The first of the 'cross-over' with the possible spin-off show episodes, already talked about in great detail prior to airing. In passing, if it gets picked up, I definitely won't be watching, not that I thought I would be, but now I can safely say that none of the team appealed to me. I found them mostly cardboard cut-outs and boring, a couple had their moments, but there was no gelling between them. In the two JAG 'our' NCIS episodes you knew instantly that Gibbs, Ducky, Abby and DiNozzo had worked together for a while and were close - I got none of those vibes from the OSP characters; they simply seemed like a handful of strangers. And most of all I disliked Lara Macy, I wanted to grab her ponytail and pull it hard. I just didn't care about any of them, which didn't bode well for the rest of the episode and the next one.
Before I do what probably won't be my normal lengthy review, may I just say:
a) Writers - there are 26 letters in the alphabet 26, not two or six, but 26. Why, oh, why, oh, why do you keep on giving characters who are going to appear in the same episode names that begin with the same letters? And really the same name! Michael Rivkin and Mike Renco.
b) 1991 - AGAIN!!!!! How much more can one man cram into one year. Yes, Gibbs and Macy know one another back 18 years to . . . 1991. Oh, please. At least we do know that she was a Lieutenant in the Military Police and Gibbs was still a Gunny. And they didn't sleep together - let's be thankful for small mercies.
We begin in LA a man (Chandler) is walking along carrying a bag and he's under surveillance by OSP. His code name is 'Blackbird' and he's also being followed, on foot, by Special Agents Sam Hanna and Kensi Blye. Shots are fired, several cars run into one another and Chandler flees.
In DC McGee and DiNozzo are getting out of the lift arguing about er, whether they are arguing or not. Now that was a nice little scene, 'old style' banter. They break off their argument when Ziva's phone rings, DiNozzo answers it, says Ziva isn't there, but then she appears and begins talking to the person in her own language. DiNozzo watches for a moment and then goes back to his argument with McGee - which he actually says is banter, not an argument and they go back to arguing about well whether they are arguing or not. If I say that was one of the highlights of the episode for me, it kind of says a lot, doesn't it? McGee ends it by saying it's DiNozzo's turn to fetch the coffee.
At which point (on cue) Gibbs arrives and says: "Don't argue, DiNozzo. Cant' we all just get along?"
Ziva hangs up and Gibbs tells McGee there's no time for coffee as they have a dead Marine. As they are leaving, DiNozzo passes a comment to Ziva about long distance relationships being hard but she ignores him.
At the scene we find Chandler's body played out in an X kind of in mid-air, as he's in a large open space high up in a building and there are wires over his chest, attached to a battery. McGee points out his left shoe is missing, but DiNozzo dismisses that. Ducky arrives and comments about it being a beautiful view, one that Chandler wouldn't have been able to appreciate. He was suffocated to death via the battery sending currents through his body. It would have been a long, painful, terrifying way to die and he would have been fully conscious. They clearly wanted him to suffer. Gibbs adds "Or talk."
Back at the office McGee has done his check on Chandler and he was an exemplary Marine. He had been in LA and had booked his flight to DC at the gate and had booked a hire car but never picked it up - someone picked him up instead. McGee then finds that someone already has a BOLO out on Chandler: NCIS does.
In MTAC Gibbs and Vance are talking and looking at the footage from LA. Vance tells Gibbs that Chandler's mother had been beaten and Chandler had been blackmailed/threatened into doing the job because if he didn't his mother would be killed. Chandler had agreed to work with NCIS, but then there was the shooting and he was trying to get home to see him mom. Vance thinks the case in LA, which is an arms deal, is linked with Chandler's death - er, well, yes. He tells Gibbs to go and to take someone with him. Gibbs asks if Macy is still in charge of the LA office.
Vance. "You got a problem with that?"
Gibbs. "She might."
Vance. "Well you're on the same team, work it out."
Down in the squad room DiNozzo is once again prying and asking Ziva if the man who called her has a name. She says he does, which was another nice moment. And finally she tells him it's Michael.
Gibbs arrives and tells McGee to grab his toothbrush. McGee's face lights up as he asks if it's a road trip and before Gibbs can say anything DiNozzo asks where they're going. Gibbs tells him he's not going anywhere; it's just McGee who is going with Gibbs himself to OSP in LA. Some nice fodder for Gibbs/McGee fans. DiNozzo's face falls and he is not a happy bunny. Gibbs says he needs DiNozzo to follow up on Chandler in DC. Ziva asks what OSP is and DiNozzo tells her 'Office of Special Projects' dealing with surveillance and undercover work.
