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NCIS - Two Steps Back - Review (Abby has left the Navy Yard)

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15.22 - "Two Steps Back"
Directed by Michael Zinberg
Written by Jennifer Corbett

Reviewed by KathM

Okay folks, here we go. Abby’s last episode! Tissues at the ready?

Previously, on NCIS:
Abby is “randomly selected” to win a dinner for two at The Cooler, a new restaurant
Reeves talking to Gibbs about his involvement in a charity for homeless vet families
Reeves and Abby talking after dinner at The Cooler about his family and shows her the only picture he has of his mother.
Mugger Guy asks for some change, then Abby gets too talky and he shoots her and Reeves.

The Episode Begins

OMG, this is fabulous. Gibbs, Fornell, Leon, Sloane, and Dr. Confalone (the therapist) are playing POKER! This is a scene I didn’t know I needed. Sloane describes Gibbs as the hardest poker player she’s ever tried to read, like a statue. Grace (Dr. Confalone) jokes that that is Gibbs’s normal state, and Leon says that there is no way Gibbs could win five times in a row. But he’s Gibbs, so of course he can. FOUR KINGS! To my astonishment Gibbs breaks out in a huge smile of glee, even letting Sloane kind of/almost hug him. Glorious!

Then Gibbs’s phone rings and it all goes to hell.

McGee is calling to tell him about the accident, and we see Abby being evaluated in the ER and coding, but we know she’ll be okay because I can’t see any way NCIS can justify killing any more female characters.

Ducky enters Autopsy as Jimmy, Bishop, and Torres stand in various parts of the room, staring at a body bag on the table. Torres is angry, and the others are silent, just staring at the bag in disbelief. Ducky gently sends Bishop and Torres to do their jobs, then asks Jimmy if he feels like he can do an autopsy on a friend. Jimmy says it’s okay and pulls back the zipper to reveal the body.

It’s Reeves.

Jimmy wants to know how Abby is doing, as nobody knows anything new, and Ducky heads off to find out.

Leon rushes into the hospital and meets up with McGee. Abby is critical but stable, but if she doesn’t regain consciousness in the next 48 hours then things don’t look good for her. Leon tells McGee that MPD are treating it as a mugging gone wrong, and that the shooter is still at large. McGee says that Gibbs hasn’t spoken a word since he got to the hospital.

Gibbs stands over Abby’s still form, apologizing for not keeping her safe. Flashback to the episode “Kill Ari”, when Gibbs told her that he’d always keep her safe. He then storms out of the room past Leon and McGee, telling them he has a promise to keep.

The next image is a badge with a black band, indicating that a member of law enforcement has been killed. Torres is in the bull pen when he hears loud crunching over in the next row of cubicles. Bishop is sitting at Reeves’s desk, eating Catsup and Prawn “crisps”. Apparently, they are her favorite and Reeves special ordered her some and used to keep a stash in his desk for her. She says he was like a brother to her, but she never told him. Torres says it doesn’t matter but Bishop says it does. He didn’t have anyone else, she says, teary. He just had us.

Gibbs arrives and gets an update on the situation. MPD still thinks it’s a mugging: witnesses heard shots but didn’t see anything, no cameras, nothing to help them figure out if it was anything else than a tragedy. The only people who know what really went on are Abby, Reeves, and the guy who shot them.

McGee is in Abby’s room, staring at her. Jimmy comes in and offers food, but McGee isn’t hungry. He feels helpless and wishes he could do something for her and will wait by her side until she wakes up. No matter how long it takes. Jimmy says they should talk to Abby, even though she’s unconscious, and tell her about how they feel.

Gibbs is in Autopsy now, staring at Reeves’s body. Sloane comes and stands with him, rubbing his back in comfort. Not sure how I feel about that. Sloane thinks that Gibbs should talk about Reeves, but Gibbs wants facts. Fortunately, Ducky has some. He talks about the bullets that killed Reeves and hurt Abby and says that he’s sent everything (blood samples, clothing, etc.) up to the lab. Who’s going to analyze it? Sloane wonders.

Bishop and Torres are trying to figure out how to do something in Abby’s lab. Anything. Bishop has what could be a handwritten instruction manual but could be anything. Torres is pressing buttons on the MasSpec (ask Bishop about the last time she messed with that thing) when something pops up on Abby’s computer. It’s lab results! The shirt that Reeves was wearing had two blood samples on it, his and former Army Specialist Kent Marshall, who must be the shooter.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone kick a door in as hard as Gibbs does when the team (minus McGee) breaks into Marshall’s apartment. The find Reeves’s wallet and Abby’s purse, and they find Marshall, too. But his throat’s been cut, so somebody go there first. Torres find a dossier on Abby; her shooting was a professional hit, and Marshall was the shooter.

Bishop, Gibbs, and Leon meet in Leon’s office to go over what they know thus far. In addition to shooting Abby and Reeves, the Barretta was also used in six unsolved shootings. But who’s the one who put out the hit on Abby? There are hundreds to choose from, Bishop reminds them, as Abby’s evidence has been putting criminals away at least since the last 15 years. They focus on Terry Spooner, an embezzler who hired a hit man to stop Abby from testifying against him in 2006 (episode 3.21, Bloodshot). Spooner was released from prison about six months ago and was in a halfway house in Maryland. Gibbs goes to pick him up (why isn’t anyone stopping him???) and Leon reminds him that Spooner should arrive in one piece. Gibbs does not commit to that.

McGee is talking to TONY! on the phone in Abby’s room. He’s giving DiNozzo an update on all that’s happening, then promises to keep him in the loop. Then Tony says he loves McGee and pesters McGee to say it back. Which he does. Awwww! In my mind I can see Tony teasing McGee to get him to say it, can’t you? McGee is talking to Abby about the call, how Tony didn’t even call him Mcanything, so he know how worried he is. McGee cries and tells Abby how scared he is, and how worried he is. He begs her to wake up, but she doesn’t.

Torres and Bishop are spending some quality time with Spooner in Interrogation. He denies knowing who Marshall is, and denies that he hired someone to kill Abby. They then tell him that he shows them his ankle monitor, which shows that he couldn’t be the one. Sloane agree, telling Gibbs that this is personal to the killer, someone who is calculating, connected, and has a serious grudge? Know anyone like that off the top of your head, Gibbs? Why yes, I think he does.

Yes! I hoped he'd talk to Alejandro Rivera (episodes 7.21 – 24; 8.1; 11.24)! Gibbs goes to see him in prison to have a little chat. He grabs Rivera’s ear and asks him if he did it, if he tried to have Abby killed. Because he didn’t succeed. Rivera denies it, he wouldn’t kill Abby. He’d kill Gibbs, which makes perfect sense. Did anyone else get a creepy vibe anytime Alejandro was talking to or about Abby? And he still has it! I honestly thought that we might see an episode at some point with Abby becoming a prisoner in his home. He hates Gibbs for killing his father and manipulating him into inadvertently killing his sister. Rivera says that Gibbs has a cloud of death around him. Gibbs flashes back to the murders of Kate, Ziva, someone else (Jenny?) and Mike Franks.

In her hospital bed Abby comes around and asks about Reeves.

Bishop and Torres are going through Abby’s cases but so far nobody matches the profile Sloane has created. Gibbs, who has joined them in the bull pen, says it isn’t good enough. Leon and Sloane think that the team could use some down time, and Leon notes that Bishop and Torres are running on fumes. Gibbs stands inches away from Torres, staring him straight in the eye, and says that Torres looks all right to him. We are not at all surprised to find that Torres moisturizes.

Bishop has turned up something: before Marshall was (dishonorably) discharged, he was deployed with Tom Reece, aka Marine Sgt. Robert King (episode 6.21, Toxic). King tricked Abby into making him a bioweapon, but Abby found him and had him arrested before he could use it. How does one do that, I wonder? Trick Abby into making a bioweapon.

Gibbs takes Bishop with him to Danville Correctional to see King and sends Torres to relieve McGee at Abby’s. Torres has never been, and Bishop intimates that he’s in for a treat.

So, wait, Abby is HOME now? At most it’s been 3 days since she literally died in the ER. Welcome to television.

McGee has done Abby’s pigtails for the tenth time and finally gets them right (it’s more difficult than Abby makes it look). It's good practice for when Girl Cherub (Morgan?) wants Papa to fix her hair. They’re talking about how useless she feels when Torres joins them at Abby’s amazing loft. You expect me to say that there’s no way she could afford it, right? Nope. As intelligent as she is, I think Abby has some patents going on that we don’t know about. Anyway, Torres sends McGee back to the bull pen and promises to stay with Abby. McGee reminds her and Torres that King knows all kinds of scary Black Ops people and they should be really, careful. Because Abby wasn’t upset and frustrated enough.

Gibbs and Bishop go to visit King, who has been in Solitary for a week for starting a fight in the prison yard. However, when they meet up with King in solitary, it isn’t him. Someone has taken King’s place, and he is assumed to be out and about somewhere in the Tri-State area.

Gibbs snags FauxKing and brings him on over to Interrogation. There FauxKing (who is a GUARD) says that if he didn’t comply with King and switch places with him after the fight in the prison yard, then King would have his family killed. King even showed him surveillance pictures of his family. FauxKing said King told him that he was leaving the country after he took care of a few loose ends.

