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NCIS Review: A Beautiful Mind

by at .  Updated at . Comments

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?

Review

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

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There is no way that woman is in her early twenties. Late twenties early thirties more like. After all Emily Bishop has to fit with the team and only Jimmy Palmer could be consider young but the agents are not.

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@ Jean

Well Ziva with her unbelievable list of skills and accomplishments was supposed to be 22 when she joined the team, so I don't think that Ellie is too young to seem believable. At 22, Ziva was though. I think that those of you who are already hating on the new character are just mad that Ziva (who IMO was an awful character) is gone. I don't think that there is anyone who would meet with your approval because of your obvious inability to be objective. I hope Ellie turns out to be a fun character.

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After rewatching Season 10 there no way Ziva could stay on the show all the horrible things she did to tony and vance. Plus killing that lady husband

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@ Mike

What episode did she kill that person in?

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A Ziva spin off sounds like a really bad idea to me, but I found her to be overly soapish and her skills seemed as cliché as a comic book superhero. I am really enjoying this season so far for the most part. The attention to other characters and lack of the next big Ziva tragedy are a breath of fresh air. I'm in wait and see mode as far as Ellie Bishop goes. As long as they don't turn her into another tragic, overly and unrealistically skilled center of the NCIS universe, I'll be happy to give her a chance.

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After seeing "Gut Check" episode...I am very unimpressed with the character "Ellie Bishop." She plays a stereo-typical blonde MENSA ditsy nerd with good looks. A polar opposite of the character "Ziva" who became the strong female nightmare of producers Harmon and Glasberg who simply wanted to be paid what she is worh in "Q." The rumors of a ZIVA spin off are welcomed, because I am not watching NCIS with the way it has cast Wickersham and for the inane dialogue for characters Tony, McGhee, etc... "Tony" has been reduced to a parody of himself in comic book character form...

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@ dan

You can't be serious, Ziva was the character who became a wrecking ball. Harmon and Glasberg had no say in negotiations. Without the rest of the cast to smooth out the cartoonish ninja you might as well watch a cartoon, or SHIELD for that matter

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After seeing "Gut Check" episode...I am very unimpressed with the character "Ellie Bishop." She plays a stereo-typical blonde MENSA ditsy nerd with good looks. A polar opposite of the character "Ziva" who became the strong female nightmare of producers Harmon and Glasberg who simply wanted to be paid what she is worh in "Q." The rumors of a ZIVA spin off are welcomed, because I am not watching NCIS with the way it has cast Wickersham and for the inane dialogue for characters Tony, McGhee, etc... "Tony" has been reduced to a parody of himself in comic book character form...

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@ dan

I couldn't agree more - I've watched my last episode - can't stand the airhead who replaced Ziva - the producers are nuts!

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Ellie was great! Loved her character and hope she is the permanent replacement for Ziva. All the criticisms leveled at her character are easily answerable...she works for me.

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Those complaining don't watch plain and simple dont spoil NCIS for the rest of us.

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@ Shane+Vendrell

So other people are not allowed to have their own opinions? Only people who are going to heap praise are allowed to comment? If you can't handle a differing opinion you can always not read anyone else's comments. I've read through all of the comments and most of the complaints have been legitimate. Some have complained about the character, and I agree with most all of the complaints, and some have complained about the acting ability of the actress, which I again have to agree with. In the 10+ years since the show began, this is the first time they've had a miss in the casting and character. Even Jenny Shepherd wasn't this bad. I guess we'll see if she is a long-term hit or miss by the ratings over the rest of the season.

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@ Shane+Vendrell

Just like those who hate Ziva/Cote continue to post their snarky remarks can leave as well? Wish they would. Those of us who don't like the way the show is heading is not ruining it for the "rest of you". Don't like it, stay off the boards.

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@ Barfingaswespeak

Oh how original, one person says stop hating and you self-righteously assume they're a Ziva hater just to bad mouth them back.

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@ Shane+Vendrell

Those complaining about Ellie Bishop's having too many skills, but were impressed by Ziva's must have short memories. Ziva was fluent in 10 languages, bomb expert, sharp shooting (with both hands) assassin, kidon expert, college graduate, two years mandatory service, covert missions in the Middle East, South America, and Europe, all before she joined NCIS at the age of 22. Ellie's skills seem sub par compared to her predecessor.

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@ Erin

You hit it on the head my friend That what their piss about more then anything

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I don't think she's a good fit for the team. Too young, they have her at "genius Level" and she acts like a teenager. I hope they get rid of her somehow. The show is getting boring.

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Tried to keep an open mind. But a woman this girl's age cannot be an expert in anything. And i cannot see Gibbs putting up with her behavior. He never has in the past with anyone. A more mature actress would work better. And one more thing: blond hair and black eyebrows. Really..Dissapointed
Bea

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@ Bo

THANK YOU. Black eyebrows and blonde hair just is wrong. In fact, her brows are so distracting that all I see anymore ARE her brows, which seem to have gotten thicker and longer - a unibrow. Either she needs to darken her hair and/or pluck those brows -- at the very least, lighten them.

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@ Bo

I can't get past the blonde hair and black eyebrows....

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Tried to keep an open mind. But a woman this girl's age cannot be an expert in anything. And i cannot see Gibbsn putting up with her behavior. He never has in the past with anyone. A more mature actress would work better. And one more thing: blond hair and black eyebrows. Really.
Bea

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@ Bo

My grandma had blonde hair and dark eyebrows what do you have against people like that.

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.