A McGee-centric episode. As McGee is my favourite character after Gibbs and Ducky, I was really looking forward to this episode, and generally (certainly as far as McGee went) I wasn't disappointed). There were some excellent moments, it was really lovely to see him taking charge and handling the case as he did. There were a nice lot of twists and turns over the whole case with plenty of really good red herrings, even though the final outcome (once we knew all the details) was predictable. McGee might not have expected it, but I did. Sad to say we had Nasty DiNozzo back for much of the episode, not the good banter kind, but the cutting, really nasty kind *sigh* There were some lovely Abby/McGee moments, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
We begin with a cheerleader running through the woods and suddenly a man appears with an axe, she screams and . . . Cut, it was merely a film being made - a very good and tense opening. However, she's told by the director that the scream isn't realistic enough and she needs to do it again; she's not happy but agrees. She walks off talking to someone on her mobile phone and suddenly vanishes down a hole in the ground and she screams and screams and screams. When the film crew realise she isn't practising they run over to her and next to her (she didn't fall very far) is a body, a long-since dead body.
At NCIS DiNozzo and Ziva are getting out of the lift and talking about the woman she DiNozzo says smiled at him and he always knows when a woman means the smile. However, he's knocked back a little when Ziva tells her the woman's name and reveals she had asked Ziva out for lunch a couple of times. Meanwhile McGee is on the phone talking to the garage about his car. He's being given the run around and has been for a few days; each time he speaks to them the cost has gone up and the repairs will take longer. However, he's being very accepting of it, in true McGee style. DiNozzo gets in more than a few cutting and bordering on nasty, but less so than later, more of the 'old style' banter here, remarks about McGee's 'style'. McGee tells him that you don't have to be tough with people all the time, but that he can be tough when he has to be. He gets askance looks from both DiNozzo and Ziva. And when he asks 'what' Ziva tells him he has his strengths and DiNozzo adds 'and weaknesses'.
DiNozzo then says: "People can be loved for their weaknesses as well as they are for their strengths."
At that moment Gibbs walks in and in a really sarcastic and cutting tone says: "Well then, DiNozzo, you must be one very well loved man."
DiNozzo looks far crest-fallen and manages a very weak: "Thanks for noticing, boss."
They set off for the woods and DiNozzo is trying to ascertain whether Ziva accepted the offer of lunch, an annoyed McGee just pushes past both of them. At the scene Ducky (don't blink or you'll miss him) is commenting to Gibbs who is standing outside of the 'pit' watching him that Gibbs never ceases to amaze him as he finds the most dastedly of crimes in the most idyllic of settings (very Ducky). The ID on the body belongs to Neil Polleto; the name clearly means something to Gibbs. Meanwhile DiNozzo has been talking to the film crew and when asked if he has anything he says that he might be helping out with the next film, giving advice, etc. McGee gets a cutting remark in of his own and Ziva smiles again. But as always when he's 'hit' back at, DiNozzo doesn't like it.
Ducky says Polleto had been stabbed multiple times across the upper torso and he is missing the middle finger of one hand.
Gibbs: "And the other hand, Duck." Ducky looks and indeed no middle finger.
Ducky: "Anything else you want to tell me about this fellow, Jethro?"
Gibbs: "Dead. Eleven years"
Gibbs: "And I know who did it.
The who is a Celia Roberts who was also found guilty of killing two other sailors (and it was Gibbs who caught her) as Polleto's body was never found, she was only tried for the other two which earnt her 175 years in Maryland State Prison. DiNozzo declares it's an open and shut case (always a dangerous thing to say) and that Abby is checking the knife to see if it matches with the other two bodies. Gibbs appears; he wants Celia to confess to Polleto's killing.
Ziva instantly volunteers to go saying that women often open up to women. DiNozzo gets in on the act saying that after all that time in prison a woman is more likely to prefer a viral man, which is why he should go as he's the most viral. And of course he puts his foot in it with Gibbs again as Gibbs happens to be in earshot so DiNozzo has to hastily back-track (will that man never learn?). Gibbs looks at both Ziva and DiNozzo, both of whom are looking at him like little children waiting to be given a treat. And then Gibbs hands the job to McGee; telling him to go to the prison in the morning and not come back without the confession.
