SEASON SEVEN EPISODE TWENTY-THREE
I really haven't been looking forward
to this season finale double episode, as the whole story-line has been done to
death and frankly it's got old. It got old before it began, IMO. But after last
week's set-up, I was looking forward to it a bit more. However, for the most
part I'm sorry to say, I was bored. It was rather tedious; yes we had a real
naval case, which is always good, but it was only there to fill in time between
Abby trying to talk to Gibbs and Gibbs trying to find out what was going on
before he raced off to Mexico. It could have been a good case, had it not been
shoe-horned into this set-up. There was no need for an actual case-case in this
episode; it was a filler and really could have been cut. The only point of its
existence was to explain why Macy was back in the US and the explanation really
didn't work. They could have found another far more believable way to bring her
back and cut all the filling and padding and made the whole thing tighter - i.e.
not two episodes, but one.
I knew who the dead body NCIS would find and I was surprised when she told me, not to mention thinking it a really stupid idea. I'm sure the casual viewer will not actually remember the whole 'Macy burying evidence of Gibbs killing Hernadez (what evidence did she bury, given she hadn't the bullet Gibbs left behind, if he did, which I still doubt, or the bullet in Hernadez's head?), thus after some nineteen years of disliking Macy, Gibbs finds out that little thing and is all forgiving. Seriously, how many people will remember that from the mind-numbingly boring double LA episode from last season? Not to mention new viewers will wonder just why he was so upset and why her death focussed him on Mexico? Not a good choice, IMHO.
The boredom was relieved somewhat by moments of good banter, the fact ELC got part of her comeuppance, Vance actually seeming to be on Gibbs's side, a superbly acted and powerful Gibbs and Ducky scene, and I confess the ending really did come as a huge surprise to me. I did sit and just stare at the screen for a moment or two. However, apart from that, I found it fairly tedious. I spent most of it just waiting to get to the point and to get to the opening scene, basically waiting for something to happen.
We begin with a brief 'previously' to remind us of the salient points from last week's episode, namely that Abby has proof that Gibbs killed Hernandez. Then we go to a scene of a beach with a man (Gibbs) riding a horse along it. He comes across a body, gets off the horse and a man holds a gun to the back of his neck, tells him not to draw his weapon and 'welcomes' him to Mexico. So we assume he used his nice shiny badge to get him through customs with his gun?
It is then four days earlier and we are in DC. The opening squad room scene was very enjoyable. DiNozzo is watching the news, mainly of marines/navy personnel graduating and he talks about graduations when he was with Baltimore PD and how they always included a copious amount of alcohol. Ziva mentions that she has her nationalisation exams that week. McGee asks if she's confident and after a second or two she says she is. She tells him to ask her anything. He asks her what the fifth amendment to the US constitution is.
After a moment she tells him. "Due process. No person shall be held to answer for any capital crime unless indicted by a grand jury." So nicely chosen to foreshadow what is almost certainly (given there's a statue of limitation in Mexico on murder of some fourteen years) going to happen: Gibbs in effect 'gets away with the murder, insofar as being brought to trial, and following the above-mentioned amendment cannot be 'held to answer'. At least legally he'll 'get away with it', then 'all' that has to be dealt with is how the team view him and what Vance chooses to do.
During her quoting, Gibbs appears and tells her it isn't bad. He then asks DiNozzo what the eighth letter of the alphabet is. DiNozzo says 'G', Gibbs tells him he's wrong, it's 'H' for homicide. Oops, but very DiNozzo, a nice little touch in character - actually it's not an easy question to have fired at you to be able to instantly say which letter of the alphabet it which. They have a body on a beach. As they are about to go, Vance appears and tells Gibbs, because of all the graduations going on, to keep it on the low down. Gibbs in true form asks him what they are to keep on the low down. Nicely done.
McGee and DiNozzo are looking at the remains of a smouldering body and are exchanging some nice, fun and very 'them' banter back and forth that amongst other things mentions McGee's scouting days. Meanwhile Gibbs and Ziva are talking to the Ensign responsible for putting the fire together. He says he did it the day before and left it so they'd only need to set a match to it. Gibbs sends him off to sleep.
Then Ducky arrives (without Jimmy whom I knew would be missing this week) and he mentions A. A. Milne's Christopher Robin to Ziva and how he too loved the beach. He then looks at the body and reveals that whilst most of it it burnt, there is (very luckily) some flesh left on one of the fingers, how convenient. He says people forget that a bonfire will not be like crematory fires - it will not totally destroy. He then injects saline into the finger and McGee tests it with his portable fingerprint scanner (Timmy does love 'his' new toy) and they discover the body is Lara Macy, who we met in Legends (last season's LA crossover and who never made it past the double NCIS episode). Gibbs 'obligingly' flashes back for a second or two to the time he and McGee went to LA and we see Macy alive.
We learn that Macy left the LA office under 'special circumstances' (in other word TPTB didn't like her character) and was transferred to Marseilles. The entire agency, because of Macy's murder, on alert and a threat assessment is being carried out. DiNozzo makes the comment that they need to find out who killed another female agent. I liked the fact that he did stress the 'another' to remind us just how many female NCIS agents have been killed during the seven years. A nice, non-in-your-face touch, subtly done (very unlike NCIS) and good to see.
Gibbs says they need to examine Macy. She was a Marine. An NCIS Agent. A daughter. He says they'll start with her being a daughter. (Why? That's not the usual place to start, Gibbs) and tells the team that her mother lives on a farm. Just as he's about to go off, presumably to the farm, Ziva tells him a member of Macy's team in Marseilles.
Gibbs and Vance are in MTAC and the team member tells them Macy left Marseilles four days ago, saying she wanted some 'personal time'. They tell him the bad news about Macy and say in case it's case related they'll need all her files. He's upset and says she's a great loss, but he'll get all the files. Gibbs tells him to check Macy's apartment and her mail. In turn he tells them Macy had checked into the Freeman Inn.
In Autopsy, Ducky is talking to Macy's body, saying that as it's just the two of them she can tell him who did it. Gibbs arrives saying: "You talking to yourself again, Duck?" Ducky denies it, saying in fact Macy was telling him about her death and he shows Gibbs a chipped bone on Macy's neck and tells him her throat had been viciously cut. Ducky also raises the question as to just why was her body set alight and left in NCIS's jurisdiction; Gibbs just goes leaving Ducky looking concerned. A nice scene with a lot of physical closeness between them as Gibbs leans over Ducky to look at the body.
Gibbs goes to Abby and asks what she's got; she says: "Questions for you." He tells her to focus on the case. Well said, Gibbs, you are now in the middle of a recent murder investigation. I know Abby is upset and her report is pending, but did she really think Gibbs was going to break off a case to talk to her? Although to be fair, it is very Abby for her to do that; she is truly devastated by what she has found. Not only did she find it (well was 'fed' it) and dug into it, but it's her report that will start the destruction of her surrogate father.
She does flip to the case and says there are two reasons for travel: business and pleasure and given Macy didn't go home, but booked into a motel it's likely to be business. She tells Gibbs Macy received a call from a burn phone the night before and she'd trying to trace it. But even more interesting are the five calls Macy made to Petty Officer Kaylen Burrows. Burrows had been at sea, but the ship is now home and it appears that Macy has followed Burrows from Marseilles to DC. Abby tells Gibbs they need to talk about stuff; he tells her 'not now' and he goes.
Gibbs runs into Hart in the corridor and she 'reminds' him she has access to the building. He looks at her badge and sees it's only 'limited' and he tells her Colonel Bell will not be pleased with her. She says she's there to see Abby, because Mexico want Hernadez's body back. She then asks him if he wants dinner later or a beer; he tells her he can't do either. As he goes she says if she didn't know better she'd think he was avoiding her. The look he gives her speaks volumes - he is ignoring her!
DiNozzo and Ziva have gone to the ship to see Burrows. For some reason DiNozzo spends a fair bit of time talking about food; he does tell Ziva that he's Italian when they grieve they eat, she reminds him that Jews and Italians are similar in that matter. Burrows doesn't want to talk to them and tries to get away from them, but they persist. Two of her fellow ship mates come by and try to take her away, but DiNozzo stands firm. Abby then calls to tell him that Macy had started a case file on Burrows who was a victim of a crime. However, Burrows wasn't co-operating at all. DiNozzo asks what the crime was - as I expected it was rape.
In the interrogation room Ziva is talking to Burrows very gently to try to persuade her to talk, but Burrows won't. She says she knows what will happen if she does, she's been in the navy for too long. DiNozzo is in the corner and he mentions her being on liberty in Marseilles and asks if she'd drunk a lot. She assures him she was responsible. He tries to goad her a tad by asking why her ship mates didn't want her to talk to NCIS. She insists she's not going to press charges; she just wants to get back to the ship. DiNozzo tells her she can't, as she's a witness to Macy's murder. I confess at this point I really did think it was going to turn out that she was raped by one or more of her ship mates.
Vance and ELC are on a video conference call to Rivera in Mexico. Rivera mentions Abby and Vance conferences her in. Rivera and Vance say they are both looking forward to reading Abby's report, she says she needs a little more time to double and triple check and 'reminds' Vance of Macy's murder, saying that needs to take priority. Rivera is very 'sweet' about it and says after twenty years what's a few more days. He also sympathises on the loss, saying he knows what it's like to lose people fighting for a cause. The more I see of Rivera, the more slimy I find him and the more I am convinced that he is involved.
Gibbs and McGee are with Macy's mother drinking tea. McGee praises the tea, which was Macy's favourite, they'd spend hours just talking over a pot of tea. Gibbs says what a good agent and person Macy was. He then says they'll need to go through Macy's belongings. Mrs. Macy says her room is how she left it, with clothes going back as far as High School. And then she drops the 'bombshell'. Someone, one of 'their' people she believed has already been there. A handsome military man. He looked through Macy's room and also through the mud room where Macy kept her papers. In the mud room McGee finds Macy's notebooks going right back to when she was an MP. Gibbs tells him to box them all up and catalogue them - he needs to know what is missing. We know, don't we, what year will be missing? Yes, 'that' year: 1991.
Gibbs and McGee arrive back at HQ and McGee is saying he'll contact the sketch artist again to get him to go to see Mrs. Macy. DiNozzo is eating and Gibbs wants him to talk. He wants to know what's going on overseas. He tells DiNozzo to chew and also to swallow, which DiNozzo obligingly does - a nice little scene. DiNozzo tells Gibbs that the person Macy had listed as a suspect in Burrow's rape was Tyler Hammond, aged 22, a rich 'brat' in effect. Daddy is Randall Hammond who owns a super-hug building firm in DC. Tyler had been sent to 'do' Europe and got back two weeks ago.
DiNozzo and Ziva go to talk to him, but when they get to his house they find an ambulance and the police and a shouting Hammond. Tyler has been beaten up by two men who drove off in a car with military plates. DiNozzo tells Ziva to call Gibbs and tell him their attacker has been attacked.
Gibbs and DiNozzo are inside the Hammond mansion and talking to Tyler, he says the navy guys grabbed him, then Hammond's attorney tells him he doesn't have to say anything else. Gibbs agrees, but adds not doing so makes Tyler look guilty. He mentions the rape and Hammond Snr. says Burrows is lying and in fact Tyler witnessed her being raped by one of the navy guys, he tried to stop it, but couldn't.
Back at HQ, DiNozzo asks Ziva what if Tyler is right and Burrows ship mate(s) did rape her. Ziva says she can understand why Burrows would keep quiet in that case - so can I. McGee, however, can't understand that, which I find strange - but someone had to say that so Ziva could explain to the viewers just why that is. She says that any woman on a ship who cries 'rape' will never be fully trusted again. McGee then asks Ziva what she'd do in the same situation. She says she'd torture and then castrate the person. DiNozzo 'approves'.
Gibbs arrives and they tell him about the background checks they've run on Burrows's two ship mates - Capetanos and Wachter. Both committed petty offences as teenagers and both were also on liberty when Burrows was and when Macy was killed. Macy had organised a hospital rape kit, but when Burrows wouldn't co-operate it wasn't followed through. Gibbs tells McGee to ask Abby to see if she can track it down and tells DiNozzo to talk to the enlisted men.
DiNozzo: "Already have, boss."
Gibbs: "Do it again."
DiNozzo: "Doing it again, boss."
And again DiNozzo has forgotten/hasn't learnt that you don't argue with Gibbs; he tells you to do something, you do it - no matter how many times you've already done it. A nice bit of consistency with last week when a similar moment arose.
DiNozzo and Ziva get to the ship and send all the men out except Capetanos and Wachter. DiNozzo looks in their lockers for evidence of Macy's murder. The two men are somewhat at odds with one another, but they do confess to beating Tyler up because they 'take care of their own', but still deny raping Burrows and murdering Macy. DiNozzo asks why he should believe them; they say because they are speaking the truth. And I believed them at that point and realised I was wrong.
Gibbs is with Burrows and being very gentle with her. He tells her she can't let the person who did this to her get away and also that it's about truth and about Macy. He shows her Macy's picture to 'remind' her what she looked like and said she died trying to arrest Burrows's raper. Burrows finally admits it was Tyler who raped her, but adds he wasn't alone.
Gibbs is again with Abby and she tells him the rape test has been contaminated. The hospital put it to one side when Burrows wouldn't press charges, but still ran it, as they had to, but when they got to it something had happened. He asks her what she's found; she says they can't use it, but he wants to know for his usual 'trick' of putting pressure on the guilty party. He calls DiNozzo and tells him to bring Tyler Hammond in again.
Abby then mentions Macy saying she knows Gibbs and Macy had a long history. She then mentions Mexico and Gibbs flashes back first to him, Shannon and Kelly and then to Mike Franks. He goes. Outside McGee catches up with him to tell him Macy's missing notebooks were from January 1991 to February 1992 which tie in with when she was an MP at Pendleton and he 'reminds' Gibbs (well tells us) that was when Gibbs was at Pendleton too. He asks what's going on, but Gibbs just goes.
In the lift Gibbs calls Mexico, the bar and gets Camilla. He tells her she has to get a message to Mike. She says she hasn't seen him for some time, but he says he has to. He says she's to tell Mike 'Rule 44' and tells her to repeat it back to him. He says Franks must have his daughter-in-law and granddaughter with him. I did, at the time jokingly, suggest a few weeks ago that we were going to get a new rule in every episode up to next week's Rule 51, it seems I was right, even if we don't actually learn what the rule is. It also once again pulls us back to the fact that it was Mike who taught Gibbs the rules, which was always the case long before Heartland was aired when Shannon has 'rules'.
In interrogation is Tyler and Hammond Snr. Gibbs says the rape kit proves Tyler raped Burrows and also that his father, who'd gone out to visit Tyler, did too. Hammond tries to go, but Gibbs grabs him and slams him against the glass with shatters and yells at him about Macy's murder. Hammond says Burrows wanted it and says he's sorry about Macy's death, but he didn't kill her. His shock is obvious and it's pretty clear he's telling the truth - about the not murdering Macy. He and his son did rape Burrows, but she didn't 'want it'. Vance is watching all of this.
Gibbs then goes to Ducky again and once again they are physically very close indeed. He asks Ducky what kind of knife Macy was killed by. Ducky says normally it's not easy to tell, but this time he'll go out on a limb and say it's a 1277 and shows Gibbs a picture. It's an army knife. Then they talk about Macy's death, or execution as Gibbs calls it. Ducky says she was deliberately killed and then left to be found by those who cared about her most. And then he adds: "Not unlike leaving a single bullet to be found in the Mexican sun." Gibbs just looks at him. Ducky asks if he's familiar with that kind of killer.
So it seems Gibbs did deliberately leave the bullet behind as some kind of 'message' and 'calling card' and it's something that 'killers' do. I know some killers do indeed leave something behind them at crime scenes to taunt the police, but I still find it so hard to believe that Gibbs did it. But if he did it deliberately, that's easier to believe than him doing it by accident.
Gibbs glares at Duck in a way I haven't seen him do before and says he is familiar with that kind of killer and starts to go. However, Ducky follows him. He tells Gibbs the killing is as much about Gibbs as about Macy herself and Gibbs has to listen to him. They're by the lift now and Gibbs is trying to call it. Ducky goes onto say that whilst he was performing the autopsy on Hernandez he thought the name was familiar and now he knows why. He tells Gibbs that he knows what Gibbs has been carrying around with him for nearly twenty years. And adds: "You may not have wanted this to come out, but someone did and now they are forcing your hand." And he wants to know who it is doing it and tells Gibbs he should tell him. During this Gibbs is inside the lift and Ducky outside holding the door open. Gibbs now takes Ducky's hand and pulls it off the door, letting the door close on Ducky. Ducky calls after him. But Gibbs goes.
I can see why MH said he and DMc did a scene they'd never done before. Wow, that was a scene I never thought I'd see. Gibbs and Ducky so at odds with one another. Well Gibbs so furious with Ducky (and with himself). Except, it wasn't just anger he was feeling, he was also scared for Ducky. I don't know what Rule 44 is, but clearly with Macy being killed and Gibbs afraid for Franks, he's also going to be concerned for anyone close to him - Ducky, Abby and the rest of the team. And for Ducky to come out and say he knows panicked Gibbs, not because Ducky knows, but because what could happen to Ducky because he knows. And Macy knew Gibbs had killed Hernandez and she's dead; Franks knew and Gibbs thinks he's in danger. Whoever killed Macy is out to hurt Gibbs - as we know. And what would hurt him most of all? Something happening to Ducky.
Gibbs's phone rings. It's Camilla to tell him there are military men in her bar - Franks is in trouble.
Gibbs asks Hart where Bell is and asks what she's told Bell. She denies having told him anything (you're lying, Ms. Hart) and he says she must have as Bell is using her to get to him and people he cares about are dying. He tells her Bell is a murderer and given she represents him and his company that has an implication on her too. She tells him when she last heard from Bell he was on his way to Mexico.
Gibbs, McGee and DiNozzo are in the squad room. Bell took a registered flight from DC to Mexico along with several of his employees two days ago. They are after Franks. His employees are ex-military, etc. no one with 'major' crimes, except one man, an army ranger: Jason Paul Dean, who was apparently responsible for a lot of civilian deaths. He's Bell's 'right hand man'. McGee has the sketch artist's sketch and puts it next to Dean's picture - it's the same man. Gibbs orders DiNozzo to find out what happened to Bell when he got to Mexico, DiNozzo wants to know what Gibbs wants to know; Gibbs wants to know everything.
He goes down to Abby who has managed to trace where the burn phone used to call Macy was sold and is running the surveillance camera footage. She says it'll take a while and tells Gibbs to relax. She then locks him in with her and insists they talk. She says how she has evidence he killed Hernandez, so clearly Gibbs has used his sniper's rifle whilst at NCIS and killed someone and the body was taken back to NCIS and the bullet given to Abby. Thus, Abby has filed away marks, or whatever, made on the bullet, etc. And as such she can categorically say the bullet Ducky dug out of Hernandez's head did indeed come from Gibbs's sniper's rifle. She says he owes him everything and she'll do anything for him, but she needs him to tell her what to do. He says she doesn't need that; all he's ever wanted her to do is her job. And she knows what that is. He kisses her on the forehead. She'll send in the report as it is. During their talk the footage reveals it was Jason Dean who bought the phone. A father-daughter moment, with him in effect giving her 'permission' to tell - which both of them knew she had to do. It's quite a poignant scene.
Vance, DiNozzo and Hart are in Vance's office. Vance wants to know where Gibbs is as he ran out of the place as if it were on fire. Hart wants to know why she's there, Vance tells her about Dean. She says she doesn't represent Dean, but Vance points out she represents Bell's company, thus as Dean is Bell's employee she is involved. DiNozzo says he'll find Gibbs and goes. Hart starts to talk, but Vance silences her. He tells her he's done some digging and he has the legal right to question her because the crime could be seen to be a threat to national security with Bell having crossed borders and being involved with narco-terrorists. He says it's like a jigsaw with a lot of pieces and the only connection is Bell's First Defence company. He asks what the hell is going on. At first she is silent, then he asks if she cares about Gibbs (of course she doesn't). She says she does and tells him that Bell had been compiling - with your help, lady - a file on Gibbs since he got out of jail.
We then return to when we started, Gibbs on horse back on the beach. He gets to Mike's shack and it's been razed to the ground; a lone burnt doll is in the wreckage. He sees a couple of bodies and a blood trail. He follows the blood which leads to a body, the one the episode begins with. He gets off his horse and kneels down and addresses the body as 'Mike'. Then a gun is put to his neck and the man says "Welcome to Mexico, Agent Gibbs." It's Dean. And then we get the real shock of the episode: the body isn't Mike's after all, it's Bell's. Gibbs asks Dean who he really works for and Dean smashes him around the face with the butt of the gun.
I think that Hernadez had a child or children and it is them who are ultimately trying to get Gibbs, maybe even kill Gibbs. I think Bell wanted to discredit Gibbs, I think when in prison he met up with Hernandez's child or a friend of theirs and together they set about the whole 'file compiling' with the help of ELC. Then once Bell had done his part and once Gibbs had been lured to Mexico, fearing for Franks Bell was no longer of use, so was taken out of the equation. Whether this is Rivera and/or Mrs. Reynosa and/or Dean himself, I don't know. But I do think at the bottom of it is someone who had been very close to Hernandez and a son/daughter/both is more than feasible.
For the most I was somewhat bored by the episode. But it did have two really powerful scenes that saved it: Gibbs and Ducky's 'confrontation' and the final scene with the revelation the body is Bell's. I think I was expecting more after last week's episode, but I guess I'd forgotten how they like to string it out. I fear that when we see next week's we'll find that actually the two episodes could pretty much have been condensed into one.
There were a few good team moments and some nice banter between the siblings. Not as much as there is normally, but I guess that's down to the seriousness of the whole case.
Whilst I can see why they used Macy, it didn't work for me as I hadn't connected with her at all when we saw her, thus her death didn't really have a huge impact. I also find it a tad difficult to believe that she would have taken personal time and return to the US following Burrows for the case. I felt the reason they used to get her back into the US was weak and that impacted overall on her being the 'burnt body'. I don't think the rape was set up, not at all, just that I didn't buy Macy coming back for that.
I just hope that now that Hart 'seems', or is at least pretending (protecting herself) to not be that deeply involved and to 'care' about Gibbs that we aren't going to end up with seeing any more of her. She's been there all along questioning his methods, etc. etc. and suddenly she's 'concerned'. Well, actually I think she is concerned - but not for Gibbs, for herself. I think she knows the whole thing has got out of hand and she'd got in far more deeply than she'd intended or expected and is now back-peddling to save herself.
- Why Macy? Well the 'why' because of her long-ago involvement with Gibbs; because they needed to kill and NCIS agent and hadn't got anyone else who would have the same impact with the Mexican history.
- Macy's reason for being back in the US.
- Abby at the beginning trying to get Gibbs to talk mid-murder case, rather than focus on Macy and say 'we'll talk afterwards'. And still going on even though he'd told her not until after the case.
- Hart - but then she always irks me *g*
- The opening squad room scene.
- Gibbs and Ducky in Autopsy with Macy's body.
- Gibbs and Ducky's confrontation.
- The final scene on the beach
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