I wasn't really looking forward to this episode for various reasons; one Mike Franks - why do we keep needing to see this man? He happily have three full seasons (less one episode) without him, we have old cases both Marine and NCIS of Gibbs's and then suddenly, wham, Gibbs goes back in time, Franks appears and from then on he has to be in at least one episode each season. And he always dominates the episode at the expense of other people. Secondly, enough of Gibbs's past, folks, enough. How many more angsty bits can he have to it? Thirdly, I learnt yesterday MH's son was going to be in it, which meant more flashbacks *rolls eyes*

So with low expectations, did I enjoy it more than I thought I would? Given the lowness yes, I did (or at least I thought I did before I typed the review by the time I got to the end of it, I realised I didn't *wry grin*. For me it was very much a so-so episode; I didn't hate it, but I certainly won't rave about it. Sadly I didn't care one iota about the case, it just didn't grip me, it was so noisy and had several scenes when we kept jumping back and forth from two or three people to two or three others, and those things rarely work for me.

As I expected Franks dominated this episode at the expense of the others - in particular Ducky. There were a few nice little scenes, I'm afraid DiNozzo made me want to slap him again and the whole message thing got old within the first few seconds. To me it was another 'Mike Franks show'.

Well Gibbs was one busy person in 1991! He gave Colonel Ryan an inscribed hip flask; he was in Columbia with the Marines; in Desert Storm; Shannon and Kelly died; he joined NCIS!

So we begin with a man in what looks like an abandoned warehouse showing guns to a young teenager, who is highly excited by them and tries several out. It culminates with him trying a really powerful automatic and he shoots up into the ceiling, breaking the glass skylight and lo and behold a body falls through it.

In the squad room DiNozzo arrives and McGee tells him a Melinda had called. DiNozzo instantly launches into a tirade and wants to know how she sounded, why McGee didn't take a number, take a full message, etc. Ziva intersperses at one point suggesting she sounded 'delighted' because DiNozzo wasn't there. DiNozzo starts to look through is little black book and running through various women 'Melinda' could be. Ziva suggests he needs a secretary, McGee suggests a therapist - cue arrival of Gibbs who says "Or both." He tells them about shots being fired at Liberty Heights and off they go.

The body is that of Emilio Salazar, a Marine, Private 1st Class, he joined the Marines four months ago. Gibbs asks after Ducky and McGee tells him he's stuck in traffic. Salazar has had a tattoo removed, but from the trace it has left it is the same letters/symbols - 'PCs' - that are all around the walls of the building. They wonder why he was shot from down in the warehouse and DiNozzo gets another dig in about McGee and taking messages.

Up on the roof they find dried blood, handcuffs and skin. DiNozzo passes a comment that he prefers fur handcuffs which earns him a look from Gibbs; he hastily says they aren't for him, but for the woman he's with at the time. And then they find a message written in blood; a service number with a 'G' on the end - it's Gibbs's.

Back in the squad room Vance it looking for Gibbs, but no one knows where he is; DiNozzo says he'll tell Gibbs than Vance wants to see him. Vance goes and Gibbs's phone rings, DiNozzo answers it and goes on about how he'll take a proper message (I was really bored with the whole thing by now, in fact I was bored during the first scene, now I wanted to strangle someone). McGee apologies and somewhat facetiously suggests that DiNozzo might like him to check through the data-base of calls and find the one that went to DiNozzo's desk at the right time. DiNozzo doesn't realise McGee's being facetious and says he would like McGee to do that.

Gibbs then arrives and DiNozzo tells him Vance wants to see him ASAP and also tells him about the phone call, that a flight is landing. He pushes Gibbs and asks him if he wants to share the information; naturally Gibbs ignores him and turns his attention to 'Dead Marine'. We learn that Salazar had a juvenile record and his tats are gang related. Gibbs comments that Salazar survived years in a gang, but only four months in the Marines. McGee suggests that maybe someone didn't want him to leave the gang; Ziva suggests it might have been a rival gang; DiNozzo adds that it doesn't explain Gibbs's service record though. Gibbs orders them to concentrate on finding the killer and strides off. DiNozzo repeats that Vance wants to see him and Gibbs tells him he heard him the first time.

