Reaction: NCIS (8×21)

This isn’t a review. It’s not a recap. It’s not a critique. It’s not much of anything except my observations and random thoughts had while watching the latest (tonight’s, here in the US) episode of NCIS. And it assumes if you read this, you have at least some familiarity with the show and its characters. There may be more of these post in the future, on this and other shows. Take that as a warning or announcement. ๐Ÿ˜‰

— I’m starting off bad. I missed a little bit while trying to fend off a very affectionate pet. Who’s a good boy? You are, yes, you are – now get outta my face, you little biscuit!

–Dead female Navy officer who was having an affair with a married man. Classic television!

–Ah, I did see that little exchange between DiNozzo and Barrett. I want to like Barrett. There are some things I DO like about her, but I do not like how they’ve set her up. Last week’s episode really made it seem as if we were to believe that she has gained most of her success as an NCIS agent through sexual means – flirtation, coercion, who knows what else. That has nothing to do with DiNozzo, except that, y’know, they’re sleeping together.

–So, instead of DiNozzo paying attention while being briefed, he’s preoccupied with Barrett talking to some other man. :/

–They are really dropping the hints that Barrett isn’t welcome, aren’t they? They’re not even hints, they’re anvils. She is there to “shake things up” one way or another. I wish NCIS would, honestly, give it a rest and let the audience figure things out without the giant cluehammers.

–Now the dead Navy officer’s sex partner’s wife is in the picture, and it looks like she knew of the affair. Instantly looks suspicious. Okay, expected that as well. You cannot have a plot like this without the jealous, potentially murdering spouse. This will turn out to be a red herring, I’m sure.

–Ah, not a big fan of the “big dumb oaf” joke.

–They are always talking about Barrett these days. Ziva seems particularly peeved. Yes, I know that the show likes to shove DiNozzo/Ziva UST at us. They are not subtle. I am not in favor. I find it annoying, if I’m going to be honest, especially when we get inappropriate and annoying “jealous” conversations. Ack, and then they do the same thing in reverse with Barrett sniffing around DiNozzo re: the stakeout they were just on together. *forehead slap* Over and above all of this is Gibbs’ rule of no fraternization, so all this sex talk and jealous and insinuation is pointless.

–New agents in town, and the first thing we get from one is 1) he’s the recipient of DiNozzo’s silly joke and 2) he instantly starts dating Abby? Is this a crime show or a soap opera? Now McGee’s jealous, and maybe it wasn’t a date but just a nice person showing someone new in town around. Or it was a date. Too much flirting to know for sure, that on-again, on-again Abby/McGee thing, you know.

–It’s David from Numb3rs! (Yes, I know it’s not David. I must have missed seeing Alimi Ballard’s name in the credits. Happy to see him!)

–What you working on? Wood. (Ah, throwing a bone to the slash fans in the audience?) Now it’s time for the “talk” between Gibbs and DiNozzo. It’s almost like a little boy seeking his father’s approval. Aww, Gibbs is disappointed that DiNozzo’s dating a coworker. Annnnd it was totally that, but what a lovely conversation. Even if I don’t necessarily agree with Gibbs and his dictatorial dating rule, I also know that NCIS is all about Gibbs and if Gibbs’ gut is telling him Barrett’s no good for DiNozzo, she will, ultimately, be no good for DiNozzo. That’s how NCIS goes. Gibbs is actually right – dating Barrett has already affected DiNozzo’s work.

–Quirky nerd character in 5-4-3-2-1…

–While I have issues with Ziva, I love that I can always depend upon her kicking some serious ass. Literally.

–Just like the Mounties, the NCIS always gets their man.

–Okay, who did that eye belong to?!

And it’s over. Huh. Went fast tonight, and of course we’ve got no new episode next week. Any NCIS fans out there want to add your comments – you’re welcome to!


  1. Elee says

    Whoohoo! NCIS! I’ve have watched first five seasons completely, and the sixth pretty much, too, but the show is just not the same anymore. It is getting more and more annoying with every season.
    – I don’t know about this explicit episode, but on the whole it seems to be the matter of one step forward, two steps back. Tony-Ziva not-quite-relationship is one main reason, because holding UST for six years? Yeah, who cares anymore. If they didn’t end up together before, they never will, it would be completely out of character for DiNozzo, so the producers could just as well stop the baiting. I much more prefer the dynamic between Abby and Tony, BECAUSE it has a sibling quality.
    – Also, how comes that Dinozzo is never allowed character growth? Why is he doomed to be an immature boy forever? I understand, that he is never going to be quite grown up, but he capable of commitment (in whatever way), and his relationship with Jeanne, however strange a subplot it was, was actually much more beneficial for the character development than anything with Ziva.
    – Gibbs’ rules are Gibbs’ rules. Not even Gibbs is following them all that strictly. Remember Colonel Mann? She wasn’t exactly a coworker, true, but they needed to collaborate on cases often enough. Everyone else chooses to follow his rules only if they need an excuse, or else there wouldn’t be any Abby/McGee.
    – Why doesn’t it surprise me, that they don’t want Barrett? The team is becoming so ridiculously elitist, it isn’t funny anymore. It is the same quirks and storylines warmed over. Tony sleeping with a coworker? We had it already with Paula Cassidy, and there they were both still able to work alongside professionally. I don’t even need to see the episode, I am pretty sure the parallels are obvious. Wanna bet she will be killed off in a gruesome, convoluted manner?
    – Is there a possibility of Abby’s smackdown? At least I hope, she didn’t have a problem to tell the team off when she was out with a headhunter, essentially saying that she had her reasons and whatever they are, she doesn’t have to explain herself, and they should accept her decisions.

    • sbg says

      Tony’s lack of development is really frustrating to me. There used to be plenty of hidden gem moments that revealed he wasn’t just a sophomoric player. We still get them occasionally (usually a manly heart-to-heart with Gibbs).

      The Ziva/Tony willthey/won’tthey is just pants. At this point, nothing of whatever chemistry they might have had reads as genuine. I mean, Tony didn’t hesitate to go out with EJ. Didn’t even blink. But six years of back and forth with Ziva and we’re supposed to believe they’re secretly everyone’s OTP? No. Just, no.

      PS, I wanted Paula as Kate’s replacement and hate, hate, hated when they killed her.

      This, like many shows, I enjoyed much more in the earlier seasons. Before it became popular. The writing was tighter and characters more consistent. Now, I totally agree that the formulaic nature of it is more apparent because it’s kind of flash in the pan television. I think it might be the current show runner.

      • Elee says

        Ah, I’m not even that mad, that Paula didn’t make it on the team, because here and there I like Ziva very much – how cool is it, that the male senior agent threatens the bad guys with the presence of the female junior agent? But this whole romance is just so much “in your face” that I can’t stand her most times by proxy. Strangely enough, Tony gets enough good moments, that I only hate him whenever the sexist jerk reappears. Oh, Paula, there could have been so much more to you.

        What angers me most, is that with Tony, misogynistic little shit that he is, I can sort of see the reasoning and even like the character, just because he is – at least in the beginning – thought-out. But Gibbs is to me partiarchy personified – he is always right, even when he is wrong, everyone follows his lead, even when they know better, and whatever he does, even if he oversteps own moral code, it is all right, but whenever someone else does it, there is hell to pay. If you aren’t on his team, you’re dreck, and if you are on his team, he is allowed to treat you like dreck. With Gibbs being coded as a wise leader and a father figure, the message is really … not too good. (Yeah, it certainly doesn’t show that I am a fan of Mark Harmon, but I am. Really.)

        I think NCIS is a show runner here, too. What season would you have ended it on? My personal breaking point was the end of season five, I still needed six as sort of closure, but killing off Jenny was the moment I said F*k you, I’m done. (I also can’t warm up to Vance for personal reasons, but that is besides the point). NCIS: the current show runner in getting every female character not on the team screwed over.

        • says

          But Gibbs is to me partiarchy personified โ€“ he is always right, even when he is wrong, everyone follows his lead, even when they know better, and whatever he does, even if he oversteps own moral code, it is all right, but whenever someone else does it, there is hell to pay.

          and that is a REALLY nice summary both of him (and so many other TV patriarchs) and of patriarchy.

        • sbg says

          It sounds so bizarre, even to me, to say that I love Tony. I do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t also know that he’s the worst kind of misogynist – the sympathetic one. We can see very clearly how he ended up that way and it’s all very sad in that way, so we feel for him. At the same time, misogyny is misogyny and we all have CHOICES in how we deal with whatever life has thrown our way. If he were a real boy, he’d have the power to change. But he’s NCIS’ movie-quoting Peter Pan with daddy and woman issues.

          Same goes for Ziva with the like/dislike. I really do think she’s got a LOT of strengths, but then they do silly things like make her get with that Mossad guy and react strangely all around. And the UST does her no more favors than it does Tony – actually, in true TV fashion, it does her more injustice.

          ITA on Gibbs. I think I stopped loving him when he knowingly let someone guilty go free, though the decline began before that. It’s his way or the highway, which I suppose is meant to be heroic? Er.

          Hehe, I did not like Jenny, so I would have ended it after, what, two? I was so excited about a female director, and then they pulled the horrible flashback sex scenes and that was when Gibbs started getting really bad with the patriarchy BS.

          ETA: I have problems with McGee as well. A couple of years ago, I began watching only for Ducky and Abby.

          • SunlessNick says

            And of course Jenny’s personal fixation on the arms dealer guy, which was of course completely different from Gibbs’s personal fixation on Ari.

            [And somehow Ari ends up being about Gibbs despite being Ziva’s brother and her having to be the one to kill him. I can recall [i]one[/i] scene that was about how Ari affected Ziva without Gibbs being involved]

            • sbg says

              Well, a woman’s vendetta is just a vendetta. A man’s is honourable, noble and justified.

              You must have missed the memo.

                    • Elee says

                      Psst, Gibbs couldn’t have gotten the memo either, if it came by e-mail. He is a neanderthal in an electronic age. :-) If there was a memo, it sure was passed along in some super-seekrit boys-only meeting.

          • Elee says

            Oh I am not saying that I like Jenny, I winced every time she was on screen. But I was willing to put up with her because I remember JAG and a strongwilled woman in a position of power is a novel concept for them and at least there was a possibility she would get better. And The Frog-subplot was pretty interesting. But it is just typical that the male director (Morrow) gets a promotion to Homeland Security and the female director gets the fridge treatment and only death prevents her dishonorable discharge.

            For Tony: you just summed up why I like Tony. I honestly think that Jeanne was a good influence on him and he would have begun questioning his misogynistic behavior if they stayed together, he just never had any incentive to do so. Jeanne wouldn’t have stood for his crap.

            Oh, daddy issues. By now I can count all the characters who don’t have them on one hand (Ducky and McGee. Abby with her Gibbs-fixation – yeah, not exactly without issues). Probably because the producers need something for season 9. /sarcasm

            • sbg says

              Yes, I liked Jeanne and Tony as well. I think some of it was real. Then they brought her back only to frame Tony for her father’s murder, thereby erasing how awesome she was. *sigh*

              Abby absolutely does have daddy issues along with most of the characters*. Sometimes I find it endearing, and then sometimes I’m weirded out by how childlike and devoted she is toward Gibbs. It’s not healthy.

              *wonder when McGee’s dad is going to show up? Don’t any of these people have MOTHERS?

            • Elee says

              “Donโ€™t any of these people have MOTHERS?” – Nooo, they totally plopped out ready-made from their dad’s heads like Athena. (No wonder they are such head-cases). Though, if there was ever a plot about someones mommy showing up, I am pretty sure that relationship wouldn’t be resolved in a “and then they forgave each other and all was good”-cop out.

              • Casey says

                That was a good pun and all, but isn’t calling someone a “head-case” ableist? From what I gather the characters on NCIS are just ridiculous assholes.

                • sbg says

                  1) They’re really not. Dissecting many a TV character would result in the same or higher level of ridiculousness.

                  2) Not sure, as the headcase remark was pretty much a direct reference to the Athena leaping full grown from Zeus’s head myth.

                  • Maria says

                    That’s true, but the word itself is ableist, because it refers to something being wrong with a person’s head. When I checked the etymology I didn’t see a ref to the myth.

                    • sbg says

                      I never meant to imply the word actually came from the myth. I meant that in the context Elee used it, it was a direct reference to the Athena origination myth. The word is absolutely ableist, and in this case was also used to be kinda punny.

        • Elee says

          May I say that it also fills me with glee that at least it is shown that his attitude harms him, … well not more than others, but still very much, and he is not exactly the healthiest example to follow. I just don’t know if its Mark Harmons acting ability or if there is at least one subtly subversive writer who doesn’t buy into Holy Gibbs. Most TV-patriarchs are played straight, but thankfully not this one.

  2. Elee says

    After having an internal debate whether I myself thought it was ableist or not, I agree that it has ableist connotations, because I think that any core character on NCIS isn’t exactly healthy mentally. The pun wasn’t worth using ablist language, so I apologize.

  3. Casey says


    Hey, no problem. I just figure we gotta self-police and whatnot, y’know? Also, there’s a lot to unpack with maybe kinda sorta implying “not mentally healthy = bad/douche-baggy” or at least “not good”.

  4. Elee says

    Casey, Yes, and while there is probably no character written, that doesn’t behave like a douchebag at least sometimes, mental health is a completely different bag of marbles. As there was never a canonical confirmation for NCIS-team, there was no need to imply it was the reason for their douchebaggery and to use this term explicitly.
    Self-police is alright, being misanthropic tends to color my words accordingly.

  5. says


    Just a side note: being mentally ill does not make one act like an asshole. This is a realization I myself am still struggling with. This article explains it in more detail:

    Short version: it’s true that some of the nastiest people you’ll ever meet have personality disorders and are therefore mentally ill. But by and large, people are assholes because of character defects, not mental illness. Even sociopaths can decide not to harm others, when it’s in their best self-interest. And perfectly “sane” people can silence their consciences long enough to do some really horrible things. And the stuff “sane” people will do when they’re part of a group and “group psychology” takes over… shudder to think.

    It’s easy to understand why our culture’s confused about this: when someone does something SO entitled or SO cruel, we WANT to believe such a person must be disordered in some way. But, sadly, assholes are pretty much like everyone else: they come from various backgrounds, have various ideas about what’s morally acceptable, believe what they’re doing is right or at least okay, and may or may not be mentally ill.

  6. firebird says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I know sometimes characters in a TV series can seem mentally unstable to me because their actions and motivations change from episode to episode, but I try to remember that’s bad writing, not mental illness.

    It certainly is easier to say someone is “crazy” than to say they are a jerk – people don’t take you seriously. Accuracy is more important, but I know I’ve done it.

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