Torres is in love with Casa Scuito. He marvels at the coffin (he thought McGee was kidding) and wants to know who made her closet. Abby, however, is more interested in finding out about hunting King. She traces the “randomly selected” email she received to its original sender, and soon McGee, Bishop, and Gibbs are standing in front of an abandoned storefront called Wild Goose. Gibbs gets it; Abby sent them the wrong address, so she’d be free to go to the right one. In the cafe where he was arrested years ago, King looks up to find Abby standing before him.
King is surprised that Abby had the guts to come alone to see him, and Abby quotes Rule 45. What’s that? King asks. Abby grimly tells him that he’ll find out soon enough.

Gibb and Co. arrive at Abby’s to find it no Abby and no Torres. They do find a sticky note on Abby’s computer that says simply, Rule 45 (Clean up your mess). None of them can figure out why Torres would go along with it, though, and everything becomes clear when Bishop calls Torres’s cell only to hear it ringing nearby. Abby has locked Torres in her coffin, after betting him that he was too scared to go inside and put the coffin lid down. Torres is freaked out, and Gibbs even grins a little. Torres is not fond of "New Abby". McGee has found out where Abby is, and they all take off to find her.

Abby wants to know how King can live with himself, and he says that he just sees what needs to be done and does it. King says that Abby has blood on her hands, too, because of all the people who died overseas while he wasn’t around to save them with his random WMDs. Abby tells King that she put cyanide in his coffee before it was delivered to him, and that if he confesses he can live. She offers him the antidote and then he confesses. She tosses the antidote on the table and walks away while King says he’ll see her later. As King goes to his car to head off to the airport Gibbs and Torres grab him and place him under arrest. King says that he’ll just get out again, so Gibbs clocks him and breaks his nose. If you need witnesses, sorry. I didn’t see anything.

Oh, and of course Abby didn’t really give him cyanide; she just slipped him a little Caf-POW!

Abby returns Reeves’s mom’s picture to him during a visit to Autopsy, then tells the group she’s going to London to make Reeves's funeral arrangements. He wanted to be buried next to his mother. After that, though, she won’t be coming back to NCIS. She says that she has to honor the life Clay gave her by saving her life, and she’s going to start up the shelter to honor his Mom, as he wanted to do. Everyone says they’ll. support her.

Where is Abby starting up this shelter? London? DC makes sense, but who knows? Tony moved to France apropos of nothing.

She hugs McGee, Torres, Jimmy, Bishop, and then Ducky goodbye, then heads over to Gibbs’s house, where she leaves a letter taped to the door telling Gibbs how much she loves him and how much he means to her. When he looks outside he sees her standing across the street. He smiles a little, then signs I love you. She signs back. Abby and Gibbs have never really needed words.

In the last scene has Abby packing up her lab, then takes one more look before shutting off the lights. Her work at NCIS is done.

What I’m Really Trying to Say Is: Good. It was good. I knew Abby wasn’t going to die and figured that Reeves was, so there wasn’t much to surprise me. I was surprised that Abby is moving to London (at least, that was the impression I got) to set up the vet shelter. I figured she’d do it in DC, and then we could hear random things about her from time to time. Who wants to hear stories about Abby babysitting McGee's cherubs, show of hands! If she needs someone to sublet her place Torres would be all about it, as long she moves the coffin.

I liked the character a lot, but over time she’s become more of a secondary character who pops up here and there, so I was apathetic about her loss. Abby is growing up, which she should be after all of these years, but I miss Sister Rosita stories and bowling with the nuns. The guy who wanted to kill her? Seems implausible and tossed in, particularly because nobody seems to think there’s any danger to Abby anymore, despite his apparent desire to kill her. It annoyed me as much as when Abby was at death’s door, then was hanging out at her house seemingly one day later and ordering a studded arm sling.

Rivera, though? Excited to see him and watching him mess with Gibbs’s head. The Rivera storyline was a great one, telling us the about of the impact of Gibbs murdering the man who killed his family has on the man’s own family, and pulled Abby inside decades later. Did you think anyone waited as quietly and as long as Gibbs did to get revenge? Meet the Riveras! I think it also fundamentally changed Abby’s relationship with Gibbs and made her grow up a little. Which was sometimes much needed. Something I’ve never liked about Abby is her occasional self-centered, childish behavior. She wanted the team back together when Leon separated them, so she pouted and shouted and blamed it on Gibbs, demanding the get them all back. I also found that she could be patronizing and self-righteous, then astonishingly naive. But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t interesting, and that I won’t miss her bopping around the lab.

The flashbacks were great, but I've seen so many of them so often it was rather anti-climactic.

I wish I liked the episode more than I did, but really, I had a feeling about what was going to happen before it all began (with a few surprises tossed in here and there). I liked it, but think it could have had a lot more drama and suspense. The Poker was my very favorite scene, and I will keep the episode, so I can watch it when I’m feeling down.

"Abby Sciuto. Resident NCIS Forensic Specialist, heart and soul. A paradox wrapped in an oxymoron, smothered in contradiction. Sleeps in a coffin. Really the happiest Goth you'll ever meet".

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