McGee. "Super cool toys." Ah, Timmy will be in his element.
Ziva then gets another call; we assume it to be from Michael again.
McGee says to DiNozzo that the boss knows who's got his back and DiNozzo says he's also got his ear. It's a five and a half hour flight to LA, McGee will have to talk to Gibbs. He's slightly cutting, but not much, more like the sulky boy who isn't going with Daddy, which we've seen any time Gibbs takes someone other than him somewhere. He says McGee should brush up on his boat building skills for buy sniper's weekly and tells McGee not to talk about marriage, divorce or Vance - I thought that 'and Vance' was an interesting addition. McGee hurries off.
Ziva asks DiNozzo to cover for her and before he can say anything; she goes. He's now standing in Gibbs's part of the squad room with all four phones ringing. Poor DiNozzo.
Gibbs appears in Abby's office and she'd just got off the phone with Macy whom from a comment she makes very soon she has already taken a dislike to - again that's nicely consistent, because Abby really does not like other females having anything to do with 'her' men, nor does she like being told what to do by anyone who isn't Gibbs. Macy has asked to be copied in on all of Abby's findings. Gibbs tells Abby that if she finds anything she should call him first and then copy Macy. He tells her he's going to LA.
Abby. "Into the lioness's den?"
He kisses her cheek and says he's taking McGee with him. She says the last time they went to LA one of them didn't come back.
Gibbs. "I'll bring him back, Abbs." Nice - a teeny Abby/McGee moment. And he goes.
Abby. "Just make sure you bring yourself back too." A nice Gibbs & Abby scene - or Gibbs/Abby for those who ship them.
Back in the squad room DiNozzo is eating a burger and talking on the phone; he learns that Chandler made one call from the air phone. He is still alone.
Then Ziva calls to tell him she is following up a lead and before he can question her, she hangs up. We then flash to Ziva and see her with Michael; she says she doesn't want to lie to DiNozzo and he says it was just a small lie. He says her father sent his love and she asks what else he sent; in the obvious answer he says "Me." And he covers her hand with his. She doesn't look that happy to see him to be honest.
In LA Gibbs and McGee pull up outside what looks like a warehouse, McGee wonders if they are in the right place, but Gibbs points to the cameras - they are there; outside OSP. McGee is carrying a magazine on boat building and Kensi who lets them in asks if he sails or builds boats, both of which he says 'no' to, he tells her the magazine is a conversation starter - she agrees. She then asks if they managed to get any sleep on the plane, Gibbs says 'yes', McGee 'no'. She then asks if they'd been there before, again Gibbs says 'yes' and McGee 'no'.
They go into a room that in some ways is similar to MTAC as it has large screens and various terminals and techy stuff, but it's clearly of a far higher spec than MTAC. Macy is talking to Vance about the case and he tells her to tell Gibbs to call him when he gets there; she says Gibbs is there. Vance says he knows that Gibbs and Macy are looking forward to working together - you're wicked, Vance, you know that is not true. And he said he'd told the SecNav that his best people were on the case and there are a lot of nervous people in the Pentagon. Everyone in the room, in particular a very tall man, taller than Gibbs and McGee by several inches, who is Operational Psychologist Nate Getz, is watching Gibbs and Macy.
In Macy's office she offers Gibbs coffee and shows him the file on Chandler. The op, which was put together hastily, was to follow him to a meet, but clearly counter-surveillance was being run. Gibbs said her team got made, she denies that. He says she said it herself, it was put together quickly. Chandler was due to meet a man called 'Liam' an arms dealer with money from overseas. He asks about the next meet and she tells him they are meeting a man called Talia.
Macy. "A word of advice, Jethro, let me do my job."
Gibbs. "Like you did the first time we met?"
