NCIS Review: True Honor

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Richard Parsons would have flipped his wig if he had ever learned how far Gibbs and the late Mike Franks had bent the rules.

While the story in "Anonymous Was a Woman" revolved around the "honor killing" death of an Afghan woman (masquerading as a Navy sergeant) the deeper story was one of regret. The profound and thoughtful universe behind Gibbs' quiet demeanor was ripped wide open for the viewers, but not at all for the rest of the NCIS team. And what a sight it was.

Mike Franks' Support

Who knew that Gibbs had lived with such a horrible memory? The flashback scenes with him and Franks rumbled with portent and angst, as the two men battled out the tension between lawful duty and the rescue of abused girls and women from certain death. While we always knew Franks was one of the truly good guys, we got an amazing look at what made him such a credit to the human race. I mean, what a guy! 

Not content with just saving one girl from a life of horror, Franks went on to run a sort of - as he put it - underground railroad for endangered Afghan girls and women.  

I like how Gibbs found out Elina's story:

Gibbs: Where are your parents? Your mother? father?
Elina: Sold me to man.
Gibbs: What man?
Elina: Husband. Old. Like you. | permalink

Gibbs laughed, only then getting a glimpse into what Franks was up to. 

The writing stayed true to Gibbs' no-nonsense character, while showing us the grey area that he at the time refused to see or even acknowledge: that sometimes you have to do what's right, even if it means breaking the rules. The argument between him and Franks (captured in the NCIS quotes for this episode) showed the painful points, and Gibbs' fateful decision to not help Franks in that one instance. It was a decision that ended in the deaths of the six women that Franks had wanted to help. 

There was one comment that Gibbs made that showed the enormity of Franks' efforts: How do you choose, Mike? Who do you pick? The subtext: "you can't save them all." Franks never answered, but you get the sense that he's thinking "maybe not, but you can do what you can do, at least."

Interesting that, in trying to follow the law-and-order example of his boss, Tony initially decided to report the refugees in America to Immigration... until Gibbs overruled him. And Tony had really no idea why, but he knew that he had to follow orders, not just because it was required but because he trusted that Gibbs knew what he was doing.

Trust the writers - in this case, a grateful nod to Steven D. Binder - for once again building the terrific tension by putting Gibbs front and center with the menacing locals in Kabul. Everything: Gibbs standing tall with arms folded, McGee watching his six, Tony relaying the satellite positioning of the locals and the individual attacks on Gibbs prior to his rescue by the U.N. team served to keep us on the edge of our seats. 

You have to imagine that, though, that while McGee and Catherine Tavier (the woman who ran the Afghan women's shelter) praised Gibbs for standing up to the locals, and for bringing the women to the U.S., his thoughts were still on the women who died years earlier because he refused to help them. He did the right thing this time, but it doesn't erase his earlier actions. 

Final notes:

  • McGee and Tony kid each other a lot, but when Tony's not around, Tim has his back, as we saw when he busted Palmer for snooping at Tony's desk. Tony's worry about McGee while the latter was in Kabul was real, too: we don't ever hear him say stuff like be careful Tim.
  • Seems like Tony has changed even more than we realized: the letters in his desk, written to women he has dated, indicate a man who is a little less glib and a lot more thoughtful than he was before.
  • Tony got Gibbsmacked. Haven't seen that one in a while.
  • Eventually, Gibbs is going to have to find a replacement for Ziva, even though Tony and McGee don't see the need. Their relief that Special Agent Susan Grady (played by Jackie Geary) had no intention of applying for the position was palpable.
  • Revealed:  Gibbs' rule number 14. Bend the line. Don't break it. 

One final quote that sums the NCIS close-knit team dynamic, and then it's over to you for your thoughts on this episode:

Grady: You all really care. About the job, but also about each other.
Tony: Well sometimes it's a pain in the ass. | permalink


Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (196 Votes)

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



@Erin- That's fine, but I never saw Ziva as "wonder woman" who constantly upstaged Tony, or Gibbs, and caused Tony to look like a "butt monkey". I saw many other sides to her, which Ziva haters don't. I don't need a lecture about how terrible Ziva was, and that is the problem I have with alot of these posts- the hatred for that character is way over the top, and then those of us who like Ziva and TIVA are accused of being delusional and need to get over it. I think it's time for Ziva haters to tone it down. She's gone, quite griping about her. You can't even remark on Tony being more mature or introspective without bringing in Ziva and blaming her for making him look bad. It's tiresome.


