I knew very little about this episode other than it was the episode in which Tony's kid from Baltimore popped up and not being a huge Tony fan I can't say I was that bothered by it - also I've never been a huge fan of bring up the past, it all too often feels shoe-horned and has no real bearing on the current episode Plus, I thought it was going to be a really Tony heavy episode and given the series has already turned into every episode being Tony heavy, I thought I'd be fairly meh about it. But actually it was less Tony heavy than a) I expected and b) recent episodes have been and Tony was excellent in it. And the past worked so very well and tied in perfectly with the episode
I really did enjoy the interaction between Tony and Jason and how the story unfolded and how they went from Jason clearly hating Tony to at least being able to accept and understand what happened. I guessed early that it had come down to Tony having to make the dreadful choice of who to save from the fire, it was logical once we knew Jason was in the Baltimore PD Arson Department and then he told Abby he'd been caught in a house fire as a kid and the arsonist had never been caught.
Poor Tony, what a choice to have to make, especially as at the time he was just a civilian, just an ordinary person going about his business who was brave enough to go into a burning building and try to save anyone inside. It really must have been such an agonising decision for him to make; but he did make the right one and deep down Jason knows that - but knowing something and accepting it are two different things. Tony couldn't have saved the sister and had he tried it is more than likely all three of them would have died. Not everyone would have gone into the building, they would have called the fire brigade, but not gone in - full marks to Tony for risking his life when he didn't have to. For me it's the best thing he has ever done. It would be my 'Best Tony moment'.
I liked how Jason led Tony down into the ship following his nose and then turned the tables and saved Tony's life by pushing him out of the room. I also liked how Jason's character was both the mature man and still in some ways the kid; the fact that he did hold a grudge against Tony, but also was prepared to save his life and also the way he felt he could have saved the baddie in the car, but Tony stopped him. And this enthusiasm for his job and his keep knowledge of things fire related; his scenes with Abby were excellent and they played off one another so very well.
For me the scene of the episode was Tony and Jason in the lift. It really touched me tremendously, it was very well acted by both men and very poignant. Tony talking about hard choices and how it was that incident that made him become a cop and also that the really big thing he learnt was that you can't save everyone and that you have to concentrate on the ones you can save. Jason knew deep down Tony didn't have a choice, he's known it since he got older, but he really had to face it in that scene and he walked away saying he would try to concentrate on those he could save. Extremely well done, so powerful and well played.
I do have to ask one question and it kind of took a teeny edge of the whole incident twenty years ago: what the heck was a nine year old boy (yes, nine!) doing alone in the house looking after his four year old sister anyway? Surely that is illegal? He's not of age in any way. What were the parents doing thinking of going out and leaving them alone? Even if we are talking about one parent who popped down the road for a loaf of bread - it did irk me that Jason said he was meant to be looking after his baby sister. It was a great shame they wrote it that way and not in some other way whereby even his parents or parent were there but also died. It did detract a wee bit.
Jason really was a superb character - I liked him a lot.
Talking superb characters, wasn't our fire raiser a great character? Not great in I liked him, but great in how chilling he was and how well he was written and well acted it was. Just the right level of the southern twang and the right level of enthusiasm and excitement for fires and pride in how he used to set them. It was a character that could have been way over the top, but was actually scarily well done - I was utterly and totally convinced by him as an arsonist *shivers* And Gibbs was certainly right to get him into NCIS to learn about fire setting expertise. A tiny part, one scene only, but he had a huge impact on me.
And I even got some of Tony's film references - The Towering Inferno is my favourite disaster film and I love Backdraft; getting two references from one episode for me is quite something *g*
And why on earth weren't the field team issued with hard hats before they went into the crime scene? The firemen had them, Jason had one, Ducky had one, but Gibbs, Tim, Ziva and Tony just had their normal NCIS caps which would not have protected them had something fallen. Sorry, but that wouldn't have been allowed - they would have been given hard hats or not allowed in.
And so we come back full circle to where we began the season and come back to the Watcher Fleet and the capsule in Cade's arm and the really, really, really, really Black Ops team - 'The Phantom Eight'. And it does indeed look as if all the capsules may not have been accounted for! And this is obviously the arc for the remainder of the season - it will be interesting to see what they do with it, I think. And it looks as if at least this time, unlike the last two seasons, we will just have our team involved and no annoying extra people taking even more time away from the likes of Ducky, Jimmy, Tim and Abby. I hope it pans out well.
I liked how Ducky was perplexed about the body and how it had been burnt, I thought that worked well - no one, no matter how good they are at their jobs, knows everything; no one does. So it was good to see something actually puzzled him. Poor dead guy to be double burnt and tortured to death in such a way *Shudders* I'm not surprised he finally had enough and couldn't stand any more and so told what he knew. Although it would have been nice to see somewhat more of him, but quite frankly I've given up hoping he is going to be more than a one scene (two if we're lucky) pony any more.
I was very happy to see more of Tim in his episode and that he was actually unshackled from his desk and had quite a few scenes away from his desk - finally, we get to see him doing some actual field work and going out to interview people and be in interrogation, etc. not just doing his geeky thing. The last few episodes, well pretty much the entire season, have been so Tim-light, it was excellent to actually have him involved so much more this week - I really hope that continues for the rest of the season. I really loved the scene between Gibbs and Tim when Gibbs was halfway up the stairs and realised Tim had something confidential to tell him. The whole thing was done just with looks between them - so very well done indeed.
