I personally do not rate this episode very highly, it seemed too much like a filler episode, without a great deal of substance or even point to it. Having said that it does seem to have tied up one thing, and really that was what the episode was about: Tony and Jeanne, or rather what Tony was going to do; how he felt now, etc. that was the pivotal point of the episode, the case was very much an after thought.
There were several occasions when I really wanted to head slap Tony - very hard indeed. Whilst understanding what he is going through and how he must be feeling, I felt it didn't excuse him being nasty on more than one occasion. Not just 'DiNozzo' but nasty and cruel in a way he isn't usually; having said that, interestingly, my feeling was that his heart actually wasn't really in it and that he was deliberately pushing and testing Ziva and McGee (especially the latter) just to see what they'd do/whether they'd still be there for him. And in many ways we, sadly I feel, have gone back to the old Tony, the immature one, maybe it was just for this one episode - I do hope so. I swung between feeling sympathy for him and wanting to hit him, very, very hard :-)
There was nothing about Jenny (in fact she wasn't even in the episode), her father or La Grenouille. This was both good and bad. Good because quite frankly I don't care about Jenny and her father and her obsession or even who killed La Grenouille. However, bad because as I know it isn't going to be one of those 'ends' TPTB fail to pick back up, I was hoping that we'd get it over and done with in the first few episodes, rather than it dragging out for the entire season.
The episode opens with a man in a DJ in a truck talking on a mobile phone; he's makes a 'red-herring' type reference to how he nearly didn't get out of somewhere, and then we learn that he's trying to organise some kind of surprise party. The next second a green car appears, there is a collision and when the 'smoke dies away', the young man is shaken, but not badly hurt, tells the person on the phone he'll call them back, as he can see the other car and the fact that the driver's door (we're in America, Nikki, they have the driver's seat on the wrong side *g*) and then wham he's shot on close range with a shot-gun.
The credits are still as speedy and short as last week, so it wasn't just to allow the 'previously scene'; pity, I personally don't like them as much as the longer ones.
At NCIS McGee and Ziva get out of the lift and Ziva is trying to ascertain not when McGee lost his virginity, but if he has - and this 'theme' continued throughout the episode from time to time. It felt, to me, out of place, it was an old joke, one that would have worked in Season Two or even Three, when McGee really was 'Probie', but now, it seemed very forced to me, as though they'd run out of 'let's goad McGee with something like that'. It didn't have the impact it would have had, humour-wise, had it occurred in Season Two/Three.
DiNozzo is already at his desk and there is a little team banter. Then Ziva tells DiNozzo that she is there for him, if he wishes to talk. DiNozzo doesn't and instead makes a comment about putting super-glue on McGee's keyboard - which he has in fact done. So poor McGee is standing there with his finger stuck to the keyboard when Gibbs comes in. He starts to complain to him, but not surprisingly Gibbs already knows what DiNozzo has done - are that omniscience again - Gibbs throws McGee some kind of solvent, but also asks him if he's ever going to learn. And then calls the team out, as they've had a call to a dead Petty Officer. DiNozzo and Ziva instantly follow Gibbs, McGee avec keyboard finally joins them. Again, it almost seemed as though we'd slipped back in time, season-wise as far as pranks and jokes went, but again I guess it tied in with the whole DiNozzo trying to push McGee and Ziva.
At the crime scene they think it's a hit and run (we know differently though), and DiNozzo makes a very DiNozzo-type comment about with women for him hit and run is a way of life; his tone is not at all convincing.
Ducky starts to lecture about seat belts and then looks at the car, the body and finally asks Gibbs if he'd moved 'my' body; Gibbs merely responds that someone has. The attire the Petty Office Munoz is wearing it not 'real', it's just a front. Ducky doesn't seem surprised and comments that many young service men supplement their incomes in the same way. He goes on to say, "In fact when I was young -" DiNozzo looks very intrigued and waits for Ducky to go on, even encouraging him with "When you were young, what?" But as so often happens with Ducky's stories, he doesn't finish it and instead turns his attention and the teams to the fact that Munoz was shot with a shotgun. Gibbs passes a comment that their 'hit and run has just become a shoot and scoop'.
Ducky is also not convinced that Munoz was the person who went through the windscreen. Whilst Ziva and McGee are again talking about DiNozzo and Jeanne and his assignment Ducky has gone down the slope and has discovered the 'missing' body; it's of a young woman. Nice to see how sprightly he still is, he was down there, whilst the children were still bickering :-)
Back at HQ we learn that as well as being a Petty Officer, Munoz was some kind of male stripper; he'd been to a Class Reunion and we see photos of him in his underwear posing for women who are sticking money down his underpants and laughing and smiling and fawning all over him. DiNozzo wonders if Ducky ever has those kinds of dreams, adding that Gibbs won't be far behind him (meaning Ducky). And of course Gibbs is standing right behind DiNozzo and passes the comment "Gonna be your dreams one day too, DiNozzo."
