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NCIS Review: A Beautiful Mind

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The NCIS writers knocked this one out of the ball park, thanks to a story that introduced us to NSA Agent Eleanor "Ellie" Bishop.

There were certainly no half measures in the introduction, either.

NSA Analyst Ellie Bishop

NCIS Season 11 Episode 9 opened with a meeting between NCIS, SecNav Porter and a couple of military contractors in MTAC.  

When sensors within the room discovered a security data breach (in the form of an unauthorized data transmission) the room went into automatic lockdown. Eventually, the bug was found in one of SecNav Porter's pockets.

We later learned that she had received the pen in a bogus snail mail request for charitable donations and that it had been sent to her from Ward Davis - one of the military contractors - who wanted to discredit her.  

The fact that his business opponent had also found one of the spy pens on one of his employees suggests that money was a huge motivation for Davis and that discrediting Porter was only the icing on the cake.  

Davis' protest suggested a fumbling attempt at finding an altruistic justification for his criminal misdeeds: I only wanted to protect this country and the people defending it. Sure.

The genius of the case itself was that it provided an almost perfect vehicle to introduce Ellie Bishop to the team - and to us.  We learned so much about her in this episode that her character can ramp up right away. There's no no need to spend a whole lot of time in future episodes trying to get to the meat of her personality.

Her first appearance on the show was disarming. There she sat, right on the floor in ripped jeans, rocking away to some tunes, completely engrossed in her papers and books.  

Even her first few lines provoked some raised eyebrows. To wit: I thought we discussed Rule #1, Flynn. When my earbuds are in, flash the desk light.

She has rules? And she numbers them?

Tony's lines are often witty - it takes a while to realize what he's on about, particularly when he's making movie references without telling anyone. When he first called her "Russell Crowe" I didn't quite catch his reference. It wasn't until this - one of the many NCIS quotes from this episode - that I clued in to what he was talking about:

Bishop: It doesn't make any sense.
Tony: What now, Russell Crowe? Hasn't your beautiful mind gotten you in enough trouble today?

That pretty much describes her mentality: she's focused and she can pull two or more seemingly disparate pieces of data together to reach a conclusion quickly. Gibbs seems to instinctively understand this about her and already he knows to allow her to process before she reaches her thought.

I found her charming and appreciate how she seems to make herself at home, regardless of where she is. Witness her body language when she's in the morgue with Gibbs and Ducky: she just gets up on the slab, and sits cross-legged. Totally laid back. We saw the same relaxed demeanor when she sat on the desk of she-who-shall-not-be-named.

And Tony saw her wedding ring, almost immediately, thus taking her off of his list of possible romantic targets. Good on the writers for doing this! Of course, this is a thread the show is sure to follow in future episodes - specifically, is she married for real, and if so, to whom? We'll want to know more of her back story, which I'm sure we'll get eventually.  For now, she's a bit of a closed book.

Another interesting revelation showed up, regarding SecNav Porter. Her slight nervousness about her position when she said to Gibbs and Vance Everybody's looking at a female SecNav with no military background wondering if either one of those things are going to be a factor. I'd like to answer them by setting this right.

It's likely that she saw a similar struggle in Ellie Bishop:

Porter: Everything okay?
Bishop: You should have seen my mom when I told her I was taking a job outside of Oklahoma.
Porter: Why did you?
Bishop: That's the difference between Mom and Dad. His first rule is: comfort makes for complicity. Means the only way to grow is by challenging yourself.
Porter: Well it helps to remember why we do the job. Keeps us going.

The grateful look that Bishop gave her afterward said a lot.  

Bishop's quick thinking regarding the interrogation scene was brilliant - and it made me laugh. Lesson learned:  if ever you're being questioned by the police, always check the credentials of the lawyer the first time he or she shows up.  

Final notes on Ellie Bishop:

  • She has three brothers
  • She "food associates".
  • Her ability to draw is good but not "Kate good"
  • She plays chess.
  • She did well in weapons training.
  • Her only apparent fault right now is that she finds it difficult to work as part of a team, mostly because she processes so much internally, with intense concentration. She knows this, however. I expect this to be a problem we'll see her work on in future episodes.
  • She's not exactly leaving the NSA. Her assignment with NCIS is labeled as a "joint duty assignment".

So it seems there's lots to build on with her.

Note: the next episode will be a repeat of NCIS Season 10 Episode 5, "The Namesake." The next new episode of NCIS will air on December 10.

What did you think of the case of the week?  More importantly, what's your impression of Ellie Bishop?  Do you like her?  Dislike her?  Is she a good fit for the team?


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (209 Votes)

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


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    Me too...what make-up artist in TV-Film draws BLACK eyebrows on someone one step away from being a platinum blonde? I can't get past it either.


    You know I loved Ziva but she's moved on. I hope she comes back occasionally too. That said, I like Bishop. You don't replace Ziva with another Ziva. That's not happening cause it won't work. Bishop is going to be fine. I like her quirkiness. She's just starting & will grow on us just as Kate did & Ziva did. We not only get to see the newbie but we get to see the others in a new situation/ or light. I'm glad they have a permanent agent. I didn't care for having different ones every show. That wasn't fun. No relationship with temps. I think Bishop is just fine.


    In my opinion the show is not what it used to be. This new girl is not that great, the team lacks a unity that they once had! Even Kate was better than this mumbling dork.


    Last night I realized why I can't follow the plot anymore. I can't understand what they're saying. I got so frustrated trying to understand Bishop I turned the channel. I made up my mind that if they keep her I will stop watching. She just doesn't fit!


    I've been a viewer of NCIS since it's inception. NOT a good replacement for "Ziva" in my opinon! The show is 'draggy' since Ellie Bishop joiined the team.....I slept through most of last evening's episode. (The first time ever!) The writer's need to rethink the format of the show......


    The show has been going downhill for sometime. Gone from don't want to miss an episode ststus to very rarely watch anymore.


    The new girl is probably just reading her script but I am considering giving up on NCIS. All of a sudden Gibbs, Tony, Tim, Abby, and Ducky know nothing and she is the only one who has an idea, give me a break she is awful or the writers have changed and the show that used to be my top is now the last one I watch. Get her butt off the desk it is not endearing it is just stupid!


    I think everyone knew Ziva would be nearly impossible to replace. Bishop just isn't a good replacement. I find it difficult to see her as strong because she had 3 brothers, works alone and Gibbs congratulates her, can help Ducky with ME work because she read a book and said it was "fun." Not getting into it and the story lines have been flat at best. Tough to watch a #1 show dip so far down. Bishop isn't the replacement for Ziva....keep looking.


    I have watched NCIS a long time and as with any show you have to allow certain liberties. However, the new teenage mutant know it all able to leap tall buildings in a single bound is too much. With the LA show tuning Nell into the same thing I am done. Both shows have jumped the shark, it's been a good run, thank you and good-by. The advertisers don't want my demographic anymore so I guess it's mutual.


    Where in the world did they find that "wanna be sexy" blonde new girl. I've watched the show since the 1st episode & watched my last one last week! For goodness sake tell her to doing something with her stringy hair!

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