Neither Ziva nor DiNozzo are particularly happy about it and DiNozzo starts trying to tell McGee how to go about convincing her. He then, rather nastily, asks McGee when the last time was he convinced a woman to do anything. Ziva, to my mind picking up on the 'dig too far' cuts in and says how only a few days ago McGee managed to convince her to lend him $10.00, and that she had been adamant when he first asked she wouldn't, but then he won her over. So McGee goes off happy, but then Ziva reveals that actually she isn't convinced that he'll get the confession.
The next day at the prison, McGee goes through the usual checks and is being escorted to see Celia. Just before he gets there a woman, Brenda Carter, appears and runs over to him and hugs him; they used to know one another, in fact on Graduation night she threw up all over his shoes. She is clearly and blatantly interested in him and in the end McGee, being McGee, comments that they should get together and catch up, which she goes overboard about. Meanwhile one of the guards, Lambro, is watching this exchange.
It is visiting day and so the guard has put Celia in the back interview room where prisoners normally meet with their attorneys. Dear McGee starts off being very polite to Celia and he shows her photos of Polleto before and after he was killed and says it would be nice for his family to have closure, which they'd get if she confessed. He also tells her that if she does then the case will remain a Federal one, but if she doesn't it'll be handed over to the Virginia authorities and they have the death penalty and are keen on it. She says she doesn't believe him and at that moment there is a lot of noise from outside. He, doing his Federal Agent bit, goes out and the women grab him.
Back at NCIS Abby is in the squad room at McGee's desk. Ziva tells her McGee isn't there, but Abby already knows where he is; we learn she and McGee were going to have lunch together (cue Abby/McGee fen) and she's returning his computer game. Ziva professes a lack of understanding as to why people play computer games. Meanwhile DiNozzo is playing with a photograph of McGee and morphing it into some not very nice poses. But once again he gets his comeuppance as Gibbs arrives and asks if there is a picture of DiNozzo working (ouch). And then his phone rings; it's the prison. He, DiNozzo and Ziva take off, but Abby, who is clearly very worried (another Abby/McGee moment) grabs Gibbs and pulls him back. He promises to ring her.
Back at the prison we have one dead guard on the floor (Trimball), another (Lambro) has a broken arm and he and the others, including McGee, who asks Lambro what some of the women are in for, are handcuffed to the bars on the windows. The inmates are arguing amongst themselves about what has happened and what they should do and McGee is chilled to realise it wasn't an organised revolt - and that makes it much more dangerous. One woman, Sharon Bellows, is all for giving themselves up as she only has one year left to serve and three children at home; others don't want to. Suddenly McGee draws attention to himself.
Gibbs et al arrive to find the Warden (Gene Halsey) planning to storm the area with armed guards and 'solve' the problem that way. Gibbs asks if he has any experience of this kind of thing, and he hasn't. He just points out the prison has a zero tolerance hostage policy; basically anyone who goes through the gates gives up all rights to be rescued. DiNozzo and Ziva want to know if Gibbs can go over the Warden's head, but Gibbs says they can't. However, when they learn that the prisoners are sending someone out to talk, he does take Gibbs with him - although he says he'll do the talking.
To everyone's surprise it is McGee who comes out; he says it was his idea, he talked the women into it, he's the negotiator. But he can only deal with his boss. He tells them that the women want NCIS to find out who murdered Trimball; they want an agreement that only his killer will be punished plus an amnesty for injuries to the other guards; and that no one tries to take back the visitors' centre. If these demands are agreed to, they will let all the visitors go, release Trimball's body and just keep McGee and two guards as hostages.
Clearly the Warden agrees as we see the visitors all running out and being hurried onto buses. Meanwhile McGee is asking the women for their co-operation and telling them they'll have to trust him. He also says he needs to frisk them for the murder weapon, but no one seems willing to let that happen.