There is no love lost between these two. He tells her what she offered him was not coffee and leaves. As he does he passes Nate. Macy tells him to get out of her head and he asks if she wants to talk about Gibbs; she doesn't. He tells her that Gibbs doesn't trust her, we didn't need an Operational Psychologist to tell us that, it was clear. Nate said Gibbs's body language told him Gibbs wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. And he then says she should have slept with Gibbs 'way back' and he adds that must have been when he was in Elementary school. Okay, Macy is only meant to be 40, that made her 22 back in 1991, but Nate actually doesn't look that much younger than her, certainly not 'Elementary school' younger. She asks how he knows she didn't and then tells him not to tell her. She then tells him to find Callen (see, why have a 'Callen' and a 'Chandler' - use one of the other 25 letters, writers, not to mention all the 'M' names. Don't these writers know anything?) And she watches as Gibbs and McGee leave the building.
Outside Gibbs calls DiNozzo and tells him to tell him what he's got; he is somewhat peeved when DiNozzo tells him what he hasn't got. Gibbs asks about Ziva, who has just turned up, and DiNozzo covers for her, saying she was following a lead, Ziva indicates it came to nothing. DiNozzo then asked about the flight.
Gibbs. "Swell. McGee kept me entertained." DiNozzo is surprised by this. Gibbs then takes the magazine McGee is still carrying and tells him to stay and keep OSP company; he's going to visit a friend.
Back to DC. Ziva apologies to DiNozzo for taking off the day before (so she didn't return at all) and he says it's not a problem.
Back to LA. Hanna is talking them through the next meet and how they'll be covering it. Macy arrives to learn that Callen still hasn't been found.
Then we move to Gibbs and Callen sitting on a bench overlooking the beach. And we learn they too know one another because Callen asks if Gibbs is still building his boat. Gibbs say he is, but not the same one.
Callen. "Two boat. Three wives."
Gibbs. "Four." Pause. "Wives." He doesn't elaborate.
Callen then asks if Gibbs has seen Macy. In turn Gibbs asks if Callen is still looking, Callen says he is and asks if there's a reason they aren't meeting in a bar. Gibbs points out it's only 10:00 a.m. And then a blonde girl appears on a bike and Callen starts to talk to Gibbs in Russian and Gibbs answers him. When she's gone by he says Callen should have told him he was undercover; he wasn't. It's just the girl arrived from Russia a short time ago and is lonely and if Callen pretends to be part of the Russian Mafia she'll stay away from him. He then tells Gibbs about the meet with Talia who doesn't trust anyone; Callen doesn't like their chances and he mentions it was like their first op in Serbia where Gibbs saved his ass. Gibbs comments it was Moscow, but Callen says that was Petrov, who always needed his ass saving. They shake hands, hug briefly and Callen says the next time they must meet in a bar.
Back at OSP McGee is watching as the cameras are all being set up for the meet with Talia. Callen calls at that point and Hanna says he needs a sound check.
Callen. "Eighteen years. Wouldn't kill you to cut Gibbs a little bit of slack, Mace." She isn't best pleased by that comment. And that's when we do indeed have it confirmed that it was 1991 when Gibbs and Macy met *bangs head on desk*
We then move to the place Callen is meeting Talia. Talia talks about a similar place is cousin owned, but it wasn't as classy. Callen asks if Talia is in the market and he says that he comes highly recommended. Talia says it isn't him who wants stuff, it's his client. Callen asks what Talia needs and mentions various weapons; but Talia wants bigger and talks about 4th of July style - big 'toys'. Callen then asks if Talia is wired ad Talia asks the same. Talia needs the stuff by the following day, which Callen says is far too soon. A waitress hands Talia a piece of paper that another customer gives her which has written on it 'He's a cop'. Talia tells Callen to buzz off and interestingly it's Nate who says to pull Callen out. Callen tells Talia it isn't his client about whom he should be worried.
In OSP they manage to get hooked into a call Talia is making; it's virtually impossible to make anything out, but finally Macy makes out the final word 'Liam', we have a link with Chandler - does anyone care? I don't. Then Hanna helpfully tells McGee (and us) about the case and how Liam had threatened Chandler into carrying the money; McGee asks why not use a bank, Hanna 'reminds' him of the fact it'd have left a paper trail. I know that was to remind the audience, but really McGee would not have asked that question; he's not a rookie any longer he knows all about paper trails. It does annoy me when they do this kind of thing just to give the audience information, but do so in an utterly daft way like this. Hanna goes on to say how Liam had approached Talia for some serious fire power. Gibbs asks Macy if she has a plan - she does; it's Liam. She tells Hanna to brief Gibbs and McGee.
