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NCIS Season 8 Episode 5 Dead Air : Talk radio, domestic terrorism, suburbia and baseball. All that was missing was apple pie and Chevrolet. Actually, it was all that and even a hint about what really happened five years ago between Ziva and Tony (Michael Weatherly) when they first crossed paths. That was tonight’s ‘NCIS,’ and for fans who have been hoping for an episode that focused more on Cote de Pablo, this was the show. For more on that, as well as Tony’s strained vocal chords, read on.
Many episodes of ‘NCIS’ deal with international terrorism and threats from outside the United States. However, as the Oklahoma City bombing proved, there are terrorists right here in America. In this episode’s take, the unlikely enclaves of disgruntled citizens were lodged in an upscale, gated community of wealthy suburbanites.
The group was called MAH, as in Military At Home. They wanted America to stop being the world’s policeman. The mailman, the businessman and Zach, the neighbor with the jaunty tennis sweater, were all in league to set off a bomb to send a message.
The start, however, was the talk radio angle. A rabble-rousing disk jockey was the key to finding the terrorist cell, but it cost him, an engineer and a Naval public affairs officer their lives. The DJ turned down the chance to be the voice of MAH and, therefore, was eliminated. Fortunately, the shooter had no brains when he came to forensics and the bullets revealed deer urine, of all things, as a telltale sign.
To track down the voice that approached the DJ about being MAH’s voice, Tony drew the short straw and had to collect the samples of everyone’s voice in the Royal Woods neighborhood. By the time he was done, DiNozzo had a severe case of laryngitis. Ducky’s prescription was the ultimate punishment for Tony … no talking for 24 hours.
As mentioned above, Ziva had a major part to play in the case. The team intercepted the bomb maker before he could complete the deal. Filling in as the mercenary’s competitor was Ziva … playing Ziva David. Her cover was no cover at all, just her Mossad background. She was convincing and compelling working undercover, prompting Tony to reminisce about the time when Ziva first joined the team.
When Tony recalled being in bed with Ziva back then, McGee (Sean Murray) tried to confirm that it had all been for show. Tony never let on. And McGee remained unsure.
As Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and company deciphered the plot, the target of the bomb was unexpected. Instead of a place, it was an event. But not something like a concert or a party. No, it was a local kids’ soccer game, and what made it a ripe target was that the parents of those little soccer players were all Washington big shots. The NCIS team showed up in time to clear the field, and Ziva made sure to tackle Tony so he was safe from the blast. Hmm …
There was one other thread that ran through the episode that was particularly topical, considering the time of year. McGee and Tony were waxing poetically about baseball from the opening of the show to the close. Tony even referenced Mr. October, New York Yankee great Reggie Jackson, as he and McGee sang the praises of America’s past time, baseball.
Of course, the irony of all the baseball references, including ‘Field of Dreams,’ Vin Scully and playing centerfield, came as TBS was showing Game 3 of the American League Championship Series while the ‘NCIS’ episode aired on the East Coast. Of course, since ‘NCIS’ rarely dips below 18 million total viewers, they probably felt safe reminding viewers that baseball is a great game even if it’s the competition in October.
The ‘NCIS’ gang was finally back. As much as the reruns are enjoyable, there’s really nothing like a fresh episode. This was a fun episode because FBI agent Fornell was back, which means getting on Gibbs’ nerves and good banter between the two. And then there was the girl from Tim’s past. It’s not what you think, but if you want to know more, read on.
For a change, the murder had nothing to do with the larger crime that NCIS and the FBI had to investigate. The petty officer had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. After finding mob informant Stefano Delmar, Gibbs and Fornell started following the clues. The Judge was a least likely suspect, but it was logical that they wouldn’t have introduced her for just one scene.
The scene outside Cooper’s Hawk Security, with Gibbs and Fornell talking to the polygrapher Susan Grady, was well done. The explosion was completely unexpected and as the plot unfolded, it turned out that it wasn’t supposed to kill everyone; that was just a dumb accident. Fortunately, since she was with Gibbs and Fornell, Susan lived to tell them what she knew.
Susan was a strange one. She had a thing for McGee, which we knew, but when he finally asked her out, she said no. What was that all about? One minute she was playing the woe-is-me girl, all self-deprecating, but not really funny. Was she suddenly opting for the hard-to-get angle with McGee after throwing herself at him? Even Tony wouldn’t be able to figure her out.
Another angle that should be figured out one of these days is exactly what’s what with Abby and McGee. She was not welcoming of Susan into her lab, although that was probably not a wise move by Tim.
