Written prior to viewing
I really wasn't looking forward to this episode for a number of reasons.
1. Whilst I like Tony and I do like him (yes, I criticise him, but I criticise Ducky, Gibbs, Tim, Jimmy, Abby and Ziva too) he isn't my favourite character. Thus, I'm never going to look forward to a Tony-centric episode as I would to a Ducky, Gibbs or Tim-centric episode, in the same way people whose favourite character isn't Tim won't look forward to a Tim-centric episode as much as one that features one of their favourites. Also, given the season has been incredibly Tony heavy since (and including) 'One Last Score' and will continue that way for the final two episodes, I didn't really see the point of throwing in yet another Tony-centric episode.
2. Flashbacks; as anyone who regularly reads my reviews know I hate flashbacks. I don't mind the odd one or two, or the kind that start 'Three days ago' then to go present time and then back to three days ago. However, I knew this was going to be 60:40 present:past and they would continue throughout the entire episode. I just hate there and back, there and back episodes - books too.
3. We're heavily in the middle of an important case and we break off to go back in time to show us Tony joining NCIS. Huh? Why? I felt it would have to be done extremely well or else the whole way of tying in Tony's past to the current P2P case or else it was going to seem shoe-horned.
4. I have no interest in how Tony met Gibbs and joined NCIS. I hasten to add I also have no interest in how Gibbs and Ducky met or how Abby joined NCIS, just as I didn't have that much interest in 'Heartland'. I like small things dropped in, like discovering Jimmy's father was a research ophthalmologist, that kind of thing. But at this stage to suddenly learn something from so many years ago, is of little or no interest to me.
5. From the few things I've seen/read about the episode, which haven't been many, I fear I'm going to find it unbelievable.
So I went into it expecting the worst, but at the same time daring to have a wee hope that it would be better than I was fearing and given I was fearing the worst episode since 'Legend' I did have low expectations. But then I'd had fairly low expectations over the previous two episodes and ended up enjoying them. So I did have a small amount of hope.
Written after viewing
I'm sure avid Tony fen will have loved this episode. For me? Well it was better than I had expected and feared. I certainly enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I still think it was shoe-horned in just to give us the 'how Tony joined NCIS' and I think it's a shame in effect we did interrupt the P2P case to do that and it was clearly shoe-horned, but again no where near as badly as I was expecting.
One thing I did like was that whilst the 40% Tony flashbacks were 99% Tony, the non-flashbacks had less Tony in them than I thought they might. I do feel it was far more Tony-heavy than any other character-centric episode we've ever had and light on all the other characters, which was a shame, but it was slightly less so than I'd feared.
It held my attention for the most part (at least the present day did) although I took more notes than I usually do. The flashbacks were annoying, I'd just got settled into either 2001 or present day when we whisked off back or forward - but that would have been the same no matter who we were flashing back and forth too.
Our team did get more screen time than I'd expected, far too little, IMO, but there was a reasonable amount and there were some good scenes, some excellent scenes even and we did have some nice moments and good banter. And the current day case was actually interesting with some top notch red herrings. I can't say the 2001 case really made any impact on me at all, it was just there to fill in time, give us Tony back then and show us Danny and Tony's relationship with him and how Gibbs met Tony, other than that it didn't really have any part to play.
The opening scene with Danny was excellent; his beer spiked with drugs and him helpless on the floor and the killer pouring beer (that looked like water, couldn't they have coloured it?) into his mouth was quite chilling.
I loved the opening squad room scene; really loved it. Tony in a flap trying to find his mobile phone and Ziva telling him he was an investigator, investigate so Tony does. In true Tony style; he does, puling out all his desk drawers and emptying them - priceless and 100% Tony. Really lovely. I also liked Gibbs (an angry Gibbs) not actually giving a damn what he was up to. Poor Tim though his report got binned because he turned far too techy on Gibbs. Nice of him to put the findings into English though for us *g* And it was fascinating to learn that the eyeball did belong to someone on the MTAC database - but the name was classified! Wow. I also liked how Gibbs offered Tony is phone (basically to shut him up as he knew he'd never hear the last of it otherwise) and after holding it and getting one call, Tony gives it back as it clearly isn't 'hip' enough for him, all the thing about rings tones, etc.
The crime scene was interesting with Ziva suggesting the call EJ as it is a P2P kill, Gibbs saying 'no' and Tony starting to say 'but it's her case' and speedily changing it to 'it's her loss'. Tony does have divided loyalties at the moment, very much so - and it's excellent to see, actually. I am glad he's being written that way as it's right, works and is totally believable.
