Nikki (nakeisha) wrote in ncis_gibbsducky,
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Episode Review. Season 5x17 - About Face

Spoilers behind cut.



A Jimmy-centric episode.

I really enjoyed this episode as Jimmy is one of my favourite characters and I feel we don't get enough of him, so to have his own episode was lovely. A good case with a real naval involvement again, which is always good, and a completely non-obvious bad guy; the whole thing kept you guessing throughout.

We begin on a building site, which turns out to be a naval base which is being retrofitted. Two men are travelling up in the 'lift' just chatting about a women; when they get to the top one of them gets a call from said woman, as he'd 'forgotten' to complete his time sheet. He's starts to go back down, but his companion stops him; there's a dead body in a cage.

At HQ DiNozzo comes out of the lift once again talking to someone on his mobile phone. McGee and Ziva are playing Scrabble, to help bolster Ziva's vocabulary. McGee, despite giving her a 50 point 'starter' is winning and he also knows she has the letter 'Q' left, as he counts the tiles. She does have; he thinks she won't be able to place it, but she puts it next to two 'I's thus making 'Qi', a word to which McGee objects. At that moment Gibbs appears and tells them to get their gear and McGee sweeps the letters into Ziva's desk drawer (and some onto the floor) and they all leave still bantering - including Gibbs.

At the building site we meet Enis Frank, who is in charge of the crew and he says that the dead man is not one of them; he's had the same crew working there for a while. There is also no security guards at a weekend, the kind of information that pretty much anyone could find out.

Up with the body DiNozzo, Ziva and McGee are talking through what probably happened when the guy went from A to B and fell; there appears to have been a fight and then he fell over the edge into the cage several floors below. Poor McGee is still having problems with heights and DiNozzo teases him about it, saying hasn't he got over it. McGee tries to explain you don't just 'get over' an irrational phobia. What is odd is that Ziva then takes the dead man's wallet out of his pocket that's always been a no-no in the past, no one should touch the body until Ducky has seen it - not even NCIS people. In Seadog for example, they made a big thing about it, when Ducky was more than a little irritated with the LEO who'd done that thing and even Gibbs asked him if he could touch the second body they find. I know Ziva was wearing gloves, but it wasn't as though Ducky wasn't on his way, there was no urgent need for her to do that - so once again we have a continuity 'error'.

I digress. Ducky and Jimmy arrive and Jimmy is asking Ducky is he wants to use the lift; Ducky assures Jimmy that his heart is fine and that he enjoys exercise and walking up stairs. Jimmy tries to backtrack and apologise for the inference. The dead man is Rick Baxter (according to the ID Ziva lifted) and Ducky says time of death was 4:00 a.m. The field team leave and Ducky says he'll go and get the gurney, assuring Jimmy he'll use the lift this time, and leaves Jimmy to get the body onto plastic sheeting.

Jimmy starts to do that and a passport falls out of the man's pocket, he glances at it, but at that moment Ducky calls him and he goes to talk to Ducky, leaving the passport by the body. Ducky is 'commenting' on Jimmy's parking, as it is rather too close to the wall for getting the gurney out. A nice little touch of humour and it was a plot point to get Jimmy away from the body at that moment in order to allow someone to come and grab the passport. When Jimmy returns to the body the passport is missing and there are noises indicating that someone is up there with him. He calls out the names of the field team, one by one, assuming it's one of them and then he sees a figure and goes after it. The figure is a man and Jimmy chases him, until the man turns, pulls out his gun and fires at Jimmy.

Ducky, who by this time has returned, hears the shots and hurries in the direction of them calling "Jimmy." When he gets to Jimmy, he's on the floor looking very shaken and not exactly 'all right'; he hasn't been shot, but is clearly badly shaken.

At HQ Jimmy is in one of the conference/interview rooms with Gibbs and Vance. He's looking at photos whilst Vance talks to Gibbs; he is not a happy bunny. They have no shell casing, no identity, nothing. He's a little irked with Jimmy, it seems, pointing out that he's an ME's assistant his job is to observe. Gibbs is a lot calmer and doesn't seem overly troubled, at this point. He 'reminds' Vance that Jimmy isn't a field agent, but he is a member of the team, not a suspect.

