Well I wasn't looking forward to this at all - in fact I wasn't (am not) looking forward to any of the remaining episodes because of the introduction of the so-not-needed EJ Barrett, I'm afraid the end of this season will, at least at some level, be ruined by her. I also wasn't looking forward to a wee bit I saw in the preview. Okay, it came out better than I'd feared, but even so.
However, I am always prepared to admit if I'm wrong and I was wrong about this. For an episode I thought I'd hate and be irritated by, I actually really, really enjoyed it. I can still do without EJ, I still think the case would work perfectly well without her, I still say she has been introduced for two reasons: one to cause a rift in the Tony/Ziva relationship and two to make Tony realise just how foolish he was to turn down Rota; the second is certainly being achieved, the first is to an extent.
Nonetheless, despite her presence and the fact I wanted to slap (or shoot) her virtually all the time she was on screen (she's been so badly written, which is such a great shame), I was caught up in the episode from beginning to end, I wasn't clock watching or playing with anything, I was hooked. The pace was good, the balance between the personal and the case worked well, there wasn't too much of the Tony/EJ and Ziva/Ray personal bits, it was extremely well balanced and they kept the suspense going really well. I'm not sure it's going to play out for another three episodes without getting tedious, but I hope I'm proved to be wrong.
There were some stellar scenes, both case related and personal, some excellent team interaction (and I'm talking about our team here, I don't include EJ) and banter and I thoroughly enjoyed the way Gibbs was around EJ. I knew he didn't trust her and for him to come out and tell her that told us as well as her. I thought that was an excellent moment, especially coming after they had, in effect, presented a duel face to Vance and to an extent sided with one another against him.
I did not like the fact that Gibbs had the audacity to ask EJ if she was sleeping with Tony - it is none of his damn business, he was out of line and wrong. She was quite right to remind him the agency doesn't have any rules about that, just because he does, she is not on Gibbs's team, thus his rules do not apply. I can't see his 'keep away from my team apart from working' will stop her or Tony. Just think how you would like to be asked such a question by someone who isn't a friend - how would you feel? For Tim, Ziva, Abby or Jimmy to ask Tony would be one thing, for Gibbs to ask EJ is IMO out and out wrong. But thankfully it was better than the promo indicated, at least it came out of a fairly peaceful exchange, not an angry one. But Gibbs was totally out of line. Also, it was unnecessary as he already knew, hence his 'lover boy' comment two episodes ago, but it gave him the opening to let her know how he felt about her.
I still don't know what Vance's game is, I do think it's tied in with his memory of the SecNav 'reminding' him that when the position as Agency Director had been created, he had asked the SecNav for the post and he made promises to go along with that: he got the job, he did something for the SecNav. And now he is doing/starting to do that 'something'. And that 'something' I think involves Gibbs. Also I don't like how chummy Vance and EJ are. He may trust her, Tony clearly trusts her, but we know neither Gibbs nor Ziva do, we know even Tim was a more than a tad curious as to why she locked her drawer, we know Abby doesn't like her insofar as she's coming to mess with the team, as yet we haven't seen her with Ducky, so we don't know what he may or may not think of her.
The opening with the doll was ultra creepy, a very good way to draw you into the episode and although it was clear it was a trap and the sailor would be killed, it still made me jump slightly when his throat was cut - I was gripped straight away.
The opening squad room scene was an excellent one and all the more poignant once you'd seen the entire episode. Ziva arriving so happy and full of the joys of spring watched by Tony and Tim and then their three-way banter was really lovely, nice teasing with no nastiness at all. I did love Tony in full swing about Gibbs and his steely stare and Gibbs arriving to stand behind him and Tony not realising for quite some time. It was predictable, but really good.
The crime scene was another good one for me as we had some lovely Gibbs/Ducky moments with lots of closeness, at one point Gibbs seemed to have his head on or at least very close to Ducky's shoulder. I didn't like poor Jimmy's inappropriate humour (again), I do wish the writers would stop writing him like that. It was fine in the mid-time days when he'd got over this 'deer in the head-lights' and finding his feet insofar as daring to speak, but it's gone too far now - like so many things TPTB do.
