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NCIS – That’s strike two, Gunny

Gibbs' mother-in-law, played by Gena Rowlands, makes a reappearance in Gibbs' life in the least expected of ways, throwing him for a loop. But when he figures out why she's really there, will he be able to handle it?

- Season 7, Episode 16 - "Mother's Day"

I generally have a pretty easy time putting my thoughts together on the latest episode of NCIS. Even when I take issue with something, or disagree with something, the show is enjoyable enough, the characters rich enough, that the words just flow. But not this time.

In fact, I couldn’t even put finger to keypad last night. And it’s been a challenge to do so this morning, as well. Why? For the least likely of reasons — I can’t rectify my mind with Gibbs’ actions last night.

And not in the same way as a few weeks ago, when he and Hart (Rena Sofer) did or didn’t kiss at the end of that episode. That was Gibbs the man that let me down. And he did here too by calling Hart in. But worse than that was Gibbs the Marine, the Gunny, the NCIS agent. He left me thinking, “Say it ain’t so, Jethro!”

First of all, a word about Hart. I think the blame for my feelings about her lie with the show. Not that I’m necessarily wrong, but she was definitely established earlier this season as being extremely suspicious. She likely is working with Colonel Bell, and will eventually surprise and screw Gibbs. So the fact that he may have been attracted to her is bad enough. But to introduce her to the most sensitive part of his life? And I don’t think it’s clear that Gibbs did it just to screw Hart back. He arguably chose her because she’s 100% credible and by the book, which would make his “mistake” all the more believable. Like, “Shucks … I didn’t think anyone would catch me! Oh well.”

But none of that excuses his calling her. I actually thought it was really interesting that the mother-in-law the show chose to give us was the one that pained Gibbs the most, and not the comical, hate-hate relationships I’d assume linger following his multiple divorces. That’s actually what I expected when I heard that Gibbs’ mother-in-law would be making an appearance. Instead, it was Shannon’s mom, Joann Fielding (Gena Rowlands), who rotated back into his life. Of course, that wasn’t exactly the coincidence that I envisioned, either. Instead, it was her way of taking revenge for her daughter’s and grand-daughter’s murders.

And Gibbs should have thrown the book at her. I don’t remember the exact circumstances we learned of surrounding Shannon’s murder, but I believe in the justice that Gibbs dispensed on her behalf. Whether or not it was in his capacity as a Marine, or if it had anything to do with his service in the military, he dispensed a form of military justice. And whether or not you believe in that, I do. But neither Joann, nor her target, fall into that category.

Gibbs’ shared pain with Joann doesn’t make for a valid pass, and neither do his potential feelings of guilt. Gibbs was welcome to argue extenuating circumstances for her, or try and talk to the prosecutor about leniency, but Joann was guilty of premeditated murder. And the fact that he let her get away with it leaves me feeling extremely disappointed in our Gunny, to say the least.

But let’s end things on a positive note. How about Palmer and his lady friend? That she’d be attractive wasn’t exactly unexpected, but what I enjoyed was his eagerness in preparation, his giddiness at the prospect of the date, and his subsequent interactions with Gibbs and Ducky. Smells like a French whorehouse in here indeed.

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Photo Credit: CBS

Categories: | Episode Reviews | General | NCIS | TV Shows |

12 Responses to “NCIS – That’s strike two, Gunny”

March 3, 2010 at 10:22 AM

I just don’t get this episode at all. I was so disappointed at the end. It was just not like Gibbs to let her off the hook. He risked his own integrity to do it. And, the very end with Vance. Huh?

I really expected Vance to reprimand Gibbs or something. But, a nod and a wink? Really?

This season of NCIS has seemed “off” to me and this episode left me questioning whether the writers this season are playing a joke on us.

March 3, 2010 at 12:03 PM

The premise was interesting, we’ve never seen any of Shannon’s family and Gena Rowlands was a great, strong choice as actress and mother who would seen revenge – the producers apparently are fans of Rowland’s character “Gloria.” Vance was off the rails on letting Gibbs go rogue not quite off character since Vance never really has been firmly rooted in anything good or bad, he’s an unknown except for the one episode ages ago about the boxer from his past.

