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NCIS Review: The Evil McGee

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"Double Blind" can be summed up in one word: loyalty.  Or, if you like, four words: "I've got your back.'

Never has the family aspect of the NCIS team ever been more evident and on display, particularly in the face of a common enemy. 

Tony, Tim and Parsons

The team was called in response to a Petty Officer's frantic concern that he's being followed. At first, Gibbs and McGee seemed to think he was just being paranoid, until McGee found a GPS tracker under the man's fender. 

It turned out that the man had signed up for an experiment to examine the psychological aspects of subjects who were placed under surveillance. Right after agreeing to this, he was mugged and - as a result of being hit in the head a crowbar - suffered a concussion... which removed all memory of the experiment. 

So his fears of being followed, while real, were not criminal. Upon realizing that his surveillance - while suffering from amnesia - lead to the cameras getting pictures of his UA wife (UA stands for Unauthorized Absence, which is similar to being AWOL), he burnt down the testing center in order to destroy the data.

The character of Richard Parsons was well written.  Colin Hanks played the part very well too, coming off at first as a sort of harmless mild-mannered Columbo:

Parsons: Relax director. I'm just here to cross some "t"s and dot some "i"s. I'll be as quick and painless as possible. | permalink

I truly expected him to walk away from questioning one of the team, only to then turn back with the standard oh just one more thing....

The writers - through Parsons' activities - played NCIS fans like a flute in this episode: at first putting the spotlight on Ziva, with Parson's intense questioning regarding the nature of her friendship with an Israeli operative. Then this exchange happened when Tony attempted to defend Ziva during an elevator ride with Parsons:

Parson: What makes you think I'm going after Ziva? | permalink

Which I think was meant to make us believe that Tony was the real target. Then after examining his files, the team was sure he was investigating Vance. Then, after bugging Parsons' phone, McGee finally discovered the true target, which was Gibbs himself.

While all of this was going on, it was great to see the entire team trying to look out for each other. Parsons played Abby so well by criticizing her lab technique such that she was angry at him at the exact moment that he asked her a key question. I don't think he needed to go to that effort with her, as she is generally an innocent and open book anyway. Her opinion of him was formed after she blurted out the fact that Ziva had discovered that Eli was a murderer and had told Gibbs about it:

Abby: I knew that guy was trouble. He's like an evil McGee. | permalink

I had the same thought while watching him make the team dance on his puppet strings.

When they thought Vance was his target, the team gathered in his office and inadvertently destroyed his plausible deniability by telling him how they were going to find out what he was up to, including placing an electronic bug on his phone.  Vance saw it for what it was: they wanted to "have his back.'

I think the most compelling scene though was when all of them (minus Vance) gathered in the lab to discuss Parsons. I don't know if we've ever seen all of them gathered like that, including Palmer - who in this episode had nothing to say. It was a true family moment for them. Interesting to see Tony complete Gibbs' thought, too, regarding the "playing cards" metaphor.

In fact, I think Tony resembled Gibbs in another scene as well when he barged in on Parsons during the interview with Ziva and announced that the interview was over. When Parsons objected with you don't have the authority, Tony barked back: It was over two seconds ago.  Door! And I thought it was perfect: Tony protecting Ziva like the stand-up guy that he is, using as few words as possible. Just like Gibbs.

Tony's exchange with Ziva about her sleeping with someone in Israel because, as she put it, I felt alone was touching and a little sad. It looks like the writers are intent on teasing us with these two, to keep us tuning in just to have us try to figure out which direction this particular love boat will sail next. (The complete dialogue of that scene - as well as many other exchanges - are on our NCIS quotes for this episode).

I think that while Vance may be the NCIS director, Jethro Leroy Gibbs is the father of that unit - and so the final scene focused the tension on him, once we learned that he is the actual subject of Parsons' investigation.  Great ending to this episode... and you can be sure next week's finale will be fairly amazing.

Some final thoughts:

  • The episode title "Double Blind" refers to a phrase commonly used in experiments, and refers to the fact that neither the subjects nor the ones administering the test are aware of who is getting treatment and who (in the case of drug testing) are getting placebos. I'm not sure the title fits, for either the case they investigated or the investigation of NCIS itself.
  • Parsons' lab knowledge and tech savvy (as evidenced by his knowledge that his own phone was bugged) really put the exclamation point on Abby's assertion of him being an "evil McGee." Makes you wonder if he was aware that the team was sorting through his files too, and hacking into all kinds of places where they had no business being.
  • The writers gave us some misdirection with the promo for this episode. When we saw Parsons barking at Ziva Did you sleep with him? we had no idea that the question had nothing to do with Tony.
  • That was an awesome new Camaro that Ziva was driving at the beginning of the episode. You have to wonder if she'll be questioned about it, and about whether she can afford it. It would be neat if she had accidentally kept one or two of those diamonds for herself. Unrealistic and unlikely, but pretty cool. (By the way, I tried to track down the title to the song that was playing on her stereo but couldn't manage to get it.)
  • Our NCIS Round Table discussion is up!  Come over and take a look and then chime in with your thoughts.

What are your thoughts on the episode? How do you see the final episode of NCIS Season 10 playing out next week? 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
  • 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (320 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter

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    1 the commenters are right, the UA marine isn't the paranoid amnesiac's wife, just best friend.
    2 ziva and tony have different interpretations and weren't together at the time, but I loved how this was played.
    3 going after Gibbs or the director again is trite, its been done. Investigated Jenny, check. Investigated Gibbs by lawyer and mercenary, check. Investigated Gibbs by foreign dignataries who are relatives of the drug dealer that killed Gibbs wife and daughter, check. investigating Vance for the mole in the NCIS heirarchy, check. It's just been done over and over.

