DEAD MAN WALKING
I have to say that I am amazed that they used an almost identical
title (bar one letter) to a Season One episode (Dead Man Talking); I found that
Another very good episode, despite it being a Ziva-centric one. And I admit that this time I was fooled as to the baddie. I thought we had another oh-so-predictable would-be-killer as soon as we saw Diane - Gibbs's spider sense wasn't the only one that tingled when she appeared - but no, it wasn't her. So it was a clever twist. An excellent plot line overall, actually, on the case side. The teasing and ribbing of McGee re: his book and the money he has is getting a little old, and to my mind has gone on long enough, but otherwise there's not a lot to fault, and DiNozzo did a particularly special thing.
I liked the way at the beginning how DiNozzo managed to get out of the hole into which he was in danger of digging himself when he said that he thought Ziva would know the brand of McGee's new jacket, by saying that she'd know because she was a great detective.
Quite a clever idea with Lt. Roy Sanders turning up with McGee and asking Gibbs to investigate a murder, and when asked whose, says 'mine'.
And Ziva thinks she recognises him, but can't figure out from where. A nice touch as it instantly adds another layer of tension and we're not entirely certain whether Sanders is a good guy or a bad guy. In fact this slight uncertainty is kept up well throughout the entire episode; even when Ziva works out how she knows him.
She falls for him and he keeps coming out with all the right things, her favourite quote, his father is similar to her father, and he's equally attracted to her. He has an explanation for the picture of the woman (his sister), kiddie and husky in his desk drawer, he gets up early, like she does, to exercise. And all along there is a possibility that in fact he's some kind of plant to get to Ziva, and that his poisoning, although drastic, is all part of it. As much as I wanted to trust him all along, there was a small part of me that was expecting it all to go wrong (maybe I read too many detective novels *g*). I really felt that this edge was kept up extremely well, and helped push the episode up into one of the really good ones this season. A waited for twist that never occurred; excellently done.
We find out that Sanders works for the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and that he is basically radioactive and is suffering from radiation, Thalium, poisoning and that his radiation badge is faulty.
Cute scene with Abby insisting on taking all of McGee's clothes and him being hesitant and almost shy to strip off in front of her - odd given that we know they've been lovers in the past. But fun, as was his concern over his jacket; although you just knew though, because of the whole 'let's rib McGee' that she was going to do something to it, especially when she promised not to stain it. The way she empathised that she wouldn't stain it, made it clear that she was, however, going to do something to it. With Abby, you really do need to be crystal clear and definitive, when she's in one of her 'bouncy' moods. And as she points out when she gives it back to him and he complains, she didn't stain it.
I really liked the beginning of the Autopsy scene between Ducky, Jimmy and Sanders, when Sanders complains about the cold table and Ducky says that none of his other patients have complained. Sanders goes on to say that he thought Ducky might like it for once to have a patient to talk to, and Ducky explains that he does that all the time, only normally they don't talk back. Sanders asks him the kind of thing he's be saying about him if he were Ducky's usual kind of patient, and Ducky very enthusiastically talks about his runner's physique and his strong thighs, adding swiftly that it doesn't sound as personal when the person is dead. Lovely.
It was also really lovely when Gibbs came in and Ducky, as he nearly always does, moved right across to him, invading her personal space, as always, to talk to him. Lots of great eye contact between them; they really do look at one another quite differently from the way they look at other people; both get very soft eyes, it's always very special to see them. Amusing how they start to discuss Sanders and what's wrong with him, and how Gibbs needs to talk to him, and finally Sanders 'reminds' them that he's there, and Ducky apologies, saying it's force of habit.
In fact we have several lovely Gibbs/Ducky scenes throughout with lots of eye contact and closeness.
Poor McGee being called 'Aqua Smurf' by DiNozzo when he turns up in some Autopsy scrubs.
Nice touch when Ducky goes to say goodbye to Sanders, when he says he doesn't want him back on his cold table.
Gibbs and DiNozzo go to IAEA to see where Sanders worked and talk to his colleagues, Mark and Diane, and we get a fun little exchange at DiNozzo's expense. Although I have to say a tad unbelievable, given how long DiNozzo has worked for NCIS and the fact he was a cop before that. But nonetheless fun.
Mark (pointing out Sanders desk): "It's clean."
DiNozzo (looking at the ultra-tidy desk): "Yes, I can see that."
Gibbs (looking at DiNozzo with the look only he can use): "He means they swept the office, DiNozzo."
We then get a hint that maybe Diane and Sanders have had an affair, when we learn that they left Mark alone in Brazil at a club to return to the hotel. We cleverly get mis-led into thinking that Diane is far from what she appears to be.
