I was hoping for a better episode than last week's, but for the first half - three-quarters I was disappointed. I was bored and irritated by it to begin with. It was slow moving and nothing seemed to be happening.
I couldn't understand why Gibbs was so averse to investigate a dead retired Marine. I know NCIS don't normally do that, but this is Gibbs and the retired Marine had been brutally murdered - the 'normal' Gibbs wouldn't care that he was retired, he'd want to catch the person who did it. So that was OOC. Even after Vance explained they were doing it as a favour Gibbs's reluctance was still not normal to me. I know he didn't like it because it was a favour, but he didn't know that to begin with. So that had me going 'huh'? and irked me.
Tony's interrogation style always annoys me - he only has one style: in your face, as we know. But it really annoyed me this time, more than usual. Maybe it was because Nick looked about twelve or thirteen to me, so that had me wondering how he could be driving or wielding an axe when he was so young. So later when the comment was made 'eighteen but looks twelve I felt somewhat vindicated for thinking he was so young.
And as for Ducky and his macabre rhymes . . . What is going on? What are they doing to Ducky? This is not the Ducky I know and love. This is the weird Ducky who let people use the Autopsy lockers for storing food and the Ducky who made the odd inappropriate so-called humorous comments at crime scenes. I found that really irritating as well as more than a little upsetting. It does make me fear even more something I've been fearing for some time - since the food in the Autopsy lockers and weird humour, that TPTB are going to make Ducky end up like his mother.
Thus, apart from the oh, so slow moving, those three major things really irritated me for the first part of the episode.
However, I am pleased to say it did speed up and get a lot better as time went on. I liked the twist at the end, even though whilst my 'where is this going' parts, I actually did think 'oh, I know, the mother did it', so that was quite interesting when she turned up and it was revelled that indeed she did do it!
Poor Nick, with a mother like that a father on deployment so often, you can begin to have some understanding for why he went of the rails. Not that I'm condoning his drug use, not at all, he clearly needed help, he was a troubled kid, but he wasn't getting the parental support he needed. Also when we saw the neighbour and he told Tim and Ziva about his daughter dying of an over-dose I thought to myself that he'd done it to frame Nick for introducing his daughter to drugs, which had some truth in it. He did blame Nick's dad for his daughter's death because he'd failed to be a good father. But he was another character for whom I had sympathy.
There weren't that many great scenes or even particularly good ones, especially not early on. However, I did like Vance acknowledging that Gibbs was one of the two top interrogators who worked for NCIS - and he is, because he adapts his style based on each individual. And clearly Vance saw himself as the other one, that was obvious from the look on his face when Gibbs asked who the other one was.
The kids all arriving together and commenting on the fact and Ziva remembering the actual date and Tony making a film (or song) reference. I can't recall what it was, but I did recognise it as a pop culture reference, was quite fun.
Again I was wondering what was going on when Ziva went down to Autopsy first. I really am beginning to wonder if we are setting up for a change at the top: Gibbs becomes Director! I do hope not, that will not be the NCIS I fell in love with, nor the NCIS now. I was partly relieved when Gibbs did show up later on and we had a nice scene between him and Ducky, where in fact we learn the cause of death was not the axe, but another blunt instrument - the plot began to thicken.
I thought the several references to EJ were interesting. Firstly, they showed that clearly Tony knew far more about her and her movements than anyone else - which could imply that something did definitely happen after the shower scene and from the way Tony looked I'd say that was more than a strong possibility - he looked like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. And Gibbs knows something has happened hence his little dig when he called Tony 'lover boy' prior to the interrogation. Nothing gets by Gibbs; he knows something happened and is letting Tony know he knows. And then Tim 'snooping' and trying to get into her desk. I did like Ziva's comment that Tony had been a bad influence on Tim. But indeed, why is EJ locking her desk? Why does she not trust Gibbs's team? And the final bit when she calls Vance and he walks off, so pleased that she called him. Something is definitely afoot with Ms. Barrett and Vance.
I did like the scene between Abby and Tim in the evidence garage when Abby had a mock-up of the crime scene. That was nicely played out and good to see Abby acknowledging Tim's prowess with computers.