Vance: "He works for you."

Gibbs: "He works for Ducky."

Vance: "And Ducky works for you."

The look on Gibbs's face and the rather nice smile has a 'oh, yeah'? about it or a 'in theory'. Okay, yes, as we know Ducky is officially answerable to Gibbs, but it's not quite that simple. He asks Vance what's bugging him and we learn that Jenny will be back shortly and Vance wants to go home to his kids and wife and life. He would have gone already but for this case popping up, so he wants it solved quickly and Jimmy's lack of remembering isn't helping. Gibbs goes and leaves Jimmy with Vance (poor Jimmy).

Vance doesn't want to be in DC, that's clear, so what will happen if it is Jenny who goes? Will he take the job? And if he does is he going to be unhappy and irritated from then on? Or will he just be another 'Tom Morrow' present only a handful of times. It seems to me as though we're having Vance pushed at us and he's popping up seemingly unnecessarily, both in this episode and in In The Zone, he's role has been superfluous really, and he did things that hitherto Gibbs has done. I wonder if this is all part of the 'keeping us on our toes and guessing will it/won't it be Jenny, etc'.

Anyway, back to the scene. Vance asks Jimmy if he recognises any of the photos and Jimmy does, some of them were workers he'd seen on the site when they'd been there, but none of them were the man who shot at him. Jimmy remembers the passport wasn't in English, but can't recall what letters were there. Vance wonders, aloud, whether Jimmy was brave of dumb to chase after a man with a gun. Jimmy points out that he didn't see the gun until he'd chased the man. Vance asks about the gun and Jimmy says it was big; Vance says 'big barrel' and Jimmy gets angry and says yes. Vance still pushes for the height of the man and Jimmy says average and then talks about his eyes being reptilian - Vance is not impressed. Jimmy then grabs some paper and wants to try to calculate, using thagorean theorem how close the shooter was to him. Vance tells him to go and see Abby in the morning to try to put together a face. Jimmy said he was sorry he didn't catch the man.

The next day in the squad room Gibbs and the field team are reviewing evidence on Baxter. McGee is the one standing at the plasma pointing out the information. He points out that Baxter has lived in the same place for eleven years, the only problem is that for the last two of them his address has been a strip mall. The driver's license is real, it's only his address that is fake. He's never had a passport, in fact has never been out of the country and he does not have any kind of record, so there are no fingerprints, etc. He hasn't filed a tax return in ten years, or made claims for unemployment, his Bank account is 'dead'. DiNozzo manages to get another film reference in which earns him a 'Gibbs glare' and he suggests that the passport Jimmy saw wasn't a passport; Gibbs is adamant that it was - clearly he believes and has faith in Jimmy. His phone was bought at a convenience store, thus no address, but the SIM card reveals that a call was made that morning to another similar phone, i.e. one without a registered address. Gibbs still expects McGee to trace the call. Never say Gibbs doesn't have faith in his team - or want the highly unlikely. McGee will do his best, track all calls from both numbers to see if there is a land line link.

Gibbs: "Passport. Shooter. Dead guy. Connect the dots." At that moment his phone rings.

You hear Ducky saying: "This is your friendly pathologist." And Gibbs says he'll go straight down. (I loved the 'your'. I know it's a standard thing, but ship glasses time).

In Autopsy Ducky shows Gibbs Baxter's body and tells him the blow to his head didn't kill him. He was alive for a while and in the end died from blood loss from the injuries he sustained when falling - he would have lived long enough to have made a phone call. He also shows Gibbs some fine white powder on Baxter and in his lungs, which he's sent to Abby for analysis. As Gibbs is about to leave, Ducky hurries after him and asks after Jimmy, he's clearly worried about him. He says he misses Jimmy and that you never really appreciate someone until they aren't around. Gibbs smiles and tries to reassure him and says he'll be okay. Ducky adds that his concern is that whilst Jimmy might not have got a good look at the shooter, the shooter might well have got a good look at Jimmy. Gibbs pats him on his neck/cheek (squee moment) and tells Ducky to let him worry about the shooter. As always it was a nice little scene, filled with lots of eye contact and closeness and their usual lack of personal space and all the other little things.

