Nikki (nakeisha) wrote in ncis_gibbsducky,
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Episode Review. Season 6x07 - Collateral Damage

My thoughts behind the cut.



This may not be quite as detailed as usual, as I'm working somewhat against time today.

Another very good episode, IMO. Some excellent team moments, another interesting case with a twist and finally we return to the whole Langer and Lee thing. Lots of interesting vibes and little hints that there is a lot more going on than we know about. And a fair bit of Ducky too - and for us Gibbs/Ducky fen a couple of really nice scenes. But please, writers, what are you doing to DiNozzo? He's never been my favourite, but nor have I spent the vast majority of the episode grinding my teeth every time he opens his mouth - they really are destroying him. He makes me want to do far more than just head slap him. It's a great shame.

We we begin in a Bank with a bank security guard (Ray Vittorio) talking to another man, another security guard but from an outside firm. They are talking about the rules of married men and basically just having your day-to-day banter. A kid than runs into Vittorio and gets ice-cream all over him (brat - he'd been told not to run by his mother, although at least he does apologise). Vittorio goes off to the men's room to clean up and when he comes back out there is a hold up in progress. One of the robbers turns and shoots Vittorio.

In the squad room McGee and Ziva (who shows signs of jealousy) are watching DiNozzo do his usual flirting and chatting up of a new recruit (who does gymnastics). Ziva lists the characteristics of being ignorant, hopeful and eager to please; McGee says what new recruit isn't, but Ziva isn't talking about the new recruits - she's talking about DiNozzo. DiNozzo joins his fellow team mates, extolling the 'virtues' of the gymnastic girl and McGee says he should let the recruits be recruits and then wonders why Team Gibbs never has one. He says he'd heard that Gibbs refuses, but DiNozzo says it's because TPTB won't let him. When asked why he says because they need to make a good impression on the recruits and he compares it to a fifth date meeting 'Uncle Jethro' and hearing his stories. Gibbs, naturally, arrives at that moment and asks what DiNozzo knows about fifth dates (ouch, poor DiNozzo slapped down twice - even though he didn't know about the first - in a minute or two). Gibbs tells them there has been a bank guard shot dead at Quantico, which raises a few 'huh'?

At the bank they find the guard dead and his weapon was still holstered - they didn't give him a chance to surrender. Ducky says there is no question as to what killed him. He then says how when he was younger he used to take solace in the death of an older person, because they had had a life. But now that he is older, there is no solace [an aside for fellow Ducky fen - I'm really getting concerned this season as to where they are going with Ducky and his age, and the fact he limps more and sits down more]. Paul Harris, the man in charge of security arrives and tells them the robbers got away with a mere $27,000 - and it was the first hit on the base. In fact given it's a Marine base and also houses FBI personnel no one thought it would ever be hit.

Gibbs sends DiNozzo and Ziva to talk to the witnesses and take statements and as always happen these vary greatly from person to person over how many men there were, what size the guns were, what car they drove. There is a Marine there and he does seem to have far better recall than anyone else (which would be natural).

We then get a teeny shot of Gibbs helping Ducky get the gurney over a slight bump, which earns him a 'thank you, Jethro'. See this is why we need Jimmy there, Ducky does need an assistant - I guess we have to assume that Jimmy is at Med School when he's not at NCIS. Both gates have been locked down, but it's not certain if it was done quickly enough. Then they get a call to say a white Chevy has been found at one of the gates (the Marine witness identified the car as white SUV) and Gibbs sends McGee and DiNozzo. They get there to find it on fire. DiNozzo decides it must be pros who robbed the bank.