Nice Gibbs & Abby scene with Abby going on about hinky, in fact hinky-dory. Gibbs just looks at her and she holds her finger and thumb apart a small way, saying "Cute? A little." And Gibbs pushes them even closer together, until they are touching. She then explains about how the radiation badge is faulty, likening it to plastic toys given with Happy Meals, which finally elicits an irritated "Abby!" from Gibbs, which Abby counters with, "Wow, someone needs a Happy Meal."
We have several nice Gibbs and Abby scenes too in this episode.
Then Gibbs wants to talk to Ducky, so they have a little exchange, with Abby interrupting from time to time, via the link and confirm that it is Thalium with which Sanders has been poisoned; finding out what it is and also when it must have got into Sander's body, makes Abby quite bouncy. Then she points out that they know when; all they need to figure out now if how, why and who.
Ziva is still trying to figure out from where she knows Sanders, and Gibbs tells her that he needs to know everything Sanders has eaten, drunk, every kiss he's had and about every visit to the head during the last 96 hours. They finally figure out from where they 'know' one another: they see one another every day when they are running; he wears an orange hat and Ziva wears yellow clothing. When he tells her about the food he's eaten she comments, "You run like a health nit and eat like a slob." The mutual attraction between them gets clearer and clearer and more and more intense as each scene unfolds.
DiNozzo and McGee are checking over Sander's car and yet again DiNozzo likens the case to a movie - everything reminds him of some movie or other. And we get a Gibbs head slapping DiNozzo, but not with his hand, with the notepad he's holding (ouch).
DiNozzo: "Ziva figured out how she knows him yet?"
Gibbs: "Personal connection."
DiNozzo (in amazement): "Ziva has personal connections?"
An amusing bit when, back at the hospital, Sanders collapses on Ziva whilst walking in the garden and she says, "I have to get you into bed." He just looks at her and says he's saying nothing and they both laugh, and Ziva explains it's the English. She is very jealous when Mark and Diane turn up to see Sanders, jealous of Diane, in fact she 'attacks' the vending machine. She then questions Diane about the incident in Brazil and finds out that whilst Diane did throw herself at Sanders, by having too much to drink and going to his room, Sanders wouldn't let her in. Mark and Diane also confirm that, strange as it might seem, Sanders doesn't have a girl-friend nor does he date; Diane also says he can't be gay, because she's seen the way he looks at Ziva.
Another fun Abby and Gibbs scene when she's going through his running kit and also trying to get the very last drops of Caf-Pow! up through the straw and making the awful noise that's made when the cup is empty. Gibbs takes it from her and tells her, "It's over." She says she hates it when the first one of the day is finished.
She tells Gibbs that Sanders kept a device in his running shoes that showed how far and how he ran, and Abby show the results to Gibbs. It proves that the man is amazing as his ability hardly changed, even when he had clearly been poisoned. Gibbs points out that Sanders would have made a good Marine.
We learn that the radiation levels in Sanders are now higher than when he was admitted, adding to the hint that maybe he's not an innocent as he seems and maybe he's poisoning himself. Or if not, then it's Diane, who must have slipped something in his water when she visited him.
DiNozzo gets blatantly flirted with at the shooting range, by the woman who runs it, and he's not at all interested - quite the opposite.
At the hospital DiNozzo reads Ziva really clearly and knows that she's fallen in love with Sanders. She fights back and asks him what he knows about love, adding that for him a long-term relationship is a three-day weekend (ah, Ziva, if only you knew). He tells her that he hopes Sanders will makes it, but also says he has to tell her about the picture of the attractive woman, kid and husky he found in Sander's desk drawer.
They discover that Mark was present at both the hospital and the shooting range, so drag him to NCIS for questioning. The fact they thought this was probably the biggest down part of the episode, as it was so, so clear that he was simply a red-herring and that he was never going to be the guilty one. I know it was meant to add to the suspense, but for me it had the opposite effect, and I was wondering why Gibbs was wasting his time questioning someone who clearly wasn't guilty.
However, it allowed us to have the fun exchange between DiNozzo and McGee who were watching the interrogation when DiNozzo says that his favourite part is just before Gibbs breaks the suspect, when the suspect thinks he still has a chance. But Gibbs is failing to break him, even when he resorts to his simple repetition of a single word - and then we find out why he's failed.
We get a little scene with Abby and Ducky over the visual link, and keep seeing Jimmy in the background playing with the chest cutters. Abby is telling Ducky everything that's been found and suddenly Ducky does a Gibbs and just gets up and leaves her talking to him. Jimmy has to tell her that Ducky's gone and then Agent Lee appears and he says that he has to go too and disconnects the link, leaving poor Abby blinking, whilst in Autopsy Jimmy, aided by Michelle, begins to strip.s
We find out just why Ducky up and left when he drags Gibbs out of the interrogation room to tell him that he's found Gibbs's smoking gun, with the emphasis on 'smoking'; the Thalium had been put into the cigars Sanders smokes. They still think it's Mark (silly people) as they remember the reference to Sanders having a cigar with him. McGee, however, wants to show them something.