Sofer is worthless and has been dropped in for no good reason, her “Mr. Gibbs” thing is grating and annoying and if it’s supposed to be a flirtations, since she called diNozzo Special Agent, it’s not working. I just want to smack Sofer everytime she’s on screen, she’s a bad actress and exudes nothing in the way of sexy, funny or strong woman. Please tell me she’s gone – or my remote will be working overtime when she’s on screen.

I remember reading about the Paley event where Harmon (?) said it was time for us to see the inner lives of the characters. I disagree to anything other than cursory – Ducky’s mother, Palmer’s dates, that’s all I need. I”m not watching Dallas, ER or any other show that is soap opera based.

March 4, 2010 at 12:23 PM

I’m there too. I HATE the Mr. Gibbs thing.

March 3, 2010 at 1:09 PM

This episode has impaled me on the fence. We knew from a past episode that Gibbs had murdered the man who murdered Shannon and Kelly. This episode showed that it was premeditated what with the sniper’s nest and all. On one hand I can see him protecting Joann since if he could not accept what she did how could he accept what he himself did? On the other hand more than a decade has passed and Gibbs is not the same man he was then added to that the fiance (I can’t remember his rank) was not involved in “their girls'” murders and framed someone else in the process. Yes, the framee was scum but still.

See – impaled on the fence. And that is even without going into the whole Hart drama. I completely agree with Grace about the Mr Gibbs shtick being annoying to the point of violence.

March 4, 2010 at 12:25 PM

I think we’ve seen that flash to Gibbs sitting in a sniper’s nest and killing the guy in the truck before. It felt very familiar. Anyone else know what I’m talking about? I think it was in the episode(s) where Gibbs is in a coma.

March 11, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Yes, we’ve seen those exact scenes before. I’m not sure which episode it was (you may be right about the coma), but it was what answered the question of whether Gibbs ever exacted vengeance for his wife and daughter’s deaths. Mike Franks would refer to it in later episodes as his time down in Mexico.

However, it didn’t have anything to do with military justice. Gibbs committed premeditated murder unsanctioned by his government, just as Joann did. The only difference is that, even taking out a bank loan, she was never able to find the exact Cartel killer who did the deed, so settled for taking her revenge on the entire Cartel through whichever of its employees she could find, which turned out to be two American naval officers. And the Captain was no little fish; if he had pocketed $10 million, he must have moved billions of dollars worth of product for them over the decades, which helped to build the Cartel’s wealth and power. I found it to be a simple case of vigilante logic.

March 11, 2010 at 2:08 PM

I felt that his still literally and figuratively being in uniform at the time gave it a more formal cover, even if it was just another cold-blooded murder. I know it wasn’t sanctioned … but it certainly was more righteous than what his mother-in-law did.

March 3, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Yeah, it was very disappointing. Not only did Gibbs let her get away with a completely unjustified killing, but our Justice Hero dragged Hart into it, too. That’s completely ignoring the fact that the “bungled” confession would not have kept her from going to trial. They had plenty of physical evidence for trial. The episode started well (and I loved the rich, complex relationship between Gibbs and Joanne), but then fell apart to the point where I had WTF playing on infinite loop in my head.

At least they didn’t drop any shippy anvils on our heads this week (still too much Ziva, though). And it wasn’t as boring as the last three new ones.

March 3, 2010 at 5:17 PM

After watching last night, I did wonder if I was the only one with a foul taste in my mouth. You know it’s bad when you see more of the lady/shark/lawyer than you do Abs and Ducky.

March 3, 2010 at 8:02 PM

I agree. I was willing to give a bit of a pass on Gibbs. It seemed wrong and out of character, but that maybe some kind of mother-in-law guilt got him too blinded. It was going to be a tough situation to resolve (and I didn’t even remember/notice all this stuff with the new lawyer character)

But for there to be no repercussions? That Vance let it happen with a wink and a nod? Just…huh? Is this all just a massive setup on the lawyer? But if so, *and* if so…huh?

March 4, 2010 at 12:27 PM

That’s an interesting take, that this might all be a set-up for Hart. Although I’m not sure how Joann getting off would fit into that, but maybe that this whole thing between Gibbs and her is part of grander scheme against Bell. That one’s going to simmer….

March 4, 2010 at 12:21 PM

I wondered if I was the only one who’d see Gibbs’ actions as surprising and uncharacteristic, even given his own actions following Shannon’s murder. Glad to see I’m far from alone!

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