Jimmy is with Abby attempting to do a mock-up of the shooter - it isn't going all that well. He clearly would know the man again, but can't articulate what he looked like. He uses a medical term that Abby doesn't recognise and when he explains it's between the nose and lips, Abby says that's called the cupid's bow and tells him a story of how she got her lips stuck in a vacuum nozzle once, when she was 22. She's trying to put Jimmy at his ease as he's bothered by the fact he can't recall the face. When she finally finishes the composition and shows it to him, he says it is the man, that it show his blood lust, anger and intent, but it isn't a likeness of him. She says it looks like Dr. Jekyll and Jimmy corrects her saying she must mean Mr. Hyde as he invented the potion (our Jimmy is a smart young man). He gets upset and says Gibbs must be angry and think he's completely useless. Abby assures him Gibbs doesn't think that and even calls him 'baby Gibbs'.

Back upstairs McGee has managed to trace the calls - to a mobile home park. DiNozzo makes reference to hoping there isn't a tornado and gets a very hard head slap from Gibbs, even I winced. I know they often sound quite loud, but I almost got the feeling that MH misjudged it slightly and did hit MW harder than he'd intended - certainly the reaction was very real and it definitely looked and sounded harder than usual. DiNozzo and Ziva go to the trailer park, but . . . Baxter's trailer is missing. Someone is going to a lot of trouble to cover their tracks.

Baxter had lived in the park for a year, but had recently given notice and paid his last lot of rent. Gibbs hands DiNozzo a picture, which DiNozzo confesses to have taken, and asks him if he notices anything odd about it. DiNozzo says it's a little underexposed; but Gibbs points to a drum of liquid which Abby ran the contents of: it's hydrophilic acid. DiNozzo says 'that's important, because . . . ' but he clearly doesn't know. Gibbs tells him - they don't use it in construction. DiNozzo claims to have know that, and says that's why he took the picture. He doesn't fool either Gibbs or Ziva.

Jimmy is with McGee and looking at passports. All he can remember is that it was dark blue - the most common colour, 72 countries have passports of that colour, McGee tells Jimmy roughly how many passports that is. Poor Jimmy, he can't remember anything more than that. He tells McGee that he once took a two week wilderness survival course, which he got through and even came face to face with a bear. He says you never know how you'll react when faces with a split second decision; he faced a bear, but not the shooter - he's troubled by that. McGee tells him he chose to duck and thus passed with flying colours and he puts his hand on Jimmy. Jimmy then asks McGee how he coped the first time he faced someone with a gun; rather than answer him, McGee covers it up saying he's a highly trained Federal agent so it's different for him. (IMS the incident refers back to Probie when he shot the cop). Jimmy still can't remember, but McGee says he has one more idea.

We move to Abby's lab, set up with candles and Abby, McGee is also there, is trying to hypnotise Jimmy to help him remember. In a way that's like when McGee was hypnotised in Witness, but that was by a professional. Abby seems to succeed as Jimmy does drift off and Abby starts talking about the body and the passport. However, rather than talk about that Jimmy starts to describe Ziva's boots, and then moves on to Abby's. At that point Abby wakes him up and she and McGee are about to leave, but Jimmy persuades her to try once more. She agrees and this time Jimmy drifts off and gives a wonderful description of a man (I must confess I did think 'this is too good to be true'), except the man wasn't the shooter, but the man who gives Jimmy his 'shots' of coffee each day. Jimmy is rather concerned that he might have talked about something that happened at a camp. At that moment the results on the white powder found on Baxter comes in. I have to say I'm sceptical about hypnosis, it was tried on me once (by a professional) and failed. I'm not dismissing it out of hand, but I'm not 100% convince by it - and certainly not by Abby doing it to Jimmy. That was pretty much the only 'off' note in the whole episode for me.

