To be honest I really wasn't looking forward to the final three episodes, as I felt the whole 'Mexico' thing had been done to death and then some. We've had it rammed down our throats for at least half of the season, with it being shoe-horned into so many episodes, along with 'drug cartels', etc. I was tired of it weeks ago.
However, even though (as many of you know) I'm not a fan of episodes where we are in two places and keep flipping back and forth and the team are split up and with my reservations, I enjoyed it considerably more than I expected to. I liked the fact that the case in DC was another real case, even if it was split with Abby and McGee's time in Mexico, at least we did have a real naval case.
I thought there was some great team interaction, especially between the field team who really had some excellent banter and no signs at all of nastiness and bitching and getting one over on one another - well only in the fun way that siblings/close friends/team members do. The writing for the threesome has really been good recently, I feel.
It was an episode that hit a range of emotions and actually set things up well for the final two episodes.
Great to see Jimmy and wonderful not to see ELC. I hadn't seen the cast list, but had been expecting her as I'd read a few weeks ago that she was going to be in every May episode, so I was pleasantly surprised and delighted not to see her.
We begin in a breaker's yard where a grandfather has taken his grandson (Tommy); it's Tommy's birthday and Grandpa has arranged for him to crush a car, any car he wants. Grandpa already knew, when he'd seen it, which car Tommy would chose, as it was already set up with a red bow on top. He tells Tommy not to tell him mom and gives him the control pack. Tommy begins to crush the car and asks his grandfather if the car feels it. Grandpa assures him it doesn't, but Tommy asks why it's bleeding. Ooops.
The obligatory squad room scene has Ziva getting out of the lift and carrying a book The Bill Of Rights and she is quoting from it. Meanwhile DiNozzo is talking to his computer and not in a happy way. Ziva asks what he's up to and McGee comments 'annoying me' (nice touch). Ziva asks what apart from that and McGee explains. DiNozzo is having random on-line video chats with unknown people. However, he keeps getting 'nexted' after a few seconds. This is really bothering DiNozzo and he's getting quite annoyed. Finally, he resorts to a false nose, glasses and large eyebrows (Grocho Marx????). He puts them on turns around and . . . Yes, Gibbs is standing there. He tells them they have a dead Marine and DiNozzo should get some self respect. It was a really good, fun scene with a lot of nice interaction between the three members of the field team, just fun banter between three people who are very close to one another.
At the crime scene DiNozzo and McGee continue the banter as DiNozzo is already obsessed by the fact that he keeps getting nexted, and suggests he'd last a lot longer if he had the dead guy as a backdrop (very Tony). McGee tells him he really has to stop.
Meanwhile Grandpa is talking to Gibbs and telling him how he stripped the car yesterday and it was clean and had no body inside. They have lots of security cameras, Tommy tells Gibbs and Ziva, but none have film. Gibbs takes Tommy's hard hat off and gives him his cap for being brave and because it's his birthday. A lovely little touch and so Gibbs, totally in character and the kind of thing he'd do.
Ducky and Jimmy arrive; the dead guy is Marine Corporal Ray Collins. Ducky, in true Ducky fashion, begins to tell Jimmy (and anyone else who might be listening) about the origin of the word 'junk'. Jimmy, as he always is, is fascinated, but Gibbs cuts into the story and wants to know time of death. Undeterred, Ducky calmly suggests to Jimmy they take Collins to a more suitable place. It is then we discover Collins has had his feet cut off. *Meep*
Collins had no family and no friends. He had served in Afghanistan and was about to be charged with a lot of things, nothing that would have put him in jail (probably) but he would have been dishonourably discharged. He hadn't got a mobile phone and his credit cards showed no recent usage. However, DiNozzo had found a motor bike he had, a very flash one. A very expensive one, that he bought to go with his other motor bikes; a very expensive one, as McGee points out, that he shouldn't have been able to afford on his pay.
