NCIS Review: "Patriot Down"

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For a show frequently tagged as a procedural, NCIS weaves remarkably intricate, ongoing story lines. Last night's episode, "Patriot Down," wouldn't have the same impact had you not watched the previous week, or this entire season, or perhaps the entire series.

The two-part seventh season finale, beginning Tuesday and to be continued next week, is shaping up to be the culmination of much more than that as Gibbs' long-buried past is finally coming to light, courtesy of unknown forces. He's reeling and so are we.

Like last week's "Borderland," the murder in "Patriot Down" seemed unrelated to the escalating, shady plot to destroy Gibbs at first, but connections were made before long.

Special Agent Lara Macy, familiar from last season's "Legend," (and referenced last night on NCIS: Los Angeles) was not just found dead, but in Annapolis, NCIS' jurisdiction.

Someone wanted her to be found by Gibbs' team.

Dr. Mallard

As Ducky discerned, whomever killed Macy wanted her to be found by NCIS.

It appeared as though Macy may have been killed after investigating the rape of Petty Officer Kaylen Burrows. Privileged college student Tyler Hammond was a prime suspect.

His story didn't add up and after Burrows was assaulted by Burrows' fellow service members, suspicions fell on them as well. But it was Hammon behind it - and his father.

Disturbingly, Burrows was sexually assaulted by Tyler and Randall Hammond, a D.C. construction tycoon, a fact unearthed by Gibbs during an intense interrogation scene.

But these two didn't kill anyone.

When Ducky learns that Macy was killed with precision by an Army-issued knife, Gibbs realizes what he'd suspected all along: Macy's death had nothing to do with the rape.

It had everything to do with him.

Macy being killed in such a violent way, with a signature Army Ranger, was proof that she was targeted. As was the fact that someone had stolen some of her old notebooks.

Not regarding the Burrows case, but from way back - 1991-1992, when she was an MP at Pendleton, and around when Gibbs killed Hernandez. It's all coming together now.

You can see how it pains Gibbs to lose control, to be jerked around as he so often does to adversaries, and especially to see those close to him in peril. He is unusually tense.

He suspects that Mike Franks may be next , and makes a frantic call to his local bar in Mexico, telling the owner to relay a simple message: Rule #44. But is he too late?

The big twist came at the end, with Gibbs on the Mexican coast, a scene that opened the episode before the credits, and took place four days after the murder of Lara Macy.

Finding a body he believed to be Franks in the sand, Gibbs was cornered and disarmed by Lt. Dean, Col. Bell's right-hand man, and who NCIS had linked to Macy's death.

Lt. Dean revealed that the dead body they were standing over was not Mike Franks, but Col. Merton Bell. Gibbs: "Who are you really working for?" *THUD* End scene.

Jethro Under Fire

How will Gibbs get himself out of this one?

We never guessed that "Patriot Down" referred to Bell as well as Macy. Allison Hart always terms Bell a patriot, and while he'd been digging into Gibbs, this runs much deeper.

It appears as if the Reynosa drug cartel may be behind the killings, and that Paloma Reynosa may be looking for revenge herself. Could she be Pedro Hernandez's daughter?

This should be very interesting to watch play out, as Hart suggested Bell was "involved" with the narco-terrorists in some fashion. But why did Dean turn on his boss, Bell?

One theory is that Bell was working with them (and Hart, who helped drum up the cold case) to expose Gibbs, but the cartel had far greater and sinister motives - murder.

With Gibbs captured, it looks like he's up against it, but from the way Vance put the smack down on on Hart, you know he's going to do whatever it takes to get him back.

Does this put to rest doubts as to the director's loyalties? Where does Hart fit into the equation now? Either way, looks like we're in for a terrific season-ender next Tuesday.

Other thoughts, observations and lingering questions:

  • What is Rule #44?
  • Tony lines of the night: To McGee: "What kind of boy scout are you?" "Who are you, Bobby Flay?" On what Ziva's graduating from: "English as a 10th Language."
  • Abby kept probing Gibbs for cues as to what do with the evidence, and after avoiding questions all night, he ultimately told her to do one thing: her job. Exactly.
  • If we remember correctly, Lara Macy was the one who ruled Gibbs' shooting of Hernandez justifiable and didn't include any evidence to the contrary. Interesting.

What did you think of last night's NCIS? How will this play out next week? Do you agree with our theories above or have your own? Comment below!