DiNozzo and Ziva go to a Marine shooting range and we have a nice little moment when DiNozzo tells Ziva to stop eyeing the guns up and she says she hasn't been to the range for a few days. They are ordered by Staff Sergeant Vincente Medina not to talk, but DiNozzo shows his badge and says he wants to talk. Medina tells the Marines to stop shooting. Ziva shows him Salazar's picture and tells him he is dead; they learn that Medina knew about Salazar's past and his involvement with the gang, but that Salazar was trying to escape the gang. He doesn't know who killed Salazar. As they are about to go, Ziva wants to shoot and Medina gives her his Beretta telling her to do her best. She only fires one shot and then gives it back to him, he makes a comment about how women find it too much for them, but she tells him the sight is 1mm off; and it is.

Then we have our one and only scene involving Ducky and a short one it is too. Gibbs goes to Autopsy and Ducky tells him that Salazar was executed almost immediately upon being taken to the warehouse. The machine gun shots were done some time after death as there is no redness, whereas Salazar was killed with one single shot that nicked his heart, he would have taken at least twenty minutes to die and it would not have been painless. The bullet that killed him, is now with Abby.

Gibbs is about to leave when Ducky stops him by commenting that he's never left a crime scene before Ducky had arrived before. Gibbs said he had things to do and Ducky asks if it was something to do with his service number. Gibbs gives his half-smile and turns around to look at Ducky, about to say something. However at that moment Vance arrives and says that he wants to know the same thing. He says that Gibbs has been avoiding him, Gibbs says he's simply trying to find a killer and will let Vance know once he knows something himself. He goes. Vance looks at Ducky who gives an open-handed shrug (note there was no bandage on Ducky's hand). And that, Ducky-fen was that, we did not see our ME again.

Up in Vance's office he is asking for a Marine file; a black ops, top secret, eyes only one: Gibbs's.

In Gibbs's basement we have Franks who bemoans the fact that Gibbs doesn't have any scotch and wants to know why Gibbs has dragged him away from his granddaughter who has just celebrated her second birthday. He asks if Vance knows he's there and suggests he should borrow a tie before going to see him. Gibbs tells him he is looking for someone: Rose. Franks says Columbia was a long time ago, eighteen years ago (1991). Gibbs says only Franks knew about Rose and wants to know what he isn't saying as he knows Rose had to be in DC that day due to his service number being written in blood. Franks then confesses that he brought Rose to DC seventeen years ago, but he hasn't seen her since the day he dropped her off. Gibbs is angry and they leave to go to where Franks took her.

It is not a nice neighbourhood, but Franks said it was better seventeen years ago. They go to the house and a boy answers the door; Gibbs asks for Rose Tamayo and he goes back inside. A moment later another woman comes out and she and Franks talk; it turns out Rose died ten years ago.

The lift opens on Gibbs and Franks (wearing one of Gibbs's ties) and there is Vance. Franks thanks him for sorting out the pension problem and Vance says he did what he'd have done for any other retired agent; he went by the book, no more, no less. Franks says he wouldn't have it any other way, which gets him a look from Vance.

Gibbs asks the kids if they have found anything and Ziva makes one of her many mis-words and talks about a 'smurf' war (really, this is also getting, make that got a long time ago, old; by now she is not going to go on making that kind of mistake) rather than turf war. What they have discovered is that the bullet that killed Salazar has been matched to a gun used in a robbery two weeks ago and the chief suspect is Victor Carmado (known as Popeye) who is a known member of PCs. Gibbs sends DiNozzo and Ziva to bring him in.

Down in Abby's lab she is dancing around when Gibbs and Franks arrive. Abby and Franks hugs and Franks tells her that Gibbs thinks he's there to help him, but really he came to see Abby. She talks about how Gibbs's serial number being written in blood was like a a Bat signal and Gibbs sees it and his mentor then also appears, or she goes on to say it could be like Princess Leia sending a message to Obi-Wan Kenobi and her mentor. Gibbs is not impressed and hands Abby a Caf-Pow! (I actually liked this little scene). Abby returns to planet earth and tells Gibbs that the blood wasn't that of Salazar, which Gibbs knew, but in fact belonged to a fellow marine a Tomas Tamayo. At that name Gibbs and Franks just look at one another and he was from the same neighbourhood as Salazar.

Gibbs says to Franks: "Rose had a son?"
Franks: "Yeah, he was about a year old when I brought her here."
Gibbs: "You knew?"
Franks: "I'm guessing you didn't."