Down in Abby's lab she gets a call from the Director's assistant; Vance wants to see her. Abby is somewhat freaked and wants to know if 'now' means she can be five minutes as she has a break-through in the case and that usually means Gibbs appears. Gibbs does. Abby is still freaked and tells him she has to see the Director and does he know what happened the last time she had to see the Director; he doesn't. Gibbs refocusses her and we discover that her break-through is actually that Collins wasn't killed by someone in the military as the DNA Ducky sent to her doesn't match any records. Abby also knows about Collins's movements from the night before due to a super-duper watch. She tells Gibbs he jogged, ate and then seemed to stand in the street for two hours. Gibbs giver her a mini-Caf-Pow! and that does not bode well for Abby. She is sure that the fact they were out of 'real sized' ones, plus the Director wanting her does not bode well - it doesn't, as we know. Gibbs tells her it'll be okay because he has her back; he's always had her back and he always will.
Now does the 'last time the Director wanted me' bit refer back to Jenny and when she got Abby to run her father's fingerprints and then wiped the search? Or is it something to do with NCIS: LA? I'm guessing LA as IMS, Gibbs did end up knowing about Jenny asking Abby to help her. So we either have an inconsistency - what a surprise - or it's LA.
In Autopsy, Ducky is quoting a Persian proverb to Jimmy which basically says be grateful for what you have as someone will always be worse off. In turn Jimmy quotes Fred Flintstone Ducky looks puzzled. Gibbs arrives and Jimmy does the 'saved by the bell' and welcomes Gibbs and thanks him for coming to see them, correcting himself to 'Dr. Mallard' and generally being very Jimmy - a lovely little scene. Gibbs just looks at him and turns to Ducky. But before Ducky answers Gibbs, he says to Jimmy 'Yabba, dabba, do'. Jimmy grins; Gibbs looks wide-eyed.
Gibbs asks Ducky what he has and Ducky tells him 'a mess'. He explains how Collins has a huge amount of dislocations, but probably from the crushing. However, he was alive when his feet were cut off (although probably unconscious) and as such bled to death. But he also has another injury not from the crushing; a blow to the head. And then Ducky show Gibbs a welt on Collins's head of 666. Ducky has no idea how it got there. Lots of looks between Gibbs and Ducky during this scene and closeness.
Abby goes to Vance's office and talks to his assistant. In true Abby fashion she babbles on about Vance wanting to see her for the various NCIS resources she's used for non-NCIS things. Vance's assistant assures her it's not for that reason, but adds that Vance does know about them. She tells her that Abby has been invited to go to Mexico by Alejandro Rivera to talk at his symposium, but that Vance doesn't want her to go alone. Abby is happy to go, but hopes it's not McGee who has been assigned as he's not good company when travelling and also he's been acting weird since he saw Rivera flirting with her (oooh, poor Timmy). On cue, who appears but . . . McGee.
Meanwhile DiNozzo and Ziva have arrived at the location Abby gave them. They see a truck and that is apparently where Collins spent two hours - inside. They open it up and find several pairs of feet.
We then flip to Benito Juárez in Mexico. A car pulls up at a large building, Abby jumps out and runs up the steps all excited; she doesn't want to miss anything. McGee tries to calm her, but in the end just follows her. McGee isn't that happy to be there as the last time he was in Mexico he was ill for some time. Abby tells him he should have drunk bottled water. But McGee also shows her a text from DiNozzo about the what now seems to be serial killer.
Rivera appears and again he and Abby flirt, much to the annoyance of McGee (he really does still love her). He tells her she'll be teaching cold case forensics to eager students and she'll be busy. He also tells them there is only one room at the Justice guest quarters. McGee says they'll book into a hotel; Rivera won't allow it due to the unrest over the drug wars, which is the whole reason for the symposium; they'll have to stay in the room together.
Back in NCIS's lock-up garage Ducky and Jimmy are dealing with the feet watched by DiNozzo and Ziva. DiNozzo is making jokes about limbs, etc. when Gibbs appears and asks if he's solved the case, as he clearly has time on his hands. Gibbs really does snap at and seem extra irritated by DiNozzo this week, more so than for quite some time. Ducky says that all the people were unconscious when their feet were cut off. There is also a bath and Ziva says she thinks it had sulphuric acid in it as that was the one acid that could strip bones.
Gibbs asks about the killer and Ducky says he'd have to do a Psychological autopsy on him, but given they have the killer's trophies, it's likely he'll kill again. Gibbs then wants to know who is being targeted. DiNozzo calls Jimmy 'Autopsy Gremlin' (and not in his friendly tone, I guess he was getting back at Jimmy for Gibbs snapping at him) and orders him out of the way. Jimmy does move and DiNozzo shows some feet and says they have bikers' tattoos.