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (132 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


As Ducky discerned, whomever killed Macy wanted her to be found by NCIS. C'mon people: WHOEVER. It's the subject of the phrase. "Whomever" would be an object. This is 8th grade grammar.


I don't think Ziva was raped, sure she reacted strangely, but wouldn't any woman?
Plus, Ziva doesn't act like a woman who has been raped, she still flirts and makes inuendos with Tony, and in "Endgame", the bathroom scene with Tony, and he asks her how she would 'get' someone, and she says "Brute force is always interesting". Would a woman who has been raped REALLY say that? Or act the way she acts?
I don't think so.
I just think Ziva was severly beaten and tortured in somalia, but not raped.
She acts the same as she always has, really, still flirting, and whatnot. And you may say 'oh, that's just Ziva, she's a strong woman' and all, but really, would she seriously say that about brute force if she had been raped?


I agree with Rachel. There's a good chance that it's connected. You can't act like that to something if you don't understand it or have experienced it. I think it's more than likely. Poor Ziva, I want to hug her so badly.


Ummmm, can somebody help me remember...What is rule 44?! Why are we all up in arms about Rule 51 when we got Rule 44 and no explanation last week? Just saying!


I had to watch, rewatch and triple-watch the episode so I wouln't miss a thing. Let's get the obvious things out the way: Abby is going to present her findings which will immediately throw Gibbs in hot water with the law (at least in the US) and Mike Franks and his family got away (Camila said that she gave him the message when the Mexican police came by). Now...everything I pointed out in last weeks review came true ( I knew Macy had to come back but I never expected her to die. Although I didn't want to speculate, I knew there was someone behind Gibbs and most people had thought it was Col. Bell. I almost believed it myself until I saw he died at the end. Col. Bell was definetly behind the snooping around (Hart confirmed it) and he used the cartel as his foot soldiers in Mexico in order to dig up the physical evidence. The last scene feautures Gibbs riding a horse seeing a bunch of dead people. As a hispanic myself, I can tell you that the men dead on the ground were most likely cartel (just looking at the clothing is more than enough evidence). However, both the cartel men and Col. Bell are dead. It seems that Col. Bell did the snooping, yes, but someone else got a hold of it and took advantage of his work (perhaps he was being monitored without his knowledge). They both have something in common, though: they want to destroy Gibbs. The former Army Mayor is simply a mercenary: he works for the highest bidder and, taking into account that last scene, it seems he found a higher payroll than Col. Bell which would make sense: only someone above Bell can look into what Bell is doing (and that is definetly not the cartel). Who could that person be? know, Ziva's father would surely be pissed of at Gibbs since he effectively took Ziva away from him for good. After all, it is no secret that he never liked the fact that she was liasoned to the US. He would definely be higher on the ladder than Col. Bell to pull it off... And it seems Mike Franks is going to play some part into this...what was that "insurance policy" that Mike took around the time of Jenny's death?


I have a feeling that Gibbs' motivation for telling Abby to do her job is that the last person who covered for him ended up dead.... By him telling her to do her job, he was trying to protect her. Also... I agree with rachel, though Ziva's character has been all "rough and tumble" and superhuman sans emotions/weakness... And... I think that Franks is dead too


Gibbs ran Black Ops missions,terminate with extreme prejudice.This mission was not sanctioned,Gibbs went lone wolf,but Lara ruled a good shoot.As for as Jag and legal system is concerned case closed.Gibbs has his rules and that is why it still bothers him. Mr.Nice guy in Mexico is involved in set-up "You Think".Old Mike Franks is still out there with his .45,somewhere.He has a habit of being in the right place at the right time.Vance will cover Gibbs and DEA will carve up the Cartel. Dean is,"Dead Man Walking".


i think the cartel had dean do all the killing to get gibbs. Bell went along to get back at gibbs, and was killed when no longer useful. as to ann lorentsen, not everyone who dies on NCIS is Gibbs related. Kate, yes, Jenny no, Michelle (asian lawyer)no, pacci (male special agent, season 2)no, marcy, yes. so two yes, three no, in a seven year span. don't believe me, go to and watch the old episodes.


i think i'm gonna pukk.. i am so sick og gibbs.. everybody that dies on the show dies becaus some one wants to hurt gibbs Kate Jenny and now marcy and i heard that some on els is goning to die


Nat has a good theory. I guessed that the cartel was using Bell and bribed Dean to kill him once he got in the way, but you could very well be right. Rachel makes an interesting observation about Ziva's comment. Unusually harsh. Remember Gibbs said that part of her died out there? Did it really?

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