Abby is watching and listening to this exchange avidly. Gibbs asks her for an address and she gives him one; it belongs to a Maggie Scott. Franks suggests Gibbs might like to take it slow as he might not like where it's going.

So at this point Gibbs seems surprised (well as much as Gibbs ever shows surprise) that Rose had a baby, and of course we are meant to think that it is Gibbs's child and Franks knew that. But it doesn't tie in with what we learn later.

DiNozzo and Ziva are in the PC gang's area, DiNozzo makes a point of showing his badge and gun and they come face to face with Carmado who suggests they leave; they don't. Two other, very large, gang members turn up and Carmado runs off, DiNozzo goes after him asking if Ziva can handle the others, she can. He catches Carmado (extremely easily) and when they get back the other two men are on the floor - Ziva can indeed handle them.

Abby goes up to the squad room to talk to McGee and wants to know what he's doing; he's trying to trace DiNozzo's mystery caller, but it's not that easy as the number was withheld, but McGee is determined to find it. However, Abby tells him to stop and listen to her and goes on about how she knows something, well a partial something about something and wonders if McGee knows anything about something. She then explains it's about Columbia and Gibbs and when he was there in 1991 (before he joined NCIS) and a woman called Rose who had a son who is now eighteen. He looks at her and she says: "come on, McGee, type something about the something into something." I really did enjoy this little scene.

Gibbs and Franks go to where Abby sent them and people are playing basket-ball, including Maggie Scott. We learn that Tomas is actually meant to be away from the area and that Maggie is his legal guardian, in fact she's legal guardian to a lot of the kids in the area to keep them out of the system. Rose had asked her to look after Tomas before she died. And then the meant to be on leave Tomas turns up; he and Maggie hug and he and Gibbs look at one another.

In the interrogation room Gibbs and Franks are asking Tomas about what happened; they want to know why he was being held at the warehouse; he says he wasn't. But Gibbs says about his military service record and grabs Tomas's finger, which is bandaged. He wants to know what went down.

Outside DiNozzo wants to know what the connection is between Gibbs and Tomas and also why he is handling him with kid gloves. At that moment Carmado starts to make a lot of noise and DiNozzo and Ziva go off to him. They tell him the 9mm slug found in Salazar's body matched the one at the crime scene that Metro think is linked to Carmado and Carmado seems very relieved that that is all they have.

Back with Gibbs he and Franks are telling Tomas that he is an accessory to murder and will go to prison for ten years. They have evidence that he was on the roof and want to know what he was doing there and who shot Salazar - Tomas says he didn't.

Meanwhile Carmado is now confessing to the murder of Salazar, but he's clearly lying. He talks about how he put the gun to Salazar's head and pulled the trigger.

Once more we leap back to Gibbs and Franks (I was getting really irked by this jumping and bored by it) who tells Tomas how Salazar was shot in the chest and how the bullet nicked his heart and how slowly and painfully he died. Still Tomas denies being there.

Gibbs, Franks, DiNozzo and Ziva then all come back into the squad room. They know Tomas and Carmado are hiding something; they know Carmado didn't take down two Marines, but is confessing to give him street cred. Franks suggests that someone is pulling their strings. McGee thinks he knows who: Staff Sergeant Medina as phone records show he had spoken to almost every gang member in the last few months and he was also a member of the PC gang at one time.

Vance calls Gibbs to his office and tells him he has his file in the hope it might shed some light on Columbia; he says he hasn't looked at it yet and maybe Gibbs would like to tell him. Gibbs says he doesn't have any secrets and Vance says everyone does. Gibbs tells him the last five pages contain some good stuff and leaves. Vance throws the file down on his desk, still unopened.

Now Gibbs and Franks are with Medina. Gibbs asks how many people he'd killed and Medina says seven confirmed; Gibbs explains he meant how many had Medina killed in DC - Medina is shocked by this and says none. He denies killing Salazar and says he was home alone watching TV at the time. He admits to having been a member of the PC gang in the past and said he'd enjoyed it at first, then he saw what it was doing to people, so he got out and joined the Marines and now he tries to get other members to join the Marines too and find a better life. Ziva then interrupts them and gives Gibbs a facial recognition photo; it turns out that actually Medina was in Baltimore on the previous evening and he confesses he fathered a child when he was fifteen, but his wife doesn't know he has a son. Once again we were meant to think that this was the same/similar to Gibbs and that Tomas is the son he fathered, but he didn't know about.