Back in Mexico Abby and McGee are in a classroom; Abby says she's always wanted to be a teacher. Then she asks what McGee is eating; it's yoghurt, but Abby points out it's unpasteurised and in Mexico that's not good. The students arrive; Abby greets them in their own language and they look somewhat askance at her. She's introduces McGee just as he runs off to be sick.
She tells them the lecture is on the forensics of cold cases and they will be working on an actual case from almost twenty years ago - and we know just what that case will be, don't we? She says there isn't a lot of evidence due to shoddy police work. A woman stands up and makes a joke about Abby's clothing. In turn Abby does a 'Sherlock Holmes' on her and basically tears her apart; the rest laugh and the woman sits down.
I have to say, I think Abby went a tad too far with what she said. If she dresses like she does, she has to expect (and has got before) comments. To begin with her put down was good and fun and I was 'cheering her on'. But when she added the woman was ovulating, that to me was taking it too far and getting far too personal.
DiNozzo and Ziva have been 'doing' the bikers' bars and DiNozzo is tired of it; he says this will be the last one. They go in and he tries to get the people's attention, but basically they ignore him. He's concerned and says his mo-jo isn't working, it's not just on-line it's also in the real world. Ziva thinks they might listen to a woman, but the bar-owner (a woman) says she needs a warrant. She basically orders Ziva and DiNozzo out. None of the bikers are interested that a serial killer is targeting bikers.
However, the woman, Velvet Road, follows them; her little scene was for the benefit of her patrons as she wishes to stay in business. She admits to having seen Collins around and says he probably slept with the wrong person's girl-friend; he did sleep with anyone. They ask if she has a name; she has lots.
Back in Mexico Abby and McGee and the class are now out in the field. She asks how a cold case can be solved; ignores the woman who puts her hand up and gets McGee to tell them instead. He talks about new evidence, etc. She says they'll have to find that themselves. She then explains about the case and how it is of Pedro Hernandez (as we knew) and how he was killed at point blank range - but we know differently, don't we? Hernandez's truck is still conveniently abandoned where he was killed (after twenty years?). Abby sees the side window and says that actually the shatter pattern shows he wasn't killed at point blank range, but at a distance - the police got it wrong.
At that moment a truck with two men carrying guns and a woman pull up. They seem intent on killing them. Abby says she's a guest of their government whereby the woman says she'll take her hostage. McGee is very brave as he shows his ID and says he's a valuable hostage and if they let everyone go, they can have him. The woman, who is in charge, is Paloma Reynosa and she says McGee is brave. McGee recognises her name as a drug cartel, she prefers 'family business'. Abby tells her why they are there and which case. Paloma wonders why they are interested in the case from so long ago. Abby tells her the police got it wrong, but Paloma knows Hernandez wasn't shot at point blank range. She says the killer left evidence and produces the shell casing from the bullet She's been wearing it as a necklace; she gives it to Abby suggesting Abby may have better luck with it. Abby promises to do her best. They leave.
Gibbs didn't police is brass? Gibbs? I know he was distraught, not only by the deaths of his girls, but by what he'd just done, but he left evidence behind? Gibbs??? That's akin to learning Father Christmas doesn't exist.
In Autopsy Jimmy is saying that jealousy can drive people to do strange things; Ducky says that any deep rooted insecurity can. Jimmy adds that if he cut the feet off everyone who looked twice at Brenna, he'd be up to his ears in toe cheese. Ducky gives him something; Jimmy asks what it is and Ducky says 'toe cheese'. At that moment Gibbs appears hoping Ducky has more than toe cheese.
Ducky has; he's found that all the feet were preserved in salt, which would also help keep the odour down. Also he knows that whilst it's difficult, it's not impossible, to determine the time of death, he knows when each foot was cut off. During the first part of this scene Ducky is sitting down and looking up at Gibbs. He also has discovered that unlike Collins, all these people were dead from poison when their feet were cut off. Both Gibbs and Ducky who are nice and close are surprised that the serial killer seems to have changed his MO when killing Collins.
