And still the good episodes continue. This arc is working well and moving along at a good speed. Some very good interaction (and mostly I didn't want to slap DiNozzo in this episode, so that was really good). And it was nice that the OTT bitching and sniping at one another that we've had between DiNozzo and McGee and DiNozzo and Ziva was back to it's 'normal sibling rivalry' level. Much better. Some nice Ducky moments - including a furious Ducky! Wow, lovely to see. Vance continues to keep me guessing, which was good. And the so-called 'case' was a solid idea and I fell for it; I did guess that Abby was somehow involved on the right side as she was too antsy and too 'keep out'. Abby would not make a good field agent :-) And a good way to end to set us up for next week.
We begin with some flashbacks of the 'Last Man Standing' and of Langer in particular, including talk about the mole and Langer being shot by Lee and then also some from last week's episode when Lee is aware Gibbs is watching her.
From there we go to a woman truck driver trying to make a delivery to a secure naval base. They say they take deliveries, but she has the relevant paperwork. The box is scanned and then opened - inside is a body in dry ice.
In the squad room DiNozzo is sitting at his desk staring at his phone willing it to ring and McGee and Ziva are watching him. McGee and Ziva are teasing DiNozzo and telling him to relax as he keeps on staring at the phone. McGee makes a reference to a watched pot never ringing and then DiNozzo launches into a story about a ball player who had to throw up before each game. Ziva wonders why DiNozzo would model himself on someone who spent his time vomiting. Now this scene was very much old style NCIS kids bantering and was fun - although I do still think it's a shame TPTB are making DiNozzo so much the butt of the jokes and the fool player. But this worked well. Then Gibbs arrives with the news he pretty much always has: a case.
At the base there are various exchanges between the team and the marines who won't give anything away they say it's a classified base and one asks DiNozzo what his clearance is; which gets the response of six feet one and a half inches *smiles*. They tell the marines they have to wait for their ME and lo and behold at that moment Ducky's van comes into sight. The marine asks how many trucks they have and DiNozzo goes off onto references about Convoy [I actually knew one of his film references - go me *g*] and uses various handles including 'Rubber Ducky' *g* The Marine tells DiNozzo he's a comic genius.
Ducky and Jimmy start to take the lid off the box and Ducky is telling the story of the French Chemist in his usual Ducky-fashion and hovering behind Ducky is Gibbs. That should have started the odd bell ringing as Gibbs seemed all together just a tad too interested. Okay, so hadn't got a body to look at thus far, but the whole exchange between his team and the marines (with hindsight) was slightly out of the ordinary.
Ducky is still talking as he looks at the body and stops dead. Gibbs in his oh-so-innocent voice asks: "Something familiar, Duck?" Ducky turns around and looks directly at Gibbs as Gibbs goes on about it reminding him of Gibraltar; Ducky agrees that was the case and Jimmy pipes up wanting to know about Gibraltar - Ducky informs him that story will have to wait for another time. He then tells Jimmy they'll load the box into the van and take it away.
After a few moments they all drive off - and note there are three vans in all: Ducky's, the 'usual' NCIS van and a black van. Also Ziva has been looking at the security cameras. Suddenly, once out of sight, the black van stops and McGee gets out and goes around and into the back, shortly afterwards Gibbs joins him and McGee starts to set up a feed and we see that DiNozzo and Ziva are actually still at the base. They are still using Convoy handles.
McGee gives Ziva and DiNozzo the code to access the base and sets the feed going, meanwhile the marines are just talking. McGee also gives DiNozzo and Ziva information about the guards and at one point they have to hide in a small space and are very, very close - close enough to easily kiss, which at one point it looked as though they just might do [Cue moment for DiNozzo/Ziva fen]. And then to everyone's surprise an alarm goes off; McGee doesn't know what it is, and DiNozzo and Ziva are arguing about what to do. And then . . .
We flash back to 'Three days earlier'. We are down in Autopsy, Gibbs is pacing up and down and looking at his watch, whilst Ducky and Jimmy are at Ducky's desk. Everything Ducky tells Jimmy to do, Jimmy is already onto it/has done it and he and Ducky end up talking at the same time.
