine, but if he doesn't make a move on the case soon, his own health might not be too good.

Then she goes to Abby and persuades her to open the door. Abby does, and says she still won't give 'Jethro' up; they both comment on how ill Jethro looks. Then Jenny makes a speech to Abby that goes on about things not always being as clear cut as they appear and how you have to look at reality and accept it. And it's clear she is talking on two levels; in fact she's talking more about something else than about the dog.

Back in the squad room, DiNozzo has put a DVD into McGee's machine so that when he turns on the big screen he gets barked at by snarling, vicious dogs. Abby has found something else from her analyse, some oil and the most likely person to have that on him is the flight engineer - Petty Officer Bidwell. Gibbs, DiNozzo and Ziva go off towards the lifts.

McGee: "Boss?"

Gibbs (patting his thigh): "Come on."

McGee grins and joins them.

At Pax River Ziva finds a lot of blood and then, not surprisingly, Bidwell's body. DiNozzo tells McGee to dust the entire place (on his own) for fingerprints.

Meanwhile Abby rushed 'Jethro' to Ducky. He's started to cough up blood. Immediately Ducky and Jimmy go to work, Ducky telling Jimmy to get the x-ray machine, and he also speaks very sharply to Abby, which makes her start. But it does its job, she does calm down a little. They find something in the stomach that should not be there and Ducky says they will operate and everything Jimmy needs is in Ducky's bag.

Abby: "Ducky, you know what you're doing, right?"

Ducky: "Well, the fact that he's breathing does put me somewhat out of my element. But we don't have a choice now, do we?"

Ducky and Jimmy begin to operate and Abby insists on staying. Ducky and Jimmy work very well together, seamlessly and within moments Ducky has 'got the little rascal'. A sharp piece of metal. At that moment the phone rings, and it's obvious when Jimmy says 'sir', it's Gibbs, and it is.

Gibbs wants Ducky to come to Bidwell's body. Ducky, however, tells Gibbs about the metal, which is the tip of a knife blade and Ducky is now certain that the really sharp puncture mark in Hanson's neck came not from the tooth of a dog, but from the knife. He also matches the knife to a wound in their 'John Doe' the dead and buried dog. He says if he was a betting man he'd bet on the fact that a human was involved in Hanson's death; Gibbs agrees.

And then DiNozzo gets him comeuppance for trying to make McGee do all the work. Gibbs goes to the plane, calls McGee and DiNozzo pops up saying it'll take two people all night to dust everything for prints.

Gibbs: "Hope you brought a warm coat, DiNozzo." And he takes McGee away with him. You really would have thought that DiNozzo would have learnt by now, after all the years he has worked for Gibbs.

Then we get a scene back at HQ with Abby doing a collection for flowers for 'Jethro'. McGee is reluctant to hand over money, but Abby reminds him she's a forensic scientist; she can kill and leave no trace - he hands over some money.

The surveillance video doesn't show Bidwell's killer, it's clear the killer new the base was under surveillance. Abby tries to explain to Gibbs how the knife tip got into 'Jethro' when he was licking his master's wounds and realises Gibbs had already figured that out. Ziva and DiNozzo turn up and they are annoyed with McGee for leaving them at the largest ever crime scene, but it wasn't his fault; Gibbs took him back with him. Then the knife produces a result: it's a boot knife and three have been issued in the last few weeks - one in particular is interesting.

Back at Pax River they are talking to Erica and Gibbs is outlining how it happened. She's not bad, she calls him on it and says it's all supposition and he agrees. And then another dog handler lets his dog go and it starts to bark at McGee (poor McGee) who has a sample of cocaine in his pocket. Gibbs takes it and lets Erica's dog sniff it. The dog doesn't react; he's not a drug dog. Erica killed her drug dog and replaced it with an attack dog and together they killed Hanson. (What a doubly nasty woman). And DiNozzo does put his hand on McGee's shoulder after the snarling dog and makes a comment about him attracting sick puppies - and that was a two-level comment, aimed at the canine and Erica.

The final scene is Abby cuddling 'Jethro' when McGee goes in. She looks sad and he thinks the base commander said to Gibbs that she couldn't keep 'Jethro', but actually he'd said she could. But Abby's landlord won't let her. So she begs McGee to take him and repeats a little of what Jenny says to her. McGee isn't happy, as he said 'Jethro' has a taste of his blood and seemed to like it. But she keeps on and persuades them to shake 'hands', led by 'Jethro'.

Once again this scene had me shaking my head and ranting at the NCIS scriptwriters for their lack of common sense. I commented back in the episode when McGee first said he was looking for a dog how stupid it was. He's out all day and works irregular hours, how can he have a dog? But this was beyond that. 'Jethro' is a large dog, and hey, he's a working dog. You cannot keep a German Shepard in an apartment - we've seen McGee's apartment, it's not large. The dog will go crazy, it's unfair and just so very, very wrong. Even assuming McGee takes it to a pet sitting place every day or has a pet sitter come in several times a day. It's unfair to a working dog (in particular) to do that. Why, oh, why, writers? Cute idea, yes. But really - very thoughtless.

I admit I was also a tad surprised that somehow no one noticed the dog swap. Okay so handlers all have their own dogs, but even so. And one German Shepard does, I guess, look pretty much like another, but it rang somewhat false.

And how long had her real dog been dead? Would all it's flesh have gone away like that?



OVERALL

A few quibbles aside I really enjoyed this episode.

Okay so it wasn't the real heavy naval crime we've had in the past, but it was a crime and they didn't just fall into it by chance.

It was fairly light and 'fun' for the most part, had some good moments of humour in it and enough tension not to turn it into a farce.

Quite a bit of Ducky (which always appeals to me, of course).

Lots of Abby (again always good).

Quite a lot of Jimmy (again with the good).

One really nice Gibbs/Ducky moment and a couple of teeny 'them' interactions.

Limited Jenny (once again good).

No resolution of the tests from last week - but I wasn't expecting there to be.

Not a great amount of ship moments really, not obvious ones anyway ('my' one apart *g*). Although a fair bit of the Abby-McGee interaction could be classed as shippy, especially her convincing him (mutters darkly to self) to take the dog, as that means she'll be visiting it a lot. The head smack DiNozzo got for photographing Ziva's butt could, I guess, be seen by Gibbs/Ziva fen as him being 'jealous' (curly_the_sue, does that work for you?). A few Gibbs/McGee moments (with the whole 'are you all right' and taking McGee back with him, etc. All also just being a good boss, but shippers can get see scenes in different ways, so I try to see it through their eyes. And the hand on shoulder at the end maybe DiNozzo/McGee? Other than those, nothing really 'spoke to me'.

I'm going to give it a fairly high mark (which is a tad odd as it wasn't high on case) not because of the case as such, just because I enjoyed it. It had a lovely 'star of the show', was both Abby and McGee heavy, it had more Ducky than a lot of weeks, a lot of Jimmy and some lovely exchanges. And the whole dog and McGee taking it aside I have little to quibble about.

All I can say is 'hang on to your seats' for the next five weeks. I think we're in for a roller coaster ride!

Storyline: 9.00

Enjoyment: 9.50



Tags: non-fiction: episode reviews, season 05
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