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Under Covers (03x08)

The opening scene is the one the shippers really go for. I can take it or leave it; I've been much into watching porn, soft or hard. That said, it's certainly an intriguing beginning, given Gibbs' well known rules about inter-office assignations.

I think the trope of having Gibbs flashback on Paris every time he sees Jenny is getting old. We get it, they have a history. I think in the scene in MTAC, though, where Gibbs says what he thinks the director should do (even though it's not what he would do) is good. It shows two things: that Gibbs knows what a good director should do and that he feels comfortable instructing Jenny. In terms of character building, most of what's here is Jenny's

Ducky's great line about talking to his patients without them talking back, and Gibb's response "listen harder."

It still has too much hash (despite the fact that it's only about three minutes worth, while McGee is bugging the hotel room). I tend to mute those parts and sometimes I even switch to a different program for a few seconds (shocking, I know).

I like Tony with glasses. I like Ziva with glasses, too. In fact, one of the things I like about this episode is how they dress undercover. I assume the clothes came from the assassins' luggage. It's cute the way the FBI agents convince McGee that Ziva and Tony weren't faking.

This is more about being in the dark and scrambling to fill the gaps than it is about the characters. There's some great stuff with Tony and Ziva, but it's not all really them.

Chip reveals his thoughts on Tony. Abby defends him as a great guy who gives the new people grief and says he learned that from Gibbs. I guess Chip helps them out here because he wants to be the one to take Tony down. He does get his evidence, though, when he moves Tony's car.

Tony is braver than he's sometimes given credit for. He makes Ziva take the bad guy back to the room where she can get help even though he knows that he may not live to see her come back. Ziva seems either shocked or surprised that Tony knows that and wants her to go anyway. I also think attacking the bad guy with the chair he's tied to is a great demonstration of thinking outside the box.

This episode is a lot of fun. I like the premise and the way it plays out. The mystery is very much why dunnit rather than who dunnit (since the couple weren't murdered but died in a car accident).

Honor Code (03x07)

Unfortunately, after the break, they bring back the hash. Sigh. I really like the kid in this episode, the actor is very good, but the point of the rest of the episode is to trash Tony. First by proving he's not good with kids and then by giving McGee credit for his work. Gibbs usually does a better job than that figuring out who did what. On the other hand, it's Tony's observation skills that id the bad guy.

Tony's father once left him for two days in a hotel room in Maui.

Abby says Tony ran point for Ohio State.

Chip continues to collect evidence for his scheme, although he also does seem to be trying to get them to like him. I suspect it's so that they'll be less likely to figure out he's the one setting Tony up.

The scene in autopsy when Ziva is going over all the ways you could kill someone without the authorities realizing they've been murderer is a good insight into the way her mind works. Show her a murder and her reaction is to critique the technique. She still hasn't started to think like an investigator. They make use of her more esoteric talents to get the information they need to find the commander.

This episode is all about Gibbs and the kid. They're setting things up for Gibbs as father by showing him with Zack in his basement. As a mystery it doesn't really grip me.

The Voyeur's Web (03x06)

I like it that at the end it's Tony who puts together that the murderer was the redhead they passed on the way in. I also get a kick out of the fact that he beats Gibbs to the answer. Abby's "now you know how I feel" is appropriate payback—certainly more appropriate than if Tony had said that, since the writers would've used that to give Gibbs yet another opportunity to put Tony down.

 Is it my imagination, or is it most often Tony who kicks doors in?

The humor running through the episode, about Ziva's curiosity and McGee's inability not to reveal all of Tony's secrets isn't quite hash (she isn't using her knowledge to humiliate Tony, she just lets him know she knows), so it doesn't bother me as much as usual. The question is, does McGee reveal his own secrets to the same extent?

Despite the teasing in this episode, I notice that when Tony and McGee have the exchange about pulling an all-nighter, McGee knows and believes that Tony would've stayed to help if he knew.

Ducky's paternal Uncle Monty was in the Normandy landings. He and Palmer haven't started to use the shield masks. ETA: except, that's not true. I went back and looked at a clip from JAG, and Ducky was using it then.