@guest - Yes - in seasons one and two Tony was at times written as silly, but he was also written as brilliant, brave, and indispensable. Once Shane Brennan took over as show runner, he turned Ziva into an always superior wonder woman caricature of the "sexy kickass girl" and Tony became the always one upped butt of the humiliating joke. I didn't care for the writing of wonder Ziva or butt monkey Tony. Both characterizations lowered the IQ of the show. Not the actors fault, but it's a big part of why I grew to dislike Ziva and found her incredibly unpleasant and grating. With Kate there was give and take. Sometimes Kate won, sometimes Tony. With Ziva it was always a bloodbath ending with a humiliated Tony and a smirky Ziva. Yuck.


You Ziva haters really need to give it a rest, since you got your wish. Go back and look at some episodes from Season One and Two. Tony was just as much of an idiot then. Kate was always bashing him and treating him like crap. And the only time she was on Tony's side was so the both of them could gang up on McGee. It wasn't until Tony almost died, one episode before she was killed, that she showed any real respect for him. I never felt they were friends, just happened to work together.


Oh and in case you didn't notice and I guess you didn't, there were no bullets in the rifle . When Gibbs pulled back the lever action the chamber was empty, kinda like papa Gibbs winchester in Heartland!


I guess what people fail to remember is that the messianic Gibbs doesn't care if he gets his head handed to him. That 's the Gibbs we used to know, the guy who'd walk into a biohazard room or climb out on a ledge to do his job. He was doing what he felt was right after failing his mentor 2 yrs ago. He would have died to protect those women. Buying time for the team that was coming, but not agitating the locals to join in. McGee was Gibbs backup if he failed and he was following his boss' s wishes. It's not as if McGee didn't assist , he shot the molitov cocktail from the thugs hands, he would have had to defend the position if Gibbs went down. Kinda insulting to call Gibbs elderly too, while he could be an AARP member, he's not old enough for Medicare .Jesh!


@david - it's nice to know that cdp's fans are willing to give the new girl a chance.


And now - who is this ugly replacement for Ziva? Nosy, skiny, ugly actres to replace de Pablo? OMG


IMHO, this was one of the worse episodes.Looked and felt gimmicky. Yes, the women's plight is horrible, not just in afganistan, but in other countries as well. As a civilized nation, we have issues in our very own country when it pertain to the treatment of women. But I digress. Gibbs staring down those afghanis alone is as unrealistic as you can get. He would have had his head sent home on a platter. The writers made McGee look weak, hiding behind the door and near having a heart attack while his elderly boss stood down the enemies was a disgrace to McGee. The woman providing care for the poor,terrified afghanis women was afraid of guns? But had this HUGE rifle in her care? Was this supposed to funny or serious? I thought that was disrespectful to anyone who had the guts to live in such a terror stricken area to be afraid of combat when that is their way of life. No the writing was horrible. It made the whole issue of the afghanis women plight feel like a gimmick to keep the NCIS ratings up. What happened to the home land terrorist? What happened to Parsons? What happened to FBI agent F who was shot in the butt? How did they get to Afganistan when the homeland is in such peril? Stop making McGee look week. Don't show Gibbs looking so old and slow by making his character face thugs (plural) half his age. And for pete's sake don't put polygraph lady in that role again. The was the least funny joke of all.


This was a fantastic and very moving episode. It also became my favorite Mike Franks episode yet. The story that we as viewers were shown with Gibbs carrying the fate of these 6 women on his shoulders was a real surprise and also very well written to explain to us why Gibbs sometimes bends the rules a bit more than he should. I hated the fact they had Gibbs and the team covering up Ziva's revenge killing, still do, but am prepared to move on and stick with the show as long as they once again start to follow Gibbs' rule 14.


cathleen, the third kid in the photo was Taly, she's dead, died at 16 of a Hamas suicide bombing I believe. No can do.

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NCIS Season 11 Episode 4 Quotes

Franks: Have you lost all shred of human decency? This is not a game! This is life or death to these women.
Gibbs: You don't know that.
Franks: The hell I don't! These girls are in danger, even in the shelters! And when the U.S. finishes its military pullout, it's game over for them. Look at them. Look at their faces.
Gibbs: I'm a federal agent, and I cannot lend material support to a human smuggling operation.
Franks: When did you start caring about the rules?
Gibbs: My rules!
Franks: Yeah? Which ones?
Gibbs: Rule 10: Never get personally involved on a case. Rule 14: bend the line, don't break it. Human smuggling breaks it.
Franks: You already got involved once. Or don't you remember how Layla and Amira got here?
Gibbs: How do you choose, Mike? Huh? Who do you pick? You can start it, but how do you stop it? You're not God.
Franks: He's sitting this one out.
Gibbs: I can't do it. Can't do it.

Grady: You all really care. About the job, but also about each other.
Tony: Well sometimes it's a pain in the ass.