I went into this episode knowing the barest about it: DiNozzo and Ziva go to Paris and have to share a room. Plus, I'd read a little bits of interviews that basically said it was an episode whereby the DiNozzo/Ziva fen could take the whole thing the way they wanted to, the non-DiNozzo/Ziva fen could take it the way they wanted to. Having seen it . . . I imagine the DiNozzo/Ziva fen are very happy; I'm not a huge DiNozzo/Ziva fan, I do ship them somewhat, but I saw it the way DiNozzo/Ziva fen would see it; to me it was very clear. Having said that, I thought the whole thing was very well done, not overplayed, not totally blatant, but just enough to make anyone who wants to see them as being together in Paris to see it.
And we had a case, in fact we had two cases in a way! So all to the good, and a real case, and cases where they were the focus rather than the personal lives. The DiNozzo/Ziva thing was woven into the case, not the other way around as has been the situation for far too many episodes. There was some great banter, especially between DiNozzo and Ziva, and some lovely shippy moments overall. No one needed to be slapped; it was very nicely done.
My big 'issue' with it, is why, oh, why, are the baddies so utterly and totally obvious? This week both of them, especially the man, couldn't have been clearer if he'd stood up and said 'hey, I'm the bad guy'. And the red herrings . . . Please, get some believable red herrings. It rarely bothers me when I spot the baddie in seconds of meeting them or the red herrings are poor, but in this episode, despite enjoying it, it did irk me somewhat. It was the weak point of the episode. Oh, and as anyone who has read my reviews on a regular basis will know, the constant switching back between DC and the plane irked me somewhat. It was better than some of these things have been, a lot better. But I never like it.
The episode starts with the outside of a very impressive and clearly expensive looking apartment building. A cleaner/house keeper/maid (whatever) is letting herself into one of the rooms. It's a total mess and she's commenting that the man, Mr. Parsons, will have to pay her extra for cleaning up after him. She hears a noise and goes to investigate. A cat comes out of the bathroom and she, surprised that the cat was in there, goes in. She pulls the shower curtain back and there's the body of a man covered with kitty litter (I thought it was sand at first, until we had the shot in the crime scene scene showing the kitty litter). She doesn't scream - yay for a non-screaming character who finds a body.
McGee is in the squad room with his feet up on his desk watching something on his computer (I do wish McGee would go back to non-dressing down; I much prefer him in smart trousers, shirt and tie and jacket than jeans, but I digress). Vance appears and asks where DiNozzo and Ziva are. McGee says their flight had been delayed and Vance says is McGee sure; Paris is hard to leave. McGee assures him that DiNozzo and Ziva don't like travelling together, in fact they don't like doing anything together. This comment sets up a theme that recurs throughout the episode the 'me thinks the lady doth protest too much' theme. Vance isn't happy because SecNav wants his witness - the person DiNozzo and Ziva have gone to Paris to escort back to DC.
In Paris Ziva is sitting at a table, outside a café; she's on the phone to McGee and tells him DiNozzo has gone to see the sites. DiNozzo then arrives on a motor scooter. He sits down and says he loves Paris. He's in a very good mood and there is lots of eye contact and gentle flirting going on between he and Ziva and he makes a comment about the previous night and how well he slept and wonders if Ziva didn't sleep well, adding that she certainly looked as if she was sleeping well. So it is already told that they spent the night in the same room and he was near enough to her to see her asleep. He'd never been to Paris before the only knowledge he had of it was from La Grenouille and his rather lovely daughter. At the mention of Jeanne, Ziva becomes less happy. They then drive off; Ziva on the back of the scooter holding onto DiNozzo. They did, in that little moment, look like a lovely couple. A very good DiNozzo/Ziva scene.
Back in the squad room McGee is checking the flight schedule and tells Vance they are due to leave Paris that afternoon. Gibbs then arrives and tells McGee they are going on a trip of their own. Vance asks if it's to anywhere exotic (Gibbs/McGee fen could read this as Vance knowing about them and not actually minding). Gibbs tells them it's down town. McGee asks if it's just the two of them, Gibbs tells him it's them, plus Ducky and a dead Marine.
