Nikki (nakeisha) wrote in ncis_gibbsducky,
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Episode Review. Season 5x16 - Recoil

Spoilers behind cut.



A Ziva-centric episode.

I shall be very interested in hearing what curly_the_sue has to say about this episode as Ziva is her favourite character and she 'knows' her far better than I do. Part of me felt Ziva's behaviour throughout the case, in one aspect was very OOC - after all she's killed before, we've seen her, she even killed her half-brother, so why did this affect her so much?

OTOH, maybe it's the first time she has come so close to being killed herself, and believing that it was her fault as she didn't act quickly enough. Everyone has a breaking point, no matter how detached, experienced, able, trained, etc. they are - so it looks as if this was Ziva's. And it was good to see that, I felt, because it again showed she isn't the cold-hearted, ruthless killer she sometimes (albeit not so much these days) comes across as being.

It was an intriguing case, a real-honest-to-goodness-NCIS case, full of twists and mis-leads, and for once I didn't spot the other murderer as soon as he appeared. And I admit there was even one point when, despite seeing Hoffmann walk past the dead body that I even, for an instant, thought he wasn't he killer, and that the whole dead body and him walking past it would be explained by some affliction he had, whereby he didn't see the body. I did suspect the cop of being involved in some way, which he was, but unlike DiNozzo I didn't suspect Michael - at least not until the scene with him and Ziva in the warehouse - then I did. So it was very well done on that front.

The episode begins with a man (Hoffmann) washing his hands and there is blood in the sink, he also has blood on his cheek - the same blood, maybe? He's very detached, cold, clinical, distant, almost 'out of it', but not on drugs or alcohol. He gets a phone call and leaves the house, as he walks through the sitting room there is the body of a woman, a badly mutilated woman, on the floor. He goes outside and gets into a car - with Ziva; they kiss and he's animated and a different person. They drive off.

DiNozzo is in a van watching the house, and Gibbs and McGee are in a car. They take off after Ziva, DiNozzo, dressed in overalls, gets out of the van and goes into Hoffmann's house.

Ziva and Hoffmann are talking, he won't tell her where they are going as it's a surprise; she talks about her husband and they generally make the kind of chat lovers or would-be-lovers make. She even says she likes a man who keeps a secret.

Inside the house DiNozzo finds the dead body and confirms the finger is missing. Gibbs tells McGee to call Ziva and give her the sign; they are going to take Hoffmann down now. McGee does, but . . . Hoffmann is suspicious even though Ziva says it was a wrong number, grabs the phone and asks who Gibbs is. She says it was a wrong number and doesn't know, but he points out it's the second number on her speed-dial (so who is #1, I wonder?).

Now to me this was handled quite badly, surely in situations like that they'd make sure Ziva had a clean phone, and whilst I can see she'd want to have NCIS or any of the team on speed-dial why not cover it up with a totally innocuous name, i.e. not one that is likely to call her? Also I thought Ziva didn't cover up very well, she seemed flustered and not really in charge. Again, maybe because she knew from McGee's call what it had come to and was starting to worry, but . . . I know the scene had to be played that way, the speed-dial bit, but it just didn't ring true to me; I would have expected better from undercover Federal Agents.

In the meantime Gibbs and McGee are following - at high speed in true Gibbs fashion.

We move to a warehouse, Hoffmann and Ziva are out of the car and inside; he has a gun. He's challenging her about being a cop; she asks him why he killed all the girls; he tells her it was because they were screwing around whilst their husbands were serving their country. She asks him if that is what happened to him, which enrages him more. He tells her to get inside part of the warehouse with a gate, she hesitates and he fires - at first I thought he'd hit her, he was so close and she seemed to react to being shot and fall as though she had been, but she hadn't. They fight on the ground, she goes for the gun, he tries to stop her, but she prevails. As he stands over her she fires several times and he falls down on top of her - he's dead; she's covered in blood and clearly shaken and I'd say very scared.

