I was in two minds about this episode going into it. On the one hand Fornell was in it and I love Fornell and his interaction with Gibbs, so that was a positive thing. On the other hand I'm really ambivalent about the whole DiNozzo/Ziva/Rivkin triangle. I like DiNozzo/Ziva as a pairing, but am not that interested in seeing it played out on the screen. Plus, as well as Rivkin there was going to be yet another main guest star and the SecNav, which means it inevitably takes more time away from the members of Team Gibbs.

A far better episode than the previous two weeks (not that that would be difficult). Some excellent interaction, especially between Gibbs and Fornell, a few loose ends partly tied up, but even more unravelled. A touch of humour, which was really missing from the last two weeks. And it was nice that despite all of Shane Brennan's playing up of DiNozzo/Ziva, in fact this was not the focus of the episode. All good stuff.

On the not so good, I'm afraid to say it was another case I cared nothing about and really like with the previous two weeks it felt forced, it seemed badly written, Rivkin's involvement somehow didn't ring true. The whole thing with him and the terrorist cells really seemed put in merely to find a way to give viewers the DiNozzo/Ziva/Rivkin triangle they want. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the episode, but it didn't have me gripped and on the edge of my seat as it was 'meant' to. Nor did I think it was the most intense or whatever word SB used about it this season - not at all.

Anyway . . .

We begin with four men playing cards and we quickly learn that three of them are agency directors and the fourth is the slimy SecNav (who I really took against when he appeared earlier in the season) and they are in his house. The is a disturbance, we flick to outside and see a man pressed up against the window and a woman agent calling out 'Agent Down'. The dead man is an ICE agent (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent - Thomas Sherman.

McGee, DiNozzo and Ziva are outside by the car, whilst inside Gibbs, Fornell, the CIA and ICE itself are arguing over jurisdiction. McGee points out it should be the FBI, however, DiNozzo believes that Gibbs will prevail (of course he will). McGee says he would have liked to have been a fly on the wall so that he could eavesdrop on the conversation between the four men playing cards.

Ducky arrives and DiNozzo gives him a big introduction in big top style which allows Ducky to ask: "Where is our ringmaster?" Hee - a nice little line. DiNozzo tells Ducky that Gibbs is fighting it out between Fornell and a girl from ICE. Ducky goes off to the house. Gibbs sees him and says the ME is there. The SecNav then decrees that NCIS take the lead with the FBI and ICE backing up and the CIA can go home - it's his house, his rules. Gibbs then signals with his fingers to Ducky, who nods and goes off.

Fornell introduces Gibbs and the ICE lady. She is Agent Julia Foster-Yates and I'm afraid I took against her as soon as I saw her. I did at one point think she was involved and a baddie. But the main problem was her attitude; she came over as belligerent and pushy and has a chip on her shoulder and just not a person I'd want to spend time with. Okay, woman in a man's world and all that, but I just didn't care for her. Gibbs doesn't endear himself to her when he points out that the place wasn't secure enough.

Meanwhile Ducky is examining Sherman's body and he has a riddle for DiNozzo. "What is not food but tastes very well?" He says DiNozzo should be able to get it before Ziva does. He does - the tip of the tongue. Meanwhile Ziva is looking at the window where Sherman had pressed up against.

Yates arrives and asks if Sherman had been poisoned. Ducky doesn't think so and shows them a bruise on Sherman's neck and evidence that he had been deprived of oxygen. Yates says it isn't possible because the security was airtight as she designed it. Ziva points out that it apparently wasn't - go Ziva!

Back inside Fornell and Gibbs are looking at the table whilst McGee takes photos. Fornell tells Gibbs the CIA took dips and the FBI drink. McGee asks Gibbs if something is bothering him; he says there is, but not by something there and reminds us that it was the SecNav, the FBI, CIA and ICE who were present - inference, where was NCIS? Gibbs then goes, Fornell and McGee interact for a moment then Fornell goes after Gibbs.

Back outside Yates is watching Ziva look around and brush the window, something sticky was on it. Ducky calls DiNozzo over and there is a bug, a listening device. It must have been on the window and then fell off and Sherman fell on top of it. It appears to still be transmitting. Yates puts a stop to that by stamping on it - silly woman! It's hard to believe that someone who is in charge of her own team, who got promotion ahead of people of longer standing would do that! Utterly stupid.