Back at HQ Ziva, McGee and DiNozzo are at the vending machine. DiNozzo is doing his usual hit it and see what comes out, whilst Ziva is wondering why witnesses insist on talking when they actually don't remember anything (human nature, Ziva). DiNozzo has one of his many 'goes' at McGee, he's turning nasty and unpleasant again with him comments, not just teasing but being nasty [stop it PTB - and this from a person who doesn't love DiNozzo like many do]. And then DiNozzo gets slapped down again as Vance comes in and catches him stealing from the machine. He has with him Dwayne Wilson, one of the new recruits who he is assigning temporarily to Gibbs's team because he was a former Marine and was stationed at Quantico. He makes DiNozzo hand over the stolen food and he takes it away with him.

DiNozzo now has a theory that it was an inside job [so we know it wasn't, because that's the way they are writing DiNozzo this season]. Ziva disagrees because they only got away with a small amount of money and she and DiNozzo have a spat of sibling bickering. Wilson then tells them that if the robbers had waited another three days they could have got a lot more ($100s of $1,000s) as it was a three day holiday weekend and Marines often withdraw a lot of cash to spend over the weekend. McGee says to DiNozzo that he would have thought an insider would have known that. DiNozzo doesn't like the comment (he never does) and so turns on Wilson and hands him the crime scene photos to take to Abby's lab. Wilson isn't a push over, he's not that daunted by DiNozzo, instead he just asks where Abby's lab is.

Up in the squad room McGee is trying to look at the bank video footage, but it is a mess and he can't reconstruct it - much to Gibbs's look and sound of surprise (he does seem to think that McGee and Abby can do anything techy no matter what has been done to it, he wants it, so they'll do it). It appears the robbers were only inside for ninety-three seconds. McGee tries to explain why he can't reconstruct it and does his tech-speak before finally telling Gibbs in simple terms. [And again for Gibbs/McGee fen, Gibbs is once again learning really close over McGee].

Ziva has traced the owner of the car; a 64 year old secretary who reported it missing five days ago. And the question is: why wait five days?

DiNozzo then comes in and in true DiNozzo style (recently) tries to take credit for now deciding it wasn't an inside job when he tells Gibbs what Wilson told him. But neither McGee nor Ziva will let him get away with it and call him on it [Gibbs would have known anyway, Gibbs always does] saying he shouldn't try to take credit from a recruit. DiNozzo says he confirmed it, that's what an investigator does, but Gibbs is far more interested in who the hell Dwayne Wilson is. Once again Vance has not told Gibbs about assigning Wilson to his team, hmmm - just what is going on? It's another example of Vance in effect undermining Gibbs. This is playing out in quite an interesting way. What is Vance's agenda? And is it his personal one or has he been put up to it by someone?

Naturally Gibbs goes up to Vance's office to say he doesn't want Wilson. Vance says he has to have him, because they are working against time; the FBI want to take over the case but so far Vance says it's NCIS's case as it's Quantico and the SecNav is backing Vance. Gibbs says he wants to choose his own team and Vance then brings Langer up. Gibbs says Vance wants him to admit he made a mistake in recommending Langer, but Vance said a lot of people make a mistake and it's history. Gibbs says: "Is it, Leon?" [Well, no, Gibbs, we know it isn't over - I'm just glad you finally have got around to it]. So Gibbs gets to keep Wilson and leaves with that not nice smile on his face.

Meanwhile in Abby's lab, Abby is explaining all about Major Mass Spectrometer to Wilson. She slaps his hand when he's about to touch some evidence and asks if he followed what she was saying. He sums it up rather nicely when he says that they bring her evidence and she tells them what it is, a cute moment. Then Gibbs appears and in effect he and Wilson 'meet' Abby makes a comment about it being awkward that they hadn't met until now. And then she slaps Gibbs's hand when he is about to touch the evidence, but he then picks up a latex glove and picks up the tray. It appears that what Abby has found is an accelerator and a mixture of ink and cotton: it's the money - all of it. It's all been burnt.