The cavalry in the form of Gibbs and McGee arrive, guns drawn, and whilst McGee confirms Hoffmann is dead, Gibbs helps Ziva up and cradles her face, asking her if she's all right (curly_the_sue, I bet you knew I was thinking of you at that moment - squee from Gibbs/Ziva fen at this point and at other points throughout the episode I'd venture to guess). Poor Ziva looks awful.

Then Ducky and Jimmy arrive, Ducky is fixing Ziva's face, or trying to, and he says she needs an x-ray - he's troubled by her injuries because he actually snaps at poor Jimmy, in a very un-Duckyish way. Ziva says no to the x-ray, but then Gibbs tells her to go and get changed, go and get an x-ray and go home - he doesn't need to see her for the rest of the day.

DiNozzo, in the meantime, calls to ask where the team are, as he's stuck with his body; McGee points out that they have their own body. DiNozzo asks after Ziva, he's clearly concerned and McGee tells him she's not that great. He tells McGee to keep him updated and McGee says he will.

Then a cop turns up - Detective Steve Rosetti - the killings were originally his case, until they tied in the Marine link. It's not just military wives (all the women were military wives) that are being killed, Andy Hoffmann was also a Marine. Ziva appears dressed in coveralls that look like the ones Ducky and Jimmy wear, and Gibbs says he'll get someone to drive her to the hospital. Rosetti, who is clearly impressed by Ziva, offers in a very IMO leering way to do so. He also mentions the shooting and we get the first of several flashbacks Ziva has of the scene where she killed Hoffmann. Ziva declines Rosetti's offer, insisting she is fine (she's not, not by a long way).

Back at NCIS, Ziva has disobeyed Gibbs and is there. She wants to go back to the bar and take the photograph of the latest victim, as she is as yet unidentified. After a moment or two, Gibbs agrees, telling DiNozzo to go with her. DiNozzo then reaches for Ziva and she grabs his hand and smashes it down on the desk; he says he was only going to tussle her hair, as it sometimes makes her smile (DiNozzo/Ziva moment), and she apologises. She is scared, poor Ziva.

In the bar DiNozzo takes an instant shine to the bartender whose name is Heidi and we get the age-old 'Heidi-Ho' line, he goes off to talk to her and show her the photograph. Meanwhile Ziva is approached by another man, someone whom she has met before. His name is Michael Locke; he starts to talk about Hoffmann and how surprised he was, and she tells him who she is, and that her name isn't Gina, but Ziva and she's a Federal Agent (which she strictly speaking isn't, but I guess it was simpler). He seems taken aback - well not surprisingly really and then whilst DiNozzo is showing Heidi the picture (she recognises the woman) Ziva and Locke talk.

He's looking for his girlfriend whom he hasn't seen for three weeks and he's now worried she might have been a victim or Hoffmann's as she too was married, to a navy seal, she fitted the 'profile' of Hoffmann's victims. DiNozzo does not like the fact that Ziva and Locke are talking so 'intimately' he looks jealous - or just a concerned colleague, depending on what way you view it, or even both.

Back at NCIS Gibbs, McGee and Ziva are again reviewing the case, they have photos of all the victims on the plasma screen. And in comes Petty Officer Massey, whose wife was the fourth victim, he's come to collect her personal effects. He tells Ziva DiNozzo brought him up as he wanted to thank her for killing Hoffmann and he hopes she made him suffer. Ziva is again shaken by his words and almost distressed by them, and again we get the flashback to the killing.

Gibbs then goes down to Autopsy for a brief scene with Ducky and Jimmy. Ducky had called Gibbs because he'd been reviewing the autopsies on the five victims and he has found an anomaly. Whilst all five had lots of alcohol and the date rape drug in their bodies and were all stabbed and mutilated, there was one small difference. Victims 1, 2, 3 and 5 had their fingers cut off several hours after death, whereas victim no. 4 had her finger cut off immediately after death. Jimmy pipes up and offers the suggestion that maybe he was in a particular hurry, which earns the poor boy the infamous 'Gibbs - Ducky double glare'. It's a nice little scene between Gibbs and Ducky as it's full of the usual eye contact, lack of personal space and seeming to shut out everyone (in this case Jimmy) else. And now we have another mystery - copy cat killer or . . . ?