Back at HQ, Abby and McGee are in Abby's lab; Abby is angry because of the smashed bug. McGee refers to Yates as 'Jules' (which just added to my dislike of her - irrational, I know, but . . .) and Abby immediately expresses the jealousy she always shows when 'her' men, but especially McGee, has dealings with/interacts with other women. She says she'll tell Yates off for smashing the bug; McGee comments he'd like to be present for that. They then look at the cards and shots of what each man was holding. Abby knows her poker, unlike McGee, and ends by saying that one of the men was an idiot to still be in the game - it looks as though maybe the poker game wasn't exactly real.

Gibbs and Fornell are in Vance's office and Vance says that last time he played poker with the others he cleaned them out - so why wasn't he there this time? It couldn't be just because he cleaned them out. Another little bit of intrigue and wondering how that fitted in with the case.

Back at SecNav's house, DiNozzo, Ziva and Yates are still studying the area, looking at the grass, etc. and there isn't any evidence at all that anyone could have crossed it. Ziva, however, says someone who was trained could have done (and immediately we think of Rivkin, it was pretty much forced under our noses from that moment). DiNozzo tells Yates he wasn't trained that way and he brushes something off her shoulder. Yates admits that Sherman was a maverick and asks DiNozzo if he and Ziva agree over everything - er, no.

They look around and no Ziva - she is, in fact, up a tree working out how the highly trained person could have got in and out. Her phone rings. It's McGee. He and Ziva are at somewhat crossed purposes because Ziva tells him she is up a tree and he thinks she's confused about something and says what he has will confuse her more. (The phrase is actually 'up a gum tree' and means has great difficulties). Meanwhile DiNozzo goes into his 'why is he calling you, I'm the senior field agent' mode. Like so many things the writers do, they take something and overplay it. Okay, so at least it was consistent, DiNozzo does that all the time, but it is getting a tad old. And then McGee says he had tried to call DiNozzo but there was no answer; DiNozzo pulls out his phone and there isn't a signal - Ziva got one because she was up a tree.

Gibbs and Fornell are in Autopsy with Ducky and Ducky starts to tell them how Sherman was grabbed and what the result was. But for some reason he isn't content just to tell them, he wants to demonstrate. He does so; on Fornell. Gibbs is watching with his fond, amused 'Ducky smile' as Ducky gets his arm around Fornell's neck and starts to throttle him. Gibbs also offers Fornell helpful advice, saying he should push up on Ducky's arm and turn his head into the shoulder.

Finally as Ducky's enthusiasm seem in danger of maybe going a tad too far, Gibbs brings him back to reality with a soft 'Duck. Ducky finally lets go of Fornell after explaining that a hold like that would have led to death - but it didn't in this case. Sherman had a disease and in fact died of a massive stroke. Ducky then wants to demonstrate something else and moves towards Fornell who holds up his hands and says "I'm cool." He seems a tad wary of Ducky - I don't blame him. The attack on Sherman was not meant to be lethal; his death was accidental. So they have an intruder who got in and out unobserved and left a bug behind. Fornell says he'll get the FBI to start compiling profiles. After another look at Ducky, Gibbs and Fornell leave. I really loved that scene; it was a highlight of the episode. So well done, and one of the few bits of humour we had. Poor Fornell, and I loved how Gibbs was indulgent and amused at what was going on. For me it was the scene of the episode.

DiNozzo, Ziva and Yates are in the lift and suddenly Ziva comments that normally the SecNav always has an NCIS agent guarding him, but this time it was only ICE. Why? She adds that there were ten people guarding the men gathered for the poker game, except they weren't playing. She stops the lift and DiNozzo tells Yates to tell them what is really going on. She confesses the game was a cover for what was in fact an intelligence summit. However, she does not know what they were discussing.

Gibbs and Fornell are walking together and talk about the intelligence summit. Fornell tells Gibbs not to give him 'that' look as he didn't know about it either, besides he's riding shotgun. Gibbs asks if he can borrow it - a nice bit of word play. Fornell is trying to calm Gibbs down saying that Yates was just doing what she'd been told to do. But Gibbs pretty much ignores that. He goes over to her and does his intimidation act, getting inside her personal space and looming over her in the way only Gibbs can do. She stands her ground somewhat to begin with, saying she doesn't answer to him, but he points out she does and demands to know what, if anything, else she is holding back. Suddenly McGee steps in and 'rescues' her by telling Gibbs he could set up a reconstruction of the scene. Gibbs orders Yates to help him. He tells Ziva to start background checks.