The best lie detector in the episode wasn’t the one Susan hooked up to Gibbs, it was Gibbs himself. He saw right through the janitor. But the very idea that Gibbs has never been polygraphed in eight years was amazing. How did he avoid it? It was telling that he refused to continue the test when she asked if he had ever committed a felony. In his mind, he flashed back to killing Ziva’s abductor, Saleem, with a high-powered sniper rifle. Rather than lie, he ended the session.
So the culprit was the judge, doling out vigilante justice from the bench. The idea that judges are being put through polygraphs as part of judicial confirmation is something that never occurred to me. What didn’t make sense to me was that Judge Wallace agreed to take a polygraph, that she was arrogant enough to do it in front of Gibbs and Fornell, and think she could get away with her actions. Rigging the machine to make noise was an extra touch of intimidation that worked to unnerve the redhead. Yep, another redhead.
Holly Snow, the madame we met in a previous episode, was back for this episode when the corpse turned out to be a Navy journalist investigating call girls. Or the guys who use them. So we found Holly where Gibbs had left her; doing community service as penance for her criminal activity. She was the perfect source of expertise for Gibbs. More on Holly, Gibbs and Tony’s new undies after the jump.
It was telling that the moment Gibbs showed up at the seminar, Holly’s cool crumbled and she wasn’t so snowy. Just the sight of Jethro unnerved her. Interesting.
Tony found a kindred spirit in Phil McCadden, the local police detective who had a similar fanboy worship of classic movies. It was great to see how they finished each others’ thoughts. If we didn’t know how hetero Tony is, you might suspect a romance. By the way, Adam Kaufman played Phil; you might remember him from ‘Without A Trace.’
Meanwhile, Tony and Tim were at each others’ throats. Ziva recognized their mutual sniping as the ‘seven year bitch.’ She meant ‘seven year itch,’ but her malapropism was more accurate. Tony was ticked off about how Tim pulled the sprinkles off his doughnut, a sure sign that they’ve been hanging out together too much.
Abby saw that Tim was jealous. How hilarious! He really was green with envy that T-Cad were hitting it off – you like, Tony and McCadden, like Brangelina.
Holly was really good at her job. She pegged Tony as a novice when it came to paying for sex. Was it the smoking jacket out of a David Niven movie? No. It was more revealing than that. “You’re wearing underwear right out of the package.” She had to give Tony tips about how to act like a John.
The lady of the evening, Charlotte Cook, looked good for the murder of the Navy journalist, but she was too obvious. When another John turned up dead and she was in custody at the time, she was eliminated as a suspect, but not as a witness. Holly worked with Gibbs to get Charlotte to flip.
Holly looked like she might be more involved than just a facilitator, especially when she went off grid by disabling her ankle monitor. By this point, it seemed like the lawyer did it, and sure enough, it was Dwight. The slimey lawyer types are usually guilty of something; in this case, it was killing Johns. With not a second to spare, Jethro came through and used his sniper skills at close range to drill Dwight with bullets. Completely justified, too.
Dina Meyer is destined for her own show. She’s got star power galore. And she’s gorgeous. CBS will definitely find a spot for her in the near future – like a female Alex O’Loughlin or Skeet Ulrich.
Gibbs ended up taking Holly home for dinner, cooked her a steak. It looked like it might be more than friendship, but a call on Holly’s cell for a late date squelched that. Gibbs is nobody’s fool. Will he stay her friend? Yes, but don’t expect any more than that.
The most important aspect of this ‘NCIS’ episode was the mystery. No, not the one about the Marine who may or may not have been MIA in Afghanistan, but the one involving Dr. Mallard and the ties. The clues had been laid out throughout the season, and tonight we learned that everything with Ducky was not as plucky as he was leading his friends to believe. More on that, the rain in D.C., and a handsome devil named Mortimer after the jump.
Unlike many other shows, ‘NCIS’ believes in subtlety. The Ducky story was a perfect example. The men were somewhat oblivious to the changes in Dr. Mallard, although Gibbs is too taciturn to reveal what he’s thinking. Ziva and Abby, however, knew that switching from bow ties to tie ties meant something. The fact that Ducky in no other way was exhibiting odd behavior made the reveal that his mother had died all the more effective.