At that moment Abby arrives on roller-skates! When Gibbs asks why she explains that she cut off 14.5 seconds on the time it normally takes her to get from her lab to Autopsy and goes on to explain how much more efficient that would make her, in hours, days, week, year. Gibbs and Ducky exchange a look and Gibbs then cuts her off and asks about the knife and will it tell him anything. It does, in part, but it too has a slight anomaly on the handle is a partial print, a print that is not Hoffmann's nor is it any of the victims.

Upstairs Ziva is attacking the photocopier - very much so. McGee asks DiNozzo if she is okay and DiNozzo makes fun of it calling to Ziva and making out that McGee made light of it. McGee isn't best pleased by DiNozzo's take on it and explains to Ziva he was only concerned; yet again she insists she is fine. Then DiNozzo starts to push a little and she tells him, in Hebrew, to shut up. He asks if she's had her mandatory session with the shrink; she has.

Gibbs appears and tells them all to go home, also telling Ziva not to come into work the next day, it's been a long day. DiNozzo suggests a drink, but McGee walks out without even answering him (good for you, Tim) and Ziva refuses. DiNozzo keeps pushing her and then says he didn't intend to belittle what she'd gone through. But she still won't join him.

We then see Ziva in a bar and I guess we are meant to assume she'd caved and gone with DiNozzo, but she hasn't. She's at the bar where Hoffmann hung out and where she picked Hoffmann up. Locke turns up and sees she's more than a little worse for wear, she's mixing her languages and her liquors. She asks about Locke's girlfriend, calling her 'Debbie' when her name is 'Devon' and takes a photo from his pocket. He says how generous Devon was, how she thought more of others than herself and how he doesn't want her back, he just wants to know she's safe. Again he mentions Ziva killing Hoffmann; again we get a flashback.

The next day brings McGee still reviewing evidence when a rather hung-over Ziva, looking less than her usual self turns up; he's surprised to see her, but she says her taking the day off was Gibbs's idea, not hers. They look at a surveillance tape showing Hoffmann with victim #3 and there appears to be a man watching and following them. Ziva plays devil's advocate to McGee's explanation as to the man following, she says just going in the same direction - but it could well be Hoffmann's accomplice.

Gibbs and DiNozzo come down the stairs and DiNozzo is talking about Hoffmann only having photographs of himself with his Marine buddies, no women at all. And then Rosetti turns up again; he thinks the case is closed (he doesn't know Gibbs) but Gibbs points out the partial print. Rosetti is still keen to dismiss it, calling on DiNozzo to explain to Gibbs about what it's like to have all those cases open or cold on your desk, but Gibbs doesn't give a damn. He demands all the evidence Rosetti has on Hoffmann, not just the bits Rosetti had thought relevant.

Back at the bar, Locke and Ziva again run into one another and this time his intentions get clearer and he flirts with her more. Basically he invites her to go home with him, suggesting she might like a hug - or more. She does that, as we move to them in bed together; she's asleep and he sits up and reaches over her. The next second she too is awake and is pointing her gun at him. He's not surprisingly rather scared and shocked by this, but sensibly he doesn't move, instead he asks her what it's like to shoot someone. Ziva tells him it is what it is; you do what you have to do and she doesn't dwell on it. She then tells him she's not an NCIS agent, but Mossad. He then says Hoffmann couldn't have been her first kill and she asks why everyone thinks all Mossad are assassins - it lightens the mood and they start kissing and making love again.