Gibbs and Fornell then waltz into Vance's office, without knocking, leading Vance to say, "Please, come right in." Another nice touch of humour. Gibbs demands to know what was being discussed at the summit and Fornell backs him up saying it's essential they know. Suddenly the SecNav pipes up - oops - and he tells Gibbs and Fornell to sit down. The four of them sit around a table and the SecNav goes on about how it's the first term for a new President a time when he'll be tested. He says there are too many foreign operatives who are too comfortable in the US. That includes terrorist cells but also Mossad - Rivkin slipped through and that was Director David sending a none too subtle message that in his opinion the Federal Agencies were not doing enough to police their own backyard. It was time the agencies all talked together and the SecNav had set up the poker game for an informal setting and it tended to loosen lips. Gibbs wants to know why NCIS wasn't represented; the SecNav says "I was there." Gibbs and Vance exchange a look.

Then Callen's shooting is mentioned and a man 'Hassid' is in custody, he's given up his handler, but not who shot Callen. Fornell asks how Callen is and Gibbs says he's still critical but still hanging in there. Fornell then shows papers of people whom the FBI have been watching. The main one is a man who has several aliases, but is known as Abin Tabal.

Down in the squad room DiNozzo, Ziva and Fornell are looking at the various aliases of Tabal and talking about his multitude of passports and where he's flown to and from. The only destination all 'men' have in common is the US. He also seems to have a fondness for North Africa. At that moment Ziva's phone rings and we hear a man's voice say 'Shalom' to her and she starts to talk in her own language - it is, of course, Rivkin.

Fornell and DiNozzo talk for a moment or two longer about the cell, before Fornell goes off to find Gibbs. He tells DiNozzo to find Tabal. DiNozzo watches him go then goes to his desk saying "Okay, I like taking orders from, well just about anyone. Especially the guy who framed me for murder. One moment he's framing me for murder, the next he's treating me as a perfectly capable agent." Another lovely little speech. Ziva hangs up and says he has to pop out for a short time; DiNozzo tells her he'll be there and once she's gone, he types some words she said into his computer.

McGee and Yates are with Abby in her lab. Yates thanks McGee for 'saving' her and puts her hand on his - Abby does not like that. She asks Yates if she makes a habit of destroying evidence and then says that she can put it back together again. Yates doesn't see what the problem was then - ouch. And they have a minor confrontation until Abby learns that Yates is extremely well trained and she'd lose out. McGee, meanwhile, is watching the two of them. They he spots a car on the video - a car that appears twice. He gets the number plate and recognises it and hurries off to find Gibbs. But seconds later he comes back and tells Yates she'd better go with him. He clearly doesn't trust either of them left alone together - but mostly Abby.

In Vance's office, Gibbs shows Vance the photo of the car and it turns out it was Vance's car. Gibbs asks what he was doing there and Vance admits he wanted to make sure the meeting took place and that curiosity makes you do strange things. The week before Hutchins (the FBI director) let slip about the meeting, before he knew that Vance was excluded. Gibbs asks why Vance wasn't there and Vance tells him because they were talking about Vance.

Ziva and Rivkin are in an outdoor cafe; he is drinking and she tells him she can't stay for lunch. He asks her to have a drink and he orders another one (vodka) but she declines. She tells him she is working but doesn't tell him on what, adding she'll tell him once it's over. Then her phone rings; it's DiNozzo. She tells Rivkin she has to go as DiNozzo had called to say they've found the terrorist. They kiss and she goes.

A hand gives Rivkin his drink; he thanks them, but it's actually DiNozzo. He sits down and after making a film reference they talk about Ziva. DiNozzo says he knows the romance isn't kosher and tells Rivkin to get out of town. Rivkin refuses, saying he hasn't spent enough time with Ziva yet and says how nice it is that Ziva has someone like DiNozzo looking out for her - he's like her big brother. DiNozzo again tells him to go and pack and get out, again Rivkin says he won't. He then says that whilst DiNozzo can question him about his feelings for Ziva, he can't question Ziva about her feelings for Rivkin.