I also enjoyed the scene with Gibbs, Tim and Abby in her lab with Abby's little build up and Tim showing Gibbs what they'd found.
The pace and intensity really picked up when Vance went in to interrogate Nick taking an axe with him! Gibbs clearly didn't like Vance's style, as he said he's trying to get a confession out of a kid, because that's what Nick was, not chop down a tree. And I doubt had it gone to court, had Nick's mother not turned up, that it would have stood up. Vance was so desperate to make Nick the guilty party, so desperate to solve the case for his dead friend that he went far too far. That was out and out bullying, leading the witness and a confession extracted under duress. Had Nick done it, he would have walked thanks to Vance's technique and out of line behaviour. Nonetheless, it was a very powerful scene - heck I think I'd have confessed. I think the way Vance interrogated Nick shows how close to the edge he is. He's been 'odd' ever since he discovered he should have died all those years ago, died as a set up by his own side. That has clearly had a huge affect on him, understandably so, and it's coming out now in the way he's behaving and interacting with people. Maybe it even has something to do with why he's bringing in EJ and is all pally with her. Maybe he feels he can't trust those close to him - despite it being thanks to Gibbs he is alive now.
Another good scene was Vance and Gibbs in Vance's office when Gibbs called him out about his 'personal involvement. Not that Gibbs can take the moral high ground there, if we remember his mother-in-law. But even so, Vance was attacking an innocent kid, a confused innocent kid who was so scared he had actually killed his father whilst under the influence of drugs, he couldn't bear to look at a picture until forced to by Vance. I'm so glad Gibbs was proven to be correct and Nick was innocent. Not that I ever for a single second thought he had killed his father. Not just because my gut told me he didn't, but because Gibbs didn't think he was guilt, that was clear from his behaviour/demeanour and Gibbs tends to be right. So despite Vance and the kids thinking Nick was guilty, he wasn't - Gibbs prevailed again.
Gibbs and Nick in the park was also a good scene. Very well played by both actors, understated, the confused kid who didn't know who he was or what he'd done. And Gibbs certain he was innocent of killing his father.
I found the scene in the coffee shop moving with some great acting from both Nick and his mother. I also really liked the fact that they went for the reason they did for her killing her husband and not for some 'he'd been hitting Nick and so I was trying to protect him' or something similar reason. I liked the different reason, the move from the norm and obvious - so kudos to the writers for coming up with that idea. It even brought the odd tear to my eye as I saw the young boy finally realise he couldn't save his mother, knowing what she was, knowing how ever much she'd loved him, she hadn't been a good mother and knowing now only he could change his life. As Gibbs says later on, it is in his hands now. He has no mother, no father, no girl friend and probably no physiologist once it comes out she'd been dating his father.
So all in all a pretty meh episode. Had it been like the last quarter all the way through it would have got very high marks and been a really gripping episode. But as it was, I was bored and irritated for most of it. It was very much a filler episode, which I guess you do need, because you need some 'meh' episodes, some not so good episodes, so slow moving ones to balance out the high paced, gripping, intense ones. If they were all gripping high speed and intense, it would get boring and tiring.
- Abby and Tim in the evidence garage.
- Gibbs and Ducky in Autopsy.
- Gibbs, Abby and Tim in her lab.
- Vance and Nick in interrogation.
- Gibbs and Vance in Vance's office when Gibbs calls Vance out over his personal involvement.
- Gibbs and Nick in the park
- The coffee-shop scene with Nick and his mother.
There were some nice little throw away touches/things we learnt too:
- Tim not just doing everything he's asked to do without wanting to know why he's doing it. The character has developed very well. And interesting that Gibbs didn't mind being challenged over it. But that's consistent throughout the whole series, for some reason he's never really minded Tim standing up to him.
- Gibbs's attitude to taking on the case.
- Tony's interrogation style.
- Ducky's macabre rhyme quoting.
- Too little Ducky.
- No Jimmy.
- All the EJ references.
- The way Gibbs eats.
Ship of the week:
Gibbs and Nick (Gibbs in a father role)
Character of the week:
Actor/Actress of the week:
Cameron Monaghan (who played Nick)