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Episode Review. Season 6x05 - Nine Lives

My thoughts behind the cut.



I was looking forward to this episode as I knew it had Fornell in it and I really like him and also Jimmy was in it - so a double bonus. And overall I wasn't disappointed, I had a few niggles and one thing that I'm just hoping and keeping everything crossed is not going to be a season theme (but I fear it will from what I've read) that was already getting old during the episode. But generally a very good episode, even if we still are not getting much Ducky and given that we had two dead bodies this time, it seemed odd there was so little time spent in Autopsy. But that didn't really spoil anything, it's just a 'I would have liked a little more' comment.

So we begin with a woman out jogging. She gets to her house, bends down to pick the paper up and sees that she has a flat tire, but she doesn't have any tools to fix it. So she goes next door, knocks on the door (why don't people in TV shows/films actually allow enough for someone to get to the door? They so rarely do, it's knock, knock 'no one is there'). No one answers and so she goes around the back and into his house, well into the garage/workshop! Don't any Americans lock their doors?

It is dark and the light isn't working so she starts to wander around. We all know what she's going to find, don't we? It was rather obvious, and got more obvious when she started to touch things and got liquid on her hands, which she wipes on her clothes - it could have been oil or anything, but no, she wipes it all over her clothes - and we know what it is, don't we? And seconds later she manages to find a light, turns it on and . . . There is blood everywhere all over the tools and bench and she turns around and there is the dead body, the badly mutilated dead body.

In the squad room Ziva is on the phone and getting angry and talking in her own language. When she hangs up, DiNozzo (naturally) starts to ask what's going on and why is she talking in a language he doesn't understand. Ziva asks why it is bothering him, he denies it, but McGee supports Ziva. Then Ziva teases him and ask him why he is getting all hot and bothersome about the idea of someone having a little fun. Gibbs arrives during this and answers his ringing phone. He hangs up, tells them to get their gear as there is a dead Marine. He then throws a file at DiNozzo and says: "She got the bothersome part right." (Chuckles) So Gibbs does not think DiNozzo is hot *g* (Nor do I, I never have).

At the scene DiNozzo is taking photographs and in true DiNozzo-style starts taking them of Liz, the neighbour who found the badly tortured body (Lance Corporal Rob Brewer) McGee points out to him that she isn't part of the crime scene. Meanwhile McGee cuts down the body and Ducky and Jimmy support it. Ziva is saying she does not like the idea that the girl could just walk into the house (I agree Ziva! Maybe it's a female thing?) But DiNozzo assures her that Brewer was on to a good thing letting her walk in and out at will *rolls eyes*. And then Gibbs asks for information and DiNozzo launches into information about Liz, her age, the fact she's divorced, until glared at by Gibbs. We learn that Brewer was stationed at Quanitico and was due to deploy back to Iraq in a day or two.

Ducky then delivers his 'verdict' on the body: "It's safe to say he died of exanguation." (Ducky does like that word, as we know from a previous ep).
Gibbs (kindly telling those who don't know what exanguation is): "Bled to death."
Ducky: "Four to six hours ago. Someone wanted to make this poor fellow suffer."
Gibbs: "Or talk."

Back at HQ, Gibbs goes down to Abby who is staring at her screen. It is a picture of rope, but rope with mould on it; a type of mould Abby has never seen before, but she admits that as there are over 100,000 species of mould, it's not surprising she hasn't identified it yet. She then goes on about how it is about to reproduce and Gibbs asks if she's enjoying herself; she says she is, but he isn't. So she switches back to full work mode .

She tells Gibbs that most of the fingerprints at the scene were from Brewer or Liz, but all over the toolbox were prints belonging to Marine Sergeant Jack Kale, who was Brewer's old squadron leader - he is now retired. She asks Gibbs if he wants to guess when he retired; he says nothing; so she tells him three weeks ago. Then she asks if he wants to guess why he retired, again Gibbs is silent so she comments 'not in the mood for guessing, huh' and tells him. Kale has hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES) which is a rare blood disease. He had a bad reaction to some medication and turned psychotic and violent, hence the retirement. She has sent the information to McGee. Gibbs tells her she's done a good job and gives her a Caf-Pow and tells her she can get back to her mould. She says he says the sweetest things. Now this scene was totally old Abby. This is the Abby who has her quirks and has fun, but is totally professional - yay! We have Abby back *crosses fingers*

Upstairs McGee is trying to track Kale down. He hasn't used his credit cards for a few weeks and that was to book into a hotel. However, McGee has managed to discover that Kale is taking part in trials of a new trial drug for HES. Only three people in DC are taking part and the company producing the drug send it directly to the trialees homes - they have an address for Kale.