The Autopsy scene with Ducky firstly talking to Danny's body about him and Tony and then Gibbs and Tony arriving was quite poignant. It was interesting to lean that Danny and Tony were so very alike in background, etc. and I liked how Ducky was surprised that he hadn't heard Tony talk about Danny. Tony's prevaricating was good and Ducky's quiet 'When it's gone you can never get it back' was so very moving and really hits hard - he's spot on. And there are slight differences with Danny and the other dead men: Danny was a reservist and not in perfect health. The previous victims were all serving or retired men and were in perfect health.
The Abby and Gibbs with the fortune cookie scene was nice. 'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer', wise words indeed. And Abby tracked down from where the cookie had come - she's one smart cookie herself.
The little scene prior to Tim and Ziva going into the Chinese restaurant was nice. Tim knew Tony was more upset about Danny's killing than he was letting on. I also liked how Ziva said that even if she and Tim hadn't spoken for years and someone cut Tim's throat, she'd hunt the killer down and basically make them wish they'd never been born. And we learn the cookie was a 'forged' one as it wasn't the right colour, nor did the owner use that saying.
I thought Joey was really well played and an interesting character; I didn't like him, he was small fry but he made an impression.
I just loved the Ducky tracking Gibbs down scene, utterly wonderful and nicely shippy too. Although, I have to say the idea that Ducky would react so violently to an odour, no matter how foul, given he spends his days around dead bodies, seemed very out of character and over the top. Poor Ducky getting exasperated as Gibbs kept walking away from him when he was trying to tell him vital information. I love how he hunted Gibbs down - good to see the continuity there as apart from one or two times whenever Ducky wants Gibbs he always hunts for him, he doesn't just ring him. It's a little characteristic I've always found amusing and a nice little touch for my main ship. And we learn some vital information: Ducky's Autopsy report on the previous P2P killing was slightly wrong; the word 'double' had been omitted and Danny's feet were bound with rope tied with only a single constrict. The plot began to thicken. Someone had access to NCIS's reports - at this point it was beginning to look as if the P2P killer was in-house, and I'm still not ruling that out.
At least this episode was light on the EJ and her team references. I'm glad we only had one or two, but naturally they kept having to remind us that she and Tony are seriously involved. And that's where Tony's phone was; at EJ's. Again I had been wondering about the in-house link because Tony's phone had gone missing and Gibbs couldn't find his glasses. But no, Tony had just left it behind and he'd missed a vital message from Danny, talking about the past and only seeing what you wanted to see and how he and Tony should talk; he'd discovered something.
I loved Abby, Tim and Gibbs in her lab with talking about her three musketeers and then Gibbs recognising the face of a man from the ones Abby showed who had bought P2P stuff and that the guy was a the crime scene. And we get the first of two new rules: Rule #35 'Always watch the watchers'.
The guy at the scene, a computer technician, was just a sad, lonely, obsessed man - I actually felt slightly sorry for him.
The scene between Tony and Danny when Tony called him out over being a dirty cop was very poignant and well done indeed. You could see it hurt Tony, not just because his partner was dirty, but because he'd been lied to and fooled and he honestly didn't know what to do because he cared very much for Danny as a friend as well as a partner. And Gibbs turns up.
Then back to present day Gibbs turns up again. Tony had gone round to Danny's (apparently wearing exactly the same clothes as he wore ten years ago) and he had a hunch and realises that Danny might have been a dirty cop, but there was someone dirtier, someone from back in 2001 who was 'untouchable': their boss. And the poignancy continues when we see a picture of Tony, Danny and their boss; the real killer. Tony and Danny's boss being the killer who was doing a copy cat of the P2P killer was the whole shoe-horned thing. It could have been done better, but it could have been done worse.
And just as we thought it was all over and we could move on and get ready for next week in comes another twist. Ducky and Abby tell Gibbs that Abby hadn't send Ducky the email about the wrong knot; the only person who could have sent it was the P2P killer. Gibbs tells them to show him and he, Ducky, Abby, Tim and Ziva walk off leaving Tony watching after them as he has one final flashback.
Is that some kind of foreshadowing? Tony is moving further and further apart from the team? They all went off together and he just stands and watches. Or was that just tied in with how he was feeling about Danny? It could be either, which is good and does keep us guessing.
The fact Abby didn't send Ducky the email was a twist I hadn't been expecting and it does seem to be once more a hint that the person is internal or has extremely good skills so they can hack into NCIS's files and email.
I have to say the DiNozzo of 2001 was really, really, really irritating - at least he's improved since then. Well he has in depth, but overall he really is still the same Tony he was back then; the film references, the womanising, the court jester, the references to his Phys Ed degree, etc. and the fact he didn't have a pen and had to go hunting for one - that we've seen in a few episodes fairly recently, so kudos to the writers for actually being consistent.