Back in the squad room, Franks is pacing saying they have two Marines on a roof but they don't know why; someone is pulling the gang's chains and they don't know who. DiNozzo interrupts and wants to go back to what Gibbs was doing in Columbia and Ziva wants to know how it was connected to the gang. Franks ignores both of them and returns to his tirade of how they have a punk who confessed to a murder he didn't commit and a kid who wrote Gibbs's service number in blood but said he didn't.

At that moment Gibbs comes in; Franks wants to talk to Tomas again, but Gibbs says he's let him go and they'll follow him - he learnt that from Franks himself. He stops DiNozzo and Ziva from accompanying him and Franks and tells them to join McGee in MTAC. Vance is watching this. And he goes into his office and slits open Gibbs's file.

In the lift Gibbs says that Franks should have told him about Tomas and how he'd got Rose out of Columbia. Franks said that he didn't because Gibbs was remarried (so after loving his beloved Shannon and Kelly in 1991, he remarries in 1992!) happily or so Franks thought - that kind of implies that Gibbs's second marriage ended very swiftly then going by Franks's 'or so I thought', However, we know that Gibbs was still married to the first ex-Mrs. Gibbs in 1996 (the year he and Ducky were meant to have first met) - doesn't quite add up, but then what's new? Franks also tells Gibbs that Rose didn't want him to know about Tomas as he was still trying to put the pieces back after Shannon and Kelly and she didn't want to complicate Gibbs's life - once again with the more than just hints that Gibbs is meant to be Tomas's father. Franks adds that Rose didn't get her wish after all.

The kids are in MTAC and Gibbs calls McGee who tells him Tomas is in Quantico and has been there about twenty minutes. Gibbs at that point turns his car around in a hair-raising manoeuvre in the road and when Franks points out that Quantico is the other way, Gibbs says he wants to go where Tomas will end up, not where he is now.

Meanwhile in MTAC DiNozzo is obsessing about what Gibbs was doing in Columbia seventeen years ago. Vance comes in and says it was eighteen years ago and it was classified. He then asks if what is on the screen is also classified or can they tell their Director. McGee tells him they're tracking a suspect for Gibbs. Vance asks if Franks is with Gibbs and is greeted by silence - which answers his question. They are Gibbs's people, Vance.

Tomas has left Quantico and is on his way back to Liberty Heights. And we learn that both Tomas and Salaza were guards at the armoury.

Gibbs and Franks have got to Liberty Heights and Vance calls Gibbs (not a very good time) to tell him about a load of missing guns. At that moment Tomas appears with several boxes of guns; he makes a call telling someone he/they have to go and get the guns - clearly he is not happy. He's taken the guns, but it was under duress.

Gibbs spots a camera and calls McGee and tells him to record what is happening. The two men Ziva decked appear, causing her to say she should have hit them harder. And then Medina appears with a gun and says it's over; he is not going to let them kill Marines with the guns and there is a shooting match. Medina gets hit in the shoulder by one of the two thugs, Franks takes out one of them and Gibbs the other (I think, I kind of got somewhat lost during the shoot-out).

Vance tells DiNozzo to organise an ambulance and back-up.

Back in Liberty Heights Franks says that wherever Tomas is there is shooting. Vance then calls Gibbs who just tosses the phone to Franks. Vance says Franks killed a man and Franks said he did, but it was within regulations as a retired agent - he did it by the book and even quotes the letter/number of the 'form'. And he simply ends the call.

Medina says he ordered Salaza and Tomas to get the weapons. Gibbs orders Tomas to tell him why. Tomas said he was held on the roof and they vowed to hurt everyone he loved if he didn't help them. He didn't believe them at first but then they killed Salaza and he feared for his life. When he knew Gibbs was NCIS he wanted to tell him but Medina said he wouldn't let him because they take care of their own, he wanted to sort it all out. Gibbs says that the two dead guys were just the hired help.

Back at NCIS Tomas is in the interrogation room with Ziva. Maggie arrives and Gibbs tells her that Tomas will go to prison for stealing the guns, unless she has something to say. She confesses, saying that no one was meant to be killed but they needed to arm the kids to help keep away the drug dealers and the bigger gangs (the stupid, stupid woman and Medina for going along with it. Okay, maybe I can't understand as it's a foreign to my experience neighbourhood and culture, but the reason, to my mind, was not only weak but stupid that two grown intelligent, well Medina wasn't dense, people would do that).