Vance comes out of the lift and runs into Gibbs and asks about Jimmy, whether he's remembered anything. Gibbs says not yet, but they're working on it; he still has faith in Jimmy - he knows his team, plus he knows Ducky very well and knows Ducky has faith in Jimmy, so Gibbs does too. At that moment Jimmy comes running up the stairs calling 'Agent Gibbs' and hands him the results. The white powder is efflorecense which Abby said formed when water and calcium carbonate seep through concrete. Gibbs adds sub-grade concrete. Gibbs saw it on the cement, not in the air. Vance asks what would cause Baxter to breathe it in, and Gibbs says 'drilling'.

Gibbs takes his field team back to the naval building. McGee is operating a machine that is testing inside the concrete wherever there are drill marks. The first one reveals nothing; the second . . . A body!

Ducky and Jimmy arrive and Ducky comments it will take a long time to get fingerprints from the person inside the pillar, they have knocked away enough concrete to see fingers. But they have to wait for the structural engineers to actually remove the pillar. Ducky, in true fashion, than Enis for his help, but Enis's reply is that this has now put them into the red on the job.

The team move away and DiNozzo says they aren't getting very far. They have one dead guy with two IDs and another dead guy with no ID. Gibbs says there must be a connection (indeed there must, especially as we all know what Gibbs thinks about co-incidences). Ducky then talks to them all, but looking at Gibbs, saying the man must have been put into the pillar before the cement was poured and adding that it would have taken him ages to take out. Gibbs says it wouldn't, and DiNozzo explains about them finding the hydrophilic acid Ducky then moves right across to Gibbs and looks up at him and tells him (what Gibbs would already know) that the acid would have completely destroyed the body and any hope of ID. They still don't know who killed Baxter.

Jimmy says: "Probably the same guy who shot at me." Everyone is quiet and looks at Jimmy and Ducky steps in, put his arm around Jimmy's back and takes him away, saying they have something to do.

McGee joins them at the ME's van saying that Gibbs wants him to remain there for the chain of evidence. Ducky is talking to him about him and Jimmy having to go and get some strange tools, but Jimmy isn't paying any attention. He is staring at the reflection in the van of a man behind him - the man who shot him. Suddenly, just as he draws McGee and Ducky's attention to it, another van pulls up, thus shielding the man and of course by the time McGee gets there, he's gone. Poor Jimmy.

Back in Abby's lab, Abby calls out: "Hi, Gibbs," and a couple of seconds later Gibbs appears. He tells her it was impressive and she says she leant from the master - him. Which makes her the master's apprentice or the apprentice of the master and she does her word play for a moment or two while Gibbs waits with his 'patient' look. Then she is forced to admit that actually she'd been saying 'hi, Gibbs' every ten seconds since she called him five minutes ago to ask him to come down - another nice bit of humour and very Abby. What she wanted to tell and show him was that Baxter was hit with bolt cutters and if Gibbs brings her all the bolt cutters, she'll find the one that was used. She also says that Ducky found a teeny bit of metal in the wound which she tested: it's 99% copper. And the lucky girl gets a kiss on the cheek for that (cue Gibbs/Abby shipper squee, me I just see it as father-daughter squee).

Ducky and Jimmy are removing the body from the cement - the pillar has been taken down. Ducky is on fine form and quite excited, but poor Jimmy is very quiet and subdued. Ducky tells him that at one point he thought he might be an archaeologist and Jimmy responds, but not in his usual really keen to learn more about Ducky way. Ducky says it was when he was in the upper sixth he volunteered to help with a dig on Tanzania. Jimmy asks why he didn't carry on and Ducky said because as much as he'd enjoyed it, he realised archaeology wasn't in his bones and told Jimmy he had to find something that was in his bones. Again another moment of lightness and humour, with Ducky trying to help Jimmy and cheer him up, but not really succeeding. Jimmy responds that he hasn't got any spine, and Ducky talks nicely to him telling him that he's training to be an ME, not a field agent. He goes on to say that he's sure that Jimmy has it in him to die a hero's death but for the time being he'd appreciate it if Jimmy stayed alive and helped him deal with the dead. A very touching moment.