In Abby's lab we have Abby and McGee and Abby is trying to see if she can get anything from the figure McGee is sure was the man following Hoffmann; she's tried pretty much everything and so far nothing. McGee is about to go when she says she isn't going to quit and that he should know best of all that in fact adversity is something on which she thrives, she is determined to find a way to crack the photograph. A nice little Abby/McGee moment. And then we get yet another twist when she reviews the blood groups of the victims, they are all the same (A) Except there is also evidence of B+, which does not match any of the victims nor does it match Hoffmann's blood group - it looks as though there is a sixth victim. But not only that, the copy cat killer (or accomplice) killed using Hoffmann's own knife.

Up in the squad room, Ziva is still trying to find Devon. Across the room from her, so is DiNozzo. But DiNozzo believes Locke was Hoffmann's accomplice. Ziva is angry and says he isn't involved and DiNozzo calls her on the fact that she's calling him 'Michael' and he wants to know just what Ziva has done with Locke, she tells him to mind his own business.

Down in the evidence garage Rosetti turns up with the files on Hoffmann, Abby, again on roller skates, turns up talking about dusting the car for finger prints and finding lots of them. McGee is about to take the box and go, when Rosetti asks him if he wants the rest; he has three more in the boot of his car. McGee asks him if he has a digital catalogue of them, and Rosetti just laughs.

Back in Abby's lab, McGee is bemoaning the fact it'll take him forever to go through all the files. Very sweetly Abby gives him a Caf-Pow, just for him (another Abby/McGee moment). Then he picks up an address book and all the pages fall out; whilst he's picking them up Abby is telling him that she's thought of a way to get an approximate height and weight of the person on the surveillance tape, but using some of the buildings, etc. around him. And then McGee discovers that a page has been torn out of the address book, which is why all the pages fell on the floor.

Ziva and DiNozzo have another little run-in with him again saying that Locke could match the height and weight of the person on the tape, she says he's jealous.

We learn that the address book belong to Monica Massey and the page that is missing is 'R'.

DiNozzo is singing and trying to wind Ziva up and tying in the song to the case; she gets angry and tells him to 'shut your trap', at that point Gibbs asks if he's missing something.

McGee has the phone records for Monica Massey and it reveals that Rosetti called her several times.

Gibbs, watched by Ziva and DiNozzo interviews Rosetti. At first he denies everything, then he admits to having had an affair with her - along with lots of other men. He says he tried to cover it up because she was married, he was married and his Captain would have taken him off the case. - he sounded genuine to me, and clearly to Gibbs too. So once again DiNozzo focusses on Locke.

Ziva then visits Autopsy to look at Hoffmann's body (it's reminiscent of when Kate shot the young man in Heart Break and also went to see his body). And again she flashbacks. Gibbs appears and tells her she has to let it go; she has to put it behind her. She starts to leave, but he stops her, getting rather intimidatingly close to her and asks if she's seeing Locke. She says she nearly died and that she should have moved on Hoffmann earlier than she did. He tells her she has to trust her judgement, because once she stops doing that it won't be 'nearly'.

We then hear a phone call from a man to Devon saying she must tell Locke about them and break it off - once more DiNozzo is convinced this is yet more evidence that Locke is involved. Ziva turns up, again says it isn't 'Michael' and hands over her gun saying his fingerprints are on the handle. She says she's trusting her judgement.

DiNozzo takes the gun down to Abby, who is trying to get beneath the floor in the boot of Hoffmann's DiNozzo hands her the gun and offers to help; he manages to get the spare tire out, Abby goes back to the car and you just know she's going to find something. She does: a box of fingers - four of them.

Meanwhile Ziva has taken Locke to the warehouse where it happened and is talking her way through it all, how she struggled and there was no where to go. She doesn't take a call from DiNozzo.

Abby is checking the fingers and is very impressed with the colour of the nail varnish (Arctic Blue) on one of them - very Abby. Ducky says he'll give her a hand. He tells Gibbs the fingers are from victims 1, 2, 3 and 5 - the copy cat killer didn't know that Hoffmann kept the fingers.