Gibbs goes off with DiNozzo and when they get there they see two men inside; one is armed. Gibbs draws his gun and starts to open the door, he knows the man will come to the door, so he then smashes it back really hard into the man's nose - ouch, ouch. At that moment another door opens (clearly from a bathroom) and Fornell with a newspaper in his hand comes out and stares at Gibbs and DiNozzo as he zips up his flies. He asks Gibbs what the hell is going on.

DiNozzo is playing 'doctor' and he puts a plaster on the FBI man's (Rivers) nose, tells him to put ice on it later and also not to think about getting back at Gibbs - sound advice. Meanwhile Gibbs and Fornell are in the kitchen talking about Kale. Fornell tells Gibbs that Kale is the key witness in a murder trial that starts the next day and if the defence learn that Kale is involved in any investigation, his testimony will be in effect dismissed. Gibbs doesn't really care that much, he has his dead Marine and Kale's fingerprints at the scene. He wants to talk to Kale; Fornell agrees but it has to be there and then with Fornell present and there are to be no tapes and nothing official.

Kale is surly at first then Gibbs says it's tough on a Marine to be locked up and Kale agrees. Gibbs tells him about Brewer and wants to know how Kale's fingerprints got on Brewer's toolbox. Kale informs him it is his toolbox which he lent to Brewer - Gibbs then tells him Brewer was tortured and murdered with the tools from Kale's toolbox. Kale is upset and troubled, but he has no idea who could have done it.

Fornell: "Interview over."
Gibbs: "What interview?"

Gibbs then tries the old 'You didn't say who you're prosecuting' 'trick' on Fornell. But Fornell is too wise and simply agrees he hadn't - which was what Gibbs expected him to say. Gibbs and DiNozzo leave and Gibbs tells DiNozzo when he gets back to find out about the case Fornell is working on. DiNozzo asks if Gibbs thinks Fornell is hiding something. Gibbs replies both Fornell and Kale are hiding something.

Back in the squad room it is actually McGee who is doing the work on tracing down the case, he says that the FBI have their fingers in many pies. And he brings up one particular case: US vs. Captain Melville's Fish & Tackle. DiNozzo arrives and says it's a Moby Dick reference and it sounds fishy and he thinks it's a pseudonym. At that point Ziva asks what a pseudonym is (Ziva really doesn't know what a pseudonym is? I find that very difficult to believe - meredith44, don't you?) Before DiNozzo can explain, McGee does so.

They then talk about the fact that it is Fornell who has given Kale an alibi. McGee asks if Fornell would lie to Gibbs and Ziva says if it was something really important. And then we go into one of the themes of the episode with DiNozzo going overboard about trying to find out what Ziva is up to and doing the double edged comments with lying to friends. He asks who she is seeing and that four months is plenty of time to hook up with someone; McGee points out that four months would be plenty of time for DiNozzo to hook up with someones *g* Ziva wants to know what it is that DiNozzo wants to know, and he says it depends on what she doesn't want him to know. (This was already getting old by this time - it does not bode well for the rest of the season. I fear the NCIS PTBs are doing their usual 'trick' of overplaying something that is quite fun initially). During this exchange McGee has still been working and has hacked into the FBI's real name case file. The case is actually against Rick Azarri for murder; he is Fornell's big fish and we get another Ziva malapropism when she says 'no wonder he was keeping his cards close to his breasts'.

Down in Autopsy Ducky is talking to Jimmy about torture and saying how it dates back to pre-Middle Ages and he explains how it was particularly nasty for those of the lower classes. It was felt that they would not make good and reliable witnesses unless they were tortured first, which as Jimmy says doesn't exactly make for a reliable witness anyway. Ducky then tells Jimmy about a funny brush with torture he had in Edinburgh where the said torturer had mixed the entrails of his victim with oatmeal and made haggis out of it (*swallows hard*).