McGee then appears and says they have a suspect and takes Jimmy away. In interrogation Gibbs and DiNozzo have Enis - the bolt cutters are his. Enis admits that he was at the site, he was there to steel copper, but when he got there Baxter was already there drilling into the pillar. He says Baxter came after him and he hit him purely in self-defence; Baxter then fell. At that moment McGee brings Jimmy into the outer room and Jimmy looks. But despite Enis in effect confessing to manslaughter, Jimmy says he is not the man who shot him.

Back in the squad room DiNozzo tries to look on 'the bright side' they have found Baxter's killer, but Gibbs says he's more concerned with Jimmy - after all Enis didn't murder Baxter. He then calls his field team's name one by one and they tell him what they are going to do. As he's leaving Vance appears and talks about a short leash and again urges Gibbs to tie up the case as he really wants to go home.

Down in Autopsy Jimmy is emailing his mom, but hasn't got very far. Gibbs arrives and puts his hand on Jimmy's shoulder, making poor Jimmy jump. Jimmy says he's sorry and in true Gibbs fashion Gibbs tells him not to say that. He asks what Jimmy's doing and Jimmy says he's trying to write to him mom, but can't find anything to tell her. He then asks Gibbs how he blocks out fear.

Gibbs: "You don't. It's what you do with it." Gibbs then looks at him and says that you know a lot from a person by what their eyes tell them. Jimmy asks what Gibbs sees in his eyes, Gibbs looks at him and is quiet for a moment and then says he's sure Jimmy will have something to tell him mom.

In Abby's lab, Abby is eating popcorn, drinking Caf-Pow and watching 'TV' - well a facial match software program - Gibbs arrives and joins her with popcorn eating. She explains, in great detail, to him how she has gone about reconstructing the face enough to be able to run it for a match.

Gibbs: "You've got a match." Abby says not yet, she's still running it through various places. Gibbs repeats: "No, you've got a match." It wasn't a question, Abby, it was a statement. You do indeed have a match. And she does. But her first concern is that her dinger didn't ding and she goes on about that until Gibbs says her name and refocuses her on the match. Another nice bit of humour.

The dead man is the real Rick Baxter. He'd been awarded $2.1 million to be paid over 20 years some years ago, following an accident on a construction site. It looks as though he was killed, pushed into the pillar and the fake Rick Baxter not only took over his ID, but took over his life and everything - including the compensation settlement - but still we don't know who shot at Jimmy. Gibbs tells McGee to check the settlement payments as 'Baxter' must have had a partner and he goes over to stand over McGee. McGee finds that all the payments were cashed at the same exchange and he'll go there and see what he can dig up. He gets a arm pat/slap from Gibbs (squee for Gibbs/McGee fen).

Back in Autopsy Jimmy is alone again and is replaying the scene in his head. We hear and see Ducky leaving him, Jimmy finding the passport and then the chase and shooting. Jimmy then gets up and goes up to the squad room and tells Ziva she is the obvious one to ask. He wants her to tell him how he should have dealt with the shooter had he caught him. Ziva gives him her stapler and tells him it's a gun and to aim it at her, and then calmly 'deals' with him, with his arm up his back and him sprawled over her desk. She then takes the stapler and tells Jimmy to go for her - sadly though Jimmy just again ends up face down on Ziva's desk and Ziva says it's probably a good thing he didn't catch the man. But serendipity strikes, because whilst he's sprawled over her desk he sees the Scrabble tiles in her open drawer and instantly remembers that the name on the passport began with 'Mi'.

Back in the same interview room Jimmy was in earlier we now have Gibbs, Jimmy, Ziva and the Scrabble tiles and Jimmy has now remembered the first two letters of both first and surname. McGee comes in and says the passport was from Republic of Yugoslavia. Bit by bit, helped by Ziva and her knowledge of Serbian names, Jimmy puts together the name of the man - he can't say it, but he can spell it. That earns him a lovely Gibbs smile.