In her office Callen is once again referring back to 18 years ago (yes, we got it, Callen, we know it was the year into which Gibbs poured more than anyone else would have been capable of pouring in three years let alone one). He says that she would have been a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Military Police (at 22?) and Gibbs was still a Gunny. She tells him not to go there. He asks if they worked a case together and she asks why he wants to know. He says because of family, she says he doesn't have any, but he says Gibbs is family and she is too. He asks if she has photos from her in uniform, she says she does but he can't see them. He says he'll just ask Gibbs what happened between them, but she knows he won't. Oh, joy, somehow it's got to tie in with Shannon and Kelly, has it not? So what did our grief stricken Gibbs do when he returned to the Marines that got him into trouble with the MPs? Please, writers, let's stop the angsty Gibbs and his angsty past. Oh, I long for the days of S1&2 more and more.
In DC in Autopsy, Ducky is sitting at his desk and DiNozzo is behind him.
Ducky. "He can be very disconcerting, can't he? Popping up behind you just when you have something to give him."
DiNozzo. "He's a mind reader."
Ducky. "Pretend to be him."
DiNozzo, in a gruffer voice. "What you got, Duck?"
Ducky smiles. "That's very good." Pause. "Jethro. The dreaded paper chase, I'm afraid. I need your signature.
DiNozzo. "Well I'm going to stop being Jethro and revert to being very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo." He does like to use 'his' pet 'very Special Agent'.
He takes the paper from Ducky and asks where he has to sign; Ducky tells him on all seven pages and says whilst he's doing that he can tell him why he came to see him - Gibbs isn't the only mind-reader.
Ducky. "Ah, personal, not professional."
DiNozzo. "It's not what you're thinking."
Ducky. "I wasn't thinking anything. What are you thinking?"
DiNozzo says that he thinks Ziva is worried about something and asks if Ducky knew anything about what happened when she returned to Israel; had she spoken about it. Ducky said she hasn't, but mentions the undercover operation, which DiNozzo knew about. But then Ducky tells him about Ziva being in the bar when it had blown up and mentions her being injured - that DiNozzo did not know. And at that point he moves from Ziva to talking about Chandler. Ducky tells him how he died and also adds that there was skin on the rope he'd been strung up with; the killer will have a nasty rope burn.
Some time later DiNozzo is watching the video of the bomb blast and sees Ziva and also sees a man (Rivkin). he goes to Abby and asks her to run facial recognition on the man; she asks if it's a case and in essence he tells her it's something for him; she mentions Ziva and he neither confirms or denies it. She gets a hit and tells him it is Michael Rivkin, an Israeli banker.
In LA, Gibbs, McGee and Hanna are again looking at the 'tapes' from Chandler's shooting. McGee spots something, a flash, and asks Hanna if he can pull up a trajectory. Hanna does so, by using his fingers and moving them over the screen and bringing up new shots. McGee is excited and says he wants one, adding to Gibbs, budget permitting. Hanna brings up various cameras including a ATM one. McGee goes to input the data, Gibbs leans over him and they see an SUV, but they can't get the plates. And then they see the shooter, it could be Liam. Gibbs tells Hanna to send it to Abby and again using his fingers on the screen he does so. Now McGee is really excited, like a kid in a sweet shop and repeats he really wants one. Hanna says he has problems, but McGee is just transfixed. I'm glad he was, I was just bored by them; I didn't think they were particularly extra special.
In DC Ziva is on the phone, she has a real lead. She has found another man who was killed with the same MO as Chandler. The prime suspects were the Kass brothers but all witnesses disappeared. DiNozzo and Ziva go to the Kass brothers scaffolding business. There is a rather fancy truck and they are looking at the battery and suddenly Ziva spots a shoe, the same shoe that McGee noticed was missing. The Kass brothers appear, DiNozzo identifies himself and they run for it. Ziva catches her man pretty much immediately; DiNozzo chase his up the scaffolding and Kass slips. DiNozzo catches his wrists and asks who paid him; Kass says no one; they owed the man a favour and he says the man was Liam, but didn't know his other name. DiNozzo pulls him up and cuffs him.
Back in LA, Gibbs is once again leaning over McGee looking at Liam's picture. Macy and Callen appear; Macy asks about it and Gibbs's answers are very clipped and short. And then they again pick up a call Talia is making to a Mattie Ray, the man who tipped Talia off in the bar. He says he knew Callen and Talia talks about the past and his current deal. In short Mattie says he can help him and they agree to meet.
Mattie and Talia have met and Gibbs, Macy and Callen arrive. Another car pulls up and it's Liam. Gibbs tells McGee to focus on Liam and McGee is able to see that Liam is carrying, a long barrelled gun. There is a shoot-out and Liam is killed. Both Talia and Mattie are okay and we then learn that Kensi was the waitress in the bar. Mattie introduces himself as Special Agent Mike Renco. Callen finds a motel key on Liam's body and he, Gibbs and Macy go there. They find a case of blank passports, weapons and C4. Whoever Liam was supplying is still around.
In DC DiNozzo asks Abby if she has any more hits, she says does he know how busy she'd been and he does. And she shows him a picture of Rivkin the meant to be banker meeting with Mossad Director Eli David. Ziva has to know him; he tells her to keep quiet about it, she mustn't mention it to anyone, and he deletes the search.
In LA we learn that Liam was Liam Patrick Coyle, a former IRA dealer who went freelance and sold to terrorists. McGee asks why they'd never heard of him and Nate explains about the 'legend' he had a fake ID, a fake life. It goes back to the German Secret Police in the Cold War when someone would have a completely new ID created for them that would stand up to scrutiny from anyone. We then see Callen - he is now Liam; he is a legend.
In DC DiNozzo and Ziva are getting into the lift; Ziva is very subdued. DiNozzo says that he almost misses McGee and asks her if she does; she says she does. He asks if she misses anyone else, Gibbs. she says she misses him some. And then he asks about Rivkin and she says she really misses him. He says that he thought Rivkin was in the US; she says sadly he's not.
In LA. 'Liam's' 'meet' arrives. It's Michael Rivkin.
I was pretty much bored throughout the whole thing. I didn't care about the OSP folk in the slightest and as such the case was just 'blah'.
I got tired very quickly of the 'veiled' references back to Gibbs and Macy's past - yet another thing to drag out.
I got fed up of the switching back and forth from LA to DC.
I wasn't even particularly bothered or interested in why Ziva lied about Rivkin and when it was Rivkin who went to meet with 'Liam' I just noted it down; I wasn't shocked or surprised or gasping or anything. Not that I expected it to be Rivkin, I hadn't given his presence any consideration, but I wasn't surprised when it was him.
Um. I don't care about what other thing Gibbs did in 1991, the whole past thing has long since got old. He said 'goodbye' to Shannon and Kelly in Requiem, almost eighteen months ago - why can't it just be let go now?
As expected Ducky and Abby suffered from the addition of the OSP folk; Brennan's comment about 'our' NCIS not being shafted was, as I expected, not quite the truth. Of course they were, they all were to an extent, Gibbs least of all, but then that's to be expected. But really none of them had their usual screen time.
Abby actually didn't have a role, her sole purpose this week was to find out who Rivkin was for DiNozzo.
Ziva barely had a role, just to look sad and under strain.
DiNozzo had a bit more of one as he had the whole 'digging into what Ziva was up to' which he did do very well - nice to see the competent DiNozzo, but I fear his original motivation was just to pry because that's what he does - and he found out more than he bargained for. It will be interesting to see how he handles it and how Ziva responds. Can they actually have a non-foolish DiNozzo two weeks running? And he got to save the bad guy and thus tying it in with Liam. And of course to dig, into Ziva and Rivkin, Actually, he came out of it reasonably well as far as having a role went.
There were a few nice scenes/moments.
The arguing about arguing.
Ziva answering DiNozzo's 'does he have a name' literally.
McGee and his magazine.
McGee's enthusiasm for the 'cool toys'.
The Ducky & DiNozzo scene.
But really that's about it.
Oh, and I didn't want to slap any of Team Gibbs. In fact their characters were all the way I like to see them, no one was the fool, no one went OTT, they were pretty much 'old style Team Gibbs', just a pity they had to be that way in this episode.
Far too little of 'our' NCIS people, especially Ducky and Abby.
The ship of the week has to be Gibbs/McGee - there was plenty of nice fodder for those folk who write that pairing. Other than that there were a few shippy moments for a few other ships, but not a great deal.