Back in the squad room DiNozzo appears to be fighting with his desk drawer and insulting McGee (again) while Ziva is talking about it being a sophisticated operation and Wilson is watching the by-play. Gibbs comes in and asks for theories. He asks Ziva first (waves to curly_the_sue) and she suggests that maybe as they couldn't get off of the base because of the lock down they simply burnt the money and stole a second car to get out.

He then asks McGee, again going over to him and draping himself over his chair, who suggests maybe they wanted to embarrass the FBI, Gibbs says: "Already did that," and McGee goes on to suggest that they (the robbers) could be looking for a recently paroled felon with an axe to grind.

When he calls DiNozzo, DiNozzo, still fighting with his desk drawer, wants to know why he was asked last. He says he was going to say what Ziva and McGee said, he also says he's thinking of something but doesn't have it formulated.

Wilson says he doesn't have a theory, but if he could have access to the FBI's files on unsolved robberies, he might be able to see if there is any similarities.

Gibbs sends McGee and Ziva to test their theories and turns to DiNozzo again who, at that moment, manages to yank out his desk drawer and looks at an ID. Gibbs says because DiNozzo has no theory of his own, he can help Wilson - which does not make DiNozzo happy.

Gibbs then goes over to DiNozzo's desk (once they've all gone) sees it is Langer's FBI ID and looks at it and we get flashbacks to a few Langer scenes over the accusation of him being a mole and then the shooting and also Vance saying that Gibbs did recommend Langer.

Down in the lock up the FBI are unloading box after box after box of files going back five years. DiNozzo then says that, because Legal will have to be involved as it's an Inter-Agency Transfer, Wilson has broken Gibbs's Rule #13 'Never, ever involve lawyers, things are bound to turn nasty.' He says that Gibbs has several rules involving lawyers, he doesn't like them. Wilson asks what Gibbs is like to work for and also wonders what Gibbs has against him. DiNozzo actually says that Gibbs has nothing again Wilson personally, it's just that the last time Gibbs let an outsider in he turned out to be a really bad apple (a reference to Langer).

We then see Lee getting out of the lift. And Gibbs, McGee and Ziva are again watching footage. Gibbs turns and sees Lee. I knew he hadn't accepted the whole 'lawyer who can't shoot but manages to shoot Langer perfectly thing. He tells McGee and Ziva to review footage for the last three days; Ziva realises that is because the robbers were pros and would possibly have gone to the bank first.

Meanwhile in Vance's office he is asking Lee for a legal opinion. He wants to know if he can terminate an agent - the new ones. He has two piles, ones he likes, ones he doesn't - they were all hired under the old administration (Jenny) and he doesn't want to keep them all. She says that he can get rid of them and he doesn't even need cause (wow, really?) all he has to do is to formulate a reason. He repeats more than once that he wants options. I have to say I found this scene rather a 'shoved in to give us a reason to get Lee up to the squad room and the Director's office.

Down in the squad room Lee is looking at the empty desks, turns and runs into Gibbs. She apologies and he asks her if she's settled back into legal [oh, yes, Gibbs is suspicious]. She mentions the shooting, but says she has now settled; throughout the conversation he is scrutinising her closely - he's definitely suspicious of her.

Vance then calls Gibbs to his office (again) and hands him Wilson's file saying he wants a written evaluation on him because he is borderline. Gibbs says he won't be with him long enough, but Vance pushes. He says the agency need more agents who look like McGee and less like DiNozzo. Gibbs says: "More like you; less like me." Vance just looks at him with a half smile.

Then we go down to Autopsy where Ducky tells Gibbs Vittorio was shot at close range, under three feet. He also says that whoever killed him had no qualms about killing and was desperate, arrogant or upset. Gibbs hands Ducky Wilson's file and Ducky asks why.

Gibbs: "It's your thing."
Ducky: "My thing?" And he asks if Wilson is alive.
Gibbs: "Oh, yeah."
Ducky: "So you don't want me to do an autopsy, which leave my other thing. A psychological profile."

