I wasn't looking forward to this episode at all as I am not a fan of Abigail Borin. I said after we met her for the first time I hoped we'd never see her again (which is a sure way to ensure we will see a character) and I didn't enjoy the second episode in which she appeared. Her character does annoys me, or rather the way she is written with all the things she and Gibbs does the same. Once or twice is fun, after that it gets old - something NCIS writers fail to realise.

However, I was pleasantly surprised, not only did the episode rock, I didn't dislike Borin anywhere near as much as I normally do - in fact I quite liked her. The writers have toned her character down just a smidgen and thus she was far, far better. We only had one overt parallel moment with her and Gibbs and a few times when the kids compared Gibbs and Borin. So yes, I thought she was good this time.

Dare I say it? The run of good episodes with a real navy base and the emphasises on the case is continuing - again we had old school NCIS. We had an interesting and relevant to today case with twists in it and red herrings and it was very moving and poignant in parts. We had excellent team interaction and banter with no bitchiness whatsoever, some great humour and a good family feel to it. It was interesting to see the SecNav again and I'm with Vance and Gibbs, I do think he's in a tad over his head, which could explain why he went in so hard and fast at the beginning. I liked the way Vance suddenly addressed him as a long-standing friend and not the SecNav. At least Mr. Secretary knows now if he does need help, Vance will be there for him.

I had heard about Tony and Tim trying to find a woman for Gibbs and I didn't think that would pan out well and I thought it would be too contrived and annoying, but actually I think it worked really, really well. I actually liked that all four of Gibbs's kids were involved (even if Abby was really keeping out of it) as well as Borin. As a sub-plot, it actually worked. And I thought it was hilarious at the end when they thought they'd found the perfect woman only to discover that Gibbs had actually dated her and the problem was she was perfect. So good. And I'm certain Gibbs knew what they were up to, but just chose to let them have their fun as it wasn't interfering in any way with the case. And there is no way Borin and Gibbs would work together, not just because they are so similar, but they just wouldn't - plus, I don't see either of them has any interest in the other outside of the professional aspect. Now Tony and Borin . . . I definitely got a zing this time for those two.

I did guess who the 'bad' guy was, but not totally. When Mariam said she'd shot the Petty Officer, I knew full well she hadn't (a very hackneyed plot device, so it was pretty clear she didn't do it). I said to J it was the younger son she was protecting, because he was the quiet one, the intelligent one, the 'baby', unlike his brasher brother. At the time I just thought he'd in effect accidentally shot the man, shot to scare, not to kill - so the truth of it was very good. And when the full story was revealed and we had Ziva and Mariam shut in and then we had the phone call from Abby about the bomb, I knew then it did have to be him, because he was the smart one.

I admit I had a lump in my throat when Mariam was talking to her son and trying to persuade him not to kill anyone else and not to leave her, because she'd already lost a child and didn't want to lose another one. And I felt for him too, very much so. He didn't seem like a bad kid, he didn't seem like a hardened killer, he'd just believed in what his father had drilled into him; he believed he had to kill, to get revenge. I'm not sure he really wanted to, not when it came down to it.

The family theme continued with Mariam and Ziva talking about families and turning a blind eye, etc. And even more tellingly at the end when Gibbs and Ziva are talking about Ziva's mother and the reason she never told Ziva what her father was and then Ziva asking Gibbs if he was lonely. His reply said so much and really did show he thinks of the younger members as his kids. His 'never alone when you have kids' and then kissing her cheek and calling her 'kid' was very moving.

So from an episode I really wasn't looking forward to, I was more than pleasantly surprised and actually rate it highly. I liked Borin (which I never thought I'd say); I liked the SecNav; I thoroughly enjoyed the case; I loved the team (all of them); I loved the 'find Gibbs a woman sub-plot; I liked pretty much everything about it from start to finish. Long may it continue!

Favourite Scenes:
- The opening squad room scene when the Tim and Ziva were trying to track down the take-away Gibbs had dumped somewhere and we discover he'd rung all three of them several times over the weekend. I love Gibbs, but honestly his eating habits are pretty disgusting and pain me - the fact he'd left cold whatever it was in his desk drawer to stink the squad room out overnight and then ate it. Yuck!
- The kids asking Ducky what he thought about Gibbs and Borin and Ducky's reply with their similar work ethic it could either be the shortest courtship (such a Ducky word) in history or indeed the longest.
- Born rubbing Tony's butt and Vance watching them and his comment.
- The scene with Mariam was talking her son out of detonating the bomb.
- The final squad room scene right from them thinking they'd found the perfect woman to Gibbs kissing Ziva's cheek and calling her 'kdi'.

We learnt some interesting things too:
- Gibbs doesn't like perfect women (not that there is such a thing)

Minor Irks:
- I'd have liked a bit more Ducky, but then for the most part I'd always like a bit more Ducky.
- No Jimmy :-(
- Gibbs's eating habits!

Pairing of the week:
Ziva and Mariam

Character of the week:

Actor of the week:
Shohreh Aghdashloo (Mariam Bawali)

Storyline: 9.75

Enjoyment: 9.75


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