At the crime scene the dead Marine is Sergeant Mark Parsons who worked in the Special Ops command. Ducky tells Gibbs that as DiNozzo isn't there he feels honour bound to make a film reference. Gibbs opens his hands and indulges Ducky (as he so often does) and tells him to go ahead. So Ducky does; he uses Psycho and the shower scene (and that's a reference that even I got - not that I've seen the film, I don't like horror films, but the shower scene is pop culture). Gibbs asks if he's now happy and Ducky says he is. He tells Gibbs Parsons has been dead for between thirty-six and forty-eight hours, but the kitty litter, which is excellent at covering up odours, would have kept the smell of the body under control. Had the cleaner not found him when she did, he could have been there for quite a lot longer. McGee comes in to tell Gibbs he'd found a safe and also that a lot of expensive things had been left behind. Parson's lives way above his means. There is a lot of eye contact and smiles between them, and Gibbs indulges Ducky - very nice Gibbs/Ducky moments.
DiNozzo and Ziva escort a woman, Nora Williams, onto the plane. She is the witness in a major fraud case whom they are protecting. There is some nice banter between them all and we quickly learn that Nora is very, very nice, and naive really, despite what she discovered over the fraud she just sees the good and likes a happy ending. She is testifying because it is the right thing to do. They see a man putting a bag into the overhead locker and Ziva goes to talk to him. He is Federal Air Marshal Art Neely; he's done a head count and he's checked the passenger list and nothing has alerted him. A female flight attendant then appears to tell DiNozzo to sit down as they are taking off; he asks for a hot towel, but she informs him that's only in first class. There was something about her that tweaked by spider sense. I know flight attendants in effect, put on a cheery smile and an 'act' but she seemed too false; everything about her made me on guard.
Back at the crime scene, McGee is drilling the safe to open it. Inside is a box of six very expensive watched. But Gibbs is more interested in the papers. They find stuff relating to the murder of a multi-millionaire several months ago and Gibbs figures Parsons is a hit man. Then they find an unused ticket for Paris, on the flight DiNozzo and Ziva are on and a file on Nora. The dead man was going to kill the whistle blower.
McGee is telling Gibbs about Parsons; he was a good Marine, but a loner. Ballistics have matched the gun they found in the safe to the murdered multi-millionaire; they've solved a case - just not theirs. Parsons's file on Nora was extensive. And we learn that Nora has a fiancé - Daniel Sturgis. Gibbs says he wants to talk to him, Vance appears to say that's all in hand; Daniel works within the Navy Yard for Ray Beringer - the guy on whom Nora is going to blow the whistle (she also works for Beringer).
We then meet Daniel and instantly my spider sense went into over-drive. He told Gibbs and Vance how he'd tried to talk Nora out of testifying but that she insisted on doing it. He then goes on about how they should arrest Beringer, but they have no grounds on which to do so. They have no evidence. We learn that Beringer is milking the navy for millions. His company have the contract for repairs to naval vessels and he as getting the navy to pay for repairs that hadn't been requested. All the paperwork supporting this had vanished and now all they have is Nora's memory - would that be enough? Would that really have stood up in Court? No evidence; just an employee's memories? I find it hard to believe that a good lawyer, and let's face it Beringer would be able to afford a really good one, wouldn't just make a mockery of that.
Daniel was just so blatantly the bad guy; his I tried to stop her and his focus on them arresting Beringer so he couldn't hurt Nora were meant to come over as just him being the loving, caring, concerned fiancé, but they came over as 'this man is seriously up to something'. It pointed to him having hired the hit man to stop Nora from testifying because in fact he was the person stealing from the navy, not Beringer. At that point that's what I thought it was. I though Beringer might actually turn out to be innocent. But Daniel was utterly guilty from the second I saw him and he opened his mouth.
On the plane DiNozzo is showing Nora some of the photos he took and said he often thought he should have done something more creative. She gently tells him he's doing the right job. When he asks what's wrong with the pictures she says they have no soul; basically, as Ziva points out, they are crime scene photos (I guess if your whole career has involved taking crime scene photo after crime scene photo, that is what you are good at taking). Nora says he should take pictures with people in them. She asks if he and Ziva went site seeing together, but they say they shared a flight and a hotel room, as there was only one available (I wonder what was going on in Paris whereby there was only one hotel with one room?). Nora says she met Daniel through work and DiNozzo mentions Rule #12 - 'Never date a co-worker'. Ziva then asks how Nora and her fiancé make it work and she asks if Ziva and DiNozzo want advice. They both adamantly say 'no', but it was another case of 'methinks the lady . . .' Their 'no' was a little too forceful. Ziva says they don't always get along; DiNozzo adds that they never get along, but they then share a knowing look and smile.