Abby and McGee are in the guest room; Abby is wearing black pyjamas with skulls on them. Abby wonders who Paloma is; McGee says she took over the Reynosa drug cartel when her husband died, but Abby doesn't really mean that. She wants to know what connection Paloma had to Hernandez. She has a bad feeling about the case; McGee has a bad feeling about the bed. He asks her if she wants to flip for the couch; she says they've shared a bed before, they can do so again. He points out technically it was a coffin and if they share this bed (a single) he'll be like Quasimodo for a week; she takes a pillow and goes to the couch saying she knows now why Ziva took the couch when she and DiNozzo were in Paris. McGee counters that DiNozzo said he'd taken the couch - they share a 'look' that speaks volumes (if you want to take it that way).
McGee goes into the bathroom to brush his teeth and Abby says she thinks she's developing a gut. McGee comes out and quips that he's noticed she's gained a pound or two. At her look he says he was just joking, adding that actually she looks good, very good, he's noticed recently how good she looks. And just for a second I thought . . . But no, hopes were dashed. She simply gathers her stuff, tells him she's going to sleep on her lab table, not because of what he said, but because he didn't use bottled water to brush his teeth. She goes, he rushes to the bathroom to swill his mouth out - with more non-bottled water. Poor Timmy.
Back at HQ, DiNozzo now has some kind of Haz mask on while holding up a sign saying 'Hi, my name is Tony' and then talking, but he's still getting nexted. Ziva appears. DiNozzo says he's tried everything, he's really put out by this, poor Tony. But he tells her he's earnt his pay as he's figured something out. She asks what, but he won't tell her because she'll go to Gibbs and he won't get a look in. In turn she too has figured something out, but she won't tell him because he'll go to Gibbs and . . . Gibbs appears. Another nice banter scene; very friendly and non-bitchy. Just a lot of fun - they know one another so well.
They tell him that Collins had been seen around all over the place, but never stayed long anywhere. DiNozzo then says he'd had a hunch that Collins is the serial killer and thus emailed Collins's picture to all the acid suppliers; one recognised him. Gibbs tells him it's circumstantial evidence, DiNozzo's face drops, but he has to agree it is. In turn Ziva too had a hunch and she has a picture of Collins driving the van and making an illegal turn; the time frame fits as the killings began when Collins came back from Afghanistan. Gibbs tells them they both did well. But it's not good enough; now they need to know who killed Collins.
Abby is asleep and is woken by a small explosion, her idea of an alarm clock, I presume (very Abby). She goes into the class room and starts to lay things out (It's nice to see her look as if it's morning and that she's been sleeping). She pulls out the shell casing. It's a 338 LAPUA MAG and she doesn't look that happy. She then logs onto the NCIS database, finds Hernandez's file and discovers that he was wanted for killing Shannon and Kelly.
At that moment Rivera arrives and says she should have told him where they were going yesterday as he'd have stopped her. He seems pleased she seems to have made progress with the case and points out (for the hard of thinking viewer) that the shell case she has is a favourite of snipers. She adds that they aren't the only people to use them. She then asks whose idea it was she was there, he says his. And she asks who assigned the case to her, he says a member of his staff. She says she needs Hernandez's body exhumed and shipped to DC as she can only trust her people and they don't want to convict the wrong person. He agrees.
Back home McGee arrives sipping pink liquid; DiNozzo asks if he bought him anything back (a wee DiNozzo/McGee moment, maybe). McGee tells him a 20 year old corpse. Gibbs asks where Abby is and McGee says already in her lab checking the DNA Ducky gave her. DiNozzo tells him the serial killings are solved - it was Collins. And he starts to go into really graphic detail as to what Collins did. Poor McGee starts to look really queasy, but suddenly Gibbs shuts DiNozzo up with a head-slap one, from DiNozzo's reaction, that was considerably harder than usual. (Gibbs/McGee fen could see that as Gibbs standing up for his lover, a nice moment). Poor Tony, yes he really was deliberately trying to goad McGee and be cruel and he did deserve the slap, but maybe not quite how hard it was. Ducky calls Gibbs and he goes off ordering DiNozzo to go over the details again. Somewhat foolishly DiNozzo tries to argue that they've done that, but again Gibbs snaps at him and tells him to do it again. As I said, Gibbs is really pissed off with DiNozzo this week.