Still DiNozzo hasn't learnt as he then makes a comment about his gut telling him that Munoz had maybe played up to the wrong woman and he was killed by a jealous husband; a glance at Gibbs has him backtracking and saying that no doubt Gibbs's gut is telling him something else. It is: it's to do with the dead woman. It turns out that she has several aliases and that she's a confidence trickster.
They trace the owner of the green car that was found at the scene and Gibbs and DiNozzo go off to interview the young man - Nicholas (Nicky) Barnes at his father's garage. Nicky has dashed into the loo and his father keeps going on about how he warned his son about Tiffany and doesn't seem surprised when Gibbs informs him that her name wasn't Tiffany.
Nicky finally comes out of the bathroom and admits he has known Tiffany, not only known her but that he gave her his car and $1,000 for an operation. He says that she told him she loved him and that you don't like to someone you love. We get a flashback scene (at which point my heart 'sank' as I really thought we were going to replay Paris with Tony and Jeanne for the entire season) of DiNozzo and Jeanne and her saying how lovely it is that he doesn't lie. Nicky's father can provide evidence that his son was working at the garage all morning and passes over the names of the customers who would have seen him.
Back in Autopsy Ducky is doing one of the things that Ducky does best: he's talking to the body. He's talking about confidence tricksters and mentions how the Eiffel Tower was nearly sold twice and how many such people in her line of work come to the same end as she has. And then something stops him dead and he's not happy; he pulls of his gloves and hurries to the door - we know he's going off to find Gibbs because it's one of Ducky's 'things', virtually every time he wants Gibbs he goes to find him, rather than ring him. Just as the door to Autopsy opens, so does the lift door - it is, of course, Gibbs.
Ducky: "You're late."
Gibbs: (blinking and looking at his watch) "Do we have an appointment, Duck?"
Ducky: "No, we have a crises. I apologize for not seeing it sooner."
Gibbs: "Know how I feel about apologies."
Ducky: "You might want to make an exception."
He explains that the girl was in fact dead before the accident, she'd been beaten to death. Gibbs thanks him and is about to go, when Ducky throws in his bombshell. He knew about the beating an hour ago; what he has only just discovered is that the girl gave birth, just before being killed. Gibbs and Ducky exchange a look.
In Abby's lab, Abby is once again drinking Caf-Pow! in fact she has several of them lined up; McGee, who is escaping from the squad room as DiNozzo is calling Tiffany's 'marks' and is going on to all of them about lying, explaining that just because she lied it didn't mean she didn't love them (of course he's talking about himself and Jeanne too) asks why, and she points out that she needs to stay alert because of the baby. He points out that all she'll do is ending up needing to pee all day, but she has a solution to this too: she's going to increase her salt intake.
It is into this that Gibbs walks, with "He's here." Abby makes a comment about Gibbs talking about himself in the third person and how cool that is, and so ensues a short scene with Abby doing the same. She keeps saying 'Abby has ....' At the end Gibbs praises her and together they turn to look at McGee, who starts with "Er, McGee has . . ." They discover that an Adrian Nelson has been paying large sums of money into Tiffany's bank account. As Gibbs and McGee leave to go and see the Nelsons, we have Abby saying "Abby has to pee," and off she trots. It was a nice, fun, very Abby-ish scene, and one of the highlights of the episode.
At the Nelsons we learn that Adrian is a computer programmer, which brings a light to McGee's eyes, and that he has basically programmed his house so that he can control anything, the lights, the fire, the sprinkler system outside (which is also set to detect intruders), etc. and he demonstrates. McGee is impressed; Gibbs is just . . . Gibbs. The Nelsons deny knowing the Tiffany and the wife, Sara, says that Gibbs and McGee are welcome to look around the home. Gibbs takes the control from Adrian and the lights go out; Adrian thinks it's a fuse and goes off, lit by Gibbs and his torch to fix it. Once they're out of the room, Gibbs forces Adrian to admit to knowing the woman; he says her name was Heidi, he'd seen her a few times, she'd stolen money from him, and that he'd never slept with her. He refuses to give Gibbs DNA, saying he'd have to get a warrant. Gibbs and McGee leave - but during the 'accidental' black-out, McGee has been duly collecting stuff that will give them the DNA samples.