    Avatar

    part 2
    never suffered a substantial loss to know that you do irrational things when you are grieving. She buried her father, she was alone, she sought comfort. If Tony really wanted to be her rock, I am sure he could have requested time off and traveled to Israel with Ziva in order to provide that comfort for her. And I agree with the others who say Ziva truly didn't know the depth of Tony's feelings for her until Berlin and by his reaction to the news of her indiscretion with Adam. How soon all of you have forgotten Tony's relationship with Jeanne and how that hurt Ziva. He lied to her and kept information from her. So what is worse, sleeping with someone as part of an assignment and forming a relationship built on lies or sleeping with someone while your judgment is clouded by grief? I really do not think that Tony has any reason to judge Ziva. Now she knows somewhat how he feels for her and maybe that will be a starting point for something to happen.

    Gatorgal

    @Chris: good summary. You left out that Abby know's Gibbs killed Pedro Hernandez and suppressed the report, which could make her an accessory after the fact.

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    It was implied that Ziva and Adam had a long standing friendship in Israel so not sure how that is a "random" guy. Secondly, if Tony manned up and told Ziva how he really felt, maybe she would not have slept with Adam in Israel. Perhaps Tony should have said “Ani Ohev Otach� to Ziva at the airport instead of "At lo levad" and then maybe she would have been sure of his feelings. Tony has had numerous, meaningless, one night stands over the years that he has boasted about to Ziva. Why is she now the bad guy? They had no clear definition in their relationship that implied that they were committed to one another. Why can he sleep around but she can't? He has still been ogling other women this year and making inappropriate comments around Ziva, but that's okay? She was having grief sex. She was thousands of miles away from her support system and she gave in to the comfort of the familiar. Wow, how terrible of her. She should be punished for being human? Obviously you have never suffered a substantial loss to know that you do irrational things when you are grieving. She buried her father, she was alone, she sought comfort. If Tony really wanted to be her rock, I am sure he could have requested time off and traveled to Israel with Ziva in order to provide that comfort for her. And I agree with the others who say Ziva truly didn't know the depth of Tony's feelings for her until Berlin and by his reaction to the news of her indiscretion with Adam. How soon all of you have forgotten Tony's relationship with Jeanne and how that hurt Ziva. He lied to her and kept information from her. So what is worse, sleeping with someone as part of an assignment and forming a relationship built on lies or sleeping with someone while your judgment is clouded by grief? I really do not think that Tony has any reason to judge Ziva. Now she knows somewhat how he feels for her and maybe that will be a starting point for something to happen.

    Gatorgal

    @liferealist: If you are trying not to say that Sean Murray may be ill, which was a persistent rumor after his dramatic weight loss, this was attributed in one article by his eliminating alcohol from his diet. I never noticed any attempt to hide this weight loss, in fact it was commented on. And he has since gained the weight back. If you are talking about Mark Harmon, then I am concerned because I've been thinking that he doesn't look well and is thinner. Which could be why he only extended by one year. I hope I'm wrong. Not trying to start a rumor here. You brought it up.

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    Wow, I'm disappointed with the writers having Ziva sleep with a random guy. Especially after the 'shiva' episode when Tony told her at the airport that she was not alone, a very powerful moment in the season. And let's not forget the 'berlin' episode. What were they about to say to each other before the crash? I'm not for or against the 'Tiva' thing but just really felt bad for Tony. It really lowered the Ziva character and am not sure what the writers are doing. My initial reaction after Tony got the knife in the heart was changing my mind and hoping Cote does not sign on for S11 and just goes away. Like Tony, I couldn't look at her either. ( I've since calmed down :) The rest of the episode was good (Gibbs will eat Parsons for breakfast) but making Ziva into a you know what was very poor after all the recent buildup between her and Tony. I wonder how Cote felt about filming that scene.

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    @liferealist
    I think the problem might be that your comment was too ambiguous. I didn't even know what you were trying to say myself. Hope that helps.

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    @guest (7:56 PM) - Wow... The usual TV/movie/theatre viewer is focused on the action and dialogue, so they don't pick up on camera angles, prop placement, or wardrobe details unless they're focused on it. Per my original post: "If [IF] this was about an actress, the web would be wild with pregger rumours." - meaning it's NOT about an actRESS. And, I noted "the past couple of seasons" - "couple" usually meaning 2, or 2 to 3, and "seasons" in the TV industry meaning Years. And, "I just hope he's OK" - because I do truly hope so. Please, let's not get into any sort of challenge, and instead send positive thoughts and prayers to the cast & crew for continued success & health.

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    Ok just thinking out loud. So GG and crew have said that this season is/was about "Fall Heroes". If Gibbs goes down, wouldn't he be the biggest "Fallen Hero" of them all? In NCIS terms.

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    @liferealist
    Are you trying to imply that Cote de Pablo is pregnant with your fat comments? Because, she was just on Extra and she showed up in really tight white pants so no baby bump on that program was apparent. Do you have some inside relationship with the cast of NCIS that you are aware of these supposed camera angles and the things they are hiding or trying to disguise? I really don't know what the point is that you are trying to make. Say what you mean or stop implying that you know personal information about the cast.