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SWAK (02x20)

This episode has repercussions that carry through the rest of the series. Well, one repercussion, anyway. Tony's bout with the plague comes up a number of times during the series

The camera work at the beginning, when Tony opens the envelope, works really well. I like the way Gibbs stands on his desk to announce the evacuation. Kate calls the emergency line while McGee watches in horror.

I'm not found of the Honey Dust scene, although for once it has a purpose, which is as a lead in to the idea that the P.O. might've screwed up.

McGee has a good line about Abby and the Pachinko machine. Abby serves in this episode as a delaying agency. So does Ducky, to a certain extent. It's of only limited use. Gibbs (understandably) has no patience for Palmer here. I like both his "well no, Palmer, crossbows if you think that would work better." And "I wouldn't either."

Why did they let Kate stay with Tony after diagnosis? At that point, the bacteria were still alive, so Tony was contagious and, as Ducky himself said, Kate's immune system was already compromised.

It's very sad that Mariette Hartley's character is so focused that she can't believe her own daughter in the face of her personal prejudices. Not to mention that her daughter was so afraid of her that she didn't feel she could tell the truth.

There's no way Tony went from high fever, struggling to breathe even with oxygen to basically normal in a few hours, so the ending bugs me big time. They did such a good job in Twilight and even the first two episodes of season three showing that he was still recovering that it really, really annoys me that they screwed up the ending to Swak so badly. I mean sure, after the scene with Gibbs, we know Tony won't die (because he promised Gibbs), but he still had antibiotic resistant pneumonia. He would've been on oxygen for days, and on breathing therapy for a long time after that.

The timeline also has its problems. It's morning when this happens, and (supposedly) night when it ends. That's 12 hours, and there is no sign that more than one night passed (to make it 24 or more). The life-span of the altered Y. Pestis once a victim was infected was 32 hours. They were dead by the time Gibbs confronted Dr. Pandy. That's saying it took them about 30 hours to ID Mariette Hartley as the sender. Really? It took them 30 hours to pull up a case file, call in Cassie (who arrived in 15 minutes, remember), have her remember the case and tell Gibbs who it was? It should have been harder to come up with her name. Then I'd believe it took them 30 hours to find her.

I think they're supposed to be more distracted by the idea that the obvious suspect isn't the right one, which would help the timeline.

Yes, I've thought about this a lot. I really like the episode. I think the acting is great, particularly Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly and David McCallum. For once, they have Kate being nasty in a good cause: she knows letting Tony think she's sick and telling him he's weaker than she is would distract him and that he would automatically fight to prove her wrong. Although, when she makes the crack about Tony not being afraid, I think Tony already knows he's sick. Right after the conversation, he wipes his forehead. Lots of sweat is TV shorthand for a fever.

Note, when I'm watching the episode, I don't think about most of this stuff (except the last scene stuff) because it's so well paced and well acted. These are icebox errors (look it up under "fridge logic").

Hometown Hero (02x19)

The last appearance of Faith Coleman, this time in civvies. I have to wonder (since I didn't watch the show and don't feel like looking it up) whether it's the last because they cancelled JAG. Makes a good theory, anyway. I always like the episode this woman shows up in. At least, for once, she's on their side.

Tony's having a really bad day even before he finds out what's going on. The acting is very good when he finds out his car was stolen, not towed. He doesn't say a word. On the other hand, I get very tired of the way he carries on in this episode. Everything juvenile brings back memories for Tony at this point, and he can't keep his mouth shut about it. Ending it on the car crash is okay, but I could've done without the lack of sympathy of his teammates.

Tony is in a nasty mood and it's not all because of having his car stolen. I do like it when he tells McGee we won't ride in an elevator with someone who doesn't know who Gary Cooper was.

McGee on the other hand had a Camaro and crashed out. It's interesting that he said he had a "slight thing" and Tony immediately knows it was a head on accident. He also manages to show sympathy without making a bad joke or a crack. The way they've written Tony to this point, he feels more sympathy for the car than for McGee. I'm glad they didn't play it that way.