Rather than being grief-stricken, Ducky was acting plucky and chipper. He wasn’t glad that his mother was gone; in fact, he missed her. Talking about going to ‘Madame Butterfly’ without her was a vivid image, and a believable one. But as a man who spends his life consumed with the dead, he accepted his 100-year-old mother had lived as long as she could. Her time had come. At the graveside, Abby shared a moment with Ducky, because she is the heart of the show. She made it a point to find out why Ducky was ducking her play date offer for Mortimer, her service puppy, and his mother’s Corgis. Later, Jethro parked himself in the morgue to make sure his old friend was all right.
The main plot was about John Mayne, missing Marine, who was also Christian Wells, his newly assumed identity. He not only had two women claiming to be his spouse, he also had a vast fortune.
Everyone in the team got to show off their special skills. DiNozzo worked the women because one of his pet theories is that the wife did it. The fact that one was implicated, but didn’t pull the trigger, made him partially right. McGee did the old ‘All The President’s Men’ routine — follow the money — using geek expertise like a homemade app that can break into a car. And Ziva’s skills as an observant investigator came through as she outdid the private eye.
Interesting episode of ‘NCIS’ one that was somewhat fun, somewhat lighthearted, and even a little playful. Of course, there was still a dead body, and a chance for Gibbs to interact with an old adversary. We’re a few weeks out from the Paris trip, but Tony and Ziva remain as cagey as ever about what happened… if anything happened at all in that hotel room. More on that and the 1971 Plymouth Barricuda hemi after the jump.
Gibbs was still on the mend from getting hit by a car saving McGee’s life. And McGee was in dire need of rest from trying to keep up with the ‘boss.’ He even tried coffee with extra sugar, but caffeine only made McGee geekier.
There were a couple of strange connections on display, Jethro and Werth was one. Ducky suggested Gibbs felt responsible for Damon, like he owed him something. Perhaps it was more of an identification thing, with Gibbs seeing something of himself in the ex-Marine, Rambo type. Whatever, it put a potential dangerous animal — McGee compared him to a bear — in the midst. Damon Werth — super Marine who washed out as a psyched out steroid case. Was he going to explode or remain true to the mission?
The other weird relationship is Gibbs and Tobias. It was fun to watch the push-pull between the two, but clearly they can work well together. They like each other, but they don’t necessarily trust each other. Maybe a little. Joe Spano is always a welcomed return on ‘NCIS.’
The scene when they pretended to run into Werth and Ziva at the gas station was priceless. Gibbs and Fornell were squabbling about the car — a 1971 Dodge Charger that’s actually one of Jethro’s prized possessions — and the bitching made them sound like an old gay couple. A very butch gay couple.
The cross-country truck business wasn’t about contraband at all. It was transporting collectible cars as part of a wager between a couple of rich guys, and one was the killer. Abby, Gibbs and Fornell sussed out the truth, confirming it with the help of a magnet. Yes, old school forensics.
As the title suggests, what we witnessed going on for much of this episode was not reality, but a ‘Masquerade.’ If you pay attention to titles, you can have an edge figuring out what’s what. Meanwhile, beyond the action, there was more character interaction as ‘NCIS’ continues to weave a few mystery threads, including M. Allison Hart’s fascination with Mr. Gibbs.
That’s right. She calls him Mr. Gibbs. Even after Jethro reminded her that he’s a Special Agent, Hart continues to give him the dig by calling him mister. She also continues to challenge him, and with Rena Sofer in the role, the sparks are flying between her and Mark Harmon. However, Gibbs’ history with women suggests that he’s going to need to be wary with Hart. He’s already on edge because she has seemingly put herself in his cross hairs. The question is why … and can she be trusted?
Questions about Tony and Ziva and what really happened in Paris remain unanswered, which is terribly frustrating. However, Tony did broach the subject of Ziva’s experience in Somalia when she was a prisoner. She didn’t say much, but clearly she was traumatized by the event. She also put forth the theory that a group of terrorists may be a real threat or they might be defenders of their way of life.
That kind of political objectivity is unexpected in a drama series, but ‘NCIS’ seems to enjoy not fitting into any spot on the spectrum. The politics cropped up with the whole dirty bomb plot and the supposed terrorist group from Peru. Vance mentioned more than once that he was meeting with the Joint Chiefs and testifying before Congress about a defense appropriations bill, which was suspicious. All the leaked stories on the ZNN cable news channel was also a tip off that the fear of the bombs were more real than the actual devices. Or at least bombs that actually were properly formulated.
Colonel Bell seems to be the puppet master behind a lot of this business, don’t you think? Private military … defense contracts … terror threats to keep people fearful. Now, if it turns out that Hart has been working with Bell to get to Gibbs, that will be a bad thing … for M. Allison Hart. You don’t do that to Jethro.