Eventually Ducky says: "As you are so adept at reading my mind, what do I want now?"
Jimmy looks at Gibbs and says: "Privacy."
[Sorry, I have to have a G/D fan girl squee at that moment - I just loved it. There's Gibbs pacing around, looking agitated and Jimmy knows that Ducky and Gibbs want to be left alone - wonderful. Priceless.]
Once Jimmy has gone Ducky talks about how if you spend enough time with someone you eventually get their number.
Gibbs: "Palmer's got yours, Duck."
Ducky: "Yes, and I've got yours." [Another squee] And he goes on to say that normally the successful conclusion of a case brings a look of satisfaction to Gibbs's countenance, but now it is a lack of content.
Gibbs says he wasn't there to have a head shrink and when Ducky asks why he is there Gibbs says: "Just killing time." And Gibbs is playing with his watch, which Ducky offers to autopsy for him :-) Gibbs's phone then rings and off he toddles. This leaves Ducky saying to the body that whatever it is that Gibbs is up to it won't involve him (the body) but of course we already know otherwise, don't we?
[Wonderful, Gibbs is simply hanging out in Autopsy with Ducky rather than go anywhere else - perfect. Nikki was very happy at this point.] Even putting aside my G/D bias, this was a lovely, fun scene and can easily and happily be viewed as another example of their close friendship: who does Gibbs go to when somewhat agitated and when he has nothing else to do and is waiting for something: Ducky.
In Vance's office, he is talking to Lee and she's talking about indemnity, but at that second Gibbs comes in and Vance stops her. He mentions pleasantries to Gibbs, who ignores that comment (this is Gibbs, Vance, he doesn't 'do' the normal human pleasantries). And then he tells Gibbs about a different case he has for Gibbs's team. It has come from the SecNav who wants to upgrade the protection for strategic files. Lee then makes a comment about that being a good idea because of Langer and finally she trails off under one of Gibbs's famous stares. Vance sends Lee off and tells Gibbs he gets to be the bad guy.
We than flash to Abby's lab and she is in there alone with various screens on and we hear McGee cry out and bang on the door. She calls out that she's in the shower (huh?) and switches off the screens before letting him in. She isn't exactly pleased to see him and comes up with a completely unbelievable reason for the door being locked. McGee wants to know what she is working on as there isn't a case and she in the end says she's working on her case. A moment later DiNozzo also cries out as he too has walked into the door. He's come to fetch McGee.
Down in the evidence lock-up/garage McGee, Ziva and DiNozzo are sitting at a table facing a whiteboard. McGee comments that it reminds him of his college days and asks DiNozzo if it reminds him of his college days - DiNozzo's rather smug/proud 'no' and the way he leans back show that the concept of a lecture when he was at college was not a common one. And this (amazingly) ties in with comments DiNozzo himself has made in the past about him just being a jock as he studied Phys Ed. Gibbs arrives and DiNozzo comments that McGee thinks they're going to get a lecture. That earns him one of Gibbs's sarky responses that it might if he doesn't listen; that makes DiNozzo sit up quickly and straight. [Gibbs as a lecturer . . . I bet you wouldn't play hooky from his class or sleep/talk through his lectures!]
Gibbs tells them about the operation: Domino. McGee starts to say what Domino is, a top secret military plan but he suddenly runs out of steam and Ziva takes over - Gibbs tells McGee to gee up on it, but McGee comes back and shows it was just a momentary aberration as he continues to explain about Domino and how it can't be hacked. Gibbs then tells them the SecNav wants to prevent another breach in security; Gibbs's team have to try to steal Domino. It's a test of security; the guards aren't in on it, they don't even know what they are guarding! Gibbs tells them to formulate a plan. DiNozzo's first idea is pizza! [Pizza is good].
Some time later they are in the squad room with the pizza box on the desk still trying to come up with ways to get in. McGee favours the fire alarm, but Ziva is really against that. When DiNozzo starts to say he has a plan, McGee and Ziva rule out: tunnels, going over wire, etc. etc. basically all the known escape plans from war films - again it's a very nice team/sibling moment.
However, once they've had their fun DiNozzo (for the first time in several episodes showing his skills) comes up with the idea that they have to start thinking more like the bad guys. He's very good in this scene. And they talk about how bad guys have broken into NCIS. The incident of the taxi cab in 'Trojan Horse' is mentioned and dismissed and suddenly as they are talking we see Lee. She wants a piece of pizza (er, no she wants to know what you're talking about) but DiNozzo makes her earn it by again asking about bad guys getting into NCIS. She mentions Ari - saying it was before her time - and calls him Ziva's brother; Ziva is quick to correct to 'half brother'. And then the team play the hypothetical card with Lee asking her about in effect getting into a top secret facility - and she 'earns' her pizza which she takes away. But she has more than that; she's has information that something is afoot.
Back down in the garage/lock-up they tell Gibbs about their idea, at least to get out. They'll use the plumbing system, but they can't get in that way - DiNozzo and Ziva will be the ones to go in and have to get out, McGee makes that point and DiNozzo thanks him for making them frogmen. Again, with the nice banter and team exchange.
They do have an idea to get in, but they have one problem: Ducky. They need to borrow a body. Gibbs tells them not to ask just to take it because he knows Ducky will say no (bad Gibbs, very bad Gibbs - Ducky is not going to be a happy bunny or ducky when he finds out). Gibbs then tells the field kids that the other side will be using live ammo so they are not to return fire, not to resist arrest (if they get caught) they just get in and out and no one gets hurt. Ahhh. And you just know that something s going to go wrong - and not just because of Lee's hovering, but because of this comment.
We are then back in present day and alarms are still going off and now it is both the fire alarm and the security alarm and at that moment they also lose the feed. Marines rush into where DiNozzo and Ziva are, one hits DiNozzo, who was going to obey orders to 'surrender' and Ziva then ignores Gibbs's orders and starts attacking the men; a shot is heard and Gibbs is yelling at Ziva and DiNozzo (through their ear-wigs) to 'stand down'. But Ziva is fighting and goes on fighting until finally a third marine appears and like DiNozzo she is hit in the face and falls to the ground. Wow!
When she comes around sitting opposite her is a man in a very smart coat, 'playing' with what he confesses to be a Cuban cigar and he even says it is illegal. She asks about 'Tony' and he says 'Agent DiNozzo'. Huh? It is quite cleverly done as clearly we are meant to think that actually he is a bad guy, and quite frankly he is sleazy and I did not like him at all. At that moment Vance turns up and we learn Mr. Sleazeball is none other than Mr. SecNav himself (Robert Deckard) - did I mention how much I disliked this man?
Vance and the SecNav then go and DiNozzo comes in to unlock Ziva's cuffs, he knows no more than she does - zilch - except the bullets were not real. But he does talk about a drinking game they taught him when he was agent afloat whereby you all showed coins and the one who had the highest domination coin got to be top man and everyone bought him drinks. He shows her the SecNav 'coin' pointing out that whilst they might not have to buy drinks, they certainly were not told everything.
Out in the corridor SecNav and Vance are together and Gibbs is walking behind them. SecNav is talking about how he was at the theatre and how he wishes Vance had chosen another evening for his 'games'. He demands a light for his cigar and Gibbs gives him one, which brings him under SecNav's radar, the SecNav knows he's Gibbs (I bet he does!). SecNav asks Vance if it was all worth it and Vance says they do still have a breach and no one is above suspicion: someone got into the central hub.
Back at HQ, once again Abby's door is locked and this time it is Jimmy who walks into it. He starts to tell Abby about a body that went missing, a body for which he'd done all the paperwork and it just vanished - it had been stolen and then it turned up at the crime scene and he's sure Agent Gibbs had something to do with it and now Dr. Mallard looks as though he wants to kill someone and Jimmy doesn't want it to be him so he wants to stay with Abby. But she won't let him and basically forces him out. A very nice scene, Jimmy barely seemed to breathe during it and you know what? I'd be the same as Jimmy, I'd want to get well away from Ducky at that moment, especially as Jimmy suspects Gibbs has something to do with the vanishing body. And if he suspects Ducky will and Jimmy will no doubt recall the icy moments once Gibbs had returned from Mexico when he had to listen to Ducky 'talking' to Gibbs then. So flee, Jimmy, 'tis a good idea.
Up in the squad room we have McGee whom Gibbs has sent back and Abby; Abby is hovering and both want to know why the other is there so late. McGee starts to tell Abby a bit about the mission, after all it's over and is a failure and Abby says she understands. That trips McGee's 'sensor' and he wants to know what it is she understands and they go back and forth for a bit, at one point McGee says she's acting weird and Abby says she is weird. It's another fun conversation; clearly we are meant to be thinking that Abby is involved with Lee and is up to 'no good', but that never occurred to me for a moment. Abby is not actually a very good actress (note Abby, not PP). She was singularly unconvincing.
Back at the marine base, DiNozzo and Ziva ask Gibbs if he knows what is going on and he tells them there is still a mole in NCIS. They, at first, think in addition to Langer. It seems that this mole may have got in when they were and out again. Ziva can't believe they got in and out. They then go to the central hub and oops, no trapped mole. SecNav is not happy, but Vance said it was never about trapping the person then. DiNozzo asks where McGee is, but Gibbs doesn't reply and as he's about to go to the console Gibbs tells him sharply not to. He says that everything there is bogus. The SecNav orders Vance to 'walk him out' and DiNozzo and Ziva ask Gibbs if he knows who the mole is; they figure out it has to be someone close to them.
Back with Mr. Sleaze and Vance again the SecNav shows how unhappy he is with the plan. Vance compares it to an ant taking poison back to the ant colony but SecNav compares the mole to a rat. He doesn't like rodents and he really is not happy at all by a) being dragged away from the theatre and b) the way things have panned out. He then turns on Vance and we learn that it was Vance who induced the SecNav to give him the top job in NCIS and the deal was simple: 'get your house in order'. Another interesting titbit. On the way out SecNav drops his half smoked cigar on the floor and grinds it. Poor NCIS having this 'person' as SecNav.
The next day at NCIS DiNozzo grabs McGee as he's getting out of the lift and drags him off with him to a clandestine meeting with Ziva. They ask McGee what he knows and they discuss Langer and pretty much come to the conclusion that he was not the bad guy. When it arises how did someone get Lee to shoot him, DiNozzo is just about to talk about Lee being the mole, but Lee appears so he pretends he was talking about a mole on his face which he's had confirmed is benign and is in fact a beauty mark. She's pleased to hear that and also asks about how the hypothetical situation worked out and generally pushes gently. They tell her it was a failure.
Up in Vance's office he is once again back with his tooth-picks (yuck, I'd hoped we were done with those, I know we had to see them again, just in case we'd forgotten about them for DiNozzo's line later to work but . . .). Gibbs is with him and Vance wants to know how the team are taking it; Gibbs says as pros and Vance wants them to in effect lick their wounds and act beaten - as long as it is an act. They have to all stay bottled up; they have to know if someone else is involved with Lee. But now Vance is having second thoughts (after his 'talks' with SecNav) and wants to pick her up now. Gibbs pushes for not doing that and says they should stay with the plan. Vance says he's burnt a lot of satellite time trying to keep tabs on Lee, but has found nothing. Gibbs points out she is a trained agent she isn't going to be that easy to follow. As Gibbs is leaving Vance asks him if he wants to sit in this chair. Gibbs says the chair is already occupied. Vance says he doesn't take orders from Gibbs, it might be easier if he did, but then he wouldn't have all this - and he gestures around the office. Gibbs smiles and leaves.
DiNozzo and Ziva are both in the lift, they are both pissed over yet more cover up. DiNozzo in particular, after all he did take the brunt of it over the Jeanne and her father thing. And he comments that he'd hoped all that kind of thing would be over with the new administration. He wants to go up to Vance's office and stick his toothpick up the SecNav's cigar. Ziva talks to him about if he'd been in the military he'd have learnt to follow orders and not get so upset. He then turns on her and points out that she wasn't following orders when she hit the first marine. She says it was purely a instinctive reaction, and when he says about her having gone on and on hitting and was that just instinct, she points out she'd seen him fall. He then says he's had enough of pretence and Ziva says she has too (I think they might have been talking about different things here, but . . . ) and DiNozzo storms out leaving Ziva in the lift.