Meanwhile Gibbs is talking to the Warden again, who is still planning an assault. In the end he does say he'll give NCIS until sundown to solve the crime, but after that he'll send an assault team in. Gibbs asks if Trimball had enemies and we learn that he was heading up the investigation into drugs being smuggled into the prison, so yes, he's bound to have had. Gibbs tells DiNozzo and Ziva to start with Trimball. As they leave Abby calls Ziva.
Gibbs then goes into the visitor's centre where he is frisked by Celia and then (again no blinking) Ducky appears too.
Ducky: "I once sewed up the arm of a lion tamer who said the worse thing you can do is to let your felines feel cornered, scared or threatened."
Gibbs looking at the women: "You mean like this, Duck?"
McGee is taking photographs of Trimball, and Brenda warns the inmates that if anything happens to McGee she won't be 'happy'.
Ducky examines the body and pronounces that Trimball bled out slowly, he was killed from a single stab and he also has a head wound. McGee spots the trail of blood and says they should follow it. He and Gibbs go off leaving Ducky looking just a wee bit alarmed at being left in a room with 'cornered felines'.
The trail leads to the guards bathroom, but it appears he wasn't there to pee, someone was meeting him. Celia and Lopez appear and said that was not unusual. On the way back to the women Gibbs tells McGee how long he has, McGee is stunned by it, but Gibbs focusses him by asking him to pretty much recite the SOP for the visitors' room. McGee tells him and we learn that Trimball was alone in the corridor but if he needed to go to the loo he should have called for someone to take his place; he didn't, which implied he wasn't going to pee - that got him killed. Most of the inmates and guards have blood on them, so that won't help and all they have to do is to 'find a killer in a room of killers'.
Back at HQ DiNozzo and Ziva take a box of Trimball's stuff to Abby. Abby of course is still really worried about McGee and then when told she has to find something before sunset focusses in on it in true Abby style when she's worried, needing more and exact information. She then says how hard it is for her when they go out as she knows they might get hurt. She suggests they find safer jobs, but DiNozzo points out she won't see them at all then. She asks for reassurance over McGee and DiNozzo makes a comment that he'll be fine it's every man's fantasy to be stuck in a woman's prison Trimball (again with the not very nice and tasteless remark) and this earns him glares from both Ziva and Abby - I think he realised he went too far.
Back at the prison McGee is conducting a search for the murder weapon in the vending machine and a lot of the women are hovering close to him. In the end he asks them to move back, saying how difficult it is for him otherwise. One of the inmates, a black lady, talks to him, asking him when the food is coming and whether it will be pizza. He asks if this kind of thing has happened before and she says not in all the time she's been there. He says that she seems to have taken responsibility for what she did. She says that is both a good thing and a bad thing, as she now realises she killed an innocent person. Now she can't wait to die so that her soul can find the soul of the person she killed and she can make her peace. McGee asks about Celia and the woman says she doesn't know if Celia did do what they said she did, but if she did she doesn't know how she'll ever find peace.
Abby calls Gibbs with the news that Ducky found calcium in the Trimball's kidneys and she ran tests that showed he was being poisoned with anti-freeze. He might have been stabbed to death, but he was a dead man walking.
Then we switch to DiNozzo and Ziva talking to Gibbs; no one saw Trimball stabbed but they now have the video footage and DiNozzo says he'll talk Gibbs through what he sees. However, not much is shown. Trimball staggers in and the beginnings of the riot are seen, but it stops when one of the guards pulls his baton out - it appears that the Warden only gave them 'edited highlights'. Ziva tells Gibbs that Brenda called Trimball over 150 times in the last month. Gibbs tells them to get her to NCIS.
At NCIS it is Ziva who talks to Brenda; she asks her about Trimball and Brenda says they dated but broke it off mutually a month ago, then Ziva mentions all the phone calls from Brenda but none back to her from Trimball. Brenda says Trimball had told her he loved her and that she didn't have to say it first - Ziva asks if she said it last and you see realisation dawn on Brenda's face. Ziva then mentions the poisoning and Brenda's shocked reaction looked fully genuine to me. The fact that they know that Trimball was heading up the drugs investigation is mentioned. Then Brenda tells Ziva how the prison has mandatory drug screening but that the Warder missed his last one and faked the previous one - his assistant told Brenda.