Ziva is still explaining to Locke how it happened, how they struggled, how they were on the ground and how she managed to get the gun and then shot him. But not with her gun. She didn't have her gun because she was undercover. Then Locke says 'just like now', and that was the only moment I thought Locke was actually involved, I really did think he was going to kill Ziva (well I didn't because I know she appears in the finally double episode, but that he was going to try to kill her, shall we say).

Abby is testing Ziva's gun for fingerprints and it does indeed reveal not to be Locke's - Gibbs tells DiNozzo he owes Ziva an apology. He then says it looks as though the killer of victim 4 hid his crime amidst Hoffmann's crime, right down to the final bit - except he didn't know that Hoffmann didn't a) take the finger immediately and b) kept them. McGee suggests the husband.

Gibbs: "Always suspect the spouse."

Ducky: "Speaking from personal experience, Jethro?" He has quite an almost wicked look on his face and in his eyes, plus his tone - and he's the only one who could tease Gibbs like that. Needless to say, Gibbs ignores him.

Abby, still on roller skates, declares that's why she's never getting married. She skates past Gibbs (once too often) and he stops her and tells her to lose the skates. (Okay, is my memory playing me false? Am I thinking of some other show? Or has Abby done the roller skates thing and saving time before? It was so deja vu as I was watching it, but . . . And I'm not thinking of the time she put bubble wrap on the floor leading into her lab so she had a head's up when Gibbs appeared and he told her to 'lose that').

Petty Officer Massey fits the rough height and weight Abby had managed to ascertain.

Back at the warehouse, Ziva does take a call and DiNozzo tells her the fingerprints weren't Locke's - she said she'd always known he wasn't involved. Locke, however, asks what's going on and she tells him. She tells him how she used her gun and got his fingerprints tested, only to prove he wasn't guilty, which she'd always known. However, sadly, he says he wishes he could believe her, but he can't. And it's understandable really. In one way or another she has lied to him all along, firstly over her undercover name; then about being a Federal Agent and now this. It's sad, and she's clearly quite smitten with him and he is with her - but I can understand why he walked away. She did what she had to do, but . . .

Gibbs, McGee and DiNozzo go to visit Massey who of course denies it all. But he was also a regular at the bar and between them McGee and DiNozzo detail what he'd done and how he'd done it. Massey had some nerve, he'd followed Hoffmann for girl 3, watched him, then taken the knife, killed his wife, and put the knife back - all without Hoffmann begin aware! Well, as I said Hoffmann did seem almost out of it in the first scene, so maybe the whole killing thing was like some kind of drug to him. Gibbs cuffs Massey.

Then we go into a bar, a different one (is it the one used in Angel Of Death?) where Locke is sitting. Ziva comes in and he's very cool with her and angry. She gives him piece of paper with Devon's phone number on and says Devon wants to hear from him. He thanks her, she says it's the least she could do, and she leaves. Through the door she watches him dial the number. *Sniffs* A poignant last scene.



OVERALL

A very good case, and a real case, which kept me guessing.

A different Ziva, interesting to see her like that. It was a good story line for Ziva and it really made me feel for her and care about her. I hurt with her over her reliving it over and over again.

Not a great deal of team interaction in the way we're used to. Again, it seemed to lack its usual chemistry.

Very little humour, apart from Abby on her roller skates.

Hardly any Ducky.

Teeny bit of Jimmy.

Not that much Abby, but more than Ducky.

Some shipping, but not a great deal. I would guess the Gibbs/Ziva fans had several moments of pleasure. We had a couple of nice Abby/McGee moments, teeny Gibbs/Ducky, also DiNozzo/Ziva (plus of course Ziva/Michael).

Not the best episode this season, although one of the better cases, and not one of my top ones for enjoyment, but not a bottom either, mid-way-ish.

Storyline: 9.25

Enjoyment: 8.25

Tags: non-fiction: episode reviews, season 05
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