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 (211 Votes)

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



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!


In my earlier comment, I called Bishop Supergirl. Some people have complained that Ziva was already a comic book character...a do-it-all action hero. For me, there is a big difference between these two characters. Ziva was the DAUGHTER of the director of Mossad. He, as a loving father, would have made absolutely sure that his daughter received the best possible training. Bishop is a nerd from Oklahoma. One of these two has a perfectly plausible reason for being an above average badass. The other might be a brainiac, and I'm okay with that...but the skill sets she has seem implausible, especially the physical ones. I have three brothers, too--by NCIS writer logic, I should therefore be able to finish off a professional cage fighter in the blink of a eye. I guess I'll have to try out my new-found skills tomorrow on some unsuspecting man-beast. I'm so excited...I'll let you know how it goes!


@Dan & @Judy McCool - I agree 1000% and couldn't have said it better. She's also too young to be "all that she is supposed to be", and she's really not believable. I used to wait for this show every week, but now I couldn't care less whether I watched it or not. The group dynamic is no longer there.

@ DoloresM

Ziva was made 'too spectacular' as well. Don't get me wrong I miss the Icy Israeli but given all what She could do. Sniping, different fighting combats, multi language and killing 15 diffrent ways with a paper clip to name a few, they may as just given her a red and blue suit with an 'S' on the chest.

@ Shane Vendrell

Ziva could do all those military type stuff because she was a trained assassin, think female spec ops. It had nothing to do with and "S" on her chest. In spec ops you learn to shoot, fight and speak several languages. She was just better than most. But came on the team as an inexperienced investigator. Bishop on the other hand is already capable of everything. no need for any of the other team members.


So nice to have a believable female again


I love how Ziva had sniper skills computer skills super speed and strength and can stop a trunk just by looking at it no one has a issues with that but Bishop does one thing better than Ziva and she supergirl


@seer I agree with you. Ellie Bishop has been made too spectacular! I've been watching marathons recently. Even though sometimes Ziva was in the forefront, it seems to me that she had a connection with the other agents and with Abby, Ducky and Palmer. I don't see Ellie having this connection. Let's see the talents that all the cast has and give each one a special episode so that we see our favorite character. I'm a Tony fan, but I would like to see an episode for Tim, Ducky, Abby, etc. Where is Vance?


I don't want or expect a Ziva clone. But I definitely don't like the NCIS meets DC Comics angle...introducing Super Girl!!! I have no problems with EW the actress, but the way she single-handedly solved the case while everyone else looked on in wonderment was a little bit absurd. I watched the episode 3 times, and she literally did EVERYTHING that helped solve the case. Her superpowers include 1) seeing the future, 2) remembering everything she reads, 3) food associating for total recall, 4) and the ability to take down adversaries who are 100 pounds heavier than her because...wait for it...she has three older brothers. In the next episode I'm expecting her to demonstrate 1) the ability to talk to animals, 2) perform telekinesis, and 3) demonstrate mastery of the Vulcan death pinch. The rest of the NCIS team will pitch in and buy a theater-quality popcorn popper and sit around stuffing their faces while muttering "Hmmm..." and "Hunh!" with each new superpower she demonstrates. In fact, by her third episode, they will begin having two storylines per episode because she is just so quick at solving cases. By the fourth episode, she will demonstrate the ability to read minds, warp the fabric of time, and cause bad guys to fall asleep with a snap of her fingers. Abby, Tim, and Tony will all end up in 12-step groups drinking Boone's Farm and mumbling about how they used to be somebody. Gibbs will realize he's been wasting his time on red heads and black DAs and get married for the 7th time. (You didn't know about the other times, did ya?) In the season finale, Bishop will jump a shark while riding a souped up Segway and solving a Rubik's Cube. The good news is...all of that hand-wringing about who could ever possibly sit at Ziva's desk won't be an issue anymore! They are going to have the desk sent to Goodwill so Bishop can spread her crap on the floor and get some REAL work done!

@ seer

I love your imagination and sense of humor, but, to an extent, I agree,...she did literally everything in her first episode,...but, in defense of the writers, they did want to bring in Bishop with a splash/bang. I'm sure we'll see more 'realism' when they get her into the more normal 'team' mode!!

@ seer

I think you just described Wonder Ziva. You only failed to mention the multitude of personal dramas that we would be subjected to if the writers decide to give us another super duper female agent. I do agree with part or your post. I think that they gave Ellie too many wondrous and unexplainable by adult logic, skills in her premier episode. But I am very fervently hoping that this is because they were trying to establish reasons why Gibbs would want her in the first place. I certainly hope that they don't turn Tony back into the team joke with minimal skills so that Ellie can be smarter. They already jumped the shark with wonder Ziva. I'm just hoping that they've been watching reruns of DPB's episodes as show runner, so they can try and rediscover the charm that put the show on the map in the first place. By the way - this formula didn't involve writing anyone (not even Gibbs) as amazing beyond what a reasoning adult could believe.

@ seer

Oh please, what Bishop is sub par compared to Ziva 'the conveniently human utility belt' David. Honestly I know you want Ziva back but the woman did so much that McGee, DiNozzo and even Gibbs were put in the back burner for the past few seasons.

Sue ann
@ seer

Good one! My only quibble is that she seems to be already married, so she cannot marry Gibbs. (Unless her wedding ring, like Patrick Jane's, is worn in memorium. Seems unlikely.) So do all of her current abilities, and I have a memory like Sheldon's on The Big Bang Theory. These memories are rare. Seems like a copy, to me.

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NCIS Season 11 Episode 9 Quotes

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

Gibbs: You forgot something.
Bishop: Ahh, that's not mine.
Gibbs: It's got your name on it.
Bishop: This is my NCIS application from years ago. Before I took the job at NSA. How did you know about this?
Gibbs: Your name sounded familiar. I went back and looked it up.
Bishop: That's why you took me along today. You play chess too.
Gibbs: I wanted to see if you're still up for a challenge.
Bishop: Why?
Gibbs: I'd like to keep you around. Joint duty assignment.