Ziva then tells DiNozzo about the case on which Gibbs and McGee are working and Nora asks if it involves her. Nora sees DiNozzo's picture of the Sacred Heart and says that's where Daniel proposed to her; she'll miss Paris, but at least now she'll get to see him. There are more looks between DiNozzo and Ziva.
In Autopsy, Ducky is talking to Parson's about Gaston La Rue and how he came up with The Phantom of the Opera after a chandelier had fallen onto patrons watching a performance and killed several men. He talks about how he was a good man hiding a dark secret, just like Parsons who was an honourable Marine masquerading as a hit man. Gibbs arrives at that moment and tells Ducky actually it was the other way around and he asks if Ducky has any more metaphors. Ducky tells him La Rue's book is full of them. Gibbs smiles his fond just for Ducky smile as he looks at him. Ducky tells Gibbs Parsons was killed by a single blow to the back of the neck and shows him the x-rays. There were no defensive wounds, the killer was precise and professionally trained.
Then we have a wonderful, for Gibbs/Ducky fen, scene as Gibbs is about to leave.
Ducky: "It's been a long time since I've visited Paris, or been to the theatre for that matter."
Gibbs: "You asking me on a date, Duck?"
Major squee at this end and I'm sure amongst my fellow G/D fen.
At that moment Abby interrupts them, so we don't know what Ducky would have said,
Gibbs and McGee are in interrogation with 'the' Holly Snow. She asks McGee if he's heard of her and he tells her he has. She is a well known DC madame, who is rich and powerful and also very good at avoiding arrest. Gibbs asks her when the love business turned into death. She tries to act innocent, saying she only hooks people up with one another and provides on-line services. But he pushes her about hit men and basically says she'll be seen as an accessory and asks who wanted Nora dead. She says she doesn't know names, but she does have an account number with half a million dollars in it - but she'll only give it to him if she gets a plea deal. He says no way, but she goes onto say that she can think of half a million reasons why Parsons was killed. Pro contracts are not exclusive; it's a competitive business. McGee comments that the hit man killed the hit man and whoever kills Nora gets the cash.
On the plane Ziva tells Neely that the plane will be met by Homeland Security and then they'll hand over to NCIS. They have to assume that the new hit man will try something, maybe on the ground or even on the plane. Neely tells Ziva one passenger, a man in row 16 Stephen Parker (who is sitting behind a woman knitting) is acting slightly oddly. He's constantly got headphones on, he ignores the flight crew, hasn't had anything to eat or drink, yet has been to the loo half a dozen times. Parker is meant to be a red herring, but he was a very poor one. The way he was behaving wasn't an act, it was genuine. It was so clear he wasn't a hit man.
DiNozzo has just stood up, but the lights come on to tell passengers to sit down and put their seat belts on. Then the plane moves less than smoothly and DiNozzo is thrown down onto Nora. The flight attendants, a man and a woman, appear and offer Nora water. But DiNozzo won't let her take the glass offered; he insists they open a new bottle in front of them and give her that. The male attendant obliges and as he and he and the female attendant go, he comments that DiNozzo is another one for the watch list; she says he's already on it. Nora comments that it might be because she's in love, but basically she think that people aren't bad at heart - DiNozzo and Ziva exchange another look. As I said, Nora is somewhat naive.
Vance tells Gibbs the US Attorney's Department is dragging its heels over the Holly deal as it looks a bit odd for them to be getting into bed with someone who keeps a little black book - but he's sure they will go for it. Gibbs tells McGee to 'go' and McGee tells them that none of the passengers on the flight threw up a red light, but that Neely had in fact requested an earlier flight back to DC and when that was denied, he swapped duties with another Air Marshall so he could be on 'Nora's flight. Enter red herring number two (make that enter bad red herring number 2). Vance makes the point that they do not want to spook the only other person on the plane with a gun.
