Well... that was a bit of an awkward blast.
The idea of murderous clowns has got to be everyone's favorite nightmare. NCIS Season 11 Episode 10 opened with one such clown putting a bullet into a Marine. Then things took a turn for the worse.
In their pursuit of the guy who owned the phone found on the dead Marine, the team tracked one of the incoming numbers, which lead them to a hotel room.
That's where we all witnessed horror number-two of the episode: Tobias Fornell in his skivvies, putting the moves on Diane. My reaction was similar to Fornell's, oddly enough:
Well tie me up and call me Loretta.Fornell
You have to love it when the case of the week takes a bit of a back seat to the rest of the NCIS interpersonal dramas. I don't think we've ever seen Gibbs so tortured. How does Fornell not understand that the reason Gibbs is so bad at offering advice (in this situation, at least) is because hearing about Fornell and Diane's sex life is the last thing he wants to imagine?
I mean, it was cute how Fornell and Diane, in separate conversations with Gibbs, used similar imagery to describe their angst over their resurrected romance, but come on - this is the mostly silent and reserved Gibbs we're talking about.
And it's not as if he doesn't have a reluctant stake in the whole mess, having been once married to Diane. She accused him of whining, but what I saw was a guy slowly toppling down the staircase of his own sanity, trying to be friends to them both and succeeding at neither, while holding in his revulsion at the whole idea of them being together in a *ahem* carnal way.
Every time the poor guy got home, sighed and threw his keys on the counter or flopped down on the couch, we all knew his day of misery wasn't over.
The first instance wasn't so bad, with him having to shelter Fornell's daughter Emily for the night. But the second one - where Fornell and Diane wanted his blessing? That was over the top and so unnecessary. You could tell they were sincere, but were they that blind to his pain?
Evidently, yes. They were.
And speaking of blind, there were two other ridiculously blind moments in the show.
- When Abby came in, all excited and blabbing to Gibbs about the multiple hot messages Diane had been sending to her boyfriend. She's not stupid: how could she not notice Fornell, Diane and their daughter all standing right there in the same room? Comedically, it works but realistically? Not so much.
- Bishop did something similar when she burst into the same room with great news before realizing the gravity of the moment... right before Gibbs dropped his cell phone into his coffee. I'm not buying the dumb agent act.
Earlier in the season, during one of our NCIS Round Table discussions, there was a question about our hopes for Ellie Bishop. I mentioned that I hoped she would be someone who would stand up to Gibbs, not in a confrontational manner, but in a strong supportive way. I'm glad to see that this is exactly what happened.
Ellie Bishop isn't looking for confrontation. That's not who she is. At the same time, she has the confidence of her own observations and analysis and she voiced them in direct opposition to what Gibbs had proposed with her plan on how to nab Eddie. And he agreed, which pretty much put Tony and McGee back on their heels.
It's fun to see that they though they all like her - including Ducky and Palmer - they can't quite figure out how she fits in with them yet. And vice versa: Bishop is still trying to parse the group dynamics and doesn't yet have an answer to the question about whether to warn her colleagues when a senior is coming up behind them. She's trying too hard - a fact that Emily was able to relay to her on Gibbs' behalf.
It was good to see Diane again too. She seems to function as catnip to so many guys who are too easily hooked on her. And Gibbs is thinking of forming a club.
Of all the hilarious NCIS quotes for this episode, this one - about Diane's not-quite-boyfriend's physique - is probably the funniest:
His chest is bigger than Diane's.Fornell
All in all, an enjoyable episode.
What did you think? Will Fornell and Diane's relationship work out? What are your thoughts about the resourceful and quick-thinking Emily? Has your impression of Ellie Bishop changed? What did you think of the case? Were you surprised that their prime suspect turned out to be a Secret Service agent?
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.