Back in the squad room Jimmy is still spelling the surname and gets a very nasty comment from DiNozzo: "I heard it the first three times, P A L M E R', he spells Jimmy's surname. They trace the man, Milos Suskavcevic, who came from central Serbia and came over to the US. Vance is also present (he really does want to go home) and tells McGee to see if he arrived alone; he didn't. He came with his brother - Tesla. McGee brings up a photo, but Jimmy isn't sure; the man has a heavy beard and he said he hadn't when he shot at him; he'd need to see him. Again DiNozzo is rather nasty (we're back to 'nasty DiNozzo' not just teasing and juvenile but nasty, that was explainable in the early part of the season because of Jeanne, but now . . . Although, I guess it could be explained by him seeing Jeanne once again and lying to her about his feelings for her, but I don't like him nasty) and makes a comment about it not working very well the first time. It's not just his words, it's his tone that is very unpleasant and very un-DiNozzo.

Gibbs take his field team and all the time he is putting his gun and belt holster on Jimmy is watching avidly - at that moment I thought that maybe he was going to remember something tied in with the gun, but it wasn't that. Jimmy wants to go too, but Gibbs tells him to 'stay'. (Gibbs likes using that word, he's done it more than once). At the trailer park where Tesla is meant to be DiNozzo and Ziva are teamed as are Gibbs and McGee. But Tesla's trailer is empty - although from the cigarette which is still smouldering he hadn't left that long ago. And they find some airline tickets; the brothers were about to leave America. Gibbs orders McGee to check the rest of the park; DiNozzo to check with the manager's office and Ziva to stay in the trailer.

Then Jimmy appears in his car and Gibbs is angry with him and asks him what part of 'stay' didn't he understand. Jimmy says he thought he could help and this time he gets ordered to stay in the car. And you just know from Gibbs's words that Jimmy is going to follow them to the letter, but he's not going to just sit there and do nothing, you know he's going to be involved in something. And lo and behold Tesla turns up in his truck, he sees Ziva in his trailer and is about to take off. Jimmy, after a second or two's hesitation, takes off his glasses, and guns the engine he drives along making a sort of oooooooooooh noise and ultimately drives his car straight into Tesla's truck, effectively stopping it. Tesla is about to shoot Jimmy when Gibbs et al turn up.

Gibbs leaves the field team to deal with Tesla and goes to Jimmy and once again he's angry with him, but it's Gibbs is angry because he's concerned anger. Jimmy rather calmly points out that he did stay in the car - he got you, Gibbs - which he did. Gibbs tells him that he's never to do it again. Then his voice changes and he hands Jimmy a tissue for his bloodied nose and gently tells him he now has something to tell him mom and he smiles. (any Gibbs/Jimmy fen out there?) The episode ends with Jimmy dabbing his nose and smiling.



OVERALL

As I said I really enjoyed this episode - it had pretty much everything for which I look.

A good storyline, okay it wasn't a naval case in the 'a naval or marine person had been murdered or was suspected of murder', but at least the link was real.

The team interaction was excellent, their chemistry, which for me had been missing somewhat in the last two episodes was back in full force.

There were some nice touches of unforced humour and nothing was overplayed.

Lovely to see so much Jimmy - although I guess if you aren't a Jimmy fan the episode wouldn't have appalled that much, especially as there was relatively little DiNozzo and Ziva in it.

A little more Ducky than in some weeks and of course a lovely Gibbs/Ducky moment when Gibbs pats Ducky's neck.

Some nice Abby moments both with Gibbs and McGee.

Some other shippy moments for other ships (Gibbs/Jimmy, Ducky/Jimmy, McGee/Jimmy, McGee/Ziva, Gibbs/Abby, Jimmy/Abby were all ones I spotted with my 'other ship glasses on').

Vance irritated me throughout this episode, up until this one I thought he'd make a good replacement for Jenny and I don't necessarily think he won't, but I didn't care for him that much in this episode. He seemed to be almost haunting Gibbs and only interested in one thing: getting home.

No Jenny.

A really good episode.

Storyline: 9.75

Enjoyment: 9.75

Tags: non-fiction: episode reviews, season 05
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