In Autopsy Ducky has Hernandez's body and he tells Gibbs he's helping Abby. Jimmy then starts to give Gibbs details of who the body is and how he was killed. But we hear Jimmy as Gibbs does, in a distant, slow voice and at the same time we flash back to Gibbs killing Hernandez. However, Ducky didn't call Gibbs down to tell him about the 20 year old body. He's finished his psychological profile and in short, Collins does not fit the picture of a serial killer. Ducky believes Collins killed the people, but he doesn't know why.
During this he has extracted the bullet from Hernandez's brain and asks Gibbs to give him a specimen jar. Gibbs does and the bullet slowly drops into it. Ducky is about to send Jimmy to take it to Abby, but Gibbs says he will. As Ducky watched Gibbs sign for it and leave, the look on his face tells us quite clearly that Ducky knows and now is just waiting to see how it plays out.
We know he 'knows' (okay, suspects, but based on all the years he's known Gibbs and how close he is to him) that Gibbs killed Hernandez. We know that from Hiatus when Jenny tells him about Shannon and Kelly and Hernandez killing them and then being killed and how it's a cold case and Ducky told her to close it, as Gibbs would have had his revenge. He couldn't say anything because Jimmy was there, I suspect had Gibbs not leapt in and said he'd take the bullet then Ducky would have said something afterwards. Or maybe not; maybe he'll just leave it until he goes around to see Gibbs - I can see this spawning G/D stories (hopefully - *eyes fellow G/D writers). But it was utterly clear that Ducky knew/remembered/whatever and his looks, his behaviour spoke volumes to me.
Gibbs then goes to Abby who is very subdued and they look at one another. McGee appears and starts talking about the serial killer case and the DNA. During it Abby and Gibbs continue to look at one another. Then she sees the specimen jar he's holding and asks if it's another tissue sample; he says no and puts it down. Abby pulls it back to the Collins's case and we learn that he poisoned his victims with snake venom, that came from Afghanistan. All his victims were gang members and all had criminal records. Still Abby is looking at Gibbs. But McGee has found the 'biggie'. They were also all known drug dealers.
Gibbs explains that Ducky doesn't think Collins was a serial killer, but Abby says cutting off people's feet kind of points to that. But McGee explains that is a sign that a drug cartel was involved as the whole issue of the violence in Mexico is about controlling distribution. He goes on to explain how the cartel hired someone to kill: Collins. Abby asked who killed Collins and McGee says 'that's easy. Whose drug dealers was he taking out?' Extremely good work, Timothy.
Velvet Road is in interrogation and DiNozzo and McGee are outside. DiNozzo is pleased McGee is back as it gives him someone to talk to for more than ten seconds. McGee then admits he fixed DiNozzo's browser so that it would move on after ten seconds. DiNozzo says that wasn't very nice and asks why. McGee say he doesn't know and in turn asks DiNozzo why he created the false ID last year and made him fall in love with someone who didn't exist. DiNozzo admits he doesn't know and asks if he can get back to McGee and he looks at him. His look shows he now has another level of respect for McGee; also that he realises for the first time what he put McGee through and realised pay back is indeed a bitch. But it was so nicely done, again the kind of prank two really close friends can play on one another.
Gibbs goes into the room and says he knows Collins killed men who worked for her selling drugs. He then shows her the 666 mark on Collins's head and points to her 666 ring, saying they'll probably find Collins's DNA and they have hers. She hands her ring over and says she hadn't intended to kill Collins. Collins had actually tried to kill her, but she's immune to snake poison as she has several and has been bitten often. She woke up in his truck, hit him hard, she hadn't meant to kill him, but realised people wouldn't believe her, so she cut his feet off and tried to make it look like the serial killer.
Except . . . except . . . We know Collins was alive when his feet were cut off; so we have to assume she only thought the blow to the head had killed him? Yeah, let's go with that rather than the writers' having messed up within an episode. Gibbs asks her who hired Collins and she finally says she thinks it was the Reynosas, as they are everywhere these days.
Also, do we assume Ms. Road's snakes came from Afghanistan? I ask because the impression I got was the the poison Collins used came specifically from Afghanistan snakes. But not knowing anything abut snakes, maybe their venom is similar enough so that being bitten by her own snakes would make her immune.