At that moment a clearly pissed Gibbs appears and demands: "You done." It was not a question. Ducky hastens to answer him and they go to the table. Ducky explains about Brewers injuries and shows Gibbs each tool that was used to torture him. Brewer had clearly put up a good fight, but it wasn't good enough. The torture was carried out with precision and was methodical; the torturer knew exactly how to cause pain but not to kill. A chisel, a box-cutter and a Phillips head screwdriver were used on him, the last item was the one used to kill him as it punctured his femoral artery. At one point Brewer passed out and he was revived with smelling salts. DiNozzo then arrives to tell Gibbs they know who Fornell is going after.

Up in the squad room Rick Azarri's picture is on the screen and we learn he is 53, born in New York city, and is one of the most notorious criminals on the east coast. He was a one time protegee of Columbian American crime boss Olanzo Torres; when the FBI sent Torres to prison Azarri took over took over the role at 25 age and has thus far been tried twice for murder, but each time has walked. This time he is bring tried for the murder of drug dealer Randall Carlson; Kale witnessed the killing. If he testifies Azarri goes down, if not or if his testimony is compromised, Azarri walks - again. Then McGee tells Gibbs he's had an email from a friend in the Marshall's office; the FBI have done a deal with Kale - he'll go into the witness protection programme when the trial is over. Gibbs is not happy and leaves.

DiNozzo says he can't believe Fornell has lied to Gibbs again. Ziva says that technically Fornell wasn't lying, he was withholding information. DiNozzo then again turns it to Ziva and him and says why would one friend withhold information from another (ARGH!). Ziva says that maybe that friend thought it was best for everyone. DiNozzo then gives himself away by saying 'best for everyone or best for herself'. When McGee picks up on the 'her', DiNozzo tries to hastily corrects to 'he'.

DiNozzo then asks McGee what he is doing and McGee says he's checking Kale's cell phone records, when DiNozzo asks why, McGee says because Gibbs is extremely pissed and he thinks he'd want him to be doing it. DiNozzo scurries to his desk and sits down, fingers poised. Ziva asks what he's doing and DiNozzo replies, in a somewhat confused tone: "Whatever Gibbs would want me to be doing." Once we moved from the 'withholding information' bit this was a fun exchange and so perfectly McGee and DiNozzo. Very well done indeed.

And then Fornell appears and asks where Gibbs is: he's up in the conference room (the real conference room, not Gibbs's office-come-conference room). As Fornell goes up the stairs DiNozzo talks about Gibbs vs. Fornell and likening it to a boxing match - nice.

Fornell goes into the conference room and is glared at by Gibbs. He comments: "Woo. I haven't seen that look since I proposed to your ex-wife."
Gibbs: "You got something to tell me?"

Fornell tells Gibbs to save the drama. Kale was in the safe house at the time Brewer was killed. But we learn that Fornell wasn't there - his men were. Okay so finally we get a really good, really plausible red herring. At this point I was thinking that Rivers (the FBI man Gibbs knocked out with the door) was involved, not working with Kale, Kale was never even a hint of a hint of a hint of a suspect in my eyes, but involved somehow. At that point I wasn't sure exactly how or why, but I did think he was the killer.

Gibbs then tells Fornell that Kale and Brewer were overheard arguing about another Marine - Michael Strauss. Fornell tries to dismiss it, but Gibbs pushes saying that Fornell has a medicated Marine with anger management problems. Fornell wants to know what Gibbs wants; Gibbs tells him he wants the truth.

Down in the squad room, McGee is trying to find more records because Kale's cell phone records don't go any further than three weeks ago - all activity stopped. During this scene DiNozzo keeps using the 'Mc' word in front of several words, not just as he usually does with 'McGiggle' etc. He puts 'Mc' in front of other words. McGee is trying to hack into the FBI's clean phone file as they must have given Kale a clean phone (which is what NCIS would have done), but so far no luck.

Then DiNozzo puts a file on top of McGee's head and says he prefers a paper trace, 'McGoogle'. He has the phone records going back four years and one regularly called number has the Boynton Beach, Florida exchange. When McGee asks what that proves, DiNozzo explains that old people live there - including Kale's mom, his only surviving relative, whom he has called every Sunday morning for the past four years. So McGee can now check her records and see if a new number has called her on the three Sundays. DiNozzo says he likes to get to the bottom of things; getting to the bottom of things is his speciality (and we're back on the Ziva thing again).

Back in the conference room Gibbs and Fornell are talking about Azarri - he and Fornell go back to Fornell's Probie days, some twenty-six years. Fornell says he could have taken Azarri down when he took Torres down but he under-estimated Azarri, he thought he was just a kid. But then Azarri took over and there were a lot of deaths; Fornell wants him. Gibbs says Fornell made a mistake. Fornell says: "No, marrying your second wife was a mistake." Gibbs smiles (okay, second WIFE, not second ex-wife - hang on, now we're getting things muddied again. Second WIFE would be Gibbs's first EX-wife, but we know that Fornell is married to Diane, who has already gone from being third ex to second ex during the show, surely she is now not moving to first ex-wife?? Or was this just 'short hand' ARGH!!!) Fornell asks Gibbs to do him a favour: stop digging; he swears Kale is not involved in Brewer's death. Gibbs asks him if that is what he knows or what he wants to believe (I knew Kale wasn't involved).

Back down in the squad room, McGee has the new number. DiNozzo tries to tell McGee what to do, but McGee (having done it so many times before, he's no longer the green Probie he was) has already done it. The GPS locator shows that Kale is not in the safe house, but is in fact in Arlington - ooops. Fornell and Gibbs arrive at that point, Fornell can hardly believe it, and calls the safe house only to learn that Kale got out via the bathroom window.

Fornell and Gibbs, followed by the kids, stride off to the lift and get in. The lift doors then close on McGee, DiNozzo and Ziva - they decide to give Fornell and Gibbs some room *smiles* A nice little exchange. Gibbs, in true Gibbs style, drives to a hotel and they go in. They have a nice little lightish exchange about losing witnesses, Fornell asks Gibbs if he's ever lost one and then hastily says 'don't answer that.'

And then they see Kale coming out of a room and they shout to him. Why? Why do cops always do this? Why shout from a distance? Why not get nearer to him, preferably near enough to grab him? But no, they shout and he, of course takes off. (Okay, so if they hadn't called to him we wouldn't have had the next very nice scene, but even so . . . ) Fornell pursues Kale out of the window and down the fire escape, meanwhile Gibbs goes another way. And as Kale climbs over a high gate lo and behold who does he come face to face with? Gibbs of course. Fornell, somewhat out of breath, comes up behind him and says: "I'm getting too old for this crap."

Kale, duly handcuffed, says: "I didn't do it."
Gibbs: "Do what?"

And they go into the hotel room which Kale was coming out of - and we know again, don't we? Oh, yes. There is another body, another dead body, another dead tortured body. And this is Michael Strauss. He has had some of his fingernails pulled out - ouch and it seems as if the man might be pointing to something. And then we get into another DiNozzo going on about Ziva bit where when asked why Kale might have murdered his friends, he says maybe his friends lied to him about a romantic affair.

Fortunately at that moment Ducky and Jimmy arrive (three Ducky scenes this week, not that long, but three). Ducky comments: "Hmm, torture seems to be the order of the day." He then sees the fingernails and explains how pulling out the fingernails is the normal method of torture in some countries. However, Strauss didn't die from that, he died when his neck was snapped. Ducky tells Jimmy to removed the gag in Strauss's mouth, but Jimmy can't: rigour has already set in. Ducky says Strauss is trying to tell them something, but what. Am I trying to over-complicate things or have I missed something (a funny?) or was something cut? Because we had two references in the scene to Strauss 'pointing to something' (DiNozzo) and 'trying to tell us something (Ducky) but then that was dropped. Was it just an attempt at humour with 'fingernails point to something' and the 'gag to stop him from telling them something'? Or . . . ?