In the squad room McGee gives DiNozzo a piece of paper with Melinda's number on it, it turns out she was DiNozzo's dentist. DiNozzo asked if McGee had learnt anything and he says he has, not to answer DiNozzo's phone. Then DiNozzo is taking a post-it note off his computer and sees a picture of Tomas and thinks he's got it. Franks is leaving and DiNozzo hurries across to him saying he has a question. He says eighteen years ago Gibbs was in Columbia doing something to do with drugs and Tomas is eighteen. He asks Franks if Gibbs is Tomas's father. Franks just puts Gibbs's tie around DiNozzo's neck and tells him to say thanks for the loan.

Gibbs then goes to Tomas; he has new orders for him, he's going to Afghanistan. When Tomas expresses surprise he's not going to prison, Gibbs says he did help them with the investigation. Tomas then talks about his mother who told him about a Marine who came to help the village and free them from a drug cartel. How they shot this Marine and he almost died, but his mother helped him. Gibbs has a brief flashback. Tomas says that the Marine, who he knows was Gibbs, had told his mother if she ever needed help to give Gibbs's serial number to any Marine; he adds that he became a Marine because of Gibbs. Gibbs then, gently, tells him that Rose was already pregnant when Gibbs met her (obviously Tomas also thought Gibbs was his father). He also tells Tomas that most people don't get a second chance, and wishes him luck. Tomas says Semper Fi to him. I admit, this scene I did find rather moving and actually all the more so because Gibbs wasn't Tomas's father. It was probably the only scene that touched me during the whole episode. I did think it was well done, it was under played really and to great effect. A first class scene, one of the few really good ones.

In Vance's office we learn a little more about the op. Gibbs had been sent to eliminate Castelle, who was not only a drug dealer but a torturer and a rapist. It was an excellent shot a single one to the heart from 1,200 yards away (Gibbs was a fine sniper) and all would have been well had Gibbs not been shot himself. Vance ends by asking if Gibbs had told Tomas that he, Gibbs, had killed Tomas's father.


Just how did Gibbs manage to cram so much into 1991? Desert Storm, Columbia, and wherever he was with Colonel Ryan - it just seems an awfully busy year for him. Oh, and his wife and daughter were also killed and he joined NCIS. And he marries again really quickly, which I know does happen sometimes, but . . . dare I say 'inconsistency time again and a lack of looking at their own time-line?

The whole 'Gibbs is meant to be Tomas's father thing was a joke - it wasn't even convincing, not to mention again that it was inconsistent. Gibbs didn't know about Tomas, yet he knew Rose was pregnant. Well, when people are pregnant they usually have a baby (unless they lose it) so why was he so stunned by Franks's news? Because it was meant to make us think Tomas was Gibbs's. Well it was very poorly done.

How come Franks knew about Rose? What made Gibbs tell him? Gibbs was a Marine at the time, joined NCIS after Shannon and Kelly's deaths, what reason would he have for telling Franks about Columbia and about Rose in particular? And even if he did, why did Franks go to Columbia to get Rose and bring her to DC?

And how did the team suddenly know that Gibbs was in Columbia to do with drugs? No one who knew mentioned it.

Very much a 'bleh' episode for me. I just didn't care about anyone involved (the team aside). The case was weak and the whole rationale was hard to believe.

There were a few nice scenes (mainly the two Abby was in and of course the little scene with Ducky and the final scene between Gibbs and Tomas) but other than that, I was singularly unmoved by the whole episode.

Abby was great in this episode, I really enjoyed her two scenes and the scene between her and McGee was pretty much the high-point of the episode.

DiNozzo was back to being ultra-annoying and the whole 'message' thing was annoying.

Ziva's messing up the language is really getting to be farcical.

Vance was okay in this, at least he had a role.

Far, far, far, far, far too much Franks.

Far, far, far too little Ducky - okay so there wasn't really that much of a role for him, but even so - and his serious hand injury now appears to be completely recovered.

No Jimmy - again.

The constant flipping back and forth between scenes really got tiresome and annoying.

Wow, I never thought I'd rate a Gibbs-centric episode lower than an DiNozzo-centric episode!

Storyline: 6.00



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