Gibbs gives him his 'Ducky smile' and then glances away. Ducky flicks through the file and says he can do it, but he wants to know why. Gibbs comes back to him and hands him the specimen jar with a bullet in it. He says he wants to know what kind of man Wilson is. Ducky is surprised and points out that Gibbs doesn't need him to tell him. Gibbs moves away again saying: "Appreciate it," and he goes, leaving a troubled Ducky. A nice bit of interaction with some lovely looks and smiles and their closeness and lack of personal space and communication with more than words. And of course Ducky knows it isn't as straight-forward as Gibbs is making it seem, he knows because he knows Gibbs oh so well.

Back in the squad room McGee and Ziva are watching more bank footage and are bickering because McGee wants Ziva to take to go forward as she's gone back to far, but Ziva is making a mess of it; he tries to take over, and she threatens him. But then Gibbs arrives and puts a stop to the bickering because Ziva can't get the stuff up as he wants it so Gibbs orders her to let McGee do it. A nice little moment. And they discover that three days ago, the white car is at the bank and a different bank guard had been on duty. Vittorio had been off sick. As a result of that they think that rather than be a robbery, it was in fact a hit on Vittorio. They were investigating a robbery, now they are going to investigate a murder - the reason the robbers/killers stole the money was to make it look like a robbery: collateral damage.

Ziva is going to do a full background check on Vittorio whilst McGee checks for a police record. It turns out that in 1978 Vittorio was arrested for the felony of stolen property but as it was a non-violent offence and he was a model prisoner and hasn't been in trouble since it's okay for him to carry a gun now. And they wonder was it just a one off or had Vittorio never been caught again?

Back in lock up DiNozzo and Wilson are still going through the files. DiNozzo wants to know why Wilson wanted to become an NCIS agent and Wilson comes out with 'to protect and serve'. DiNozzo doesn't believe this and suggests the babes, carrying a gun, travel, all of which Wilson denies. Then he tells DiNozzo the truth. His dad served in 'Nam and was accused of killing an officer. Only one NIS agent believed him innocent, the agent carried on working the case even when told not to, until he cleared his dad. Had he not done so Wilson's dad would never have met Wilson's mum and Wilson wouldn't have been born. So Wilson wants to make a difference. DiNozzo actually looks impressed by Wilson's story. When Wilson asks why DiNozzo joined, DiNozzo says it was for the babes and guns.

Back in the squad room DiNozzo shows what he and Wilson have found: a jewellery store robbery from six months ago and the camera footage shows the same 'mess' as the Quantico bank one. This time the robbers got away with $4 million in diamonds. So was Quantico a robbery? Gibbs still thinks not: the diamonds were stolen, Vittorio was murdered. Gibbs wants everything traced.

At that moment Ducky rings Gibbs, gets a 'Yeah, Duck?' and he tells Gibbs he has the Wilson assessment. Gibbs goes down leaving the team working away. When he asks if he can do anything, Wilson gets sent to fetch coffee.

Down in Autopsy Ducky at first sits at his desk and talks about how he prefers to do assessments from spending time with the people not from other people's reports, but he has done his best.

He then gets up and walks around Autopsy watched by Gibbs. He tells Gibbs his assessment is he (Wilson) is more street smart than book smart; possesses great inner strength; is very focussed; has a strong sense of justice that drives him; is unrelenting to the point of obsession; he's not a good agent, but an exceptional investigator (and as he talks you quickly realise 'this could be Gibbs, and then hang on, this is Gibbs), but that such dedication comes at a cost.

Gibbs, who has been watching Ducky all the time, nods: "Married?"
Ducky: "Married four times, divorced three."
Gibbs, who finally gets it: "That's a nice try, Duck." And he goes to leave.
Ducky: "I'm not finished Jethro.