Back with Gibbs and Fornell, Gibbs wants to know if Fornell is sure Kale was in custody on the night Brewer was murdered. Fornell says he's standing by the word of his men, Gibbs suggests he should stand by the open bathroom window - again I was thinking 'yes, Rivers is involved; he's the one sneaking off'. Gibbs and Fornell are both angry. Fornell doesn't want Azarri to walk; Gibbs says: "What's the Prosecution's closing argument: it takes one murderer to know another?' But at that second DiNozzo and Ducky appear, and Ducky goes up to Gibbs and tells him that Kale didn't kill Strauss; Strauss was killed at least four hours ago, and Kale really was in custody then.

Fornell then wants Azarri, but Gibbs says he can have him after he has finished interrogating him. He orders DiNozzo to take him back to NCIS HQ and not to let him out of his sight. As they leave they pass Rivers and DiNozzo comments that he'd told him to put ice on his nose, and yes, I was still red herringed; still I thought Rivers was involved and was in the pay of Azarri.

Outside Azarri and a couple of his bodyguards appear and tell Gibbs to move - oh, yeah, like Gibbs is going to do that. Azarri asks Gibbs if he is one of Fornell's 'boys'. Gibbs repeats 'boys', not a happy Gibbs and shows his badge. Azarri then taunts Gibbs - never a good thing to do; in fact always highly dangerous. And it leads to Gibbs actually managing to intimidate Azarri, even though Azarri denies it. And Gibbs says he will be going to jail. Azarri says there isn't a case; he doesn't care what the witnesses said, the Feds have nothing. Did you spot the plural, I did. And that added to my belief that Rivers was in the pay of Azarri and he was bumping off the two men. At that point, I still couldn't figure out why, I thought it was to intimidate Kale and scare him off, but the plural had made something go 'bong' because we were told that there was only one witness: Kale - so why would Azarri say 'witnesses'? A clue; a lead; a hint that maybe, just maybe, Kale wasn't the only person who witnessed the murder.

Back in the squad room DiNozzo is on the phone and Gibbs is asking him if he's working on the preliminary case report. DiNozzo says he is. Bad DiNozzo, you shouldn't like to Gibbs, as Abby said a while back 'Gibbs is like Santa Claus he always knows when you're lying'. Instead DiNozzo is looking at the empty desks of McGee and Ziva. And he takes the opportunity to snoop and dig through Ziva's things to try to find out about her trip. (He really is so immature, it's sad that the writers aren't giving us the mature DiNozzo of Season Four, especially after his stint as Agent Afloat *sighs*).

McGee comes in and watches for a moment and then lets DiNozzo know he's there. DiNozzo asks if Ziva said anything specific about her trip to Tel Aviv. McGee then teases DiNozzo (McGee has learnt) and says she had. DiNozzo is all agog and waiting and . . . McGee says 'that she's going to Tel Aviv'. At that point DiNozzo tries to pass the preliminary case work on the Carlson murder onto McGee. McGee wants to know why they can't just get Fornell's notes, but it wasn't an FBI case to begin with, thus the local LEOs will have the necessary information. McGee again shows how much he has grown and learnt, as he challenges DiNozzo saying Gibbs told him to do it. DiNozzo tries to say he was delegating, but then backs down and basically says he'll do it, when he's finished doing what McGee is no longer seeing him do. I thought this showed DiNozzo in a good light, actually. Okay, so he tried to get out of doing the work (as always) but when challenged he will back down - it also shows that his respect for McGee as more than just a computer geek has grown. So a good exchange.

DiNozzo goes on hunting and turns up a photograph of a bare-chested, smiling man on a boat - people who know me will know my complete lack of ability in recognising actors (we won't mention the 'P' word). So was this the man whom we saw in Last Man Standing in Mr. David's office when Ziva was talking to Gibbs on the phone? I think is was, but as I said . . . You know me.

DiNozzo takes the said police report down to Abby's lab where he finds her once again staring at mould. She confirms that the mould found on the ropes that bound Brewer is the same mould as is on the ropes that bound Strauss - implying they were killed by the same person, or at least one person was involved in the murder and torture of both of them. Abby goes off on one of her 'self-talks' and is talking about relations (she's still on the mould is having sex strain) and ponders how her wonderful little niece can be related to her dreadful little brother. DiNozzo then shows her the case file as he admits he has no idea for what he is looking. Abby spots a reference to phosphorus being found on the soles of Carlson's shoes and wonders why it would be there.

