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NCIS - Perennial - Review

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16.19 - "Perennial”
Written by Gina Lucita Monreal
Directed by Tony Wharmby
Reviewed by KathM

I’ve got one with a swan, one with a kid, one with a plant…
~ Leroy Jethro Gibbs

There was a lot of action in this episode, ending with the end of Rule 10. I know, right? I don’t know who was more freaked out by this, me or McGee.

This was a decent episode with entirely too much going on featuring two main storylines and a plant. There’s also a swan, but it’s more connected to one of the main storylines so I’ll just leave it there.

The more I watch this episode, the more disturbing I find it.

The Kid (1 of 2)

The primary story concerns Evan, the younger brother of a man who killed a family of four while driving drunk. Christopher was thrown out of the military and put in jail and will soon be up for parole again. The officer who was first on the scene of the accident, Dale Mosby, speaks at Christopher’s parole hearings to make sure that the family isn’t forgotten. Evan doesn’t want this to happen again because he misses his brother, so he does the only thing he can think of to stop Mosby from testifying; he decides to kill him. A teenager’s logic in a world where guns are easily accessible and mass shootings are becoming common. He gets hold of a gun and shoots up the lobby of Liberty Naval Hospital, where Mosby is having breakfast with his wife. One person is killed, and several are injured, Mosby included. Mosby was able to get a shot off, though, so Evan is also wounded. Unfortunately, he gets away before the NCIS crew gets to the scene.

Evan is easily traced via Kasie’s mad skills and some blood left behind. They converge on Evan’s house just in time to find blood on the carpet and empty boxes of ammunition. Evan’s been there and grabbed some more ammo to continue his spree. Looks like he’s not done yet. Evan’s father shows up and is taken into questioning, where he spends time in Interrogation talking to Gibbs and Torres about how Evan was a good kid until his brother went to prison. In fact, Evan was getting teased and bullied so much about Christopher that his dad moved them to another city and changed their names. This doesn’t mean we should make excuses for Evan, it’s just the way it was.

Evan’s dad loves him, but does he really know what’s going on in Evan’s mind? He didn’t know Evan had a gun and couldn’t imagine him shooting people. But he did, and he has. Despite telling Gibbs that he has no idea where Evan is, Sloane tells them that as much as Noah (Evan’s dad) loves his son there is no way he hasn’t helped him hide out. Noah then takes the gang to the hotel where Evan is holed up, and he apprehended. Well, Ev, now you’ll get to spend time with your brother after all.

The Swan

Torres has a Patronus and it is a swan. Swans, he tells us, “can go dark real quick.” They’re all good and in control and suddenly they get triggered and go off the rails. Which makes a lot of sense when you think of Torres in animal form. Swans are also all pretty and preening and that makes sense, too.

You know what makes Torres mad? People shooting at innocent people for no reason, like they did in this episode. This ignites the swan and makes for a really angry Torres. A “don’t coddle, don’t make excuses for his behavior” kind of Torres. Which I mostly agree with.

When the team gets to the hotel Gibbs sends Torres in to apprehend him. I think this is a catastrophic mistake that could so easily end in tears. I don’t know if Gibbs wanted to show Torres that he trusted him after last week, but trust exercises should be confined to the office or a designated training area only. Torres was so angry that I don’t think I would have risked it.

When he opens the hotel door Torres finds a teary, bewildered kid who seems to have no idea of the consequences of what he’d done. Torres yells at him to pick up his gun, almost like he’s hoping Evan will so that he can shoot the kid. Fortunately, he calls Gibbs before he loses it, for which I am eternally grateful.

The Kid (2 of 2)

I’ll be honest, most adoption storylines confuse me. This one does, too. But you knew it was coming, and here it is. Sloane finally gets to meet her daughter and her daughter has a few things to say.

Faith Tolliver is an OR Nurse who was assisting in surgery as the shooting happened, but before she went in, she spoke briefly with the suspect (Evan). She wasn’t interviewed initially, so Gibbs has her come in to take her statement in Interrogation Lite. He knows about Faith, so he tells Sloane she can’t go along. Sloane tries to prep Gibbs about how he should talk to Faith, so Gibbs tells her she can go along after all. Gibbs, this is a mistake. Do not get involved in this. Oh dear, too late.

Faith spends hours with Kasie making a sketch of Evan that is very accurate. Yay, Faith! Thanks for your help, we’ll let you know if you need anything else. Would you like police protection? No? Okay. See you later, when Sloane has decided to sit outside of your building in case any baddies come calling. When Faith is finally done with Sloane’s stalking, the guilt trip begins.

Faith knows who Sloane is, and while she’s been stalking Faith, she in turn has been stalking her. She thinks Sloane abandoned her and was hurt that Sloane told her birth parents that she didn’t want to see Faith. Given that Faith seems like a rational woman, it makes no sense to me that she wouldn’t have at least tried to get in touch with Sloane since she so obviously could. If Faith had a good life with her family, why does her biological mother’s life upset her so much? And why, if she sees that Faith is in a good place, is Sloane so obsessed with her and crying and trying to apologize? There’s no reason she shouldn’t be sad, but Sloane thought she did the best thing for both of them. And there she is, begging for forgiveness. All I can think of is that the trauma of being held prisoner and tortured overseas for so long made her want to be near her daughter. I never thought about the reason Sloane moved from California to DC, but now I’m creeped out.

In the end Sloane stops Faith in front of her house again and gives her a piece of paper before running away. It has Sloane’s phone number on it, asking Faith to call her so that she can explain. I really don’t want this to become a big, emo storyline, so I’m hoping that maybe they’ll go for coffee or something and they’ll part amicably. But the storyline is open to much more.

The Plant

Ellie is worrying me. I know she wants to figure out the Ziva mystery, despite being specifically asked by someone who may or may not be Ziva not to try and find her, but it seems to be going in a weird direction. It seems that while she was cleaning up Ziva’s office she found a long-dead plant and decided it was some clue to the Ziva puzzle. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of clue or ancient runes carved on the pot, so I’m not sure of its significance. Thoughts?

She hasn’t shared the note that may/may not have been from the theoretically departed, but suddenly Ellie decides to see what Gibbs thinks. About the plant. In the hallway of the hospital while they’re waiting to see Mosby. Gibbs tells her not to get involved and Bishop’s all, “If you know, I need you to say it.” Surprisingly, Gibbs does not look as angry as I thought he would, and we didn’t see him chew her out. He actually looks uncomfortable. This is the first time it’s occurred to me that Gibbs might know about a possibly living Ziva. Oh, man.

The Rule (RIP)

Rule 10: Never get personally involved in a case.

Gibbs is the one going through the most in this episode; he’s weighted down with secrets and swans and it seems have really hit him hard this time. He may have dipped his toe into personal feelings now and then throughout the years, but for the most part he’s lived according to Shannon’s Rules. He made mistakes in this case, and seems frustrated and angry and exhausted. He’s not personally involved in the overall case per se, but people he’s come to care about personally and professionally are. In some ways he’s been there: he’s had anger problems that needs to be recognized and controlled like Torres and he passionately misses a child, like Sloane. Ellie’s secret, which may also be his secret, is the heaviest of all.

I don’t think Gibbs is burning Rule 10 for his team, I think he’s burning it for himself.

I’m glad that Gibbs can talk to someone like McGee. Their conversation in Gibbs’s basement shows how much he trusts him and how far they’ve come. They spent all those months together as prisoners and I think that really bonded them. McGee is also a strong right hand and normally stays strictly business on a case, which Gibbs really needs right now. I hope Tim is able to help him through this and get Gibbs back on track.

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