SEASON SEVEN EPISODE SEVENTEEN
went in to this one neither expecting to like it or dislike it as I knew very
little about it, other than the bare minimum.
Wow, a actual, real, non-stumbled-over-could-have-been-anyone-but-hey-let's-make-it-a-naval-officer case! Not up to the standards of S1&2, they seem to have forgotten how to do episode cases, but an actual case and good team interaction as well. On those fronts it has to score highly. Again, though I felt it dragged somewhat, the whole episode lacked pace - and I'm not talking about excitement and gun battles, etc. as this wasn't an episode where they could have them, but it just didn't run along as it usually does.
There were some good team moments, some good exchanges, no one was really overly irritating, although this week DiNozzo was a wee bit more than in previous weeks, but not back to the 'bad old days' so bearable even at the really annoying times.
We begin with a nice establishing shot of trees and a wood, actually a National Park, and an SUV driving into it. The Park Ranger is on his mobile to his wife, saying he won't apologise to her mother, when shots are heard - at least one even hits the windscreen and he ducks down. Then he gets out and a man comes towards him; the man is bleeding and has a bullet wound in his abdomen. He collapses.
In the squad room DiNozzo is wringing out one of his socks and hangs it over his desk lamp and gets a hand-towel out. Ducky arrives, still wearing those blasted and horrible ordinary ties, and asked if Jethro is working them so hard DiNozzo has to do his laundry at the office - a nice little moment. DiNozzo however had stepped into a puddle whilst texting Ziva as he seems to think as probationary agent she is his personal assistant and he wanted her to get him coffee as he was running late. Ah, karma, Tony, karma. You got what you deserved - a nice little moment and Ducky was amused by it. Ducky puts a form on Gibbs's desk (which I guessed was an application for some leave) and comments on how much he loves the rain and he waxes lyrical for a moment or two, before going. Ziva then asks if they've noticed anything about Ducky recently; McGee says he's more chipper, DiNozzo makes a bad pun, but Ziva mentions the ties (finally someone noticed) and wonders why he's wearing them.
At that moment Gibbs arrives and McGee tells him Ducky was looking for him, Gibbs asks why, but McGee just says he left something on his desk. Gibbs picks the form up and puts it into a folder and tells them there's been a shooting at Rock Creek Park. DiNozzo is about to put his wet sock back on when Gibbs throws him a sock (or pair of socks, I couldn't quite see). DiNozzo asks if it's clean - of course it is, you silly boy. If it is a pair, for some reason he only puts one on and given they are white and his are black . . . Ah, but that's the DiNozzo we love and know. Of course he may not have had time to put both on.
At Rock Creek they meet the Park inspector (Edward Killan) who notices DiNozzo's odd socks and smiles - McGee takes a picture, very good Tim, just the kind of thing DiNozzo would do if it were anyone else. The inspector tells them the FBI ERT removed a slug from the Ranger's vehicle. DiNozzo tells Killan to get all the evidence to NCIS, but Killan says he's not coming between NCIS and the FBI - very sensible, sir. The man who'd been shot was Lieutenant John Mayne and he'd ID'd him via a hand-held fingerprint scanner. It almost has McGee salivating over it and Killan is surprised NCIS don't have them. McGee tries it out and it brings up his record when he and DiNozzo broke into the Metro PD impound yard - McGee thought that had been cleared. Gibbs says Mayne is still in surgery and tells the boys the FBI and the Park Police can clear up; they're going to the hospital. McGee is checking Mayne's record on the scanner and says it has to be wrong; Mayne was listed MIA in Afghanistan six years ago.
At the hospital the doctor (Adam Tallridge) is telling Gibbs that one bullet grazed Mayne's head, the other is embedded in his abdomen and it's too dangerous to operate. At that moment DiNozzo appears with a woman who is Mayne's wife - Leah. She had no idea her husband was alive and living in DC. Gibbs asks her to physically ID him and she does. Gibbs goes back to HQ leaving DiNozzo at the hospital with orders to call if Mayne wakes up and also to try to get something out of Leah. DiNozzo asks him if he's subscribing to the DiNozzo theory that it's always the wife. Gibbs doesn't even deign DiNozzo with a comment over that one. So we instantly know that whoever else shot Mayne, it won't turn out to be his wife, because DiNozzo suspects the wife. DiNozzo does, however, see Leah making a phone call.
Back in the squad room, Ziva picks DiNozzo's wet sock up from the desk lamp with a pen, sniffs it, pulls a face and puts it into his drawer. McGee is on the phone so she begins to tell Gibbs about Mayne. Six years ago he was part of a three man deep recon mission in Afghanistan. The other two were Gordon Holcomb and Matthew Gontz. McGee gets off the phone and picks up the story. Holcomb is still with the Marines, in fact he's now a Major, whereas Gontz was honourably discharged, got divorced and moved from job to job to job for some time. Gibbs comments that he'd finding it hard to adjust to civilian life. McGee says he'll track him down.
In Abby's lab a teeny Labrador puppy (utterly sweet, but so tiny) is drinking from a water bowl and Abby is talking to it. Gibbs arrives and Abby introduces him to 'Mortimer'. She is a SVPR - substitute volunteer puppy raiser and Mortimer is going to become a seeing eye dog. She's cuddling him and he starts to nibble her pig tails. Gibbs asks about the gun. It only has Mayne's prints on it, two shots had been fired and another thirteen were in the magazine - the wounds, however, were not self-inflicted. Gibbs then goes and gets into the lift, Abby follow him and asks about Ducky commenting how he's been going out to lunch every day, whereas he's a creature of habit and had always brought lunch in. Gibbs says he's sure he's fine. He then tells Abby not to let the dog out of her sight and she turns and he's pulling on her skeleton. She runs and picks him up. A cute scene, but I do have to question whether Abby would really be allowed to take a puppy to work with her.
McGee has tracked Gontz down and he's working for a taxi company; he and Ziva go to interview him. They ask about the mission. Gontz tells them. The three of them had to go into a hostile environment to place and recover targets. It was all going to plan and they were on their way to the exit rendezvous, when Mayne got tangled up and broke his leg. Gontz comments that 'it wasn't his day'. He says he and Holcomb left him in building whilst they went to find a vehicle, but when they got back he'd gone; they assumed he'd been captured. They felt awful about leaving him behind, but had to and went onto the exit rendezvous. He asks why they are asking and they tell him Mayne is alive, but badly injured.
In the conference room is Gibbs, McGee, Ziva and Holcomb. Holcomb tells them about the mission and he too uses the phrase 'it wasn't his day', McGee and Ziva look at one another. Then DiNozzo calls to say Mayne is awake. Gibbs says he'll be there and then asks Holcomb if he's seen Gontz recently; Holcomb said he lost track of him.
At the hospital Dr. Tallridge refuses to let Gibbs see Mayne; he says Mayne's awake but incoherent and still not out of the woods. At that moment a woman who introduces herself as Rachel Wells appears; she claims she is Mayne's wife, but his name is actually Christian Wells. Leah arrives at that second and is not happy - not surprisingly.
Outside Gibbs asks Rachel how she and Mayne met. She tells him it was whilst they were both running; they started dating and married a year ago. She says Mayne has no family and that he's a day trader who came into a lot of money. Gibbs tells her who Mayne actually is, but she doesn't believe him - you can't blame her for that. He asks why she didn't go running with Mayne that morning and she says she'd been nursing a hamstring. Gibbs asks if Mayne was meeting someone in the park, she says no. He then tells her Mayne had a gun - which she didn't know.
Back in the squad room they are looking at Mayne's Christian Wells's driving licence. DC don't take fingerprints when a driver's licence is issued (which implies some places do!) which is how he managed to get one. There is nothing on him that goes back further than five years; he set up a new life. McGee has traced money - lots and lots and lots of money - in various accounts and he tells Gibbs they aren't the only people who'd been looking. A PI Peter Iger of Iger Investigations had also checked him out. McGee says he'll try to trace the source of the money and Gibbs tells Ziva to find Iger.
At the hospital DiNozzo asks Dr. Tallridge if he can ask Mayne a couple of questions; Tallridge says emphatically 'no'. DiNozzo asks if Tallridge has spoken to Mayne's wife and Tallridge asks 'which one'. Nice. Rachel arrives at that moment and demands to see Mayne; cue arrival of Leah who threatens Tallridge with all kinds of law suits, both personal and hospital if he lets Rachel near Mayne. They both go off in the end and DiNozzo asks Tallridge if he's been married; Tallridge says he has, twice, just not at the same time.
Ziva has tracked Iger down and is about to go and meet him. Ducky appears and Ziva compliments him on his tie. Ducky starts to babble about it and explain to her where he got it and what the design means. Gibbs looks up and he is surprised at just how garrulous Ducky is over something so basic and also you see concern. Finally Ziva pats his cheek and goes.
Gibbs calls Ducky over and hands him the form which he's signed; it is indeed a request for leave. He asks Ducky where he's going, but Ducky says he just needs some personal time, a long weekend. If anything comes up he says Jimmy can manage, but if Gibbs needs him he can get him on his mobile phone. Gibbs is looking at him really oddly as if he wonders who the man is in front of him and where his friend has gone. He asks Ducky is he's okay and Ducky in a falsely bright tone declares 'never better' and asks why. Gibbs says half his team is worried about Ducky, Ducky asks which half, then guesses Abby and Ziva. As he leaves, Gibbs's face shows he is now deeply worried about Ducky himself.
Back at the hospital DiNozzo is hanging about and sees both nurses leave Mayne. He goes in and starts to talk to Mayne. Mayne's heart-rate races up and up as DiNozzo mentions both 'Mayne and 'Christian Wells'. The spike in the heart rate finally sets off a buzzer on the nurses' station and she rushes in and throws DiNozzo out. DiNozzo sees both wives watching.
Ziva goes to Iger's car, his nice, shiny car. She gets in and sees the accumulated mess of empty pizza boxes, etc. etc. - horrible. He's on the phone, via a wire into his ear and finally hangs up. He thanks her for meeting him there and says he hasn't left the place for three days. He was your 'typical' somewhat seedy and sleazy Hollywood PI. I can't say I took to him at all. She asks why he was tracing Mayne and he says he'd been hired to do so. Someone had seen him cross the finish line in a marathon, thought they recognised him and asked Iger to track him down. He says he tracked him as Christian Wells, but there person said that wasn't the name. Ziva said he should have dug deeper and gets Iger to tell him his client's name; it's Holcomb.
At the hospital Mayne has coded. Attempts to resuscitate him fail and he dies. I would have thought that Leah would have fair grounds to at least file a complaint if not bring charges against DiNozzo. He was told he couldn't interview Mayne, he sneaks in and it's his questions that cause Mayne's heart rate to increase dramatically and dangerously, thus he has to be partly responsible for Mayne's death. And given Leah's threats to Tallridge if he were to let Rachel into see Mayne, she seems the type to do it. It doesn't matter what Mayne had done and at that point they didn't really know what, if anything, other than going AWOL and setting up a new ID, he'd done. DiNozzo was, like it or not, partly responsible for causing Mayne's death.
Back at HQ they are reviewing the case, just in case the viewer had forgotten what had happened, including a run down as to how Holcomb hired Iger and than didn't mention it to Gibbs and seemed surprised Mayne was alive. DiNozzo now thinks Holcomb is looking guilty, even though he still is somewhat focussed on the wives - so we rule out Holcomb. McGee says that when Mayne went MIA in Afghanistan he was broke; Gibbs adds six years later he is Wells and worth over $12 million. McGee has only traced the money for the last five years; he says where it originated and DiNozzo corrects him and goes on to say it's a matter of personal choice which pronunciation you use - Gibbs just ignores him (as he so often does). DiNozzo asks what Gibbs's gut is telling him. Gibbs says that what happened in Afghanistan has something to do with the here and now. Oh, please, did it really take that long and need Gibbs's gut to tell us something that was so obvious? Gibbs then double checks that Holcomb and Gontz used the same phrase. He tells DiNozzo to check with NCIS's agent in Kabul. And tells McGee to freeze all of Mayne's Bank Accounts. At that moment McGee's phone rings - Holcomb is in the lobby, McGee goes to fetch him.
Ziva is with Iger who has given up on the stake-out as his client wouldn't pay for any more. He and Holcomb pass one another and exchange looks; Iger tells Ziva she is devious.
Gibbs asks Holcomb why he hired Iger and paid him $500 of his own money and why Holcomb didn't call the police or NCIS. Holcomb said had Iger said the man was Mayne, he would have done, but he'd always felt guilty for leaving one of his men in Afghanistan.
In Autopsy Ducky is looking at Mayne's x-rays and saying he is even more of a mystery now. Abby appears with Mortimer and introduces him to Ducky. She suggests a play date with the Corgis, but Ducky prevaricates. He asks Abby about the weapon and she confirms that he was shot with a .45, but that 9mill cartridges were also found at the scene; there was a second weapon. She then looks at his tie (a different one from the one he was wearing when he spoke to Ziva) and comments on it. Ducky says the source of his neck wear seems to be of interest and asks if she likes it. She says she does, but adds: "You're Ducky. Ducky wears bowties." (Yes!) Ducky talks about change and how people have to evolve and then makes a comment that 'they' make him look younger - actually, they don't, bowties made Ducky look dapper and different, ordinary ties make him look older. Abby does say he looks adorable, but clearly she is worried. She then asks him to go to lunch with her and Mortimer as he has to be restaurant trained, she's found a new vegan place. But he declines, also saying he's busy the following day. She looks even more concerned. But he goes on about having to find Gibbs to tell him Mayne had never broken his leg. She tells Mortimer that Ducky is up to something.
Rachel is talking to Gibbs and saying she still doesn't believe the man she married was Mayne; he says they now have DNA evidence as well. She sees Leah and says she hopes they aren't releasing the body to her, Gibbs says they aren't releasing it to anyone. She says she can't get any money and threatens to get a lawyer, Gibbs tells her to do what she has to do and gets Agent Sanchez to take her to the lobby. Gibbs then asks DiNozzo what he found out. It turns out that when Mayne went MIA an Afghan drug lord (oh, look, drugs again) claimed that he'd had millions stolen by Americans. Gibbs tells DiNozzo to bring Gontz in as he is the weakest link.
In the interrogation room Gibbs tells Gontz that Mayne had a lot of money when he died; Gontz is surprised. Gibbs shows him a picture of the Afghan drug lord and tells Gontz if he helps NCIS, Gibbs will help him. So Gontz tells the tale. They did indeed plant sensors, but on their way out of the village they took fire - they returned fire and killed the men. They then found six oil drums full of US bills. Holcomb and he left Mayne to guard it whilst they went to get a vehicle. When they returned Mayne and the money had gone; they assumed he'd been captured. They didn't say anything because it would mean having to mention how they wanted to money, so they made up the story of Mayne's broken leg.
It's raining; Holcomb gets out of his car and goes to Leah's house. They embrace and kiss and she takes him inside - Ziva is taking photos.
Ziva then shows Leah the photos and asks about her affair with Holcomb. Leah explains how Holcomb first went to see her when he returned from Afghanistan. Three or four years ago his marriage started to fall apart and their relationship changed. DiNozzo challenges her about the phone call she made at the hospital and she admits to having called Holcomb.
DiNozzo then goes to the other room where Gibbs is with Holcomb and he mentions the phone call. Holcomb confirms it. Gibbs asks when Holcomb is going to stop lying to him. Holcomb says he'd lied to protect his career and marriage - both of which are now over.
Leah is telling Ziva how Holcomb stayed with his wife because of the children. DiNozzo back there says she kept collecting Mayne's Marine Corps pay and allowances; she did. She says he had no idea Mayne was alive until they called her to the hospital. Ziva asks where she was that morning, she says with Holcomb in a hotel.
Holcomb is saying the same to Gibbs.
McGee confirms the alibis, CCTV footage at the hotel shows them there just before Mayne was shot. DiNozzo now thinks it's Rachel 'the hottie' who killed Mayne because she found out about him lying to her - so we know it isn't her. He comments how she said her hamstring needed resting, but she was strutting around quite happily. Gibbs tells Ziva to find out where she was at the time of Mayne's shooting.
There's a storm outside and DiNozzo is unhappy as he paid to have his car cleaned. Ziva says that's why she never cleans her car in winter. Gibbs tells her she should because the salt will leak through the undercarriage. At that Ziva remembers something: Iger's car had been spotless on the outside, despite him saying he hadn't left the stake-out place in three days. She asks if McGee can trace his mobile from the morning of the now murder, but McGee says the phone was turned off. Again Ziva is surprised. But McGee does know where Iger is now.
DiNozzo and McGee go to Iger's car, but he isn't there. McGee calls Ziva and tells her to go to his desk where she'll find a tracer he left; she tells them where Iger is in relation to them. DiNozzo sees a laptop on the passenger seat and wants it; McGee says he's not breaking into the car, as they don't have a warrant and he has a record - so will DiNozzo, if your record hasn't been wiped, Tim, neither will Tony's. McGee puts Ziva on hold and tells DiNozzo about an application he's written for his phone that by putting in a car's VIN number he can find out all pertinent information, including the key and remote codes. But he says he won't get into the car; DiNozzo says it's because he can't; McGee says he can and they have a scuffle (watched by a couple in a Chinese restaurant) and naturally DiNozzo wins and opens the door. He gets the laptop and asks McGee how to get into the files. McGee tells him he can't; DiNozzo admits he can't, but McGee can and he'll hold the phone. After a second or two, with DiNozzo holding the laptop, McGee 'goes his thing'. He finds 'Holcomb' accesses the file and hands it back to DiNozzo.
We then see Ducky with a bunch of blue and white flowers; he's in a cemetery. He goes to a grave that says: 'Victoria Mallard 1912 - 2010. Beloved wife and mother'. And he talks to her, telling her how they'd called last night and told him the stone was there and how she would have been pleased. He says how he'd missed her at the opera the previous evening, Madam Butterfly and how all the melodies never ceased to amaze him. Mortimer then appears followed by Abby who hugs him and tells him how sorry she is.
Back with DiNozzo and McGee, DiNozzo reads out an email from a lab to Iger informing him that the thumb print on a water bottle did match that of Mayne. Igor knew Mayne was alive. McGee wonders why he hid it, DiNozzo says because had he told Holcomb he'd only got his fee, this way he could get much more. McGee asks Ziva to check if Iger had a gun licence; he does for a Smith and Wesson .45. She tells them Iger is on his way. DiNozzo in true DiNozzo fashion has a little dig about McGee breaking into the car and laptop calling him 'criminal'.
Iger gets to his car, they ask him about the gun - he says he sold it. Then he throws the bag he was carrying at DiNozzo and runs, straight into Gibbs's car. They cuff him and he says all he'd wanted from Maybe was $100,000 - well to start with, maybe, but few blackmailers stop at one payment.
Gibbs is asleep on one of the Autopsy tables (echoes of 'Yankee White') when Ducky comes in. Gibbs asks when Ducky was going to tell him, he seemed a little hurt and put out that Ducky hadn't told him. And note the 'when were you going to tell ME'. Ducky said he'd have told him soon, he'd thought about having a service for his mother, but all her friends were dead - but yours weren't, Ducky. Gibbs asks why Ducky felt he had to keep it to himself. Ducky said he didn't want to impose and had a wistful tone in his voice. He goes on to say he's surrounded by death every day and wanted to deal his personal loss by himself.
He asks if Gibbs knew his mother was nearly 100 (actually, Mrs. Mallard was 101, because in 'The Meat Puzzle' February 2005 Ducky says she was 96 and they continued the lack of continuity with keeping Victoria when she was listed at Vanessa in TMP). He says she'd lived active and full life until the last year when it was her time to go. Gibbs sits up and de-kinks his neck. Ducky goes over to him and they are very close. Gibbs asks if Ducky will stay in the house, but Ducky tells him the sale is pending, they should close next week and he's even found a new home for the Corgis and calls them 'wretched creatures', which seemed very un-Ducky-like. Gibbs asks what Ducky will do, Ducky says he's put an offer on a brownstone in Georgetown an historical registry property. He's been working with a charming real estate lady called Sophie, whom he confesses to being much younger than he is. Gibbs says it's Sophie who didn't like the bowties and Ducky confirms this; they smile at one another in their very intimate way.) Note: spooky times again, in the story I posted a couple of days ago, which dealt with Ducky's bowties and the team wondering why, I had it that a woman had told him he'd look younger in an ordinary one).
Remember what Ducky told Jimmy only last week: 'change is a good thing, as long as it is motivated by the person doing the changing'. Clearly Ducky's change of ties and quite possibly house as well has not been motivated by himself, but by Sophie - which is not a good thing at all. If she cares for Ducky, she takes him as he is, she doesn't start on his ties, etc. certainly not when he's vulnerable.
And where is Ducky? This is not the Ducky we love and know; this was a Ducky pretending to be chipper and happy and possibly he even thinks he is, but there was something definitely un-Ducky about him and despite his explanation to Gibbs, I find it a wee bit hard to believe he wouldn't have told the team, his friends, the people he loves, the people he 'bullied' into spending Thanksgiving with him - and especially not to tell Gibbs seems very odd.
But that aside, this scene was a dream for Gibbs/Ducky fen. Gibbs was there waiting for Ducky, seemed a tad upset and put out that Ducky hadn't told him, and they got so close both when Ducky went to over to the table where Gibbs had been lying and when they both moved away. I know that for Gibbs & Ducky 'personal space' are just two words than don't mean anything, but they were super close in this - clearly to avoid being crushed by the crowds that were also there *g*
An actual case, so that was a good thing - but as I said, I just felt the episode dragged somewhat and there was a lot of stating the obvious and unnecessary recapping and spelling things out for the audience. It lacked pace. But definitely more old-school. And no ELC! That also has to add to the marks!
Also, why with all the places in the world did Mayne decide to return to DC to start his new life? He didn't have to go back there, he didn't go back to his wife, but he returns to the area and gets his picture in papers, etc. etc. Not exactly a clever thing to do. I know he had to for the case, but what reason did he have?
There were some lovely exchanges between the team and I'm glad the girls had noticed Ducky's ties and were concerned and Gibbs's concern was clear. And whether it was realistic or not for Abby to have the puppy at the office, Mortimer was adorable. But . . . He would not have been allowed to be there. Good to see some Ducky & Abby interaction.
Yet again the potential shooter later killer were all ruled out fairly early on by DiNozzo suspecting first Leah, then Holcomb and then Rachel.
- Ducky's ties.
- The way the episode dragged.
- The stating the obvious, unnecessary recapping and spelling things out more than they usually do.
- Mayne returning to DC.
- As lovely as Mortimer was, and I adored him, there is no way he would be allowed to go to NCIS with Abby.
- The opening squad room scene.
- McGee's excitement over the hand-held finger-print scanner.
- Abby, Mortimer and Gibbs in Abby's lab.
- Ducky and Abby in Autopsy.
- McGee and DiNozzo at Iger's car.
- Ducky in the cemetery.
- The final scene.
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