Meanwhile in the interrogation room Gibbs, with Fornell hovering in the back ground, is interrogating Kale. Kale finally admits he went to see Strauss as he knew he'd be upset by Brewer's death. Gibbs asks why he didn't ring him, Kale says he tried, but there was no answer. Gibbs then asks about the argument Kale and Brewer had about Strauss and Kale admits that Strauss has a problem with drugs. Whilst he was in the Marines he kept and eye on Strauss, but when he left that task became Brewers and Kale didn't think he was doing a very good job. Gibbs says it isn't easy walking away from your unit, and that Kale is still looking out for his men. Gibbs then asks about the Azarri case, much to Fornell's displeasure and they have a stand-off over it. But in the end Gibbs wins and he tells Kale to tell him about the night of the murder.

We then switch back and forth between Gibbs, Fornell and Kale and McGee, Ziva and DiNozzo as Kale tells Gibbs and Fornell what happened and the kids act out the scene based on the local LEO's report. It's actually well done and seamlessly done too, with the switch happening mid-sentence and appropriately. Kale tells his tale about seeing Azarri getting out of the car, pulling a gun and shooting Carlson and Gibbs wants to know why Kale waited until the next day to report it. Kale says he was scared, which Gibbs does not buy. Meanwhile Abby arrives in the lock-up where the field team are re-enacting the scene and says there is no way Kale could have seen the murder, not even if he had 20:20 vision, because he would have needed night vision as well. She then smashes one of the overhead lights and points out that the phosphorus on the soles of Carlson's shoes came from a broken street light - which she has confirmed was indeed broken. McGee suggests she could have just turned the light off rather than smashing it and Abby looks genuine surprised by the fact she hadn't thought of that. Again it was 'old' Abby.

Meanwhile Gibbs gets Kale to confess that actually he hadn't witnessed the murder at all; it was Brewer and Strauss who had seen it (hence the witnesses). Strauss was meeting Carlson to get some coke and Brewer had gone along with him. They saw Azarri kill Carlson and had told Kale. He knew what would happen to them if they were tied in to a drug dealer and he knew they just wanted to go back to Iraq and serve their country, so he said it was him. Fornell, rightly so, is furious with him and says that he has just allowed Azarri to walk free. He sends Kale back to the safe house with Rivers and I was thinking 'he won't get there alive'; yes, I still thought Rivers was involved.

Then we have another nice scene between Gibbs and Fornell with Gibbs demanding to know if Fornell is quitting - his director had called him, he wasn't happy with Fornell - and Fornell says sometimes it's a good idea to know when you're beaten. But Gibbs won't allow his friend to be like that, he tells him he made a mistake, it wasn't the first, it won't be the last; he has to forget about it and what next.

Down in Abby's lab, Abby is showing McGee some pictures which McGee identifies as food (but we know what they were of, don't we?) And then she shows him a third which he stares open-mouthed at. She asks him what it is and makes him say 'sex'. She then says it's mould sex, well actually mould porn, it is fairly porny in a very mild way (I'm sure it will be safe for CLF, aingeal8c the sight of Brewer and Strauss was far more 'cover his eyes' than this). Then she tells McGee that the rare mould found on the ropes that bound both Marines was about to have sex and shows McGee the mould in a dish and when McGee has another look, she tells him to give it some privacy. A very nice, light-hearted scene, very much of 'old days' and a lovely, fun exchange.

Back in the squad room we learn that Azarri had three witnesses who'll swear he was in the park playing horseshoes when Strauss was killed and another four who'll swear he was playing darts when Brewer was murdered. Four witnesses all bought, or as Fornell says 'intimidated'. And then suddenly Ziva takes a call: Kale's FBI bodyguard has been found knocked out and his gun and car had gone - and still I was convinced he was involved and that Azarri, or actually his men, had grabbed Kale and knocked Rivers out to cover his tracks. DiNozzo puts the yard on lock-down, but Ziva reports an FBI car had broken through a barrier and had gone. Fornell is aghast and wanting to know how it happens. DiNozzo tells him the yard's security is to keep people out not in. He also says he'll put out a BOLO, which Gibbs tells him they don't need. Fornell knows where to go: the Court house. And then all suddenly became clear to me, I became unblinkered: Kale had gone to kill Azarri.

