The 'calm before the storm' episode, I feel in many ways; after the previous episode when the story-line was introduced and we had the meant to be shocking ending that had been telegraphed a mile ahead of it happening, we have an episode that picks up on the major theme of the previous episode, the explosion on navy ships and terrorism and moves us forward a little bit, but in a fairly sedate way. No huge guns or major happenings, just a meander through from beginning to end. No shocks, no surprises, no edge of seat moments, nothing to go 'wow, that's amazing' and nothing to go 'argh, whom can I smack'. A very gentle meander. The most 'exciting' moment was when I dropped my pencil down the side of my reclining chair which led to J having to grovel beneath it because he could see where it had fallen - it had gone all the way through - and had I dereclined the chair it would almost certainly have squished the pencil. And of course Lacey had to help him finally get it out *g*).

There were some nice moments, team moments and pairing moments and a couple of nice sub-plots that were very in character. I didn't find anyone annoying, not in the least - and it was good to see Stan again (and even I recognised him *is very proud*.

I found the whole Ducky sub-theme over his will interesting. It was good to see more of Ducky this week than we've seen in most of this season and it was nice to actually have some relationship moments with Gibbs again - they had been sadly missing for quite some time. However, timing is everything, as they say, and if this whole will business was meant to make us concerned for Ducky's character then releasing the news yesterday that David McCallum had re-signed for two seasons really did take away any impact the whole will thing may have had, in respect of worrying about Ducky. Of course Ducky is the kind of man who would not only have a will, but would indeed keep it up to date, so really even had we not know about David McCallum I wouldn't have been worried. (But, please, please, please just make it sign for two, but there is only one - my dearest hope is that NCIS calls it a day at the end of the next season; the tenth season would be a grand time to go out. I'm just hoping that as Mark Harrmon's contract is up at the end of next season that he'll call it a day - sorry to my NCIS friends who want it to go on and on and on).

The scene at Gibbs's house was a wonderful one. I love that Ducky wants Gibbs to be his executor, because he's a close friend and he trusts him and Gibbs knows him and Ducky wants someone who cares and not just some faceless, nameless solicitor who doesn't know Ducky. And it was lovely that Gibbs said he was honoured that Ducky asked him. It was very nice touch that Ducky asked Gibbs and said he trusted him and very Ducky and very believable - who else would he want other than Gibbs?

The scene in Gibbs's house was also lovely for the bit about the tea, a nice touch to take away the heavy seriousness. And of course Ducky wants leaf tea, but dust tea and brewed properly in a teapot - lovely. The look Gibbs gave him too was priceless (so Gibbs drinks tea, that's interesting in itself). And the follow up when Ducky left a packet of real tea and a teapot on Gibbs's desk - so lovely, so perfectly Ducky and again so nice that Tony was clearly desperate to know why, but of course wouldn't get to know why.

I love the idea he has left bequests to his NCIS friends, that is always what I've thought he'd do, it makes perfect sense, because they are family. The mention for the first time since the second episode of his nephew I found bemusing. I still find it nearly impossible to believe that Ducky would not have mentioned a nephew more than twice, or at least made some reference to him having a sibling, given he talks about everything. Unless the sibling is in effect a half-sibling and either Ducky's mother or more likely father had an affair. And the bulk of his estate will be left to charity, indeed to a Marine Corps charity; as Gibbs said that's nice; really nice. The whole will thing was moving and maybe it is going to foreshadow something for the end of the next season, who knows.

I loved all the Gibbs/Ducky scenes - they were very much in character.

I also loved the wee sub-theme of Tony obsessing over what Ziva's weekend plans were and how it seemed everyone knew about them but him and how irked that made him and how much fun the others were having keeping it from him. So very well done, so very in character and of course Tony was thinking it was something far more than just a pilates weekend with her landlady - so very Tony. And his fake nonchalance when he let Ziva know he had finally found out - I do wonder which poor person he hounded or tricked into telling him.

It was also nice to see Tim in action again and not just stuck behind his desk all the time. But poor Timmy being sent on to the ship when he still suffers from sea-sickness. As much as I did love to see Tim actually doing something, I have to question why Gibbs would send him. It wasn't as if he had to send him, he could just as easily have sent Tony or Ziva, given the sea-sickness it was more than a little cruel and Gibbs isn't cruel. And it jarred a bit given how caring Gibbs was in latter scenes.

I did love that he actually snapped at Tony when Tony was teasing him in MTAC about what he'd been through and how Tony actually looked abashed. Tony does care that was obvious when the call ended and also by the look on his face when Tim did snap back at him, it would be really nice if he could for once show he cares in a caring way rather than his Tony way - but then I guess it wouldn't be Tony if he did. I loved how Gibbs waited around until Tony had gone and quietly told McGee what he should eat for the sea-sickness and also how he didn't react at all whilst Tim was throwing up, whilst Tony acted as if he was in the same room as him. A great scene and very well played by all three men - and very in character from all of them.