Back at HQ, Gibbs, McGee and Ziva are discussing theories as to Tiffany/Heidi's death and Ducky turns up with a 'baby parcel' containing things they'll need when they find the baby. It hasn't been found on any doorstep or at a hospital and Ducky looks at Gibbs and says that he never expected it to be found; Gibbs says the father has the baby.
A nice touch of humour then when DiNozzo stands up and declares he has a dentist's appointment. The look he gets from the rest of them is priceless and he's explaining that it is a real one this time, and that he sent Gibbs and email with leave request two days ago - but of course Gibbs hasn't read his email. Thus defeated DiNozzo returns to his desk and answers his phone with a long drawn out comment about how he cried wolf and will never be believed and is destined to have tooth problems for life. It's Abby one the phone; she has news.
Down in Abby's lab, she is cleanly over-hyped on caffeine and is jumping up and down and confesses to being excited about everything that day. Her test shows that, surprise, surprise, Adrian Nelson is the father, but they also show that Heidi was not the mother; she merely carried the baby, the mother is Sara Nelson; it's a surrogacy deal 'gone wrong' or that's the thought at that moment. It certainly explains the money that the Nelsons had paid to Heidi to carry their child.
The four members of the field team go to the Nelsons, but not surprisingly they aren't there. In fact the house is a mess, with one exception: a baby's room. Ziva and Gibbs have a short scene where Ziva says that she really doesn't understand the whole thing, but wonders if Gibbs did, because he was a father. He asks her if she wants children and she can't answer him, she says it isn't easy, he tells her that if she ever has a child the answer will be. This could, maybe, be taken as a hint that prior to becoming a father, Gibbs didn't actually want children - but maybe I'm just being too over-analytical. DiNozzo comes in and he's soaked, the sprinkler went off when he was digging around in the garden; McGee 'forgot' to warn him - nice touch, McGee actually getting his own back. In the baby's room we have DiNozzo having another flashback.
McGee has found something on the Nelson's computer, although Nelson has wiped it, he still finds something in the root directory and gets all geeky. Which leads to DiNozzo making probably the most bitchy comment he has ever said, he says that maybe McGee could pretend he was talking to someone who has actually had sex with another person. The Gibbs glare he gets, shows him that he has over-stepped the line for once, Gibbs is not happy and he's even less happy when DiNozzo 'sneezes', and (Gibbs/McGee fen will like this) gets quite 'protective' of McGee, in the way he puts his hand on the back of McGee's chair and moves slightly nearer to him. A small thing, but it says a lot, and it tells DiNozzo a heck of a lot.
Back at the office DiNozzo is looking at picture of the Nelson's and McGee offers a small olive branch; he asks DiNozzo what it was like being another person and then says that DiNozzo really loved Jeanne and is still in love with her. DiNozzo doesn't answer, but at that point they learn the the co-ordinates McGee had used to trace Nelson's car were faked. DiNozzo is also quite nasty in this scene and again turns on McGee and plays up the 'real police work'; he sees a Dead Head sticker on the car and calls an old friend of his (Donny). He then rewards himself with a doughnut, unfortunately, for him, a bit breaks off and he ends up with jam all over his shirt.
We then once again have a men's room scene; Ziva follows DiNozzo to the men's room and goes in whilst another man is there - in a rare touch of continuity it is the same man who was there when Ziva followed McGee in Season Four, and again said man does not wash his hands. She locks the door after him and we then have a touching, antagonistic, intimate and intense scene with Ziva and DiNozzo. She again tries to get him to talk, says she knows how much he cared about Jeanne, he basically ignores her and goes to pee, but she stops him and says he has to let go of his feelings. And then she asks whether he is prepared to give up his entire life and become Tony DiNardo and live that life just for Jeanne. He points out that she'd told him once that 'the heart wants what it wants', she denies it and he, again cruelly, turns on her about the 'dead man walking' with whom she fell in love. She tells him he's crossed the line and leaves; just as McGee comes in. They've found the dead PO's car.
In NCIS garage, DiNozzo and Ziva are still bickering and Gibbs wants to know if he needs to send them back to the men's room, ah, that man really is all knowing. They find blood and footprints in the car.
Abby's tests reveal that it's panda poop and shows Gibbs how the Chinese had found a way to turn it into paper. She also tells him where a now-closed-down paper mill is. And for her good job, she gets another kiss.
The field team turn up at the abandoned paper mill where they meet the Nelsons, who are waiting for the kidnapper to bring their baby. As DiNozzo puts it the cops have screwed up the drop.