Ray's arrival was interesting, not only was it nice to see Ziva being so pleased to see him and her introducing him to the team, but it was also interesting to see Tony's reaction to him, especially when he learnt Ray was CIA and Ziva hadn't told them. (His CIRay got old very, very quickly). He thought something was 'amiss' maybe that's too strong a word, but something, from the moment he saw him. Also, he didn't actually like meeting the man who seemed to be making Ziva happy, both because he does have an interest in Ziva at a personal level, but also because this is Tony and like Abby he hates anyone interfering with the members of 'his' family. That was very well played out and very much in character. Also, I have to say I thought there was something a wee bit 'creepy' about Ray.
The Autopsy scene with Ducky and Jimmy where Ducky explained about totem poles was great, I loved Jimmy's bit about Gibbs giving him a compliment and Gibbs arriving on cue to say he wouldn't go as far as that, it was well played out. And the scene was excellent with Gibbs joining Ducky and Jimmy, very much back to their usual interaction. In the last two or three weeks when Gibbs has been in Autopsy he's seemed sharper than he normally is with Ducky, almost irritated by him, but this was back to normal.
Vance's arrival was interesting, poor Jimmy, bless him, with his not meaning to park in Vance's space. Wow, Vance totally cut Gibbs out, which was a very poor show indeed, very bad manners and very bad for a boss to do that. It's one thing in private but not to do something in public - it wouldn't have been quite so bad had it just been Ducky there, but with Jimmy too, Vance was out of line there and showed he lacks management skills. Of course he has the right to go down, he has the right to ask Ducky directly and not through Gibbs what he's found, but there are ways of establishing your rights. And of course he was also ferreting information for EJ. And, as we learn very soon afterwards, deliberately keeping Gibbs out of the loop.
And another bathroom scene (NCIS do enjoy their loo scenes) this time played out between Tony and Ray with Ray telling Tony he loves Ziva. Tony's reaction to Ray's comment about Ziva telling him how close they were was interesting. At first he tried to deny it, cover it up, which to me said he didn't want Ray to know how close he (Tony) thought they were, and showed he does have more than just friendly feelings towards her and then when Ray made the comment she sees Tony as a brother, Tony's face dropped a mile. Again to me it's clear he is very fond of Ziva beyond colleague and friend, Ray's comment really put the knife in.
EJ's arrival at the clinically clean apartment did irritate as she swanned in and her manner was awful, she didn't have any respect for Gibbs or Tony at all, she just did the 'my case, I'm here, I'm in charge'. Again, that is not good team leadership skills, not good people skills. Far too cocky and brash.
Tony and EJ's first conversation was interesting as it confirmed what we already knew anyway from the shower scene and Tony's behaviour in the last two episodes: they are sleeping together and having a relationship. And this time I did see at least a degree of a spark between them, unlike when they first met. They are very alike, both game players, both commitment-phobes, both highly sexed and sexual beings. The spark is nothing like I saw with Jeanne or see with Ziva, but at least I saw one this time. And they are not going to end their relationship.
I loved Gibbs and Abby re: the plant the killer left in the freezer. So the port to port killer (or P2P as Abby calls him) knows exactly how to use a scalpel as well as cut a throat cleanly and clean a body up with such precision, interesting. Abby was very in character when she let Gibbs know how unhappy she was about EJ moving in and being involved. I liked the hug Gibbs gave her, but I really don't think his 'nothing will change' promise is going to be accurate.
I thought Ziva and Ray's romantic dinner by the vending machines was poignant and well played out. He does love her and she cares for him, but even in that scene you could see she was still keeping him slightly at a distance.
I loved how, when EJ was talking about the P2P killer Team Gibbs didn't join her - not even when she in effect asked them to, well Tony was going to, but stopped when he saw the rest weren't moving. I thought the look on EJ's face was interesting at that point; she was a wee bit not just put out but also upset that Tony was choosing Team Gibbs over her. She actually showed a hint of vulnerability beneath her tough, brash exterior. And Gibbs didn't like the profile EJ had put together on the killer; he thinks the killings are the greatest thing he has ever done. It's going to be very interesting to see just who the killer turns out to be and whose profile - Gibbs or EJ's - actually fits, if either. I'd trust Gibbs's gut, instincts, knowledge, experience all the way, I have to say, but it'll be interesting to see.
The scene in interrogation was fascinating, again I'd back Gibbs's methods rather than hers and I thought he was actually getting somewhere. As he said, tie in one murder first, then go digging further. Their stand-off in the corridor was good too, with EJ threatening to call Vance *rolls eyes* and Gibbs telling her he didn't like the way she did things. I really liked how Gibbs slapped EJ down in this episode.
The scene with Tony and EJ in the lift was another interesting and telling one, both on a personal level and a professional one. He was warning her, very wisely, not to come up against Gibbs, and she revealed she knew things weren't that good recently between Gibbs and Vance and Vance is the one in charge. It was very telling that she knew about that, very telling indeed. Although I didn't care for her talk about maybe she could be there on a more permanent basis and maybe the team could get used to having her around. That was somewhat worrisome. I for one do not want her around on a permanent basis, at least not working for NCIS, or rather at least in a way whereby we see her after this season. Not that I think we will, that was a red herring; I'm fairly sure she is going to die. But even so, I didn't care for that at all. And of course as they are about to kiss the doors open on Ziva and Ray, so we get the square of four players, and shortly after EJ reveals Ray is NCIS's CIA liaison agent for the P2P killer. Ouch.
I totally understood Ziva's reaction to the fact Ray hadn't told her. Okay, he couldn't, I get that too and in time Ziva will. But she'd been lied to by Rivkin and her father, Rivkin died, she nearly died and now a man she has got close to, a man she learnt to trust, a man she was learning how to love suddenly reveals who he really is - ouch, the poor girl. The real tragedy is Ray really did love her and she loved him too or was beginning to, could have done. But with that one act, it's over, because she couldn't believe in anything he said - not even the 'I love you'. I could feel how hurt and upset she was. And I think he proved to her he hadn't been using her/did love her by telling her Leitner couldn't be the P2P killer as he was a mule for the Syrian government and had been under CIA's radar.
I really liked Gibbs's total trust in Ziva when she told him that Leitner couldn't be the killer. He didn't question her, he didn't ask for more details, he just showed his full trust for her - just as he'd show it for any member of the team. A small moment, but a telling and deep one. Ditto when he told EJ they had the wrong man and it came from a reliable source, again so telling. I loved how he took Tim and Ziva to MTAC and told EJ to 'stay'. Perfect. I thought the division was beginning to show there re: just whose 'side' Tony is on and it was continued in the scene after MTAC when they all go to the 'war hero's home' as Gibbs, Tim & Ziva were in Gibbs's car whereas Tony was with EJ. Very interesting.
Poor Ducky and Jimmy so very hot in Autopsy. It was a true comment Jimmy made about not expecting to be over hot in Autopsy. And another Gibbs in Autopsy scene, always good, where it is confirmed the MO was the same as the previous sailor's death.
The final scene with Tony and Ziva in the bar was very moving and poignant indeed. I liked how Tony defended Ray, how he tried to get Ziva to see why he didn't tell her all the facts. I also liked how he stopped Ziva from leaving, saying he wanted a drink and it was depressing to drink alone. I wasn't at all surprised to learn the relationship between Ziva and Ray was over. I liked how this time when Ziva questioned him about EJ after initially trying to deny it, Tony in effect admitted to it, saying he understood her, that's why it was working. And a very good question Ziva asked: what will happen when Gibbs finds out? Well we know that Gibbs already knows and has known for some time.