Meanwhile in Autopsy we have one extremely angry and pissed Ducky and a silent, watching Gibbs. Ducky is pacing around Autopsy ranting at Gibbs whilst Gibbs just stand and watches and listens. Ducky says that 'violated' is not a good enough term and that if ever there was a time for Gibbs to break his moratorium on apologies now would be a good time (er, Ducky, he did break it, with your, for you in 'Smoked'). He says he knows something about the spy game (rolls eyes) and there are certain liberties one does not take, but if you do then you should tell the other person as soon as possible.
At that moment the door opens and DiNozzo stalks in. He comes out with "I'm sorry, Ducky."
Ducky (still angry): "I thank you, Anthony." Gibbs is still silent.
But DiNozzo goes on, ignoring both of them with: "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Ducky. I guess I didn't trust you enough."
Ducky (now realising what DiNozzo is doing and naturally trying to defuse the situation): "Yes, thank you, Anthony. That will do."
But clearly it won't. As DiNozzo now turns on Gibbs: "I'm sorry for making you look like a fool in front of the Secretary of the Navy. I'm sorry for being a cowardly, devious, son of a -"
Ducky: "Anthony!" This time with even more force as he still tries to calm DiNozzo down.
Gibbs finally speaks: "Are you done?"
Apparently not. DiNozzo now goes on about not being comfortable with the hand up his backside and he doesn't like how Gibbs has let toothpick use them as puppets.
Gibbs: "He didn't." And then Gibbs tells them that it was his plan. Which DiNozzo (rightly so in his eyes) says that is much worse. Gibbs says he didn't tell them, not because he didn't trust them but he didn't have to. Ducky is looking at Gibbs all the time as Gibbs goes on about not being worried about Lee, she's caught, she just doesn't know it, but he's concerned with whom might be working with her. DiNozzo wants to know how they might find this person.
Ducky is the one to tell him. He tells him about the invisible, radio-active dye that was on the keyboard in the central hub. Gibbs interrupts with a 'Ducky' and Ducky asks if he's going to continue to muzzle him. So Ducky was in on part of it, or Gibbs had told him before DiNozzo had got down there (probably the latter, after all he needed to try to defuse the wrath of Ducky somehow and explaining why he did it he hoped would help). The dye would stay on the hands for a few days and would even penetrate gloves. So if she had an accomplish, they will know about it.DiNozzo wants to know what if Gibbs comes up empty and Gibbs says he used both of them as he knew they could handle it.
Ducky moves right past DiNozzo and as close to Gibbs as he can get without touching him, looks up at him and demands: "What do you need from us now?"
That was a powerful scene and then some! Gibbs to be under fire from both his oldest friend and his most senior agent - and it was justified. He could have talked Ducky round over the body (also wonders what happened in Gibraltar. And of course on re-watch, I realise it is a 'code' word between Gibbs and Ducky. Gibbs really stresses the word 'Gibraltar' It doesn't necessarily mean the place or anything that happened there. It means something like 'trust me, don't make a fuss, I have a reason I'll tell you later. And Ducky's slightly 'slow' reply is more the 'oh, yes, got it now'. It could be both, but it's first and foremost a code.)
Back in Abby's lab, Abby is now totally refusing to even let McGee in.
Up in Vance's office he is pacing and makes a decision: he wants all of the security staff and one by one by group they round up the entire office and take them in groups (Lee ends up with Gibbs's team) including Gibbs, Ducky and DiNozzo from Autopsy [ponders just why Ducky was drying his hands when the guards came to Autopsy; and why he no longer had his jacket on because he goes to the lock-up in his shirt sleeves]. Abby is also dragged out of her lab and is there.
Vance talks about the previous night's op and the security leak and he shows them his gizmo that will reveal who was involved. He goes to Gibbs to Ducky to DiNozzo to Ziva ignores McGee and then goes to Abby. And Abby's hands set his gizmo off and he has her carted away in cuffs. From the look on Gibbs's face when taken from Autopsy and facing Vance, this was not part of the plan - Vance had moved too early.