Gibbs and Fornell go to the Court house where a woman news-person is speaking. Thus far there has been no sign of Azarri or indeed the high profile case team. Abby and McGee call Gibbs and tell him that a while ago Azarri filed a law suit against a contractor who built his house. The mould that was found in Azarri's basement (the very rare mould) was the same mould as was found on the ropes that bound Brewer and Strauss. At that moment Azarri drives by around the corner and Gibbs and Fornell run after the car.

Azarri is walking towards the Court house with his body-guard Delmar talking about how soon they can get out of there and Kale stands up he has a gun and aims it at Azarri saying he'd killed his men. Delmar is about to go for his gun, but Azarri says if Kale had the guts to shoot him, he'd already be dead.

At that moment Gibbs and Fornell (the latter with his gun drawn) arrive and try to talk Kale out of shooting Azarri. They argue a good case, saying they have the evidence that Azarri killed Kale's friends. But Azarri turns to Fornell, calls him Toby, and says: "We know how this is going to end." Kale says Azarri will walk. Gibbs tells Kale to trust them, but Azarri taunts Kale some more saying he came there to honour his men and he's allowing them to talk him down. Kale flips at that point and double taps Azarri in the heart and immediately puts his hands up to surrender. Gibbs deals with him whilst Fornell goes to Azarri. Azarri grabs Fornell's lapel and says something which I couldn't catch. I half thought it was 'sorry' but it couldn't have been. He dies holding onto Fornell. Kale, in Gibbs's custody, says he did it for Brewer and Strauss and a rather weary Gibbs says they know why he did it.

Back in the squad room, Ziva has managed to book her flight and is clearing up ready to go. DiNozzo says it's a bad time to take leave but Ziva promises to make it up to him. DiNozzo then offers her a neck pillow for the flight, but she says he is flying first class. She says she'll see him next week, and she goes. DiNozzo does not look happy; he is jealous.

We then move back to Fornell who is listening to another news broadcast about the shooting saying the killer was caught on tape. And Gibbs (with a tie on) turns up. He asks Fornell why he didn't take the shot and Fornell says Kale was too quick for him - he is lying. Fornell then asks if the Director wanted to see him as well; Gibbs says he invited himself, at Fornell's look he says: "You'd have done the same." Fornell tells Gibbs that their shared ex-wife said Gibbs would be there. Fornell asks Gibbs what he'll tell the Director and Gibbs says: "Whatever he wants to hear." Fornell says he should have seen it; Kale talked too much about the wrong things and not enough about the right things. And now a young man is facing a life sentence. Gibbs says Kale has to live with what he did adding: "We all will." And together they go off to see Fornell's Director.

And the final shot if of Stefano Delmar, Azarri's bodyguard and right hand man, who is now heir apparent.

OVERALL

A very good episode, IMO. An excellent case with a really believable red herring. The only slight niggle I have is how convinced Gibbs was that Kale was guilty. Given I never, not even for a split second suspected him, I thought Gibbs's conviction was a tad out of place.

Excellent Gibbs & Fornell interaction. I always love their scenes and this episode was full of them.

Abby back to her old self; an Abby I didn't want to strangle. And the mould 'sex' thing wasn't overplayed at all.

Good mature McGee.

A little more Ducky than in previous weeks and a teeny scene with Gibbs & Ducky. I love it when Ducky goes into 'lecture' mode.

Jimmy - again always good.

Some nice touches of humour throughout.

No Vance.

On the not quite so good side we had the whole DiNozzo obsessing about Ziva's trip home and the way he kept bringing it up and having double-sided conversations. Having said that it was in character for DiNozzo; we know he has to know everything about everyone of his team mates personal lives. So consistent, but annoying. It got old quickly.

I still can't believe Ziva doesn't know what a pseudonym is, but there you go.

I wondered a tad about the time-scale, everything seemed to happen quite quickly with the tests, etc.

And I wondered quite how Strauss functioned as a good Marine given he was taking drugs.

So a few niggles aside, I really thought this was a top notch episode.

Storyline: 9.50

Enjoyment: 9.50
Tags: non-fiction: episode reviews, season 06
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