Ziva arrives back at the office to find McGee talking about the layout of the agents on duty outside the SecNav's house - there is no sign of DiNozzo, which surprises her. Gibbs, Fornell and Yates are also there and they are all looking at the layout McGee has put up on the screen. There was an outer and inner ring and Gibbs shows how it was penetrated. When Sherman moved to the patio, it opened up a gap; it was a clear error. Yates says she made a mistake; Fornell tells her no one is perfect; not her, not the killer.

Gibbs asks Ziva if she's finished with the background checks and she says almost and gives him what she has.

Abby calls to ask McGee to go and help her.

Gibbs and Fornell walk off talking about full disclosure. Gibbs asks if Fornell can vouch for the 'ICE Princess'. Fornell says she's cold on the outside, but full of beans on the inside.

Meanwhile Ziva finds what DiNozzo had written down.

Abby and McGee are in Abby's lab. When the bug was working correctly it could piggy-back on any Internet connection and upload the audio to a private web site. McGee makes a reference to a dancing tin can, follow the string to find out what's on the other end. When Abby looks puzzled, as did I, he asks if she'd never camped out in her backyard as a kid. She says there were alligators in her backyard - really!?!. McGee then says that Abby didn't really need his help; she says another pair of hands are good, but he asks if she's feeling neglected. She says she'd feeling nauseous watching him and 'Jules' flirt. He denies it, but she goes on about their hands touching. He then says Yates is out of his league and immediately Abby gets defensive on his behalf and says indignantly that of course she isn't.

DiNozzo returns and he and Ziva get into an argument over Rivkin. He says he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't check him out; she says he's on vacation, simply visiting her. He comments about Rivkin drinking as if he were on vacation. Yates then appears and asks where the conference room is; DiNozzo says he'll show her.

In the conference room Gibbs and Fornell are really, really close together; Fornell is sitting, Gibbs is bending over him talking very quietly. Yates walks in on them and blinks. Fornell shows her the interviews with Yates's team and he and Gibbs go into a double act. There was a lot of bad feelings. She was promoted over Sherman even though he had several more years experience than she had. He objected openly to taking orders from a woman who was also his junior in terms of service. He was a thorn in her side.

Finally it dawns on her that they are suggesting she killed Sherman (I certainly thought she was involved in some way) and gets angry and then upset, saying maybe losing a member of the team gets easier. And then she confesses that Sherman's death was not her mistake; her mistake was trying not to dish the dead. Sherman shouldn't have gone to the patio, he was out of position. He never had been concerned with not making her look like a fool; he wasn't a team player and that was why he was passed over for promotion. Gibbs's phone rings, he answers it, bends over Fornell again and says something quietly to him (so much fodder for Gibbs/Fornell fen in this episode) and together they leave. Seconds later he puts his head back around the door and tells Yates to go with them.

They arrive at a motel, go in, sweep the room and find not only the layouts of the SecNav's house, but a dead body. It's Tabal.

In Autopsy we have Ducky, Gibbs, Fornell and Vance. Ducky says it looks as though Tabal died from poisoning and describes his mouth - it appears he bit down on a suicide pill, only a few hours ago. Gibbs says there was no sign of forced entry at the motel, so it appears that Tabal killed himself. He was meant to be invisible, but when he accidentally killed the ICE agent he lost his invisibility as all exit routes were cut off for him. So he took the only way out. Vance asks Ducky if the psychology bears that out. Ducky says it does if Tabal was a true believer. He would believe he was a threat to the cause, so he removed the threat by removing himself. Before he died he wiped his computer but at the moment Abby is connecting the laptop to the listening device. Vance then says "Case closed. Write it up." And he goes.

In the squad room Ziva wonders why McGee is still there when he's already packed to go. DiNozzo says he's waiting to leave with someone. Yates appears and says it was nice working with them and then she, accompanied by McGee goes. McGee asks what Gibbs and Fornell were saying to her and she says they were apologising for suspecting her. He is amazed by this, but when she expresses surprise he says it'll take too long to explain; she says she's free that evening. They then go off in the lift together. *Sighs* It'll end badly, Timmy, it always does when you and/or Abby date anyone else - and this woman is not for you.