In interrogation McGee hurries in to see Abby; he says Vance and Gibbs are in Vance's office deciding who will interrogate her, but she won't talk. There's a nice moment of by-play when he points out she is talking and she says she won't talk from now.. Vance then appears and wants to know why McGee is there, but he doesn't seem overly troubled by it. Abby demands a lawyer.
Meanwhile we flick to the Ladies where Lee is frantically washing her hands. She comes out and lo and behold Vance, with gizmo is there. He says that Abby wants legal advice, Lee says she'll find someone but Vance wants to make sure it's the 'right' kind of lawyer, i.e. someone who won't end up making headlines. Lee says she can find someone, but will have to leave the building. He agrees - oh, Lee, it's a trap.
Meanwhile back with Abby and McGee he's still talking to her about how he knows she's innocent and finally she admits that she was in on it all along; Gibbs went to her several days ago and they set up the dye thing. She couldn't let anyone in because they couldn't see the screens, plus she'd dropped some dye on the floor. We then have a lovely Abby/McGee moment when she says he (calling him Timmy) is so sweet to worry and he smiles, leans across the table and kisses her.
Outside Lee is under surveillance, Vance sees her leave something at the newspaper stand and alerts Ziva, DiNozzo and Gibbs who all close in on her, leaving her no where to go. Gibbs wants to know who is handling her, she is clearly very distressed, but seemingly more interested in looking around her than troubled by them actually being there. Gibbs then pulls her into a hug and tells her to act naturally and they all walk off with his arm around her shoulders.
Lee is in the interrogation room and Gibbs comes in and she's very upset. He has the gizmo which proves she'd touched the console and then she tells him she had no choice. She doesn't know for whom she is 'working' she doesn't know who else is involved, she confirms Langer wasn't. All she knows is that they know more about her than NCIS do. And she pulls out some photos of a young child: Amanda - her daughter. If 'they' find out she has told anyone else, if she doesn't do what they want, they'll kill her.
In Vance's office he says that it could all be a put up, that Lee is deliberately using the child knowing that Gibbs will be sympathetic. But . . . According to her file she has a younger sister, but Gibbs has learnt that she had Amanda when she was in High School and her parents brought her up as a sibling. Vance says Lee is focussed and driven and wanted to go to Law School and she is ambitious. She fooled them all. Then Gibbs looks at him with 'that' look. And Vance hurries to correct himself to 'Almost all'. He also asks if Gibbs is trying to convince Vance or Gibbs himself and then asks what he is going to do.
Now down in the squad room, Jimmy is telling the other kids about his 'relationship' with Lee - but they say they knew. They are talking about what will happen to her, hanging, maybe - it is treason - and Abby keeps trying to quieten them. One thing they are sure about, she won't be walking out of the building.
But at that second she appears putting on her coat, doing that very thing. Down in the underground garage she gets into her car and there hanging on the rear-view mirror is Langer's cancelled FBI badge. Gibbs is in the back seat he says: "Looks like we're working together."
Not that I expected him to decide anything other than that. Because even if he isn't completely convinced by the 'daughter' thing, he wants to stay close to her to bring her down if necessary.
A very good episode with some fair cat and mouse moments.
Two wonderful Autopsy scenes so plenty of Ducky fen and Gibbs/Ducky fen and Gibbs & Ducky fen to squee about.
I didn't want to slap DiNozzo - which was good.
Sibling banter was back to normal.
A nice little Abby/McGee moment.
A couple of nice, not forced, or 'mooning' over DiNozzo/Ziva moments.
Gibbs is back on track and being true Gibbs. If Lee is telling the truth he'll do what he can to help her and save her daughter. If she isn't; he'll bring her down.
Vance was fine - good director role. And the intrigue with him continues, especially as we learnt he asked for and pressed for the job.
I loathed the SecNav - I even preferred Vance to him.
Abby was a tad irksome, but she was meant to be, because I'm sure really she was never meant to fool us - not really. So her OTT behaviour and the skulduggery was overdone and annoying by intent.
I'm looking forward to the conclusion next week.