On the plane Ziva is apparently looking for something in the overheard locker. Neely arrives and says she has the wrong bag. She says that he has a good eye and basically mildly flirts with him. It was actually, to my mind, fairly poorly done; she's played that part much better. He should have been instantly on his guard and wondering what she was up to - especially if he had been the hit man she was very clearly showing her hand.
At that moment DiNozzo arrives with Ziva's book; he makes a comment to Neely about her still reading American history and yawns. Then he tells Neely that he's just finished reading the Twilight series and has recommended them to Ziva as they are very romantic. Ziva then slips between them, picking Neely's pocket as she goes, whilst DiNozzo offers to lend book four to Neely and he says he's 'Team Edward'. Again it was so clumsy. Neely looked at them as if they were mad and I don't blame him. I did feel that scene was very un-DiNozzo and Ziva-like; they were acting on the belief that Neely was the hit man, so what had they just done? Tipped him off that they were on to him. Now maybe the idea was to stop him from what he was going to do and make him think twice, but with the show they put up if I'd been a hit man, I'd have thought I was up against two amateurs.
Nora asks if everything is okay and DiNozzo says how Ziva has picked the pocket of a meant to be good guy. There's then a nice little 'hand holding' scene as Ziva hands DiNozzo Neely's cell phone and tells him to get Abby to run the record of calls on it. They play the lovers in that scene for anyone who might be watching (say Neely) and do it well. Nora comments they are a great team; Ziva says it's not always so smooth. DiNozzo says Ziva's less snarky, Paris has changed her. Again a very nice scene and great for DiNozzo/Ziva fen.
There has been an incident at Beringer Marine; Daniel attacked Beringer because he made a crack about Nora. Gibbs goes into see Beringer who wonders why NCIS are involved as it's already been sorted by security and he tells Gibbs the joke he made that made Daniel hit him. The fact Daniel did hit out was yet, to me, more evidence that he was deeply involved and trying hard to cover his tracks.
Back on the plane, Abby has found no connection between Neely and Parsons. They wonder where Neely is and realise he's been in the loo for a long time - so they both, both, go leaving Nora alone - huh? Surely to goodness they wouldn't do that? Very unprofessional. Ziva breaks in and we find Neely dead; he's been killed by a knitting needle in the back of his neck and his gun is missing. Bang goes bad red herring number 2 At that moment Parker appears and is hastily sent away.
Back at DC it turns out that Neely was divorced and had a twelve year old daughter and the reason he wanted an earlier flight home was to see her school play. The poor man. Vance appears and they decide Neely was killed because he got too close - still trying to fool us into thinking it was Parker, but it isn't going to work. And it does now confirm that the hit man who killed Parker is on the plane.
Vance then tells Gibbs Beringer called SecNav after Gibbs's little 'visit'. He also tells him the plea deal for Holly has gone through.
On the plane the female flight attendant is telling the passengers that the loo in which Neely was found is out of order and they are to use the other one. Ziva is looking at the people and a woman meets her eye and once again Parker has his headphones on and looks nervous. Ziva then goes to sit back next to Nora (again she'd been left alone, with a killer on the lose - very poor show) and she is now somewhat concerned. She asks Ziva how Neely was killed; at first Ziva doesn't want to tell her, but Nora pushes so Ziva does tell. Nora says Ziva is so direct, so honest, so different from DiNozzo; they complement one another. And she asks if Ziva is sure nothing has ever happened between them; Ziva again denies it; again to my ears the denial was far too much and once again 'methinks the lady doth . . .' sprang to mind. Ziva then asks why Nora keeps asking about DiNozzo and herself and Nora says because they remind her of Daniel and herself. They talk about the one hotel room and Ziva says she took the couch, otherwise DiNozzo would have complained during the entire flight.
Meanwhile DiNozzo is in the loo with Neely's body and Ducky is on the web cam. DiNozzo asks Ducky if it qualifies them for the mile high club and Ducky very pointedly and askance says "certainly not." He then says he's surprised that DiNozzo is not already a member; DiNozzo points out he hadn't said that. Why would anyone want to have sex in a loo in a plane? Why? Anyway, Ducky asks DiNozzo to move the laptop so that he can see the body and the wound more clearly. DiNozzo obliges. Ducky says it looks as if the knitting needle severed the spinal cord between the second and third vertebrae, it would have been quick and quiet, someone could just open the door, stab and go away again. And who is invisible most of the time on a plane? The flight attendants. Ducky says if he had a high resolution picture he could confirm his theory. DiNozzo takes his camera, and spies a possible partial print, out to take one, but his memory card is full. He is agonising over which picture to erase; Ducky tells him if he has any of the pyramid outside the Louvre to delete them, as it's a monstrosity. Finally, DiNozzo closes his eyes and deletes something.