McGee is looking at the records of the inmates and in particular Lopez's. She is really jittery and he takes her off to the small room and tries points out she's in withdrawal and asks for the name of the supplier. Instead she pulls out a spray and sprays him in the eyes - poor McGee.
Meanwhile Gibbs is watching the armed guards get their things together and food is brought alone. The Warder turns up and Gibbs tells him to call it off, the Warder tries to argue saying it's his prison and Gibbs points out it won't be for much longer and lets him know he knows about the urine tests. The Warder explains he has a heart condition and is concerned the Board might not think he was up to the job if they knew. Once again the Warder agrees to wait until sundown - in less than two hours. He was a very good red herring, because I didn't even fully believe him at that point.
McGee is washing his eyes out and suddenly the lights go out. He's now angry and goes back into the visitors' centre and tells the women he has had enough. They can find out who killed Trimball, he no longer cares. He also tells Lopez that he's never hit a woman before but if she goes near him with the spray, he will. Sharon begs him to stay and help them, she just wants to get out in a year's time. He says he will, but only if they tell him the name of their drug supplier. It turns out to be Lambro, the guard they let go because he had a broken arm.
We see Lambro in interrogation at NCIS with DiNozzo standing guard waiting for Gibbs. Lambro has a cast on his arm and is scratching beneath it with a pencil. Gibbs comes in and questions him and pretty much goes straight into angry Gibbs from the beginning (well they are working very much against the clock and he is clearly concerned about McGee). And then Lambro tells him that Trimball didn't want to stop the drugs, in fact he headed up the smuggling.
In the squad room DiNozzo, Ziva and Gibbs are talking about Trimball and we learn his step brother was a known drugs' dealer. And they are wondering if Lambro poisoned Trimball so he could take over the drugs' ring. Abby then calls and asks Gibbs to go down to her lab.
Back at the prison McGee has managed to hack into Trimball's email account. Celia goes over to him and says 'and you call us criminals'. All Mr. Nice Tim has gone and he snaps 'You are'. And then we see a very shudder making picture: it is Trimball sitting on a bed with a maybe mid-teenage girl on his knee. She looks petrified.
Back at HQ Abby is telling Gibbs that she may have over-stepped the mark but she called the prison and got Lambro's schedule as she wanted to see how it tied in with the anti-freeze being given to Trimball. However, it couldn't have been Lambro as he was away at the time Trimball was first given it. And she then tells Gibbs that if anyone at the prison asks, she's Gibbs's boss. Gibbs gives her a fond smile. She then tells him that the DNA on the bedsheets wasn't a direct match for anyone in the prison, but it belonged to a relative of someone in the prison.
And that someone was Zoe Bowers, Sharon's eldest daughter. Gibbs talks to her and she confesses that Trimball saw her when she visited her mom and then found out which school she went to and then basically forced her to have sex with him and even shot her up - between her toes. She thinks she killed him because it was her who laced his drink with anti-freeze. She's surprised when she hears he didn't die that way.
Back at the prison, McGee asks Sharon how she found out about Trimball and her daughter, he was showing the picture to his fellow guards and she found out via one of them. And then we learn she also has a ten and a twelve year old daughter and she desperately wants to go home and take care of them.
Gibbs is back and again he's trying to persuade the Warder not to send in the food and ambush the women.
Out in the main room one of the women report the food is on its way, and McGee is trying to persuade Sharon to confess, because if she doesn't the guards will storm the room and people will get hurt or even killed. She's in tears saying she just wants to go home to her daughters, but she knows that won't happen now. And then the woman says the food isn't coming - it appears the Warder did listen to Gibbs.
Gibbs then calls McGee to tell him about Sharon, but McGee says he knows. Gibbs gives him two minutes. When McGee hangs up Sharon has gone; her and Celia are in the small room talking, Sharon is crying and I knew what was going to happen. And I knew what they were discussing and what was going to happen.
Then they come out and Celia says: "Tell the Warder he can have Trimball's killer."
