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

Anonymous Was a Woman Review

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Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter


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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.