It was good to see the man back then and to see how he has grown somewhat into the man he is today. The biggest change of all being his clothes and dress sense. I do wonder what happened to Wendy and his engagement to her. And again in true Tony style it was his High School music teacher, who interestingly asked him out. I wonder if we'll find out what went wrong there and why they didn't marry - unless they did and it was a quick divorce - or whether, in true NCIS fashion it'll be one of those 'mentioned once and never referred to things'.
It was also very interesting how Tony dished NCIS and said he'd never want to work for them and was really disparaging about them, in fact he'd rather have the plague than be a navy cop, and then ended up working for them. I liked the reference to so much orange and the glare from the skylight things Tony mentioned to Gibbs and things EJ picked up on when she arrived, especially the skylight - which she hates. Again it was a way of reminding us of EJ without actually mentioning her name. Cleverly done, actually. Tony going into the Personnel department and seeing the really attractive woman and his reaction was spot on Tony. He does love the ladies.
So we witnessed the first ever head slap. And a subsequent cheek pat. This showed me that Gibbs had already got the measure of Tony and was set to keep him on his toes. After Tony 'complained' about the head slap, Gibbs patted his cheek, but the look on his face and in his eyes was the same as in 'Iced' when Tony complained that Tim got praise and he only ever got head slaps. The look was a very slightly sarcastic/humorous/I've got the measure of you, but you won't ever get the measure of me look. It was designed fully to keep Tony on his toes. Nicely done indeed. Very Gibbs indeed, keep people unsettled.
Gibbs in 2001 was interesting. He smiled a lot more, but apart from that he really is the Gibbs we have today with hunches and his gut and only liking decent coffee. What I found fascinating is how MH, for the most part, at least when he was in Baltimore, did look ten years younger, which seemed to be down to his hair, how it was styled slightly differently and him smiling more, and his body language, whereas MW looked as he does now, age-wise - yes, his hair was styled differently and his clothes were different, but other than that he looked the same. However, MH did look the same 'Gibbs' in the scene when he turned up at Danny's apartment (back in 2001) and in the final flashback scene as he does now.
I was glad that Gibbs let himself get caught as that was one of the things I saw in the preview that I could not believe in. The idea that Gibbs would get caught by two cops simply did not compute or ring true, so it was good to see why it happened. It was amusing the way Tony and Danny had been waiting for a week for the ballistics report and Gibbs got it really quickly, after making sure a copy of the evidence went to NCIS, so very Gibbs. He was also apparently married and undergoing a divorce.
And we had yet another rule. Rule #5 'Don't waste good'.
So definitely a better episode than I'd been expecting. It's not high on my list of favourites, but nor is it down there with 'Legend' and 'Angel Of Death'. I really enjoyed the 'now' scenes and out team interacting, etc. I enjoyed one or two flashback scenes, but for the most part they did bore me and I just wanted to get back to now rather than then. I thought they could have cut those scenes down and condensed them. I really felt for Danny, despite him being a dirty cop, he did have an impact on me and it's clear how close he and Tony were.
I still don't see the need for this episode at all, certainly not at this point of the season. It was a filler breaking up the P2P arc. Yes, we got some interesting P2P snippets, what kind of access does the P2P killer have to NCIS? How did he send an email to Ducky purporting to come from Abby? Did Gibbs really lose his glasses or were they 'borrowed'? Who is the person with access to MTAC whose ID is classified? But really that was all we had, the rest was just an excuse to give us how Tony joined NCIS. That said, it wasn't a bad episode, an unnecessary one, IMO, but not bad..
- The opening scene with Danny dying.
- The opening squad room scene.
- Ducky, Gibbs and Tony in Autopsy.
- Tim and Ziva on their way to the Chinese restaurant.
- Ducky and Gibbs's scene in the corridor with Ziva as an on-looker.
- Tony and Danny's 'dirty cop' scene.
- The final scene with Ducky and Abby telling Gibbs Abby didn't send Ducky the email and Gibbs, Ducky, Tim, Abby and Ziva going off together with Tony watching them.
There were some nice little throw away touches/things we learnt too:
- Rule #05: Don't waste good.
- Rule #35: Always watch the watchers.
- Tony got his Mighty Mouse stapler from winning the Baltimore pool championship and it was for the second year running.
- Tony was engaged to his ex-High School Music Teacher: Wendy.
- Gibbs was married and in the middle of a divorce in 2001.
- We saw Pacci again *g*
- Too little Ducky (although admittedly there was more Ducky than I thought there would be), Tim, Abby and Ziva and no Jimmy.
- The flashbacks.
- The amount of time spent in 2001.
- Ducky's reaction to the odour coming from the interrogation room.
Ship of the week:
Tony & Danny
Character of the week:
Actor/Actress of the week: