SEASON EIGHT EPISODE TWENTY-ONE
This was the episode when we met EJ's team and learn that they
are taking over the P2P investigation, so I feared it would be all about them.
At least it wasn't; it was far more about 'our' team, with only a fairly small
amount of on-screen time for EJ's team. However, she penetrated into virtually
every non-case-specific conversation, which meant the episode was yet another
very Tony-heavy one; clearly he is going to dominate the rest of the season. At
least EJ now has a third reason for being here: to cause a rift between Gibbs
and Tony - yet another non-case reason for her character.
Her team, what can I say? Except NCIS needs to get some new writers who are capable of writing new characters, not just rehash existing ones. Cade is Tim; Levin is Tony and of course EJ is Gibbs. We had this in the season two episode Doppelgänger and we already rehash Gibbs with Borin why do we keep need to do it? Obviously TPTB think we'll be amused by it, but I wasn't, not at all, it was just eye rolling time.
That aside, I enjoyed the episode, not quite as much as last week's but it again was better than I was fearing/expecting. The case was pretty obvious from beginning to end, it was fairly clear the man who killed Ross was not Donner and it was obvious the man getting out of the lift at the end was Tunney in a mask and it was obvious, once it was established that Donner was dead who'd killed Ross. I did think Tunney had also killed Donner, so it was rather ironic that he died of a heart-attack. But it was still an interesting enough case and a real navy one.
The constant conversations between Tony and whoever re: EJ got wearing after the first one; talk about being hit over the head with a sledge-hammer. I don't really get why they were constantly rehashed and it was, as always over done. I thought it was somewhat bemusing that Tim had somehow missed the fact that Tony was sleeping with EJ, especially as Tony said 'the whole navy yard knows'. Ziva seemed obsessed with Tony talking to Gibbs about it and it dominated all their conversations.
I am so, so glad that Tony, very respectfully but also firmly, told Gibbs to butt out and mind his own business. As I said last week had Tony caved all respect I had for him would have gone. I thought he handled that scene in Gibbs's basement in a very mature, very sensible, very calm way. He is right, it is none of Gibbs's business with whom he sleeps; the agency don't have rules about it, so Gibbs does - what can he do? Throw Tony off the team? Or maybe Tony will in fact consider his position on the team and think about whether he wants to work for someone who is so rigid. That scene did set up the Gibbs and Tony rift nicely. I also found what Tony had to say about EJ interesting; she's easy to be with, she's like him, she's great, they have a lot in common. And Tony's comment later to Ziva that it was like talking to his father, he'd tell him not to do something and it would make him want to do it more was perfectly in character and very well done. Tony does indeed regard Gibbs as a father figure, that's always been clear. And Gibbs scares him, interesting.
I don't like EJ, I think she's unprofessional, nosey, unintelligent - that came out during the episode - manipulative, demanding and I'd like to know what she is up to. She may really be just as she seems: brought in by Vance to solve the P2P killing, but I think there is more to it. Nonetheless, however much I dislike her, I am glad for her too that Tony stood up to Gibbs. I don't want to see Tony with EJ particularly, but as he is, I'm glad he didn't cave. The scene in Gibbs's basement was very well played out by both men; Gibbs wasn't giving an inch (I did love his reply when Tony asked him what he was working on: 'wood', talk about being literal, Gibbs *g*) and Tony played the scene it so maturely. Full marks to Tony for how he was in this scene and for standing his ground.
EJ just goes down further and further in my estimation. To say to Tim, Ziva and Tony that they could pick up some tips from her agents was totally out of line. She is a nasty piece of work, or is she more insecure than we think? That is the other possibility, but I don't think it's that and yet she does have some insecurities as we saw last week and she's jealous of Ziva, that was very clear in this episode. So maybe a lot of her brashness is a front. But at the end of the day we do not need her or her team. They aren't there for any case reason, not really, just purely personal issues. The good thing I can say about her is that she does care about her team and they all care about one another. They do seem to be a tight knit team just like team Gibbs are and I did get the impression they had worked together for some time. I didn't care for either man, I don't have any intense feelings like I do for EJ, they were just there really, being Tony and Tim and causing more 'trouble' between people on our team.
I liked how Ducky allowed Jimmy to do the examination of 'Donner's' body and to tell Gibbs the time of death. I do like how Jimmy is growing more and more personally and professionally and becoming more competent and we had no inappropriate humour this week, that was excellent.
When Gibbs, Tim and Tony were looking at the surveillance cameras and it seemed so clear that Donner had killed Ross and Tim asked Gibbs if he'd ever had a murder case that was so easy, that was when I knew for certain Donner had not killed Ross. I thought that somehow the cameras had been tampered with and the scene was a mock up, put together by someone to frame Donner, but I certainly knew Donner was not the killer. It was foreshadowed so blatantly. I wrote down 'Donner is not the killer'.
I did like the wee scene in the squad room when Tony put on Cade's jacket and hat and was messing about in true Tony fashion, watched by Tim who was warning him not to mess around and of course who arrives but Cade and EJ. That again was sign-posted, it was always going to happen, but again, it's the running joke that's happened from day one, it isn't going to stop now. Great consistency.
A nice Autopsy scene when we learnt how Ducky felt about EJ - not very much; he was very un-Ducky with her on the phone and in person. He sounded weary, I felt when talking to her, as if it was 'oh, not you again, what do you want this time'. I did wonder what Ducky's reaction would be; now we know. And so we learnt that the eyeball belongs to a man in his mid 30s, so that rules out most people that I've seen suggested and the ending ruled out even more! It was a nice Gibbs, Ducky and Jimmy scene some nice looks, good exchanges and we also learnt Ross was pregnant.
The conversation between Tony and Ziva whilst on stakeout was the best one of all the 'let's talk about EJ' conversations. I felt both let their guards down in a way neither do very often. They are clearly very close indeed and have a lot of feelings for one another, but their time isn't this particular moment. I liked how Tony asked about Ray and how we learnt he'd been calling and texting and emailing her, but she hadn't read/listened any of them. I felt she was more placid about it; okay she said it was over but I'm not so sure she doesn't have regrets about it. And I liked Tony's honesty re: EJ and how Gibbs has to know because he's Gibbs and also that he told Ziva Gibbs had read EJ the riot act. I did enjoy their little 'bet' re: who'd get the name of the person who had visited the Donner house first; Tony from McGee and Abby (I rolled my eyes when he used McAbby, I hate those smushed up names) or Ziva by running the license plate; and Ziva won.
The Tim and Abby scene in her lab when he learnt she was going out with Cade was very interesting indeed! I'd heard somewhere that he was okay about it; he was so not okay. Once again we get more evidence of Abby/McGee and the on-going jealousy when one of them dates the other. And it wasn't only covertly dealt with it was overtly dealt with when Abby called Tim on being jealous and him not answering and in effect deflecting the question and moving onto something else. I have to say I didn't like Abby's dress at all. It didn't suit her. How come she got to know Cade so quickly anyway? He'd only been there five minutes, how did they even speak/meet? And suddenly she's going out with him. EJ's team seem to be like her in fast working. So Cade is a linguist and a jock and went to Yale, he's totally Ivy League and has a photographic memory.
And finally we meet the other new member of EJ's team, Levin and also learn EJ has managed to get her own really big screen by chatting up a guy from the computer department. Does the woman have that much clout? I thought money was tight, how come she could just order that and get it installed or whatever?
The second Autopsy scene with Gibbs, Ducky and Jimmy was also good. And we learnt Donner was dead before Ross was killed and had in fact died of a heart attack and was dead before he was put into the car. EJ's arrival gave Gibbs the chance to totally cut her dead and Ducky a chance to confirm he doesn't care for her. It was lovely that it would be Jimmy who'd explain all about the eye to her as it was his area of expertise - I like the way we learnt a little snippet about his father.
I really loved the scene in Abby's lab when Ducky is there with her and Gibbs says they both sounded excited and patted Ducky on the arm for no reason other than an 'hello, Duck' kind of reason. So good, a lovely little Gibbs/Ducky moment. It was a very interesting revelation about the face mask and how Abby had also worked out what Ross was saying. That was a twist I hadn't been expecting at all; Donner had been 'replaced' by someone with his face, but not his voice. Wow, that kind of 'advancement' is highly dangerous.
I enjoyed the wee Tony and Tim scene when Tim was asking if Tony knew Abby had been out with Cade and admitting that he preferred it when it just them. Also the scene with Hogan was fun; Tony was enthralled by the mask and Hogan was so full of enthusiasm for what he did and clearly loves his job, it was a nicely paced, fun scene. When he admitted he didn't think it was odd to be asked to make a mask of a dead man because he got asked to do a lot of things people would find weird I was smiling. And he clearly felt that way, it wasn't any kind of act. It was a very small role, but I really liked his character. I was muttering to Tim and Tony 'that's Tunney in a mask' when they got into the lift and the apparently old man got out, but they didn't listen to begin with, until Tony remembered the aftershave smell.
Nice fight when Tunney grabs and disarms Ziva and she gets out of it, very well done. But I was glad to see the others arrive, I do think she need their back-up. I loved Gibbs's 'give me an excuse'.
So it was all done just so that Tunney could put a fake report into the report room that would show he wasn't near a village when the tribal leader died, and he and his team would be exonerated. But it wasn't originally going to be him, Donner felt he owed him and was going to do switch the reports, but died of a heart attack. Had he not done died, nor would Ross. Part of what Tunney said about TPTB not caring how things are done as long as they get what they want, until something goes wrong was chillingly true. But he killed an innocent woman to carry on with the cover up. Maybe the tribal leader didn't have to die, maybe he was just the scape-goat, maybe it was unfair. But he then murdered someone who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and for that he has to pay.
And then the ending . . . Wow, that was the most intense and gripping and edge of seats endings NCIS has ever come up with. In fact this out does any of the season finales. EJ and Jimmy go to MTAC and Jimmy holds the eye up to the retina scanner and they get a hit. That really narrows the field down tremendously to someone high up in NCIS, as not many people have that level of access. I did like how the final scene was framed with Jimmy and EJ by MTAC and Gibbs, Tim, Ziva and Tony all looking up. Now that would have made an excellent final scene of this series to be carried over to the next.
So all in all it wasn't a bad episode at all. I did enjoy it more than I was irked by it. There were some great team moments, some good interaction and banter, some nice touches of humour. There were some shipping moments, apart from the obvious Tony/EJ being thrown at us all the time; there was also Gibbs/Ducky, Abby/McGee and DiNozzo/Ziva. There was far more of our team than I feared, I felt no on really lost out. It was another Tony-heavy and dominant episode but the rest of Team Gibbs had a good amount of screen time, no one was really overshadowed. EJ continues to annoy me, her team are just *shrugs* rehashes of Tim and Tony and again I see no point them being there other than for discord and the so-called 'humour' behind them being Tim and Tony. However, the big irk of the episode was how just about every non-case related conversation was about EJ and Tony.
- The first crime scene.
- The first Autopsy scene.
- Tony and Ziva on stakeout.
- Abby and Tim in her lab prior to her date with Cade.
- The second Autopsy scene.
- Gibbs, Ducky and Abby in her lab.
- The final scene with Jimmy and EJ and the eyeball.
There were some nice little throw away touches/things we learnt too:
- Tony admitting to having been shaken by the eyeball in his G&T. I liked how there was no attempt, as he normally does, to brush it off and be causal about it. He'd been shocked. That was excellent.
- Jimmy's father was a research ophthalmologist.
- Tony got a film reference wrong! Wow.
- Every conversation not relating to the case had to revolve around Tony and EJ.
- The fact Cade and Levin are in effect Tim and Tony.
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