Gibbs arrives in Abby's lab and is moving oddly; Abby hasn't had time to clean up and there is kitty litter all over the place - including in Abby's hair. She says she doubted the hit man would have thought they could process a mid-flight crime scene. She has a bloody partial print. At that moment McGee calls; Holly Snow is there - Gibbs goes, after telling Abby she can't meet Holly.
Vance tells Holly the deal has gone through, but she still won't hand over the information. So Gibbs takes the file and goes into Gibbs charm mode. She claims that he likes it rough and that she can read people, he shrugs and goes along with her, he's teasing her, and flirting with her to his own ends. She clearly can't read people very well if she thinks Gibbs likes it rough! He says there's a time and place for everything; she asks if he wants to play - he declines. He then shows her the picture of Nora and says if she dies the deal is off and they'll add murder to Holly's other charges; he too can read people. She does than hand over the account number.
Back on the plane Nora is asleep and once again DiNozzo and Ziva leave her alone. I really was struggling to get my head around why they would do this. There's a hit man on the plane; they know that, but they go off and leave their prize witness alone and unwatched? No way! I just found it hard to buy they'd be so unprofessional. Parker is again behaving oddly and they tackle him; he claims to have dropped a battery as he was changing them in his CD player. DiNozzo doesn't believe him and asks who buys CDs these days (er, I do, DiNozzo!); Ziva has him in a neck lock and he explains the flight crew wouldn't seat him next to his wife and no one would change seats so that he could. DiNozzo then finds the battery - so we've ruled out poor red herring number two. At that moment Nora appears; she can barely breathe and has blue lips. She collapses in Ziva's arms.
They call Ducky, who is on his way back into Autopsy with a mug of tea, and tell him her symptoms - coughing, wheezing, lips and tongue blue and swollen. From them he ascertains she's having an allergic reaction and needs an epi pen. But there isn't one; then Parker appears with his. Ziva isn't keen on using it, but DiNozzo decides to trust him - well without it Nora's going to die, so it's a good risk and sticks it into her. She recovers. Ducky tells them to keep an eye on her and to put her on oxygen for the rest of the flight. Ziva picks up the pillow Nora was sleeping on and smells peanuts; the pillow is lined with peanut dust which Nora inhaled as she slept. And who gives out the pillows? Flight attendants.
Back in DC Gibbs is with Abby who tells him the female flight attendant, Tiffany Chase, was in DC when Parsons was killed - yes! I knew my spider sense was working well. Abby had also managed to track her bank accounts, because with DiNozzo and Ziva away and McGee so busy, she ended up doing it. And there were various large deposits spread out over a period of time. She was clearly very good at her job - and as with Parsons, Tiffany had a 'day job'.
McGee has run the account number Holly gave them and traced it to an offshore account accessible only by Nora and Beringer (and of course Daniel).
On the plane the male flight attendant is collecting up bottles and stuff and DiNozzo finds Tiffany; a fight ensues, DiNozzo bangs his head, Tiffany tries to 'run', Ziva joins in and she's the one to subdue Tiffany.
Gibbs and McGee go to Beringer and McGee cuffs him. Beringer denies virulently being the one to put a hit on Nora and says they'll find he didn't access the offshore account - so did Nora put a hit on herself? Ah, no, wait, we have . . . Daniel, the loving, caring, devoted fiancé! McGee and Gibbs track him to the garage and call out to him to stop; he doesn't - well he's not going to, is he?
He drives towards them, they fire at him, the car isn't going to stop, Gibbs pushes McGee out of the way, thus saving his life. However, the car hits him and he rolls over the bonnet and off onto the ground. McGee, not realising Gibbs has been hurt, gets up and runs to the car to see Daniel bleeding. He calls out to Gibbs telling him he'll call and ambulance. When Gibbs doesn't answer, his boss becomes extremely concerned. Gibbs then appears and the suddenly hapless and back to Seasons 1 & 2 McGee asks him if he hit his shoulder. Gibbs snarls that no, the car hit it, and he kicks the car. He then pulls out his cuffs and throws them across the car to McGee who cuffs Daniel. Gibbs walks off; he's damaged his right shoulder.
The flight lands and Nora is talking to Ziva whilst DiNozzo takes a phone call; despite everything she is still going to testify. And she repeats how she likes happy endings. But we, and DiNozzo, know she isn't going to get one, don't we? She comments about seeing Daniel and DiNozzo lets her know he has something to tell her. Poor Nora.
In the squad room DiNozzo is looking at the prints of his pictures; he comments that like Boggy and Bergman, he and Ziva will 'always have Paris'. (I love Casablanca, it's one of my favourite films) and they exchange more looks. McGee comments that Nora won't. Beringer stole from the navy; Daniel stole from Beringer - and his crime would also have come out, had Nora testified. What a bastard; to order hits on his fiancée to protect his own backside. Nasty, man.
Gibbs then arrives with a sling on his arm. McGee asks after his arm, but Gibbs ignores him and stride off. DiNozzo starts to tease McGee saying when he makes a mistake, he really makes a mistake. He's quite gleeful, but Gibbs yells at him, telling him it was an accident and he calls McGee to go with him to MTAC. As McGee goes he asks DiNozzo who took the couch; DiNozzo says he did - they tossed for it. Oh, yeah, DiNozzo?
Alone DiNozzo and Ziva exchange more looks and Ziva asks DiNozzo why he lied to McGee; he counters it with why did she lie to Nora. He then finds the best picture; the only one with a person in it. He shows it to Ziva who smiles and seems to like it. Then we see it, it's Ziva outside a postcard stand, the wind catching her hair. She comments that it would be better in black and white and she gets her wish as the black and white fade is of the picture.
Personally I thought it was a good episode and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I thought the whole DiNozzo/Ziva thing was very well done, because whilst to my mind clearly something did happen in the one bed in the one room, it was never said out and out. We know they shared the same bed, but that doesn't have to mean, if you don't want it to, that anything happened. They did flirt with one another, there were lots of smouldering looks - but it was still subtly done.
So if you ship DiNozzo/Ziva then you can see it and believe it; if you don't, then you simply take it as two colleagues having a little bit of fun and flirting as friends who know nothing happened. I would hope that it would please DiNozzo/Ziva and non-DiNozzo/Ziva fen alike.
It was nice to have a real case; a case where you know why NCIS were involved and not just thrown in because they needed a case whilst they focus on something personal. It was a good balance.
There were some fun and lovely moments, some good exchanges, it was fairly light, but not too light.
Apart from DiNozzo/Ziva, there were some other lovely ship moments for both Gibbs/Ducky and Gibbs/McGee.
It was DiNozzo and Ziva heavy, but I'd been expecting that. Abby was the character who really lost out to DiNozzo and Ziva's central role this week, whereas Ducky's part was quite solid. And it was very nice to see him back to 'Ducky' and not being weird and keeping food in the Autopsy lockers and making totally inappropriate comments.
Yes, the baddies were as clear as day and the red herrings deplorable. Yes, the leaving Nora alone was hard to believe, but overall I liked the episode.
- DiNozzo and Ziva leaving Nora alone on more than one occasion. If these two are the agency's 'best agents' one does wonder about the agency!
- The baddies being so obvious.
- The red herrings being so obviously fake.
- The jumping, although it wasn't as bad as many times.
- No Jimmy :-( (I know, I sound like a broken record).
- DiNozzo and Ziva in Paris.
- The crime scene Gibbs and Ducky bits.
- Gibbs and Ducky in Autopsy with the 'date' question.
- DiNozzo in the plane's loo whilst talking to Ducky via the web cam.
- Gibbs saving McGee's life.
- The final DiNozzo & Ziva squad room moments.
Pairing of the week:
Character of the week:
Actor/Actress of the week:
Cote de Pablo
Storyline: 9.25 (I would have given this a higher mark but for the fact DiNozzo and Ziva kept leaving Nora alone).
Enjoyment: 9.25 (I would have given this a higher mark but for the fact DiNozzo and Ziva kept leaving Nora alone).