In Gibbs's basement Abby arrives and asks if she can come in. He points out she already is. After a moment or two of silence she turns to go. He asks her why she is there. She says she knows. She matched the bullet to his sniper's rifle. He killed Hernandez in cold blood and whilst she knows what Hernandez did, Gibbs still killed and Gibbs doesn't do things like that. Or maybe he does. She doesn't know. She doesn't know anything. Except, she was didn't find it out by accident; someone is out to get him. Well we know that and have known it since Hart made her first appearance. So Bell and Hart got someone in Rivera's department to give Abby the case; Hart instigated a meeting between Rivera and Abby, guessing they'd be an attraction to get him to get Abby to Mexico - unless Rivera is in on it too, which is possible.
Abby says she wishes it was yesterday and maybe if she closes her eyes it will be. Gibbs gives her a half smile. She than asks if he realises what a difficult position she's in. He keeps saying 'I know'. She tells him not to keep saying it. He asks her what she wants him to say. She says she wants him to tell her she made a mistake; she mis-matched the shell. He says he can't say that. She says she wants him to tell her she's like a daughter to him and how much he loves her. He asks if that'll help. She says no. Then says she needs to know if he's going to still love her no matter what. He just looks at her; his look says neither 'yay' nor 'nay'.
So that's both female members of the team who have in effect called Gibbs their father, I can imagine as with Gibbs/Ziva fen earlier, that little speech upset Gibbs/Abby fen, for me it just confirms what I've always thought and how I've always seen their relationship - but I do feel for G/A fen).
For an episode to which I was not looking forward, it certainly turned out to be a jolly good one. Very powerful and poignant in parts. I think it could have been even more so had we not had 'Mexico' and 'drugs' rammed down our throats for half a season at every opportunity, even in episodes where it was almost laughable to mention 'Mexico'.
There were some excellent team moments and some great sibling banter and rivalry or the best kind. No one was really annoying or behave badly, at least not apart from the odd wee moment, but so small as to be negligible and it didn't interfere or spoil things. Poor Tony, I wonder just what he'd done to piss Gibbs off quite so much this week?
A case, always good, and at least the DC side focussed on the actual case rather than someone else. The Mexico side actually worked better than I thought it would and the switching wasn't too jarring at all.
A few nice ship moments for various pairings, as well as the wonderful Gibbs & Abby father & daughter feel to the episode - very powerfully done. I certainly felt for Abby at the end and really wouldn't want to be in her shoes at all.
Also I felt that whilst DiNozzo was the 'comic turn' (again) he wasn't an idiot; the fun was more subtle than it sometimes is. Although I do have to agree somewhat with Ziva's 'pathetic' comment (although I'd have used a different word). He did seem to be getting more than a wee bit obsessed (yes, obsessed again) over something that really didn't matter. I felt it all flowed well and I did enjoy pay-back by McGee. It was just and right and from DiNozzo's face he agreed.
Although I do have to wonder why there wasn't an autopsy at the time of the death. Was it really just put down so much to a fellow drug killing that they didn't really bother to do much work on it? That I can just about buy, actually. But in Legends 2 we know that Macy was assigned to the case and had 'evidence' that Gibbs killed Hernandez and she buried it. So what evidence could she possibly have had that proved it was him? After all, Palamo had the shell casing. And why would she carry it around for 20 years on the 'off chance' of some kind of revenge . . . ?
- Abby going a wee bit too far with the woman student.
- I know it had to be done, but the idea of Gibbs leaving evidence behind I find extremely difficult to believe.
- The truck still being where it had been abandoned.
- The whole 'twenty year old case/corpse/evidence that wasn't - a lack of continuity I feel. Yes, again. But for once it didn't really spoil the thing for me. Just had me wondering most of all what evidence Macy found.
- The opening squad room scene.
- Ducky, Jimmy and Gibbs in the first Autopsy scene.
- Abby with Vance's assistant.
- Ducky, Jimmy and Gibbs in the second Autopsy scene.
- Abby and McGee in their room.
- Ducky and Gibbs in the Hernandez Autopsy scene.
- Gibbs, Abby and McGee in Abby's lab.
- DiNozzo and McGee outside interrogation.
Pairing of the week:
Gibbs & Abby (Gen - Father & daughter)
Character of the week:
Actor/Actress of the week: