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NCIS – I hope “riding a ferris wheel naked” is a metaphor for something

Other than all Gibbs all the time, the one other really fun moment for me last night was when McGee whipped out his mini binoculars … and trained them on Tony’s computer screen to check out his bucket list. Ride a ferris wheel naked? Check!

- Season 9, Episode 8 - "Engaged Part 1"

Last night’s was somewhat of a different kind of episode for NCIS. As much as the team clearly has a case to solve, the primary focus of the episode was actually emotion, and specifically so for Gibbs. With his ex-wife last week dredging up memories of Shannon — and we’ll get to his dream in a minute — Joseph Flores’ (Alex Fernandez) pleas to bury his daughter Gabriella only intensified Gibbs’ feelings of loss and mourning.

But the really unusual part of the episode was how Gibbs-centric it was. Plenty of episodes have focused all of their character time on one team member or another, but here I felt like even as far as the investigation went, it was all Gibbs all the time. Not a bad thing, just somewhat unusual for the show. The rest of the team felt like afterthoughts, at best.

A Marine transport carrying the bodies of three Marines killed when a bomb exploded in a school in Afghanistan crashes right before it has the chance to land at Dover Air Force Base. I know that the “flock of geese” answer was provided for how, but didn’t it still strike anyone as a somewhat bizarre coincidence that three Marines who could have been targeted for helping enemies of the Taliban were blown up even further before their bodies could be laid to rest? Maybe it’s digging too deep, and maybe it was just such an unlikelihood that anyone could have planted a bomb on the transport, but it surprised me that Gibbs let it go at that (especially given the fact that a lack of criminal activity would rip the case from his jurisdiction).

The case itself is interesting, but it made little sense for the team (at least for all of them) to be investigating from Washington. If they were looking for Flores’ body — because clearly she wasn’t in any of the caskets — the only logical place to do that would be in Afghanistan. I was surprised it took them an entire episode to arrive at that conclusion.

And what brought them there? Video footage of three people running from the school right before the explosion. Yes, clearly the figure in the middle was significantly larger than the other two, leading to the valid conclusion that one was an adult and the others children. But I don’t know how they got from that that it was Flores escaping with two kids. I realize for the purposes of the episode that it had to be, but if I was the Secretary of the Navy, waiting for concrete proof before sending Gibbs’ team to Afghanistan, that wouldn’t have done it for me. Anyway, we’ll see what happens next week.

As for the emotional part … three thoughts. First, I think Gabriella reminding Gibbs of his own daughter (I assume that she did) came across less dramatically than it should have. Here was a young woman who had the chance to become something, to do something with her life (as short as it was). Gibbs’ daughter never got that chance!

Second, I’m not sure what the flashbacks to Gibbs’ training days were all about — is there a connection with the episode title? Did Gibbs lose a fiance as well? — but Mark Harmon’s son Sean Harmon does a pretty good job of playing a young Leroy Jethro Gibbs. As my wife says, he looks a bit more like McGee (and is somewhat softer than I’d imagine a young Gibbs to be), but he’s great casting for the role.

Third, the dream in the beginning of the episode? Shannon’s always been a force pulling at Gibbs, but the complete lack of continuity both as far as the dream goes as well as with what she said — “How are you going to get what you need if you don’t let me go?” — bugged me. I could understand it if the sequence had been presented as stemming from Gibbs’ conversations with Diane (Melinda McGraw) last week, but instead I think last week was just a part of the arc building for our sakes. Maybe if we’d seen Shannon — or felt her presence — since roughly season seven … but I felt a little like I was being force-fed on that point.

How about you? Are you looking forward to next week? Who do you think the female recruit trying to beat Young Gibbs’ time was to him?

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3 Responses to “NCIS – I hope “riding a ferris wheel naked” is a metaphor for something”

November 9, 2011 at 4:21 PM

It was an odd episode. It took me a moment to realize the the dream girl was “Shannon” because the conversation was so homely and I thought it was a Gibbs-du-jour redhead. The rest of the episode was full of redheaded girls and the all important darker girl of the past and the case of the present. I think Gibbs’ memory recruit was a competitive friend who interested and amused young Gibbs because she was actually challenging him at physical activities. He met Shannon on the way to Camp Pendleton, so I don’t think she was a romantic interest. She worked well vis-a-vis the case, so she came to mind. The idea that the team would go to Afghanistan and be in combat zones is pretty ridiculous, but it will be an interesting conclusion. The episodes are certainly about Gibbs and emotion and loss.

November 9, 2011 at 8:24 PM

At the very least the trip to Afghanistan makes for some cool costumes for the team. I saw a picture with Gibbs in what looks like NCIS issued camouflage, armed to the teeth!

November 9, 2011 at 10:35 PM

There’s precedent for team members going to a combat zone to investigate a case. DiNozzo and Jardine went to Baghdad in “In The Zone”