DiNozzo says to Ducky, "I hope it's not the U-Tube clip I sent him this morning as it's a little . . ." A little what, one wonders! (I'm sure DiNozzo/McGee fans will have fun with the comment). But no, it's not the U-Tube clip, it's the surveillance video from the shooting range showing Mark standing close to Sanders whilst Sanders is smoking the cigar, thus it can't be him, as you'd hardly poison someone with radiation and stick around. Ducky likens it to having pulled the pin from a grenade, handing the grenade to someone, and then standing next to them. Mark proves this by starting to cough and cough; Ducky stops Gibbs from going into him, and pulls out the face mask and himself goes into the interrogation room.
So now two of the three Inspectors have been poisoned and the evidence is pointing to Diane. Gibbs and McGee go to talk to her and make her tell them where the Inspectors were next going to visit: Russia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
Sanders confesses that he has been having a few puffs from his cigars and Ziva tells him that's where the poison is. He tells her his parents are flying in and he'd like her to meet them and she'd like to meet them too. They have certainly fallen hard and fast for one another and again DiNozzo is aware of this as he apologies for having to ask Sanders who he told about the trip to Uzbekistan, as they've discovered that something 'hinky' is going on at the plant.
The DiNozzo and Ziva scene by the vending machine is a really good one, and again shows us how much DiNozzo has matured this season. Ziva is really surprised and confused by the fact that she has fallen in love with Sanders, she can't believe that it's happening to her. DiNozzo points out that it isn't a sign of weakness, but to Ziva it is.
Sanders then appears looking for Ziva and wants to go outside. Typically, the doctor turns up and tries to get him back to bed, but DiNozzo grabs the doctor's attention by pretending that he thinks he might have been exposed to radiation, listing all the symptoms he's 'suffering' from. The doctor, naturally, goes to him and says he'll have to run tests, thus leaving Ziva and Sanders to go outside, and we're given the impression that it just might be the last time for Sanders, as he really is close to death now. However, we also know that he won't die. Full marks to DiNozzo for what he did and also what he said during this scene - it was a great thing to do.
We have another lovely Autopsy scene when Gibbs goes down to see if Ducky has found out the information he asked him to when he phoned him. Ducky has and explains to Gibbs that someone had been taking the preventative medicine. He's sitting at his desk and Gibbs leans over to look at the information that Ducky is pointing out to him. So another nice, close scene. And still we are led to believe that the poisoner is Diane, as Ducky refers to 'her'.
And in the last few minutes we get the twist, and learn that it isn't Diane at all, but the travel coordinator who poisoned Sanders and Mark. Sanders was the main target and the object was to stop him from going to Uzbekistan, as he would immediately see that changes had been made, as he had gone on all the previous inspections - and she (Holly) has done it all for a mere $50,000.
She's trying to flee in her car and Gibbs and McGee give chase - on foot. Another predictable bit as you know that Gibbs is going to get in front of the car with his drawn gun, and he does. But she stops before she hits him - also predictable. (I'm not entirely certain that actually, given the speed she was driving, that she could actually have stopped so quickly, law of physics and all that, but it looked good).
McGee (leading Holly away): "She could have killed you boss."
Gibbs says nothing, he just reholsters his Sig.
And the episode ends, as suspected, with Ziva and Sanders, a far healthier Sanders, in the garden together talking, and he asks her if she would have missed him in the mornings had he died; she said she would have done. He said that she would have eventually forgotten him and she agrees, but then says that she'll never forget him now, and they link hands. Nice touch.
This episode really humanised Ziva a great deal. We've had the humanising-Ziva and making her into one of team going on throughout the entire season, going on from Hiatus when she's shocked several times, firstly by Ducky snapping at her, then by Abby slapping her, and then when she breaks down and cries in Gibbs's arms over Ari. We knew then that she knew she had to make a choice, and she choose to let her guard down and try to fit in with the team. The way she has done that slowly throughout this season has been very well done, and this episode was very fitting, insofar as it reached a logical point to show us just how far humanising-Ziva had gone.
I never thought that I'd be saying that I really enjoyed a Ziva-centric episode, but I did, very much.
Nothing about DiNozzo and Jeanne, which was slightly strange given all the previous episodes. However, I'm sure that we aren't just going to drop that one (at least I hope not) and move on.
We had Jimmy this week, not that much, but he was there, and that is always good.
Several Gibbs/Ducky scenes which, as always, were lovely.
Some really nice very on-form Abby scenes.
And once again we had a little more Ducky than in some episodes, which is always good.
And no Jenn - also always good.
Ditto no Hollis or mention of her.
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