Ziva says a curt goodnight to DiNozzo who responds in kind and she goes.

Gibbs and Fornell then come over to DiNozzo and Gibbs reminds DiNozzo of Rule #11. DiNozzo starts to talk about 'never dating a co-worker' before remembering that was Rule #12. He queries #11; Gibbs and Fornell look at one another and Gibbs tells DiNozzo "When the job is done walk away." Fornell says the case is wrapped up and tied with a nice bow. DiNozzo asks if it works for Fornell that a crazy terrorist killed himself. Fornell says he doesn't understand the mentality, but he'll accept it. Gibbs and he exchange another look and he goes.

Gibbs asks what is on DiNozzo's mind and DiNozzo says that Rivkin is still in town seeing Ziva; Gibbs knows - of course he does. Gibbs confesses to being bothered and that the lines between him being bothered personally and professionally are somewhat blurred. He sees Vance passing by on the upper floor and he tells DiNozzo to stay on it.

In Gibbs's basement he's working on his boat when who should appear but the SecNav. He has a bottle of bourbon with him and asks how Gibbs knows what he likes to drink. He says how his elder brother gave him his first shot of bourbon when he was still a kid. Gibbs tells him his grandfather had a still and when it blew up once he ran back inside to rescue his sour-mash, now this is the kind of just dropped into the conversation background stuff I like to learn. Gibbs then, in true Gibbs fashion, empties two jam jars, wipes them out with a cloth and pours drinks. The SecNav again mentions his brother and then comments that Gibbs is an only child. Gibbs talks about the Corps saying how strangers become brothers in a fox hole.

The SecNav asks Gibbs if that is why he's trying to get close to Vance. Gibbs pulls out the CIA file, saying he didn't ask for it and he hasn't read it. I do find that really hard to believe, after he got Ducky to recheck the body in 'Knockout' and Ducky found the detached retina, Gibbs had to open the file; he was failing in his duty not to do so - and it was very un-Gibbs-like. The SecNav opens the file and scans it and says he thought they'd shredded all those papers and wonders how they keep finding their way into the open. He says it's good that Gibbs hasn't read it as it's not real and wouldn't give Gibbs the whole picture. Gibbs comments "And will you?" The SecNav smiles.

DiNozzo is with Abby and they are looking at Tabal's laptop. It was totally wiped, yet he failed to wipe the network location log - which would show where it was used. They look at the addresses and both recognise one: It's Ziva's.

Ziva is in her car going through the list of names on her mobile phone. She gets to one saying 'Hadar' and dials the number, letting the phone ring.

Back in Gibbs's basement, the SecNav says there are a lot of black bars covering Vance's career, literally as there are black lines all over the report. He says the man was born for counter-intelligence. At the look on Gibbs's face he asked if Gibbs had him pegged as a lifelong bureaucrat. Gibbs hadn't; he'd figured Vance had worn a few hats and he'd heard a few whispers. The SecNav says he can account for every second of Vance's life and he didn't leave him out of the poker game because he didn't trust him. They were actually talking about how they could use him.

He says he knows that Gibbs has been concerned since Jenny's death about having the wrong person in charge of the agency and he says he's also concerned. Vance is to be the point man in a major investigation. Gibbs asks who is the enemy, the SecNav says it's their friends. Gibbs suggest the Israelis; the SecNav agrees. They are the top priority ever since Jenny created the unorthodox position of Liaison Officer (I always thought it was a weird position and not totally kosher). Gibbs says Ziva and the SecNav 'reminds' Gibbs that her father is Director of Mossad and her half-brother a traitor who died in Gibbs's basement at Gibbs's hands and yet Ziva works with Gibbs every day. He adds "What a family."

DiNozzo knocks on Ziva's door and it's opened by Rivkin. He asks if DiNozzo really expected him to leave; DiNozzo says he'd hoped he would. Rivkin comments how late it is and how maybe DiNozzo was hoping to find Ziva alone and emotional so he could comfort her. DiNozzo says he's there on a case and mentions Tabal and says he thinks Rivkin is familiar with him. DiNozzo thinks the fact that Tabal killed himself was too clean and events over the last year have made him suspicious. When Rivkin asks even those closest to you, DiNozzo admits especially those. He says how they pulled the log information from Tabal's computer and found one log on was from Ziva's apartment. Rivkin asks if DiNozzo had gone there to talk to Ziva about it, all based on a series of numbers on a computer, and DiNozzo says he had, until Rivkin opened the door.

Back in the basement Gibbs and the SecNav clink jam jars and both drain them. The SecNav says 'Semper Fi' and tells Gibbs "You and Leon have to play nice." Gibbs asks if he is ordering Gibbs to trust Vance. The SecNav tells him just to follow him, adding "We don't hit our brothers." He goes.

Back in Ziva's apartment DiNozzo tells Rivkin that once he's finished his drink he is under arrest for the murder of Sherman and Tabal. He pulls his gun and handcuffs and they begin to fight. Various things get smashed, Rivkin twists DiNozzo's arm and possibly breaks it - there's certain a noise. DiNozzo's gun is on the floor and the two men smash down onto the coffee table. Rivkin seems winded as DiNozzo goes for his gun. I have to say, that IMO it's a good job Rivkin did end up with the glass in him and somewhat whoozy from the drink because although DiNozzo fought well, he's well trained, Rivkin did have the upper hand - and he's ever more highly trained. Then Rivkin stands up and pulls out a long shard of glass, covered with blood, from his side. He heads towards DiNozzo with it and DiNozzo from where he is on the ground shoots him. At that second Ziva opens her door and she and DiNozzo point their guns at one another.

I know the fight and the killing and Ziva and DiNozzo holding guns on one another was meant to be really thrilling and edge of seat stuff and make it 'the' episode and have us worrying for DiNozzo and/or Ziva, but we know they're both fine - we know they are both in next week's episode. That's one of the problems with so much easy access to trailers and pictures, etc. these 'shocking' things aren't. Also, did anyone really think anyone other than Rivkin was going to die?


A solid episode with some good moments.

Although, it has to be said, also some less than great moments that were more than a tad incredulous at times.

A good red herring in Yates, I really did think she was involved in some way - and I really didn't like her. Supercilious would be one word for her. And again the writers have problems with names/the alphabet, why Yates? When we've already got an NCIS Agent Yates - Cassidy Yates. Surely they could have come up with another name?

Some nice consistency with DiNozzo and his 'senior agent' thing and Abby and her jealousy.

At least we got to see Ducky - and the first scene in Autopsy was superb and such fun - although not that much of him.

Lovely to see Fornell. I always like Fornell.

Some more intrigue over Vance and just what his role will be with the whole Israeli thing. I thought it interesting that the SecNav didn't say Gibbs had to trust Vance, just follow him.

I'm not convinced Gibbs trusts the SecNav to be honest. So what did he do, call the SecNav and invite him to his basement and lure him there with a bottle of bourbon left somewhere? Would the SecNav really open up like that to someone of Gibbs's rank. I found that conversation somewhat curious.

I'm still not sure if Rivkin was acting under the orders of Director David in everything he has done or if he had his own agenda. I guess we'll learn more about that next week. Also, the amount he was drinking - he was knocking them back quite heavily, DiNozzo even commented on it. Is that meant to have some kind of 'meaning' maybe? He didn't like what he was doing, maybe in fact Daddy David ordered him to do these things and he didn't really want to, so he took to drowning is sorrows.

Interesting that there now seems to be some hint over Ziva's loyalty to NCIS all along. However, if the SecNav didn't like Jenny creating the Liaison Officer role, why didn't he veto it? And who was she calling?

I still find it hard to believe and out of character that Gibbs didn't open Vance's file.

I didn't want to slap any of our team - although I wouldn't have objected to slapping Yates.

I still find the SecNav slimy.

No Jimmy :-(

Oh, and the Callen shooting really was, as I said, cheap drama.

Various ship moments, with one over-riding all others.

Top moments

- The first scene in Autopsy with Ducky demonstrating on Fornell.
- DiNozzo's little monologue after Fornell gave him the order to find Tabal.

Ship of the week: Gibbs/Fornell.

Storyline: 8.50

Enjoyment: 9.50 (Mostly for the vast amount of Fornell and the wonderful Autopsy scene *g*)



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