But indeed what will happen when Tony learns that Gibbs knows? I really do hope that Tony tells Gibbs he's not going to stop his relationship with EJ. If he doesn't, if he capitulates, rolls over and dumps EJ, he'll really go down in my estimation. The middle/latter part of this season have been about it becoming clear that Tony is ready to lead his own team - and even more importantly Tony realising it, because he didn't before. He wasn't sure he could lead, that's the reason he turned down Rota. But as Gibbs told Jenny when Tony knows he's ready, we'll all know about it. Now Tony isn't making a big song and dance about it (which one would expect him to) but he is making it clear he knows he's ready to lead his own team. However, if he capitulates to Gibbs then he'll prove he isn't ready and all this 'Tony knows he shouldn't have turned down Rota/regrets turning down Rota/knows he's ready to lead his own team will have been for nothing. I don't care for EJ, I'd rather see Tony with Ziva (if there is to be on-screen romance) I see far more chemistry between Tony and Ziva than Tony and EJ, but I don't want to see Tony roll over and dump EJ because Gibbs says so. That would be wrong for the character and the character development. If he's ready to lead his own team, he's ready to let go of Gibbs's apron strings - not dumping EJ would prove this. Besides, EJ and Tony aren't going to last, this is just a 'fling' a fill in thing for now.
And then to complete the spooky bit, we have the eyeball in the drink given to Tony - a very intense ending.
So for an episode I really expected to thoroughly dislike, be bored by I thoroughly enjoyed it. A good plot, excellent team interaction and banter, some humour, some angst, some tension, excellent characterisation (for the most part), not too much to be irritated by, all in all a really good episode. And a very shippy one too for Tony/EJ, Ziva/Ray and Tony/Ziva. And yet despite how shippy for those three pairings it was, they didn't take over the episode, it didn't become all about ships.
No, I don't like EJ any more than when I first met her, but it was interesting to see she does have a vulnerable side and it was very good to see her smacked down by Gibbs and her methods called into question. She did lose a wee bit of her cockiness and brashness, once Gibbs had his say. I still fear she and her team when they arrive are going to take screen time away from certain characters and I'm still leery of forthcoming episodes, but this one was excellent. And this one, I felt, didn't take any time away from the team.
ETA after second watch: I know a lot of people were really annoyed, aghast, disgusted, etc. with Gibbs for his behaviour in interrogation, I wasn't, not particularly. Yes, maybe he should have left it for when they were alone, but to be honest EJ was just as bad. Plus, one thing I didn't notice on first watch was that she would never have got anywhere with Leitner anyway. He's already said he wasn't going to say anything, but the first question Gibbs asked him, he answered. Why? Two reasons: firstly he was everything EJ said he was and to him women were to be looked down on, were a commodity and when she in effect behaved like a hooker, she would not have gone up in his estimation. He saw himself as better than her and he wouldn't have said anything to her. And secondly Gibbs was a 'father like' figure and he was used to answering his father. So Gibbs asked, he answered. Gibbs was getting somehwere with him before EJ pulled her hooker stunt.
Also, the interrogation proved that EJ is not a good team leader. Team leaders use their resources and play to the team's strengths. She did neither. She had the best interrogator in NCIS on 'her' team, but she failed to use him. She was so cocky, so determined to be the leader, she went in, not even realising Leitner wouldn't talk to her - Gibbs had him sussed straight away, that was clear - she had to be right; she had to be the one to 'break him'. She could have gone into the room, but sat quietly or she could have watched; she should have used her ace card, but no; she didn't.
And finally, as much as I hate to say it (but I will admit if I'm wrong) EJ does appear to be capable of learning. She didn't say anything to Vance when he had a go at both of them; she didn't point out going after the retired war hero hadn't been her idea, she didn't place the 'blame' on Gibbs; she kept quiet. The woman may be able to learn from Gibbs after all - or not!
- The opening squad room scene.
- The crime scene.
- Ducky, Jimmy and Gibbs in Autopsy.
- Ray and Ziva's romantic dinner.
- Team Gibbs not joining EJ whilst she babbled on about the P2P killer.
- Gibbs smacking EJ down.
- Tony and Ziva in the bar at the end. This is probably the scene of the episode for me. It was so well done, so poignant, so telling. An excellent scene.
There were some nice little throw away touches/things we learnt too:
- Gibbs showing his total and unwavering trust in Ziva.
- Tony and EJ arriving at the second crime scene in one car whereas Tim and Ziva were with Gibbs.
- Jimmy's inappropriate humour at the crime scene.
- EJ's presence.
- EJ's comment about maybe she could become more permanent.
- Gibbs asking EJ if she was sleeping with Tony.
Ships of the week:
It's very difficult to choose between the three; it was so heavy for all three.
Character of the week:
Actor/Actress of the week:
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