Poor Abby and Kate, they lose their spa weekend. Abby sets up Jimmy with the massage. First to reference to Tony turning into Gibbs when Gibbs' isn't around. I like Kate watching Coleman and Gibbs under her eyebrows.

Jimmy and Ducky are funny together, especially in the scene in the storage locker. Ducky is very observant, which you'd expect, since he's a medical examiner. I think he deliberately downplays that he's as observant of the living as he is of the dead. His method of reminding Jimmy that the hyoid bone isn't connected to anything else is memorable. And his line to Gibbs "I can spend forever finding nothing."

They give this an interesting twist with the contrasting background between what the hometown says about the petty officer and what the marines does. I do consider what the small town sheriff does to be interfering with the federal investigation. It's also interesting to me that Emmy commits suicide before Gibbs can put a lot of pressure on her.

Gibbs has a great line: "several marines witnessed Petty Officer Dobbs saving lives; no one witnessed him taking one."

Another sicko pedophiliac villain, although this one seems have maintained his interest in the girl once she was fully and legitimately a woman. The stepfather is obstructive because he doesn't want them to figure out how his stepdaughter died.

This time, they're out to catch a killer, not so much to find out who dunnit as to clear the name of someone who didn't. Another insular small town problem. As part of that, while I'm not glad the one character commits suicide, I am glad that it's suicide. Within the plot I mean, suicide instead of another murder.

The writers do a good job of parceling out the important information during the course of the episode.

Red Cell (02x18)

A McGee episode. Is that his sister, or a lover in his apartment?. Nice to know he has a social life outside work. At the beginning, he is much more mature than Kate and Tony. He makes his share of mistakes, but over all he's doing well. Why is he glaring at Tony and Kate when the mistake was McGee's?

The first time Gibbs demonstrated how to break a neck, on his favorite victim, Tony.

Abby is the one who goes on and on about MIT, not McGee. I think at this point we can be pretty sure they've broken up and that's why she's giving Tim such a hard time. On the other hand, when someone else maligns his skills (the hacker), she goes after him like a mama bear defending her young (yes, I know that's a cliché).

Tony handles the kid in the dorm pretty well, all things considered. He may have been a jock and frat boy in college, but he is a good investigator now. As an aside, Michael Weatherly does run well and looks good doing it

Tony's movie references help solve the case, and Abby (of course it's Abby) knows what he's talking about before he explains to Gibbs. At this point, Gibbs still can't pay Tony a compliment without following it with an insult. That is, if Tony's in hearing when he does it. He manages to pay Tony a compliment from inside the observation room without the following insult.

The interrogation scene is my favorite when the guy said he was trying to help, and Tony says "You know what's crazy? Me almost putting a bullet in a kid's head because he's playing paintball."

I like this mystery. They plant a lot of clues about the power trip the Gunny is on, so the solution wasn't much of a surprise. And of course Gibbs wins the fight (not only because he's good, because he's the star of the show and he has to win).

Conspiracy Theory (02x17)

I felt so sorry for the victim in this. They gave her a lot of background and didn't leave her as just some stressed out kook. Maybe it's because I know a lot of people who struggle with various forms of mental illness.

Don't like the beginning (of course; this will become a refrain) in the bullpen. This framing device at least does not generally intrude upon the rest of the episode, so I can mute it without missing out on the mystery. Of course, in this episode, Kate is as juvenile as Tony, which means it carries through the entire episode.

At least the doctor is sincere. He is not part of the conspiracy and he truly thinks she committed suicide. Ducky's dressing down was well deserved and fairly mild as those things go. That doctor does have some problems; it seems the way he's portrayed he doesn't look at things in too much depth (which is rather odd for a psychiatrist).

Tony and Kate fight like brother and sister, then unite against McGee. Then McGee turns on Tony. Now, when Tony tries to do that to McGee, Gibbs never lets him get away with it. Why does he let McGee? McGee does such a great job facing down the doctor. He's getting more confident, especially when he's sure of his fact.

Was Gibb's making a crack when he said he could never afford a house like that? Or was he trying to compliment the officer's wife?

The actress who plays her fellow patient (the nympho) does a great job. Even knowing that the nympho is the bad girl, I couldn't remember who her accomplice was when I realized she was with the petty officer when the victim was murdered. I did remember later. Having the motive be just the money and not the FBI investigation was a neat twist.

I skip the end, after they arrest the villains. It's pure hash.

Bikini Wax (02x16)

This is one where Tony is a jerk, but so is Kate (when she's drooling over the beefcake). I don't know why the jerkiness doesn't bother me as much in this one; perhaps because it seems less mean spirited. I'm pretty much with McGee about the spring break thing. I never understood the appeal of going to Florida for a week and partying until you get sick. Actually, I don't understand partying until you get sick anywhere, and I've actually done it (once). I mute all the stuff about Tony's spring break vacation.

As much as I dislike the stuff about the spring break, at least Tony is truthful about it. Kate lies because it's more important to her to put down Tony than it is to tell the truth. Also, she thinks there's no way Tony will ever find out differently.

Tony is pretty mean about the food, even though in the end it's probably for the best that McGee doesn't eat. This is the first appearance of his acute sea-sickness. McGee can sometimes react without thought; like when he runs through the carwash instead of around it.

Tony admits his inability to remember all the women he's had relationships with bothers him, and Gibbs shrugs it off. I don't think he should have, but then again, this episode is still too early in the series for them to have the kind of relationship where they can take it deeper. It's also not the right kind of episode for that.

Throughout the series, there are little exchanges between Tony and Gibbs (not always verbal) that make clear their shared experiences. Not shared in the sense of doing something together but in having a common background that neither Kate nor McGee has.

Abby's disaffection for paper mail—is that something that crops up again? I can't remember. At any rate, I don't believe there are any other episodes that contradict it.

Palmer continues his obliviousness; Ducky's comment about finishing his work quickly is not a compliment, but that part of the conversation goes straight over his head.

This is an interesting mystery. The way the one character (who doesn't investigate for a living) thinks it should be so easy to solve murders is true to life. Tony's reaction concerning the ease of the photographer's job is much the same. Most photographers are focused (sic) on what they're doing and how to come up with a particular finished product than the actual appearance of the people in front of the camera. I like the way they used the girlfriend's insecurity to catch the murderer.

An Eye for an Eye (02x15)

This is the episode from which they took the deleted scene between Tony and Kate on the roof for A Man Walked Into a Bar.

Tony is not only competent in this, he is (for once) more competent than Kate. I love the scene in the bullpen when McGee and Kate think Tony's slacking and it turns out he has a whole bunch of stuff to report. It's not humiliating for anyone, and it really surprises them. Gibbs, however, is not surprised. I also like the scene in Paraguay with the phone. Tony's manner in that scene clearly intimidates Kate (she's probably never seen him like that before); it also demonstrates (to me, anyway) that he's had to improvise a lot more often than Kate has, and that he's very good at it.

In at least this episode, Gibbs likes Tony and Kate's petty competition, because it means they're trying to outdo each other in getting him the information he wants.

There's hash, of course. I sometimes think that's the only kind of humor some of the writers for this show know how to do. On the other hand, McGee's joke was pretty funny—and it wasn't hash, because when Tony asked him to tell it, Gibbs wasn't anywhere around, so it wasn't a case of Tony trying to set him up. On the gripping hand (as my friend Dave likes to say), the thing with the coffee was totally unnecessary. I can't believe that McGee still hasn't figured out that coffee is sacred.

I'm pretty sure Gibbs sends Tony south because of his Spanish, which is why he's the lead agent on this, too (I assume the fact that he gets to choose which teammate goes with him means he's lead). McGee knows Spanish too, apparently, since he was co-translating the email with Tony. McGee hasn't completely lost his innocence, either. He is stunned when the bad guy is killed by his own bosses. Gibbs is disgusted, though. It's what he wanted, but that someone would have so little loyalty to his team member that he would order that offends him.

The bad guy in this is really a total sleaze, although the people he works for aren't any better, given that they were going to let him get away with pedophilia and then they kill him. He doesn't do what he does out of loyalty to his country; he does it because he likes it. At least he doesn't manage to kill his wife. At least, I think it's his wife who lives and her sister who died.

This episode brings Ari back into the story arc.

Pop Life (02x14)

I do not like the beginning, when Kate and Tony are bickering. I think it's supposed to be funny. At least it's not hash. I will say that, despite the bickering, they do work well together. That's one of the reasons I like the characters in this show. They switch in a moment from arguing to cooperating to get the job done, and it doesn't feel false. That says quite a lot about how convincing the actors are in these roles.

I like the scene outside the disco, where Tony pulls his gun on the muscle while Kate interrogates the victim's sister. Especially the "Gosh, those guys were big. Big, big, big, big."

I will say, I saw the superglue accident coming. That is hash. This time, it's Palmer on the receiving end. We'll see more of it with him. Although, actually, a lot of the stuff with Palmer doesn't really seem like hash, I think because he's so oblivious. I don't like it, but I don't find it as irritating as when it's Tony or McGee. Or even Kate, although it's almost never Kate.

There isn't a lot of character development in this one, for any of the characters. But that's okay, because not every episode can be--or needs to be—more than a decent mystery. This is a decent mystery. The first time I watched it, I was surprised when Hitch was blown away because I really did think he was the mastermind.

The Meat Puzzle (02x13)

This is a Ducky episode. As such, it deserves admiration. However, I find it hard to watch. The mother of the villain is almost worst than Vincent Hamlyn. Maybe it's because of the abused husband that I find this difficult. I think this is an episode I don't need to watch again.

At the beginning, Palmer is listening to a CD player, just like Gerald was. Palmer finally talks back to Ducky, too, when defending his knowledge of anatomy. It's the first time Ducky calls Palmer Jimmy.

First mention that Tony's mother is dead. The first episode where we actually see Ducky's mother. This is the episode with the Ilya Kuryakin line.

Gibbs almost smiles at Tony, right before he abandons him to Mrs. Mallard's mercy. He also tells Tony good job. Gibbs definitely seems to be mellowing.

Doppelganger (02x12)

I don't have much to say about this episode, because I think the premise is pretty stupid (meeting the other team that's exactly the same as Gibbs' team). The mystery isn't bad, but the rest of it... It's particularly annoying because they do this twice (with Borin's team). It's also full of hash, although at least this time McGee suffers, too.

There is a little character development in the way Gibbs falls for the woman. I think it means the mysterious redhead is out of his life, given he almost gets it on with her. On the other hand, despite his infatuations, he never loses sight of the goal: solving the case.

I do like McGee trying to put that petty officer off Abby using the same things that Tony used to try to put off McGee.

Why I didn't post yesterday

I got home from a day out, talked to my niece on the phone, checked the sink because it smelled just a tiny bit funky in the house, like I left a bowl in the sink with water in it just a little too long. Then I set my phone to charge, took off my shoes and headed downstairs.

To find out a) why it smelled funky and 2) why taking off my shoes turned out to have been a really bad idea (luckily, I discovered it before it changed from a bad idea to a bad reality).

My toilet had vomited all over. There was a puddle at the bottom of the stairs and the tidelines led all the way down the hall.

The good news: the puddle was only about 1/4" deep, there wasn't that much actual sewage present (yes, disgustingly, there was some), there wasn't that much on the hallway floor and the water did not reach the basement guestroom, my sewing room, or my bedroom.

The bad news: I have to clean it up, and I forgot to take pictures immediately. I will be making a photographic record today, which should be sufficient.

I've lived in this house for more than 20 years. Even before there was a toilet in the basement, there was a drain through which this type of stuff could've backed up. This has never happened before, so neither the contractor who did the basement remodel nor myself considered a one-way valve on the sewer pipe. That's the first thing that's going in, now.

From all appearances, this happened because of a brief and intense downpour about 1 hour before I arrived home, which is why it didn't stink too badly. I hope to discover that it also limited the damage. I'll find out as I clean up today.