Back at HQ, Ziva is insisting that the Nelsons should have told them about the kidnapping, and the entire department, we learn, is trying to find the missing baby.
Gibbs is with the Nelsons and again he's not that happy; you get the impression that whilst he can understand as a father why they didn't tell NCIS, as an agent he's angry and not particularly understanding of the fact that they didn't. He says he can wait all day, nice bluff, Gibbs, to get the truth. We learn that Sara Nelson had a partial hysterectomy a few years ago, and that Heidi had a womb but no eggs; they kept quiet about it because paid surrogacy is illegal in Virginia. They keep insisting they were happy to pay Heidi, that she was their friend and she was trying to get away from her old life to start over again.
Meanwhile back in the squad room Ziva is telling DiNozzo that whilst Gibbs doesn't accept apologies, she does. And after a moment or two, DiNozzo does give her a half apology saying that he knows she was only trying to help. For DiNozzo, I think that was as much as he could do; he couldn't say he was sorry for his nasty 'dead man walking' comment, so he makes the what on-the-face-of-it is very half-hearted apology, but from Ziva's face she understands what he is really saying.
We then learn that all of Heidi's marks, bar one, have alibis. The 'one' is a very mild looking man, until we see another photo of him and we then learn that actually he was Heidi's partner in crime, a fellow con man, who would pretend to be a customer. However, he died a year ago.
Abby still doesn't know who the killer is, but knows how he was planning to kill. The brakes had been tampered with on the green car, however, even more oddly new brakes had been put in and then replaced by the old ones. It looks as though the planned 'accident' whereas not being an accident-accident was a kind of accident as it happened sooner than was planned. The plan was that the girl would be found in the driver's seat and the car would be pushed off a cliff and put down to brake-failure. And who better placed to fix brakes than . . . Nicky and/or Joseph Barnes.
Back at the garage the father (Joseph) is still denying his son had anything to do with such a plan, saying he wasn't bright enough; Gibbs agrees, but points out that Joseph was. He did all the planning and the execution and has the baby, he killed Heidi and PO Munoz . . . Except, he didn't change the brake lines, he didn't know they were rigged to fail; his son did that.
Gibbs finds Nicky at the Nelson's house with the baby. He also learn that Heidi had tricked the Nelsons that she and Nicky were planning on running away with the baby, which Nicky swears would have been raised right. Heidi did it just to have a baby. However, his father wanted the final pay out from the Nelsons, hence the whole charade. Nicky's dad killed Heidi and Munoz and made Nicky lie to NCIS. Nicky tells Gibbs how Heidi and his dad fought, then she had the baby, dad took the baby, she was screaming and Gibbs says, very quietly 'and you didn't do a thing'. But Nicky did; he rigged the brakes. Gibbs explains that the prosecution will call it murder; Nicky's defence will call it self-defence and Gibbs? Gibbs calls it family.
DiNozzo, once again wet from the sprinklers, comes back in. He takes Nicky away; Gibbs takes the baby into the next room and gives him to the Nelsons.
The final scene is very 'mushy' and family has far more than one meaning.
We have the Nelsons as a family.
And we have the NCIS family.
McGee, again as a way of trying to reach Tony, turns on the fire for him. Tony goes over and then takes out a letter; it's from Jeanne. It says simply that she isn't coming back and he has to choose.
He looks at the letter, then at his family: Ducky examining baby Nelson, Gibbs, McGee and Ziva standing together, chatting and he makes his choice: he throws Jeanne's letter into the fire, gets up and joins the rest of the field team. Yes, he really, really loved her and still does, but he can't give up his life.
Throughout the scene we have a lovely song (which I must track down, any help as to title or artist would be very much appreciated) and the words that include:
'Wasted, wasted love for you.
All we are we are.
All we are we are.
Every day's the start of something beautiful'.
I didn't really enjoy the episode that much. Certainly not as much as last week. I don't have kids, I've never wanted them and as such I'm afraid that I don't really 'get' the whole obsession about having them. Thus I tend to find things with that focus beyond my level of understanding at an emotional level - I'm rather like Ziva in this, I think. Thus, because of this I don't tend to really enjoy books, films, shows that focus on this aspect, hence this was never going to be a highly-rated episode for me.
The ending was really touching - it moved me to a lump in the throat - and in a way sums up NCIS: they are family.
No Jimmy, which was a shame.
No Mann - wonderful :-)
No Jenny - as I said above both good and bad.
Still not enough Ducky or Abby.
Very mediocre episode, not bad, but nothing to write home about.
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