It was good to see Stan again and I liked the gentle flirting between him and Ziva and how he made Ziva an officer and Tony a mere enlisted man. Such fun; I loved Tony's mild jealousy of the way Stan was flirting and yet not wanting to show it and also him being somewhat miffed about Ziva being an officer whilst he was merely an enlisted way. And unlike many times in the past when something has happened he doesn't like, his reaction was nice and subtle and underplayed and so very believable. Just a mild sulk for the officer vs. enlisted thing. I thought it amusing (and a nice bit of pay back) that he was actually feeling a wee bit queasy (well more than a wee bit) and they were still in dock. I loved the little exchange between him and Ziva about if Ziva tells Tim that Tony felt sick then he'd post the photos of her in her bikini for all to see - he still keeps them and not just for leverage, I feel.

J had the code figured out almost immediately - he said it was exactly what it was. A message written in English, but then changed into Korean and thus it wouldn't make any sense at all to anyone reading Korean, because it wasn't meant to.

I thought the most chilling scene of the episode was after Tony had knocked out the bad guy and Gibbs was talking to him about evoking the Patriot Act and in effect taking away every right he may have had. It was well played out as in many ways it was underplayed, we didn't have Gibbs in full angry mode, but it was all the more chilling because of it. I also liked the fact that rather than come up with some 'I'm against war' or anything else the baddie admitted to doing it all for money. That was really well done.

And that brings us nicely to Harper Dearing. Do I think he is the bad guy? Hmmm, I'm not totally convinced at this stage that he is. I'm probably wrong, but I think that despite him being AWOL for a year that he may well be the red herring. It may even be the CEO of his company who is the real criminal. Yes, we have the whole AWOL thing and it may well turn out that Dearing is in Switzerland and the southern twang and the DNA on the envelope matching his son's and Gibbs had stuck his photo up on 'the wall', but I'm not convinced he is the master-mind behind this. I think there's more to it than that, it would be a wee bit too simple I feel if he was the bad guy - now watch me be proven wrong. But if he is the bad guy - why? What is his motive and how (if at all) is it going to be tied in with the 'Black ops' crew?

Definitely the fill-in, calm before the storm episode that really didn't advance the plot that much, but just enough to keep us interested. But instead it gave us team and pairing moments.

Actually the episode had a very family feel to it throughout, and it was far more family/team orientated than it was case related, with the Ducky and Gibbs and Ducky's will scenes and Gibbs caring about Tim and telling him what to eat for seasickness and Gibbs taking Abby and Tim coffee and Danishes and gently waking them up. And Tony being in the dark about Ziva's weekend plans. Also Tony genuinely caring about Tim, but not being able to tell him, so resorts to teasing and Tim snaps and Tony realises he's gone too far - so perfectly family. Also the reappearance of Stan, who was very much family as we know from the first episode in which he appeared.

A well balanced episode, nothing to make me jump up and down, but nothing to hate. Some very nice moments indeed - very family orientated. And also some nice pairing moments for Gibbs/Ducky and Abby/McGee in particular and a wee bit of DiNozzo/Ziva.

Favourite Scenes:
- Gibbs and Ducky in Autopsy to begin with when Ducky hides something and tells Gibbs he does have something personal he wishes to discuss with him.
- Gibbs and Abby in her lab.
- Gibbs and Ducky at Gibbs's house talking about Ducky's will.
- Tim, Ziva and Tony on the ship talking about Abby's plans for Jimmy's bachelor party.
- Tim and Abby in her lab when we learnt what Ziva's weekend plans were.
- Gibbs finding the teapot and tea leaves Ducky had left him.
- Gibbs coming in and finding Tim and Abby asleep in her lab and bringing them coffee and Danishes.
- Tony and Ziva on the ship when Tony is having a minor sulk about not being an officer.
- Gibbs and Ducky in the squad room when Ducky gives him a copy of his will and tells him how he's leaving his money.
- Gibbs and McGee in the squad room going through all the Harper Dearings.
- Scary Gibbs putting Dearing's photo up on the wall.

Things we learnt/had confirmed:
- Ducky does apparently have a nephew.
- Tony still has the photos of Ziva in her bikini.
- Ziva does pilates.
- Gibbs likes John Wayne films and knows them.
- Gibbs drinks tea!

Minor Irks:
- The mentioning again of Ducky's nephew. It does not ring true to me that he's never once mentioned a sibling in all this time, given how he's talked about his parents and everything else under the sun.
- No Jimmy.
- Tim being sent to the ship when Gibbs knows he suffers from sea-sickness.
- Abby mentioning having people work on the DNA in the lab - what lab? And why?

Pairing of the week:

Character of the week:

Actor of the week:
David McCallum

Storyline: 8.00

Enjoyment: 9.00



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