Outside it is clearly cold as Gibbs is blowing on his hands, there are armed guards on the roofs and the Warder is with Gibbs. DiNozzo is telling Ziva how some days the job really sucks. Trimball raped and drugged a minor and her mother trying to protect her will now have a much longer sentence. And that was the nice DiNozzo, the compassionate DiNozzo, the caring DiNozzo.
McGee comes out and goes to Gibbs.
The Warder asks where Sharon is.
McGee says she's saying goodbye.
DiNozzo then asks McGee if he's okay, and it was a genuine enquiry, one not only of team mate but friend too. It doesn't quite make up for the nasty DiNozzo earlier, but it goes part of the way.
McGee says he is.
Ziva asks if anyone had hurt him, because if she she'd kick their ass. Again very nice, they are close knit.
Again McGee says he's fine.
And then, as I was fully expecting, out comes Celia.
McGee: "That's not what I was expecting to see." Weren't you, Timmy? Because I was.
Celia puts down the home made knife that 'she' killed Trimball with. She says she did it because of what he was doing to Sharon's daughter and that Sharon knew nothing about it, in fact she didn't want it.
Then she goes to Gibbs and McGee and says she also killed Polleto and she was sorry she did - and she sounded it. I don't think that was just a put on, I think that she has, made her peace. She did so by confessing to a crime she didn't commit and whilst it doesn't and can't ever undo three other murders, it did show she wasn't entirely bad. And my feeling was that part of the fact she did confess was all down to McGee and the way he treated the women and tried to help.
She says she'll write it down - they have their confession. And Gibbs smiles at McGee.
Back at HQ the field team get out of the lift discussing the confession. DiNozzo wonders if anyone really believed Celia, but no one will care, they have their confession. Gibbs calls McGee 'Tim' and tells him to write the case up.
Abby is waiting for them and opens her arms and gives McGee a really long hug and he hugs her back - a wonderful Abby/McGee moment.
Ziva says they had total confidence in him, but McGee sees one of the morphed photos and points out they couldn't have.
And then his phone rings. It's the garage again. DiNozzo and Ziva are expecting more 'nice McGee' but McGee shows his steely side and tells the man on the other end of the phone that not only is his car to be ready and waiting for him when he leaves the building in thirty minutes, but the cost will be the first estimate less ten percent. He adds that he puts away killers for a living and hangs up. During the call DiNozzo and Ziva are looking at McGee almost in a state of stunned silence. Abby is wowed by this and tells him she likes this McGee.
Like Ducky, McGee does have a steel edge to him and you can only push him so far.
A good story-line, I enjoyed the twists of the case, the various really good red herrings (several of them - Brenda, Lambro and the Warder). I thought the inmates were portrayed well and they came over as a good balance insofar as you weren't meant to feel sorry for them, they were mostly genuine killers some with no remorse at all, but yet they had a glimmer of humanity about them too. You couldn't hate them to the extent that you didn't care about them.
McGee was excellent, he really was. I loved how his character changed throughout the episode, how he grew before our eyes.
Gibbs trust in him was total.
Some wonderful Abby/McGee moments - an A/Mc shippers episode.
A wee bit of Gibbs/McGee.
And of course I can see Gibbs/Ducky in all looks *g* But as always they are so easily seen as G&D too.
The don't blink or you'll miss him Ducky scenes were nice as they focussed on him and Gibbs and we had their usual closeness, etc. Of course I'd have liked more Ducky, but it was understandable why there was so little.
Abby was totally in character for Abby and her concern for McGee didn't go OTT at all.
No Vance - they seem to have learnt (I hope) their lesson insofar as not showing the Director merely for the sake of showing him, when he had no real part to play. Although one could argue that with one of his staff being held hostage he might well have needed to be in the loop.
No Jimmy :-( But again no real role for him.
Ziva was fine this week.
DiNozzo mostly irritated me. I wish they'd lose nasty DiNozzo, it doesn't do him any credit at all. Plus once again we had him being the joker, the one who messes around, but the one who always gets caught. That is the only saving grace, he doesn't get away with his nasty comments.
All in all a very good episode.