Chip is introduced in this episode as Abby's assistant. I'm going to try to keep track as he picks up the evidence he uses to frame Tony. As a character, he's appropriately creepy. The actor does a very good job. I think he's actually serious when he says that he does recon and adapts himself to his surroundings.

Tony has finally learned to use chopsticks. He also says he would probably have gone pro in basketball if he hadn't blown out his knee. Once again—Tony is way too short to play pro basketball. It's a nice fiction, but they should've stuck with him as a football player (which was implied in some of the first season episodes).

As mysteries goes, this is okay. Filming the attack and her fake death so that there are no special effects on the film is pretty neat.

Switch (03x05)

There's not a lot of new character stuff in the episode, except for Ziva as she struggles to fit in with the team. She looks so awkward trying to comfort the wife (it's obviously well out of her comfort zone). I think it's nice to see her not doing everything well. Understandably (since she's shorter) she doesn't run as fast as Tony, either.

Ziva says in this episode that she speaks five languages. During Faith (season seven) she says she speaks ten, including the language of love.

I like the conversation between Ducky and Palmer in autopsy.

One thing I like about this series as a whole is that the writers do a pretty good job of trickling out the necessary information, often while the characters seem to be talking about nothing in particular.

I don't feel that the scene with the card, when they get into the wrong car, qualifies as hash, partly because Tony ends up ignoring McGee's insult and we end with the overhead shot of the row of identical cars. The hash comes in the scene with the marmoset.

I didn't realize that the killer's name was Wendy! I remembered it was the wife, (another fairly true to life murderer).

The Silver War (03x04)

Another revelation about Tony's father, but this one I don't believe. He's too much a city man to spend his free time running around in costume and sleeping rough. Then again, this episode is four years before PTB decided to actually introduce Sr. on the show.

Just as Kate's introduction to the team included Tony and Ducky taking pictures of themselves at the President's desk, Ziva's introduction included Tony and McGee taking pictures with the bear.

I'm not real fond of the scene with the magazine. Yet again, they have to turn Tony into a jerk in order to demonstrate how much better the female agent is. I feel like they took some large steps back from the last episode.

This is the second time in the series that Tony gets car sick. And then he makes Ziva let him drive. I don't think the car sickness happens again, although he does get a little seasick on one of their later missions.

The mysterious redhead reappears. She comes to the office and Gibbs even kisses her on the cheek as he sees her onto the elevator. Jenny is watching all of this. Part of what they do to show the difference between Jenny and the previous director is the scene in Abby's lab, with the Career Girl Barbie line, all of which is great. Pauley does a terrific job. When she changes her clothes though, we see a cross on her back. This does not match the back tattoo we see in other episodes. It's not just that there is more to it, there's a completely different tattoo.

Okay, something I never noticed before and have no explanation for: when Ducky tells them the victim suffocated, why do Ziva and Gibbs look at Tony?

Ducky is prominent in this because the female doctor is apparently pursuing him, which differs from the usual situation, where Ducky meets someone he likes and goes after her. This is also the second time when Ducky's love interest is the villain.

The mystery is pretty good. I like the historical elements they through in. They do a good job making them seem reasonable (although the Civil War is not my period and I can't tell you which of them is accurate). Ziva does a reasonable job for her first investigation, but I'm glad she doesn't outshine McGee.

I think Ziva is right when she says Kate wouldn't mind Ziva taking her desk. Ziva is strong and capable; both things Kate admired.

Mind Games (03x03)

First episode without Kate. Last episode without Ziva as a regular. Fifth episode with Paula Cassidy. And I guess I was wrong earlier, they're not done showing us flashbacks to the commission of the crimes.

Toward the end of the last season they made a few jokes about Tony turning into Gibbs when Gibbs wasn't around. Now Ducky tells Tony that Gibbs was a lot like him ten years previous. This idea ends up resonating down through the seasons. Is this the first time Gibbs has actually said "Tony, you lead the team"? I guess the PTB have decided to give Tony more responsibility.

Even when he's dealing with a serious matter, Tony can't resist doing it as if it were a movie.

As much as I like Cassidy, and would have liked to see her character continue, they made the right choice by not making her a permanent part of the team. The friction between her and Tony would've interfered with the investigations, despite the fact that they're both good agents. Gibbs is right; Tony deserved that head slap for letting her to get to him.

I like this mystery. There are a few incidents of fridge logic (particularly the amount of time it takes them to locate the dumping ground) but over all it's a sound plot.

Kill Ari Part 2 (03x02)

At least the stupid Kate-dressed-up flashbacks are almost over. They're used in this episode to prod Tony and Gibbs into action. The memories they choose for the funeral are good portraits of the various characters relationships.

There's another good scene between Tony and McGee, in autopsy when McGee finally goes to see Kate. I like it that Tony is teasing, but it's very gentle, good-natured teasing. I also like that Ducky saw them.

One thing about Ari. Much like Jack Sparrow, he doesn't lie. People may not believe what he says—and he uses that—but he doesn't lie. The way he set up getting his passport and return Ducky.

The continuity error they ended with is repeated at the beginning. Ducky says something about Gerald returning to work, even though in Jimmy's second episode he offered him a full-time job. Gerald inability to drive a stick shift lends a certain about of humor to the kidnapping scene. As does the discussion of the Morgan.

I think Abby is trying a little too hard to convince herself that Gerald and Ducky are just fine.

As good as Tony does getting the information about the passport, I don't like that scene in the swimming pool. For once, Tony is making a fool of himself on purpose and in a good cause, but I still don't like it. I'm a little curious about the scene at the hotel, when Ziva brings Tony coffee. It has no point, plot wise. It's there to give her background and for her to prove she's better than Tony (at this, anyway).

I like it that Gibbs' finally decides that the way to catch Ari is to let Ari catch him. Tobias has such a great line in that scene in the park, in the rain: "I'm going to lie to you. Mossad lies to the CIA, they lie to us, we lie to you. I don't know who you lie to, being the bottom of the armed fed food chain, and unmarried." Joe Spano delivers it very well, too.

First actual mention of Shannon and Kelly. This tells me that even here they're gearing up for the end of the season arc. I'm not all that into long story arcs; however, I don't generally mind it the way NCIS does it, since the arcs usually last only about 4-6 episodes. Not long enough to get villain escalation, and not long enough to tired of the story line.

The episode ends with another scene we will return to again and again.

Kill Ari Part 1 (03x01)

I do not like the Kate flashbacks. They're all silly (if not disgusting in places) and IMO they take away from the impact of her death. I realize the point is to lighten the atmosphere. I still don't like it. Especially all the stupid outfits she wears. The scene when Abby is frightened so she starts noticing Tony's body is much funnier and does a much better job of lightening the mood (I assume Tony is wearing his gun in that scene because he never did go change into dry clothes). The scenes with McGee are the worst.

As a pointless aside... if Tony had taken that last week of sick leave, he wouldn't have been there when Kate was killed.

With that out of the way, there are a lot of things I do like about this episode. The cinematography is great, especially in the outdoor scenes. Seeing Kate's death from Ari's point of view was a twist on the normal "earlier on NCIS" style openings. Continuity error: in the shooting from Ari's viewpoint, Tony isn't standing in the right position to get Kate's blood on his face. The expression on Gibbs' face when he's looking for Air's sniper's nest is also different.

First episode with the new director. When they lost Alan Dale, I guess they decided to make the director much more involved with the day to day running not only of the agency, but of Gibbs' team. By the time Vance comes along, it's almost as if they're the only agents in the service. Jenny, at least, is almost always seen to have multiple things going on.

Paris was six years ago, or c. 1998, per Gibbs in this episode.

Gibbs must've escorted Kate's body back to the morgue, leaving Tony and McGee to process the sniper nest crime scene, since when Ducky walks in, she's already there.

It says a lot about Gibbs' guilt and sense of responsibility that in his scenes with Kate's ghost, she's angry with him and blaming him for her death. That he admits to McGee that he could not see what kind of rounds they were without his glasses is another glimpse of his torment. As is the fact that he tells Tony to put dry clothes on rather than Gibb's slapping him for leaving the rooftop before they'd found any bullets.

The scene between Tony and McGee about the full metal jacket bullet shows their torment in turn. When Tony hits the back of McGee's head while telling him about the hole the size of a grapefruit and McGee just says "Tony, please." Very moving.

This is such a Gibbs' episode. When he goes for coffee asking Tony and McGee if they want some, he's coming out of his funk enough to start thinking. The way he promises Abby he'll keep her safe (even though he knows that's a promise he can't truthfully make). He's almost back to himself when he tells Ducky he doesn't give a damn what made Ari the way he was, he just wants to kill the bastard.

When Tony says "I don't want him nice; he's not Gibbs' if he's nice" it makes me wonder about their relationship before the show started. Did Gibbs get him through Wendy's leaving with tough love? Abby apparently agrees with him about Gibbs being nice (although Gibbs is almost always nice to Abby) because she helps Tony give McGee a double slap, just like Tony and Kate did when McGee first started.

The rain reminds me of the rain when Mike Franks dies. Given the good continuity on this show, I'll bet that was a deliberate call back to this episode.

Tony's background according to Mossad: born and raised on the east coast, wealthy family, New England boarding school, spent some time in the Midwest and Philadelphia (notice "time in the Midwest" could be college [Ohio State], and Peoria is not mentioned).

The conversation Ziva has with Ari over the phone puts an interesting twist on her knowledge that Tony is tailing her. He's less ineffectual as a tail than she makes it seem, and I think she may not have known he got a look at the passport.

Continuity error: Gerald says he's supposed to go back to work the next week, but Ducky had already hired Jimmy, full time.

And... it ends. Not the highest of cliffs to hang from, but a cliff just the same. Unlike a lot of two part episodes, where the entire first episode is set up, they work a lot of action into this one. It is not an episode that can stand on its own. Part 1 is incomplete without part 2, and part 2 makes no sense without part 1.

Twilight (2x21)

It has a nice mystery beginning. I did not recognize the shooter, so did not expect this to be an Ari episode. I very much like the music that they use for the Air scenes.

This is such a good episode because the finale comes as such a shock. It is truly stunning, in the literal sense. Keeping the focus on Gibbs during most of the episode is part of why it works.

I mute a lot of the beginning, until the bomb under the car, when it becomes obvious this about more than two dead sailors. One of the parts I don't like is Kate and McGee working so hard to make themselves dislike Tony. Are they trying to prove everything's back to normal? I especially don't like the scene when Tony's lying down in the bullpen. What he says initially (she's too smart for that) is a nice thing to say, but that's not what McGee wants. McGee wants Tony to be a jerk, so he pushes and pushes. This is probably the closest I've come to disliking McGee.

I do notice that all teasing goes out the window when Tony sees the bomb under the car. Both his coworkers believe him immediately and do as he tells them. Kate, at least, is genuinely frightened for him when he hasn't appeared at the top of the hill before the bomb explodes.

It is cute when he goes to lie down in Abby's lab and she lies down next to him. First introduction of Bert the farting hippo. She's now well established as very emotional.

Gibbs' is positively fatherly. All the orders he's given to Tony during the first half of the show have involved resting or eating. It's cute the way he orders everyone home and instead they stay and sleep in the office. Kate has the nightmare about Gibbs with his throat slit. Tony sleeps in the same position he has in every episode so far, with his feet on either his desk or credenza, and his head on either the credenza or his desk (depending on which way he's facing). McGee manages to sleep sitting up. Kate looks the most comfortable.

Kate shines at what she's had the most training for, protection, while still being a competent investigator as they solve the mystery they've been presented with. All of which makes her death even more shocking.

This is another episode where Tony's and Gibbs' additional years of experience show: they both understand at once why the dock is being targeted. I wonder, however, whether they'd yet to decide that Tim's father was an admiral, since he doesn't get it the same way.

One unbelievable thing: Ari giving the little girl the teddy bear and she takes it without finding her parents and asking permission. Second unbelievable thing: her father picks her up while she's holding a strange teddy bear and doesn't ask her about it. I don't knock the bear itself; it was a good idea. It's giving it to a specific little girl that's bad. If they'd placed it somewhere, maybe even on the ground, no one would've looked at it twice; they'd've assumed some kid dropped it.

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").