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



@J. and Hege: thank you for your correction! Updated.


Loved the episode, especially Gibbs' standoff with the Afghan locals. It may not necessarily be realistic, but it shows the awesomeness that is Gibbs!
Liked the return of Susan Grady, but I kept looking for hints of her earlier insecurity. And she must have been channeling Jenny Shepherd in that interrogation room!


I get the feeling that the writers regret killing off Mike Franks, since they keep on coming up with excuses to put him in episodes even though he's dead. I definitely would, since he's an excellent character. Oddly enough, this episode makes me respect Franks just a little less, since if he was doing things like this, why did he allow himself to die fighting when his death could have easily been avoided? I wonder just how many Afghan girls he would have saved if he hadn't, even given the few months he had left? Great episode as always though.


Loved the episode. The young girl Gibbs helped wasn't Leyla. Leyla came because her fiance, Mikee Franks' son, died. Liked the insecure Susan Grady had gotten more confident and I could totally see her as an field agent.Well done!


@Mikey yes, she was in two other episodes as a lie detector specialist who was crazy about McGee and she was very annoying and very socially awkward.


@KrennenC She was a past character?


I liked the episode it was good lol I liked when McGee said if I don't have heart attack first. next week looks good. I hope they don't have Tony depressed all season tho.


That young girl wasn't Leyla's story


There were a couple of issues with the episode. The writers were just trying too hard by having Gibbs stand his ground in Afganastan. I think we all know that the local men wouldn't have slung their guns over the shoulder to engage Gibbs in hand to hand. They would've just shot him. So I didn't find that segment believable. It took me out of the story. Also they should've had Grady keep some of her nerosis. It would have been more exciting to see her trying to overcome that part of herself in order to become a good field agent. My favorite quote was from McGee. 'Not if I have a heart attack first'. That made me lol


loved the episode except for Susan Grady. Her character in the past has been so whiny and unsure, so making her become a field agent just did not work for me.

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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.