You don't get to walk away from Ducky, at least not when Ducky is on a mission. Ducky stops him and now talks about a man who (Gibbs) acts on gut instinct, who relies on his ability to judge people, a man who is rarely wrong. Now Ducky moves in on Gibbs, getting closer and closer and closer, whilst saying that he's a man who doesn't suffer from self doubt - until now. Gibbs very softly says that Ducky doesn't have all the answers. Still Ducky goes on, now talking about how Gibbs recommended Langer and after what happened he is having difficult trusting his own judgement on Wilson.

Ducky puts his hand on Gibbs's shoulder and squeezes and pats it and says, "You're simply feeling vulnerable, Jethro'."
Gibbs gives one of his self-depreciating smiles and looks away before saying: "Appreciate the assessment." He then leaves, taking Wilson's file with him. Ducky gives a heavy sigh.

Only Ducky can do this, only Ducky can say these things, only Ducky knows the truth how Gibbs is feeling anyway. It's a very good scene, very plausible, very believable and shows another example of how close their friendship is and how concerned Ducky is about Gibbs [and of course we G/D folk can also put an additional level onto it, but even without G/D we see the deep, long standing friendship and trust].

Back up in the squad room McGee and Wilson are at McGee's computer and DiNozzo and Ziva at Ziva's. Gibbs reappears and we learn that the security firm in charge of the jewellery shop's security is the same one as in charge of the bank - owned by Paul Harris. DiNozzo then decides that it has to be Harris, because he has super white teeth (shakes head at logic). McGee has found out why the security cameras were a mess, for the time of the robbery there were 3 million hits on the Internet connection, thus taking the cameras out. He says that Internet protocol should have prevented it from happening. It does appear to have been an inside job [except DiNozzo hasn't been right this season, so if he suspects anyone we know it's a red herring and thus not him].

In the interrogation room DiNozzo (watched by McGee and Wilson) is using his very own style interrogation on Harris. He goes on about Harris's expensive clothes and teeth (he's obsessed with the teeth) and when he thinks Harris is lying he starts to pull his ears and shudder. Harris does admit that the business is going through a bad patch and then DiNozzo repeats what McGee told him about the hits on the Internet and how protocols should have prevented it. He also mentions the jewellery store robbery. Harris says he knows about the glitch in the security software and is working on fixing it. He hadn't bothered to do Quantico because, hey, Quantico. DiNozzo then says he'll be talking to everyone Harris has talked to and been seen with over the past months and Harris tells him not to, he'll spoil it. It turns out that Harris is about to marry a super-mega rich woman - he has no need to rob banks, he's going to marry one.

Up in the squad room again, DiNozzo, watched by a bemused Wilson, is looking at himself in two CDs when Gibbs comes in; DiNozzo said he scratched himself while in interrogation (when he was doing his 'ear thing') but is okay - like Gibbs cares. We then learn that Vittorio had a son, Joey, who also had a record, and he was last heard of six months ago. And he stole much higher price items than daddy had.

In Abby's lab Abby and McGee are looking at the jewellery shop footage and suddenly Abby tells McGee to stop and go back - she's seen a large tat on a man's arm and is trying to remember where she'd seen it before. She closes her eyes and is making finger movements in the air and then she remembers: they pull up the footage of the Quantico murder and there on the ground is a man with the same tat. You can only see a bit of it, but Abby had wondered why something so great was covered up. It turns out the name the man gave to DiNozzo and Ziva was fake. And this man was none other than Joey Vittorio's cell mate - and there are more people connected to them, all with records.

Gibbs calls Ducky to ascertain whether Vittorio's body had been collected and tells Ziva to find out when the funeral was. Vittorio was collateral damage; he was killed to get Joey out of hiding, Joey was almost certainly the man who sold the diamonds, etc. and had gone missing after the jewellery store robbery - the rest of the gang want their share.

The funeral is under way now, so they all (including Wilson) take off - Joey will, like a good Italian boy, be there. They take two cars and Gibbs takes McGee whereas DiNozzo and Ziva and Wilson go in the other car. DiNozzo orders Wilson to 'stay' pointing out he doesn't have a gun so leaves him by the car whilst the rest of them spread out and try to find Joey and the killers.

They suddenly see men bundling another man into a black car and take off, but Wilson thinks fast, he takes the car DiNozzo told him to stay by and in effect blocks the baddie's exit. He then gets out and calls to a woman laying flowers, addressing her as 'Nanna' and when the men tell him to move he says he will, he just needs to get Nanna. It was very skilfully done, he gave no indication or hint that he was anything other than a young man who didn't want his grandma to have to walk too far, and was going to fetch her. That left the coast clear for Gibbs and Co. to get involved in a shoot-out and order the rest of the men out of the car and onto the ground. And whilst they are doing that, Wilson protects the old lady. His actions earns Wilson a Gibbs smile - not something you get all that often.

Back in the vending machine room, McGee and DiNozzo are talking to Wilson and giving him advice about training; DiNozzo has again stolen a chocolate bar for Wilson. DiNozzo's advice (typically) is centred around the women and who to go for and who to avoid - Wilson points out he's married. McGee's is far more helpful. In the end they wish him luck.

Back upstairs we see Lee again getting into the lift and she is being watched by Gibbs. She turns and sees him watching her and he makes no attempt to hide the fact. We then get a Lee flashback of the message on her cell phone and her shooting Langer.

Gibbs then goes to Vance and gives him back Wilson's file. When Vance points out Gibbs hasn't written anything, Gibbs says: "Recommended. Write that." Vance does give a small smile conceding defeat on this one, maybe. Unless Vance is actually not the villain I think he is, and this was his way of trying to get Gibbs to trust his judgement again. I don't really think that, there are too many other things, I still think Vance is out to get Gibbs out. Gibbs leaves and on the way down the stairs meets Wilson and wishes him luck - another rare thing.

Then Gibbs goes into the base bar. The barman asks if he's alone tonight, Gibbs says 'no', which gets him a slightly odd look (as Gibbs is alone). He has a neat bourbon and sips it. Then he gets up and goes to the back wall where there is a display 'Fallen In The Line Of Duty'; we see Paula's photo and that of many others. Then Gibbs takes Langer's FBI ID which he still has and tucks it between two of the photos on the top row, goes back to the bar and picks up his drink. He then turns again and looks at the ID and nods. Gibbs knows Langer wasn't the bad guy.

OVERALL

I enjoyed this episode a lot.

It kept me guessing, it had a genuine NCIS involvement, okay not on ship or anything, but a real reason for them being involved.

A nice amount of Ducky and with some excellent reasons for seeing him.

Lovely Gibbs/Ducky or Gibbs & Ducky scenes.

Some humorous moments.

Wilson was a good character.

Nice team interaction.

Vance's involvement was director involvement and not interfering. And whilst I don't like the man, I do like the dynamics he produces - and his scenes with Gibbs were good.

We finally get back to the whole Langer and Lee thing. And it's clear Gibbs doesn't think Langer was the mole and doesn't trust Lee. It'll be interesting to see where this is going.

Abby was fine.

DiNozzo, I am sorry to say, drove me mad - the only consolation (for me) is that he kept getting slapped down (not literally). But I don't want to see DiNozzo like this and I feel for DiNozzo fen, I really do.

No Jimmy which I always miss and Ducky needed him at the scene, but then Jimmy couldn't have been around for the Gibbs & Ducky Autopsy scenes, so . . .

A really good episode.

Storyline: 9.50

Enjoyment: 9.50

ETA: Of course it was Paula, not Jenny in the picture - blame me trying to scribble notes, keep an eye of the clock as well as my 'usual' not recognising people. I saw a female, the hair, knew it wasn't Kate and my mind went 'Jenny'. But of course it couldn't have been Jenny as she officially 'died in a house fire'.
Tags: non-fiction: episode reviews, season 06
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