It was also nice to see a bit more of Abby in this episode and I enjoyed all of her scenes, especially the ones with Jason, they really did work so well together. I loved her comment about being out of chocolate. She was very much the Abby of old in this episode, the enthusiastic, fun, without being super-hyper, Abby who likes to play Gibbs a bit rather than just tell him everything at once, but also the highly professional Abby. She was great.
I really disliked Murdoch from the moment he opened his mouth, a very rude and unprofessional man who thought he could talk down to Federal Agents. I thought he was involved in some way and I'm not sure he can be totally ruled out - after all he said they only sold the faulty wiring to civilians, so how exactly did it end up on Navy war ships? His whole attitude to the wiring and how the fault had been identified but as the chances of it self-igniting were so low, it didn't really matter - they had conformed to the law. And I'm sure they had; however, it would have been nice for him to have shown a modicum of humanity rather than just fall back on the 'we did nothing wrong'. And is he just guilty of fraud or something more? I certainly don't trust him.
One of the 'oh, this is so obvious' things in the episode was the fact that the car was going to blow up as soon as bad guy turned off the engine. It was so clear given how many times Gibbs had told him to do it and given he had five guns on him, Gibbs's insistence and the repetition really made it so obvious - so there was no surprise at all when it went boom. At the time I did wonder if he knew the car had been rigged and that was why he hadn't turned the engine off, but thinking about it afterwards I think he was actually debating his chances of ramming the two NCIS cars and making off between them. They were parked just far enough apart for him to maybe have had a chance. He must have been weighing up the five guns, will they get me before I get through? Can I get enough speed up to get through? Will they actually shoot given I have information they want? Who killed him though? And how come he's such an excellent torturer? So, he hadn't meant to kill - does that mean in fact that the death wasn't down to him? Did he walk away once he'd extracted the information and someone else killed our Black Ops guy? I'm guessing so.
And the ending, oh, yes, the 'don't forget to rest your recorders because we are going to run a minute over and the last minute will be shocking'. Right - as always the full hype that led to 'oh, right'. It was another totally obvious thing; as soon as they flashed to the ship it was obvious there was going to be some kind of explosion.
Actually there was quite a bit of 'clever' talking in this and things that can be taken more than one way, once you look beyond the face value. Murdoch's 'we only sell to civilian contractors', doesn't rule him out of knowing full well that some of those civilian contractors had Navy contracts. Mary's 'I know nothing about the murder' doesn't mean she didn't know something about the fire.
There was some excellent team interaction and banter in this episode with no one putting anyone else down or being nasty or cruel or talking about of turn - just nice, friendly, humour and sibling like interaction between Tim, Tony and Ziva and nice to see how much Tim and Ziva do care about Tony. Yes, Ziva was teasing him one moment and being surprised he was out of puberty, but the next she was really concerned about him. Lovely.
A good, solid episode over all, one which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. And far better balanced with members of the team getting more equal screen time (Ducky aside) than it has been for quite some time. I'm rather looking forward to seeing where they are going to take this. It wasn't a perfect episode, but it was a jolly good one. And a nice team one. And also one that raised more questions than it answered! And left a lot of open ends dangling - it'll be interesting to see how they tie them up.
- Tony with his new boots at the crime scene, trying to keep them dry and the various comments about them. It's just so perfectly Tony.
- Jason and Ducky in Autopsy and then Gibbs joining them. I did like how Jason was in effect complimenting Ducky for his scientific work, but it came across a wee bit off with 'man of your age'. Even though Ducky commented on 'man of my age' I certainly don't think he was offended; he took it in the way it was meant.
- Gibbs and Tim's interaction when Tim tells him he's found something and just stares at Gibbs until realises it's not something Tim is going to want to say too loudly and so comes back down the stairs - and Timmy has been hacking again *g*
- Abby and Jason in Abby's lab.
- Abby, Jason and Gibbs in Abby's lab.
- Tim and Ziva's concern for Tony.
- The flash-back scene when we see Tony having to make the dreadful choice between saving one child and possibly letting both and himself die. It was incredibly well done and even moved me.
- Gibbs, Tim and Murdoch in Interrogation.
- The everyone on the phone in the squad room scene; it was so perfect that it would be Tony who was ordering the pizza whilst the others were involved with the case - just such a clever little touch.
- Tony and Jason in the lift.
Things we learnt/had confirmed:
- So it seems that Rule #08 has two slightly different meanings or they were just using shorthand. In Probie Rule #08 was 'Never take anything for granted'. In this episode it appears as 'Never assume'. The terms are not quite the same.
- It was Tony saving Jason's life that made me decide to become a cop and help people
- The field team not wearing hard hats at the crime scene - everyone else was and they would have been told to put them on as with such a fire the chances of something falling were high. Bad mistake.
- Too little Ducky.
- No Jimmy.
- The nine year old Jason looking after his four year old sister.
- Having Rule #08 given somewhat different wording.
Pairing of the week:
Tony and Jason
Character of the week:
Actor of the week:
Gaius Charles (Jason)